Sunday, 29 December 2013


I hope you are enjoying the holidays and like me getting some quite time for creating art.


Just recently, I came across this soft pastel study I did when I was in my late teens of Georgia O'Keeffe's artwork "Mule Deer Skull and Flowers". I remember I painted the desert too deep and therefore had to shorten the length of the skull. There are a couple of things I would like to go back in and start fixing but at the same time I appreciate those mistakes and acknowledge them, if I am to grow as an artist.

I decided to revisit soft pastels, this time using soft pastel pencils, painting the polar opposite of the desert, water. I have always been attracted to the surreal, quirky and different in art. Over the years, shades of orange, fish or water often make an appearance in my art. Being a Pisces might have something to do with it!

I used a photo reference for the female, I knew I wanted to do something in her hair but I did not know what. A flower of some sort with butterflies maybe? Then suddenly water lilies popped into my head, possibly my love of the artist Monet. This triggered a chain reaction of thoughts of a fish with the water dripping from the water lilies creating rings of water.

I had forgotten how easily the soft pastels smudge, I believe many soft pastel artists use a workable fixative for this purpose. A kneadable eraser helped and I also used it for blending. Building up the soft pastels in light layers made them easier to blend. I found the soft pastel pencils are good for adding detail. I think I have only started to scratch the surface with this medium. As with all art mediums, they come with their own rewards and challenges.

A word of caution, I used a soft sketching pencil for adding definition around the water droplets, the white pastel would not grip over the pencil so easily to give me nice bright highlights.

A white poster paint sharpie gave me the effect I was looking for.

Have you worked in soft pastels? What are your experiences and have you learnt any tips along the way?

Comments are welcomed and encouraged.

Until next time, happy creating and see you in 2014!

Friday, 13 December 2013

Christmas Reflections

Jeanette Maisy House Life Book 2013 lesson is about Celebration and Gratitude. When I saw Jeanette's page with the robin, it immediately reminded me of my Mom. When I was growing up in Ireland she would softly call me over to the kitchen window to watch the little robin who visited our garden on a regular basis. How brilliant his burnt orange breast looked against the white dazzling winter snow. We would watch him just hopping in and out of the foliage that was bowing heavily with snow. The slightest sound would make him cock his head before continuing his search for hidden berries.

Jeanette's page had round collage speech bubbles where you could write what you were grateful for over the year. They looked like Christmas baubles to me, so I thought I would have my robin looking into a bauble at his reflection. Hence my idea of reflecting on past memories.


Stamps and gesso were applied to the background. I did not have any suitable metallic paint but then found iridescent medium in my art supplies. I mixed a few drops of acrylic paint with the iridescent medium on my palette to give the desired colour. Hey presto! Beautiful shimmery paint. I applied the paint with a stencil and pallet knife to get a raised effect around the page.

I don't know about you but I cannot draw a perfect circle! This is where the help of circle templates come in useful.

I finished off the background with a snowflake stencil.

I am so grateful to have shared these treasured memories with my Mom. This past year has been such a blessing in many ways; for the love and support of my family and friends. For all my online friends I have connected with, and the talented and gorgeous Tamara Laporte whose faith in me has given me the opportunity to be one of the teachers in next year's Life Book 2014. I can't express in words how humbling and exciting this is to me. The Life Book program/workshop has been running very successfully for two years now, next year will see monthly giveaways along with lots of golden products. If you have not heard about Life Book, check it out by clicking on the image below or on the sidebar.

I am not sure if I will get to do another post for 2013, so I wish you all the joys of the Festive Season and a healthy and Happy New Year!