Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

A new year and some new beginnings! I don’t usually do the resolution thing (do you?) although I always have set goals for my artwork. But this year seems to be different. Maybe I hear the clock ticking and I still feel I have so much I want to accomplish. Perhaps it is the biting cold weather we are having and what better way to spend a cold winter day except in the studio. I have a house full of cats to keep me company and the best day always includes art supplies and kitties in a studio!

So this year I will be concentrating on my own artistic growth (No that doesn’t mean I won’t be hanging out with you guys, too. Check my calendar! I’ll be around!) I just thought you might like to join me on a new part of my artistic journey.

There are two main areas I want to explore. I discovered soft pastels a year or so ago and I am loving the rich colour and the vibrancy you can get with them. Time to pull them out and actively USE THEM! I did buy a little set of Senneliers when I was in France last fall and they are just gorgeous. 🙂 I have joined a pastel group with weekly challenges to get me moving. So much to learn with a new medium but art is art.

Here are a couple I’ve done so far. Little Bosley is representing the sparkle of the Christmas season and the line of pillows is from a photo I took in a little village on Santorini. I also hope to diversify my subject matter now and again. Yikes! Can I do it? I don’t know….a kitty in the warm sunshine might just perk up the painting!


The second area is to get my drawing skills back up to snuff and the only way to do that is to draw everyday. So the other challenge I have set myself is to do a sketch a day. I braved the cold yesterday and went off to my art shop for some sketchbooks. Had to come home for a cup of tea and what better place to start than my tea cup……but those darn kitties are everywhere!

It’s not that I know where I’m going you understand….just that I need to start the journey.

Wishing you a wonderful 2018!


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Finally we paint!!

You have been probably wondering when the painting actually happened on this trip. We were “gathering” all along of course! But now we paint!

Knysna was our headquarters for the rest of our trip. We had a great studio space and we got to work right away……well……after “the bake” We had to keep our strength up.

We did mostly studio work but we also managed a bit of plein air at Knysna Head. What a gorgeous view!

The tide pools attracted a lot of children. They spent the whole morning studying the marine life. It was mesmerizing. I did manage to do a landscape, too but the children were wonderful subjects with their brightly coloured accessories. The sun was shining and they were having so much fun.

Of course my focus was on the animals and here are some of my paintings from the studio.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about my trip and my resulting artwork. My next book will be an African theme!! Half coloured pencil and half acrylic.

And as you read this I am off to France for another “gathering” and studio paint in……with regularly scheduled times to “keep our strength up”!!



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South Africa Continued

Well I don’t know where the summer has gone and here I haven’t even finished talking about my wonderful South Africa trip! And this is the best part of it……animals and making art!!!

We left Arniston and headed to Botlierskop Game Reserve for glamping, game drives and walks with lions. Lunch was a feast for all senses. And the “tent” was out of this world. The shower was outdoors just to the right of the tub. A glass of sherry before we go? No time!

While the “tents” were first class,the transportation and roads were a tad more rustic. I’m tall but couldn’t reach the floor of the truck. Upper body work out!

The animals did not disappoint! And our cameras were clicking away making sure none of us missed anything. Here are just a few highlights…..my favourite animals.

Just before the sun went down we stopped for a refreshment….because we might be hungry….ha ha!!

But we were awestruck when we saw the giraffe on a faraway hill against the African sunset. I think this will be one of those memories that will never fade.

The next morning back out we went  for our “Walk with the Lions”. Meet Laya and Mufasa. It was just beautiful to see these magnificent animals up so close. The handlers were more for us it seemed. 🙂

The walk was fabulous and we learned all sorts of things about lions as well as the game reserve. Seems they really aren’t so different than my kitties….or at least that is what we thought so we stepped right up for photos!!!

One final installment coming up to show you that it truly was a painting trip.

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Wine and Art

Here we go on our painting adventure!

First Wine!

We leave Cape Town behind and head up through some spectacular scenery into the wine region. We stop off at a winery, attend a great show put on by rescued and injured owls and other flying predators and then a spectacular lunch!!

Second Art!

We are very honored to be welcomed into Dale and Mel Elliot‘s studio and gallery. (Click on the blue to see more of the father and son paintings.) We have a chance to see Mel at work where he shows us that we don’t always have to  work on a painting for hours. He does this one in 45 minutes. He will be going back with his oil paints to tweak.








Next we head to the Historic Village of Arniston. Here we will break out OUR paints and give it a try. All three of our artists show us their en plein air styles: Mel Elliot, Barbara Barrett and Kathie George.








En plein air is actually quite difficult. Choosing your scene, finding a seat and shutting out distractions all add to the challenge.








In the end, I take many shots of this little pest and paint him when I get to the hotel room.


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South Africa – Cape Town

We said goodbye to The Netherlands and the stunning array of tulips. After an 11 hour flight arrived in Cape Town for the next leg of our adventure.

Cape Town is a beautiful city and we had a couple of days to explore. The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront was a hubbub of sights and sounds.



A must is a visit to Table Mountain.  What a glorious view! But of course it’s all about the animals for me. These are dassies apparently…..and one is not to feed them!!


The next day we tried to jam in as much as we could. The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens was delightful even if it wasn’t in full bloom. (It was fall there, not spring.) The grounds were gorgeous with trails and lots of shady green space. The canopy walk was gorgeous and look at the complementary colour scheme of the blue and orange!! The sculpture walk was like an Easter Egg Hunt.

Off we went to Bird World/Monkey Jungle! There were so many birds to photograph, some familiar to us and others not. Loved the yellow of this guy and the bright colours of the pheasant, too. I was thinking of the popularity of my Rainbow Birds. What do you think? Coloured pencil on black paper?

And here I am with these little guys. These are full sized Black Capped Squirrel Monkeys.

 I was trying to get a photo of a mom and baby which was hanging on her back. VERY cute…..But she just kept far enough away from me to thwart my efforts. So I decided to allow the volunteer to put seeds on me to attract a “few” to sit on me.

Wine district and art coming up!!!


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South Africa through The Netherlands

I’m almost back a month from another art journey. Where does the time go? I have gone to Spain and Greece in previous years and this time I had the supreme pleasure to travel to South Africa! I did manage to post many of the highlights on Facebook during the trip but thought I’d summarize a few things here on my blog. That way I can relive it just a little bit.

So we will start from the beginning…….

South Africa is a long ways from Ottawa and we traveled via Amsterdam. Because it was spring time and who does tulips better than the Dutch? We took the opportunity to visit The Keukenhof Gardens. Seven million tulips they boast and how could I miss that? It has been on my bucket list for quite a while. I kept seeing photos and could never quite believe them. I always thought that they had to be photo shopped or somehow filtered but was blown away when I stood there in real time. The colour was so rich and saturated. The grounds stunning! I  got lots of close ups too so hopefully a few will make their way into a packet or two! And of course the tasty treats of the Netherlands are not to be missed!


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Brush Care

Great time at the Las Vegas Creative Painting Convention!! I introduced the Princeton Select Series 3750 filbert grainers to quite a few painters while we painted Sprite. And of course how do you clean your brush at the end of a furry painting session? As  promised, here is a picture of what I use. They are actually surgical brushes. They are made of soft plastic bristles, perfect for getting in between the fine hairs of your filbert grainers. Although they were originally intended as surgical brushes, I buy them in the gardening section of Lee Valley Tools. They have an online store. I’m pretty sure you could get them in a kitchen store or a nail care store as well. The ones I get are only a couple of dollars each. Keep one in your water bucket during the painting session and then use it at the end with some soap to clean your brushes really well.


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Artwaves Toronto Contest

ARTWAVES Toronto April 5-9, 2017 is running a WIN YOUR REGISTRATION BACK if you register before the end of January. www.c2cevents.ca

Hope to see you there!!

Cheetah #104 – Thursday, April 6


Using the filbert grainer to create fur. Decoart acrylic paint.





Daisy Chain #233-Friday, April 7

6 pm-10pm

Use Decoart So Soft acrylic paints to paint up this trio on a tea towel.


My Best Side #472

Sunday, April 9  @ 8-2:30

Prismacolor Premier (bring your own) on a cool acrylic background.



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Fabulous Fur Medium

If you have been following my technique over the years you know that I use a medium to make the light coloured paints the correct consistency for use with a filbert grainer. FFM is what I used to call it….Fabulous Fur Medium! It was made with DecoArt Easy Float and water in a 1:1 ratio. DecoArt discontinued the product last year and I have been on the hunt for a replacement. And here are my findings.

ffm-500At the time of publishing my last book Pause for Painting Volume 7, I found that fini was the best replacement. It is a non-toxic, fast drying acrylic glazing solution. It’s primary use is to create fine faux finishes. It is a Canadian product and it can be purchased at Stockade. For those of you in the US, try Painter’s Paradise. It only comes in an 8 oz bottle, however, which perhaps is too large. While at HOOT this summer, I found another product which Margot Clark uses with her mudding. It’s a Unique Glass Colors product called Medium and comes in a convenient 2 oz. bottle. You can order it on Margot’s website.

Happy Painting.

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This weekend at ArtWaves Toronto, many people asked about the varnish I am using on my pieces. I have recently discovered a great DecoArt varnish called Soft-Touch Varnish. It is part of their Media series. I am absolutely IN LOVE with it!!


It’s for interior or exterior use. Waterbased of course, and although it looks milky it dries clear. It’s quite thick and it’s fast drying.

I put it on with a sponge brush. The wide mouth jar is great for that. I usually put on 2-3 coats letting it dry in between. No wet sanding or anything like that.

I am loving that it brings out the best of the paint like all varnishes do, but has a gorgeous and luxurious finish that is completely matte. It invites you in to touch it……and it is so soft and smooth when you do. It’s extremely durable so I wasn’t worried when people touched it but because it’s so soft and smooth we naturally seem to stroke it lightly……like a kitten! 🙂

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