Girl in Gold, an Exploration.

Golden Anniversary

Here in Victoria BC we have a local organization called the Victoria Arts Council that is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. In conjunction with a Christmas show entitled “Little Gems” they decided to have a ‘celebration wall’ of 50 works done in the theme of gold. I received one of these 10 inch gallery depth panels that will be for sale Nov.28-Dec21/18. As a result, I “had to” 😉 go out shopping to gather various gold and metallic art supplies. I set to work researching inspirations and a subject. The influence of the German symbolist Gustav Klimt is hard to avoid . Any mention of gold always brings to mind his pieces featuring luxurious patches of glittering leaf.

Ici à Victoria, en Colombie-Britannique, nous avons un organisme local, le Victoria Arts Council, qui célèbre son 50e anniversaire cette année. Parallèlement à un spectacle de Noël intitulé “Little Gems”, ils ont décidé de créer un “mur de célébration” de 50 œuvres réalisées sur le thème de l’or. J’ai reçu un de ces panneaux de profondeur de galerie de 10 pouces qui sera à vendre le 28 novembre au 21 décembre. En conséquence, je «devais» faire des courses pour rassembler diverses fournitures d’art en or et en métal. Je me suis mis à la recherche d’inspirations et d’un sujet. Il est difficile d’éviter l’influence du symboliste allemand Gustav Klimt. Toute mention de l’or fait toujours penser à ses pièces comportant des taches luxueuses de feuilles brillantes.

In the beginning . . .

The beginning in gold
The beginning in gold

For this project however, I limited my materials to iridescent paints. Ultimately, the items items used primarily were Iridescent Antique Gold acrylic market by Liquitex, Iridescent Gold (fine) High Flow acrylic by Golden.

Pour ce projet cependant, j’ai limité mes matériaux à des peintures irisées. En fin de compte, les articles principalement utilisés étaient le marché de l’acrylique Iridescent Antique Gold de Liquitex et l’acrylique Iridescent Gold (fine) High Flow de Golden.

Baby Steps . . .

2nd stage, adding some opacity
2nd stage, adding some opacity

 I did include something of his spiral motifs in the background, but the style of the face became my own.

J’ai incorporé quelque chose de ses motifs en spirale à l’arrière-plan, mais le style du visage est devenu le mien.

It begins to come together . . .

Getting closer with lights & darks.
Getting closer with lights & darks.

Photographing to shimmer of the golds was difficult, so I took a short video:

Photographier à la lueur d’or était difficile, alors j’ai pris une courte vidéo:


Girl in Gold, 10" square
True to You, 2018

Women and words mixed media experiments

Words, hand lettering and script. 

On my Pinterest page I have pinned a number of pieces of art that I find inspiring or have elements that I would love to experiment with. (Come on… admit it! We all have scads of pins that we’ve never tried to make). There are many with words, hand lettering, script, fonts and typography. I love the visual impact of large scale hand lettering and the mystery of incomplete words or faces.

Such as the works of Florian Nicolle aka Neo.

A few weeks ago I decided to make a couple of Secret Santa gifts, rather than purchase them. What better than to knock off some pinterest inspiration! 

Kayleigh. Mixed media portrait, charcoal, chalk, ink and paper. 8″ x 10″.

The text on Kayleigh’s face is an ink jet print of some vintage handwriting I found online. 

Daniela. Mixed media portrait, charcoal, chalk, ink and paper. 8″ x 10″.

For Daniela, I used a letter written by Shakespeare. 

After gaining confidence and hearing positive feedback on the first 2 smaller pieces, I drove into a larger canvas with some acrylics. 

Hannah. Mixed media portrait, acrylic and tissue on canvas. 25″ x 54″.

With this canvas being so much larger than my first 2 pieces, I wrote freehand, with watery black paint the lyrics of Blackbird by the Beatles.

The lovely faces for these portraits are from Julia Kay’s Portrait Party on flickr.

Food Revolution Day 2015

I have participated in Food Revolution Day the past few years by continuing to teach my kids some basic life skills primarily the ability to be able to prepare simple, healthy, tasty and affordable food.

Very serious chefs preparing for a Food Revolution.
Very serious teenage chefs preparing for a Food Revolution.

Spring is a time for new beginnings, probably not a coincidence that Jamie Oliver has timed his campaign for Food Education for Children around the world for this season.

My son stirring the pan full of vegetables
My son stirring the pan full of vegetables

Each year I choose a recipe from Jamie’s suggestions (this year Pukka Yellow Curry), make sure I have all of the ingredients on hand and print out the recipe. I coach them along the way but if there is a short accompanying video to help wrap their heads around the concept then that can be helpful.

The preparation was a little slow for my newbie cooks but after the Curry finished my son could be quoted as saying “This was worth the wait!” and the leftovers on day 2 were great too 😋

The end result: Pukka Yellow Curry garnished with sour cream and Cilantro.
The end result: Pukka Yellow Curry garnished with sour cream and Cilantro.

Fast, Slow and a Series

An assortment of crows. All are acrylics except centre right which is watercolor on birch panel.


What can be learned by doing things really fast?  Or really slow? Or in a series?


Many artists painted have the same subject over and over, from different angles (Monet’s Waterlilies) and others have painted the subject repeatedly looking the same (Warhol’s Marilyn silkscreens) in an effort to show that even with endless amounts of reproduction where on the surface they appear the same, the small smears and clogs give an individuality to each piece. Even in my attempts to manually reproduce the same familiar image from memory, each time there would be variations to the theme. Some I liked and of course others not so much.

What I found is that each time I repeat a subject (such as a  bird) I become more aware of :

*the textures & highlights

*the shape & proportion

*the body language & movement

*seemingly subtle things such as the highlights of an eye can draw your attention

*the addition of a tiny prop like a cigarette can change the attitude



I hadn’t tried to give myself a time limit until I applied to compete in Art Battle, along with a few friends (Buddy System!).

My first reaction to the challenge was trepidation but the more I thought about it the old saying of “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” was lingering in the back of my mind.  That’s when I made the dive and sent in an application, only then to panic with my acceptance!

I needed a plan of action so our group, which we soon dubbed “the A-Team” (an attempt to take on the strength & ingenuity of these iconic characters) put into motion several practice sessions, complete with timers, distractions and loud music (we had to learn to block these things out).  We tried new images and old familiar ones to the point where it began to feel that our hands began to form a memory of their own for the twists and turns required, endeavoring to become more efficient in the movements each time. The results did surprise me at times and really made me consider whether some of the long drawn out hours necessarily paid off?

The day of the competition was loaded with adrenalin, unfamiliar materials and faces but I’m certainly glad I did it. Will I compete again? Only the future will tell but in the meantime I have a collection of birds in various sizes and shapes to contemplate and learn from 🙂


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Traveling the world -virtually!


Nils Ericson Central Train Station. Watercolor and sepia, Virtual Paintout
Nils Ericson Central Train Station. Watercolor and sepia ink on 90 lb. hot press paper.

Gothenburg, Sweden is on the other side of the world from me &  I have never had the pleasure of visiting there but it is this University town where my brother in law lives & works which is why this months Virtual Paintout Challenge caught my attention.

“A good traveller is one who knows how to travel with the mind.” -Michael Bassey-Johnson

A few months ago I found this particular painting challenge which Bill Guffey began in 2009. The idea intrigued me and I have been meaning to try it but this month location gave me the extra motivation to finally put pen and brush to paper.

The general concept of the Virtual Paintout challenge is to use Google Street View as source of inspiration and reference for painting and sketching. No matter where in the world you live, if you are lucky enough to have access to the Internet you can cruise the streets from the view point of a camera mounted on the roof of a Google car. While you certainly have plenty of urban scenes to choose from there are also rural landscapes,  people or animals to be discovered too.

For the last year I’ve been practicing my urban sketching locally so I thought I would be up to this challenge. Once I zoomed in on the locale selected what I came across was very intriguing.  I was cruising the streets,  peering into alleyways and parks,  glimpsing people having lunch in outdoor cafés,  passing cyclists and wondering “Are they going to work or school? “. Part of the test is deciding on an image and while you can submit more than one entry they all that you limit it to three per month.

Shall I do another or wait to see what neck of the woods Bill chooses next?

Check out Bill Guffey’s site. :


P.S. I came across this article after I did my painting.  They’re so tempting I’m going to need to try some of them too!

Summer Flies By (with sketch experiments)


The Red Head was illustrated with the Magic pencil in Fire (yellow, orange & magenta) by Koh-i-noor Hardtmuth
The Red Head was illustrated with the Magic pencil in Fire (yellow, orange & magenta) by Koh-i-noor Hardtmuth

It has been both a busy and lazy summer so far. Here’s a sampling of some of the sketch experiments I’ve been doing:

Shortly after my last post regarding the sale of my painting at the Red Art Gallery in Mystery Art Show in June I took my proceeds down to Artworld, a locally owned & operated store to reinvest in a few basic supplies but also to indulge in some new toys such as several kinds of non-traditional paper, watercolour paper & some Magic Color pencils by Koh-i-noor!

I have been making great efforts to use a sketchbook to do a sketch experiment  in daily as it doesn’t have the same sort of pressure associated with it as a pricey canvas or large sheet of paper. In my book that I have with me constantly I have been having great fun with the Magic pencils. Here’s a few examples:

Tropical eyes
Eyes done in Tropical (yellow, aqua blue & purple) Magic Color pencil by Koh-i-noor Hardtmuth.


Cupped palms drawn with Magic pencil America Red by Koh-i-noor Hardtmuth.
Cupped palms drawn with Magic pencil America Red (red, white & blue) by Koh-i-noor Hardtmuth.

Part of what I have been enjoying the most about these pencils is the randomness of the colour placement which can allow me to think outside the box when it comes to color associations and their traditional uses.  While you are in control of establishing a general color gamut you just never know which is going to land on the line or how is will morph see during a long stroke where the angle of the pencil changes and the top wears down.

There are always a myriad of colour choices that will work in any situation, as long as the tonal value is appropriate. (Gaye Adams)