Saturday, August 23, 2014

Paul Jackson Kolinsky kayak brushes

I have been trying out the 4 Paul Jackson Kolinsky kayak brushes over the last few months

 The info on Paul’s website says-‘These double-ended brushes are perfectly balanced and weighted for the ultimate painting experience. Sizes: 0/2, 2/4, 6/8, and 10/12. Sold only as a complete set.’

Having a brush both ends is so useful. I have been able to load one side with paint and the other with clear water which makes softening an edge of a wet on dry wash so much easier. I can also load the other side of the brush with a different colour allowing me to merely flip and then continue to paint. Previously I would need to either use two brushes or stop and clean my brush and reload with the new colour for a variegated wash. Thirdly I can load both ends of the brush with the same colour and merely flipping the kayak when one brush runs out of paint. This allows me to cover a larger area with one glaze before the paper goes past its optimum dampness and I need to let it dry fully before rewetting. Lastly I can also have one end of the kayak dry giving me a thirsty brush always at hand to lift any unwanted paint.

The brushes hold a point well making detail possible, even with a larger brush than I am used to, but at the same time they are extremely soft (a quality I really look for in a brush so that I can achieve my ultra smooth washes that I so enjoy creating).  

 I still use my Winsor and Newton series 240 goat hair mop/wash brushes for glazing large areas as I have yet to find a large wash brush that ‘kisses the paper’ as gently as they do without moving the paint on the previous layers around but must say having to use two brushes (one for paint and one for water) feels cumbersome after a couple months with the kayaks.

I also use my existing tiny brushes sizes 002-004 for very detailed work e.g. painting eyes or fur or hair but would happily have a kayak version if one existed.

My ideal brush set? Paul’s 4 Kayaks with an added 2 kayaks- a kayak mop and a kayak teeny tiny brush.

An added bonus… the care instructions the brushes come with are very amusing and make me smile every time I read them. 


Tuesday, August 19, 2014


It's fun painting somewhere where people can watch you work and see a painting develop as I love sharing my joy of painting in watercolour. I began this painting at the Lake Wilcox Park opening last weekend but the bad weather mean't I couldn't finish it there so it felt right to finish it this morning at our local connecting the community gathering where our local community could still watch. 

The white mallards soft downy feathers make a perfect pillow to snuggle up in while the duck has a snooze in the warm sunshine. It must be wonderful to have an inbuilt feather pillow. The painting is a small one at about 7 by 10 inches. I am calling it 'Repose' and will be for sale at the Studio Tour in a couple of months.


Monday, August 18, 2014

'Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything'

 The quote from Plato was my inspiration for this painting. I am still deciding on the title. At the moment I quite like 'Brioso' which is the musical term for full of life, 'Motto' which is the musical term for movement, Volante which means flying or some part of the quote above e.g 'flight of the imagination'. If anyone has any ideas please let me know.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Progress and news

Long hair takes such an age to dry. It blows around lots when you are hairdrying it too :)

Ok,  I was just drying the section of hair which will be behind the floaty chiffon and thought you would like to see my progress as I see it when I am painting. I only rarely have the painting the right way up. I tend to tip and turn it according to what I am working on and whether I need the paint to stay roughly in one place or flow in a particular direction. It looks just like the hairdryer is blowing the hair doesn't it :)

For those of you  are relatively local to me that live around Richmond Hill I also wanted to let you know that I will be painting at the new Lake Wilcox Park opening on saturday. Look for the ducks and you will find me there. 

The promenade opening celebrations will be from 11am-3pm.  Lake Wilcox park is a beautiful park right on the shores of the lake. You can park in the north parking lot via Olde Bayview Avenue (Off North Lake Road) Richmond Hill. Hope to see you there. 


Monday, August 11, 2014


The portrait section of this painting and the viola are now basically finished. I have introduced quite a few warmer colours in the skin tones hair and viola and plan to use them in combination with the background colours in the clothes and for the butterflies.

I have no ref photo for the rest  though just my rough sketches and the image I can see in my head.  I hope I can get that image I can see in my mind onto the paper.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Music while I paint

Listening to music really helps me develop the atmosphere in a painting. I have been busily working on the face, neck arms and hands while listening to music like the Celtic women playing The Sky & the Dawn & the Sun. What a great way to spend a saturday. I have also lifted a few more wisps ready for me to paint her hair tomorrow.

Here is the link to the music, the begining part is the atmosphere I am trying to capture

If you have any suggestions for  any other pieces I can listen to while working on the rest of this painting one, let me know.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Developing the background

My new painting is still in its very early stages but I thought you might enjoy a sneak peak at what I am working on. Over the last week I have been creating the effect of a night sky with twinkling stars and a glowing moon. It will form the backdrop to a piece that was inspired by this quote by Plato

'Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything'

  For those of my followers who are artists the colours I used  in the background were indigo, carbazole violet,  Moonglow, Manganese blue, Thalo turquoise, Winsor blue and quin violet. I also used a whole pot of masking fluid! 

For any musician, I would like to use a musical term as my title for this piece. I want something that suggests movement, flight, the giving of life and with feeling. let me know either by e mail or as a comment here if you have any suggestions :)


Sunday, August 3, 2014


I still haven't decided on the title for this. I would welcome any ideas. I guess the message I was trying to convey is best said by this except of the poem by Lysa Schuler.

They are beautiful, proud, and can be feared.
But understand, they are a creation revered.
 We protect to keep the remaining alive.
But who knows how long the few will survive?

The drawing is done completely in pointellism and took just over 21 hours in total to complete.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Working in pen

While I have been planning  and drawing out my next watercolour I have also been working on another pen and ink drawing. The whole drawing is created with dots using a technique called Pointillism. This has taken me about 12 hours so far and I am guessing it will probably be close to 30 hours before it is finished. Its easily transportable though so I can keep it with me and draw at odd moments throughout the day wherever I happen to be.

I just love his developing expression. I wonder what he is thinking. Any ideas?


Sunday, July 27, 2014

The creative process: an analogy

To all my creative friends whether you are an artist, a writer, a photographer, a composer, a choreographer… 

...don't give up, remember the creative process is not a linear one. You don’t begin at one point and travel upwards in a straight line to your chosen goal. Very much like the seed cracking open and completely destroying its outer shell in the process, or the caterpillar breaking its very essence down to the absolute basics and then completely re-inventing itself, the creative process is more of a metamorphosis of thought, of understanding and most of all of belief that the power of your ideas is worth pursuing through the ups and downs. In the words of Cynthia Ocelli,

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To some that don’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”

This has happened to me this week as I worked on the idea for my next painting. I had sketched away for days on the idea. On Friday morning I had a finished outline but as I looked at it I knew it wasn’t what I wanted. It was a big fat lumbering catterpillar with too many legs and no wings. So I took it back down to the very essence of my message again. To many, that stage may have looked like almost total destruction, but I had faith because I knew it was just a stage in the process. My greedy fat caterpillar of an idea had to be broken down, and then reformed into the outline idea that I am just finishing now which I hope, when painted will be a beautiful butterfly ready to take flight. Hope you enjoy my analogy. I have too much fun with my pencils and wild imagination sometimes.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Heart strings

I have listened to the following piece of music by Danny Wright quite a bit as I was painting this.  It's called 'keys to the heart'. I thought you might enjoy listening to it as you look at the finished painting.

I nearly used this title as the title of the painting too but James and I both felt 'Heart Strings' was the one to choose. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

So near and yet so far

There is always the temptation when you are reaching the last stages of a painting to want to get it finished but there is still a long way to go. The dress I will be painting is a dark one so there  will be many layers or glazes to create a similar rich dark feel to the background colour. The reflected colours and shadows need to be developed and enhanced on the skin and white piano keys from the dress skin and violin, the music needs to be painted  also and lastly the jewellery added.

There is actually a little more colour in her skin in the actual painting than the camera has captured in this wip photo but hopefully it gives you some idea of my progress.

I am also working on the outline for a painting of my model Sarah's sister who plays the viola.  I am hoping to get the basic idea finished so its ready to draw out once this one is completed.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Violinist WIP 4

Anyone who paints miniature portraits has my complete and utter admiration. This painting is a big one (31 inches on the long side) but the actual face of my violinist is only just over 2 inches from chin to hairline. It was fiddly enough work getting a likeness at this size. Every 10th of a millimetre counts. How on earth artists get a likeness when portrait is smaller than this is mind boggling.

I will be working on the violin next.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Progress Update

I am so relieved. 15 layers of paint later and I have got past the ugly, oh my, what was I thinking stage and am now hoping this painting might actually work.

As I am sat here thinking about what to do next though I am starting to wonder why on earth I wanted the figure to be only a small part of the painting. Getting a likeness when the face is smaller is much harder work. We don't think of that sort of thing when we have these great initial ideas do we though. I tend to be thinking of the overall look and feel of the piece at this first stage and not little details such as how I easy or hard it will be to paint. Oh well, here goes....Wish me luck 


Sunday, July 13, 2014

The creative process

I often get asked about my creative process so I thought it would be fun to tell you all about my own 8 stages of Creativity. Have a read through and let me know if the process sounds familiar Oh by the way I'm at stage 4 in my painting at the moment and thinking seriously as I write this about stage 5 Eeeek! 

Ona's 8 stages of creativity

1. I’ve just had the most awesome idea.

Usually these happen at the most inconvenient times but the creative flow just doesn’t happen on command so I try to be prepared and carry a pencil and paper around with me so I can jot ideas down wherever I am. Then I can focus on other things until a more suitable time when I can work on the idea.

2. It’s so tricky to put this idea onto paper

Once I have the idea its research time. Which way do people hold violins when playing, how does a dress or hair blow in the wind, what happens to light on objects, how are the shadows formed and what colours should I use to create the atmosphere I want. So many questions need answers.

3. The elation that I have completed the outline and then the realisation I now have to actually paint it.

How on earth am I going to tackle it? What do I do first? How long is this going to take me? Why did I decide to do it this big or this small? I must be crazy to think I can pull this off.

4. This looks really ugly

Every painting goes through its ugly stage, some more than others. Creating a rich dark background or giving a face shape and form is a huge leap of faith for each are going to look ghastly before becoming presentable again.

5. Who do I think I’m kidding… will it ever work?

No matter now experienced I get, when I try new things I have huge doubts. Even when I am doing things I have done many times before I still have doubts.

This just can’t possibly turn into a rich deep dark background can it?

Hopefully it will work and I will progress onto stage 6 soon. 

 6. Oh, maybe it might be ok, I just need a bit of faith

I’ve turned the corner and I can see the end in sight. The hard bit is done

7. You grow in confidence and let you guard down and then suddenly you make a blunder

What on earth was I thinking! That’s was so the wrong colour or why did I drop my paint filled paintbrush right on the lightest area of the painting? Thank goodness for Mr Clean’s magic erasers, what did we do before it was invented!

8. My god, it actually worked!

The last strokes and I am exhausted both physically and emotionally. I walk away but when I return after a bite to eat or time away I look and think ‘hey, that’s not bad’ maybe I could have done this a bit differently and next time I will remember to do this instead but I am proud of what I have created.