Sunday, December 30, 2012

Knit-Ted and Knot-Ted

Hope you enjoy the antics of my two latest Teds, Knit-Ted and Knot-ted who met today on Grandma's parlour table.

Knit-ted was waiting patiently in the warm sunshine for Grandma to return and sew up his foot but while he was sat there his new found friend Knot-ted, while trying to get to the jammy biscuit, became tangled in the trail of wool that was still joined to Knit-Ted's foot!  Try as this small furry Ted might to untangle himself each movement he made just made matters worse for his friend the knitted bear.

 I hope Grandma will return soon and rescue both Teds!

Thank you Christelle and Ruth for the teddy bears that inspired this painting.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Secret Santa's Surprise

I had a lovely christmas with many special gifts from my family including a selection of tiny brushes and an ingenious refillable clean water container which disposes of the dirty water and refills with clean at the press of a button. Its such a clever idea for clean water fanatics like me.

In addition to these lovely family gifts  I was also given a beautiful original watercolour from a very good friend. Each year, a group of artists who belong to  'Art Colony' which was formed by Jane Freeman draw names and we send a piece of art to one other member as part of our Secret Santa exhange. This year, my Secret Santa painting was from Christiane Fortin a fellow Canadian. I just had to share this painting from her with you all. Isn't it beautiful.

You can see that our younger dog Ella approves too. Thank you Christiane. I will treasure it always.

Just as an update...In moments between Christmas celebrations I have had a couple of opportunities to  work on my Ted painting. Hopefully I have it finished soon for you to see.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

WIP 2... Setting the scene

Its such fun setting the scene for a painting, creating the atmosphere for the main characters. My husband says the curtains in this painting remind him of his Grandma. The knitting and knitted tea cozy certainly remind me of my Nan. I had to include a jammy biscuit too as both my grandparents loved them.

I wanted to create that feeling of light and warmth with a very homey touch for my new bears. Next I get the fun of bringing them to life but not until I have helped out Santa's elves and done some much needed wrapping. I probably won't get chance to post again until after christmas so to all that celebrate it. Have a wonderful time.


Friday, December 14, 2012

WIP 1 and all because...

The idea for this painting began when I was given two teddies. One very fluffy and slightly concerned looking teddy was sent to me from Christelle in Australia and a hand knitted teddy came from Ruth in England. Thank you both for your lovely gifts.

I have been working on the background over the last week. Colour choice is so important to me in helping to create a mood or feel in a painting.  I wanted a warm, sunny, loving, homely feel so chose a palette of pinks, yellows and browns with just a hint of green for this painting.

I know the remainder of the painting at the moment is just an assortment of big white spaces but any guesses what the other objects will be in the painting and what the two Ted's will be called?


Friday, December 7, 2012

'Time Warp' used for gallery publicity

Its such an honour when one of your paintings is chosen for the gallery's publicity for a major exhibition.

Thank you to the Firehouse Art Center who are hosting the CWA 43rd National Exhibition. 


Monday, December 3, 2012

4th Signature American Watercolor Exhibition Acceptance

I am very pleased to let you all know that my painting 'Finishing Touches' has been juried into the 4th Signature American Watercolor Exhibition by Cheng-Khee Chee, AWS, D.F., NWS. The exhibition will take place early next year in Fallbrook California.


Monday, November 26, 2012

When you Wish upon a Star

I have been quietly working away at this portrait over the last few weeks.

It's a nice idea to wish upon a star but in reality you don't need  the night sky to make a wish, for the stars that you can wish upon are within you, deep inside your soul and if you believe and choose your wishes wisely you CAN make them happen

 "Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal." - Pamela Vaull Starr

In my painting I wanted to encorporate both ideas... looking up on a star lit night and dreaming but at the same time being amongst the stars to symbolize that they are part of you.

Remember wish upon those stars within you and wish wisely then just maybe, as they sang in Pinnochio 

"When you wish upon a star, it makes no difference who you are. Anything your heart desires will come to you"


Friday, November 23, 2012

Celebrate World Watercolour Day Today and Paint!

It's World Watercolour Day today and what better way to celebrate this great day than by painting and sharing my love of watercolour with you all in two ways...

Firstly,Just in case you are at a loss as to what to paint,  I am adding below a step by step guide on how to paint this beautiful box with a pebbled glass lid.

 To begin, sketch out the outline below

The box section

1. Wet the area of the box you are going to work on, and then leave till there is only a slight sheen, then wet again and wait until shiny but not really wet.

2. Position the paper so that the paint can run in the direction you want, then using quin red or similar colour put some paint on the top section and leave it to gravity to do the rest. Stand by with a tissue just in case, but with practice, knowing how long to wait before applying the paint, you will not often need it. Leave it to dry really well (about 30-45 mins).

3. Re wet the area carefully with a flat glaze brush and repeat step 2 using Perylene maroon.

4. You can do this with each section individually or work on another section of the box while waiting for the first to dry. Do not work on touching sections consecutively though, and do wait until all the shine has gone and it's light touch dry before angling the paper in a different way. You want the water to work with you and not against you.

5. Now you need to work on each part of the box in the opposite direction to the way you began. Wet the area again very carefully and put the paint on the opposite side (the side that probably still has white parts) and let gravity do its thing again.

6. Repeat with each area, first working one way and then, once dry, turn 180 degrees and repeat. You are just building the texture; don’t worry about the shadows yet. You can leave some areas white though if they are in the light.

7. Now using a mix of perylene maroon and a touch of neutral tint start to work in suggestions of shadows wet on dry. Then using a damp brush, soften the edges.

8. With a fine brush, add in the fine line shadow under the lip of the edges of the box.

The pebbled glass

Wet on ever so slightly damp paper, paint in the color of the under rim of the box and the side that shows through the glass. Remember these will not be straight lines because the rough surface of the glass will distort the shapes behind. Using wet on damp, gradually build up the color. You cannot use gravity for this because the lines will be distorted, so will wiggle around with your brush. I use a fine brush for this because I like them, but it doesn’t need to be ultra fine. Keep the whole area ever so slightly lighter in tone than the actual box.

Paint in the colored pieces of glass. You are just painting in the color at this stage, the texture will come later.

Paint in the shadows on the floor behind the glass. I used a mixture of the maroon and neutral tint. Again these shadows will not be straight lines. At the same time, you can paint in the shadows on the floor.

When dry, use a fine brush to dot in the darker areas on the glass. I just used a darker red/grey mix for the white areas and a darker maroon or quin red mix for those areas. It looks a bit weird at the moment but don’t worry.

When the paint is dry, wet a flat wash brush with plain water and gently brush over the glass area. The water will then work to gently soften and blend the dots together and create the pebbled glass look.

The rim of the box

Use a mixture of quin gold, neutral tint or a grey complimetary mix, and a red brown (I used Indian red) and fill in the paint on the rim. For the shiny areas I just added some iridescent watercolor mix to some quin gold deep and touched in these areas once the paint was dry.

I Hope you will enjoy following the steps above and creating your own gift box. Why not add something inside your box and give the exercise as a Christmas or holiday gift to someone special.
Please note this image is not subject to the usual copyright rules so please enjoy painting it yourself.

Secondly, as it is World Watercolour day today, I thought that this would also be a great time to share with you a review of  my  watercolours painted and/or exhibited in 2012.  Thank you all for your support this year.Click on the play button below to see my slideshow or go directly to you tube to see it full screen


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Re Unite-Ted

My Nan used to tell me as a child that when my Teddy was threadbear and his  stuffing was coming out it was because I had filled him so full with my love there wasn't enough room for some of the stuffing too. This is what I was thinking about as I painted the old Ted. You can see from the old man's eyes and whole demeanor how much he loves his bear and I wanted this love to be visible on the bear too.

If there is any one thing that symbolises childhood it's a Teddy bear. Every parent watches with wonder as their baby goes from chewing on their favourite bear to making him dance around and tell stories. As your child bestows a particular personality on a Teddy you start to play along, and soon you're as attached as the child.

But children grow up and they give up their toys. Often parents though cannot give up the symbol of their children's childhood so easily and so put that bear away safely.

Before we know days turn to months and months into years,
Time is mapped with laughter and cheers,
the long road sometimes landmarked with sadness and tears.

Elders pass and children grow,
has it been that long we ask, where does time go? 
                                                                   Ryan Guerrero

and then one day, the child that was finds his beloved bear again

and with it his childhood memories and feeling of love and attachment for his bear come flooding back as if the time between then and now never happened. In his heart he is that child once more.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Demo at Don Valley Art Club

It's wonderful when you have the opportunity to meet other artists who share your joy for painting. Yesterday evening I was asked to give a demonstration at the Don Valley Art club in Toronto.

As I am a slow painter I didn't attempt to do a complete painting in the short time I had. Instead I focused on demonstrating certain techniques that I use when painting portraits of babies or young children.

 members of the Don Valley Art Club Watching my demo

My first focus was the eyes for as I have said many times before, they really are the key to a successful portrait.

For my Don Valley friends and my readers of this blog, here are a few important things to remember about eyes

  1. You can tell the age of the person even if you don’t see the rest of the face because our brain is extremely good at interpreting facial features. When we paint or draw eyes though we have to be consiously aware of some things that normally our brains just process automatically or we will end up aging the children and not understanding why.

2. A newborn’s eyes are 2/3 the size of adults and reach adult size by 6-12 years even though the face isn’t adult size. Therefore, they are larger in comparison to the face and to the eye socket than an adult. The inner corner of a baby’s eye is completely covered by a fold of skin that slowly retracts as the bridge of the nose develops.

Creating a realistic looking eye using my method of glazing taking many many layers so I demonstrated how to begin, by establishing the real darks around and in the corners of the eye and the first few layers of detail and washes on one of the eyes

and then moved onto the second eye to show how, with more layering you can begin to get a sense of depth in the iris and then demonstrated how to push the eye ball back into the socket with the help of shadowing. You can see in the photo below how the iris section and left part of the white of the eye is pushed back but the right side which I hadn't worked on at this point is still level with the skin.

We also talked about looking for the colours under the skin colour which help to shape and form the facial features. Its amazing the colours you can see if you train your eye to look for them.

In the photo below I still have a long way to go but you can begin to see how the glazes of perm rose, ultramarine blue, quin gold and burnt sienna  are creating that sense of depth and form. The eye itself at this stage still needs a little more value strengthening and the last layers of skin tones need to be added.

In the photo below you can see the effect that the increase in value creates, really pulling our attention to them. I used the same ref photo that I used in my demo to paint this. I merely tilted the eyes a little to give them a slightly more quizzical  look and added the puzzle pieces around them for some fun

Thank you to everyone there for making me feel so welcome.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Re Unite-Ted WIP 4

The old man is now finished and I am beginning to work on the equally old teddy. I will be a while on this as its fiddly work suggesting the worn parts. I haven't got a reference photo for this so I'm just working from imagination and some general photos of old teddy's to give me an idea of how to best suggest that sense of love and friendship that the threadbear texture suggests.

Thank you for all your teddy tales by e mail, here on the blog or on facebook. I have loved reading them. Teddy bears obviously have a special place in many of our hearts.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Re Unite-Ted WIP 3

I have really enjoyed bringing this old man's face to life on the paper. He has such an infectious smile. I have a little bit of hair left to paint behind his ear but as this section falls over the top of his shirt I will paint that in first. I'm so keen to paint the long lost and well loved teddy but I'm going to be good and finish the clothing first.

So how many of you have kept your childhood teddy bears or had them safely kept for you? My grandmother looked after mine after I left home and gave them to me before I moved to Canada. There is a lovely story attached to them. My Nana as I used to call her gave me one when I was about one year old but secretly she had bought two. The idea was that when one got dirty she could swap it for the other so I wouldnt be upset when it needed to be washed. One day, when I was about 2 my grandmother opened her cupboard and I saw the other Teddy peaking out. I was so delighted that she had a teddy just like mine and explained that they really ought to be friends. From then on I had two bears and they went everywhere with me :)


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Re Unite-Ted WIP 2

What better way could there be to spend a cold, windy, rainy day than creating such a happy smiling face. He lifts my spirits on this gloomy day and makes me smile back at him as I bring his features to life on the paper. 
 I secretly think the brush tickles his nose and thats why he is grinning at me. I know... my imagination gets carried away sometimes.
 I still have a long way to go shaping his face but I couldn't resist sharing his smile with you today. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Re Unite-Ted WIP1

 I'm working on another Ted themed painting at the moment.

 I had this wonderful reference of another of the volunteers at the local pioneer village that has been on my 'to paint' list for a while now ( I just loved his smiling face). Whenever we visit the village I always like to go and chat to this old gentleman. He has such wonderful stories of his life, particularly his childhood and he relates his memories with such life and animation so he seemed the obvious subject for this particular Ted word painting.

I have now finished the background apart from a couple of washes which will go over both the subjects and background and today began working on the man's face. It's such a delight bringing his character to life as I begin underpinning his features. Of course, I had to begin with his eyes. Don't they just ooze mischief and delight even at this early stage.

I wanted the background to become his memory, in essance a metaphorical tunnel back to his childhood and to mirror so many of our feelings about growing older. It is symbolic of life really because when we are children, we are so eager to forsake what represents youth and grow up. In contrast when we are older something like looking at a much loved teddy makes us yearn with fond memories for those innocent times once more and make us wish we hadn't been in such a hurry to become an adult.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ted series on cards!

I've had a lot of people asking about cards of my 'Ted' paintings, so I have created deluxe archival quality cards of the first 8 in the series.

This is a photo of the first complete set hot off the press individually bagged and ready to sell.  Each are printed on archival paper, have paper inserts and have the stories/information about them on the back of each card. The large cards are 8.5 by 5.5 inches. The panoramic cards are 9 by 4 inches in size.

They make a great collection don't they!

My initial aim was to be able to sell them as individual cards locally but I know many people have asked from much further afield so I have priced up some special packages for you all.

Option 1.... 8 cards (one of each design above) each individually packaged with an envelope and in its own crystal clear bag

 Canada and the US: $49 including shipping
 International: $55 including shipping

Options 2 and boxed sets of cards

Option 2..... A gift boxed Pack of 9 panoramic cards ( 3 each of the 3 different panoramic designs in each box)

Canada and the US: $46 including shipping
International: $49 including shipping

 Option 3..... A gift boxed pack of 10 large cards ( 2 each of the 5 different large card designs in each box)

Canada and the US: $60 including shipping
International: $67 including shipping

Send an e mail to if you are interested in any of these options.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cheap Joe's Art Stuff Award

I have had some more exciting news!

My painting 'Dream Catcher' received the Cheap Joe's Art Stuff Award at the 44th Annual Watercolor West International Juried Exhibition.

Thank you Marilyn Wear for taking the photograph for me and congratulations on your award too.

The exhibition opened a couple days ago and continues until December 16th so if you are within travelling distance of the Brea Gallery CA, do visit. If you are not able to go you can enjoy a selection of the exhibition on line by going to the Brea Gallery's facebook page Here


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Studio Tour News!

It's always great to be able to place that magic read dot on the painting label.  'Fast food fly through' my painting of the magical hummingbirds sold today.

It is also lovely to get so much positive feedback from people who enjoyed looking at my work. 

Thank you to so many of my friends locally who popped in to say hi over the weekend. It was so lovely to actually meet in person a couple of my blog readers for the first time too. Now I can put faces to names. Thank you for travelling all that way to come and see me and my work.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

California Watercolor Association 43rd National Exhibition Acceptance!

I am very pleased to let you all know that 'Time Warp' has been accepted into the California Watercolor Association 43rd National Exhibition. 

It will be held at the historic Harrington Gallery in the Firehouse Art Center in Pleasanton, CA and will run from January 17, 2013 to February 16, 2013.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Visit me at the Richmond Hill Studio Tour!

Today was set up day for the Richmond Hill Studio Tour which takes place this weekend. Here is a sneak preview of my space at Boynton Bouse, 1300 Elgin Mills East Richmond Hill. I have 24 original watercolours on exhibition. The Studio tour is open on Saturday and Sunday between 10am and 5 pm.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Watercolor Artist Magazine has arrived!

The December issue of the Watercolor Artist Magazine that I am featured in arrived in the mail today. It feels very special to be featured in it. Thank you Birgit O'Connor for nominating me :)

Thank you also to all of my readers here who have encouraged me over the last couple years.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Let's face it...Life's a puzzle!

 Life can be a bit of a puzzle sometimes, especially when you are young :)

I have been asked to do a demo early next month on portraiture.  I only have  an hour and a half for the demo so rather than rush through everything I am going to focus on eyes as they really are the key to a successful portrait.

I painted this small fun painting last week while show sitting at the exhibition to illustrate how eyes really help to convey emotion and tell a story even when the rest of the face is obscured. I wanted to capture that slightly bewildered look in the young child's eyes.  I added the puzzle pieces to demonstrate how you can even take a simple exercise such as painting eyes and make it into a fun and meaningful piece of art with a little imagination :)


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

One's to Watch 2012 promotional release

 I was sent the promotional release for the watercolor Artist Magazine 'One's to Watch' feature yesterday

Announcing Watercolor Artistʼs 2012 “Ones to Watch”

Few stories generate as much excitement around the Watercolor Artist offices as the annual “Ones to Watch” feature, published each year in the December issue. In May, the Watercolor Artist editors send out a call to longtime artist friends, asking for the names of students they think show exceptional promise or talented painters who theyʼve recently encountered by way of an exhibition theyʼve juried. The staff then solicits work from each of the nominated artists. Once all the images are in, the editors begin to highlight the standouts.

Editor Kelly Kane looks forward to spotting new talent. “Our goal is to identify up-andcoming watercolor artists who demonstrate both technical skill and unique qualities of self-expression, but who might not otherwise have come to our attention for a few more years; artists we can catch early and watch as they continue to hone their styles and techniques; artists who can teach us all something about commitment, drive and belief in oneʼs self and oneʼs work,” she says.

Congratulations to the 2012 Watercolor Artist “Ones to Watch:”

Bill Bailey | Oakland, Tennessee
Cheng Fen Yeh | Radford, Virginia
Cindy Evans | Williamston, Michigan
Donna Morrison | Tampa, Florida
Joseph Stoddard | Pasadena, California
Lane Hall | Medford, Oregon
Mary Barnett | Boulder, Colorado
Ona Kingdon | Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada
Robin Erickson | Fallbrook, California
Suzanne Reed Fine | Columbus, Georgia

Read more about these artists—and why they were nominated by the top watermedia instructors and exhibition jurors—in the December 2012 issue of Watercolor Artist, available on newsstands Oct. 23, 2012, or in digital format at

I can't wait to see how they used what I sent them to write the feature... It's going to be a long few weeks :)