Category Archives: On being an artist

Clarifying Our Intentions

Clarify your Intentions

 Clarifying our Intentions

It is that time of year again.  The time for reflection and the time to clarify our intentions for the coming year. Clarifying our intentions  simply means this: Know what it is that you want! Not always the easiest question to answer!

Setting intentions on a daily basis is very powerful but setting them for a year can work magic.

As a life coach I help people get clear on their intentions.

Let’s get started by answering some questions that will clarify our artistic intentions for 2015.

1. What do I want to create?

2. What gets in my way and stops me from creating?

3. Who am I trying to please with my creative work?

4. What is my level of commitment for 2015 going to be?

5. What am I going to have to sacrifice to get it?

6.How will I benefit by not doing the work?

7. What does a typical day with my new level of commitment look like?

8. What does a creative session look and feel like to me?

9. Am I more interested in the process or the product?

10. How will I measure my success?

If you are interested in deepening your artistic practice I have a year long course that will do just that.  It is called Make your Mark – you can find out more about it here.

If you are interested in one on one coaching, critique or laser learning please get in touch by calling me at 250-248-2775 or contact me through the contact form on the website.


It’s a Sad and Beautiful World!


1431 Scrivener- A Sad and Beautiful Day -36x36-WREvery day I see the beauty all around me and feel blessed to live in such a beautiful part of the world.  I think you can find beauty anywhere if you are looking for it. At the same time it is such a sad world with all the war and violence, the corruption, scandal and the like.

Painting transcends me to my happy place! A place where I can go inside of myself and leave the worries behind. On a conscious level anyway. This painting started out bright and vibrant but as I worked on it I felt a shift happening. It was becoming dark and moody- evocative.

Was it being coloured by my inner thoughts?

For me this painting is about the “Sad and Beautiful World”. How mankind is destroying it and each other. The darkness in the painting represents all of that while the brightness in the figures represents hope and light.

With all the darkness and despair around we must keep our hope and stay positive.

15 Ways to Stop the Train!

Or at least slow it down!

If you read my previous post you will know I am talking about the train of thought! Here are some things that help me to tame my monkey mind chatter.






















  1. Slow down!  Slowing down expands time. It allows us to think clearer. Remember the familiar phrase – haste makes waste! When I am teaching music I tell my students if they want to play fast they have to practice slow! It works! When we stop rushing we take less steps! Why? Because we can think clearer and don’t have to back track so much-like going back to the bedroom to get your purse when we are going out!
  2. Breath!   Focus on your breathing as you breathe in deeply and exhale
  3. Set Intentions  Setting your intentions can colour your whole day! Do it upon rising.
  4. Go for a walk  Changing scenery by going for a walk can help clear our mind.
  5. Meditate  This can be a sitting meditation, or a moving meditation like Tai Chi or Yoga.
  6. Take a mini vacation Do something that calms you – a walk on the beach, a massage or spa treatment. Even a couple of hours can have amazing benefits.
  7. Journal I refer to this as a brain dump! Get it out of your head and onto paper.
  8. Make a task list. Whether you use a computer or a paper and pen keep a task list.
  9. Set priorities. Determine your top three priorities for the day and work on these before anything else.
  10. Stay present. By practicing staying in the moment we will curb our monkey mind.
  11. Pomodoro Technique  A technique to help us focus by using time blocking. You can read more about it here.
  12. Clear Clutter Visual clutter can affect our mind. Create a calm environment.
  13. Don’t multi task! I have spent years as a multi-tasker and I can bet lots of you have too. The fact that multi-tasking works is a myth! Single tasking is the way to go. Check out Alyson Stanfield’s blog post on this very subject.
  14. Limit your use of technology I find this can really help slow down the chatter.
  15. Listen to Music Sing along to quiet the chatter in your head. Or go make some of your own! Nothing beats playing a musical instrument to shift our focus from our daily thoughts.

I am sure you have some of your own methods, please share what works for you by leaving a comment.

Until next time –




Stop the Train!

I want to get off! Just for while! A mental health break, somewhere to collect my thoughts and put things into perspective.  Well there is no train – not where I live on Vancouver Island!  However this is not the train I am referring to.


Photo Credit – Geek Philosopher 

Metaphorically I would like to get off the train of my thoughts! They are driving me crazy! Whirling around in my head like spinning saucers, not slowing down long enough to let me listen to them. They are in a race – with each other. “Maybe she will listen if I yell louder, maybe I can keep her awake at night and she will pay attention” they say to each other. They keep running trying to get my attention. I keep running trying to stay one step ahead of them. It isn’t working!

This incessant chatter is often referred to as monkey mind. Experts estimate that our brains are bombarded with seven times as much stimuli as our grandparents experienced.

The mind produces up to 100,000 thoughts per day! Is it any wonder we feel stressed and restless! In todays world there are more distractions than ever before – the monkey mind has turned into King Kong!

I have to go – I hear the train coming!





Finding inspiration in the most unlikely objects!

It was a clear and crisp day this past Sunday and after going for breakfast we ( my husband and I ) headed over to one of my favourite places for inspiration – the salvage yard! It was a good day – so many things that spoke to me. Him on the other hand has trouble understanding my excitement at old engines, radiators, and rusted metal. Here are a few of the images from the salvage yard and a few from a pond with frozen icicles.

Upon reflecting I came to realize why I like salvage and ponds. Both very different but they are associated with my childhood. My Dad was a machinist/mechanic/welder. There was always rusted metal, salvage, motors and the like around. The pond was down the road by the train track where the culvert drained. I use to spend hours at the pond catching tadpoles and frogs and just enjoying the sounds. I was a bit of a tom girl I must admit!



It’s all about the process!

I had an amazing weekend attending the Suzanne Northcott “Big and Loose”  workshop hosted by  Susan of Island Arts Magazine.

Suzanne really reaffirmed my belief in the process. If you allow yourself to enjoy the process the outcome will take care of itself.

Many people worked from subject matter however I painted intuitively. Not having a clue what would turn up as I madly mixed, poured and scraped.

I worked on 5 canvases of various sizes the smallest being 24×24″ and the largest being 30×48″.

Although I didn’t finish any one of them (5 more to add to my collection of unfinished paintings), I did get a good start on them and built up several layers.  Even though I was experimenting and trying different ways of working with the mediums my work developed a theme.  My mark making and scraping had a consistent feel.

I am calling it the “Pond Series”.

My goal this week aside from teaching a two day workshop and teaching a few harp lessons is to try and work some of these paintings to the finish line!

Here are the paintings in progress.








“I Perhaps Owe Having Become a Painter to Flowers.” – Monet

The last couple of weeks I worked at a local flower shop to allow the regular designer to have a vacation.  After spending many years in the floral industry it is like riding a bike.  I was quickly transported back to days gone by.

I had time to reflect on my journey and how flowers have indeed influenced my paintings. I don’t often paint flowers as a subject however I know my art is influenced by my many years designing with flowers. I think it helped me hone my sense of colour combinations, my sense of design, and my love of texture.  Designing flowers is very spontaneous and your creation takes shape quickly.  I like spontaneity in my artwork too!  Having spent many years making three dimensional work I sometimes find the two dimensional work very flat!  I think that has influenced my building up of layers to give a lot of depth. In a flower shop you are often working on several arrangements at a time – I find I do this with my paintings also.

I love the textures and the colours of fall. There are so many old and new flowers being cultivated for commercial use, like the chocolate sunflower, and the luscious coffee break rose.

Now they are even growing marigolds for commercial use!  The fragrance of these transported me right back to my childhood and growing up on the farm in Saskatchewan. We grew the large Cracker Jack variety in our garden – probably to ward off bugs!  In the fall at the first frost warning we would pick large bouquets’ and bring them into the house to enjoy. As a child I found the fragrance strong and unpleasant – now I find myself enjoying it.  It is amazing how scent is so strongly linked to memory!

It is not a mystery why I love “Cadmium Orange” – maybe I will rename that to be “Marigold Orange! ”

Here are a few snapshots I took of the fall tones.


Now I have to go paint – I feel a fall tone landscape coming on!




The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow!

I am into my second week of my yellow challenge. To say it has been fun would be a lie! I never thought that painting with a colour I didn’t like would be so difficult.  I keep trying different colour combinations and techniques hoping something will click.

Maybe I should just paint pears and lemons!

Research says it takes 7- 10 “tastes” for children to like a food.  I am starting Day 11 – does that mean I am going to ” like ” yellow? Only time will tell. Research talks about pairing the disliked foods with foods you like, for instance- broccoli with sugar (yuck!), until you acquire a taste.

So maybe, just maybe, that would work if I paired the yellow with teal!  I think I may be onto something here!

As frustrated as I am I will continue because I am not a quitter. I am sure there will be a silver lining in this dark cloud. The sun will come out tomorrow, tomorrow,  bet your bottom dollar! Tomorrow, tomorrow you might be mellow and like yellow tomorrow!

Stay calm and paint on!



Ten Reasons You Should Do a Thirty Day Painting Challenge

You end up with 30 pieces of art (now that was obvious!)

Okay here are the ten real reasons!

  1. It creates a habit
  2. It helps with procrastination
  3. It allows you to experiment
  4. It increases your speed
  5. It increases your confidence
  6. It can aid in learning a new technique
  7. You learn to make quicker decisions
  8. You learn what you like and what you don’t like
  9. You discover new colour combinations
  10. You define your style

How to Get Started

I like to follow the calendar month but you don’t have to. I just find it is an easy way to keep track of the challenge.
Some decisions need to be made before you start; size, substrate and medium. I like to use paper and have been enjoying painting on Terraskin. It does not buckle, has a nice smooth surface and is reasonable to purchase. By using paper I find I am less concerned with the results. You can always mount the ones you are happy with. What format do you like? Square or rectangle? A small painting is achievable. I like working in the square format and am enjoying the 6×6″ size.

Setting Some Parameters

If you don’t you will have more trouble making decisions about what to paint. Decide on a theme, a colour palette, a subject matter or a technique. Put yourself in a box. By focusing on less you will learn more!  Did you hear me – BY FOCUSING ON LESS YOU WILL LEARN MORE!  Sorry for shouting! I just think that narrowing your focus is key to learning.

Keeping the Momentum

Come on you can do anything for 30 days!  Here are some things that have helped me.

  • Hire a coach! Why do you think athletes succeed?
  • Have an accountability partner. This could be a friend or your spouse.
  • Team up with a friend who is willing to take the challenge.
  • Join an online challenge group
  • Use social media to stay accountable.
  • Schedule a time to paint

Painting challenges are fun and a great way to learn. I would love to have you join me.


Here are all the paintings from my latest challenge

Thirty Days of Teal

Start Your Collection – Here’s How

These paintings are available unless marked SOLD.  They are $50.00 plus applicable taxes and  shipping. They come  matted in a black matt that measures 12×12″ with my bio on the back, packaged in a cello sleeve. Contact me directly by replying to this email with your selection. I take credit cards, cheques or cash.

Just Try a Little Bit – You Will Learn to Like It.

Those where my Mother’s words when ever there was some food -vegetables in particular we did not like. It seemed to work because I have grown up to be a big fan of all vegetables.

For the month of July I am taking on a challenge of a colour that I don’t favour and that is YELLOW.  To paint a small 6×6″ painting daily.

Why would you do that?

..because I love challenges. It will push me out of my comfort zone. Being uncomfortable offers a place for big growth.

Maybe if I start with small amounts I can learn to like it too!  If I don’t at least I tried and will have probably learned a thing or two in the end.