March 20, 2015 / The Life / 0 Comments

UPDATE FROM JULY 16TH, 2015: I GOT INTO THE SOOKE FINE ART SHOW which goes from July 24th to August 3rd!!! Very excited!!!

OK, feelin’ a little naked as I’m putting myself out there in this one, but here goes.


I’ll let you in on a secret: I am attempting to get into big art shows this year. It’s a little unnerving because these are shows that I’ve applied to get into before and didn’t make it. These are shows that artists from all over Vancouver Island, BC and beyond aspire to get into, hence the stiff competition. These shows are: The Sooke Fine Art Show and the Sidney Fine Art Show and the Salt Spring Island National Art Prize (top finisher wins $25.000!).


So I’ve been to these shows a number of times (except Salt Spring) and here is what I’ve noticed:

  • The art is mostly very big or small
  • There is something unique about each piece: a new angle, a different technique, an unusual subject or a strong message
  • Prices of the pieces vary quite dramatically


I’m hoping that this will be my year. I’ve been working on my “unique artistic voice” (not OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAeven sure that’s something you can work on!?) and have been experimenting with a new textured under-painting technique that I quite like and that seems to get attention. I have no idea whether it will be “respected” in the art world or not. So far I’ve had one piece with this style adjudicated by a jury of 3 artists with the Ladysmith Art’s Council. I received high marks (average of 86%) with one juror giving it 100% in each of the categories that included Overall Appearance; Creativity; Composition; Proficiency with Medium and Presentation! This gives me hope (also scary).


The piece I’m currently creating for the first show submission is on a 48” x 36” canvas, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwhich is the largest canvas I’ve ever tackled. I’ve gotta say, I’m quite stiff from kneeling on the floor and bending over this giant thing in order to lay down the texture onto the canvas. As for subject matter, I’m sticking to my forte. I’m doing a tango scene set in a dance academy studio. It has lovely atmospheric lighting and drama!


Stay tuned! The first submission deadline is end of May (Salt Spring) and then early June (Sooke). Definitely got my work cut out for me!!



March 13, 2015 / Uncategorized / 0 Comments

Before I re-discovered my love of art, psychology was a passion of mine, and in fact the subject of my undergraduate degree (from the University of Guelph). I’d always toyed with the idea of becoming a counsellor, but it never seemed like quite the right fit. Last year, I finally decided to take Life Coach training to further my desire and ability to help people. I completed the training last Fall through CTI, thinking that I would become a Life Coach. What became clear was that I was most interested in combining coaching with my art! Over the years I’ve been toying with the idea of creating visual tools to help people with their personal development goals, and now this is finally becoming a reality for me.

On June 8-12th, 2015 my co-conspirator, Jan Moore, and I will be offering a RETREAT entitled “ARTFUL LIVING. SOULFUL WORK”. It’s aimed at women of all ages, and particularly Boomer women who are unfulfilled by their job and looking for a life and work change that will bring greater meaning and satisfaction into their lives.

In fact, we just completed a Shaw Cable TV interview as part of “The Show”, about the RETREAT and benefits participants will take away with them, specifically: support in creating a flexible, meaningful, profitable, lifestyle action plan! Primarily, my contribution to this retreat is leading art projects that will serve as visual reminders and connectors to participant’s life dreams.

As I’m creating visual tools and projects to help people further their dreams, I was excited to read an article in Psychology Today magazine (Jan. 29, 2014) entitled: Why a Picture is Worth a 1000 Words: Lessons for Goal Setting. It cites a recent Michigan State University study that suggests that adding a visual component to our goal-setting exercises may bring even stronger results. ALWAYS GOOD TO HAVE RESEARCH BACKING UP WHAT YOU’RE DOING! YAY!

I continue my fine art painting, as that is something I can’t live without now, and this new piece just fits in like IT WAS MEANT TO BE! Amazing the way the universe works!

Pssssst…. If you want more info about our “ARTFUL LIVING. SOULFUL WORK.” RETREAT, please go to Jan Moore’s website www.workonyourownterms.com or  www.janetmcdonaldart.com and click on the “Events” tab.




March 4, 2015 / Painting Tips / 0 Comments

I am part of a painting group through our local Nanaimo Community Centre led by Marilyn Ridsdale, a wonderfully accomplished painter and teacher. I started 5 years ago and I’m hooked. One of the cool things about this weekly gathering is the chance to paint with other people: check out their styles, celebrate their successes and as well as commiserate with their hair pulling. I also like the discomfort and feelings of accomplishment from the various exercises we do.

One exercise we do typically involves reproducing famous artist’s works, which I find fascinating. The process always goes very differently from what you originally had Lawren Harris Tributeexpected. The pieces that look the simplest are often the most challenging in the end. Example: last “semester” I painted a Lawren Harris piece. Initially it looked like a bunch of fairly broad and simple brush strokes, but there is so much more going on in his work that you only see upon close inspection (of a very small photo mind!).


My most recent reproduction from one of these exercises is a detail from a famous Jack Vettriano painting (one of my heroes). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Another exercise we often do is paint different genre from photos (of the original subject). This challenges you to broaden your skills in approaching different subject matter. Personally, I’m most at home doing people and animals perhaps with some landscape background, so I find doing a city-scape, for example, involves much more hair pulling (sometimes my own and sometimes that of others).






The nice thing about these exercises, as well, is that we tend to paint on smaller canvases (albeit not usually my preference). This means that the piece can typically be completed in the 2 hours with a few additional hours at home in some cases.

You can see my class works, and those of my class-mates, in person at the up-coming NANAIMO PARKS AND REC STUDENT ART SHOW and SALE on SATURDAY, MARCH 14TH FROM 12-3pm at BEBAN PARK SOCIAL CENTRE.


February 20, 2015 / Painting Tips / 0 Comments

Soooo, the other day in my excitement and enthusiasm in exploring, I tried a new technique that almost wrecked this lovely 30″ x 40″ oil painting that I’m rather fond of: “Tango Heat”. AAAACCCCKKK (and a few other choice words)!

I had finished this painting and thought to myself that I’d like to try putting on a thick, tinted top coat that would show brush strokes. I wanted to try another way of giving my painting the feeling of energy being emitted from the subject.


Now, I have used cold wax medium as a top coat on oil paintings before with success. So, with just a small knot in my stomach, I bravely took out my cold wax medium, some odorless mineral spirits and added a bit of raw sienna to give it that warm glow. I grabbed a big bristly brush and started applying the medium. After about 1/3 of the way through, to my horror, I noticed all these “bits” starting to appear on the painting. I’m thinking they must have been bits of lint or dust as the painting had been sitting for a while and I’d neglected to wipe it down. Fortunately, I was able to scrape it off right away so no harm was done, but that was a definite “holy crap” moment!!

Back to the drawing board!!

5 STEPS TO FINDING YOUR OWN PAINTING STYLE (Continued) STEPS #4 & #5: Finding That Unique “SOMETHING” That Sets You Apart

February 15, 2015 / Painting Tips, The Life / 0 Comments

FINDING THAT UNIQUE SOMETHING THAT WILL SET APART YOUR STYLE OF ARTWORK FROM THAT OF OTHERS. Tricky this one. There are so many artists out there and so many different styles, how do you stand out from the crowd?

OK, so I have a lot of questions and not a lot of answers yet. But, I think this is where the playing, experimenting, leaving the fear and hesitation at the door and just trying different ideas comes into play. If you’ve experienced any niggles in your brain or gut that have been whispering “what if I tried this?”, this is where you need to listen. I believe it’s your “core being” trying to give you some hints.

I have indeed had that niggle over the past few weeks and I’m finally now LISTENING! In fact, I’ve just finished a number of paintings after listening. The first is my first ever self portrait inspired by some strong sunlight streaming in a bathroom window on the ferry from Mill Bay to Brentwood Bay one gorgeous sunny fall day. What is different for me is the background. I created a nice thick textured backdrop by dragging a house paint brush through a thick medium concoction, while following the contour of my subject. The subject in my portrait of course was my big head (in this 18” x 18” sized canvas)! To me this textured under-painting emphasizes the energy that life puts out to the world. I feel this energy particularly from people lost in a “moment” and animals (who are always lost in the moment!). To me it’s also a reminder that what we do and who we are, the energy we give to the world, affects everything. We are like a pebble in a pond, the ripple effect of everything we do is felt (perceptibly or imperceptibly) by all. It gives one pause really, and makes you think about what you are putting out to the world.

selfportaitWe’ll see where it all goes… maybe nowhere. But it’s fun to let it out!

Foxy Presence