5 STEPS TO FINDING YOUR OWN PAINTING STYLE (continued) Step #3: Allowing Yourself to Play & Explore

February 6, 2015 / The Life / 0 Comments

If Steps #1 & #2 of FINDING YOUR OWN PAINTING STYLE are finding elements in other’s work that one really likes and gleaning some or all of these into one’s own style, then the next step has got to be: Do the opposite of that and just ALLOW YOURSELF TO PLAY!

I was talking to artist (and lovely person!) Brian Simons (www.briansimons.com) recently when my sister and I visited his studio open house in Victoria. We had taken a great course from him last year as we both really like his work: it is loose, playful, colourful and always fresh! After a nice chat, his parting words of wisdom were: “Keep painting and just have fun with it.” Further words of wisdom from his workshop came rushing back to me: “DON’T LET THE WORK BECOME “PRECIOUS”.

Have fun and don’t let the work become precious! Why does this seem so hard to me!? Even Brian confessed that it took him 35 years to figure this out and judging from other artists I’ve spoken to the “precious-ification of the work” is a common affliction. I know there are many reason behind this, one being that we’re taught that “perfection” is something to which we should aspire from quite a young age. I know intellectually that this is a soul-sucking game but retraining is a slow process. And, I am willing to keep at it!

Right. So…..  in addition to my pledge to do a painting a month for the next 5 months (this one is half way through already… YIKES!) I’m going to “give myself permission” to just play on the canvas. I’m going to LET GO of the agenda of selling the work or even the need to show anyone else.


West Coast Quail 16"x 20" oil and acrylic on canvas board    $475 with frame

Playing with texture: “West Coast Quail” 16″x 20″ oil and acrylic on canvas board $475 with frame

I’ll let you know how it goes!


February 2, 2015 / The Life / 0 Comments

Over a year ago I left the life of 9-5 to follow my passion of fine art painting and make a living at it. This new life has had its ups and downs for sure. So far this is what I can tell you about what I love and hate about being an artist:


I love….

–  the satisfaction and feelings of accomplishment it brings when I nail what I wanted to create, or when the painting turns into something quite different from what I’d intended and with surprisingly wonderful bits.

–  the feel of the paint under my brush… so much so that I need to get my fingers in the painting at some point (not great when using Cadmium reds etc.!).

–  the feelings when I get a “wow!” when someone looks at my latest “masterpiece”, or when they make a purchase. It is, frankly, a wonderful mix of pride and relief!

–  that I can make something flat turn into 3D; create light and texture where there really is none and that I can evoke mood and feeling.


I hate/love….

–  the fact that I have knelt on the floor bent over a commission painting I’ve already finished to “tweak” something (a face) to “get it just right”…. for 5 hours!! The astonishing part is that it felt like 10 minutes. It was only when I stopped that I noticed my aching back and knees and that I was dehydrated and ravenous.

–  that I am a natural DABBLER! I love to paint so many different things in different approaches that sticking to one particular style is not easy for me.

– the doubt and anxiety that inevitably comes during the “ugly/awkward” stage of each painting, and the fact that some of them never really emerge from it.

– that it is such a challenge to sell enough paintings to make a living, despite talent and effort.

– that for the good, the bad, and the ugly, I am determined to make this work!


No wonder paintings can evoke a variety of feelings from on-lookers, for what is poured into each piece is a true roller-coaster of emotions.



January 30, 2015 / Painting Tips / 0 Comments

STEPS #1 & 2: INSPIRATION THROUGH OTHER’S ART WORK: Finding What You Like and Boiling it Down

I have chosen a painting from 6 different painters whose work I love and have attempted to boil down what it is that inspires me, including elements that they have used that have contributed to this! Soooo, here ‘tis:

Brigitte Mattei painting

This painting by Brigitte Mattei is what inspired me to paint!  I love the feel:  Dreamy, romantic, mysterious. I think what helps create this is the blended back-ground with soft edges creating a blurred effect contrasted with the sharpness of the subject.

– Love the unusual use of colour in the water that you wouldn’t expect. I think this helps creates some mystery and that romantic feel.


Mark Heine clouds, rocks and ocean

Love this Mark Heine painting. Love that dream-like quality. Again, I’d say it’s the blurred background here and the use of unexpected colours that help create this. The palette he chooses and the lighting create a real atmosphere. I love the blurring of the birds that creates motion and the sharpness of their “target”. Wonderful!




What’s not to adore in Vincent Van Gogh‘s Starry Night! Love the dramatic movement; strong brush strokes, texture and values contrasts; and the contrasting colour temperatures.



Jack Pine


The infamous “Jack Pine” by Tom Thomson has wonderful dramatic values contrasts, obvious brush strokes and a wonderful composition and colour palette!




vermilion-roseann-mungerLovely dramatic painting by Roseann Munger. I love the strong directional lighting, reflected light on the body, the glowing light effect on the dress, the unusual use of colour (violet skin tones that really create that glow!), the dramatic values contrast, interesting composition, and the romantic feel.



Jack Vettriano is one of my heroes. I love the golden, late afternoon lighting that creates great shadows; the geometric brush strokes; the vintage/romantic subject matter & beach scenes; the lack of detail in the people; the contrasting temperatures in the colour palette and the interesting composition! Phew!


In sum I’d say that I want my style to include much of the following:

Feel: dramatic or dream-like, capturing a “moment”, romantic or nostalgic, mystique, drama

Techniques: blurred back-grounds, unusual colour palettes with contrasting colours, strong directional lighting with golden light tones and “glowing” , blurring and/or geometric brush strokes, back lighting, texture

Subjects: people and/or animals in nature

Not sure how to combine all of this. Wow…. this should be interesting!!


January 21, 2015 / The Life / 0 Comments

A New Day is DawningI keep hearing from gurus in the art world that in order be “collectible” and therefore taken seriously as a fine art painter you need to have a distinctive and recognizable style and body of work. I want to be collectible so that’s where I want to go! I’ve diligently spoken to other successful artists about how they found their style and I heard things like: your style will find you; just keep painting and it will come. Hmmm. I have been painting for 6 years now (ok, I know that’s not a lot of time in the grand scheme) and I’m still all over the style map! So far I have really enjoyed letting the subject of my paintings dictate the style in which I paint. And, I am a self-confessed DABBLER… I like trying different stuff.  Hell, it took me 50 years to finally choose a career that I’m excited to stick with, never mind finding one style and staying with it.

But, I AM RESOLUTE… THIS IS THE YEAR I FIND MY STYLE and create that cohesive body of work. In my world I need a plan! So here it is: I am going choose 5 artists whose work I love and try to pick out the elements in their paintings that inspire me. Then, I’m going to do 5 of my own paintings incorporating as many of these elements as possible (within reason!) for the next 5 months.  Theoretically, I should be well on my way by April Fools’ Day!?? We’ll see.  I may just find myself feeling the Fool on April 1st, no closer to my goal because it may indeed be a matter of “letting my style find me”.

Keep you posted!     Heart and Soul