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

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!


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