Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I'm way behind in posting to my blog. Things have been busy here at Sheltie Hollow. Commissions, painting my own visions, family responsibilities, Christmas preparations, and life in general have filled the days and evenings until I find that yet another day has gone past without doing a blog entry. I managed to fit in number 3 of my SHELTIE SEASONS series, and if you want to see SHELTIE AUTUMN, please go to my website's Sheltie Watercolor page. Or follow my art page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Heather-Anderson-Animals-in-Art/178460752664?ref=nf
This painting I've posted today is one of my favorites. SHELTIE WINTER is an 11 x 14 watercolor, and even though I was working with a Bi-Blue Sheltie against a partially white background, I chose to accept the challenge of doing the entire paiting in watercolor as usual rather than using some gouache or acrylic. For areas where I needed white on a dark color, I used Titanium White right out of the tube. For the rest, I relied on a careful balance of shading.
I really enjoyed this series, and all 4 paintings will soonbe available as prints through Zazzle.
. . .. And I will try to keep my blog posting going strong in the new year!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Meet Ginger. She is a thoroughly delightlful Pomeranian who is the subject of a recent commission. This 8 x 10 portrait was done in Colored Pencil on Arches 140 Hot Press paper. I loved the challenge of all that fluffy, golden fur, and of course, her darling little smile. That took a while, as I don't trace or project, but it is such a great feeling to get it right. It's great to please my client, and wonderful to be happy myself with what I have accomplished.
Painting dogs and cats is such a joy in my heart.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mini Monday - Bedroom Door

Although I worked on the livingroom ceiling this weekend, I don't have a photo yet, so I thought I'd show you the bedroom door. This is another door that did not come with the kit, so I built it from a piece of basswood. I decorated it with narrow moulding, a panel of "wall paper", and a scroll that I made out of clay. Then I painted the door white and added the merest brush of gold on the edgings. The doorknob is a crystal one that I bought.
I looked at various wallpapers for the bedroom walls, but in the end, I painted the lower half of the walls in a soft ivory and made my own hand drawn wall paper and border. It took a fair bit of concentration to keep the pattern even in image, color, and scale, but that was half the fun!

Friday, September 24, 2010


This little Sheltie pup is about to learn a short, sharp lesson in respect for the cat, taught By the cat! (No animal was injured during this incident . . .one indignant look and a short hiss did the trick.)
I'm sometimes astonished by the lack of respect we artists get from the public. I was contacted out of the blue, by an organization in a bid to get me to donate to an "important fundraiser". It was something I might have considered, but the person asking, did not use my name in the request, (I was just a generic artist) and they did not know what kind of art I create. The real kicker was that the "important Fundraiser", with all the promised promotion attached, was less than TWO WEEKS AWAY! When I replied that it was too short notice, I was repeatedly asked if I would send something for the other "important fundraisers" that the organization was putting on at a rate of about one a month. Well, no, I don't think so. I'm not sending something to an event that is a glorified Grab Table! I saw this episode as an example of the lack of respect some people have for artists.
How do we overcome this attitude? Maybe just by being professional in all our dealings, and making sure that we treat everyone, including ourselves, with politeness and the golden rule. And among ourselves, let's rememer to be kind to each other - basic support, good manners, and knowing when to bite our tongue. Life's short, let's make it pleasant.
The painting I've used to illustrate this post, is called Temptation" and it is an 8 x 10 Colored Pencil painting.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mini Monday plus a day - Guest Room

I've missed the last 2 Monday's . . . life gets like that sometimes. Today I'll catch up by showing you both sides of the Guest Room. I wanted it to be a peaceful, soft green, but I found out early on that paint does not go on the walls well, even after a base coat of gesso. So now I always line the walls with watercolour paper before I paint. I wanted one wall to be wallpaper, and I decided it would be fun to make my own. I did a background acryilc wash in a warm cream, and then did the stripes and floral columns in shades of greens with colored pencil. I made the door and trim and painted them (and all other trim in the room) a pale almond to keep the room soft and restful. The door knob is a craft pearl painted gold, and the hinges are tiny brass ones that nearly made me crazy trying to put them on. The floor is done with narrow craft sticks, painted in acrylic washes to look like pine, and then glazed several times. Everything is a 1/12 scale of course.
While I was doing the leading on the window glass in this room (a diamond grid printed on clear acetate and then gone over with a fine tipped marker), I made a smudge. No problem, I'll just sponge it off, I thought. But the acetate started to melt just slightly, making the smudge even worse. The heavy acetate with the light one on top was already in the window frame, so I had a problem on my hands. To solve it, I got out my acrylic paint and painted a "stained glass" wisteria over the smudged area and took it beyond so it would look as if I had meant to do it in the first place. Of course I did!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Halloween's coming . . . SHELTIE VAMPIRE

Our boy Bram loves his costumes. This year, he is going to be a Vampire, with sparking "fangs" and an elegant cape. Just look at that face - he's having a marvelous time. This is the little guy who also loves his ghost costume. One of the many wonderful things about Shelties is their sense of fun. SHELTIE VAMPIRE is a 5 x 7 watercolour and would make a wonderful birthday card for someone who has a birthday in late October.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mini Monday Kitchen 1

This will be a quick post today because it is a holiday Monday. This is one wall of the kitchen, another very necessary room, and the first one that I put a lot of work into. I already had my indoor plumbing, but it sat in an unfinished room for quite a while as I worked on the kitchen. What's life without a good cup of tea and maybe some tea biscuits?
This room is a wing that needs to be added to the main house, but that will be one of the last things I do. I wanted a sunny yellow kitchen, as I like my kitchens to be cheerful. The floor tile was made from peel and stick tiles from the DYI store, and I hand-painted a section of duck stencilling for around the top of the walls and printed it out as many times as needed. The stencilling around the door (that I made without any pattern, same as the other doors in the house) was painted directly onto the wall. The wainscotting was a mistake, as now the sink and counter won't fit snugly against the wall. May have to do something about that! But not today.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


In this watercolour from some years ago, the Lab is enjoying the ripples of water as they gently wash against him. Life can be a little like that too, I think.
I recently had the opportunity to do something thoughtful for someone who had been very much the opposite to me in the past. When the request came, my first inclination was to brush it off . . ."Not in this lifetime, Cookie!" But then I began to think about it. Was I going to withhold the little thing that was being asked of me because I really didn't want to do it, or was I saying no out of revenge? It bothered me that I was heading into revenge territory, so much so, that I did as I was asked. I didn't expect anything in return, and there was nothing I wanted. I just didn't want to do something (or not do it) out of vengeance. My spirits lifted immediately.
And the person wanting the little favour . . .did they respond by doing something nice for me in return? Not on your Nellie! :-0. BUT .... since then, one by one, good things have been rippling into my life. Good friends reaffirming friendship, new friends entering my life, spontaneous good times, little kindnesses dropping out of the blue, a pick up in business after last year's tough economy, better health, and moments of quiet peace. When you take the high road, the universe rewards.
Now if something like this comes up again, I can say no, knowing I'm saying it for the right reasons.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mini Monday - back stairs and floors

Just a little slice of an image today, but it was a lot of work. I wanted to have a washing machine/dryer in my little house, but it was a problem where to put it. There really wasn't room in the bathroom, but if I use a European all in one machine, it will fit in one corner of the studio. The problem was that the residents of my little house would have to cart laundry downstairs and through the whole house to get it there. So I came up with the idea of a back stairway built into the imagined thick walls of the "old" house. I painted two images of stairs, one going down and one going up, glued them onto the walls one above the other, then made simple doors that you can barely see because they are both open in the photo. So there will be a laundry hamper in the bathroom with the machine downstairs.
This whole arrangement has changed a bit since this photo was taken, as I literally painted myself into a problem and I had to take these pieces off and move them over a bit. But it is still essentially the same.
This past week, I took some time to restain the bathroom floor a darker colour, as the room was going to be too blah with the white tile, white tub, sink, etc, and the pale floor. The floor fits in the pink area in the photo. I also did the main upper floor for the bedroom, hall, and library in wide planks (craft sticks) and the same dark stain. Actually, I use acrylic paint, as the smell of stain is harmful to me. The paint looks good when it is put on as a translucent glaze and then given a coat of shiny acrylic medium.
The next thing I will do is the ceiling on the livingroom and dining room (the underside of the newly completed floor of course). Once that section is installed, I will move on to the roof. This is getting exciting!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mini Monday - tinkering with the Bathroom

Yesterday, I decided that the pale wood floor in the bathroom was going to be too bland against the white tile and light blue walls. When it's time to add the white tub and other fixtures, the whole room was going to be totally underwhelming. So I sanded the floor and repainted it a deeper oak colour that will add strength and drama to the room - I hope.
Today I want to show you the bathroom window as well. I apologize for the poor quality of the photo, but this seems to be as good as it gets with this one. I decided I needed a Stained Glass window in the bathroom, so started looking around for a fantasy image I liked. I found it on a needlepoint vest that I own, so I laid it flat, photographed it from above, judicously cropped the photo, and printed it on window cling acetate. Then I set it into the bathroom window and there you are. I love this image with all it's fairy tale colours and the big white horse, but I see it a bit differently than many people do. To me, it isn't the defenseless maiden being rescued by the all wise and powerful hero . . . .I see it as the lady rescuing Mr. Macho who has got himself into a pickle. Then, after finding out where he is, riding to the rescue, and talking the dragon into letting the guy go, she is exhausted, so the least he can do is drive home! But that's just my quirky mind :-0

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mini Monday - bathroom

Mini Monday is a little late today, as we had quite a flood to contend with in our real life size house after the severe rain storm we had on Saturday night, Sunday morning. We were still recovering from the clean up today.
When I go somewhere, I want to be assured that there is indoor plumbing and a decent looking bathroom. Pathetic I know, but I have very low Euww factor. Therefor, the very first thing I got going on the mini house interior was the bathroom. I love the ocean, so I decided on an ocean theme for this room. The walls are a strong blue and actually have just a hint of green(that doesn't show up in this photo) I used a craft paper for this, and the lower walls are board and batten on one side, and on the side you can't see, a white faux tile made from a strong, low gloss craft paper. I was thinking of the water with the white foam-tipped waves. I included a second door leading to a painted staircase that leads to the studio where there will be a washer/dryer combination. I've got to keep my Mini people neat and clean! I will give you a tour of those stairs and doors at a later time. Also for another time, is the painted bathroom door and the stained glass window in the room. I'm just finishing and installing the floor, done from small craft sticks and glossed to look like pale oak. I didn't want tile on the floor because I prefer the feel of wood on my bare feet. As if my foot would fit in that bathroom :-0

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Poppy - Belgian Sheepdog

The Belgian Sheepdog wears several different coats, this black one being the handsome Groenendael. These intelligent, beautiful dogs served in war time as guard dogs and Red Cross dogs, and now they excel at Agility.
A black dog is a challenge to paint, and I have enjoyed the challenge of painting this fellow in watercolour. Poppy is an 8 x 10 watercolour on Arches 140 hot press watercolour paper.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mini-Monday - Front Door

Hope everyone's Monday is off to a good start. Today I'm showing you the front door of the Mini-House. One's front door says a lot about the people who live in the house - it's sort of the welcoming committee to anyone approaching, so the front door has to make a statement.
I decided I wanted a solid, traditional door with a touch of elegance. Naturally, the door that went with the doll house kit just wasn't right, so I set about doing my own door. Ignorance is bliss.
I settled on a door with a curved top and a stained glass window. What was I thinking?!!! I cut out a square door to fit the doorway opening, and then cut the curve out of that. Before I left this step, I cut a window into the door. To make the frame for the door, I had to do the side pieces and the curved top pieces to fit the door. I used a light wood to do this - the sort of stuff you find in hobby shops. It's not at all decent wood, but at this stage, it is what I am comfortable working with. It took several tries to get it right, and about the time I was ready to scream and abandon the project, I got something I felt I could use.
Next, I cut and glued "boards" to one side of the door to make it look more substantial and to give it an older look. It was hard getting the wooden pieces I used to fit to the curve at the top, but eventually it more or less came together.
The window was next. I cut a tiny piece of clear plastic (saved from packaging) to fit the window frame, then painted daffodils down the middle (on the back of the plastic) for the stained glass effect. It was glued along the edged to the front of the window so that you see the painted daffs through the plastic. I glued a matching piece of clear plastic to the back of the window, and then framed both sides.
The door was given a bit of carving - not one of my strong points, at least so far, and then painted to resemble mahogany. The last steps were to make a "brass" door handle out of a bit of twist tie painted gold and to glue a foot plate - a bit of shiny gold ribbon, at the bottom. Then I attached the door to the frame with paper hinges.
The surround was made from built up wood painted grey and the bas-relief over the door, stating the year the house was built (1575), the Tudor roses, the initial of the knight (T for Thorn) and his crest - a wolf's head, was done in clay, then baked, painted, and glued in place. The doorstep is a piece of tile that I bought at the DIY store.
No part of this little house is perfect. I've seen perfect miniatures, and I marvel at them. I am going to do things as best I can at this stage and enjoy the creativity rather than aim for perfecting one item at a time. I could spend years attempting that, and look at the fun I'd miss!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Mini Monday - Bricks & Mortar

Monday again, and another installment of my Mini adventures. I decided I wanted my house to be built of brick, a building medium that was just coming into vogue in the late Tudor era. To achieve this, I painted a sheet of mat board with several layers of various brick colours ( acrylics) until I got a pinkish brick that I liked. Then I set it aside while I painted the bare wooden house pieces with a coat of gesso, and then a pale grey.
I decided to start with the foundation stones at the bottom, and to make them, I cut out pieces of mat board in appropriate shapes and sizes, covered each one with glue, and them smushed bits of paper towel into/onto the surface to create a rough texture. After letting them dry, I painted them first in grey acrylic, and then sponged on a mix of light ochre and pale grey. When they were totally dry, I glued them onto the base of the walls.
Now it was time to cut and past each individual brick into place. This took HOURS! Days!! As you can see, the house is in three sections. There were times I lost the rhythm of the lines of brick and had to remove a row and start again. I began to wonder who's bright idea it was to do a brick house before I had finished gluing that last brick in place.
I added some grey mortar between the bricks that was a mix of grey paint stiffened with some glue, but it was not as successful as I had hoped. Still not sure the best way this could be done, but I decided that what I have is fine until I learn a better way.
Then I put the kit windows together, painted the frames black, added "leaded" window clings to the "glass" and popped them into the window frames.
Now it was time for the decorative trim around the main front window and the door, and for the door itself, but you will have to check in next week to find out how I did that.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


As some of you know, I have become enthralled with the hobby of making Miniatures. Long ago, (but as an adult) I was given a doll house kit and my Father was supposed to make it for me so I could start a miniature collection. No one ever convinced him that he was supposed to do this, and years later, I finally decided to give it a go by myself. This is what the pieces looked like when I took them out of the intimidatingly big box. I should have started taking photos at that point, but I never imagined that I would get very far, so I didn't.
What you are looking at in the photo is the upper floor and part of the roof. They are the only parts left undecorated. I thought that on Mondays - Mini-Mondays - I would show you bit by bit, how the house is coming along, both the construction, and the all too often destruction. There's a lot of that.
I gave my house a name - The Laurels, after my Grandmother's family home back in Ireland. It was meant to be a rather large, three part ranch house, but I am transforming it into a modern day house that was built in the Tudor times and decorated in various eras after that. In the history that I have made up for the house, Queen Elizabeth the First gave the house and land to one of her knights as a reward for his loyalty and bravery. Yes, I get really invovled with my fantasies! :-0
So I invite you to come along on Mondays and watch as I bring The Laurels to life.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


The Canadian Museum of Civilization has a wonderful exhibit on now about THE HORSE. Naturally we went as soon as were able. This exhibit opens with the tiny, dog-sized creature that eventually became the large, noble horse. As we stepped into further the hall, there was a wonderful diorama of three stages of the horse's development. Did you know that they were once leaf browsers and had longer necks and short teeth? When they moved to a plains environment, their necks grew a little shorter and their teeth elongated to cope with the coarse grass. Short teeth would have worn out fast on the grasses they now ate. The whole "horse experience" was heightened by the sound of whinnies and hoofbeats all around you.
The Horse subject is so vast that it is only natural that not everything could possibly be covered. What was done, was presented with respect and a depth of knowledge, and although we were somewhat disappointed that there wasn't more of the exhibit, we thoroughly enjoyed what there was. At the very end, like a breath of West wind, the wonderful band of Joe Fafard horses (metal sculpture) galloped across the end of the hall, colourfully lit so that the herd doubled in size against the backdrop. Great stuff!!
Naturally, I now feel the need to return to horses for a couple of paintings before I get back to my dog art. This little 5 x 7 coloured pencil Friesian is called EVENING STAR. I love to do the Baroque horses in a fantasy medieval setting. It is available matted, for $98.00, shipping and tax included. Inquiries may come to me at anderson.animalart@sympatico.ca

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Dinosaur Week

This past week, I spent an hour a day doing art lessons with a Grade Three class. It's been a long time since I was in a classroom, but I remembered that Dinosaurs were always a hit. I decided to see how the children did, making a little model Dinosaur Habitat, complete with a Dinosaur of their choice. I got a cardboard base ready for each child, then we talked about Dinosaurs and their world, I gave them instructions and examples, talked about the difference in a scientific project where everything had to be correct, versus an art project such as we were doing, where they could add some imagination, and off they went. The children had to listen carefully, do each step in order, measure, draw, cut, paste, and assemble their Habitat, and they did SO well! I drew simple, cartoony dinosaurs for them, but they had to try new-to-them coloured pencil techniques, decide on colours (I mean, who knows what colour those Dinos were!), then choose how close to the lines they wanted to cut. They also had the option of doing their own Dinosaur from start to finish, but most children chose to use the pre-drawn ones. Look at the individual creativity that went into these . . .do you see the dino-footprints in the top photo, and the swampy areas in the bottom right one? Someone decided on a magnificent volcanic erruption in his model, and many of the children managed to get very real expressions on their Dino faces.
I could have put all 23 images up here, but had to choose just a few. Every one of the 23 projects is an A+ Well done Grade Three!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Horses In My Life

A few weeks ago, our City newspaper, The Ottawa Citizen, asked readers to send in their (short)stories about how horses impacted their lives. This was to help publicize the opening of a major exhibit, THE HORSE at the Museum of Civilization, and several of the stories would be chosen for publication in the Saturday paper.
Well, I was thrilled to discover last Saturday, that my story had made the cut, and there it was, in the Ottawa Citizen. I'd like to share it with you.
"Being a horse crazy child, I often played at being a horse, pretending to have the freedom and power of these gorgeous animals. I read about them, wrote stories about them, drew them all over my school books, the walls, or on any available paper, and dreamed of having a horse of my own. That dream was realized as an adult when I bought a wonderful, middle-aged Morgan whom I named Ceilidh (Kaylee). Together, we made life-long friends and had marvelous adventures. We were together until his death at age 33.
Horses have made a huge difference in my life. Ceilidh and the other horses at the barn, expanded my understanding of kindness, patience, and the quietness of the soul. They gave me confidence in myself. They inspired me to a career path of painting and writing about horses and dogs, and that has taken me places I never even dreamed of. They have enriched my life in every way, and even on a bad day, just seeing a horse can make me smile."
Although I did not send in the above image, I think it is an appropriate one to use here to illustrate this blog, as it is about the Horse in legend and story, and is the panel I did for the Horse Gift Mural, a truly amazing project that I was privileged to be part of.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Something I learned early on, is that you have to develop a deep concentration for your work. You really have to focus on what you are doing. This graphite, Black On White, took a great deal of focus, not only on the black Friesian, but on the background. It's hard to see in this photo, but the sky is filled with tiny snowflakes, each one painstakingly shaded around. (Black On White is available).
This topic of focus reminds me of an incident in the studio when I was at art school. After the lesson, we students would all troop off to get our equipment: a stool to sit on, a large wooden drawing board, and a funny bench sort of thing that had a flat bottom that sat on the floor, a tall upright, and a narrow, slanted board that held our drawing board and materials. This unsteady arrangement went by the quaint name of a "Mule". One evening, we were all busy concentrating on our assignment, and the only sound in the studio was the quiet classical music that was always played. We were all totally focused on our work. Suddenly, there was an ominous scuffle, then a terrific crash, as one poor student, deeply concentrating on his work, forgot that the treacherous Mule had to be kept in balance while we worked. We heard the gasp of horror, the sound of the stool, then the student hitting the floor, the bang of the drawing board, followed by the crash of the mule as they hit the floor miliseconds apart, and finally, the echoing clang of the pencil box as it bounced and rattled on that hard, unforgiving floor. Total silence followed, then the sound of throats being cleared, light coughs, and snuffles as we all did our heroic best to not scream with laughter. To our credit, we managed this, then helped the hapless student pick up his things, made sure he was all right, and then, to spare his feelings, went back to work as if nothing had happened.
I feel this is a cautionary tale, letting us know that focus is a neccessary thing when drawing/painting, but like everything, we mustn't carry it too far.
By the way, notice anything different?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Playing In Puddles - Watercolour, it's what I do.

These past few weeks, I've been enjoying writing about my love affair with watercolours. I decided to do this while I was reading a wonderful book on Art Marketing called "I'd Rather Be In The Studio!" by Alyson B. Stanfield. ( If you are looking for a book that will give you great insights and tips on getting yourself (as an artist) moving as well as a virtual artistic energy boost, I highly recommend it!)
One of the things I read, was that if I have experience and am educated in something, I should talk/write about it. Now, I grew up being taught to NOT talk about myself, especially about the artist in me. So the idea of talking about my painting, and about myself as an artist was a Big Deal. But you know, I have really been enjoying this.
I have always been attracted to the bright, clean look of watercolours, and when I finally got myself to art school, too many years ago to admit to) I made sure I took all the watercolour courses and I loved them all. Well, except for the class that insisted that we splash and dash paint on the paper. I think that's when I realized that I need to paint in a realistic style. Bravo to all who enjoy the freer forms of painting, but I am simply not a person who can "emote" and fling paint. As you can see by my 11 x 14 watercolour painting "How Does Your Garden Grow?", I love detail, and one way to get detail in watercolour is to use a dry-brush technique.
You can literally use a dry brush dipped in paint that is fresh from the tube or that is sitting, wet, on your palette. You can also dampen your brush, take off any excess moisture, and run it across paint that is damp, but not a puddle. For really tiny detail, I often use an all purpose synthetic brush, and often in a size o or even a 00. I don't paint every hair on an animal, but I sometimes like to give the impression that I do.
I'm enjoying passing along little watercolour tips that I have picked up over the years, and I hope they help you find more enjoyment in the paintings - yours and mine.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Playing In Puddles - Let It Flow!

My Watercolour tip of the week is to just let it flow. When you want a smooth, seamless expanse of paint, as in a peaceful sky, one of the ways I like to use to get that effect is the Wet-In-Wet technique. First, you need to decide where you want the colour to go, and then get the paper in that area quite wet. Then make a puddle of the colour you want to use (see, I said this was playing in puddles!). Charge your brush -make sure it is one that holds a lot of colour, and drop the wet colour onto the wet paper. Do this several times until you have fluid puddles of colour across the paper, then put you brush down and gently start moving your paper around to make the colour puddles flow. Eventually, the colour will flow across the whole of the wet area. You will likely still have puddles of colour gathering in places, so the last step (if doing a sky) is to turn the paper upside down and let the excess colour flow to the bottom. It helps give you the lighter horizon line you may want, and when the colour pools along the bottom of the paper, you can wick it away with a large brush, leaving a smooth, unbroken sky. If you want to add some interest to the expanse, wait until the surface looks shiny, but not soaked, and gently blot some colour away with tissue. This technique can used in areas other than skies, you just have to be a bit careful to not let the puddles overflow onto areas where you don't want them.
So get your puddles ready and start having some fun!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Playing in Puddles - Light

Light brings a painting to life, and there are several ways to achieve this. Just a few ways to do this are to put in shadows, to use contrast, and to vary the intensity and hue of your washes. The amount of water used in your washes as well as the number of washes applied, will dictate the intensity of the look when it dries. This takes a little practise, but it's worth trying.
Today's painting, BLUEBELL WOOD, uses all three things to bring it to life and add depth. You can see the glow in the sky. This is one of my quick, one day paintings of a place near where I live that I find especially beautiful. For a few days or a few weeks in early Spring, depending on the weather, this wooded area is carpeted in English Bluebells, and I look forward to it every year. This scene will be used in larger paintings, as background to dogs, maybe horses, and definitely in a Fantasy painting.
BLUEBELL WOOD is a 5 x 7 watercolour and is available matted for $95.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Playing In Puddles . . .Paper

I wasn't going to Play in Puddles until next week, but a look at the calendar convinced me to post this now while I have a chance.
Last time, I referred to watercolour "board", so lest there be some misunderstanding, I will explain my use of the term. Watercolour paper and Illustration board are two very different things. Illustration board is excellent for graphic artists and designers. It will accept gouache, acrylic, graphite, ink, and to some degree, even watercolour, although it can make washes difficult and it can be hard to build up layers of colour, but this board usually has a very slick surface and often is not acid free. It is not something that I use for my watercolour paintings.
Watercolour paper on the other hand, is made expressly for watercolours, although it can be used for other purposes. It comes in different weights; 90lb, 140 lb, and 300lb are the most common. The 140lb is heavy, more like a light board than a paper, and the 300lb is definitely a board. Most professional watercolour painters use the 140 and/or the 300 because of its strength, versatility, and because unless you are going to soak your paper, you needn't stretch it or tape it down. I use a style that uses less water than normally used in traditional watercolours, so I have found there is no need for me to tape or stretch my paper.
My favourite paper/board is Arches Hot Press. I've talked about it before and I probably will again. This "paper" has no paper in it. Arches is 100% rag content and is acid free. It has been used with confidence by watercolourists for over 500 years, ever since it first appeared in 1492. It comes in COLD press, a paper with some texture, and this is the most popular choice. It also comes in ROUGH texture, something that appeals to artists who love the unexpected effects this board gives you. I like their HOT press best, a sheet that is very smooth, but not slick. This paper absorbs the colour well, allows for almost endless washes and build up of colour, allows great detail, and takes a lot of abuse.
I've tried a lot of different papers/boards, including one that uses an acid free paper laminated to a non-acid free hard backing. I've liked many of them and found them to be really good papers and many of them are the preferred choice of a lot of artists, but I've settled on Arches for all its great qualities and its reliability, and because I love the way the paint flows across the surface. Its one drawback is that the heavier weights are quite expensive, but quality is worth the price.
My little 8 x 10 watercolour "Encounter" was done on Arches Hot Press.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Playing in Puddles - Serendipty

Time to Play In Puddles again! I know, I've shown you "Brittany Autumn before, but today, I want to talk about Serendipity in watercolours, and this painting is a good example of that very thing.
I wanted the main focus of this painting to be the dog and the flowers, so the background had to be made to be less prominent. I wanted that full, woodsy look, but didn't want to do the woodland detail that would detract from the dog. So I used a wet-in-wet technique that relies a lot on serendipity.
You'll notice that I kept to an analgous palette for the background. That gave me the depths of greens and the green/gold light I wanted. First, I applied water to the background where I wanted the colour, let it dry to the correct degree of dampness, then began to drop wet splotches of colour into the wet board. By shifting the board around, some judicious lifting of colour, and dropping in more colour suspended in various amounts of water, the muted, textured background began to take shape. From there, it was a case of knowing what colours and how many layers to add and knowing when to stop. Sometimes serendipity strikes and you get lucky and love what has appeared, while other times, . . .well, you can always start over. Please join me next week when I have fun Playing In Puddles again.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


This little merle Sheltie puppy is enchanted with the pink Bleeding Heart that is springing up out of the earth, and I'm enchanted with the puppy. I think it's safe to say that my husband and I love dogs - all dogs. But it is the Sheltie that turns us to mush and makes us putty in their paws. I've had Shelties as companions for over thirty years, longer than I've had my husband!
We both love their beautiful natures, clever minds, and gorgeous looks, and to see a Sheltie pup is to want one. But I must add that they are not for everyone. They are bossy, love pranks, and are often overly fond of their own voice. Did I mention the shedding? A Sheltie person has to love angorra everything. But if you love them, these are just minor inconveniences, vastly outweighed by the love and devotion these wonderful dogs give you.
"ENCHANTED" is a 6 x 8 watercolour, and I'm very pleased that I was able to portray the fluffiness and appeal of the puppy and the cool, rich colours of a spring garden. This painting is available.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Playing in Puddles part 2

Today I think I'll talk about the Colour Wheel, something that is a valuable tool for the artist no matter what medium you work in. I have one that I bought, but I also found it a valuable experience to make one. It really seems to help get a sense of what the colours are all about when you paint in your own Primaries, and mix your own Secondaries and Tertiaries. You begin to have a better understanding of the Complementary and Analgous colours and how they work.
I know I've shown you this painting before, but "Autumn Reds" makes use of Complementary colours (red and Green) as well as Analgous colours, (yellow, yellow-green, and green) to give a bright, sparkling effect. Try using one Complementary colour to quieten the other one, or place them side by side to make each one sing. Colour magic is always an adventure, no matter what medium you are using. Naturally, my first choice for the adventure is Watercolour!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Puddling Around . . .Adventures in Watercolour

It's been a while since I have been able to post to my blog. Life just sort of got in the way for a while, but things have settled down now, and I would like to talk about my favourite medium for a while. I just LOVE to be "Puddling Around" with watercolours! I love the way they can be delicate and fresh, or rich and lush. From the first English watercolour illustrations in my childhood books to the wonderful watercolours I see today, the medium has always ensorcelled.
At art school, I was priviledged to be taught by the legendary Canadian watercolourist, Morton Baslaw, and he gently encouraged us to be neat, clean, and precise without sacrificing the lovely flow and freedom of the medium. I always try to live up to the standards he taught.
There is always something new to learn, but it gives me satisfaction to understand my medium and to be able to call myself a Watercolourist.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Moving Forward

The title says it all. Sometimes you just know it is time to pick up the reins and move forward, and for me, the time has come. I have an idea where I'm headed, but I know there will be lots of wonderful, serendipitous surprises along the path. It's not such a different path from the one I have been on . . . still painting dogs and horses and cats, still using watercolour, a little graphite now and then, and some coloured pencil, but the approach needs to be different. My approach to painting and my life in art needs to be a bit different too.
When new things are being gathered in, some old things have to go, and I'm doing some closet cleaning, so to speak. Things that haven't been working are on the way out, and new ideas and ways of doing things are being implemented. It's also time to houseclean the people who treat me in a negative way. After all, I have a wonderful cheering section (and I cheer for them right back) of friends who enrich my life, and I hope I enrich theirs. In this fast paced world, they are the ones with whom I want to spend time (real and cyber).
So as the New Year unfolds, I am moving forward with optimism and confidence. We'll see where this new trail leads.
This 8 x 10 quick graphite of a Morgan Horse is already sold, but small matted prints are available.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Through The Gate Please

"Through The Gate Please" is a painting from a dog's point of view. This Westie is making it clear that on this sparkling Winter morning, he would prefer to go through the gate and go for a walk in the dawn light than stay in the confines of the garden.
We often see dogs as cute, and so they are, but they are also thinking, sentient creatures with dignity. Because I respect them as much as I love them, I always try to let that dignity come through in my paintings of them.
This West Highland Terrier painting, "Through The Gate Please" is an 11 x 14 watercolour on Arches 140 Hot Press paper.

Monday, January 11, 2010


This past weekend, I was thinking about a wonderful lady who was my mentor from the time I was a young girl. She taught me so much about dogs, and took me into the thrilling world of Dog Shows, and after much persuading, she convinced my parents to let me have a dog of my own. She taught me about life at the sea shore, and about the stars, and I loved every minute of my time with her.
This lady was an artist (oils), and she always encouraged me in my own dreams to be an artist. When I was a teen, she found an art teacher for me who could give me the help I needed with watercolours and in learning to draw accurately, but alas, this time, she was unable to convince my parents to let me have the lessons. But she continued to encourage me and to tell me that I could accomplish whatever I wanted.
When she passed on, her family (who are very dear to me) very generously gave me her brushes, and even though I don't do oils, the brushes sit beside my watercolour and acrylic brushes on my art cabinet. When I work on an acrylic painting, I always use one of her brushes for a few brushstrokes at some point, and because I take very good care of them, they accept the change and are staying in excellent condition.
Using these brushes makes me feel like she is here beside me, cheering me on as she did while she was alive, and sometimes I fancy I can almost hear her uniquely wonderful laugh.
A mentor - the right one, can make a huge difference in an artist's life, and I was so very lucky to have this lady come into and stay in my life. I have chosen to illustrate this blog with my 11 x 14 watercolour painting AN CAPAILL BAN (the White Horse) because my friend loved the ocean and believed that one can make their dreams come true.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

SOMETHING NEW - The Winter Path

With a new year starting, I feel both the need to do something new, as well as a need to do the same things in new ways. For several years now, I have worked with Coloured Pencil more than anything else. I love the vibrancy of Coloured Pencils and the detail that is possible, and it has been great fun exploring this great medium. But as many Coloured Pencil artists have found, it has taken a toll on my hands. I've started to have some serious hand pain while I'm working on a large piece, so it's time to be gentle with myself for a while. This means limiting the Coloured Pencil work and returning (for the most part) to watercolours, something that will be a joy, as watercolour has always been the medium I love best.
Much as I love painting dogs, cats, and horses, (and always will), I am at a place where I need to refresh my mind, and that means painting something completely different every now and then. I dearly love the beautiful valley where I live, and everywhere I look, in every season, I see lovely things, sometimes large panoramas, and sometimes little things that could be easily missed if one is not looking for them. I find at this time, that I want to paint some of these things and places once in a while so I can share them with you.
THE WINTER PATH is a place near home that I see whenever we drive into the city. Half hidden, it is easy to miss this path as we zip past it in the car, but now I know to look for it, and I find beauty there in every season. This 5 x 7 watercolour is the first in what will be a "now and then" series called "The West Carleton Paintings".

Monday, January 4, 2010


"Sammy" was a Christmas commission, and I had such a good time with this one. I went to meet and photograph the little guy, and any day where I can cuddle a sweet bundle of fur is a great day for me. All the Shih Tzu dogs I have met have been charmers, and Sammy was no exception. Painting him was a joy. This is an 8 x 10 Coloured Pencil painting.