Patron of the arts

I am very lucky to live in an area with people that actively support the arts.  I’ve been seeing big shifts here recently, especially in the Town of Kingsville, just a few minutes away from where I live.  A couple of years ago a little coffee shop opened up on the main street – small and unassuming, but with big goals to bring healthy food and a place for art to the masses.  I can tell you that it has succeeded on both fronts.

Frank, the owner of Merlis‘ is one of a kind – he’ll greet you personally the first time you walk in the door and you’ll leave feeling like a part of the family.  The small restaurant seats 30 people and the walls are covered with the works of local artists.  From the 11 year old’s tiger painting, to wild abstract pieces, to hand-crafted needlework, there is something to appeal to all tastes.  I’ve been lucky enough to have some of my pieces displayed on the walls – and the best part, there is no charge to do this, just an understanding that a percentage of everything sold goes to the Arts Society of Kingsville.

Here are the most recent pieces of mine that are lucky enough to be on the walls at Merlis’.  If you’re in the area, this is definitely a place to stop and enough!

paintings ready to hang at merlis© shiny medals at merlis© spring bird at merlis©

Journal 52 update – Weeks 19 to 27

As I stated in my last instalment, I’ve been away from the studio quite a bit in the last two months.  And of course this means that I have been getting behind on my Journal 52 project.  I’m happy to say that with a couple nights of regular studio time, Canada Day and a lovely day off yesterday spent painting, I’m back on track with this project.

I’ve really been enjoying the themes and have been surprised where some of them have led me.  The courage prompt stands out in particular.   The prompt challenged me to create a page about what courage means to me.  Through the process, I came to the realization just how much the definition has changed for me, especially in the last 5 years.  Before, courage was about putting on a brave face and continuing on, even when things were broken inside.  It was about supporting everyone else and not asking for help when I needed it.  Courage used to be about sticking with a situation or relationship, even when it was toxic, because the unknown was too scary.  Now, courage is about asking for help, moving into the unknown confident in who I am and what I can do and turning my back on situations that aren’t good for me.  This is a really big shift in my thinking process.

So here are the last few weeks of the Journal 52 prompts, starting with the most recent.



nostalgia complete©

Week 27 – Nostalgia

This week’s prompt took me back to the summer of ’88.  That last “perfect” summer before everyone started going their separate ways.  Dancing on Thursday nights at the Elephant and Castle, making mixed tapes and generally having the times of our teenaged lives.








under the sea complete©

Week 26 – Under the Sea

I decided to revisit the mermaid theme that I tried out in my very first art journal.  While I was generally satisfied with the first attempt, I always felt that there was room for improvement.  So, I used the same background technique (spray inks and gesso) and created from there.  I was thrilled with the result.







inspired by nature complete©

Week 25 – Nature Inspired

If you’ve followed my work at all, you know my main inspiration is nature.  So, I decided I needed to break away from the birds and try something new.  This one was a struggle at first, but in the end it all came together.  (to see all the images, check out my Facebook album)







courage complete©

Week 24 – Courage











passion complete©

Week 23 – Passion

Birds are my passion.  Everything seems to stem from birds.









travel complete©

Week 22 – Travelling

I’ve been out west (to Banff) as well as the Bruce Peninsula – Indian Paintbrush connected the dots between the two places.








mandala complete©

Week 21 – Making a Mandala

Mine was inspired by the native orchids we have in Ontario









book inspired complete©

Week 20 – Book Inspiration

I read Brave Intuitive Painting and used one of the exercises as my prompt for this page.  Not my normal colour palette, but it was fun to get messy.









photography complete©

Week 19 – Photography

One of the many photos I took on my travels (the famous MacGregor Elm) used as a photo transfer for this page.


Art Journal Page – Big Ideas (or fun with Gelli prints)

I love Sunday nights – have I said that before?  It’s my time to be creative for no reason other reason than the sake of being creative and trying to work out some of the big ideas that have been rattling around in my brain throughout the week.  I get to play – try new ideas or technique and not worry about whether or not it would be something that I can market or sell.

I set out with #Strombo on the radio, this week featured the first 50 songs of the Strombo Hundo and started to play with my Gelli plate.  I’d picked up the medium sized plate about a month before and this was the first chance I had to play with it.  I used a variety of Golden paints (including the high flow and open acrylics) and all kinds of fun stuff to make texture and pattern on the plate.  I ended up with 6 prints in addition to the ones I used for the plate – I had to cut it off, so much fun, but I wouldn’t have completed a journal page if I’d kept it up.

The yellow and purples print (aptly described by a friend as a crazy octopus) was the basis for the page and I used the colours on the page as my leaping off point.  I used the other print photo as collage elements on the page – the colours worked well together and in the end the octopus comment led me to an ocean theme and then came the small mermaid.  I was feeling  little dwarfed by all my thoughts and ideas of late – wonder how I’d be able to get them all out – and the colourful chaotic mess is the result.  I’m very energized with this page and feeling a little more focused because of it.

art journal page big ideas gelli plate© art journal page big idea purple and yellow gelli print© art journal page big ideas gelli prints© art journal page big ideas print placed© art journal page big ideas almost done© art journal page big ideas complete©

Art Journal Page – Pretty in Pink

Despite my love for Molly Ringwald and a good John Hughes film from the 80s, I am really not a big pink girl.  When I was asked what colour I wanted my room painted when I was small I said “red!”…I got pink and was never very happy with it.

Fast forward a good number of years later and I have a great appreciation for pink and use it a lot in pieces, but it is rarely the dominant colour….until this page took me to a hot, pink 80s revival.

I started the Sunday night ritual with coffee and my friend #Strombo on the radio (it was a repeated episode, but my art was mentioned in the opening of the show – still giddy thinking about it) and not a lot of ideas.  I’d spent the day before doing all my Christmas shopping and then working an overtime shift until midnight – I was not feeling energetic or inspired.

So, I pulled out a bunch of tags I’ve had for years – always like the patterns, and decided to use them as the base for the piece.  It was then layered with pattern tissue, gesso and some molding paste through a feather stencil.  I really struggled with what to do with the feathers.  They weren’t popping from the page in the way I’d hoped.  I tried some glazes, white paint and graphite and nothing was really working – so I pulled out the magenta and took a leap.  I added some book text with a bird silhouette and I was done.  While I’m not entirely convinced that the page doesn’t look like it was inspired by Pepto-Bismo, I’m also not entirely unhappy  with the results.

Sunday night fast approaches and I really hope the muse is not in a pink mood again this week.

art journal page pretty i pink start© art journal page pretty in pink ink blots© art journal page pretty in pink molding paste© art journal page pretty in pink complete©

And the survey says…

So, I decided to be brave and put my art out there for others to judge.  Last weekend, one of towns near to where I live was celebrating their migration festival and as part of the festivities, they hold an annual art and photo contest.  I saw the show last year and thought, I could probably do that and had promptly forgotten about it until a couple weeks ago when I saw the signs for the show.

Canada goose painting sketch©So I decided to put myself out there and make some art for the show.  The challenge for me was not sharing my art and having it judged (I’ve come to terms with the fact that everyone has their own taste and opinions and that’s a good thing.) but to actually get some paintings completed.  I now realize that I was fighting the flu during the time I should have been painting, so I was only able to complete one of the pieces that I was hoping to do.  Since the festival is framed around Canada Goose migration, that was a no brainer to paint.  I searched and found a sketch from 10 years ago that I had done in the park – and that was the leaping off point for the piece.

I had a vision of a goose standing in a beautiful fall field, with lovely golds and oranges, canada goose painting©sprinkled with hints of white, red and purple – reflecting goldenrods, asters and the changing colours of the fall leaves.

I was happy with the result.  It feels like a warm fire on a bright, cold fall evening.

I had fully intended to complete another painting, but with my work schedule (yes, I have a real job too – that I also love) and being sick, I just didn’t have the energy to get it right.  I have a great start on the painting and I’m sure it will be something that will be used in the future

I’ve been inspired by art nouveau paintings and wondered how I could start to incorporate this feel into paintings that are based in nature.  I’ve started some experiments and and this great blue heron painting with blue backgroundgreat blue heron piece is one of them.  It may not be obvious in this painting, but this is where the spark started…

Now, back to the actually art show – I didn’t get this piece finished – it’s still sitting the in studio, hopefully to be tackled tonight.  I had paid for two pieces and fortunately one of my owl pieces fit the criteria for entry into the show.  All pieces had to be a North American migratory bird.  And really, who doesn’t like owls – it seemed like a safe bet and it actually took a prize in the competition.  And the winner (at least the Peleegirl winner) is….burrowing owl painting complete©


Ready for Release

It’s been a really busy past month – add a nasty cold that you can’t take anything for and you have a pretty miserable and unmotivated Sarah.

So, I took to my art journal on Sunday – and took my time.  Everything has been so rushed in the last couple of weeks that taking my time felt like a luxury.  It’s sad that it has started to feel like that – really, taking your time shouldn’t feel that out of the ordinary, yet these days, it does.

So, here is the page from start to finish.  Three beautiful hours of @Strombo on the radio, play, colour and finally expressing some of the thoughts and feelings that needed release.

The Owl Project – Not all things go as planned

Not all things go as planned seems to have been the theme for the last week of my life.  Internet was down for several days, dealt with terrible customer service trying to get said internet back up and running…work was really busy and artistically, everything was either taking much longer than anticipated, or just wasn’t working the way I wanted to.

So, what’s a girl to do – take a deep breath, assess the situation and move forward.  Here are couple cases in point.  I decided to tackle a bunch of paintings yesterday that I had pen work completed on and thought I’d start with the backgrounds.

I thought a crimson background would be really impactful
I thought a crimson background would be really impactful
The final product, with green background
The final product, with green background

When I started with the Barred Owl, I was really thinking a crimson background would be really impactful.  So, I went with it, let it dry and when I was getting ready to start painting, I just wasn’t feeling it.  I took a step back and tried to visualize where I wanted the painting to go and decided that a green background was going to work better.  And I went with it – happily, the end product was what I’d hoped it would be.

With that painting under my belt, I decided that I would move on to the Short-eared Owl painting.  I’d worked on a lovely cerulean blue background that I was really happy with, but when I looked at the actual pen work and subject I was about to paint, I still wasn’t happy with it.  I’d been struggling with the sketch from the beginning and never felt I’d really got the proportions and jizz of the bird right.

First attempt at the Short-eared Owl
First attempt at the Short-eared Owl

I had two choices, either plough ahead and finish what I’d started or go back to the drawing board.  This time, I scrapped the entire project and went right back to the sketching phase again.  I found a new reference photo and pose for the bird that I was much happier with.  The image was transferred to the gesso original board (there is some satisfaction in covering up something you are really unhappy with) and the pen work is complete and ready for paint.  new short-eared owl sketch©new short-eared owl penwork©

Lessons learned – trust your instincts and be patient.  Sometimes it’s going to take longer to get the project completed than you’d hoped, but if you take time, step back and assess and follow your gut, you’ll end up with a product that makes you happy.