Speed painting

A small sketch completed in 20 minutes of a night market.

A small sketch completed in 20 minutes of a night market.

I have been practicing for Friday’s Art Battle painting competition, and have learned so much! I didn’t realize speed painting was a thing, but it’s fun. With the way my week has been going, there is no way under normal circumstances I would have made half a dozen paintings! This experience has gotten me painting. Here are a few of the things I’ve been working through:


The number of brushes and tools needed to make one of my 20-minute paintings.

The number of brushes and tools needed to make one of my 20-minute paintings.

I’ve relied heavily on the mixed media style over the past ten years. I love being able to build up my pieces using collage and pastels and coffee and leaves etc. I have only occasionally attempted a painting with ONLY acrylic paint. I don’t love it! Plus, a lot of my paint is drying up so I’ve had to concoct some substitute colours for the palette I’ll be using at art battle. This takes a lot of time! But I’m learning what I can create with this palette and how to replace some of my favourite colours by mixing something similar.


Normally I paint in stages, working on a piece and then letting it dry for weeks before I get back to working on it again. Considering I’m parenting three kids, this is not surprising. And my “studio” is just a corner of the kitchen. So working on a complete acrylic painting from start to finish in 20 minutes has taught me so much about which order to apply the paint, which tools I need on hand (the vast number of brushes!) and how to get the most bang for my buck quickly.

Prioritizing has also been hard. I’ve had a particularly busy week, with my husband being both in school and working all weekend, finding myself solo-parenting a lot. There was one day where I just asked my kids for 20 minutes to work on a sketch. My oldest daughter babysat our 7-month-old, which was great, but my 6-year-old quickly lost interest in watching me paint and started pestering me for a brownie! I banished him to another room. The next day, I found a package of macaroni in my husband’s boot. I realized he had opened it to eat the cheese powder! He confessed that he had just been so hungry that he ate it while I was painting. I felt like the worst mom ever at that moment! But as all parents know, these sometimes crazy and funny things happen and I have to keep going and try to balance everyone’s needs and demand.


I currently have five ideas for my painting for round 1 of the art battle, and I am trying to practice each one and see which one is truly attainable with wet paint in 20 minutes. I want to be true to my own style while at the same time playing with new ideas. It’s easy to look at past art battle images and want to imitate the winning styles – for example, everyone connects with portraits. But it’s not my style! I think both abstract landscapes and cityscapes are my style. Abstract expressionism is something that works for me in a time crunch.


I signed up for this art battle as a risk-taking experiment. I just took the plunge. Any time I have done this sort of thing, it’s helped me move forward. This is going to be terrifying and exhilarating! My goal is not to win, but to show up. It may be really hard – it might not turn out – my painting may not sell or get any votes. But for me, this is about putting myself out there, being real, and just showing up.


Competing in Art Battle Canada!

I am setting aside my 7 month old baby (safely in the excersaucer) to announce something crazy, challenging, vulnerable…..

I am going to paint in a public competition! Art Battle 312 in Abbotsford, BC. Art battle is a public event where several local artist get 20 minutes to create a painting using materials supplied to us. The winners of the first two rounds face of in the final round.

Normally I paint slowly. And in stages. And on a flat table. Alone. With mixed media techniques. So needless to say I’m excited and terrified right now. This is probably the bravest thing I have done since I finished reading “The Artist’s Way” and started studying at Emily Carr University over ten years ago.

So, if you live in the area, come out and support me at the event. Tickets are available here:


Now time to clear my schedule and practice.

Chilliwack Lake watercolour

Now that summer is winding down, I thought I’d share this watercolour I did one morning on a friend’s birthday card. It depicts Chilliwack Lake, where we’ve gone camping a few times in the past year. We love this scene – it is such a tranquil, beautiful lake. The campsites are wooded and well-spaced. When we camped in May, campfires were not yet banned, so we enjoyed sitting around the fire. Our baby, 3 months old, enjoyed his first camp out there. The campground only has pit toilets, which weren’t too bad in shoulder season (not so pleasant in summer!). Besides going to look at Chilliwack Lake, we also love hiking up to Lindeman Lake. It is attainable for moderate/easy hikers; I did it last year when I was four months pregnant.

2015-08-15 12.01.32In July we camped in two provincial campgrounds on Vancouver Island: Miracle Beach and Rathtrevor. We liked both of them. Even though we could only get away for three nights, it was beautiful! Miracle Beach at low tide was an amazing place to take the baby swimming for the first time in the ocean. The tidal pools were warm and calm. Our kids loved looking for crabs and other sea life. And we enjoyed visiting the Cumberland Brew Pub with our friends. Next time, we’ll have to stay longer so we can visit Campbell River too!

Rathtrevor had a great playground and bike track, and a long trail for jogging. As for the beach, it was incredibly windy the day we were there. The wasps were bad, but I don’t think anyone got stung. The other odd thing that happened there was that in the night, our clothes line got cut in two places.

I’ve got lots more photos on my instagram page. But I’d love to hear how your summers went – where are your favourite places to camp?

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Camping at Miracle Beach on Vancouver Island. My son’s first ocean swim.

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Exploring at Miracle Beach

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Brothers camping in May at Chilliwack Lake

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Baby’s first camping trip to Chilliwack Lake

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Cousins Art Lesson

girls art lessonWhen my sister’s family visited in August, I wanted to take time to do some art with my niece, who has always been interested in learning to try mixed media art. The family drove all the way to British Columbia from Michigan in five days, and we spent 4 days together. It wasn’t until the very last evening that I was able to squeeze in a mini art lesson. My daughter and her cousin really enjoyed this experience together.

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My niece’s painting of an ocean and shore (in progress) – the finished painting included a tree on the shore.

I’ve never really taught an art lesson (OK, I guess I did in my daughter’s Grade 1 class last year). But I sure learned lots from this experience. For example, with only an hour or two (or five) to work on the painting, it would have been good to paint a simple scene, and have all the students work on the same thing. This would have made it easier to coach the group and use a limited palette of colours and supplies. It was also interesting working with the personalities of young girls (giddy tired young girls) and to help them have fun and finish their project that they would feel proud of.

My daughter's painting, in progress.

My daughter’s painting, in progress.

Etsy Shop and Facebook Artist Page now live

As an artist, this is a big day for me! I’ve finally gathered the images and information to launch my Etsy Shop and a facebook artist page.

Promoting yourself is one of the hardest things to do as a creative person! It’s vulnerable. I hope I will be able to make lots of newer works now and sell some prints too, once I’ve experimented with reproducing some of my watercolours to get the quality up to standard.

Thanks for all your support!

Delight Filled Leaves Art Studio

End of the Lego Series

Remember my son’s Lego from June? Well he continued to create Lego vehicles and line the up on the piano, and later my art work space….

lego all over art tableClearly the situation was getting out of control, so in mid-July, with my brother and sister’s families planning to visit from Ontario and Michigan, I had to finish this job. His vehicles were getting more and more complex. I finally had to say I could only paint a few more. Here are a couple of them.

2015-07-23 10.02.47 2015-07-23 10.07.23 2015-07-23 11.57.57Of course, one last picture of himself with the ones I couldn’t draw:

2015-07-23 10.11.07On that note, it’s time for the weekend! Parents, go have some fun with your kids…this project meant so much to my six-year-old.

Peonies: Mixed Media on panel

I made this painting over the course of one week (that is, in about 10 hours probably). It’s easy to just let the days slip past without painting, so I decided to be intentional about it and work during the baby’s nap time. Luckily my 6 and 7.9 year old are fairly independent and love biking around.

mixed media floral abstract painting

Peonies – 20″x20″ Mixed Media on panel

Now the funny part of this painting is that the panel is a found object – this is probably something I should not publicize since I’m going to be selling this, but I love telling these details – we were walking at Granville Island with my sister’s family when they visited from Michigan (yes, they drove all the way here to Vancouver!). By the time we got there, it was already 7 pm, so the market had just closed. We were just walking around looking into the windows of the art studios, when I noticed a “free scrap” bin. My son and nephew enjoyed picking through that, claiming a couple pieces of wood. I happened to find a couple of perfectly good pieces of doorskin, and this is one of them.

Now for a little creative process…

Gesso on panelI decided to paint something – anything – without belabouring the subject. Sometimes the sculptural, playful act of applying gesso to the surface inspires a painting. I used a palette knife and some other tools I keep on hand to play with the wet paint, and as part of my signature style, included some espresso grinds to create texture. I decided to paint some peonies. I love these flowers, though they tend to harbour lots of ants, as someone pointed out to me. But in a painting, there doesn’t have to be ants! Just the delicate, soft, layer-upon-layer of fragrant petals.

Acrylic painting in progressThe next day I started to add some colour. Did I mention I was sick with a terrible chest cold, and my baby was cutting his first two teeth? This took serious dedication, friends.

Acrylic painting half finishedHere it was starting to come along. I really don’t like these early steps, before I see clearly where this is going to end up. I think it was a good experiment to give myself a time limit – one week – so that I couldn’t wallow too long here. This is about as far as I got during two subsequent days of “baby nap time” – between cooking and cleaning and diaper washing and baby feeding.

peonies painting in progressHere I was starting to have fun, adding in more texture and colours.

detail showing texture of peoniesWacky angle shot to show some of the texture. I love playing with unexpected colours. You can’t see some of them from a distance, but it creates visual interest up close, and a richness of detail that I love. I collaged some of my papers into the piece, as well as some dried plants that I keep around for this purpose. Usually all of my paintings have some sort of leaves worked in.detail mixed media paintingThis last shot is a detail of the finished painting. I hope I can paint something else soon! This was fun after all.