Insta Art Series – Painting 4

Pleased with Painting 3, I tried to do a similar composition for this one. I also like how this turned out. I created a really scratchy texture in the browns, so this photo of my son walking into the forest worked perfectly. This photo means a lot to me because I have been hiking this trail for a few years. Now that I am on maternity leave, I’ve been hiking a few times per week. I find walking in the forest very life-giving. I love watching the changing seasons and noticing every bit of moss or mushroom or leaf or bird.

INST series 4a

The colour of green reminds me of moss and ferns, which grow profusely here on the west coast. It’s a very fresh, springy colour. One of the pieces of text on the left says “retour du printemps” which fits in nicely. Also in the collage is a piece of a hundred-year old negative, a scrap from a photo envelope from the early 1980s, and other interesting things.

INST series 4b

INST series 4c

Insta Art Series – Painting 3

I thoroughly enjoyed the process of working on this piece. The photo is one of my favourites. I loved the mist that day on the mountains near where I live in Abbotsford, BC. It reminds me of the first time I visited British Columbia in 1996 (19 years ago!!). I came out in a mini-van full of college-aged students, I myself was 19 years old (half my lifetime ago!!). I remember seeing the mist and clouds in the mountains and how the coniferous trees cut into the fog. Beautiful! It’s something I have painted with watercolour in the past. Maybe I’ll try painting these scenes when I’m done this series. On that trip, I stayed with a dear friend’s family in Port Moody. I remember walking nearby where human development trailed off, literally, into the forest. A street complete with functioning street lights led off into a tall forest, which, in the rain, created this magical misty look. Three years later I moved here.
INST series 5a

I like the way the collaged scraps came together, echoing a forested horizon. Again, a lot of the fine details are not visible here, so you’ll have to see my exhibit – I haven’t found a venue yet but I’m trying to focus on painting while I’m on a roll. I also hope to take proper photos when I’m finished so that I can sell petit prints, art cards, etc.INST series 5b

Insta Art Series – Painting 2

My second painting in the series is actually undergoing an overhaul. Out of the seven I’ve worked on, I just can’t like the second one. So I’ll have to share it later and show you the third one. I only have a couple of photos – one progress and one complete.
INST series 3 a

The photo I chose this time is of a blueberry field in Arnold, BC. I was driving along in the rain and I loved the way these fall fields are so brilliant and lovely despite the grey skies. I pulled over to get this photo. You can’t really see the mountain in the background but it is a subtle blue-grey. The details and textures in this painting show up better in real life. INST series 3 b

And here we have my studio-mate, my 9-month-old. I’ve discovered that I can actually paint a little bit with him crawling around. Nap times work better, but he hasn’t gotten into too much trouble yet. I’ve been enjoying this series so much that I work on it a few times a day.Asher in studio

Insta Art Series – Painting 1

For the first painting in the series, I felt like a pioneer in the sense that I had no idea what direction I would take. I had 9 blank panels in front of me (actually 11, because two were warped and Opus kindly mailed me replacements).

I wanted to replicate some of the colours in one of my favourite all-time paintings of mine, and I achieved that in the left column. Here are three images from the process, from early to final.
INST SERIES 1aThe photo I included was one that I took last winter when I was working in Fort Langley. I love driving home through the country roads and watching the changes in the landscape through the seasons. In late fall, around this time of year, it is dusk when I leave work. I like the way this barn looks with theĀ  blueberry fields in front of it.

INST series 1 bMy goal with this series is to celebrate some of my favourite photos that I have taken and shared on instagram. I want to pin them down and make them concrete by printing them and working them into fine art paintings that I can look at on a day-to-day basis. The land of internet photo sharing is so fleeting and, well, instant.

Each painting has some leaves and other natural materials collaged into them, as well as old papers and other details related to photography (for example, old negatives, photo corners, antique album paper, etc.)

INST series 1 c

Photography painting series – the story behind the artwork

square photographs printed

Some of my favourite landscape photos I’ve taken with my phone and posted on instagram this year.

It’s been about three weeks since I thought of a concept for an abstract mixed-media art series, and now that I’m making some progress, I wanted to describe my concept in a bit more depth here. I expect that this is the beginnings of my artist statement, but not boiled down.

I love taking photos. I wouldn’t call myself a “photographer” in the way that my husband is: a professional. He knows all the technical side of the craft. I am definitely a point-and-shoot person, with an eye for composition.

When I was growing up, it was film only. I remember how much I treasured those rolls of film, which cost about $16 just to print a roll of 24 images. I’ll never forget the weekend camp when I was going into Grade 9 when I got to bring a camera along to northern Ontario. This old camera had one malfunction: the little window that showed you which picture you were progressing to on the film did not work. I snapped tons of amazing pictures. Too many pictures: photos of the moon reflecting on the lake, my friends, the trees, the buildings that I loved so much. It should have dawned on me that I had taken way more photos than 24, or even 36. But alas, the film had not been advancing this whole weekend and I ended up with no photos.

I printed more photos in various sizes than I can possibly use for this project.

I printed more photos in various sizes than I can possibly use for this project.

All this to say that when I finally got a modern phone and could start using instagram (this is only two years ago!), I embraced this new tool. The creative side of me has been waiting forever for this chance to process the world around me the way I see it, or the way I interpret it. This fall, I have really enjoyed capturing the scenes on my regular hikes with the baby. It’s a time when he is usually asleep in the baby carrier, all 24 pounds of him, and I can just be out there enjoying nature.

But the downside of this digital photography (other than my images aren’t very high quality compared to using a real camera), is that the enjoyment of these images is so fleeting. People glance at photos that one time, and never again. I love looking back over my images, but it’s not the same as having them printed.

That is why I decided to do this painting series. I wanted to capture the beauty of my favourite landscape photos by printing them out and working them into something permanent. Somewhere that no one can click “like” and walk on by. Where peoples’ liking or not liking the images doesn’t matter or isn’t visible.

I chose to do a series of 9 square paintings on wooden panels. These could be exhibited in a square or a row. The square shape plays on the traditionally square shape of instagram photos. I chose to work on wood because my images have a nature theme. I’m also working in a leaf or nature item on each painting. Some will feature old photo album pages that speak into the theme. I hope to exhibit these locally and then sell them later.

So this is what I am working on. A lot of the work takes place in my mind while I’m hiking, because with three kids to care for, I am quite lucky to get 10-30 minutes in a day to work on my art. When I am in the woods, I take a lot of photos (one hike this week I took well over 100). I get so much joy out of this ritual, smelling the roses, so to speak.

My birthday is next week and I think a lot of who I am is coming together – the artist, the nature-lover, the believer in God the Creator, the loving mother/wife/friend. I think I can do 38.


Art Battle Abbotsford

Art battle Abbotsford

My 20-minute painting at Art Battle, Abbotsford.

On October 2, I competed in my first art battle competition in Abbotsford, British Columbia. What a great experience! If you haven’t heard of art battle or watched one, how it works is that there are twelve artists, six competing in rounds 1 and 2. Two painters from each round go on to the third round. The winners are selected through audience votes, and the audience can also bid on your painting in a silent auction.

art battle Abbotsford

Me “in action” at Art Battle Abbotsford

Each round is only 20 minutes long, and while you are painting, the crowd circulates and mingles while you work. (Unfortunately for me, this cast shadows across my canvas, which you can see, above, making it really hard to see what I was doing).

I learned so much through art battle, which pushed me in a lot of positive ways. This was the biggest “push” I’ve had creatively since I exhibited some paintings for the first time about four years ago. Other pushes in my artist’s life were: signing up for my first class at Emily Carr Institute in Vancouver in 2004 after reading “The Artist’s Way,” creating my own website (2005) and starting to sell my work (slowly!!), with the latest step in that direction being the new etsy shop.

The practice leading up to art battle was great and I focused on two main things that were way out of my comfort zone: painting FAST and painting in front of an audience. Knowing that I usually paint very very slowly and love to be alone, I practiced as much as I could to come up with an idea that I thought I could complete under pressure. This was a good idea, when faced with a few surprises like not having a surface to set down my supplies/paints as I expected, and having heavy shadows cast across my canvas. I still knew what I wanted to achieve and just did my best. I realized that I wanted to paint something that was characteristic of me and my passions, specifically the energy of the forest and the messy branches and plants found there, similar to BC painter Gordon Smith. I knew that representational pieces and portraits tend to win more votes, but these just aren’t my style. I had to translate my mixed media and collage techniques into pure acrylic, and this was a great challenge for stretching my techniques.

Practicing showed me that I can get art done in between all my chores and duties with a baby and two older kids and a husband. It showed me that it’s time to get some new paint! I used up lots of pitiful, dried up tubes of paint. What a treat to use fresh, endless paint during the competition.

The most surprising benefit of participating was that people voted for me and spoke to me about my work. People liked it; people could relate. I was very flattered by some of the comments I received. I fully expected only a few votes from my wonderful supportive husband, friends and relatives who came to the event. But I got quite a few more. And my painting sold – not for very much – but it sold.

I forgot to mention that during the week leading up to the event, I also read through The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. This book encouraged me a lot to take a risk and put myself out there. I may not be the best artist, and my work may not be to everyone’s taste, but I felt like I am a “real artist.”

I also learned that doing something like this event is about entertaining people with my talents. I felt very much like a poor musician who would go to great lengths to perform a free or low-paid gig just for the excitement.

After the event I was exhausted and had to focus back on planet earth where the house needed cleaning and the 8-month-old needed the entire house baby-proofed as he’s learned to crawl and climb and cruise. But in the back of my head is a new long creative to-do list…after replacing burnt umber and some other paint supplies, I need to update my website–which I have abandoned–but realize it is sorely needed because I no longer have an online gallery. I also want to create some new listings on etsy with some affordable prints of my work. I’m also doing some little crafty baby things I want to sell, and of course I want to paint some new work!

All of this is difficult to accomplish with my busy little family and my return to full-time work lurking in the new year, but I love putting my creative life as close to the front burner as I can. One day I try to do that is through photography. It’s something instagram and my phone camera have enabled me to do that I couldn’t do just a couple of years ago.

So that is a fairly long report about my month, all to say that I had a great experience with Art Battle and would be willing to do it again sometime, but maybe when my baby gets over separation anxiety!

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.