My First Fine Arts Show

A few weeks ago, I noticed a post on my Instagram feed from the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery here on Vancouver Island, BC.  They were calling for artists both emerging and established, from all over Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, to submit their artwork for consideration for the upcoming Ladysmith Fine Art Show. This exhibition is held once every two years and is online this year because of Covid.  Three jurors, who are each accomplished and renowned artists, decide which artwork they want in the show.

I’m an emerging artist, who just had a website set up and an Etsy shop open online earlier this month.  Add to that, I was busily preparing paintings to hang in Port McNeill’s newly reopened and renovated oceanfront downtown cafe, called Mugs 2.0.  Amidst all this, I was captivated by the idea of submitting some of my artwork for the Ladysmith Fine Art Show.  Why not!

So I submitted three pieces for consideration.  The first one is called Nature’s Abundance.  I painted this in 2019.  It’s one of my favourite paintings.  I set out to paint something with a quiet centre and a busy outer perimeter heaping with all things nature.  This was the outcome.  Sometimes, a painting comes together in a way that feels for the artist to be lyrical, intuitive, flowing, like it bubbled up from the soul.  For me, this was one of those occurrences.

Nature's Abundance painting

The next two paintings were entered as one submission, because together they tell a story.  I’ve painted ravens before, and they very much resonate for me in a mystical way.  Maybe it’s because they live so long, have such an extensive vocabulary and are so intelligent.  Like the rings of an aged tree, I wonder how much they have seen, experienced, endured.  What goes on in their minds? What don’t we humans understand about them?  They have certainly captivated cultures throughout the ages as they are a recurring theme in art since time began.  I especially like when people explore these paintings and allow  whatever story wants to surface for them.  The first is called The Find and the second is The Gift.  I invite you to take a journey with these two paintings and see what they say to you.

I received notice that ALL of my paintings have been accepted into the Ladysmith Fine Art Show!  I am grateful, honoured, and downright giddy about this news.  

I began painting about three years ago as a means to help my brain recover from brain injury that occurred 6 years ago.  I took online classes, listening for as long as my brain could tolerate and then turned them off as my brain showed overload symptoms, then continuing where I left off next time.  So this process went on for a few years, with my brain gradually tolerating more and more ability to process sound without symptoms being aggravated.  

All these recent accomplishments have been particularly satisfying considering that the brain injury wiped out my career as a speech language pathologist, forced me to shutdown my bed and breakfast and downsize my home.  This accomplishment is like a renaissance for me.  There can be life after brain injury, and life after retirement, as long as we keep showing up for the possibilities.  Celebrate every small bit of progress.  Never say never, and certainly never give up!

The Ladysmith Fine Art Show will be awarding a People’s Choice Award and that’s where you come in!  Please visit the art show at and give one of my paintings a vote!   They can be found in the 2D Category – Mixed Media.  As a voter, you have a chance to win a set of paints.  Thank you for participating!


Art is like baking a cake!

My paintings are created a bit like baking a cake.  The early steps can be uninspiring, even to myself.  There is no great joy in looking at cake batter, though it tastes far better than it looks.  That cannot be said about my early paint layers.  It is not uncommon for me to pass through a stage of mortification, convinced that there is no returning from the ‘quagmire of wrongness’ that I inadvertently created.  One day I hope I trust this first stage more!  At this stage of a painting, I most often have no idea what direction it will head in. Case in point:

Starting a painting

From a state of despair, I felt that I had nothing to lose, and began adding various arches throughout the painting (see below), knowing that I can always add another layer of paint.  During this process, I kept the paper somewhat damp so that some colours would run and blend together.  It’s always intriguing when they do that! Still, the painting does not look like much, but some interesting areas and colours show promise as sweet areas to peek through to the next layer.  At least a little structure is emerging, much like the icing between the layers of a multi-layered cake.  Not exciting yet, but taking some form.

Adding arches to painting

Following this step, a lot happened and I became so engrossed that I forgot to take a few process photos.  At first, some of these arches had to go, and the intensity of some colours needed to be toned down.  So some softer colours like Golden Naples Yellow, Light Phthalo Green and Blue emerged.  I’ll compare that to the foundation icing on the cake.  Then an area at the bottom right and at the far left received some stenciling.  This was all I needed to have a vision of where this painting wanted to go. 

So the proverbial icing gun came out!  Rainbows emerged and a barn owl flew in, thinking a rainbow would make a great perch.  Some of the owl’s favourite things developed as botanicals.  He had a full belly, so no mice needed in this painting!  The butterfly was developed from the background by painting what is called some ‘negative space’ around it to give its shape. As is typical for my paintings, there are some simplistic line drawings combined with a few details that are more involved.  The final outcome is a painting that has some innocence, some sophistication and a lot of cheerful colour and spunky motifs that hopefully bring a smile to your face. 

barn Owl

BE IN YOUR HAPPY PLACE Acrylic inks, paints, markers and collage on 18 x 24” watercolour paper.