Monday, 6 January 2014

Happy New Year!

I look so forward to writing my often lengthy tome-like emails to all of you unsuspecting and long suffering friends and family, as I am usually rewarded with a few replies on what you've been getting up to and it also affords me the opportunity to stop and take stock on where I've been this year and where I'm heading to in the next.

This time of year, when Winter prompts all manner of species of plant, animal, and mineral to rest, hibernate, and renew themselves for the not so distant return of Spring. I believe this is also why we humans feel  the urge to reflect on the passage of time and set goals for the year ahead. I am not one for New Year's resolutions, unless of course it is to consume more chocolate, search out more books for our already dangerously overburdened bookshelves, and to laugh more. I do however, set general intentions of where I want the year ahead to take me  mentally, creatively, physically. But, how can one set intentions for the year ahead without taking stock of the receding current year? As I look back over 2013 and marvel at the speed with which it's brought us to the last few days of December, I am filled most with profound gratitude.

I am so grateful for your friendship, encouragement, support, and the nudges that have kept me moving forward and challenging me to find deeper levels of creativity and skill in my creative aspirations and also in who I am as a person. I am grateful for those of you who find pleasure, comfort, or inspiration in the work I put into the world, as that too, is what propels me giddily, gratefully forward.

This year, my intention has been to find more avenues to connect with others through my work, to challenge myself to stretch beyond my everyday expectations. Most folks who know me, know that illustration is my chosen vehicle to attempt to bring more inspiration, joy, and magic into my world, and to connect with the world around me in a more authentic and deeper way. So, with this perspective in mind I dove headlong into 2013 with my sketchbook tucked firmly under my arm. What soon came across my path were experiences definitely not of my design, but so rewarding on every level. 

I am no lover of being the centre of attention (although writing long emails about oneself certainly argues against this statement), public speaking, or even having my photo taken for that matter. I generally shy away from giving group lessons, talks, and solo showings of my work because of the aforementioned reasons. So, it was with delight and my immense pleasure to give one on one lessons to two very talented women this year. I have felt so honoured to share in these ladies' creative adventures and am blown away by how they've stretched and grown both artistically and in their approach to their technique. What I hadn't anticipated was how this opportunity to connect in such a personal way would enrich my own life as well as how I approach my own work. Janna and Shiho, you have been such a wonderful part of my year, I thank you! Fortunately, for all of you curious readers,  Janna and Shiho generously agreed to allow me to share their holiday cards with you all to further prove how lucky I am to get to sit and watch these two amazing ladies create...


From offering lessons on painting and illustration to doing a solo showing of my work this year at the scrumptious Cocoa Nymph's magical chocolate shop, and a wild and wonderful trip to Ireland and France, this year has taught me much. Most importantly, I've learned to continue to stretch beyond my comfort zones and self-constructed boundaries as there are such incredibly rewarding and life affirming discoveries around the bend, under the often overlooked stone, and on the next page of one's sketchbook. If nothing else, I hope this rambling yarn will encourage each of you to risk some comfort in the hopes of the reward of making a new friend, discovering a new passion, or seeing our world with new eyes.

Wishing you a 2014 of joy, good health, and inspiration in abundance.

Your fan and friend!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Autumn Greetings!

Hello again!

It's been quite some time since I've dropped a line to many of you. I hope my message finds you all well and enjoying this amazing weather. I don't think I'm alone in my love of Autumn weather and the occasional fog bank. This season of reflection and harvest is always full of
activity for me. It is the deep breath before the plunge into the wild season of holiday shows just on the horizon.

Portobello West - Dec. 7 & 8, 2013
Where: Creekside Community Ctr., Olympic Village, Vancouver, BC
What: Fashion and Art Market
More info:

Women's Winter Faire - Nov. 29 to Dec. 01, 2013
Where: Heritage Hall, 3102 Main Street, Vancouver, BC
What: 20th Anniversary! Over 50 booths of creative, funky, beautiful, ecologically-sound and diverse gifts await a hoard of loyal shoppers each year who converge on this popular event to shop, for sure, but also because's such a social event!
More info:

Christmas at Hycroft - November 21 to 24 , 2013
Where: Hycroft Mansion, 1489 McRae Avenue, Vancouver, BC
What: Sort of a Village, Sort of a Concert, Sort of a Museum, Sort of a Craft Show, Sort of a Shopping Trip, Sort of an Interior Design Show, Completely FUN for the Whole Family!
More info:

Each Summer, I vow to be more organized and to have my paintings completed by October, and yet...

This September, however, we had quite a good excuse to keep me distracted from painting and sketching, as we were off in Ireland with a quick visit to Paris, which lit the creative fires like nothing else. After a wonderful adventure through Ireland's rural narrow twisting lanes, up and down winding stairwells of Celtic ruins and early Christian settlements, to the
top of the Eiffel Tower, and down to the bottom of a carafe of the richest French sipping chocolate one could ever wish for, we are home again and I am inspired beyond words.


Upon our arrival home, I hazily sketched away the hours of jetlag. The first painting to arrive on my watercolour paper was this Solstice gathering (note the fetching cardigan that the badger is sporting, none other than my own cardigan acquired in Co.Kerry, haha).

Fox and Badger Solstice

This polar bear has been wandering around in my subconscious for quite some time, but each time I sat down to sketch him before we had gone on our travels he never looked quite as I had envisioned him. However, as soon as we arrived home, he was ready to be drawn; there is something to that phrase about everything in its time.

Polar Bear

So, now as we all face the coming change of the season from Autumn to Winter, I hope that like my own good fortune, you have all harvested the rewards of the seeds of intention sewn in the Spring. As you reflect on the year that has flown by, may your memories be full of crisp Spring mornings, lazy Summer afternoons, and pumpkin orange Autumn sunsets.


Until our paths cross again, I'm sending you blessings of joy, laughter, and inspiration in abundance


Cocoa Nymph Gallery Show (August - September 2013)

Greetings friends!

Just a quick reminder to come Away With The Faeries this Friday evening at 7:30pm (August 9) for the opening wine reception of my gallery show at Cocoa Nymph.

 My paintings will be hanging from August 9th to September 29th.

Cocoa Nymph 

It is a rarity for me to hang my original paintings en masse and a great opportunity to see them all together… and maybe indulge in just a few (thousand) pieces of chocolatey Cocoa Nymph perfection. I do hope you'll join me, as that would indeed make this wine reception a truly perfect evening to share it with all the souls who inspire and encourage my illustrative adventures. 

Until then, sending you blessings in abundance for inspiration, joy & creativity.

Happy June 2013!

And what a start of June it's been. From a rainswept May to the early days of June bursting with sunshine, it's been a wild ride.

Well, I know I am a minority in the fact that I love the rain, I love storms, and find the  wilder the weather, the more relaxed I am. I didn't waste May's stormy weather, and managed to get two paintings completed in time for my first market of the year.

Hanami Celebration came with all the beautiful cherry blossoms blanketing Vancouver. I
wanted to create something that captured how cherry blossoms get this city all a dither, as they herald the coming of Spring and with it sunshine and longer days.

Hanami Celebration

Fey Bouquet's inspiration is much the same, as lilacs arrive on the heels of cherry blossoms and soften the rough edges of the city with their billowy bouquets and wafting delicate perfume. As the impish wee feller dreamily inhales his bouquet, lilacs have the same effect on me. I am not one for cut flowers, but love seeing my neighbourhood awash in varying shades of pinks and lilac, and inhaling the amazing floral scent that fills the air.

Fey Bouquet
Wishing you all a wonderful June and may these longer days be full of joy and abundant inspiration.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Meet "Lanterns to Read By"

Although the sketch for this painting evolved from thought to completed drawing very quickly, I had to scrap the first painting and redo the entire piece again... sigh.

Alas, it is my Achilles heel, that I have a tendency to overwork a piece when I should just let it be and come back to it refreshed. So, sometimes my critters end up with fraternal twins who live out their days in my portfolio of reminders that less is more, more often than not!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Hedgehog Holidaying and Ox Herding

Hello again!

Having just completed this painting and thinking its been a pretty lengthy gap since I dropped you all a line, I thought it high time I rectified such poor behaviour on my part.

In pondering whether the temperature would ever rise beyond the single digits and perhaps watching a few too many BBC period dramas on these cold winter evenings, a  prim little hedgehog wandered onto my sketch paper.

Her first big holiday abroad finds her in the Mediterranean being wooed by this rather rakish and cunning ferret. This is what comes from watching Poirot while sketching methinks...

As well as hibernating over the winter, I've also begun giving lessons to a wonderful and receptive student who I should be paying rather than the other way around, as I am feeling very inspired by our work together. We had been working away one afternoon at the foundations of drawing, specifically breaking down objects into their basic shapes, when the Oxherding Parable entered my mind. I came to know this story several years ago in the form of a commission for me to illustrate the parable for a yoga instructor who planned to use it in his teachings. It is a Zen Buddhist parable that dates back to the Sung Dynasty, 12th century. The story is traditionally illustrated in 10 panels, but I'll  share just a few of my own illustrations with you here.

The herder is searching for the ox. This represents the beginning of one's spiritual journey, a time for change and the letting go of bad habits. Sometimes the path is are to find.

The herder finds evidence of the ox. The path is difficult and success seems often faraway, but there are glimmers of achievement.

Suddenly the herder sees the ox. His path becomes apparent and he realizes this is indeed the right direction, although what lies ahead is still unclear.

He catches the ox. It is difficult to tame. The mind wanders.

He tames the ox. The mind is unruly, but with perseverance the ox(the mind) eventually follows by itself, without tether or leash.

The herder mounts the ox(the mind has submitted).

He transcends the ox and stands alone. The herder no longer pays attention to the ox.

The herder and the ox are transcended, neither matter any more. This is the moment of enlightenment.

The herder reaches the origin. Returning to the origin he recognizes what he knew before.

He returns to the world where he lives to teach others.

Although the parable's function is to illustrate one's journey to the integration of  Zen Buddhist philosophy and practice in order to attain enlightenment, I believe it captures any personal journey towards the integration of knowledge and growth, or in the case of the session with my client, demonstrates how one comes to understand the foundations of painting.

There appears to be many "oxen" upon life's paths. Some oxen yield to us far quicker than others, whereas others can seem forever out of one's grasp. No matter what stage you are at in taming your wily steer, I hope that this parable will come to mind as it has for me, in those times that tempt you to turn away from seeing the struggle for integration through to its conclusion.

Hoping you are well and enjoying the crocuses and snowdrops, who promise that Spring is indeed on the way.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Solstice tidings!

As the last days of 2011 wind down, I decided one more wave over my shoulder at the waning year was warranted. What adventures I’ve had since I last wrote! I completed two commissions for a lovely lady, Barbara, who then treated me to a ride on the carousel at the Burnaby Village Museum.

How inspiring it was to see the beautiful and painstakingly restored carousel up close… (note to self: take another adult or borrow a kid if you are going to ride the carousel, glances of  nervous parents indication that a goofily grinning carousel-riding 38 year old is not a common occurrence.) This is THE carousel that was the jewel of the PNE that we all rode as kids. How funny life is, I would never have imagined I’d one day be painting portraits with the very same wooden horses that were such a magical memory from my childhood. It was such a treat to experience the music from the Wurlitzer organ and all the old incandescent lights casting a golden glow on the gilt and red surfaces, as the horses bounded around and around. Who says you can never go home again, ha!

I then took a tour of a restored trolley car that was used up until the 1960’s between New Westminster and Vancouver. I was so impressed with the horsehair- stuffed seats, covered with woven and lacquered rattan. The windows were encased in cherry wood and the floors in a lighter wood, Maple? There was not a plastic, polymer, or acrylic plug, thread, or fibre to be found anywhere on this work of art. It boggles the mind to see such craftsmanship, ingenuity, and detail lavished on objects that we take for granted as merely utilitarian. As I prepared to disembark, the very knowledgeable and good-natured guide looked away politely as I rang the trolley bell for the 10th time… or maybe he was looking for my nurse.

It is a rare and wonderful thing to visit the Burnaby Village Museum, especially when I discovered that it was created and constructed solely by volunteer efforts and fundraising. Even now, many of the guides and support staff are volunteers themselves. How can one not marvel at such a creation, knowing that it was for the pleasure and education of others’ that this beautiful historical site was created?

A few days later we took the first of my freshly printed, ink still wet, handbound copies of A Faery Trail to Fairy Godmother’s Unlimited, in La Conner to get the blessing from the fairy godmother herself. Here is the cover to prove to all you doubters, myself included in that statement, that it is indeed FINALLY completed!

I plan to throw a little shindig in March 2012 to celebrate the completion/ release of this veeeerrrrryyyy long awaited project. I think Spring is the perfect time for new beginnings and what a perfect excuse to have some fun, too.

So, for now, I send you wishes for a Solstice full of joy, gratitude, and good health. May the coming year find you rested, rejuvenated, and inspired.