3 WIP Still Life Paintings

It’s the time of year when some students travel. I only have the work of three works in progress to show this time. One of my students had his last class because he is off traveling and I forgot to take the picture. I had one student leave two weeks ago with the promise of sending me the completed work sometime in the summer. There was a school dance too, which in my humble opinion is something important to attend. That student will be here this week and I can’t wait to hear if it was fun. You have to experience life to get an idea of what you actually would like to paint!

Short one this time. I am happy with the progress in each and every painting.

Thanks for reading!



It’s Summer and I Love Ice Cream

I love ice cream and I buy it year round. I have some favourites of course as everyone does. It changes over time with flavours of all sorts coming out year after year.

As a child I have fond memories of the Dickey Dee. The bell would ring and all the kids in the neighbourhood would run looking for loose change. I often bought the ghost with the bubble gum eyes. I am not convinced that my children have had as much fun during the summer months even though ice cream is still a big part of their summer fun. There are often ice cream stops after baseball so not so terrible.

I loved the little ice cream cups with original flavours such as vanilla, chocolate or strawberry sold with a wooden stick. We can still get these today at ice cream socials at the local elementary schools. I think as a kid they were cheap enough that a few return pop bottles could pay for it at the corner store.

There was also a cool shop that sold ice cream decorated with sprinkles for hair and bubble gum for facial features that opened up when I was about age 10.  To me it seems like a place you would see around in this day and age. I can’t remember if it stayed open long but it was pretty busy while it lasted. The hot summers of Ottawa made us all up for the refreshing treat. I can still remember how delicious the chocolate sprinkles tasted under the partially melted ice cream.


I decided that it in this case, painting is a labour of love. They say write about what you know and love. I think the same holds true for painting. I want to paint all the flavours of ice cream I can as a labour of love. This “Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream” was an early favourite  of mine and one my eldest son calls his favourite. I think he finds the mint refreshing and he really likes chocolate.

As a baby, one of the early words of my vocabulary was “Quince” which translated to ice cream, according to my parents. I called soup “Plute” and I can honestly say that homemade soup is one of my favourite things to this day. I still like the same things. People change over time but some things never change.

As a child my grandmother would take me to “The Bay” near the Byward market in Ottawa. There was a special place in the basement that made delicious malted milkshakes. I have such fond memories of this creamy treat. When I moved to Caribou, Maine I found a place that sold them. In my 8th month during my first pregnancy, I took a rather long and painful walk to satisfy my craving for this sweet treat. Perhaps it is why my son loves ice cream so much. As a teenage boy, he often sneaks it as a snack even though I recommend healthier alternatives. Ice cream was a big part of our time in Maine. We would gather together at my sister-in-law’s home and watch episodes of Survivor and everyone would order my mother-in-law’s favourite sundae: coffee ice cream with butterscotch. I also discovered Ben and Jerry’s ice cream while in Maine. There was one flavour that knocked my socks off: Coffee Heath Bar Crunch. I think they call it Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch now but it is basically ice cream with Skor bar if you are Canadian. As I write this I realize the unending length of my blogging and that there are Skor Bar Blizzards out there which I also enjoy. Hahaha! Also, I am fortunate to tell you all that my summer vacation will include a trip to Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Shop in Waterbury Vermont.

So though this passion for ice cream could go on to include a story about the time I made homemade pumpkin ice cream and the time I bought my boys a toy ice cream maker; I think that is all I will share with you for now. I am hoping to make more ice cream cone paintings in the near future and I will share them here in time.

Thanks for reading! Bye for now!

Sheep Stuffy Still Life Painting (class #2)

On Thursday my very keen students started their paintings. I tell the students to draw with paint by viewing the still life as a guide. The next step is to lay in some colour that will be modified as they progress. Some students work faster and some slower. Everybody seems to already have their own signature style.

It is the time of year where people go on vacation, one of my students will not be attending the next couple of classes. She will be missed! She promised to work on it on her own and send it to me by email. I will share it here later.

I cannot wait to see the paintings progress over the next couple of weeks. This group is really working hard and they should be very proud of themselves.

Thanks for reading 🙂



Last Thursday, was the first 4 Week Still Life Painting Class. A group of six eager  “tweens” and “teens” came to my studio to learn about painting a still life.

If you are from Nova Scotia, you are probably all too familiar with the weather we are experiencing lately. People are complaining that they are experiencing the growth moss or mold on their bodies because of the amount of rain. Any sunny day, we get the added bonus of black flies. Fortunately, still life painting requires the comfort of the indoors. Best to stick with cheerful spring-like colours though, because clearly we all need it to be sunny in the studio.

The practice of drawing is always encouraged in the painting class. It is important to have a sense of how we are to lay out the composition prior to working with the paint. You can use a thumbnail sketch for that, but we do a larger drawing since we are learning about shapes and a little about value. Next week they will start laying out their still life painting by drawing with paint on the canvas.

I look forward to sharing the weekly progress of the work in the upcoming few weeks. There was a pause this week because my own kids and a couple of the students had their junior high spring band concert. It is great that they are interested in all forms of art. The concert was a wonderful time too!



Together, we made masks out of papier-maché! The mixture is pretty strong with a bit of texture and is easily painted. Painting our masks was what we did during our last age 8 to 11 art class until the Fall of 2019!

It takes a couple of weeks to make because the sculpture has to become completely dry before we paint. It takes a bit of planning and it helps kids with their organizational skills. Learning that making things can take time is important. Doing things in steps can help in creating a great piece of art.

I think kids like the sensory experience of getting their hands dirty. It is similar to making mud pies or slime. There are a number of recipes but here is mine:

1 part flour

2 parts water

TBSP salt

Put it all in an old bowl and stir it until smooth with a whisk. We used our hands. Yippee!

Basically, you need a base form to do it and a paper plate makes a great form for a simple mask. The kids drew their idea on a sheet of paper. We added shapes with masking tape and then we tore strips of newspaper.

With the use of our fingers, we put strips of newspaper into the mixture and remove most of the homemade glue. We covered the entire surface of our base from. Once that step is complete the fun begins. Because the newspaper and flour mixture is really sloppy but workable, you can make balls, fold it and twist it to create textures on the surface.

In Nova Scotia this May, we have been getting a lot of rain. I needed to use an electric fan to dry them  so they would be ready in time for the kids to paint. Once dry, I covered them with acrylic gesso one side at a time to prime them for painting.

We go over colour mixing theory each time we paint. When they ask for a specific colour I ask them, “How would you go about making that?” But using the paint is really fun on papier-maché. You can paint directly with colour or you can dry brush. You can even cover it with a thin coat of paint and wipe it away. You can speckle with a toothbrush and use the back of your paintbrush to make dots. Mostly this is a project that is fun and great for imaginative kids! Once it is dry, it can be varnished to give it a sheen.

So that’s it, it takes a bit of time to make but the results and the fun and worth while. Thanks for reading!