In the Studio and Out


BOOK NEWS The studio french doors are finally open, and with the warm weather comes a few new things. I’ve wrapped up a 5 1/2 month-long project. Keeper of the Light, written by Janet Barkhouse and published by Formac Publishing in Halifax, is in the final stages of production and will be coming out this Fall. It was definitely the most challenging project I have ever done. Janet is such a rich writer and the book is full of atmosphere, so I felt it important to be really thoughtful about what I chose to illustrate and how. Because it’s historical fiction there was quite an amount of research, however I had so much help from Janet and also a lighthouse expert! It’s also the most lengthy book I’ve done which means that I had to pay special attention to continuity. The best part of it was, that I got to create 11 year old Sara, who right away I knew was going to be a reflection of some of my own female characters that frequently show up in my personal work.



With the closing of one book, comes the launch of another! Bullet the New Steam Engine was a project I worked on last year with author Dwayne LaFitte and Flanker Press in Newfoundland. Our second time working together, Bullet the New Steam Engine is based on the passenger steam trains which traveled around the province, this one taking place in pre-confederate Newfoundland (circa 1945). How fun was it to paint the costumes! The launch in St. John’s will take place at the Railway Coastal Museum, May 4th. Chapters and Flanker Press have been organizing an event here in Belleville which will take place May 25, 6 pm. I’ll be talking briefly about what it’s like to illustrate a book, the history behind the “Newfie Bullet”, and of course, signing books after!


Also with the warmer weather comes the craft fairs! Flamingo Baby Organics presents the 2nd Annual Springtime WEE ONES EXPO at Frontenac Mall in Kingston on Saturday, May 14th, 10am-5pm and Sunday, May 15th 11am-4pm. The expo will feature arts and crafted items and unique products for babies, toddlers and families. I’ll be selling my two children’s books, stationary, and art prints. We are also talking about a possible story time event/reading corner.

The 5th Annual Kaleidoscope Craft & Wine Crawl! Celebrate the Summer Solstice June 18th, where Kaleidoscope is pairing with Closson Road Wineries and Farm Shops to bring you their inaugural Craft and Wine Crawl. Each venue will feature it’s own unique artisan theme, blending the love of handcraft with wine tastings, food, music and more. Among the usual art prints and stationary, I hope to have some new fabric pieces as well, and some original watercolour paintings.


botanicalI have a couple new watercolour paintings up in my Etsy shop which are a departure from children’s illustration. I have always been interested in paintings “from life”—dutch still life painting, Audubon’s naturalist watercolours, and botanical watercolours. My eye just devours that detail and precision. But I also take great pleasure in the act of life drawing which is a kind of meditation by focusing on the object and nothing else. Often I’m surprised by the colour of a shadow, or the shape of a negative space, or the curve of an object, which is always exciting.

These paintings are done by building up the layers of paint which not only make the colours highly saturated, but gives me a way to simplify what I’m painting by breaking down the colours and shapes. Nature can be a bit overwhelming in its complexities! For example, I will paint a whole leaf a light green, and then keep adding darker shades and lines on top (like glazing in oil painting). I also use white a lot, giving highlights to the berries for example, to give them depth. Watercolour doesn’t do this very well because of the transparency, and I know this is when I should be buying gouache to layer on top!

At the same time, I’ve taken the drawing of this floral pattern I made, and traced it on another piece of Arches paper, and am painting it all over again without the teacup. It’s amazing how different it looks even though it’s the exact same drawing. I’ve shared my progress on Instagram and I’m about 20 minutes away from finishing it. The idea is to create a repeat pattern in Photoshop to make fabric which will be used to sew napkins for my wedding! If all goes well, I’ll have them for sale at the Kaleidoscope craft and wine crawl, as well as in my shop.

Thank you for stopping by! Enjoy the sunshine, friends!