As you know, just last week I opened my online store, SummerBayStudio.com, where I sell multiple cute and useful products featuring my watercolour artwork.
At a social event recently, someone congratulated me on my new “direction”, which took me by surprise because making art is something I’ve done ever since I was a child.
I’ve also been a writer since my school days. Over the years I’ve focussed on one over the other, depending on things like raising children, working other jobs, or moving continents and starting over.
Summer Bay Studio has been the name of my studio for nearly twenty years. Previously, I’ve licensed my artwork to other companies who sold products to stores worldwide. I had my own wholesale company where all my products featured my own art. I’ve even had individual fine art paintings that have sold in galleries and have gone to hang in homes on three continents.
Over the past several years I switched my primary focus to writing and publishing books. So while I was writing novels, illustrating adult colouring books, and publishing short and long fiction and non-fiction (23 books so far), I kept on painting.
Why this, why now?
In the same way that Amazon and print-on-demand changed the world for authors, the internet has changed the world for artists. An online store means you can now purchase the things you want directly from the artist, often in a matter of days, not months or years.
Why do I do it?
If you watch the news on any given day, you’ll be exposed to the worst the world has to offer. If we dwell on it, life looks bleak indeed.
The reason I write and create my designs is to be a counter balance, to add goodness and light for sadness and darkness.
A smile or laugh is good for the soul. Enjoying life is important. It is vital to our health—spiritual, mental, and physical— to enjoy our lives.
Donkeys and RVs?
Susan loves donkeys, so a watercolour donkey painting on a tote bag makes her day. It tells the world something about Susan and instantly connects her to others who love donkeys. See my Summer Bay Farm Collection.
Jackie has spent the past year decorating her vintage travel trailer so she can go to camping rallies with her friends and bring along her own little house on wheels. She loves everything about the life, and getting a floor mat with cute vintage RV designs tops it off. Not only is she one of the gang, she has other RV Happy items in her petite kitchen that make her smile every time she uses them. See my RV Happy Collection.
As the store grows, you’ll find products for birders, farmers, ranchers, travellers, beach-lovers, girlfriends, Christmas, retirement, Mother’s Day, for those who love pretty things, and so much more.
I have chests full of original watercolours waiting to lift hearts. I also have books too, and I’m writing more of them.
I do all this work to make the world a brighter place. It’s to lift a heart if only for a few minutes, to open someone’s mind to a new thought, or replace a negative belief with a true, positive one.
So is opening my Summer Bay Studio online store new?
Yes, because I’ve never done it quite like this before.
No, because I’ve been creating art for products for a decades.
Sometimes, because there will be lots of new designs appearing on everything from coffee mugs, canvases, and carry-on bags, to clothing.
Maybe, it’s all new to you until now.
I hope you'll take a look.
I'm adding new products every few days and will let you know when new designs become available.
Love and joy come to you!
You know how it goes. You have plans and everything in noted in your planner. Then you get sideswiped by the unexpected. The car breaks down. Someone near and dear passes away suddenly. The transaction that was supposed to have been cleared up months ago, finally needs your utmost attention, just when everything else does too.
Life just goes like that. At least, mine sure has lately. However, in the midst of a bunch of stuff that I won't go into, I've managed to create eight new watercolours I'm calling Summer Bay Farm. These cuties are appearing first on a set of coffee mugs, then I will be rolling out several other great products.
Here is a peek at my new coffee mugs. There are eight animals in the series, and I think they're all adorable. This is Mrs. McQuacken.
The remainder are loading on my new store and will be available to purchase later this week.
As and artist and a writer, love art and words, and I especially love them together. When I designed my series called Sea Dreams, I wanted not only to evoke the feelings we have about the sea with soft, fresh colours, but also to incorporate words.
I chose to keep the words simple, using only the names for each shell pictured in the watercolour. While the words were simple, choosing a font was not.
Generally, I have an idea in my mind's eye of how I want the whole image to look but often once I create it, I find that I'm not happy with how it turns out. That's when the experimenting begins.
Over the years, I have added a lot of decorative fonts to my font "basket" because I create decorative work. The process of choosing a font and the appropriate colour is one of trial and error. First I type the word, then scroll through my fonts for likely candidates.
Some fonts get rejected as soon as I see them on the artwork. Others are definite maybes. I will make a copy of my word or words, and change the font on the copy so I can compare the two. I continue with this process until I have several possibilities.
Then I place each one on the artwork, size it, work with the colour, and gradually eliminate fonts that don't convey the look and feel that I want for the art. It can take hours! But it's fun.
SEE ALL SIX OF MY SEA DREAMS MUGS HERE>
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There are days—we all have them. It seems like the weather has been grey and cold for weeks, and the sun went south for a holiday.
Motivation to do, well, anything, is worse than at low ebb. It's hardly more than a drop to dampen a fingertip on.
It's easy to lose sight of your goals, why you do what you do, or why you ever thought it was a good idea in the first place. The refrigerator and the sofa are calling your name.
It is time for a pep talk.
If you have someone to go to, that's great. But you can give yourself a pep talk any time you want.
Here are a few tips:
1. Remind yourself out loud what your goal is. "This is what I'm doing..."
2. Say why you want this. "I want to do this because..."
3. Imagine yourself doing it, or achieving it. See how that feels. "It feels fantastic now
that I have..."
4. Congratulate yourself on your progress so far. "Wow! Well done, (your name)!"
5. Celebrate with something special, or do a happy dance in your kitchen.
Little steps like these can completely change your mood and your motivation and will keep you on track to getting you where you want to go.
You can do it!
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The months of spring are sliding by so quickly, it's important to keep an eye on the calendar. The way I work, I sometimes lose track of what date it is because I become so focused on my work.
This spring is a little different because I've created a few designs for upcoming holidays and gift-giving occasions. The next up is Mother's Day.
Mother's Day is next month. Tell your Mom she's the Best with my new coffee mug design.
More new designs coming.
Early last year, I decided to do something that had been on my mind for some time. The idea of the somewhat lost art of writing personal letters intrigued me. As a child and young teen, I had pen pals and I remember eagerly awaiting letters in the mail.
As soon as one arrived, I raced to my bedroom and wrote a reply. I wanted the letters to keep coming.
Later, when family members moved far away, we communicated with each other by writing letters. Long distance phone calls were infrequent and expensive then, but getting a letter in the mail was a delight.
With these and other memories in mind, I began creating The Letter Box, providing subscribers with a beautiful, illustrated letter every few weeks. It was exciting and fun, and my subscribers loved it.
Little did I know when I began that 2017 would turn out to be such a difficult year. Lots of big and tragic events came along. By late fall, I was finding it hard to keep all the balls in the air and it was with regret that I had to stop writing and illustrating the regular installments of The Letter Box.
Now, my life seems to have righted itself again. (What a relief!)
But guess what! After all that letter writing, you wouldn't believe all the beautiful pages I have. I am so excited to tell you that I have gathered them all together and put them in a book! I have also added more letters that even the previous subscribers have never seen!
The Letter Box - An Entire Year of Illustrated Letters is now available to purchase.
Isn't it pretty?
And here is a special surprise: A peek inside!
I made some changes to some of the original letters, adding more of my watercolours and keeping everything current.
My goal with this book of letters is to shine a light on the beautiful things that are around us every day, and to help us all find enjoyment in the sweet ordinary.
The letters are personal with details about my life, including travels and discoveries.
The Letter Box also has lots of great tips and ideas, from recipes and decorating ideas to advice on cleaning closets and enjoying summer days (not at the same time, though).
I have a loyalty card for the grocery store where I usually shop for healthy stuff like broccoli, and other things such as shampoo, exercise pants (which rarely see the light of day), and new small appliances that I don't buy because my counter space is already full—of other small appliances. I can redeem my accumulated points for any of these delights and more: make-up, snow shovels, baby clothes, bacon, taco chips, and live lobsters.
I also have a loyalty card for a drugstore chain that gives me points, like the other card does, that I can redeem for cool stuff like more lipsticks than a mega-church ladies group needs, magazines, or canned soups. This store has some of the same stuff as the grocery store, minus the lobsters (thank goodness).
Recently, these two stores amalgamated their loyalty programs, which required visits to both stores, a new card to replace the previous two, and registering online so I can be informed of all the deals. My previous sign-in information didn't work, so new password, new login, a lot of frowning and resetting...you know the drill.
In the meantime, I visited the drugstore and forgot new my card at home on my desk, while it was waiting to be registered. Now I have to go back and see if what I spent yesterday can now be counted as points. I'm so close to getting something fabulous with my amalgamated points.
Life is full of little details like this and as a creative person running a business, the details seem endless. Not only are there lists of must-do tasks every day, but the lists of would-love-to do projects looms large. New ideas are all so enticing that no matter what I'm currently working on, when a new concept pops into view, I want to add it to my stack of projects. Believe me, it takes serious discipline to make those ideas wait until I finish something.
Which brings me to this:
The book will be in full colour and in a large format so it is easy to read and the images are nice a clear. I have everything almost ready but then...
My forward progress was interrupted when my husband booked a week off work with the intention that we go away for a few days break. Lovely, I thought. But only days before our departure, our daughter and her two wee ones took sick, too sick for her to recover while nursing a baby and caring for a sick three-year-old.
So being the good parents we are, we scooped them all up and brought them to our little house for the week. As an aside, I also caught the cough bug, but not nearly to the degree that my kids got it. To top off the week, my computer coughed up its graphics card and went into a coma.
Life can get so muddled.
It was great fun having my two little g-babies here for the week. After all, who could resist a face like this?
Getting back to my original thought, don't you find that life is often a muddled mess? Things don't always go as planned, no matter how tight the plan. Our vacation getaway got postponed for another time; our house became a jumble of scattered toys, spit-up cloths, and bouncing children.
By the weekend, my daughter and her children went home, much improved. My computer issues are in the process of being resolved, mainly because I'm muddling through figuring out more new things. It is important to remember that the muddle is normal. Sometimes, things go swimmingly. Sometimes they don't, and no matter how much we fret and fuss, it won't help.
The only way to handle it is to, as my late father-in-law used to say, "Bash on, regardless."
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HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Where I live, in Canada, the start of a new year is always synonymous with cold winter weather, even though I live in the most temperate part of the country. This year is no exception.
The day after Boxing Day (December 26th) the storm blew in, first with snow then ice rain, followed by a blizzard. Beneath the hip-high snow deposited by the most recent snowfall lies a skating rink of ice. In fact, the ice coated everything—cars, trees, roadside grasses, blackberry bushes, and houses—in more than a half inch of glass.
It's beautiful but treacherous!
The snow buried the neighbourhood and many are still digging out. Not far from here, power lines were downed by the weight of ice and the blast of wind, leaving hundreds without electricity for many hours.
Whatever plans we had for the holidays had to be cancelled until we could get out of our street. So what do you do when this happens? Have some fun, of course. Sure, you can lounge in front of the television and binge watch whole series on Netflix, each junk food, and live in your pyjamas. I did briefly consider that...
Instead, I published a pair of books that I've been thinking about for a long time. In fact since I last blogged (I know, it has been too long!) I've created and published several books that have been on my to-do list for some time.
Rather than list them here, I have updated MY BOOKS page where you can see everything in one place. The links are included so you can look inside and go ahead and purchase if you like what you see.
Click anywhere below for a closer look.
I wish you a wonderful, healthy, and prosperous 2018!
And if you're not already on my email list, be sure to grab my free gifts when you join.
Click here to learn more.
No one can deny that great things happen in our lives all the time. A new baby arrives, you get the dream job, the house renovation goes perfectly. But awful things happen too, and though we wish they wouldn't come along, or that we could somehow minimize the collateral damage, usually we just have to get through those times and keeping putting one foot in front of the other.
This year, 2017, has been fraught with blows, one after the other. Unbelievable as it seems, a total of ten of our friends and family have passed away this year. Still reeling from one shock (losing my mom in January), the next ones hit without even time to regain my footing.
It was definitely time for a rest.
So in September my husband and I went to Quebec. The weather was perfect, full-on summer the entire time we were there, with just a dusting of fall colours in the red maple leaves.
We stayed with my sister and brother-in-law, and toured here and there in little day trips to see the sights.
The photo above is in the the town on Knowlton where author Louise Penny lives and where she fashions her mysteries in Three Pines.
So many things are old, like this little covered bridge built in 1861. I've lived in western Canada my entire life, except for a short stint in Europe, so I'm not accustomed to my neighbourhood being more than 150 years old.
All the villages are charming and pretty, and stone churches and graveyards show up around nearly every corner.
This lovely Presbyterian church is literally out my sister's back door. It's a nice little commute across the lawn on Sunday mornings.
This antiques and craft market, held in a farmer's field, attracted lots of visitors. What a temptation these beautiful cushions presented, but alas, my luggage was full.
Notice the crabapple tree, above, loaded with fruit shading the displays.
This area of Quebec, near the New York border, is apple growing country and what a perfect time to visit! These beauties were ready for picking and guess what—the next day they were gone, loaded into crates and on their way to markets.
Every couple of weeks, I write a lovely long letter that goes out exclusively to subscribers of The Letter Box . The topics are all different, and this month I'm detailing my visit to Quebec.
Each letter contains a free gift, craft, or decor idea, too. If you haven't already subscribed, you really must. Don't we all need more sweetness and delight in our lives? Yes, and yes! Click here now.
Things have been quiet on my blog for a while and I'll explain why in a minute. But first I want to let you know the the smoke from the forest fires around the province did finally clear giving us brilliant hot summer days that looked like they'd go on forever. Instead, August whizzed by in a blink and suddenly it's September. And the smoke is back!
There is a cost to having a rainless summer and the cost has been high in terms of the damage done by wild fires both here and in the western US states (their smoke also blows in our direction some days). This is what the sun looked like this morning.
I realized that as the sweet days of summer slid past, I wasn't enjoying them nearly enough. Instead, I felt overwhelmed with work. Something had to change. So I briefly examined what I was having the most difficulty completing and my gaze landed on blogging regularly. Now, don't get me wrong, I love blogging, writing, creating posts, and sending emails. It's just that sometimes the plate gets too full.
So I took a break. I wanted to work on an art project (A big one!) that I've had in mind for some time but hadn't been able to get to. You know how frustrating that can be!
Well, I've finally finished the first tiny phase of it only yesterday. I'm super excited about it, and about all the plans I have in mind for lots more.
Here is a peek: (Click on the images for more.)
I've created a series of six designs that wrap around the mugs. The series is called RV Happy - Colour Me, because these particular ones can be coloured with markers or ceramic paints. If you thought a colouring BOOK was fun, you're going to love colouring these cuties. The six themes are Dockside, Beach, Glamping, Western, Desert, and Cottage. Get the entire set, or choose the ones that reflect your favourite vacation destination.
My next move is to create the watercolour versions for those who don't want to do the colouring themselves. After that I plan to roll designs out on a multitude of products in several design themes. So watch for goodies such as fabric (for quilting and decorating), clothing, jewellery, accessories, and more.
Be sure to join my email list to hear about the new products and designs coming soon.
This has been a hot, dry summer where I live, which is just the kind of weather I love. The down side of it is, in a province that's mostly forest, fires are inevitable. And there have been lots of really bad ones this year, so bad that the smoke from those distant fires has covered much of the landscape, including here in our valley.
This photo was taken at about 7:15 in the morning, a few days ago. Most evenings, the setting sun looks like a neon pink ball suspended in the sky. It's pretty, but the smoke is thick.
That means it's a good time to stay inside and get some work done. As I've mentioned before, I working on getting my art designs on a host of new products that I'm launching a few at a time. (Basically, as I get them formatted and loaded to my shop sites.)
I'm excited to introduce the latest piece in the Cheeky Collection, the "I'm the Queen, I make the Rules" necklace. When it comes to being "The Queen", either you are one or you know one. Click on the image to see the details.
If you haven't already joined my mailing list, be sure to do it now so you won't miss any of the new products. I have years of designs hidden away in my "vault" that will soon be on all kinds of cool things for your house, or to wear, and more. You'll also receive a free letter from The Letter Box, and a lovely, inspiring poster to instantly print and frame.
When the smoke clears, I'll still be here creating.
Patterns and designs are everywhere. It always strikes me as odd, or uninformed, when people claim that art isn't relevant and artists don't produce things of value.
Nothing could be further from the truth (which, now that I think about that, makes it a lie). Everywhere you look and at every man-made object, you will see the hand of a designer or artist.
For example, above is a photo of my purse sitting on my bed. An artist designed the fabric patterns in both cases, plus a designer created the shape and features of the purse. (Thank-you, whoever you are. I love this purse.)
Similarly, the quilt not only has a surface design, created by an artist in paint, but just look at the pattern of that stitching. The flip side of the quilt has fabric with a different design.
I've been sewing my wee granddaughter a summer outfit (I know, I'd better hurry up). I found this cute fabric with flip flops, popsicles, and palm trees and couldn't resist it. Why? I love the pattern that an artist dreamed up and then created.
Look at the gorgeous design work on this piece of cotton. The interplay of colours, botanicals, and white space is perfect. I bought enough to make whatever, because I didn't have anything specific in mind. Any ideas?
This length of fabric was one that come from my mom's sewing room. I love the bright colours and the modern design. The piece isn't large so I'm thinking of making a trim little top. Whenever I wear it, I'll think of her. (I love you and miss you, Mom.)
The array of patterns and designs in flannelette is gasp-inducing. They drip with cuteness and fresh colours. This piece became little things for my daughter who had a baby boy just last month, and wee diapers for her little girl's dolly.
Patterns show up on all kinds of things, such as these jaunty Volkswagen vans on a pair of boxer shorts.
I'm adding more of my designs and artwork to a host of products. Check out my shop for all the new ones.
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For the past couple of weeks my daughter has been on holiday from her job. She planned a "stay-cation" but then suggested we go away somewhere. Since I couldn't get away for more than a few days, a big trip wasn't feasible.
Instead, we took a day last week and went shopping across the border in Washington. We had a great day but since we don't live that near each other, and I was doing the driving and had to drop her off before coming home, I didn't get home until after midnight. Long day!
However, we had so much fun that she talked me into going again, only this time staying overnight. On the first day we walked our feet to the bones at a big outlet mall but only bought a few things. I finally found the perfume that I love, Tommy Bahama St. Barts!
We drove out to Whidbey Island and spent the night in Oak Harbor.
We stayed at the Auld Holland Inn that I booked through Booking.com. (Disclaimer: I joined the Booking.com affiliate program because I love their service. I've got so many great deals there.)
The hotel was super cute with little character touches like the pretty front entrance with hanging baskets. It's so easy to add pretty touches with only a few changes. After checking out the shops in historic downtown Oak Harbor, we carried on to Coupeville, one of my favourite villages.
Coupeville could give lessons on how to do cute. This is one of my favourite stores, Collections. It was the setting inspiration for my short story, Brown Santa, in Sweet Christmas Love.
The owner, Cheryl Nunn, has done such a perfect job of making her shop (above) pretty, inside and out. Be sure to stop in next time you're in the neighbourhood.
Just up the street is Aqua Gifts, another example of over-the-top pretty. Oh, my goodness! Take a look inside. For a beach lover like me, this is a little bit of heaven.
I found lots of ways to pretty up my house in the room overlooking the water.
La Conner was the next stop on our cute town shop-a-thon. It was getting to be mid-afternoon by the time we stopped here and, given how late I'd arrived home the previous week, I didn't want to spend too long before the big drive ahead.
But really, folks, you can't take La Conner quickly. Its prettiness alone demands that you slow down and enjoy all the delightful touches.
This is just one example of how pretty this town is. I bought a couple of lovely cotton summer tops that I'd been looking for everywhere—and got them at half price!
Then to top off the day, it was time for rocky road ice cream which we shared, sitting in the sunshine and overlooking the channel. You can see the map of La Conner here, too.
The perfect ending to a perfect little getaway.
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Earlier this year, I went looking for a planner to use for my business, projects, and appointments. Because I'm a visual person attracted to fun images, the ordinary "strictly business" planners that you can buy at an office supply store just don't do it for me. They bore me so much that I don't look at them, forget to write things in them, and consequently find them no help at all.
Then I discovered the Happy Planner! This planner is like recess and art class rolled into one. And because it's so much fun, and the visuals are so eye-catching, I use it all the time, and have become much more organized as a result.
There is so much I can do with my planner. You can buy pads of stickers to decorate the pages, or to highlight important events. Naturally, I loaded up on those, and then some.
This week I had an idea (brilliant, of course). A few years ago, I had painted a series of miniature watercolours that I framed and made into fridge magnets. You can see the originals, above and below.
My idea was to create planner stickers from all these pretty mini watercolours. It takes a little while to re-size and tweak them in Photoshop so they're printable, but I've made an entire sheet of stickers that are now available in my shop. I started with the flowers series and created 20 different stickers from the original eight images.
I'm ever so pleased with how they turned out and can't wait to format the other categories for you: Container Gardens, Fruits, and Vegetables.
All you need is some sheets of sticker paper, your printer, and you're ready to go. You can use these pretty stickers for your scrapbooking projects, to make quick gift tags or cards, or to label things around the house. Click here to see more now.
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My shop on this site is slowly starting to take shape. Over the years I've created dozens of pieces of artwork and decided it was about time I shared some of them with others who love watercolours and pretty things.
It's clearly time to organize my original artworks. I keep them all in an antique chest with shallow drawers. It's perfect.
I was looking for my original for the Seashell designs that are now in the shop.
This painting has always been one of my favourites. I've re-created it with a beautiful message in the shop where you can download and print it instantly.
While I was sorting through my paintings, I found a few others that I'd kind of forgotten about. The amaryllis is part of a Christmas series and will appear in the shop and on other products in due time.
I'm so excited about all the new things and plans I have for my site and my art and writing. For now, though, please visit the shop and have a look around. For a limited time I've got FREE flag banners to create for Canada Day and US July 4th. Go download them right away. They won't last.
Be sure to have a look at how beautiful this painting is with its uplifting message. Print it, frame it, hang it, love it, or give as a gift.
For a limited time only, Canadian and US flag banner kits are FREE in the shop.
And if you haven't yet joined my creativity mailing list, go HERE now before you miss anything else.
People often ask how I can paint different subjects. I'm a watercolourist and though I've used other media to create art, watercolour is my favourite. When I feel that I've come to the end of what painting with water and paint can do, I'll spend more time with other materials. In the meantime, below are step-by-step instructions to create a small, framed floral watercolour painting. I've included links for the materials you'll need and can order online, or you can check them out and find them at a local art or craft store.
I found this frame when I was cleaning out a box or stuff. It's an oak frame with glass.
Take your frame back off because you'll need that piece to measure your paper to fit. You'll need to purchase watercolour paper in at least 140lb weight. Supply: Watercolour paper.
Using the back of the frame, trace around the edge with a pencil.
You can cut it before your start painting, or after you've finished. Save the trimmings for testing your colours before applying to the paper.
Watercolour paints come in a variety of styles including sets of tubes, tiny boxes that fit in your pocket, or larger sets. You can buy individual tubes of paint in colours you like and a separate tray, such as the one shown below.
I prefer a palette that holds more colours and is easy and light to carry. Here is a good one I found.
This is the palette I use for small projects. I have a larger one that I use when painting large works that require big wet washes of colour.
One of my newer discoveries in the water brush, which is a brush with a water tank in the handle. It's wonderful for sketching and painting on location because you don't need to carry a pot of water. Water brushes come in different sizes so buy a set.
Now let's start painting. Using a colour of your choice, squeeze your water brush, or dip your paint brush into water and gather some paint. Paint a few irregular semi-circular swishes, as above.
When you've finished with one colour, be sure to squeeze all the colour from your water brush onto a paper towel until the water runs clear, or rinse your paintbrush and wipe it to make sure all the paint is out of it before picking up your leaf colour.
You can see what I mean in this photos. I keep a piece of paper towel or a clean rag handy for wiping my brushes.
The trick here is to lay the colour down quickly and don't mess around with it. If you put wet colour into wet colour, or onto wet paper, it will perform differently than painting wet colour over dry colour. Try it on a paper scrap and you'll see what I mean.
There is more to creating a painting than simply painting separate element, so watch how the composition of this little work emerges.
Add a rosebud, and more petals on your dry main rose. You can also add more leaves, twigs, and extra stems.
I've added some little yellow flowers for variety, along with small leaves to complement them. Add a few lines of green with your small bush to show leaf veins, and accent stems. Then pick up some light brown paint and dot some centres into the main rose and the yellow blossoms, making sure they're dry first.
I decided that I like this better with the large rose at the bottom. Feel free to turn your painting different ways and see how you like the effect.
I recommend standing your painting somewhere where you can see it and just look at it for a few days before adding any finishing touches. Resist the urge to fuss over the paint. Watercolours are meant to be fresh and clear, and painting over and over the same spots muddies them up. When you're happy with the result, don't forget to sign your work.
Make sure your paint is dry before placing the painting in the frame.
If you have no desire or intention to paint, guess what! You can buy your copy of my painting right now in the SHOP.
I confess that I'm a fan of cuteness. (Like you didn't know.) I especially love cute towns and villages, shops, and streets. So when I go to the coast of Washington state, I always take a side trip to Seabrook Village. It's what I call a pop-up village because it didn't grow organically; it was conceived and created on purpose.
I don't know who was behind the concept, but they've done an exceptional job of creating a pretty village on a rise above the beach on the Pacific.
Every house is different from the ones next door and all are styled after coastal designs from days gone by and villages that have been around for a long time.
Seabrook Village was originally planned as a vibrant community but most houses have been purchased as vacation homes and many are available for rental.
We got lucky and the sun came out. As we visited prior to the Memorial Day weekend, and during the week, things were pretty quiet, but construction was marching on.
I enjoyed seeing the variety in architectural styles. Don't you love that line up of white rocking chairs on the veranda?
My ex-house painter husband couldn't help but mention the upkeep of all those window frames but I think they're so pretty.
This little beauty looks pure east coast but would be fun to stay in. I'm betting there is a view of the sea from the upstairs window.
Gravelled walkways meander through the village and flags flutter from covered porches. I told you it was sweet.
What's a good seaside house without a veranda? Okay without, but better with. Imagine soft summer evenings visiting with friends, a cool drink in your hand.
Every home has its own character. Look at all the windows climbing up that west-facing wall. You'd never be without a view of the ocean on your way up to bed.
This cute cottage looks like it was transported from Cape Cod—not that I've been there, but you know, I've seen pictures. The life preserver on the outside wall is a nice nautical touch.
And the picket fences...need I say more? I didn't think so.
Even when the styling is similar it's not the same. I love diversity, and red garage doors? Nailed it.
Of course you want your blue bicycle handy for tootling around the village. And nautical touches like loops of ropbe are perfectly fitting in this seaside town.
The village continues to grow and each phase seems like it's cuter than the last one. Some houses now perch on the very cliff overlooking the ocean. Huge sighs, here.
There is even a farm, plus this row of charming cottages where you can spend your vacation, or a month working on your novel.
Since we arrived early in the season, some of the shops were closed but it looked like more were scheduled to open soon. If there's one thing I love, it's darling gift shops.
Speaking of which, I'm in the process of creating my online shop on this site. Be sure to take a look and to drop back often as I'm planning to add lots of my artwork, and much more, in the days to come.
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It took a while to materialize but taking a week off finally happened. May 22nd was a holiday here in Canada—Victoria Day, celebrating the Queen's birthday. I convinced my husband to use some of his vacation time for a short getaway.
Since we live close to the US-Canada border, we have often vacationed in Washington state. This time was no exception. We packed up the car and headed south. The first couple of nights, we stayed in Everett, which is on the north end of Seattle area. Our ultimate destination was Ocean Shores but first we (uh, I, actually) needed a shopping stop, hence the city stay.
Then we caught the Edmonds Ferry across Puget Sound to Kingston, which is on the Olympic Peninsula. If you're a travel fan like me, a map is always a necessity. I like to know where I am on the planet.
This will give you a better idea than if I try to describe it. The blue dotted lines indicate where the ferries sail.
Biny-man never leaves home without his trusty binoculars. You never know when you'll have to investigate a passing sailboat or an airplane.
We like to take the back roads and hardly ever get lost. We don't really care if we do, and we're not afraid to ask for directions, even my man!
But this is one of my favourite signs to find, wherever we are. The trail leads off through the beach dunes where black-tailed deer live and the wild strawberries were in bloom. It's going to be a good season for those tiny, succulent berries in not to long a time. I may have to make a return trip.
We stayed at a lovely hotel, the Morning Glory that I booked through Booking.com. (Full disclosure: I've become an affiliate for Booking.com because I love their prices and service.)
And then...there it is. The first glimpse of the wild Pacific Ocean.
I made it to the beach. And it was COLD! I'm wearing layers and my wind-proof jacket while my hair nearly blows off. Still, it's exhilarating just to be there and hear the pounding surf. It's spectacular and this beach seems endless—wide and miles long!
I know you probably wish you could be here too, and I wanted to bring back a little taste of the ocean for you. I couldn't get my videos to load here so I'll just post another photo of a day at the beach.
When we travel, we like to explore so in my next post, I'll take you on a little jaunt to Seabrook Village. You'll swoon.
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As a writer and artist, illustrated books are among my favourite things. I'm always on the look out for new ones, and new titles that come from artist authors I love and collect.
Below is a short list of my favourites, many which have been in my library for years and regularly come out so I can enjoy them all over again...and again. Picture books used to be only for children but no more. Beautifully illustrated books for adults are just as thrilling.
I've provided links for you to buy the books if you choose. I'm sure you'll drool over them as much as I do.
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I have lots of wonderful things in the works that you won't want to miss.
I wrote this poem several years ago for my mom for Mother's Day, and now that she has gone on to heaven, I found it while cleaning her house. I still feel the same.
I am blessed to have had Inez Dewar as my mother.
A Good Mother
Thank-you, Mom, for loving me
For encouraging all that I can be
Thank-you that I am able to see
You're a good mother
Never a mentor so profound
Who lifts me up when I am down
Could I be certain would be around
You're a good mother
I realize as the years go past
And children grow up so very fast
That yours is a love that will always last
You're a good mother
As now I'm approaching middle age
And time turns yet another page
I see with the wisdom of a sage
You're a good mother
When you've finished the course and run the race
And heaven's reserved you a special place
Tell the Lord, when you see Him face to face,
You're a good mother.
Copyright 2017 Wendy Dewar Hughes, All Rights Reserved
Sometimes I don’t want to do anything. I sit by the window and look out. The neighbour drives by in his little red car. I see a hummingbird zip past, stopping briefly to examine a leaf. The forsythia blossoms are finished, dear. It darts away.
Clouds tumble over the mountains. Will we get sun? It’s iffy, but the clouds today put on a show all their own.
I sit here knowing I should want to do the things on my list, but I don’t even want to want to. I want to do nothing, or at least nothing “important”. I am fine with reading a few chapters in a novel, or even turning on the television in the daytime (heaven forbid!), though I don’t. I don’t want to enough.
I heard on the radio that spring floods are ravishing neighbourhoods, sweeping away homes and filling basements with water. People have to evacuate for fear of being swept away with the rising water.
While natural disasters like this can be terrifying, being flooded by activity, obligations, and social pressures can catch us just as unawares.
“I’m so busy!”
That seems to be the cry of the modern working person—and even sometimes the retired person. As a culture, being busy has become like a badge of worth somehow.
I’m not going to belabour the point, but I think this is the wrong direction to go. For one thing, it sets you up for a fall. Running around like your shirttail is on fire leads to exhaustion sooner or later.
I know of what I speak having been in business for a decade and a half. Work can easily overwhelm a life, but so can other things, such as childcare, elder care, and extra-curricular activities, and especially if they all happen at once.
Lately, I’m feeling like it’s all been too much. Do you ever feel like that?
I went to the library a few days ago, and had no enthusiasm for books. (I know. Weird, right?) My lilac tree bloomed and was done before I could cut any blossoms and bring them inside. I went shopping briefly at one of my favourite stores, and left with nothing after wandering around for ten minutes.
Sometimes you just don’t want to do anything. It’s a sign. When you don’t want to do anything, perhaps that’s exactly what you should do.
And me? Right now, I’m going to go and sit by the window. The clouds are spectacular and looking at them is enough. And the sun came out.
Yesterday I cleaned out my piano bench. It was full of cassette tapes. We all know that cassettes have now gone the way of the 8-track and the video rental store so even though I still own a stereo unit that will play cassettes, I haven’t listened to most of them in years.
Time marches on. We adopt new technologies, try new ideas, and buy new things. It’s so easy to simply leave something on the shelf where it has always lived and close the door without dealing with it. We still own it but don’t really need or want to have it.
Last week I sat at breakfast with a darling friend who told me about what she called, “my injury”. This person went through a terrible ordeal and still suffers the consequences. My heart went out to her.
However, it struck me that she is not only dealing with the after-effects of the injury but still owns it as her own. She hasn’t let go of it and relegated it to the past as something that happened to her from which she can move on, rather than something that she still accepts as part of her. She still carries it around.
I spent last week cleaning out my mother’s house. Cupboards and closets were stuffed with items than I’m sure she’d forgotten about years ago. It’s different when clearing someone else’s effects than cleaning out your own closet skeletons, I get that, but boy, it has sure made me take a hard look at my own trailing clutter.
The cassette tapes all went out the door. With the piano bench empty, I had room for music books and sheet music. Then the ragged pages and coverless music books went in the recycling, and the good ones that I no longer want, go to the used bookstore. The stand where they’ve languished for more years than I care to count now goes too. (I never liked that thing.)
Possessions that I no longer want to own are moving out of my life to make more room for the objects that give me joy.
The incidents and events that have happened in my past are like those belongings in my house that are no longer necessary. They’ve made an impact and won’t be forgotten. But I don’t need them anymore so I no longer own them as mine. Yesterday’s stuff can stay in the past.
Today is a new day with new possibilities, new choices, and new chances for wonder and happiness. A light heart is not encumbered by yesterday’s burdens.
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I’ve never been on a football team, a hockey team or even a cheer leading team. But I did play a little basketball in high school. Our school was so small that you didn’t have to be tall or even very good to play basketball; you just had to show up.
During my stint as a basketball player I had two different coaches.
Coach Ann hollered a lot, often until she was had turned a dangerous-looking shade of purple, noticed every mistake the players made, and pointed out our errors in front of the rest of the team for the benefit of all.
Coach Jenn also shouted a lot, jumped up and down, and cheered when any of us made a great pass or a basket, and reinforced our successes while training us to do better.
Even when we lost, which was fairly often, she encouraged us by saying we had done a good job and that next time would be better.
Which coach to you suppose helped us win more games? Both, each in her own way, or you could say, neither, given our dismal record of wins.
But Coach Jenn made us want to play better and win more games than Coach Ann did. Coach Ann made us want to quit.
When one or the other of my daughters is having a down day, she sometimes calls and intones in a plaintive voice, “Mom, I need a pep talk.”
Since I’m a pretty positive person by nature it’s not too difficult to think of something uplifting when the need arises. Sometimes, it’s as simple as saying, “You can do this,” or “It will work out, you’ll see.”
An encouraging word from a friend can make all the difference in keeping going or giving up. Commiserating isn’t usually helpful.
If someone you know is miserable, what good will it do to become miserable with her? (Misery may love company but it doesn't help.)
To encourage means to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence. How we need those things sometimes!
My aim is to encourage us all to believe in ourselves more, to be inspired, to know we are not alone, or just to laugh.
I write to inspire you with courage, spirit and confidence. Whatever you want or need to do, know that you can have the courage required to do it.
You have the strength, the ability, or the inspiration to follow through.
I have to admit that I haven't felt particularly creative lately and while I have ideas for things I want to do, my motivation has been low. (I think I just need a holiday.)
My sister came by a few weeks ago and dropped off a box of magazines for me to look through then she went away and forgot to pick them up. I've been thumbing through them one by one. The most numerous one is Marie Claire Idées, which is all in French. My French is a tad rusty but thankfully, there are plenty of gorgeous photographs from which to glean ideas for creative projects.
The magazines that I'm not going to use, I plan to pass on to my local library for their sale table, or recycle.
However, this morning I had an idea, not for something presented in a magazine, but for pages from the magazines themselves.
I tore out a few pages and made an envelope. As you know, I love all things stationery, writing, and art related so the idea of making my own envelopes from magazine pages was a natural.
Here you can see a couple of the pages that I've torn from one of the magazines. I knew I'd never make this particular craft so it didn't seem like a great loss to sacrifice the pages.
paper, in this case stamps and postmarks in French. Apropos, oui?
To make the flap, I folded the top corners in to meet up with the top of the pocket.
You can cut these off if you like but I didn't bother. I like a neat folded edge.
I like how the interior of the envelope is full of photos in colour. They make a nice little surprise when the letter is opened.
I also folded the "point" of the flap so it has a neat edge, riather like gift wrap.
You can see in the photo below that all you have to do is pop your letter into the pocket of the envelope then fold down the flap.
I just happened to have a pretty sticker (because I buy them whenever I see them) that looks nice with the colours on the envelope. You could also use a glue stick to seal the edges of the flap, which is probably a good idea anyway.
It turned out that a white space appeared above the butterfly sticker so I could write a return address there, or in this case my other web address, LettersfromWendy.com.
On the front, if the graphics are too busy, you'll probably want to affix a mailing label sticker for the address. I made this name and address up, so my apologies if an April Marshall really exists at 7741 Willow.
Voilà! A beautiful, unique envelope that takes only minutes to make.
Here is a selection of paper tapes, also known as washi tape, that I've collected. They are lots of fun to use.
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