Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pastry Princesses Unite

I don't know about you, but perfect pastry has often seemed a mystery. Too tough, falls apart, sticks to everything... you know the drill. Thank goodness for frozen pie shells! Pastry making is definitely an artform...

Well not anymore! This afternoon four of us learned new skills - how to make perfect pastry by Mary Carr. When we entered her place, you could smell tarts cooking in the oven. She began by giving us a sample of what was to come - and asked us our issues with pastry. Well some eat it raw, others have pressure to live up to mom's, but clearly - we were all challenged (even to read the recipe!). She went over how she learned to perfect pastry - by experimenting and specializing in it at University and having to cook for hungry workers. After going over her tips (ah, you thought I'd share them eh? Not that easy! take a workshop because it's about more than the four ingredients!) we got to work making our own pastry.

We each made our pastry with enough for 3 pies each. Funny quotes during the process:

  • "Take it easy!

  • "Heh, don't be so aggressive"

  • "Do you want some nutmeg?"

  • "It needs embellishment"

  • "Help!"

  • "Nicole!"

A fun process but I also learned a ton! I hope to now make pastry that gets compliments. Thanks Mary and gals - its always fun when sage ladies get together to swap secrets. Interested in another one - let me know and I will keep a list together of folks for another one.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pet First Aid Course

Today, Kerri Lynne Wilson delivered a Pet First Aid course to participants at the Broody Rooster. These fun-filled, informative Courses are the longest standing in Canada. Pet lovers earn a Certificate while they learn and practice dealing with cat & dog emergencies including:
· Bleeding, broken bones and other wounds
· Choking, CPR and Artificial Respiration
· Learn to recognize early signs of illness
· Learn ways to help prevent illness and injury

They also receive an extensive, 2011 edition manual and a “quick guide” for first aid kit
and get a Certificate provided upon successful completion.

If you want to know more about upcoming workshops or want to organize one with instructor Kerri-Lynne Wilson (trained by WALKS ‘N’ WAGS PET FIRST AID ) call her at (250) 619-0352 Or e-mail reveille(at)shaw(dot)ca

More information is available at:

The Broody Rooster can be rented for workshops and events - $10 per hour or $100 for the day. for more information see

Monday, February 13, 2012


Well, today I thought I'd follow up with the outcomes of the workshop. Some of the best results yet - am sure you will agree.

Kim and Lynn met me a few years ago at the first Horse Expo event in Nanaimo. They wanted to come for a workshop before but the timing hadn't worked out. So, I am so glad it worked for them this time. They are a hoot. Both of them did an amazing job (giving the high five) on a portrait of their horse (Tara and Maddy). I hope they enjoy them on their walls and get a few bragging rights for years to come!

Astri is a creative with an impressive art background (PhD - oh man!). If she wasn't such a charmer, I'd have been intimidated. She worked on three paintings for the weekend - one that she had a draft of before she came and was struggling with to add colour. The next was an image that she wanted to get out that was formed in her mind (in the photo). And the last she was just getting onto canvas before she left. She excels in her understanding of values - and I just loved her outcome.

Tammy is my most loyal workshop participants. She was bold at this workshop and started a new painting of her youngest horse Beemer to add to a Triptych of her horses. We had talked about her choice of image and colours to complement the other two. In between the drafts of Beemer, she began a fun painting of her cat VK on top of one of her horses. It is such a great photo and is coming along so nicely - I know it'll be one of her favorites.

So, once again, we had a great time in the process and ended up with great products. Thanks Deb and Launie for your hospitality at Twincreeks and thanks workshop participants for your open, honest, hard working, willing and fun loving nature. I hope to paint with you and ride with you sometime again soon.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Starting out and making the tough decisions

Today we spent the day digging into the workshop. I went over equipment and supplies in the morning and then we ventured outside to spend some time with the horses. Getting inspired to paint is sometimes easier said than done. The night prior we viewed a number of paintings of horses that Kim and I had downloaded so that we could talk about what sorts of paintings inspired us. We piggy backed on this today by looking at our own images of horses. Lynn and Kim grabbed their horses and then brought them one by one into the round pen to move around. I think the horses enjoyed it and it gave me a chance to get some great action shots of them with my camera. We even staged a photo shoot with one of the horses and Astri on the ground to give her a source photo to work from for a painting that she had been coming up with in her mind (that was an experience)!

Once the gals downloaded or chose the image they wanted to work from, we headed downstairs to get the main composition onto the canvas. Usually in workshops I spend a long time going over basic sketching techniques so that people can get their composition right and onto the canvas. This can sometimes take a long time and I know that it causes anxiety in people who are worried about getting it right. Like most things, if you don't get the composition right, you will struggle with everything else as errors accumulate. So, to help move this along - I brought the new projector I bought. It projects the image of whatever you want to paint onto canvas and then you can sketch around the image. I haven't used it before as sketching is pretty old hat to me now, but I watched the students use it and they loved it.

So, with the hard work done on decision making - tomorrow will be about getting colour onto canvas with the intent of leaving with a painting done. Based on what I see so far, these paintings will be some of the best yet. Stay tuned...

Come all ye cowgirls

This weekend was another one of my painting workshops, but with an emphasis on horses and at Twincreeks in Duncan. We had a great group of gals join in to learn to paint or to advance their skills in painting horses. One never knows who will sign up to these workshops and when you are going to spend three days together, you always hope they are fun loving folks. Well, we sure got that one covered this weekend.

Friday night we got acquainted over a beverage of our choice while we settled in. I then did a demo on a picture of a friends horse "Sterling" that I took a couple of years back. The image above is the outcome - to date - and I may fiddle a bit more with him before I post him on the site.

With every workshop, I learn something new that I want to do to enhance the experience for the participants. This time I did a demo and asked them their goals for the workshop, and told them a bit about what would happen over the next few days. The emphasis Friday was on getting to know one another and watching the first stage of the painting appear - from sketch to composition. I never do my best work at my workshops as I am more into the students work than my own - but this weekend was a bit different. As much as I hate the colour purple - which was my background choice - I have to say that painting the things I love the most - horses - with the colours I like the least - purple - was a good way to expand my palette.

More on the workshop in the next post... watch us unveil our masterpieces!

Fixing up a portrait

I have always shyed away from portraits. But my last commission was a portrait (with a horse) and I was nervous about representing her well. I recognize though, that moving into those fears is a good thing. So, this past weekend, I had a neat opportunity present itself to work on a portrait. A friend had a portrait of his daughter that he had commissioned years ago. He was never really happy with the entire outcome and showed me with an invitation to work on it. I was a bit reluctant, but our entire group strongly agreed that the "before" portrait looked a bit cartoonish - like a cute little head put onto a cut out like we see at the county fair! See what you think. He shared with me the original photograph where I saw her in a cute little pink sweater.

After sleeping on it all night, I decided to have a go at it - thought I'd give it a dark blue background to help her pop out and to contrast with the pink - and bring out her blue eyes. Then, I gave her a pink sweater like the photograph. Added more red to her hair as she was a strawberry blonde, and more definition on her eyebrows and her eye lashes. A few highlights and a button, and I called it "finished". It was a better outcome for sure, and it was a good lesson for my students about backgrounds and palette choices. They matter!

See what you think in the before and after...