Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mysterious Beagle

The most recent pet painting I finished was done from a blurry old photograph of a beagle named Cleo. This beloved family pet lived long before the time of digital cameras and so there was only one photo for me to work from. When I looked at other beagle images to gather a little more visual information, I couldn't find a single beagle who looked anything like Cleo. When the watercolour was completed and delivered to its happy new owner, I found out the reason I couldn't find any similar beagle examples is that Cleo was diabetic. Mystery solved!

Now that the Christmas holidays are in full swing, I'm enjoying some relaxation that doesn't involve painting, but starting to feel restless to start something new. I think a trip to the art supply store is due. My birthday is on Thursday and I may just treat myself to some new supplies.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

From Start to Finish

watercolour, 8 x 10

Earlier I wrote about a very regal looking dog whose portrait I was painting for a very nice lady I met at the St. Paul's Market in Dundas. I finished the painting on Monday and on the right is the final result. This dog is so stately. As I was working on the watercolour painting, I imagined the dog thinking to herself, "well, I suppose you can paint my portrait, if you like."

I've included the photograph that I worked from, as well as the preliminary sketches that brought me to the finished painting. I love seeing artist's process work so I thought I'd show this painting from start to finish.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas Makers' Market!

Tomorrow there's a Christmas Makers' Market happening in Westdale, Hamilton. I'm going to be a part of it. Here are the deets:  

Holiday Edition of the Makers' Market
November 26, 2011 at St.Paul's Anglican Church, 1140 King Street West, Hamilton 
from 10am - 4pm

Items as original as the person you are gifting them to:
original art, stationery, jewellery, toys, clothing, knitted goods, accessories, bath and beauty products and 
homemade baked goods.
Free admission. For more info: www.makersmarket.ca 
email themakersmarket@gmail.com or call 905-527-1316

Monday, November 21, 2011

Rib-bit Rib-bit

These two froggy fellows were commissioned for a little boy's bedroom and I have it on good authority that they're a hit with the little mister. This was such a fun project. There's nothing like overcoming the greyness of November days with saturated hues of  watercolour.

Alrighty, I should head to bed. Yesterday's indication that I need to get some more zzzzs came in the late afternoon, that's when I noticed I was wearing mismatching earrings!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Christmas Gift and Vendor Fair

One Stop Christmas Shop!     

It’s starting to feel like that time of year again...like Christmas is on its way. This feeling is partly attributable to the fact that there was a bit of snow this past week, but other reason is that I’m doing my first Christmas Market of the season today. If you’re in the neighbourhood, come check out Providence Church at 582 Southcote Road from 9AM -12PM this morning. There’s going to be free coffee and a boat load of vendors (over 15). 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Regal Canine

 Yesterday I did some preliminary work for a dog portrait. I like to start with doing some rough sketches of different poses so that's the story behind these drawings. I'm working from photographs, and man, does this dog photograph well. She looks so dignified. There's something kind of regal about this animal.

Today I wanted to get done a little watercolour sketch, which is the next step before I start on the final painting, but I just don't have it in me tonight. I fell asleep listening to my husband reading bedtime stories to our son. Curious George really numbs the senses. The other reason for my grogginess was today's unexpected supply teaching. I do enjoy the occasional classroom experience but tomorrow I plan on sleeping in!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Framed (and loving it)

I found a frame for my orange leaf watercolour painting and, as it happens, came across a frame that I thought would be nice for a giclee of my blue jay printing. Since doing two leaf paintings last month, I can't seem to walk across my driveway without seeing a leaf I want to paint. I think I'll do one more watercolour of a leaf as my farewell to fall. Without looking at the calender, I know fall is on its way out because today it was cold enough outside to make me wear my puffy, feather-filled winter coat. Gulp!

These two will be for sale at a Christmas Market I'm doing which is Nov 19 in Hamilton. More on that to come!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fall Fiesta

Yay, it's almost the weekend!  And in case the weekend before Halloween needs a few more fun things crammed into it, there's a Marketplace happening at St. Paul's United Church in Dundas, this Friday and Saturday from 10am - 4 pm. The Church is located at 29 Park St. W. at  the corner of Park St. and Cross St. in Dundas. I've never done this market before but I was invited to participate a few months ago and it looks like it's going to be good! Dundas is such a great place to be, especially in the Fall.

I have some new things for sale so come check it out..

Friday, October 21, 2011

Lighting the Way for Frogs

Close this window

It's been eons since last I wrote and there's really one reason... the OttLite. I looooove this desk lamp; it gives off a light that very closely resembles daylight. The OttLite allows me to do watercolour painting at night and when the day is very overcast. Time I would have previously used to write a new blog posting is now spent painting. I've been enjoying myself but I also have a bit of sore neck from bending over my work for the additional hours. I've had more than one art instructor in university who had a ruined back and that knowledge combined with the twinge in my neck is reminding me to go work out at the Y.

Some things I've been painting are...

This needs a few finishing touches (like a signature) but I figured I'd better show what I've been up to.

This 5 x 7 watercolour will be for sale at the Fall Marketplace happening next weekend at St. Paul's United Church in Dundas  (more on that to come)


The cards are hand painted and very little, 2.5 x 4 inches. A pack of them were on sale at Curry's a while back and I cannot resist miniature stationary. Painting the cards was a bit of busy work while watching a movie, X-Men: First Class. It's safe to say the movie was enhanced by my being lightly distracted, although it was entertaining; minus the uncomfortable feeling that comes from seeing fictitious elements introduced to the Holocaust. I don't know, I find it's somehow a little unseemly to add made up horrors to something that was so completely horrible in and of itself. If you haven't seen the movie, it isn't very graphic or gratuitous, but there's a character whose mutant powers are studied by Nazis. The movie is also ridiculously long so that I stayed up till 1AM without realizing it was so late.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Blue Jay Watercolour

Blue Jay, watercolour painting, 8.5 x 11.5

A new bird has joined the roost. Blue Jays are known for being on the aggressive birds, but something tells me this fellow isn't going to cause any trouble. One benefit of the overcast days we've been having here in Hamilton is that the cloudy skies provide perfect lighting for photographing watercolour paintings. Now to do some more painting while Clarence is snoozing.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Lately, I've been spending a little more time on facebook because I started up a facebook fan page for my business. This partially explains why I haven't been sharing new things at this location as much, which is a little silly because it's so easy to post my blog entries onto the fb page. What I'm finding a little trickier is how to make a link from my blog to my fb page so that it's easier for people to find. If you feel inclined, please do look up me on fb under the name Stephanie Sikma Illustration.

Something new that I'm excited to share is that I've recently had my work accepted into AllSorts Gallery, a great shop on Ottawa Street North in Hamilton. The gallery has a range of gorgeous work from local artists that includes among other things, pottery, glass work and jewellery. There are seriously beautiful items on display at AllSorts and I'm delighted and flattered to be in such fine company. I met Tony, the store's owner, while being a vendor at a James Street North Art Crawl this past summer and I'm glad I did!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Timothy's Community Festival

Above is a photograph of a September sunset that I took last week. The clouds were spectacularly beautiful and there was an incredible glow in the air; I had no choice but to reach for my camera. I always like to have an image to share and since all my current pieces are works in progress, this picture felt like a good choice. Nothing compares with the artistry found in nature.

I'm working on a few projects at the moment, one of which is a watercolour painting of a  blue jay. As it happens, a number of people at the Grimsby Festival of Art this past Saturday asked me if I have any blue jay images. One lady in particular was on a search for a blue jay painting to give as a gift with special significance. She mentioned that she would keep an eye on my website to see when I'm done the painting. About a minute after I'd spoken with her, I realized I should have saved her the trouble by getting her contact info so that I can let her know when the painting is finished and there are prints available. So if you're out there waiting to see when I finish the blue jay painting, please email me and I'll let you know when it's done and there are giclees made.

This Saturday, Sept 17, there's a Community Festival taking place at Timothy Christian School. The event is going to have family friendly activities, great food and a vendor's market. And, you guessed it, I'm also going to be there with my art from 8AM - 2PM. So if you'd like to have some fun and do some shopping while supporting a good cause, come check things out on Saturday!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sign Me Up

This is painted with acrylic on a piece of primed canvas about 3.5 ft x 4.5 ft.

t is for rose

A few days ago, Jean's Flower Shop, a floral place near my house, was giving away free bunches of a dozen roses for good neighbour day. If you show up in time, there's many different colours of roses to choose from, as well as complimentary timbits and coffee. There's also a food bank donation box where you can bring your dry-goods. So Clarence and I walked over with some non-perishable food items in hand and picked out some lovely pink roses. After arriving back home and arranging the flowers, I was struck with a design idea for a new sign to hang by my display at the upcoming Grimsby Festival of Art. Two words: Flower Alphabet! I've done the flower alphabet before on a thankyou card, and the beautiful pink roses reminded me to use it again for my sign. The late night photograph that I took of the banner after I finished painting it last night would have looked better if I'd taken it in daylight, but c'est la vie. 

The Festival tomorrow takes place on Nelles Blvd. & Central School in Grimsby. I'm going to be located inside at the School. The GFA goes from 9AM -5PM so you can check it out and still be able to go to the SuperCrawl in Hamilton that's happening at night. I thought about having a display at the Supercrawl, but I think the emphasis there is on all the free, live musical performances that will be taking place. If I have some energy left over from the day, I hope to go have a listen. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Midday at Gore Park

A sunny lunch-hour was well spent today at Gore park in Hamilton listening to jazz music and admiring the fountain. I didn't take a picture of it (I should have!) but there was also a bright pink truck selling cupcakes and cookies. How sweet it is. These photos encapsulate what's needed to keep the creative juices flowing (it's the weekend, so I'm allowed to use cliches that are extra cliche).

Monday, August 29, 2011

Live and Learn

I´d been thinking about doing a watercolour painting of a blue jay when last week I found a blue jay feather in my backyard. It was pretty much impossible to look at the feather without wanting to paint it, so I did a quick little watercolour... 

After the feather was done I started on the whole bird. I think this piece might turn out to be an elaborate preliminary because I´m not please with the composition. I misplaced the bird and now his tail feathers are getting smooshed into the edge of the picture frame. Hmm, so maybe the week your two year old has been sick and cranky and wearing you out a little is not the week to start a finicky new painting. When I´m doing a watercolour I don´t draw the outline of what I´m going to paint because I don´t what there to be any pencil lines in my painting, but this is one time when it may not have hurt to pencil in the bird before I started painting.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dog Days of Summer

Phew, it's been a fun summer! I know it still is summer, but for my own part I'm feeling the need to buckle down and get things done, a feeling I associate with September and the return to school. I like that feeling-- it makes fall feel like a second spring in the sense that you're ready to start things afresh. The fact that the weather is starting to get a little cooler is also preparing me for the surety that summer has to end some time. And since I did some camping last week, my summer is feeling pretty complete. Although a trip to the zoo would really top it off nicely.

Something I'm looking forward to in September is the Grimsby Festival of Art which happens Sept 10. This will be my first year as an exhibitor at the GFA and between the beautiful setting and the throngs of people who come to admire and purchase art, I think it should be a good time. I'll write some more about the Festival and what I'll be doing there when the date gets a little closer.

In the meantime, here's a watercolour painting I did of two pet dogs that was commissioned as a gift for the owner who lives here in Hamilton. I'm pleased to say the painting was a gigantic hit! Because the gift was arranged as a surprise, there weren't many photographs to choose from for source material so I worked from one of the toughest photos I've used yet, see below...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sketching in the Rain

Yaaaay, the chord that connects my camera to my computer arrived in the mail today! It was mistakenly left behind in British Columbia when we returned home. Now I can download the recent vacation photos I took and pictures of some of my artwork. As I think about it, the list of things to be thankful for is limitless. That was clear to me as I sat in my backyard this afternoon sketching birds and trees while Clarence napped. After something of a dry spell, there was a good long rain today in Hamilton. Sitting under a big sun umbrella on the deck, I was able to do some sketching and stay dry. Now that's what I call summer vacation. The birds looked happy too, as they cooled off in a light rain and snacked on some bird seed.

There's also a new little painting that I'd like to share but it will have to wait a few days since the piece is a commission that's intended as a gift for someone who hasn't received it yet. I had better not ruin any surprises!

p.s. What's something you're thankful for?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Reaching My Limit

After a number of weeks away, I've returned home from a holiday to the Western most Canadian province of British Columbia. The trip was very enjoyable: most importantly we had a chance to visit with family that lives out west. We also did some sightseeing but didn't do as much hiking as I thought we would,  mostly because I came down with bronchitis and wasn't feeling ready to tackle any mountains. And I'm still getting over the chest infection, this time with the help of the right antibiotics. As my family doctor explained to me the other day, it's no wonder that I'm still coughing up unmentionable material because the doctor at the walk-in-clinic that I went to in B.C. prescribed me medicine that's meant for skin infections. Argh! I guess I now have first hand experience with the placebo effect. The antibiotics and puffer I received from my family doctor are unquestionably more effective. I know-- I have some nerve coming home from a wonderful holiday and whining about being sick but I theorize that a bit of complaining is therapeutic.

I'm eager to share some travel photos but the chord that connects the camera to the computer was forgotten at my mom-in-law's place. I'll be awaiting its return and eagerly checking the mail for the next week or so. Since I'm not occupied with going over the many pictures we took, I'm ruminating on how being away from home has a clarifying effect. An advantage of being out of your regular element and away from work is that the remove allows you to reflect on what you're doing at home and see what can be done differently. Aside from noticing how Clarence's toys can be better organized, I've realized that I should present the reproductions of my watercolour paintings as limited editions.

While I was in B.C. I saw a few open air art markets and it struck me that I don't want to make a gazillion prints of my work and that the ones that I've had made so far are of a reproduction quality that warrants their being individually numbered and signed. The one tricky thing with making my giclees limited editions is that the ones that I've already sold do not include that documentation. If you've already purchased a giclee from me and would like to have it numbered, signed, and dated please let me know and I will do that for you. My inventory and sales information is up to date so I'll know what number to give your image. For each of the paintings that I offer as giclees, the run will be limited to one-hundred prints.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Home, Sweet Home

Day 14: A photo focusing on eyes

Day 17: A photo with street lights
Day 15: A photo of whatever you please

Day 18: A photo depicting an emotion

Day 19: A photo that involves landscape
That's Webster's Falls in the backgound

Day 20: A photo of whatever you please
Clarence's handiwork.
 It was very important that all three kitties be riding the bulldozer.

Day 21: A photo of the sunset

I'm slowly but surely making my way through the photo challenge. However to speed up the process, I've skipped over Day 16: A photo experimenting with light trails. I have yet to master the exposure settings on my camera. I should really sit down with my camera's instruction manual but at the moment there's no time. My family and I are leaving for British Columbia tomorrow and I still need to pack. Gulp. I have till tomorrow afternoon, but still, who am I kidding, packing always takes way longer than I think it will. So when I return to Ontario, I'll revisit the elusive Day 16 and figure out how to take a photo with light trails.

Highlights of the week gone by included strawberry picking; the fruit of which I photographed in my kitchen sink just before I set out to wash 14 litres of strawberries. You would think having large amounts of fruit in your house is very healthy, but all those strawberries induced me to eat a great deal of whip cream and scones. It's simply wrong not to eat almost as much strawberry shortcake as you can while strawberries are in season. The scones are a byproduct of William and Kate's wedding. At the time they were married, all the attention on Britain made me want to eat something quintessentially British and scones seemed like the best option. I found a really nice scone recipe and haven't looked back since.

As for this week, it's only just begun, but it already has one highlight. I very much enjoyed strolling over to Sam Lawrence Park to photograph the sunset this evening. The park has a nice garden and provides a wonderful panorama of the escarpment and downtown Hamilton. Shucks, I'm going to make myself homesick and I haven't even left for holidays yet.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Thoughtful Cowboy

Day 11: A back and white photo

Day 12: A photo experimenting with bokeh
Day 13: A photo edit that you like
The 30 day photo challenge I embarked upon a number of weeks ago is going to take many more days than 30, but oh well. Here's the latest installment. My favourite of the bunch is Day 12, a photo experimenting with bokeh. I am no photographer and I didn't know what bokeh was before I looked it up on wikipedia, so here's the link in case you don't know what bokeh is either. The bokeh photo is of a ball that's a round mesh made of green and blue plastic wires. I pointed the camera lens at the exterior of the ball and focused the camera on the opposite, interior side of the ball. It's neat how the blurry plastic strands in the foreground sort of look like battling lightsabers. 

If Day 12 is my attempt at being artful, than Day 13 is me being silly. Clarence was eating lunch and ended up with such a perfectly curled mustache of almond butter, that I felt compelled to draw a cow boy hat on his head to match the old West mustache. I used Adobe Photoshop elements. As I look at this now, the hat would've benefited from me seeing what a cow boy hat looks like or maybe just editing in a real cowboy hat. But what can I say, it was fun using the Photoshop brush.

Day 11 is simply sweet and that's thanks to the lovely little daughter of a friend and a cute raincoat. A nice note to end on, I think.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Sky's the Limit

Here's a horse painting that I finished today and although I know the piece is complete, I'm fighting the urge to keep playing around with the layers of watercolour in the sky. Rendering the horse in this commission was enjoyable, but I was especially fortunate in that the photograph I painted from has a beautifully overcast sky. It's been a while since I've done anything that featured a large open expanse, so rendering the brooding sky from this photo was an extra delight. One of the advantages of painting from a photograph is that you can add or subtract elements in order to enhance the composition. In this case, I took out the machinery and fence. I should mention that the lovely person who commissioned this painting is married to an awesome photographer who took the great shot that is the basis for the painting.