I discovered these beautiful ceramic pieces by Karen Millar and thought it was well worth sharing.  I love the organic subjects and the simplicity in which they are executed.

This is an extract from her artist's statement:

"I make work that explores polarity – the relationship between growth and decay, loss and hope, soft and hard, vulnerable and defensive, light and dark, interior and exterior. Organic forms inspire me and are often central to my work. There is inherent beauty in the cycle of decay and death, growth and renewal. That they can exist at the same time and in the same being surprises and intrigues me. This paradox gives me a reason to examine and enjoy the detail in nature; not just the obviously attractive parts but also the protective elements, the clumps of thorns, hard husks and barbed appendages."




You can view more of her work here.

This tutorial will show you in simple steps how to achieve a great looking dog portrait.

Arches 140 Lb Hot pressed 12" x 16"

cobalt blue, yellow ochre, magenta et indigo. The indigo will allow the creation of dense colors, close to black, while melting it with ochre and magenta. The cobalt melted with the same two pigments, will give light shades of grey close to white.

Reference Image:

First glaze:

The first glaze will give roughly the prevailing colors in the fur.

Exaggerated the colours. Glazes after glazes, these strong colors will melt.

Notice that from the first brush stroke, each lock is painted in the sense of the fur. From the beginning to the end, whatever the size of the brush, you should always comb the hair and remember that each brush stroke will be seen by transparency.

On the right side, this strong color close to black is a mix of indigo, ochre and magenta.

The Eyes:

As you paint in watercolor without adding white gouache,  you have to search for the most intense light in the reference photo and always think to preserve it in the painting. The first brush stroke in the eyes will be for this white sparkle in the middle. Use a very light glaze of cobalt blue. So light, that you don't see the pigments when it is done. Nevertheless, it is really necessary.

Now the first glaze is dry, using a very dark mix of pigments based on indigo, I paint the edge of the sparkle in the eye and what is pehaps the heart of the pupil.

A few steps further, details of the same eye. As you may see, instead of adding a glaze on the iris to get closer to its brown red color, keep the transparency of the thin original ochre layer and add red-brown streaks. They give at the same time more volume to the eye.



The lower eyelid was not painted in one horizontal brush stroke, but with small vertical strokes to give matter and volume. On the upper eyelid, you see three basic colors : blue, yellow and magenta.


Working on the iris, paint a very light glaze of ochre and let it dry. The next glaze will add a mix of ochre and magenta on the edge of the iris. Then start to paint the pupil with a mix of my three colors, close to a dark brown-red.


On the eyebrow but also on the top of the head, paint the wooly fur with “tremolo” brush strokes. Even if painting stronger glazes over it, your eyes will see it and feel the impression of wool.

On the final image, the basic colors are still there, as strong as at the beginning: The magenta and indigo mixed in a deep violet blue sing beside their opposite colour ochre.

The Nose:

The nose of the dog will allow the painter to give light, life and brio to his portrait. So take your time to succeed it. Underneath, a blow-up of the first glazes. The above of the nose has been painted wet on wet, with a light cobalt shade and a darker mix on the right side, where you can see a few magenta and ochre pigments. With a large brush suck part of the cobalt pigments to give more light on the top.

You have streaks to the right crossing streaks to the left. Easy and quick, but giving a great effect, even with darker shades painted over it.

As the fur was getting more color and contrast around the nose, dare to give more value to the nose. Dampen again all the top of the nose and part of the fur around it, before to add a mix of cobalt and magenta, wet on wet , without laying any pigment on the light. The hole of the nostril is painted with indigo, magenta and ochre, wet on wet first. Then dry on dry. The darker the shadows, the brighter the light.

This detail shows the fine work on the dog moustache. Once more you can see brush strokes of pure colors, whose shades are changing by superposition.

The background:
Nearly pure ochre at the bottom right, pure cobalt on the top left and a violet blue (cobalt-magenta) at the bottom-left painted wet on wet.






With winter fast approaching, I don't want to forget our little feathered friends.  It is super easy to make beautiful little ornaments that not only look really pretty, but will also feed our little feathered friends.  They need our help when the snow arrives and you'll love watching them through the window from your cozy home.

There are several different design ideas.  You could add these to the branches of a tree and the little birds will have their very own Christmas tree.

If you know any nature lovers, this will be a great alternative gift.  Put them in a lovely box and they will be delighted.

You'll Need:
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3 tbsp. corn syrup
4 cups birdseed
molds (muffin tin, cookie cutters, etc.)
nonstick spray
drinking straw
waxed paper

1: Combine the flour, water, gelatin and corn syrup in a large mixing bowl. Stir until well-combined.

2: Add the birdseed to the mixture, stir until well coated.

3: Spray your mold(s) with cooking spray, and spoon birdseed mixture into each mold. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to pack it down, and make the top smooth

Poke a hole through top of each birdseed mold using a drinking straw, making sure it goes all the way through.

4: Leave the birdseed mixture in the molds for two to three hours. Then, remove the straws and lay out a sheet of waxed paper. Gently remove the hardened ornaments from the mold, and place them on the wax paper upside down. Allow them to dry for at least two to three more hours, or overnight.



5: Cut your ribbon and carefully put it through the hole.

6: Package them up!

There you are! Ready to hang on the trees or to give just in time for Christmas!







It is not enough to be creative in your paintings, in order to make a living as an artist, you also have to be good at marketing yourself.  This is something artists generally find quite difficult.  It is also important to know where and how to market yourself so that you are not wasting your valuable time.

I am going to list some ideas that have worked well for me and other artists I know both online and in the real world:

1.  Submit your paintings to groups on Flickr
Flicker is a great place to publish any form of art and get a lot of attention.  Check out groups that fit your type of art by theme or color.  Ensure that you always create a link to your portfolio or website/shop in the description and tag your work carefully so it can be found through searches.  Adding a link to your shop/website will also provide you with a valuable back link which will in turn help you with your rankings for search engine results. 

2. Create your own shop/ecommerce site
If you have not already, it is now relatively easy to have an ecommerce site of your own and for free.  http://www.shopify.com offers an easy to use online store builder which is fully customizable and provides a secure online shopping cart for your customers. 

3.  Create a time lapse video
Because selling art is all about visuals, making videos will stand you in good stead.  You don't need a video recorder but by using a camera, you can take a whole series of images over a period of time.  You could start with a blank canvas to a finished painting in a quick and interesting way.  People love to watch artists at work and these kinds of videos always attract much traffic.  Post it on YouTube and then share the link on other social media accounts you may have like Facebook and Twitter.  You will soon find that it begins to go viral. 

4.  Use Pinterest to create a theme
Pinterest has gained incredible popularity and having boards here is an excellent way to create interest in what you're doing.  Creating a board that has a theme within which your paintings fit is a wonderful way to create interest without the hard sell.  You will soon see that people will repin your items on to their boards. 

5. Team up with other Artists
A team of people often has more impact than just one person alone.  You could create a page online where all of your work is pooled together.  All of you can then drive traffic to this one page. 

6.  Write interesting blogs
If you are so inclined and you like writing, consider blogging.  Blogs that offer interesting information that people want do best and traffic seems to just flood in.  Tutorials for example are one of the best ways to get a massive amount of interest.  Add your shop/website link at the bottom and you'll see traffic coming in.  Step-by-step images are a must as the internet has really become image rich and less and less people are wanting to read much text since they have been bombarded for some time. 

7. Organise a private show
It is not necessary to approach galleries or sell from shops.  It is perfectly OK to organise your own show.  If your house is not up to it, borrow a friend's or hire a venue, like a local school hall.  Send out private invitations to those you feel will be interested and open for just a couple of hours.  Offer a little wine and some nibbles and you'll see how enjoyable people will find this.  Whenever I have done this, I have sold many paintings, more than at galleries and probably because it is more intimate and personal.  For people to buy art, they often need to have a personal connection with the artist and this is a great way to achieve this.

8. Contact interior designers
Often, interior designers look for artwork to incorporate into their designs.  Even if they do not have a project your work will fit in, they may do in the future.  Ring them and make an appointment, or send them a professional looking portfolio with great images of your work.



9.  Contact your local Tourist Office
Often, the local Tourist Board likes to organise events.  This could be anything from a craft fair to art exhibitions.  Make contact with them and see if they would be happy to stage such an event and whether you could be included.  If you have a studio that you feel the public could come to, then also tell the Tourist Office that you would welcome people to come and visit and watch you work. 

10.  Run Art Classes
If you feel confident enough, run some classes.  This is an excellent way to bring in some revenue but also get your name known in the community.  If you don't feel good enough to teach at an advanced level, teach children and beginners.  It is a wonderful way to stay connected and your pupils will talk about you and their classes to others.  Word of mouth recommendations are the best type of advertising you can get.



These are just 10 ideas that have worked for me and I hope they may help some of you.  Happy painting!