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This painting means a great deal to me…

This is a commission that I received in May just before I got ill – it has been waiting a long time. BUT I’m so glad it was waiting!!! I have poured every ounce of joy I could into this piece – it’s a celebration of life! It’s so easy to take day-to-day life for granted… And now that I am starting to recover I am soaking it up. I am even happy to do housework when I can! (Ok, so maybe that will get old quickly but at least for now I’m enjoying it! ;) )

I suppose it’s kinda simple and maybe even a little cheesy but I titled it, ‘Joy’. I hope you like seeing the process.





Kootenay Child Development Centre

CentreThe Kootenay Child development Centre is dedicated to improving the support to families and children with health and development problems. My own family has personally experienced the benefits of having this centre in the Kootenays. I had a lot of time to think while being sick and what often came to mind was children and families who suffer daily with disease, mental illness, or physical disabilities…  This centre was created to help support those kids and families and I love being able to donate and support it whenever I can.

For a long time I have wanted to create a painting for the entrance of the centre. A painting for kids that is full of joy, with lots to explore and find. Once again while in hospital I created this little illustration attached here. I really look forward to painting it one day and hanging it in the centre! Check out their website here –> and their Facebook page here –>

Healing & The Scottish Thistle

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Legend has it that a sleeping party of Scottish warriors were saved from a Norse ambush by this wee plant. One of the attackers accidentally trod on a thistle with his bare feet and cried out in pain. His cries roused the Scots who then defeated the invaders. After this victory the thistle was adopted as the national symbol of Scotland. Apparently, there is no historical evidence for this tale, but who doesn’t love a good story right? ;)

So many folks helped us out while I was in the hospital – my family and I are so grateful to all of them! My dear friend Meme went above and beyond. Her efforts not only brought others to our aid but also made EVERYTHING so much easier for us. We are so grateful to her. As soon as I could manage to sit up long enough I did this little painting for her in attempt to express my gratitude.

Why the Scottish Thistle? Well, I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t actually know Meme’s personal reasons for loving the Scottish Thistle… I just know that she does… Maybe I should ask one day – ha ha!

I made the painting a little whimsical because I wanted it to have a fairy style/Will-o’-the-wisps feeling.


This is the sketch I did while I was hospitalized. I couldn’t wait to be able to sit up long enough to paint it for her.

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I am happy to say that my health is improving. I still need to rest and I can’t do anything rigorous yet but the medicine is helping me start to heal – YAY! I still have some tests that need to be done at the beginning of September before we know exactly what is wrong but I’m so thankful to be mostly functioning for now. It’s good to be back!



Life is Precious


There is no greater wake up call than poor health.

It’s amazing how quickly life is refocused… Who would have thought that showering, sitting up at the table for dinner or having a regular conversation would become so precious! Sadly, these simple things in life are not appreciated until you can’t do them anymore…

I started having health problems a little over two months ago. It wasn’t until June that it hit a peak. After numerous tests and a couple of hospital stays it has been narrowed down to a few possibilities. I am still waiting to get into a specialist who can -hopefully – make the final call. We are optimistic that it will all be very treatable in the end. In the meantime, I am happy to say I’ve been out of hospital for almost two weeks and I am managing to get by at home. (With a lot of love, patience and help from my family members.) And while some days are still a struggle I am soaking up every moment at home with immense gratitude.

The funny thing is that even while bedridden an artist never stops creating. In my better moments I had a bit of energy to sketch (attached above) and I’ve also compiled a mental list of paintings I’d like to complete when I am well again. Of course, all of these will come after I have drowned my family in affection and they can’t wait for me to leave them alone and paint. ;)

I know you’ve heard it before but I’ll say it again anyway… DON’T lose sight of what’s important, treasure your loved ones, and be grateful for every healthy moment!

See you all on the flip side. :)





Celebration – A New Painting!

If you’ve read my bio and artist’s statement then you know that one of my favourite things about creating art is the opportunity it affords me to become a part of someone else’s story. This commission piece is particularly special in that way because it is going all the way to Quebec to be with a family member. Sadly, I’ve not seen my family back East since I was small but I LOVE that this little piece of me is headed back there this week! (Now if only I were small enough to pack myself into the box with it!) ;)

The painting was inspired by a photograph I took in early spring. These crocuses were the first little flowers to show their face this year. I can’t help but celebrate each spring when they poke through. Hence, I titled the piece ‘Celebration.’ Hope you enjoy your scroll. :)IMG_2981


Fini! –>


‘Celebration’ – 16″ x 20″ – acrylic on canvas


A huge THANK-YOU to my cousin Marco for commissioning this piece from me – I can’t wait until you see it in person! xo

How to Take Better Photographs For Beginners : Taking Creative Photographs Indoors

_S_Paulsen_Oct_2010_0009I missed my Wednesday post – somehow the day just slipped by… whoops! Well Thursday is a good day too – isn’t it? ;)

As I mentioned in my last photography post, I have a tendency to steer away from flash photography… It’s not that flashes are bad, on the contrary, they can be quite useful and even creative but my personal preference is to use natural light whenever I can. Although natural light can be a little scarce when it comes to doing indoor photography. Normally there  isn’t quite enough light inside to capture a clear well-lit picture. However, there is one spot (or two spots) in everyone’s house that have a decent amount of natural light… Wanna take a guess? Yep – that’s right – by the window, or a doorway or an outdoor opening of any kind.

So, whenever I’m taking pictures indoors I head for the windows (or door, or opening)!

Now – if you are a point and shooter you are gonna need to take out your camera manual (I know… the dreaded manual…) and learn how to shut off your flash. Should be a fairly simple step. When you are indoors, your camera will often automatically decide that you need your flash but for taking creative pics by windows it looks best if your flash is shut off.

The fun thing about window light is that it can be very dramatic and you can play with it creatively. The other bonus is that once your flash is off, you can just frame your shots and then point and shoot. Be sure to try lots of different angles. Have a peek at the pics below for some inspiration. 0016_Small 0017 Jola Skretting_Nov_10_0044 Lara_Merz_Jan_10_0012 Williams_2013_0012_S_Paulsen_Oct_2010_0001

It Takes Two to Tango – A New Painting


I was planning to do my next how to photography tip today but then I managed to finish off this painting and I couldn’t resist posting it instead. I hope you can forgive me? :D

I’ve been working on a lot of commission pieces lately (for which I am very grateful) and this is the second to last one that I have in the cue right now. These pieces have given me a lot of time to contemplate the whole process of doing commissioned work. In the “art realm” there is a level of snobbery concerning commission work – a misconception that by doing commissions the artist has somehow sold out… The funny thing is that every great historical artist did commission work! Many of the most famous and beloved art pieces in the world were commissions.

For me; commission work is special because it relates to the client in a personal way and takes their connection to the artwork to a much deeper level. I really like making this connection and I find it exciting to become a small part of someone else’s story. It’s a partnership.

In light of all this contemplation I decided to title this sunflower commission, ‘It Takes Two to Tango.’ (Acrylic on canvas – 1′ x 2′) Hope you enjoy seeing it progress. :)IMG_5040)SmallIMG_5073_Small IMG_5215_Small IMG_5216_Small IMG_5218_Small IMG_5349_SmallItTakesTwotoTango_1'x2'_2014_SmallItTakesTwotoTango_1'x2'_2014_Side_Small

How to Take Better Photographs: Beginner Tips For Full Sun Photography #2

Okay all you point and shooters out there – today is the day! You finally get to break out that camera manual! I know you are all filled with joy and anticipation… Or not… ;) Please don’t panic! I’m gonna keep it super simple and I’m confident that you can do this!

My first tip outlined how finding shade is essential for better point and shoot photographs and my secound post showed you how easy it is to take a creative silhouette in full sun. Now I know that both of these tips were camera manual free, however, today you will need to read just one itty-bitty little section of your manual – I promise this mini read will be SO worth it!0004

Sometimes it’s impossible to fully get out of the sun or maybe a silhouette isn’t really what you’re going for…  What then? Well actually, you basically set up your shot like a silhouette but this time you will fill in the light so that your subject doesn’t go dark. (See pic above.)

There are two ways of doing this: using your flash to fill in light or overexposing. Now I’ve never been a flash girl… that’s not to say that flashes are bad – they are not – it’s just a personal preference on my part.  I use flashes when necessary and I do plan to post a few basic flash lessons but, in this case I want to teach you an easy way to just overexpose your picture. Overexposing simply means adding light.


Most cameras nowadays have the settings pictured above. What I want you to note is the ‘P’ setting. This is your “Program Mode’ – it’s almost exactly the same as your “Auto Mode” but with a few useful perks.


The “P” mode allows you to use something called your “Exposure Compensation”. (I circled what it looks like above in red.) Exposure Compensation lets you add light and take away light, hence the + and – signs at each end. It’s a simple automatic tool that changes your shutter and aperture speeds for you. (This tool is best used in outdoor lighting situations.)

Okay are you ready? The time has come  – please take out your camera and your camera manual. You need to find the “P” mode and then also find your “Exposure Compensation” instructions.  Set your camera in “P” mode and spend a moment figuring out how to dial the + and – for your “Exposure Compensation”.  It should be a pretty quick read.

Now that you know this one simple tool on your camera you can easily overexpose and add light to your full sun pictures.  Frame your shot with the sun fully behind your subject (just like doing a silhouette) and dial the Exposure Compensation up a notch on the + side.  (Remember – the + sign side is for adding light (brighter), the - sign side is for taking away light (darker).) Try the shot and if your subject is still looks too dark dial up the + sign side up more until you finally get the look you want.

One of the fun perks to putting the sun fully behind you subject and then overexposing is the pretty glow or halo effect around the subject.

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Thanks again for checking this out – I’m so glad you stopped by – I’ll see ya next Wednesday when I’m back with another full sun tip! Oh and be sure to send me any questions you have – I’d love to hear from you – especially if my instructions are confusing. :)






How To Take Better Photographs: Beginner Tips For Full Sun Photography #1

In my last post, The Most Essential and Practical Tip For Point and Shoot Photographers, I warned you to stay out of the sun! And I stick by this advice because using bright even shade or taking photos on a bright overcast day can dramatically improve the lighting quality of your photographs. (Check back to my previous post to learn more.)

However, there are days when shade is scarce and you just can’t get out of sun… Or you really want to use the sun to your advantage and create certain photographic effects like; silhouettes or warm backlighting. Often times taking well lit photographs in full sun requires a basic knowledge of your camera’s settings but, today I’m going to keep it very simple. No camera manual required just yet (all you point and shooters out there can breathe easy). ;)  We’re starting off with SILHOUETTES!


Silhouettes can be super creative and require very little effort. It’s a matter of framing your shot, making sure the sun or light source is fully behind your subject and then point and shoot! Yep, that’s right, your camera will automatically choose the correct setting as long as your subject is fully backlit. By ‘backlit’ I mean that, almost the entire area behind your subject is bright with light or sunshine.

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Easy peasy, right?! This means even YOU can pull off a silhouette!

I’ll be back next Wednesday with more full sun tips. If you feel inspired by this post and get a chance to try out a silhouette please share it with me!!! :)



How to Take Better Photographs – The Most Essential and Practical Tip for Point and Shoot Photographers

Are you one of those people who really doesn’t want to read the camera manual? I hear ya, although the manual is useful and informative it can be pretty dry… If you are like most folks, you just want to press the ON button, focus on your subject and then click. Am I right?  The sad thing is that these point and shoot pics don’t always turn out the way that we hope… This is where I come in! By using this one simple photography tip, your point and shoot pics will suddenly get a whole lot better!

What is this miracle tip?


Yep, you heard me right, get out of the sun! Or more specifically stick to taking pics in bright even outdoor shade or on a bright overcast day.

Bright shade or overcast clouds diffuse the light of the sun making the colours and the light even and soft.

Check out the examples I’ve attached below to catch what I really mean –>


Harsh FULL sun – see all the uneven light and shadows in the above pic?


Now compare the photo quality and difference here, when a similar picture is taken in bright-even-shade or on a bright overcast day. The photo is much nicer without all that uneven lighting and nasty distracting shadows!

The same principle applies to portraits:


Harsh FULL sun… vs —>


Nice even bright shade… Aaaahhhhh….

It truly works folks!

Does that mean we can never take pics in full sun? Well, no. We can take pics in full sun but it requires a bit more understanding of your basic camera settings. (And yes, that does mean reading a wee little section of your manual… ;) ) I plan to post tips on taking better pics in full sun next Wednesday – so be sure to stop by! :D

Pssst… if you found anything confusing in this post or if you have any other questions – please leave them in the comment box below and I’ll get back to ya! :)