While we’ve been making art and learning all about fish in the studio this term, I’ve also been filming each of the projects.

The result? Well this is the closest to the learning you would get by being right here in the studio with me.

We discuss art supplies, artists, inspiration and, incidentally, fish! You’ll be surprised by how exciting the topic can be.

It’ll go live this Friday night so if you’re free this weekend, you can make a start.

Each project includes videos, written instructions and printables when needed. I’ll list recommended art supplies but I’ll also talk about substitutions (remember, close enough is good enough! And you might learn something wonderful!)

It’s just $55 for all TEN projects and their associated videos and printables, as well as an introduction to fish themselves – and it’s a really fun way to learn.

PLUS you get ‘forever access’ (‘forever’ means as long as I have the site, and I’m not planning on going anywhere). That means there’s no pressure and no deadlines.

Here’s where to reserve your place –

I’ll see you in the (virtual) studio!

New Envelopes – for gift vouchers or anything you like

New Envelopes – for gift vouchers or anything you like

Just yesterday I decided to draw and paint some of my favourite Christmas decorations. They’re just so lovely I couldn’t resist, and I’m planning to work my way through more of the box!

And this morning I realised that I needed to update my special Gift Voucher envelopes going forward into 2017 (as it is ‘gift voucher season’ after all!).

So I put two and two together and created these new envelopes for you… oh and some Christmas papers and tags for good measure.


Print the file double sided to use for a Shiny Happy Art gift voucher, or just print the outside and use for whatever you like – maybe even writing a little letter… just like the olden days!

I’ve used my ornament drawings to create a repeat pattern and I’ve included three background colours for you to choose from, just like in a Paint Along, really! Click your choice of design from the four options below and you’ll be able to print out the pdf file.


Just download the 11 page pdf file and print off as many or as few pages as you wish!

Both the papers and the ornaments are free downloads for you, I just ask that you only use them for personal projects… but other than that, enjoy the leadup to Christmas.


Chinese Duck Coleslaw – Illustrated Recipe

Chinese Duck Coleslaw – Illustrated Recipe

Every year or so, most of the women from my Dad’s side of the family, commonly known as ‘The Battle Women’, (sounds just a bit cool – my maiden name was Battle) spend a weekend away.

These are excellent weekends. It’s fabulous to catch up and I’m really lucky to be related to some incredibly interesting and lovely women.

Anyway, quite a few years ago we all went to Stanthorpe together. And one of the activities that was planned was a Cooking Lesson and spectacular meal at the Queensland College of Wine Tourism. Eight of us cooked four different recipes, then we all ate them together (with some very lovely wines).

My Aunty Sonia (with my Mum, below) and I made this Chinese Duck Coleslaw and, if I do say so myself, it was AWESOME.

Sonia and Mum

So if you get the chance to make it yourself, I recommend making an occasion of it because you’re gonna LOVE IT!

Click the image to download a pdf of the illustration. Enjoy!


New website goes live!

New website goes live!

Thanks for coming by and checking out my new, improved (I hope) website!

I’ve changed platforms (now back to wordpress) in an effort to integrate the varied parts of my business, and bringing the reservations for Paint Alongs into the main site as well.

Please bear with me if there are any glitches in these first few days – and please let me know if you find any typos or broken links!

I’m manually moving blog posts across, so that’ll take a little bit of time too.

Here’s cheers to the next chapter of Shiny Happy Art and all the wonderful things just around the corner…!

What paints are best?

What paints are best?

Over the years I’ve tried a lot of brands of acrylic paints.

The great thing is that you can mix and match paints, but it’s nice to learn what to look out for in a paint and figure out what your favourites are.

  • Check out the Series number as this will indicate price.
  • If there’s a swipe of paint on the label, this will show translucency/opacity.
  • Experiment with the flow of the paint. I prefer a fluid consistency for most of my work, but ‘heavy body’ is another option.
  • Realise that you’ll need to use more of the cheaper paint to achieve the coverage of the artist quality paint. And many cheaper paints contain ‘fillers’ that make the paint less vibrant.
  • Buy what you can afford so that you’re not skimping on paint. You need to feel like you can throw it on when you need to – without worrying about wastage too much.

Just remember – DO NOT waste your money on the SUPER cheap stuff! Don’t go cheaper than Jo Sonja’s please 🙂 !

There’s a LOT more that you can learn about acrylics, but in terms of colour, coverage and glide, here are a few brands I do recommend:

Two whites can’t be wrong

Two whites can’t be wrong

I first found out that there were different kinds of white many years ago in calligraphy class. We were using gouache paints (a type of opaque watercolour) and I can remember learning that there were four different types of Winsor and Newton whites, and all had different degrees of opacity and permanence.

In my current, painting-in-acrylic world, there are two whites I use all the time. Titanium White and Zinc White. In the pic above I’m holding one of each, and they both come in the tube (Golden Heavy Body) form and the bottle (Golden Fluids).

If you look really closely, just above the colour name on both the tube and the bottle there are three black diagonal lines (the Golden paint people actually handpaint a swash of each paint onto the label) and by painting it over these lines, you can see how transparent or opaque the colour is. You can only just see the lines on the Titanium White tube.

So, now that you know what you’re looking for, you can see that Titanium White is quite opaque, while Zinc White is quite transparent. (Just ignore the yellow and aqua splodges on the bottle – things get a bit messy ’round here.)

Great, so how do you use these two types in practice?


Because Titanium White is so opaque, it’s great for covering the colours underneath – that means you can paint over parts of your acrylic painting and start again if you need to. It’s like Liquid Paper!

I use this white to mix pastel colours and by itself, as one of my last painting stages, to add highlights and my signature ‘swirls and curls’.


On the other hand, Zinc White is transparent, which makes it ideal for tints and glazes.

To explain a ‘tint’, understand that when you start with red and add Titanium White, you’ll get an opaque, rosy pink. If you add Zinc White, you’ll get a transparent, lighter red. I’ve demonstrated this in the pic below.


I also regularly use Zinc White to overpaint my background colour – to lighten it, without taking away all the colour.


I used this technique to ‘knock’ the background back on my “Poppies” paint along painting as well.

They are lovely, lovely paints to use and I do stock them in my studio if you’re keen to get some for yourself!