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!


Why I love Paint Alongs

Why I love Paint Alongs

The concept of ‘Paint Alongs’ is HUGE in the USA.

The company ‘Painting with a Twist’ was the #1 franchise in the ‘Paint and Sip’ category (they have their own category!) just last year. They have a terrific story and great fancy websites. They fit in stacks of people and make it a lot of fun.

I’ve been painting on and off since I left school and over the years many people had asked me if I ran painting classes. A combination of having really young kids as well as some insecurity (as I am self taught) saw me saying, “Sorry, no,” over and over again.

Then one day I stumbled across the Paint Along concept online (it was probably in the middle of the night when I should have been sleeping!) and thought “Yes! I could definitely teach a step-by-step painting”and the cogs in my brain started turning…

So I asked a few friends to come over and we gave it a go. We painted a butterfly garden and together we worked on the best ways for me to teach the painting… I asked a LOT of questions and they gave me incredibly valuable feedback – and encouragement. Enough encouragement to plan out an “Everlasting Christmas Wreath” Paint Along in December 2011 and through the magic of friends and facebook, these lovely ladies turned up to paint (below – hello Amber!)!


Then a second group of friends and friends-of-friends (below, complete with my daughter who needed a hug just as we were ready for the photo!) came over and yes – more terrific ideas and suggestions. And so today’s Shiny Happy Art Paint Alongs were born.


Now, I always knew I needed to make my Paint Alongs different to the rest.

For one, I needed to completely finish the painting.
With a house full of unfinished projects I knew I couldn’t send someone home to find their own string and D rings and figure out how to hang their new painting. I wanted them to be varnished and strung – totally ready to hang as soon as they got home. So that’s what we do.

I also wanted to use AMAZING PAINT. Quite simply, great paint really helps you paint better. And I honestly believe GOLDEN is the best of the best. I occasionally use particular colours from other brands for specific reasons, but I wanted people to experience how good it feels to use pigment rich colours and decent brushes. It frees you up to work on technique, rather than fighting the paint while you’re learning. And we can use the qualities of the paint (like translucence or opacity) to our advantage – this isn’t paint by numbers!

I wanted to be able to help everyone. I have limited space in my studio so that means I have to cap numbers. But this also has the benefit that at the end of each painting I can come around and see everyone’s work. Making suggestions and helping out. Sometimes it’s that finishing ‘touch up’ that makes all the difference and when I can explain the type of mark that will work, it makes my painters happy. And I love that!

And finally, I wanted to help people create paintings I’d hang on my own wall. So many of the Paint Along artwork I’ve seen seemed clumsy, or was pre-drawn… definitely not something I’d be happy to put my name to. I knew I needed to spend the time to create compositions that were shiny and happy (once I painted six different paintings on the one topic before I had one I was happy with!) and that I’d be proud to call yours!


So essentially I created a ‘Boutique’ Paint Along experience in my studio, and I work hard to make my painters relax and be comfortable… to trust the process and see what happens.

To finish with something similar but different. Most of the time people seem to love their end result. Occasionally they like it more the next day (when you’re incredibly close to an artwork for three straight hours sometimes you need some time apart!) and very occasionally it’s not their absolute favourite thing, but I genuinely hope they have learned some tricks and techniques and have had a lot of fun along the way.

Some people come along with friends and may only do one or two Paint Alongs with me. (And that’s just fine. There are plenty of things I’ve only tried once!) Others have become totally wonderful ‘shiny happy groupies’ (you know who you are!) and come along time after time, building colourful collections of paintings they can call their own and have very happy memories of creating.

Through my upcoming videos (coming soon) and book (that’ll take a little longer!) I plan to spread my  Shiny Happiness a little wider than Toowoomba and South East Queensland. I’d love more people to experience the joy of creating a painting they’re proud of in an incredibly safe and happy way.

And I can’t wait to see the smiles and hear the stories of achievement from these new Paint Alongers, just as I have been hearing lovely stories and making wonderful friendships at my studio Paint Alongs (my most recent Butterflies group is pictured below and we’re right back into it again this Sunday!).

Thanks for coming along on this Shiny Happy ride with me. It’s fun already so let’s keep going!