Dragonfly practice video

Dragonfly practice video

Pretty much anyone who’s been to a Shiny Happy Paint Along knows I love my dragonflies.

They add a little “somethin’ somethin'” to a flower painting and fill in simple backgrounds quite nicely.

They add movement and detail and sometimes a bit more colour.

And the best bit? YOU ONLY NEED FIVE LINES.

Watch the video and download the practice sheet to have a go yourself. 🙂


Downlands Collaborative Painting

Downlands Collaborative Painting

In my other life I’m the marketing manager at a wonderful high school here in Toowoomba, Downlands College.

A Missionaries of the Sacred Heart College, we are regularly offered retreat days, and just before Easter all staff (teachers, admin, cleaning, cooking, grounds and maintenance… everyone!) participated in a ‘mind, spirit, body’ themed day. I was asked to run a collaborative painting workshop throughout the day, so I was in my happy place.


I ran it in three sessions and each group grew in numbers as people saw what was happening and wanted to be a part of it.


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And look what we ended up with! This is a special mural canvas with eyelets in the corners, so will be hung in the staff dining room for everyone to enjoy.
If you would like to engage me for a collaborative group painting project, either on one large canvas or multiple canvases pushed together and painted as one, feel free to email and I’ll see what I can do!
With results like this, and the longevity of the project, it’s a great thing for morale!



Way out west with art

Way out west with art

Downlands College sent me and my colleague, photographer Catherine Mims, out to Charleville, Quilpie, Cunnamulla and Wyandra in late March, to run a series of collaborative group paintings with each community.

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Every session started off in a similar way, but the end results were all very different – and totally wonderful!

And while we were painting, I learned about the districts and we talked about all the educational options available to people in the bush. It’s been a terrific way to promote the College in a genuine way and I have to thank Deirdre Williams, Downlands parent and Wyandra local, for organising and accompanying us on the trip! Deirdre is now a dear friend and the dinner she hosted for us in her home on the last Thursday night was just wonderful.

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I’ll also be keeping in touch with Charleville artist, Donna Reynolds, with a view to her visiting the Shiny Happy Art studio and running a class or two! Believe me, it’s something to look forward to.

A new mural

A new mural

A couple of weekends ago I got to paint a mural (at Kate’s Place childcare centre, Middle Ridge) and documented the process – after 10 hours of painting I swear these old bones were creaking, but oh, what a wonderful way to spend the day!

Setting up your space

Setting up your space

Do you have a special space to paint and draw? Or are you a ‘portable person’ and you simply make space wherever you go?

While you’ll sometimes find me sketching in a notebook or scrapbook in front of the telly, I do prefer drawing at a table and painting on an easel these days.

While my kids were really little, I used whatever space I could. The memory of painting at night, with my book or canvas propped up on a Milo tin, with one ear open for a rustle of bedding (my first baby slept in the pram a lot, so I would wheel him up beside the table), is still vivid. Of course, there were usually other things on the table, so I’d make do with whatever setup I could manage in the time I had!

Now that I have been painting for years though, I have figured out the way I like to work best. Admittedly it gets out of control occasionally – usually when collage is involved – but I do try to set myself up the way I know works well for me.

Now, I’m right handed… if you’re a lefty you’re no doubt used to mirror imaging things. 😉

I have my reference materials above and to the left of me and my substrate in this photo is a canvas paper pad.

On my right I choose the brushes I’m planning to use (here I have #6 and #12 round brushes, a 1/2 inch flat and a #12 hogs bristle brush), and my tear-off paper palette. I know of many artists who will use a small canvas as a palette and then reuse that canvas for a new painting – I think this is a terrific idea, I just have trouble remembering to do it!

Then I have an old teatowel for wiping my brushes, and usually two ice-cream buckets, about 2/3 full, of water. I use one to do the first wash of the brush, and the second for a final rinse between colours.

To the right of that I have a selection of paint colours that I plan to use. The Golden colours shown are my absolute favourites.

Now if I was painting a canvas for a Paint Along (40 x 50cm), this is the set up I’d have:


I’ve simply replaced my paper pad with this table easel. I’ve tried a few table easels over the years, starting with a ‘three legged’ version, but found they were a bit wobbly for my tastes.

This is the type I’ve decided works best for me (and in my Paint Alongs):


They cost about about $20 AU.

If I’m painting a bigger canvas I’ll use my standing easel, with a small table beside me, set up just as I’ve shown you above.

I’d love to see where you manage to paint. Feel free to email me a photo of where you’re working your own art magic!