November and Pools

Thanks for inspiring me.  After getting back into Edmonton, I’ve been able to settle into my new place in the city and the temporary full-time teaching position on a native reserve. In the summer, I began collecting images of swimming pools and have been waiting for this day where I was balanced in all ways of life:  mental, physical, spiritual and relational health.  This is the acrylic under painting.  The goal is to get the basic tones and color in.  I’ve been spending money like it is water and I realized I have to get in touch with my creative side as well.  Changing it up.  Spend more cash on small canvases with frames and oil paints for the first time in my life.  They are suppose to be fairly rich in color.  I’m nervous to use them to say the least…but I know I have this.  Last night, I had a dream I was painting with oils.

Much Thanks,




Basically used 3-4 colors for this whole painting.  I go a bit crazy with colors.

Keeping it on the down low.


New set up in my side room.


Wainwright Small Paintings

This time I did an underpainting focusing on three tones and then went from there.  Today was successful!  Sometime soon I will work in the details!

Music: DJ Shadow and similar artists.  Last one of the day DJ Krush & Toshinori Kondo – Mu-Chu

Inspiration: Group of Seven and Jim Davies

Time: 5-6 hours



May 4th Painting




Added more trees and I think I have figured out the color of the sky.  More glazing.  Not use to so much negative space… tough to work with!!  5 hours maybe.  Sort of a weird composition.  Hopefully there will be more of a balance once there is more contrast and details.  If anything, this painting closer to the right painting.


Time to put the brush down…this psychedelic technique may work but it is time to take a break before I do something I regret!

Picture 31

Watered down smaller canvas

Picked up some smaller canvas from Walmart.  When Walmart is your only option for art supplies…well…you gotta roll with it.  When I was in the BFA program we were encouraged to do larger works.  Maybe I was the only one that thought that and it was fine to do smaller works.  Who knows.  I cannot afford to spend a bunch of money on large works though right now and I think it would be best for me to play around on the smaller sizes.  I have been perusing the Will Kemp art school site and learning some new techniques…or rather being reminded of techniques.  Before going to art school I used watercolors and acrylics (not like that has actually changed).  I did not use canvas and would purchase my large paper from the dollar store.  I treated acrylics sort of like watercolor using water to get the various tones that I wanted.  This technique was totally looked down upon once I entered art school.  They told us to use medium.  Water would break down the binder in the paint, it would no longer be archival.  Medium is great for achieving layers and transparent colors, but the paint can build up fast.  Acrylic is simply liquid plastic and the texture of the canvas can get lost pretty fast.  The paint cannot seep into the canvas and there is less tooth of course.  After watching some Will Kemp videos I decided to throw caution to the wind and return to my water painting ways (still using canvas though). Pretty excited to see where this will take me and I know that I will be able to do alot more studies and exercises!!  Brilliant.

Music: Grimes, MuteMath & Active Child.  This is beautiful trance and meditative music that can keep me painting for hours!!

Active Child – Johnny Belinda Blew me out of the water.  Why I did not discover him until now is beyond me.

Grimes – Vanessa (This is how I narcissistically  discovered the artist a couple of years ago, but I was listening to Claire Boucher before…was not that far from discovering her!!  She is RIDICULOUSLY intelligent if you watch any of her interviews.)

Location: A basement suite in Wainwright.

Inspiration: Will Kemp & photos from around Wainwright.

Materials: Golden Acrylics, glass palette, new portable easel, NOT gallery canvas (boo), brushes galore, scraper, glass jar.

Technique: NO medium!!  Acrylic and water only.  Maybe some retarder though.

Outfit: Sweatpants from Value Village, painting apron from the dollar store, mismatching crocs from who knows where and my French Connection sweater that I should really reconsider changing.  Ruined too many good articles of clothing to my artsy passion.

Picture 29

Picture 30

I have been figuring out that I needed alot more time on my hands to do art.  When going to school and doing an after-degree you really do not have the time to devote yourself to making art.  Maybe there are people who are disciplined enough to do it and that they make the time for it…not me.  I value my health more than making art.  Making time for cooking decent meals, exercising and building relationships take work.  Once that is all said and done, not much time left.  Teaching here in Wainwright can get overwhelmingly busy at times when I am preparing lessons and marking work.  But when I have things down and my students are busy on projects, there is a bit more time to focus on other things.  Making a whack of chilli, going to freeze it and eat more raw veggies this week! I am saving myself time doing dishes and I am eating more healthy too!!  Oh ya…my other tip is only have 2 sets of dishes.  Less mess.  Do laundry twice a week and put it away…right away.  Less mess and more room for creativity!!

Picture 32

If I am repeating ideas, my apologies…but here goes.  When you want to think differently, be creative, come up with a solution that has been eating you…you MUST change the way in which you are living your life.  How many people have found solutions to problems in areas that they were completely not expecting it.  These insane epiphanies happen in the strangest and most mundane places.  Boredom must be one of the answers to the severe spectrum of creativity and inventions.  Musicians, Artists, and Scientists  have come up with some pretty amazing stuff when they have too much time on their hands.  Wainwright is super different from Edmonton and I think I have found that space that I have been needing for a change over in for my life goals.  It is like my mind has been pushed back to the factory settings on my beloved refurbished Acer.  No more viruses and way more room to store my information.  The old junk that I have been meaning to sort out is no longer holding me back.  I love teaching as I get to learn new things constantly but I need to move myself out of that environment as well.  Started working at Boston Pizza and interacting with people who are a bit older than the kids that I am teaching.  Maybe my brain will come up with some new ideas while I am there.  As an introvert, I have also realized that I need to spend more time in an isolated environment.  Love the TEDtalk by Susan Cain about the power of introverts and how society pushes one-third of the population to behave in manner that drains the energy out of them.  Super cool news from discovery news is that my brain is actually at a higher level of stimulation and does not need that much more activity to go overboard!!  How relieved I am not know that I am normal when I require time alone.  It is difficult to get use to at first.  There are times when I can get pretty bored and I am not used to having this much spare time on my hands.  Last summer, I was working on my life goals and what I considered was important to me.  If I strayed from those goals things needed to change.  As soon as I was working at Boston Pizza, my exercising at the gym pretty much went from four days a week to zero.  I justified the lack of gym and told myself that the running around at work was enough.  My sleeping pattern has told me differently.  When you find a good groove and you leave it…you notice it!!  Maybe dragging yourself to the gym can be a drag, but once you are there…it is all good!!  Cut back to working at Boston Pizza to twice a week and have almost been cured from a three-week cold.  How much painting will I get done now and exercising?  I am excited to see how it goes.


May Painting Day One





Day one…5 hrs. 24 x 38

Going to try really hard not to paint over it.  Under this painting is my horse running through the streets.  Patience and attention to detail. …I work way too fast.  I am trying to use complimentary colors and desaturating the colors.  I will probably be doing a couple of glazes in the foreground to give an illusion of depth and more details.

Wainwright in April












One of the keys to a great picture is variety in the tones.  If there is no wide range of values it is going to be a bit boring.  Pull the saturation way down and see if the photo is still super strong even when black and white.  The camera is a $70 Canon PowerShot A1400.  Figuring out the logistics of taking photos with the aperture and whatnot is a detail that I am still trying to wrap my head around.  Getting pictures of my own so that I can complete a few paintings.  Finding a nice day has proven to be a challenge.




New Philosophy: Move to a small town

Settling into my new space and slowly getting back into achieving my goals.  Doing art lots is one of those goals.  After talking about art so much how could it not pour out into other areas of my life?  How do you enter the zone? I find once I clear up the physical space the mental space imitates.  Going to the gym gets any body moving…the heart starts getting all intense and the limbs are strengthened.  Ready to be an extension of whatever art medium I choose to use!  Loading up on decaff coffee when I get back and (of course) it is only because I like the taste.  Afterwards…if I am still not feeling in the zone, I down some ginseng.  Boom.  I am ready.  Headphones.  Plug. Me. In.

After working on the native reserve for a semester and seeing tons of reserve dogs walking around, I thought I would do paintings on the subject.  Since it was way too cold to be taking pictures with my $70 camera, I started looking for inspiration online.  Found images from Russia…China.  Must have had some collective intuitive consciousness going on.  Issues with strays during the Olympics only a few months later.  What was once a novel idea for me could almost be seen as cliché.  Boo.  Thankfully we all forget and need to be reminded.  Nothing is new.  Who am I kidding?

Was listening to XFactor by Sydney Blu and this speech by Malcolm X kept repeating.

 “Once you change your philosophy, you change your thought pattern. Once you change your thought pattern, you change your attitude. Once you change your attitude, it changes your behavior pattern. Then you go on into some action. As long as you have to sit-down philosophy, you will have a sit-down thought pattern. As long as you think that old sit-down thought, you will be in some kind of a sit-down action. They’ll have you sitting in everywhere. It’s not so good to refer to what you are going to do as a sit-in. That right there castrates you, right there it brings you down. What goes with it? Think of the image of someone sitting; an old woman can sit, an old man can sit. A chump can sit. A coward can sit. Anything can sit. Well, you and I have been sitting long enough, and it’s time today for us to start doing some standing and some fighting to back that up.


Mill Woods Artists Collective Art Show March – April

Take a look at the great show that the Mill Woods Artists Collective has put together at the Koffee Café on 6120 28 Ave NW.  In 2011, I took a drawing 400 class instructed by Caitlin Wells, where we were encouraged to do a series about some sort of mechanical or scientific structure.  The drawing class really pushed my “literal” tendencies when creating art.  It’s rare for me to draw from my head.  Rewarding but a definite challenge!



ink, pen and graphite

Vanessa Janzen, 2011

40″ x 25.5″  Price:$250 




ink, pen and graphite

Vanessa Janzen, 2011

 25.5″  x 40″ $250




Koffee Café on 6120 28 Ave NW




My classmate and dear friend Jeannette.  We supported one other during our IPT at D.S MacEnzie School in 2011.  Great times!

Post Date your Sketchbook

And the countdown begins!  The moleskin that I received this summer have 32 pages to fill.  How many have I filled so far?  3/32.  That’s right.  29 paintings must be completed before January 15th.  This sketch took about 40 minutes.  No big deal.  That’s about 29 hours if I really drag this out.  Totally doable right?  20 hours is probably more like it though.  Hmm if I do four paintings per day I should be fine.  Maybe I will hit a really good day?

If you or your friends have any images that you think would be really cool night scenes for me to paint of Edmonton (or any city)…please send them my way at  They must be of the taller sort of composition…not wide. Cheers!