My first and only self portrait, sketched during high school in 1994.

To Draw or Not to Draw?

I remember being surprised to meet a number of students in my graphic design program who did not claim to be artists or they said “they could not draw”. It made me wonder why they would choose an artistic and creative career path such as graphic design but what I found was that there are many skills required in the design field and drawing is just one of many skills. That said, I found my background in drawing useful in my field since doing rough sketches by hand during the brainstorming stages helps get ideas flowing.

So there I was, young 20's and starting out in my career, enjoying being creative (on computer) and completely forgetting the tedious hours spent on pencil drawings. Even in college, we learned how to use all those varied graphite pencils from soft Bs to that F in the middle (what on earth does that stand for?) into the hard Hs—and don't forget the HB, the one that we all used as kids in school—it’s in the middle of that gradient. Life moved on, gaining more experience in the design field and yet there was this yearning to do more ART.

Driving Need to Create

Many artists can attest to this driving desire (or need) to create... create what though? And there lies one of the stumbling blocks—what do I create? My go-to when I was younger was to draw portraits in pencil but painting is what I desired to do and I thought painting portraits might be too challenging so I stuck to graphic design, music and occasional painting for creative outlets. So jump ahead 10 years to 2010, having only painted a handful of mediocre works (off and on) with years of not painting in between and I just decided, enough is enough, I'm going to freak'n paint!!! So I did. I painted with acrylic and used a lot of texture, metallic paint and toyed with sparkles. It was fun and people really responded. I mostly painted flowers and trees. I began giving them as gifts, selling some and eventually had the opportunity to teach kids & youth (which I was sad to give up when I moved). Then I found water soluble OIL paints and began working with oil again! Due to the toxicity of oil paints, especially turpentine (for watering down and/or washing brushes), I had avoided it but water soluble was a game changer!

Game Changer

My husband and I moved to Thunder Bay, Ontario in 2013 to complete his commercial pilot training and I found an oil painting class at Confederation College with Stephen Krasemann instructing. We each brought our own photo references and worked individually with input from Stephen and our classmates. At my first class I was close to tears as I had all this pent up expectations, fear, doubt, and desire... it was overwhelming. But once I learned more about composition and the importance of the planning stages, I got into it and loved that class. Everyone there was older than me and I really enjoyed their company and watching their talents unfold. I began to become interested in plein air painting (outdoor painting landscapes like Monet did). After we moved to Saskatoon in 2015 I joined a plein air club and have just been loving it!! I try to get out as often as I can and sometimes get out on my own too. I talk more about the art camp I went to this summer here.

My Plein Air (Outdoor) Painting Obsession

For now, plein air is my obsession! Oil painting, in general, is the one thing that I think about constantly. When I'm not painting, I'm thinking about it or watching youtube videos of other artists! My poor husband has likely heard “I really need to paint” too many times.

I haven't yet figured out how my oil painting helps me in my graphic design career but I certainly know that my design skills have helped me in my painting. Intuitively, I am able to layout the scene to create balance and flow much like I would with type and imagery on a page or website. Oil painting and being out in nature has solidified, in my mind, who I am—I’m a creative, I’m an artist and I desire to create beauty—whether on paper, on computer, or canvas, I love it all. Painting has given me more of an appreciation for art in general, artists, art history and the beauty of nature.

To see more of what I’ve been creating and read about my painting adventures, visit: (or