The Stark Beauty of Contrast

december-9th-2015-8-2Snow has descended on our little town. A white blanket covered the still bright grass and newly fallen leaves – deceptively soft, bitterly cold. The landscape turned suddenly from the vividness of Fall to the monochromatic tones of Winter. I’ll admit to not being quite ready for it; the first day the snow fell, I wanted nothing more than to curl up with a good book and stay in a little ball all day rather than face the chill air outside. Yet even so, Winter, in its starkness, has an undeniable austere and elegant beauty, quite different from that of Spring, Summer or Fall. Ice rimmed trees are diamond statues reaching up towards the pearly gray sky. The snow seems to purify everything it covers; brown grass, sucking mud, careless litter – all ugliness is veiled with those tiny white and crystalline beings of water, each one a unique character formed from its journey across the skies.

I adore the riots of colour that are Spring and Summer, but Winter has a simple and quiet loveliness all its own. It’s that simple quiet stillness of grayscale contrasts that I enjoy most about working in “pen and ink.” Layers are stripped away and all you have left is the heart of the thing.


Ink Dalmatian Pet Portrait by Webster Art Gallery. Visit for information on commissioning an art piece.





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The Nature of Things

Lines. Straight, curved, jagged, smooth, broken. More and more I’m realizing what an impact a few simple “lines” can make.


Snowy owl in progress

A design doesn’t need to be complicated or complex to be a statement. Sometimes, “simple” is what gets to the Heart of things…


African Elephant taking shape

The Soul of things…

img_3497-2And the Center.









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Is it too early for Christmas?

I’m not a big fan of Halloween; Fall is my least favourite month in any case and while I like reds and oranges in certain situations, they’re not a part of my personal palette, per se. More to the point, while I adore the Harry Potter universe (on so many levels), a day devoted to the darker side of witches, skeletons, ghouls, ghosts, monsters (and worse things) really doesn’t fall anywhere near my “favourites” list. So on Halloween night, we gather up the household and hunker down in the theater room with a good movie and snacks galore. This has become a tradition.

Actually, besides this one tradition, Halloween has become something that we simply skip over. The end of October also happens to be when I give myself permission to get started on my favourite holiday: Christmas.

Most people say it’s too early; I say it’s a matter of opinion. 522

As a choir director and organizer of a yearly carol-sing extending across four towns, Christmas, of a necessity, starts to hover at the peripheral edges of my vision at the end of August and comes swinging into view by September. Add in the fact that one of the painted portrait options I offer is in the form of Christmas ornaments, and, well, it’s not quite “Christmas in July,” but the Season definitely makes its presence felt.

I fell into creating portrait ornaments quite by “accident.” Years ago I did a tiny bit of spot advertising for my pastel portraits. One day, I was contacted by an individual who wanted to know if I could do portrait on Christmas ornaments. I said, honestly, that I’d never done that before, but that I could certainly try. Well, I did, and the results were such that I have continued to do them ever since. I am extremely grateful to this person for her suggestion, support, and subsequent patronage.

img_0510-3Creating custom portrait ornaments has come to have special meaning for me. The season of Christmas is (or should be, in my opinion) all about Love. Love, in all it’s forms, influences all the facets of our lives and being. In addition to human Family and Friends, three individuals suffuse my soul with absolute joy; my canine boys, Khydn, Keani and Eoberon. I know that others also share a supremely deep, rich and joyous, indescribable relationship with their animal family members and friends. The love that encircles each hand-painted ornament is multi-layered; the love of an individual for their dog(s), cat(s) (or other pet family member), the love of an individual for the person they may be ordering the ornament for, the love that I place into each brushstroke.

What better way to celebrate the Season?





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Treasures from the Pencil Drawer

The humble pencil shows up in the most “everyday” places; crammed into school desks and forgotten locker corners, in office drawers and underneath the living room couch. Likewise the plain ballpoint pen, stacked in boxes on the store shelves, a “dime a dozen.” In contrast to the glossy bottles of Artists’ paint, carefully packaged sticks of pastel or individually slotted tubes of watercolor (for example), that are generally only found in certain stores, the aforesaid mentioned pencil and pen seem very common, indeed.

Browsing an art store is a little like walking into a candy shop; the choices are (usually) many and everything seems applicable and desirable. There the comparison ends, though…it isn’t likely that you’d have to pay over fifty dollars for a few cartons of jellybeans, but four small tubes of paint will easily run you up that amount. Factor in specialty paper, specialty paints, specialty paintbrushes – well, the proverbial wallet is definitely much lighter on the way out than in.

I do love the possibility of art stores, though. I love paints, and specialty papers, and beautiful paintbrushes, and new sticks of soft pastel, and…

But, I began to consider what other materials/ mediums could be used to great effect; in other words, I began to consider thinking outside of the “official art mediums” box.

img_2058I’ve done some exploring; I’ve discovered that 1/4″ panel is a lovely surface to work on. The downside is that it does need to be cut to size with workshop tools. I’ve fallen in love with the effect of tissue paper (both the runny nose and the gift box kind) with glue. I’ve been inducted into the joys of candy wrappers.

Most lately I began to wonder whether I could combine four very humble implements – the mechanical pencil, the ballpoint pen, the pencil crayon and the felt marker – and use them to create a piece that would still be sophisticated, beautiful, detailed, nuanced and desirable, despite the commonplace nature of the tools involved.

First came the pencil outline.

img_3200Then the eyes, in a combination of pencil crayon, ballpoint pen and felt marker.

img_3290Then the base layer of dark (black) hair in black ballpoint pen.

img_3297Followed by the base layer of darker-tinted hair (and glints) with progressively darker brown hues.

img_3329-2Oranges, yellows and more browns were inter-layered. A second layer of black hairs was laid with black pencil crayon.


Darker areas, including some shadow, are laid in with additional layers of pencil crayon, as well as felt marker.

img_3344-2The white hair was the hardest to do; shadows and light are a difficult thing to balance when it comes to white, regardless of the medium…

img_3397Here’s a close-up:

img_3408Adding more warm tones…

img_3409Another close-up, although not quite as close this time.


A bit more shadow here and there…

img_3420Here is the finished piece. Do you think I managed my goal?



to get:










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3 Keys to Help with Overwhelm

Can you relate to this? A great idea comes into your head, and you start acting on it. No sooner have you begun, though, when something else floats in, and it seems as though that should be acted on, too.

So there you are, working on these two disparate things, and into your head marches, one, two, three, four, five more ideas. All clamouring to be dealt with forthwith.

Juggling ActSometimes it feels like a ship taking on water as I frantically try to scoop the liquid up with tiny buckets and empty them over the side. Because let’s face it – that’s what time often feels like. A tiny bucket, not even marginally large enough to hold all of the things that we need/ want to do (or, if we’re sticking to my analogy, cram into it).

What I’ve needed to learn (and I admit, this is definitely still a work in progress), is how to scoop the water up in glass jars, holding the ideas until I can examine them more closely, instead of (rather obsessively, sometimes, perhaps) deciding on the (rather impossible) feat of accomplishing everything in one fell swoop.

This has its drawbacks, of course…even as I “bottle” and “label” things to be put aside for later, more come sloshing and foaming around, making it inevitable that many of them won’t actually make it from concept to reality. But, perhaps this is not such a negative thing; hopefully it means that, when things have been examined and picked over, the true grains of gold will be the ones that remain, as opposed to effort being wasted on the fool’s gold as well.

And, let’s face it. I’d much rather have constant, incoming waves of idea than not.

How to keep from feeling overwhelmed, then? This is what I’ve found so far:

  • Prioritize.      Imagine, if you will, trying to chase a hundred different balls all at once. Impossible, yes? It’s come to dawn on me more and more that when we go chasing after the million-and-one things that we feel need to be on our “do-it-right-now!” list, it is the same as trying to catch those hundred orbs scattering in all directions. So, what to do, then? Like cleaning out a cupboard (or the whole house…) we need to be “tough” and realistic about what is, and what is not, a priority. While I might want to work on ten different art pieces, two manuscripts, build relationships, do marketing at the same time, all while teaching and taking care of home and family (and garden, sew clothes, make jewellery, create a banquet), the truth is that it’s just not possible, and putting that kind of unrealistic pressure on myself will have potentially nasty effects on health and sanity – which, incidentally, would not help with handling a manic timetable… So, as reluctant as I often am, I try to make sure that I am only working on five art pieces at a time, that I have a do-able schedule for everything else, and that things that don’t need to be in the spotlight right now, aren’t. Family and health – they need to come first. And don’t forget to leave some time for yourself.
  • Organize.     Organization can mean different things to different people, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. While I prefer everything to be in its place, easily identifiable and accessible, others work well with piles of teetering folders, books and paper; they know where everything is, even if nobody else does, and hey, if it works for them, why not? But whatever “being organized” means to you, it’s an important part of the juggling act. Things take ten times longer if you have to spend endless minutes looking, identifying and/ or assembling what you need, and this includes the computer files! Since the days are already so crammed with stuff, the last thing we need is to take up space with wasted time that’s spent neither on accomplishing a task nor relaxation.
  • Let go.     And this, I have to say, is the hardest one for me. To let go. To not berate myself or feel guilty if I didn’t get through the twenty-one things that I wanted to cross off my list that day. To remind myself that it’s okay to take a breather, to sit on the couch and read  my novel, or watch a movie. We are our own worst critic, after all. We should probably cheer ourselves on a little  more consistently than we do…

Well, I’m not sure that my thoughts went in the direction that I’d originally wanted them to, but that’s okay. Deep breath. Let go. *Grin.* I was wanting to share a new piece I’m working on. An experimental piece, really. A piece to see if I can create something beautiful with common household implements, rather than the more usual “official” art mediums. To see the work in progress so far (from the first pencil strokes to adding in colour), click here. As of today, this is where I’m at. I’m loving it so far. We are blessed with the opportunity to have and to hold such deep connections in our lives. This little guy is one of mine. If you would like to Celebrate a Connection, you are welcome to visit Webster Art Gallery.








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"Labrador Retriever Dreams" in the "Our Magical Animals" series by Monica C. Webster.

“Labrador Retriever Dreams” in the “Our Magical Animals” series by Monica C. Webster.

Bright eyes – looking for fun, or cuddles, or mischief; small noses wriggling above fuzzy lips; happy grins that simply tug at your lips so that you have to grin back; these are some of the things that fill my heart and soul with so much love that it feels as though I must burst with it.

Not everyone is a dog person, and in the animal kingdom, it’s not only dogs that can give and inspire such passionate emotion, be a part of a connection so strong that it spans and bridges time and space. Love is love, after all.

I, however, am hooked on dogs. Part of me thinks

Khydn Treasured Moments, Red-and-White Parti Tibetan Spaniel

Khydn Treasured Moments, Red-and-White Parti Tibetan Spaniel

that, as par for my personality, I should probably be a cat person. Perhaps I do cheat a little – after all, one of the breeds I love the most are Tibetan Spaniels, who are often described as having some “cat-like traits” (such as independence and agility). On the other hand, if we were to get a cat, the breed I would consider would be the Siberian Cat, which has been described as being more “dog-like.”

Our little ones spread magic all around. When I hear the telltale patter of small paws approaching, I can feel my whole being light up. Every time I come close and see a fuzzy tummy rolling over and sticking up, waiting for rubs and scratches, laughter bubbles through me. An unutterable feeling of sweetness wells up and expands right through to my fingertips during those quiet moments of exchanging kisses and nose rubs.

Tibbie Night Sky

Tibbie Night Sky

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way and thought I should try to encapsulate at least a part of the magic through a series of drawings, which I’ve entitled “Our Magical Animals.” I’d like to see if I can create one or two for (at least) most of the dog breeds, as well as for other animals who fill our hearts.

If you’re interested in having your love(s) drawn into a “Magical Animals” piece, you can contact me at:

Click here to enter into a sweepstakes for the chance to win a free digital custom “Magical Animals’ piece of a pet/ animal of your choice!

Do you have an animal that has touched your life and changed it irrevocably for the better? I would love to hear your “love story.” Post it in the comments or send it to the e-mail address above.

"Golden Retriever Puppy Dreams"

“Golden Retriever Puppy Dreams”


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The Ethereal Dance

Mixed-Media Aluminum Butterfly

“Ethereal Dance” by Monica C. Webster at

Butterflies are, in my opinion, little beings of joy. Through a lens of fantasy I can imagine a form sitting down on a cushion of air in the sky, grasping a cloth of sunrise, or dusk, or rainbow, and cutting the fabric with small sharp scissors, while hundreds of butterflies of all sizes fall from the newly made holes and flutter to earth.

Butterflies tug at the corners of my mouth and make my feet want to dance with them.

We in the cooler climates know that these fragile creatures are an ephemeral gift to be cherished for a short season. Autumn is coming.

“Ethereal Dance” was created with a mix of materials; I wanted the process to be as whimsical as the result I hoped to achieve. The butterfly itself is blue foil, aluminum foil and candy wrappers. The background is tissue paper (both coloured and white), print and glue on panel board with acrylic. At 6″ x 6,” it can comfortably sit in and illuminate smaller spaces. Let me know if you’re interested. Items with this design may also be found at: Red Bubble.





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Songs for the Senses

IMG_2763[1]While Spring is my favourite time of year, Summer comes in a close second (most of the time). Spring is the herald of timid, new buds on the trees and bushes, tiny green heads poking slowly out of the ground, robins with their bright-eyed gazes, breezes that have softened in demeanor from the icy will of winter to the gentle promise of Spring…

In the Summer those promises have (hopefully), Garden 2016unfurled into full-blown delivery, with vivid splashes of colour blanketing the ground and creeping up fences, the frenetic conversations of birds, the artfully painted wings of butterflies riding the soft air. Flowers that tickle the fingertips with their smooth, or fuzzy, or spiky textures. Delicate scents that drift, or tumble, or dance with the wind, beckoning.

All of these “notes” floating individually and yet coming together in beautiful harmony. Songs for the Senses.


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Balance and Being

Balance is something that I struggle with. Take, for example, my weekend cooking “to-do” lists. Granted, we very, very rarely go out to eat PLUS I decided to ban store-bought baked IMG_7849[1]goods etc. from the house. This means that if I feel like having Mexican food, it comes out of my kitchen (I’m the cook, so I get to decide what everyone “feels” like having, lol). If I want sushi, it’s prepared by me. If the desire for cookies surfaces, they come out of my oven. Unfortunately, I am also a lover of buffets. Well, not of buffets necessarily, but of the idea of buffets. It’s the choices, you see. To me, it’s a visual (and overall sensory) pleasure to have a variety of foods in all their colourful, olfactory and textural splendour.

Well, you can probably glean that going to buffets doesn’t happen very often for us which, to be honest, I’m okay with; finding a buffet that has the “whole package” of good food and good variety is…almost like finding a needle in a haystack.

SushiBut the idea behind buffets is so alluring to me that I find myself trying to recreate the experience to some degree. There were ten items on my cooking list this last weekend, and that was already “reigned in.” There have been days with more, when I drove myself to distraction cooking from early morning to late evening. I’m starting to make myself cap it at a “more reasonable” number.

Maybe it’s a side-effect. Because that’s how I seem to operate with every creative area that IMG_2395-2I actively participate in; my list of “to-do” art ideas is like the hydra, growing exponentially more heads as each piece is completed (I’m not complaining, mind you. I’d much rather that than having ideas shrivel up and disappear). When it comes to writing, I have folder upon folder of ideas I want to explore tucked away in my computer memory. To date I’m on page 62 of my current manuscript, and I have to keep myself focused on it or else I’ll have the beginnings of 20 of them, and more sprouting and growing at different stages, without actually being completed!

It’s the same with gardening. Over 400 seedlings were sprouted in our mini indoor “greenhouses” over the latter part of winter and the beginning of spring. Luckily I did manage to find “homes” for Garden 2016everyone in various parts of the yard. But you get my drift.

Yes, balance is definitely a difficult state for me to strike. I often feel as though I have so many things on the go, and so many things trying to crowd out of my head to join the throng already in motion that the idea of balance is an impossible one. And then laundry needs to be done, floors need to be cleaned, both human and canine child/ children need ample time spent with Mom…

So I’ve learnt, although I’m still learning. To put the “to-do” lists aside and take a walk Khydn Adorabilitywith the “Little Squish,” cuddle with A.L, talk through the day with J.A. To take a nap when it’s needed and curl up with a book. To revel in the breeze blowing softly across my face and soak in the sunshine. Things still get done, and get done better when there’s a “balance.”

I’m going to go give Eoberon and Keani a kiss now.


On the subject of food, I’ve got to share this fabulous jewel of a recipe I found (and tried) recently. So easy and so good! White Chocolate Caramel Cashew Clusters.

White Chocolate Caramel Cashew Clusters_____________________________________________

I love hearing from you! Drop me a line here, on Facebook at “websterartgallery,” Twitter @WebsterArtGllry or via e-mail:


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Little Athletes

IMG_2992I’ve never lived near the ocean; my exposure to them is limited to visits to Canada’s East Coast, Hawaii and San Diego. The one time I took a dip in ocean waters was while in Hawaii. I was about thirteen or fourteen. With my (then) baby brother tucked in my arms, I waded out into the shallows, completely unaware that I was walking on a sandy shelf which would, suddenly and completely without warning, drop away into nothingness. I couldn’t swim, and with my precious cargo clutched tightly to me, I was doubly terrified. I remembered thinking that if nothing else, I had to get him to safety. Thankfully we were pulled to safety by our family, and thankfully neither my youngest brother nor I were so traumatized by the experience as IMG_3000to become afraid of water. Actually and inexplicably, I’ve always been drawn to the ocean and, most especially, to the mysterious creatures that live beneath its waves. I find them beyond fascinating.

One creature that has hitherto never caught my imagination is the sea turtle. Despite my love of the myriad forms of sea life, sea turtles, for whatever reason, weren’t a part of that love. Actually, they simply never crossed my mind, which explains the apathy. Relatively recently, though, I read a few books set in Carolina’s lowcountry; among descriptions of tide pools and pluff mud and dolphins were sea turtle hatchlings and their breathtaking marathon towards the safety of the ocean waves.

beluga1I’d only ever created one piece of sea turtle art, to date. I thought it was high time to create another one.

“Ocean Beach Marathon” doubles as a children’s illustration and, with the addition of more lines, an adult colouring page. Available at, under “Illustrations.”

Ocean Beach Marathon



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