Sacred Places

I felt it standing in the shadow of Ayers Rock and underneath star filled skies in Australia’s outback. It echoed near a legendary stone circle surrounded by green meadow in Scotland.

Unexplainable and indefinable. 

I was mindful of it’s ethereal quality on Vancouver Island’s East Sooke Trail among old growth cedar overlooking the Pacific. It infused me on Kenosee’s forested shores and the Yukon’s crimson arctic tundra corralled by stoic granite mountains.

 It’s essence filled in silence by snow-covered pine overlooking Skagway Alaska, and waterways in Ontario’s northern boreal forest.

Yet, there is a creekside forest trail leading to wild grass hilltop overlooking a salt water lake I most feel its strength of power.

Wind currents swirl and dip in the valley below with an energy that is difficult to ignore. Being immersed in the vista never fails to fill me with awe, in every season, any time of day. Locals and tourists alike attest they feel something magical, ‘something sacred’ a visitor said. 

Certain animals have superior hearing, intuition, sight capabilities and energy sensitivity than humans. What do you think lies beyond what our senses tell us, to what we may intuitively feel?

Your paintings bring ‘immortality to the landscape’, a client said, ‘you are a conservationist’ of land and human engagement.

An artist seeks what may be swirling in morning mist and vibrant skies overhead. Ancient recognition in the quiet spaces of the day and places held dear. Your refuge, wilderness sanctuary to reflect, restore and find renewal.  It’s  having awareness in the earth beneath your feet, air that surrounds & fills, basking in shadows and shafts of light.

Art communicates by emotionally reaching beyond blurred edges and human eye. Motion and energy, abundant life in full colour. 

A photo can capture existence of a place, a painter captures the experience. Not only to what is, but what could be, what may be. Art poses possibilities of the indefinable.~

NEW work

Cloudy Sky 18×24 oil on canvas  $1,210.oo

Wild Grass at Sunset 20×24 oil on canvas $1,400.oo

Sunrise Above the Valley 18×24 oil on canvas $1,210.oo

All photos above Manitou, Sask. To see a movie of the location check out my instagram @dawnartworks – December video, link here

Sparking Joy

Cherish the things you love, and you cherish yourself” Marie Kondo

Everything he owned had to fit in his 1982 honda civic hatchback. A self imposed rule.

My brother has been a minimalist before it was trendy. 

Maintaining the lifestyle thru his career, he pared down possessions even more before working overseas for 3 years, choosing to store a handful of precious items like special papers, photos, musical instruments at our parents home.

Returning from China 6 years ago, Mom called shortly after he had arrived. “Of all the things he had stored, which do you think he missed the most? what do think he first opened?” I suggested music, photos, books?

She replied. “The first thing he had to see was your art from his collection. He unwrapped them with such joy, oh, Dawn, the gentle care he took with your paintings.”

With encouragement last December, Mr. Shurniak shared the story of collecting his amazing body of art for decades.  He stored much of his collection while working overseas, purchasing art where he traveled. Eventually returning to the province of his birth, he built a gallery to house his collection. 

My cousin Susan wisely commented, “It must have felt quite emotional, to unwrap them and have them together, all here.” He responded with tears in his eyes, “It was like finally bringing all of my family home.”

Art collections do more than decorate our space, they become intertwined with our lives. Beacons of familiarity. While life can be transient and fluid, art remains a constant for generations.

Lately, several clients are on the move. Relocating for work, retiring, off to new homes and adventures. It’s such a privilege to hear how your art travels with you, the comfort it brings. A part of your home & family wherever you go.

Some are enthusiastically in the throes of paring down, embracing Marie Kondo lessons. Each one of you have mentioned the thrill of purging and embracing a similar lifestyle, yet, not only keeping your art collections intact, but adding to them, infusing your lives with colour and light. 

Conscious consumerism, mindfully collecting that which you love is a reflection of self care. Surrounding yourself with healthy inspiring environments not only improves energy, quality of life and engagement, it reflects on your work, relationships and those you invite to your spaces.

Purging what no longer serves you can be empowering and cleansing, whether it be clothing, toxic relationships, occupations or guilt. Renewal comes with organized spaces, clutter free minds, positive perspective and open hearts. 

I haven’t read Marie’s book, or seen her popular videos, but I do agree with her philosophy, keeping close that which sparks JOY.

When joyful, we create a ripple effect, spreading happiness to the world.

~“People cannot change their habits without first changing their thinking.” Marie Kondo

New Work!  “Red Canoe Awaits” 18×36 oil on canvas $2000.oo ( two photos)

Sundance  “5ft x 3.3” ft oil on canvas  $5,940.oo ( shown with Marc Banning handcrafted chair).

First & Second photos- my brother with my gift painting of his birthplace. Mr.Shurniak & I Dec. 2018.

Arctic Char

“Turn every challenge into a jigsaw. Before you know it, all these small pieces add up to something pretty amazing.” Peter Bray

Some believe creating is mindless, when in fact, it is the opposite. It’s extremely mindful, solving problems, decision making and very hard work. It’s understanding you will never know it all, but dive in anyhow.

When he first emailed the Arctic Char photo, I could have declined the work, but I was intrigued by such amazing colour. In fact, my use of colour is the reason the client chose me. 

Revisiting the photo nearly daily for 6 months, I have been pondering how to execute it. Ideas have been simmering for a long while.

With most commissions I require several high res photos. In this case I had one lower res photo reference, purposely not requesting a higher resolution, to not be tempted to paint realism. Thou not my typical genre, it needed to still look like my work. 

It was a challenging composition to capture with the focal point directly in the middle of the photo. The Char, while colourful, lay on mostly blue grey rock. Compose it as such, the fish would look cartoonish, not a part of the rock bed, or even a part of the picture. It would feel fake. 

I needed to change the composition, placing the fish higher in the canvas, and make the tail fin flow off the canvas to invoke movement. I enhanced light & shadow on & under the fish making it feel less direct middle ground point of interest. Creating rock colour to give the painting balance, feel real, without being fussy with detail was important. That’s so tough, because one itches to paint every scale, be fussy with fins and rock contours. 

It’s one of the hardest aspects of impressionism, to not overwork. What information to leave in, what to omit.

In landscape, one can soften the scape without challenging the viewer. It’s a whole other story with a fish someone needs to recognize, needing to ‘pop’ with colour, look somewhat real, and a part of its background.

I also needed to create a whole new series of colours for the fish. 

A mixture of 4 blues, ochre, umber, green, magenta, two cad reds, alizarin crimson, two cad orange, 2 cad yellow, 2 whites to create the fish alone. 

The idea for purple was a motivating factor and my starting point, if the purple rocks would feel right as the bed for this lovely fish, it could work. The painting evolved and 1/2 way in I  knew I had it.

Interestingly, it may be the first painting I have created in complete silence without music in the studio. 

“Indeed, your biggest challenge may be to fully harness your strengths. You may be so busy trying to appear like a zestful, reward-sensitive extrovert that you undervalue your own talents, or feel underestimated by those around you. But when you’re focused on a project that you care about, you probably find that your energy is boundless. Susan Cain “Quiet”.

The work, thou challenging, was incredibly energizing and joyful.

He is thrilled with the result as am I!

~The simplicity of form, the drama of rich, intense colour, the joy of challenge, and the challenge of endurance… The piece, when it is over, is not what is made, but how it is made. Andrew Kuntz

Art Business Foundation

Researching training plans for my first Ironman (a 3.86k swim, 180.25k bike and 42.2 run endurance event) I dove into books by famous pro’s. Start at the top was my motto, and they had it down to a science. The problem with this approach was I didn’t have time to accommodate their rigorous training plans while working a full time desk job with an art career on the side.

 I  knew something about endurance sport participating in marathons, but Ironman was a whole other ballgame. 

I changed my tactic, approaching people who had finished the event unscathed. Regular folk like me, who had full time jobs and life commitments without the genetics of a born athlete. I carried a notebook penciling in their best advice. 

I needed to engage with participants at the race and hear their experience first hand. An ideal role allowing individual athlete time was volunteering at the finish line massage tent. Lacking massage expertise wasn’t a deterrent, I took a two day shiatsu course and approached the volunteer committee with my certificate. Agreeing to a training workshop with their RMT’s secured my spot. 

My four hour shift turned into 8 when my replacement never arrived, making it one of the most enlightening, if not exhausting moves I made to gather training intel.  Witnessing how athletes were feeling physically and emotionally immediately crossing the finish line was invaluable. 

I approach my art career in similar fashion. While its wise not to be blind to masters methods, I am curious about those who didn’t have an easy path in their field, in art or otherwise. I scrutinize every job and activity for life gems, gaining art business education from some unorthodox places.

I learned effective communication as a travel agent and customer service waiting tables. I discovered how not to package shipping items working in a warehouse. Time management attributes matured employed as a maid for resort hotel.Being non presumptuous enabled me, to have great working relationships with bushmen in arctic exploration. I developed a thick skin, listening skills and intuitiveness working in advertising. While employed by a national business magazine, one client dubbed me ‘ the chihuahua’ explaining, while working in a male dominated field I was ‘ tiny, unafraid to play with the big dogs, and the persistence of a dog with a bone.”

I am not a naturally gifted artist, yet I have managed to carve out a career in a field many do not consider qualifies as a ‘real’ career. My strengths lie in chihuahua persistence, curiosity, open mindedness, street smarts, vision and a deep desire to make a difference. 


Northern Sunlit Shore 30×40 oil $2,970.oo

Blue Skies & Fireweed 24×30 oil $1,980.oo (shown in studio & natural light).

~ thanks for your inquiries asking about art business skills. Conducting research is valuable, and life experience can be transferable to your future goals. Sending good thoughts your way.

~ Dawn photo- Ironman Canada 2006.

Making of an Artist & the Creative Act

It’s understanding the subtle lift of your child’s brow. Recognizing a parent’s gait and unspoken emotion in a siblings tone. It’s knowing every curve of your lover’s face.

Beyond detached scientific study, painting needs emotional connection. Familiarity with the muse is built on observation one possess’s of a loved one.  Creating art is an intimate act. 

Exploration of subject requires eye, hand, & heart. To gain understanding, observation comes from a place of non -judgement forming an artist/ muse bond. 

My artistic journey was not born of ambition or love of drawing, but a love of horses.  I found them fascinating, the way many little girls do.

Horses lived in my beloved storybooks like ‘Black Beauty’ and on my cousins’ farms. Witnessing loving bonds between these magnificent creatures and people, I wanted a  part of that experience. Drawing was a way to do that.

Perhaps loneliness played a part in my creative beginning. 

Missing my older brother when he started school, I spent my days wandering the park woods where we lived. Naturally shy, drawn to quiet activities, visual stories came to life on paper with a child’s vibrant imagination.

A combination of personality, environment, comfortable being alone, work ethic, timing, and events spark creativity for many artists, as it did for me. 

The elements of an artistic life were in place by the time my artist babysitter came along. 

Thou drawing never came naturally to me, an ability to focus and relentlessness helped.

As my drawing confidence grew over the years, so did my subjects, expanding from animals, people, and nature. 

Growing up in wilderness, my connection to it is a loving familial bond formed in childhood.

Landscape art became my prime focus later in life when I discovered people of any age, culture, language, religion, or country find solace & connection to nature. Nature is a universal language. 

It’s said an artist’s spirit is imprinted within their work.  I believe there is an exchange, the muse spirit is imprinted within artist. ~’

Note: The best way to draw anything is eliminate mental identity labels of the subject. It takes practice to move past preconceived impressions and find the subject’s ‘essence’. Observe with eyes anew, curiosity and wonder. 

I believe it’s wonderful life approach, not just in art. 

~ “ I have worked with horses my whole life, and you know horses.” client at the Shurniak gallery, admiring ‘Bronco’.

New Work available:

“SKY over Lake” 3ft x `4ft oil ( two photos shown, in progress) $4,345.oo

“SKY” 4ft x 3ft oil $4,345.oo

~early drawings shown in three photos.~

“Kenosee”14×18 oil $910.oo

“Forest Nook” 14×18 oil $910.oo

“Bronco” charcoal & acrylic. SOLD

Learning Process

It’s too bad, really…”I think I am beginning to learn something about it. ” Renoir’s last words at 78.

‘Just starting to get the hang of it’ after a lifetime of artistic achievement, Renoir brilliantly captures the concept of artist process.

Achieving success with mature style and building a following is just beginning. Creating art is a constant evolution of learning.

Process needs to be fluid for growth.

“That I will never know it all is a part of the appeal. I am forever a student….. Thank God.” A popular watercolorist declared with a sigh. Decades of success to his credit, he hosts workshops around the world.

During an interview with Robert Bateman, the radio host declared his work is of an accomplished master. Bateman disagreed. “I have yet to create a true masterpiece.” He spoke of continuing to learn, challenge himself and evolve his work. “I hope I never feel I have ‘learned it all’. One can become stagnant. If that happens I might as well be dead.” 

His last sentence struck me powerfully. It’s the dread of many artists, growing stagnant, no longer engaged by the work to improve, to master.

Another iconic painter confessed privately, ” the blank canvas scares me. Beginning, FACING it, that’s so fearful.” He shared this after selling $50K of paintings in the first ten minutes of his solo show 15 years ago. Patrons had lined the sidewalk waiting for the show to open. 

It’s a myth that an ’accomplished’ artist has absolution in process. That it’s effortlessly routine.

Process is just pigment, medium, tools and linen. Methods evolve.

Creating is complex, it’s doing a brand new puzzle in your mind each time, then figuring out a way to execute it. That means process changes, influenced by ‘the idea.’

We are beginners, every single day. To proceed knowingly inept to a degree, takes courage. It’s about embracing vulnerability, or at least accepting it.

Stepping to the easel with the uneasiness of a student is wonderfully humbling. Process follows when you uncover your spark. Stoke inspiration’s flame. Focus on the flare, less on process. The rest is just tools. 


New Work!!

“Tundra Sanctuary” 24×30 oil on canvas ( shown in both natural and studio light) $1,980.oo

River of Light” 11×14 oil on canvas $660.oo


The first person to call me prolific is a brilliant impressionist. My friend Patrick.

I had to look it up.


/prəˈlifik/ dictionary 


adjective: prolific

1. ( of plant, animal or person) producing much fruit or foliage or many offspring. 

2. present in large numbers or quantities. Plentiful. Abundant.  Productive, creative, inventive, fertile.

What’s interesting about this definition, not once does it say “easily”.  
Yet, it’s a common misunderstanding it must be for creatives who are prolific.
Those two words in conjunction with another fly around me fairly often. “Prolific, easy, natural”.
Only one is true. I am prolific.
I produce a mountain of work, not because its easy or natural. Not one little iota. 

Iota – [ahy-oh-tuh]“something very small, iota is the smallest letter in the Greek Alphabet”.

There are very few natural genius’s. I have met many artists, musicians, writers who agree. In fact, I have yet to meet one who said the work came easily.

There’s danger in assuming every artist is a natural easy talent. 
First: it devalues their work effort, education, evolved skill. 
Second: it becomes a cop out for those who want to attempt creative practice. I hear this all the time. “Oh I wasn’t born with it like you were, so why bother.”

Friends, I wasn’t born with it either. 
Dad describes it best, sharing his perspective with Mr. Shurniak recently, “For years she drew and drew and drew, and it never looked like anything. Then one day it did.” I love that he continues to share this story, because it’s honest. 

Last week a friend asked what the hardest part of my job is.

It’s creating the work. Because without quality work, without feeling good about what I release, the rest  of it, selling, promoting, etc, is not just challenging, it’s impossible.

I still produce duds. It comes with the territory. Perhaps where I excel is being able to overcome the frustration.To not be bogged down, or hampered by it. Or, like some, insulted by it. 

Privileged to do what I love, not knowing how long I will be able to do it, I am driven by a sense of urgency. With an unquenchable thirst to improve, to delight and engage you, I just get back to work.

 “Keep busy while you are waiting for something to happen.” Robert Genn. 



“Beach” 11×14 oil on canvas $660.oo

“Carnation” oil on board sketch

“Sky over Field” 8×10 oil on canvas $500.oo

“Out of the Ashes, Into the Clouds” 24×30 work in progress oil $1,980.oo

Decsendants & Decisions

 I think about your great grand babies at tax time. 

Your descendants, great nephews, nieces, friends of the family.

New “Blue Skies”

To explain, I’ll share a story from one of the most recognized art dealers in the country. 

Many amazing artists hail from eastern Canada. Once such painter from rural Quebec reached fame with his beautiful compositions. He built his business without the assistance of dealers. From his home studio, raising his family on his earnings, he did very well. His work was collected across the country, internationally, and exhibited in the National Gallery. After he passed collectors approached art dealers to sell their treasures, hoping to collect on their investment. 

Not one dealer or auctioneer could accept the paintings. 

You see, his art enterprise was a cash business. With no established paper trail, or secondary market record, dealers could not legally accept the work. 

Before an art dealer/ broker /auctioneer purchases or accepts art on consignment, they have to establish provenance, and prove the work was not stolen. They might believe wholeheartedly your attic art collection belonged to Auntie May, they also need to proof.

I direct clients asking about selling historical work to appraisers/ accredited art dealers and suggest they gather evidence on their collection. This may include receipts of purchase, insurance records, letters between the artist & themselves, letters describing the gift, or purchase. 

New “Ocean” finally complete!

Original art sold thru auction is called the secondary market. Art is submitted thru a recognized art dealer ( gallery), not the artist. 

For the seller, art may take time to establish value when first introduced at auction. The purpose is to establish public record of sale. Like fancy street creds, the artist’s work & name becomes more recognized, adding value to all original work by the artist, benefiting the collectors. ( more on the auction industry, see post “Canadian Art Specialist”)

Three new paintings shipped to Hambleton Galleries this week!

Artists have access to a global market with the web at their fingertips. Many ask why work with Galleries, who’s commission fees are usually 50%, when the work is selling well from my own studio.

I could have my work in other galleries, why choose the challenging route of working with known dealers and who sell both contemporary & historical art? 

  1. They can introduce my work to the secondary market . 
  2. Corporate collectors are often restricted to purchase work directly from galleries & not the artist. 
  3. High end collectors purchasing historical work, see mine among it. Value by association. 
  4. They expose my work to clients I would not have access to on my own. Many have an established reputation in the industry spanning decades.                                         

Working hard to create quality paintings, in conjunction with business decisions like these, producing paper trails, declaring income for taxes, all come to mind when I think of your great grand babies. 

You may not sell your Dawn collection, but they might. Not only do I want that option available to my collectors, I feel accountable. It’s not about my legacy, but yours. 



Blue Skies 4ftx2ft oil on canvas $3,960.00

“Ocean” complete two days ago with final light added. It has a lovely soft feel. 4ftx3ft oil on canvas $4,345.00

Three new paintings above shipped to Hambleton Galleries, arriving in the Kelowna Gallery TODAY!

The “To Do” List

Write your “to do” list.  Now put the word “Get” in front of it.
This simple exercise inspires a perspective of gratitude. 


Not the type to benefit seeing thru rose coloured glasses? Science suggests you are. 

The human mind has tremendous power over how we react to or anticipate experience. It has a direct impact on outcome, and friends, it can go a longgg way.

How much information we absorb, complete tasks, respond to crisis, or stay true to new years resolutions, can begin with attitude. 

lavender farm

Weeks prior to her 2 year booster shot, my cousin prepared her daughter saying she was one of the luckiest girls in the world… to be getting a needle. 

“Many little girls won’t have this opportunity, it is going to be so AWESOME and so FUN!” my cousin explained. No need to sway her cooperation with a promised treat, the booster shot was the treat.

The drive to the clinic had a festive party feel, my tiny cousin beside herself with joy.

Little Allie announced to her good fortune to wait room patients, her excitement nearly uncontainable. Hopping up on the table, she thanked the nurse for this amazing shot, didn’t cry, and glowed showing off her needle mark like a Bunny tattoo. 

Not easily convinced as perhaps, a two year old? Hang on to your party hat, because purposefully reframing events can still influence your experience & the outcome. Awareness of our external and internal words we apply to events and being mindful is important. In our culture we often apply the words ” have to” Ie: ” I have to go for groceries. I have to pick up the kids, I have to.. ” Changing words changes perspective and lessens mental burden. Having a growth mindset or fixed mindset can also be a determining factor in potential. 

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” Mahatma Gandhi

Sunset over lakeside Vineyard

Proper mental health care coping with challenging experiences/ emotions is so important. This isn’t about sweeping tough experiences under the rug, rather it’s about applying positive thinking appropriately as a tool, not a poster cliche. 


Envisioning circumstance in a positive light makes space for peace, fuels opportunity, ignites solutions, builds resilience, and may increase compassion for others. It can begin with a heart of gratitude.

So, what do you get to do today? ~ 

Note: Congrats to my ‘little cousin’ Allie, who graduated Medical school in 2018, now working full time as a GP MD.


“SKY” 4ft x3ft now complete! available $4,345.00

“Lavender Farm” 24×30 original oil 

Sunset over Lakeside Vineyard” 22×28 original oil ~ With Lavender Farm will be shipped to the Hambleton Galleries (& a third in the works) avail for purchase.

“Ocean” 4ftx3ft has new features to engage you, so happy with it! $4,345.00

 All available ART for purchase, please click here.  Email to purchase.

Note: So happy to donate Autumn Forest Trail 4ftx3ft to Transition to Betterness Charity Gala Jan 26, Which provides comfort to patients and families impacted by life-altering illness.

Where the Light Gets In

Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem” drifted in my mind while tracing a brushstroke with my bare hand thru the half finished painting.

“Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.”

It completely changed the dynamics of the painting.

Planning art exhibitions is a little like planning your birthday party for strangers. 

There may be months or, in this case years of preparations.

You hope dear friends arrive, to meet new ones, have inspiring conversations, enjoying exchanging of gifts.

It can be an exciting, nerve wracking, rewarding event inspiring a desire to sleep for month after.

This is how I have felt since returning from a whirlwind year & month long western ‘tour’.

It is only the second time in a decade I put down the brush for more than a week. 

Painting after a month away can be a challenge, like your first season golf swing, or running after a month break. One may feel daunted & rusty. 

I prepare for a painting hiatus by leaving at least two paintings near completion & one barely begun. Upon return, projects are viewed with fresh eyes, without the pressure of starting a completely blank canvas. I ease my way in by finishing two the first two fairly quickly, encouraging a feeling of accomplishment. 

Next, for the project in early progress (or the first blank canvas) I use a completely different approach by choosing a difficult composition. One that scares my socks off.

Painting a canvas in progress facilities bravery, because there is nothing left to lose, or fear of ruining a new canvas in case it goes south.

Some of my best creations came to fruition applying this method. For one thing, the underpainting contributes to the composition in ways I could not have imagined. 

SKY began as a moonlit tree. 

Returning to the studio I traced a beam of light along a painted branch and a light filled sky filled my mind. 

The painting changed direction and SKY emerged.

The vertical rather abstract orientation, and focal point near centre make the composition challenging. It’s balanced by amazing diagonals soaring across the sky painted in a more realistic style. It helps you feel at one immersed within and pulled along.

I could spend a lifetime painting skies and it would be enough. An impactful exhibit of time made visible. Fleeting whispers merge, vibrate, disappear and change form as quickly as a thought threads thru your mind. 

The sky overhead is a wonderful reminder of the life’s fluidity. We bear witness to it in real time. The drama, action, and contrast is all there, each unique in moments, colour, movement, and light playing on the landscape. 

A tangible force of energy we can observe daily. 

While adding filtered light near completion in the painting, Cohen’s song drifted in my mind, bringing a heartfelt warmth.

How appropriate for a painting that was not meant to be, but contributed to what is. How fitting for a sky that moves in light with darkness giving way. 

“Forget your perfect offering.” How true of Impressionism, not illustrative of  photo perfection, but reflecting something beyond, with emotional intensity, offered in love.

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.


New Work “ SKY” 4ft x 3ft original oil $4,345.00

Note: Looking up is the quickest way for a mood lift. Why? Head position greatly influences mood.