To Paint like Shirley Trevena

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The students in my watercolor class are fabulous.  I throw so many challenges at them and they take them and run with it.  This challenge was no exception!

Shirley Trevena is an amazing water colorist from England.  When you look at her work, there is so much going on, you can barely figure out how she does what she does.


Luckily she is a giving enough artist that she shares her process in her many books.  I grabbed two of them, studied them and created a lesson plan to try some of the painting techniques in our watercolor class. Below is a word doc explaining some of her painting techniques.


Here are two paintings I used to demo in my class:

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If you are interested in trying some fairly unconventional watercolor techniques or you simply want to enjoy some absolutely gorgeous artwork, check artist Shirley Trevena out.  She is a master.

Seeds in the Wind


Seeds in the Wind   acrylic painting on canvas 24″ x 36″

The progression:

Angels Among Us (7)





This painting was tough.  I kept bringing it home finished and then taking it back to my studio because it didn’t feel right.

I wanted to capture movement through translucency and it definitely took layer after layer after layer, but in its final stage I like that there are some seeds far back and some up close.

My paintings are still a bit congested.  No breathing or quiet space.  I am going to switch hats and work on jewelry for a few months. I’m hoping the time away from painting will allow my brain to process and when I come back I will subconsciously be able to make the changes I want to make.

I still have quite a few paintings to show though, so don’t go anywhere!



OK. The perfectionist in me doesn’t want to show the next 5 paintings I am going to show you.  This is absolutely why I will post them.  Bye-bye perfectionist who lives in a safe little shell where one only shows the world that which can be carefully manipulated.  Hello BRAVE NEW WOMANROAR!!!  These are from an intuitive painting class.   I had no idea what I was doing, and this is what came out.


If you are truly in the present moment, then you have absolutely NO CONTROL over what comes out on the canvas.  Planning takes forethought which is a form of control.  This is control-less or OUT-OF-CONTROL!!! Totally out of my comfort-zone. It is great for me. Free therapy!

There is an artist named FLORA BOWLEY.  A friend turned me on to her process and I bought her book called “Brave Intuitive Painting”.

Brave Intuitive Painting Book Cover

There are so many aspects of Flora Bowley’s process that I LOVE.  She is very spiritual.  She uses all 5 senses when painting.  I learned SO MUCH about changing up my mark-making and creating texture and movement.  At times I actually finger painted!  I totally forgot how awesome paint actually FEELS.

So today I will show you one of the paintings and in the next week, I’ll unveil the others.


This was the first two layers.  The first was a layer of warm colors and the second was a layer of cool colors.  I thought this was fairly ugly to tell you the truth… but I pushed on…


Next, came a layer of black and white and after that, you keep adding layers until something “speaks” to you…


The first thing that stood out for me was the circle with lines coming out.  I have a shaman friend who literally blows energy in and out of people and that spoke to me visually.  From there, I stayed incredibly alert and kept asking “what do I do next?”.  From within me, a very strong voice began to command what should be done.

The heart stood out next for me which was warm and rich but, to its right I was told was its opposite -it is cold and filled with holes. I was told to put a knife in-between.

Intuitively fire balls started to be painted, but I didn’t know exactly that was what I was making.  I just heard inside, pick up orange and red.  I had hand-made a series of bird stamps which I added. Only right now as I observe do I notice there are 4.  North, East, South & West? What do they carry to and away?  They seem to be flying within the frenzy. I didn’t plan it, so I can’t say exactly what they are doing.

Next the hands were very important.  I distinctly heard “ice” for the hand to the right.  Blues, digits, snow, and the moon.  It’s counter was on the left.  I went to make digits for fingers and my insides said “NO”. Flames full-thrusting flames darn it!

There was so much more.  I saw a sea of fish to the left of the face, blood, holes – are they auras or portals? There is nature and grass down below, night and day. Many dichotomies. In fact the entire painting is about the opposites one finds on the planet earth.  Full/empty, hot/cold, heaven/hell, good/evil, healthy/sick, happy/sad, rich/poor, awake/asleep.

Deep thoughts by Mary Walsh – and yet, I thought nothing!

I simply listened from within.

As for the painting, it’s a little too crazy for me aesthetically, I don’t like the darkness and the color-palette per say, but again, I didn’t spend time controlling it!

I can say I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, the journey, and that is the direction I am headed.  I have to shed making things in hopes that they will make other people “happy”.  I can’t make other people happy nor can I successfully “think-out” what the entire world would like!  Different things speak to all of us.  I have been spending countless hours asking the question “what speaks to me?”  I hope more of what does comes into my work.

I embrace my inner authenticity.  May I share it with the world!

Here’s to the journey!