Protecting a painting from the Enchanted Forest by KatCanPaint

From the Archives! Protecting: a painting from the Enchanted Forest

From the Archives! Protecting * A painting from the enchanted forest

This post and painting were originally shared in June of 2009; it seems like forever ago!


Protecting a painting from the Enchanted Forest by KatCanPaint

Acrylic on canvas

I’m going to do an entire series: a lot of characters live in the Enchanted Forest world I that I created with this painting.  I think a lot of the storybook / fairy tale art I have all is a part of this magical forest.  The style of my paintings here is really more illustrative, more children’s art: sweet, whimsical, feminine.

This piece is much larger than my scanner so the image area you see here is from the middle of the painting. I really enjoyed painting the mushrooms and her dress. Lace!   This painting was originally from the Nest journal page, I made it while I was pregnant with my son Keian, the idea of nesting and protecting made somewhat literal.  I liked the original snowy forest from the journal but I wanted a bright and happy painting. The concept has followed me and it grew into an entire world of its own…this polka dotted blue mushroom Enchanted Forest is too sweet.


<3 Kat

Want to see more of what I do? You can find me on Twitter ::  Etsy :: and Pinterest.



Want to see a painting that was purchased before it was dry?

Want to see a painting that was purchased before it was dry?

Rooting is an original acrylic painting on canvas that I finished last year.  I share painting progress often, here on the blog, via twitter, and on instagram. Last year I was completing a ten piece series for a gallery show, it was intense!  I was working day and night and only the middle of a large series of paintings, facebook was the only way I could stay connected and not go completely crazy while painting.  I posted a quick picture of the ‘ugly stage’ of this painting and a collector fell in love with the piece.   She was claimed before the paint had a chance to dry!
Its always exciting when someone loves a painting as much as you do.


Rooting original acrylic painting by KatCanPaint

©2012 Kathleen McBride, Rooting, Acrylic on Canvas, 11″ x 14″

Rooting is a part of the painting series Holding On / Letting Go that I created for my gallery show in Indianapolis.  The series started as an exploration on loss.  I painted women in different stages of receiving and releasing amorphous masses of energy that represented the emotions not expressed on their faces.

Collage of the Holding aOn Letting Go painting series

As I painted, my visual vocabulary expanded and more natural elements, flowers, roots, leaves as systems in the body. Veins, arteries, lungs, heart, are represented by root systems and flowers.  The energy masses expanded into clouds and curtains of smoke, they became distractions to veil the body and subjects emotions from the viewer.  From there the blocked energy began escaping from the figures, the girls that couldn’t embrace or let go began erupting with smoke and flowers.

I found this picture of the finished painting in my archives and I have a couple more pieces to dust off and share!

<3 Kat

You can also find me on Etsy and Pinterest. (I waste a lot of time on Pinterest!)

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Love Bird 2009 by KatCanPaint

From the archives: Love Bird * an original mixed media painting

I’ve started cleaning up my archives and I found this post and painting I made in 2009.  It’s been hidden this entire time.

Love Bird * an original mixed media painting

Love Bird 2009 by KatCanPaint

Love Bird
Mixed media: collage and acrylic on Canvas

Love Bird is an original mixed media painting on canvas.  I tried a mixed media collage background but you can’t see it in this scan.  I’m trying to be more free and loose with paint and experimenting with new faces, I love the little fairy bird.

The baby has been keeping me busy this week, I wish I had more paintings finished. There are five sitting around my desk, all waiting to have some attention but I don’t know when I’ll get to them all. I’m a neglectful artist, babies are demanding!

<3 Kat

You can find me on Twitter ::  Etsy :: and Pinterest.

9x9 Alice in Wonderland painting by katcanpaint

Alice in Wonderland original painting Alice’s Favorite Necklace

Alice in Wonderland painting: Alice’s Favorite Necklace original acrylic painting by KatCanPaint.  Growing up, in the 80s,  I really liked The Black Cauldron and The Last Unicorn, Labyrinth, and The Dark Crystal.  Fraggle ROCK!  Inspector Gadget, JEM! I’m completely nostalgic for the movies and stories of my childhood.
color corrected Alice's Favorite Necklace by katcanpaint

©2012 Kathleen McBride, Alice’s Favorite Necklace, acrylic on canvas, 9″ x 9″ x 2 2/3″

Except, I didn’t really like the Disney version of Alice, a lot of the wit and charm from the original story seemed to be missing.   I’m a big fan of the sweeter side of Alice in Wonderland.  I remember the stories as a child holding so much magic and weirdness.  I always wanted to be Alice.  I used to imagine her going back and forth between Wonderland having adventures.

Based on that idea, I started a series of Alice paintings.  This one is Alice’s Favorite Necklace; I imagine Alice carrying mementos of her friends and adventures with her topside.

original acrylic Alice in Wonderland Painting by katcanpaint

©2012 Kathleen McBride, Alice’s Favorite Necklace, acrylic on canvas, 9″ x 9″ x 2 2/3″

I drew and painted that swirly, ornate background, I really want wall paper like that.

Can you see the Cheshire Cat and the White Rabbit?  I have so many more ideas for this series, I’m painting like a madwoman everyday.

You can visit my etsy if you’d like to purchase a painting.

<3 Kat

I have Unicorns on the brain.

My Little Unicorn
Acrylic on Canvas

I have drawn and painted this image, girl + unicorn, in so many different ways. I still haven’t exorcised it from my mind. I was thinking about the medieval maiden and unicorn tapestry and classic fairy tales and my little ponies. There will be another incarnation of this, I will keep at it until it feels right.


<3 Kat

How I learned to paint again or how my little sister has more portraits of herself than anyone in the world

How I learned to paint again or how my little sister has more portraits of herself than anyone in the world

My youngest sister, Krista, has a part-time gig as my muse. Or maybe just a full-time position as a very annoying little sister who is tenacious and persistent. Either way it works enough to get me to draw things for her, and it eventually led to me painting again.

See, I went to a big-name, expensive, art college. I spent a lot of money on my education but I was very disenchanted with the entire experience. Its stupid really, because I carry that around with me as if it defines who I am, “Hello my name is Kat. I went to Art School and I hated it.”
But really, I was so confused as to who I was as an artist after school that I didn’t seriously paint anything for years. A lot of artists have had this same problem, and I just found this quote from Jim Hodges on another blog, Ullabenulla, where he describes exactly what I felt.

When I got out of graduate school, I stopped Painting because it was overwhelming and because I couldn´t find myself in the material. But I also stopped because I was forcing myself to be a painter because I thought that was what my education had taught me. I realized I had accepted a lot of belief systems that were not necessarily mine. From then on, it was just a slow process of deconstructing this education and breaking things down to simple words. And ‘beauty’ was one of them…. I felt that I was part of a long tradition investigating what beauty is all about—the mystery of it, the elusiveness of it. So, I set out to understand what that word meant for me.


Krista queen of hearts by KatCanPaint

The first piece I painted when I was jumping back into it was a very odd color explosion of a portrait of Krista. (We call her Roo.) Excuse the blur, its the only photo I still have of this piece. I ended up painting blue over the background and then I put it away for a while to think about painting. Because I tend to do that, sit and think about things when I should just be doing them.
Krista commandeered this piece while I was contemplating what it all meant… and then promptly demanded more paintings.


That isn’t the beginning of the story. I have three younger sisters. I’ve always wanted to be an artist, more specifically a Children’s Book Illustrator. When my sisters were very young I would make up stories and illustrate the interesting bits to entertain my sisters while I babysat. Roo, the youngest and my junior by ten years, was always the one demanding more, she was in fifth grade in 2005, and in love with the Harry Potter series. She was diagnosed with dyslexia early in grade school and reading, well honestly school in general, was very frustrating for her. I read the first Harry Potter book to her, and she fell in love with the characters, and absorbed the rest of the books in the series almost overnight. I told her stories about her as a Gryffindor student and illustrated the funny parts. The story was renamed Kerri Potter (It was called Kerri Potter after another sister of mine, uhm… Kerri. Genius, right?) She and her older sisters were always getting into trouble. . They never saved the day, and were always in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was completely goofy. My sisters loved the stories. Roo’s frustration with reading and learning faded a bit with each story.

These silly stories and comics were mostly inside jokes. I don’t think they could possibly make sense to anyone else, but isn’t that how inside jokes work? Like every kid who is having trouble in school, Roo would fight to get out of bed in the morning and actually get to school.

So I drew little comics on her brown lunch bag, to give her a little something extra to read at school. They were completely ridiculous but every kid at her lunch table grew to anticipate lunch time so they could read the newest Brown Bag comic. (No pressure on the artist there.) These two starred all three of my little sisters, Caitlin, Kerri, and Krista, in the Kerri Potter universe, pretending to be Jedi Knights with bananas as lightsabers.
See, silly inside jokes. But it worked. As long as I kept up the BBcomics, Krista kept bringing them into school… and of course if the bags were going to school, so was she.

Not all the stories and images were particularly flattering…I wrote a story/poem I wrote for her called, “My Little Sister Is A Goblin.” It went something like this:

My little sister is a goblin.
It’s true.
Just look into those beady little eyes of hers-she’s not normal.
She has sharp elbows, sharp knees, and rows of extra sharp pointy little teeth.
Take your eyes off of her for a moment
And she is gone.
(off spoiling the milk or knotting peoples hair or doing other Goblin-y things)
No doubt about it.
My little sister is a goblin.

She will eat your liver.
She will eat your liver for breakfast.
Its her favorite thing to do.

… and it goes on. The bit about livers sounds odd but that is what she would threaten to do when she was angry with you- eat your liver.

I’m not sure she knew where your liver was, or what it did, so I illustrated your liver as being a type of breakfast cereal.

After Harry Potter, Roo’s obsession turned to Pirates. Everything I drew had to be of her as a pirate.


This evolved into her as a pirate with a pet octopus or squid. I started making finished pieces for her, she started being old enough and responsible enough to take care of them.

And now she is a teenager. She draws her own pictures and writes her own stories. She is interested in all things creative, especially creative writing. She wants to be an author.

Spoiled by an older sister who is an artist, Roo routinely e-mails crazy pictures of herself for me to paint. I think she has more portraits of herself than any person ever.

These are just a few examples. She has walls papered with examples of art pieces I’ll never be able to finish because she claims pieces from my sketchbook and from my unfinished piles for herself. She doesn’t take no for an answer. Which is fine, because I’ll be famous for portraits of my little sister… and I’ll make her draw pictures for me.


<3 Kat

You can find me on Twitter ::  Etsy :: and Pinterest.

Blue Hawaiian painting by KatCanPaint

Blue Hawaiian

Blue Hawaiian


Blue Hawaiian painting by KatCanPaint
A 12″x12″ technicolor tropical-inspired piece. Named after a drink, because it just seemed to fit. A lot of the pieces I am working on right now have this sort of intensely colored, dreamy, layered feel to them. This one was painted with acrylics, beeswax paints, a bit of colored pencils, Jacquard Lumieres (metallic paints) and sprinkled with mica powders. (So it has a lot of sparkle without being glittery.) Because the Lumieres and the mica powders are both interference colors, the metallic colors change with the lighting like a holographic sticker.
Holographic stickers = awesome.

Because of a certain little guy I don’t really have a lot of time to devote to painting so this multi-layered approach works for me. If I only have 15 minutes then its not a big deal, I can just add some more color or a bit of detail and then let it dry and come back later without having to completely paint over the details I just added because they don’t mesh, or blend, well with the the last bit I did… which works for me because I wanted to get away from the flatness of the acrylics I was using and the blend-blend-blend for hours thing I was trying to do that just resulted in Flat MUD.


<3 Kat

You can find me on Twitter ::  Etsy :: and Pinterest.

Holding On original painting by KatCanPaint

Holding On

Holding on is an original painting, a part of the series of the same name. The first painting is here, My Invisible Heart.


Holding On original painting by KatCanPaint

Holding On
Mixed Media (acrylic, mica, beeswax) on canvas


“Trying to learn how to paint again, well, it is not like riding a bike.”

I used to paint all the time. I used to work with watercolors and acrylics mostly, years ago, but this was all before I drifted into the realm of sculpture and art work in three dimensions, and all the things I knew how to do just faded away. Trying to learn how to paint again, well, it is not like riding a bike. There are so many bad paintings behind me. Sometimes I can see where I’ve gotten better, sometimes I cannot, mostly it is very slow progress. A lot of paint, painting, frustration, and complaining about all three.

Back in April I had asked for canvas for my birthday… 5, in fact, so that I could start a series that I’ve been thinking about. Most of my paintings/drawings/whatever live inside my head.  I paint to get these images out of my head… so a lot of times you will see the same girl/pose/theme to my work because I just can’t get the image out of my head.

I’ve spent every day drawing or painting something, anything to let this idea live. A lot of time, this is all I do.  I paint, working towards the goal of five pieces, or I work on a paper mache piece, or I work on a gourd piece. I do art. It is not always pretty. Scratch that. Mostly, it is not pretty. Mostly, it is not what I had envisioned in my head. And then I get annoyed. (I’m sure this happens/ has happened to every other artist, ever, in the history of artists.)


“I can’t be happy unless I’m painting.”

See, usually I feel like I paint because I have to. Not because anyone is making me, but because I can’t be happy unless I’m painting. There’s a lot of other junk involved in that, but mostly I am not happy with my day if I haven’t painted. Is this a creative energy, or spirit… a muse? Is this just an urge? A passion, an obsession? I don’t have these answers, I just paint because I have to paint, and I wish I had the words to express that better but I think in paintings and speak with paintings.

I wanted the five paintings to be exercises in style, technique, and simplicity. I was trying to find my style again, the essence of who I am, stylistically, as a painter, as an artist. For this series, I knew I wanted a central female figure, with her hands in different poses. I knew I wanted it to be a simple five-piece series focusing on the execution, the procedure, the method and manner of laying down paint with brush. I want to find MY way, My style, and the only way to do that is paint paint paint. But, man do I ever get frustrated with myself. (I can certainly whine a lot about it as well.) I get so annoyed when things aren’t happening the way I wanted them to, the way I had planned, the way I see them in my head. I get to a point where I hate painting. Those are bad days.

I research art every day; painting techniques, styles, media, substrates. Delving into everything from outsider folk art, altered mixed media pieces, old masters, and a lot of dolls/figurative sculpture. It isn’t that I want to completely separate myself from the artist that works in 3-d, it is that I wanted to become a better painter. (I’m sure this will help me make better sculptures, as well.) There is so much clutter in my brain with all these other things I’ve been looking at and concentrating on. Then I want to add something else to my paintings, or change something, or do something completely different. I have to talk myself down from these places and really focus on painting this series, because I think, “Wouldn’t it be cool to learn how to do embroidery/paper cuts/ mache technique/ soldering…”

When I was painting this piece, it was all about the series, which exists in my head as, “Holding On and Letting Go.” It was also about quieting the clutter and anxiety and focusing on painting. It was about style, and technique, and simplicity. Somehow in all the painting I was doing, it really turned into a piece about contrasts. I decided only to use two colors to paint the figure, burnt sienna and a portrait pink, to limit myself, to see if I could successfully paint a person in only two colors. I love to use saturated bright colors, especially in my 3-d work, in this painting I limited those colors and that application to the background. The contrast of busy background / static figure, cool colors / warm, shimmery / flat, vibrant / dull, etc… all came together in little decisions, without planning. (I’m sure that my struggles with painting are a bit to blame for the direction this painting took, odd how things like that manifest themselves while I’m not really aware of what is happening.)

I believe she looks calm and a bit contemplative.

Painting is getting easier and feeling more satisfying.


<3 Kat

You can find me on Twitter ::  Etsy :: and Pinterest.

Dahlia painting by KatCanPaint

Dahlia original painting by KatCanPaint

I was so happy with the way Krista’s portrait turned out that I wanted to try and recreate the process and end result on a personal piece.  Her hands can out fabulous!

Dahlia painting by KatCanPaint
Acrylic, beeswax, heavy gel (gloss), mica on paper

Dahlia uses some reference images, namely dahlia flower line art from Dover, and French court documents. (I believe a gentleman is being fined 9 francs for trespassing. ) I absolutely love old handwriting, back in the day people really cared about their penmanship.
I used the acrylics almost like watercolors, building up a lot of watery washes over and over again. The end result was a very translucent almost airy feeling that I really like. I painted her hair an almost-carnation pink. I love pink hair. But no matter how much I fiddled with my scanner settings, and later with photoshop, it seems the only way to get that pink back is to physically paint it into the image again. I can’t wait to borrow a camera and take really good pictures of all my paintings. (And my dolls and pottery and things I’ve been working on that I can’t scan.)


<3 Kat

You can find me on Twitter ::  Etsy :: and Pinterest.


Cloud of Chamomile original mixed media painting by KatCanPaint

Cloud of Chamomile * original mixed media painting

I’ve been working, working, working!

Cloud of Chamomile original mixed media painting by KatCanPaint

Cloud of Chamomile
Acrylic on canvas, with all sorts of metallic micas and rich dyes and glazes to get that shimmery bright translucent color. I love how all those little flowers came out.

There have been many paintings and sketches and things going on around here. Sometimes I forget to share.

All this week I’ve been working all on magical new things: Mermaids, and faeries and angels to be exact… and in 3-d! I’ve been covered in paper pulp and paper clay all week. I forgot how much I loved sculpting – I haven’t done it since college. I can’t wait to share! There are fishes and new paintings to share as well, still, I only have a video camera and scanner, no regular picture camera!

So what do I do? Decide to shoot videos!

Am I trying too hard, doing too much? Painting, gourds, sculptures, video… I really want to make stop motion animation films too. Who needs sleep?

When I thought about videos, I really wanted to do something that is like Good Eats, but with art. I don’t really know anything about video so it is very very slow going. And frustrating! Still, I am painting a small piece and documenting the process. While I am learning how to use the video camera and editing software I made a video of me flipping through two of my sketchbooks.

It’s fun, frustrating, and sort of addictive.

Stills from the video in the works: