Sleeps with Butterflies : original acrylic painting on canvas by Kat McBride

Sleeps with Butterflies by KatcanPaint

“Sleeps with Butterflies”
acrylic on canvas 8 x 10 inches 2012

She’s finished, and available in my Etsy shop!

Sleeps with Butterflies is an original acrylic painting on 8″ x 10″ canvas with 1/2″ sides.

She has a secret hidden behind that Mona Lisa smile. Her face has a beautiful mysterious quality, a playful thoughtfulness. Is she wistful?

This painting is romantic with soft glazing, butterfly wings, and roses balanced with saturated colors and captivating stares. I am really inspired by fashion editorials, beautifully photographed portraits, and subtleties in expression. The colors are soft and vibrant but may look different in person than on your monitor.

Sleeps with Butterflies is a part of a collection of paintings inspired by hazy summer memories and a surreal Florida childhood.

Painting grouping by KatcanPaint

Several paintings are a part of this summer collection:

Butterfly Summer

Girl with the Watercolor Rose tattoo

and an entire series of Overlapping Butterfly Wing paintings.

I’ll update with more this week, as soon as I can get everything scanned and photographed.  My prints should be here tomorrow, and I am more excited than a kid at Christmas.  This will be the first time my Etsy shop is full!   It’s incredible to see it all coming together: I’ll have original paintings, prints, and custom art listed…and I’m working on more art everyday.

Whoo hoo!

<3 Kat

And, in case you didn’t know, you can follow me on  Twitter ::  Etsy :: and Pinterest.

Crown of Wings painting collage by KatCanPaint

Driving myself bonkers : Crown of Wings painting progress

I am driving myself crazy, looney, absolutely BONKERS with this painting.  I almost scrapped this painting.  Scrapped, like tossed into the trash.  Finito! I’m tired of looking at you!


Crown of Wings painting collage by KatCanPaint

Crown of Wings, acrylic on canvas, 11 x 14″, still in progress

Seriously, it just bugged me over and  over.  This painting didn’t mold into what I wanted it to look like, into what I wanted it to be.  Problem: I had no idea what exactly I wanted this painting to be besides not ugly, yeah. I’m helpful that way.

I kept it around, schelpping it from table to table or hanging it on a wall, keeping it in the background while I painted other pieces.  I had a lot of deep seated annoyance with my entire painting process and style that this painting represented.  I liked the idea of this painting, but I just didn’t know if I had the ability to paint it the way I idealized it.

Plus, I end up making every painting about learning how to do something better – a better way to paint eyes/ lips /noses… a better way to model vs render details.  Painterly vs illustrative.  I would be able to grow as an artist this way, but not when each piece is a struggle.  Not an exercise, or a study… nope. I make it hard on myself.  If I don’t revolutionize something or answer a big question when I walk away from a painting then I feel like a failure and that the painting is a failure.


Painting is not that hard for me.

It doesn’t have to be that hard for me.

I am terrified of doing mediocre work, and choosing the easy path / the path of least resistance always seems like it only leads to a short skip to mediocretown.

There has to be another way!

I’m still figuring it out, every time I sit down to paint.


<3 Kat


Would you like to see more paintings? 

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.



5X7 girl with a flower crown and white hair by katcanpaint

Mermaid Hair and Flower Crown original acrylic painting 5 x 7

Mermaid Hair and Flower Crown original acrylic painting 5 x 7 : A sneak peek at my messy desk and new painting!


5X7 girl with a flower crown and white hair by katcanpaint


Just a quick peek of what I’ve been working on this week.  LOOK AT THE MESS THAT IS MY DESK! Holy moly – didn’t I just clean that thing?


<3 Kat

Keep in touch! Twitter ::  Etsy :: and Pinterest.

Carousel girl collage by KatCanPaint

Waiting – Carousel Girl Acrylic Painting

Waiting – Carousel Girl Acrylic Painting
I painted this girl and her empty carousel a year ago, in June 2011.  Everything I painted was rooted in childhood nostalgia; I loved horses and carousels when I was young. Especially the old quarter-a-ride carousels that were outside of stores.  What the heck happened to them? They were always so brightly colored and the horses were either horribly ugly or little mini works of art.
carousel girl painting

©2012 Kathleen McBride, Waiting, acrylic on canvas, 11″ x 14″


And I’m still having fun with it.

I have an entire series of girls with carousels and horses in my sketchbook. Colorful hair with coordinating sweaters, they are a low brow mix influenced by Blythe dolls and anime. Stylistically this is where I want to be with my girls, I just need to tweak a little more. This girl is almost perfect!  What I see in my head and what I see on canvas are almost the same thing now; the gap in my ambition and my taste is closing.  Even if I have to paint one million paintings and even if its a really slow process of perfecting my painting technique and style; I’m still having fun with it!


Carousel girl collage by KatCanPaint

That carousel was amazingly fun to paint: red and white stripes, hearts, blue and gold architecture, I tried to reference those details in her sweater.


This is the sketch for her face, I usually end up preferring the sketch to the painting. I think she looks older and a little more thoughtful in the finished piece.


<3 Kat

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

face study on book page collage by KatCanPaint

From the Archives: Can you paint on wood without looking like an Audrey Kawasaki copycat?

I’m revisiting my archives this week, dusting off old paintings and posts to share.

This post is from May of 2009:

Can you paint on wood without looking like an Audrey Kawasaki copycat?

I’ve been painting on canvas and in my art journal for over a year, and I thought I should mix it up. I like the look of wood and paper but both pose a problem for me: Book pages always look like folk art mixed media works, or the collage leaves and uneven messy surface to paint on, and if I draw or paint on wood pieces my girls look like Audrey Kawasaki clones.

Experimenting with art on book pages and wood pieces.

To create a background for this painted portrait, I made a collage of story book pages onto a piece of canvas paper.  (Next time I do this it will be on something sturdy, a hard board panel or wood. Canvas paper is fun to experiment on but its too flimsy for mixed media layers.)

face study on book page collage by KatCanPaint

Face study
Acrylic, dye, and beeswax paints over old book pages

The collage added a lot of bulk and overlapping bits to the background which made it a challenge to get the smooth “licked surface” painterly quality that I like my portraits to have.  Its obviously rough and an imperfect and I love it!

At first I was very judgmental about this background technique, I thought it would look instantly “shabby chic” or scrapbook-y.  Now I want to use book pages for everything:  just look at that lovely yellowing, instant age and depth. 

Her face came out so nice.  Every time I paint I get better: the base / underpainting is in acrylics and her features were detailed with my watercolor-esque beeswax paints. I like these beeswax paints, they are beautifully translucent while having a lot of chroma so they don’t look as flat as using just acrylics.

If you wanted to achieve this look in your paintings the color palette is: mars black, titanium white, cadmium yellow, alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, light cadmium red, burnt umber, and lots of raw sienna. My underpainting this time was purple instead of the usual raw sienna and it was an interesting and fun way to start.

Luna Moths drawing by KatCanPaint

Luna Moths

pencil on wood

Luna Moths is a sketch on a tiny spare piece of wood left over from a wood-burning kit.  The wood and pencil make me automatically think of Audrey Kawasaki’s work, and that is unfortunate because I think that a lot of people will have that association; still it was a lot of fun to do. If I want to work on wood I will have to be sure my style is clearly defined as my own.  I like the color and texture of wood panels, even more than the book pages, I just need to solve the style dilemma.

It boils down to figuring out the equation, really. What makes this piece, or any, look like another artist’s work? Pretty girl, captivating stare, manga inspired, focus on the face and facial features, focus on tight detailed line work, muted color palette, a lot of wood texture visible, and minimal background?  In this case, it’s a lot of things that could very well be solved just by painting my piece with acrylics.

<3 Kat

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.

Cloud Cover beautiful girl painting by KatCanPaint

Cloud Cover a mixed media painting from 2008

I’ve spent the last week going through my old painting and blog archives and cleaning things up.  I found this old mixed media painting, Cloud Cover, hiding in a forgotten folder.

I painted this girl in 2008; she’s acrylics, mica, and beeswax, on an oval wood plaque.


Cloud Cover beautiful girl painting by KatCanPaint

Cloud Cover 2008

This piece just sort of happened:  I painted the girl with acrylics and built up the background using layers of heavy gloss gel.  The gel medium dries thick and you can mix paint and mica into it, you can spread it like frosting and glue things into it.  I added layers of translucent color and texture in the background with a palette knife and they looks like clouds to me. I painted washes of acrylic and beeswax over top of the clouds saw rainbows and rain in the shapes, so I painted those in.

I really like her face and eyes.  Her eyes are my favorite blue, pthalo blue, bright and ethereal.  I’m glad I found this scan, because I gave this painting away a long time ago.  She’s over 4 years old! I really want to create another version of it and compare the two.


<3 Kat

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

art nouveau inspired girl by KatCanPaint

Doing the work : a meditation on fear, stagnation, and mediocrity.

Doing the work : a meditation on fear, stagnation, and mediocrity.

I had a very ambitious plan to finish an entire desk full of art this week. Six paintings and two drawings, to be exact. Many of these paintings have sat around in their ‘ugly’ phase for too long.  I’m ready to stop obsessing over these paintings.  To paint as much as I can until tonight, then call it a day.  Done! Clean off my desk and for better or worse never paint on these canvases again.

I make a lot of excuses for not finishing a painting.  My favorite is the, “I’m not ready to finish this piece, yet.”  I think that means I’m not good enough.

Truth is, I think I might be scared to finish a painting.

art nouveau inspired girl by KatCanPaint

This painting has been on my desk since January.

I’m not sure if it is an Aries thing, an artist thing, or a Kat thing – but I have the worst time focusing on one painting. (Alternatively: Lizard brain, the critic, resistance thing.) “It’s not perfect,”  I tell myself, “this isn’t how I envisioned this painting.” Frustrated, I put it aside and I start a new one.

…get 4/5ths of the way finished (or less) and move on to the next shiny new idea.

I always need to be working on two or more at the same time… to hold my interest and to keep the same feel and connection in a series.  And this idea works, until it doesn’t.

When it doesn’t I am left with an entire desk full of paintings that are about 80% finished. Am I avoiding the hard work? The last 20% of a painting can take longer than the entire first 80% of the same painting.  I doubt it: if anything working like this is harder and creates more work for me.

I’m afraid to let go.  If I share works in progress everyone sees the roughness and mistakes, everyone understands that it is all part of the progress.  It is supposed to look imperfect.  I’m afraid of not being good enough.  I’m more afraid of producing mediocre work. I am aware of the irony, that stagnation and fear create mediocre work.  If I am afraid of finishing a painting I am stuck painting the same piece, over and over, because I can’t let myself let it go.  I am doomed to fail and repeat the same mediocrity because I am afraid of creating mediocrity.  In this loop I obsess over the work / I am unable to finish. I obsess & can’t finish, I obsess because I can’t finish, I can’t finish because I am afraid. The painting stagnates, I fret, and obsess some more; I worry about getting nothing done because I’m afraid of finishing… Lather, rinse, repeat.

Doing the work, for me, means letting go. Accepting failure, and moving on.  Success for me would be not looking back.

I’m finishing these paintings and moving on to the next Shiny! New IDEA!  Fear and mediocrity be damned.

See you Monday, clean beautiful desk & new ideas.

<3 Kat

Talk to me:  do you have a thought loop that trips your work? How do you overcome it?