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Monday, November 4, 2013

Baby You Have STYLE! Rockin' Day of the Dead and Mendhi inspired cross-cultural cool

Mexican Folk Art Meets Traditional Indian Henna in these new designs.

I love the intricate patterns in Mendhi (Henna body art) ..

But I love the colours of Mexican Folk Art:

So I combined the two inspirations and have come up with something a little bit 70s, a little bit Latin, and a little bit South Asian:

This last one takes one last step into the avant-garde with a tie-dyed colour scheme. :)  To have a better look at any of these, please CLICK HERE.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Making Wrapped Canvas prints! Day of the Dead ready to hang & in time for Christmas!

I have had more and more requests for canvas versions of my prints so this week I experimented.  Could I manage this at home with the equipment that I have?  The answer turns out to be yes!  They look fantastic, and this way they can be displayed framed or not, giving Day of the Dead fans greater flexibility in terms of display.

I'm not going to reveal my secret, however I'm happy to say that these canvas prints of my Day of the Dead and Gothic paintings are waterproof unlike some of the other canvas reproductions I've encountered which run right off the frame if something splashes them.  

As a finishing touch I have hand painted the sides of each to match (mostly this means a solid colour and usually black is the best option).  The staples are tucked away in the back and I sign each one.  The largest size I can offer at this time is 11 x 14, but I can tell you that they look really impressive and I was thrilled to be able to pull this off!

As always, you can buy most of what I have to offer on one of my Etsy shops:
Or of course, on my web site:  Sherri Nelson Artworks

Ciao, bellas!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Custom Portraits - You, only thinner. Much, much thinner!

Have you ever thought about having a painting done just for you?  Or something for that friend who has everything?  I have very rarely accepted commissions over the past few years - I used to find that there was a great deal of pressure to read the mind of the client.  I would ask them to try and describe exactly what they wanted and get frustrated when they'd give me artistic license.  "The gall!" I would think to myself, "They want ME to come up with the WHOLE concept???!!!" Well, duh.. yes.  But I didn't get it.  I got analysis paralysis every time and as a result my automatic answer to the question,
"Do you do commissions?" 
was always a firm and final "No."

Then, out of nowhere, something happened.  A persuasive and determined Day of the Dead fan convinced me that what he was looking for was what I was already doing.  Our conversation can be summed up thusly:
Me:       "It's going to be cartoony, you know that, right?"Client:   "Yes! That's what I want."Me:       "It is going to have weird backgrounds, perhaps a lot of patterns, and the figures will be .. well.. skeletal and pale and they won't have eyelids."  Client:   "Perfect!"
Hmmm.  Okay then! <lightbulb goes off>  OH!  Okay then!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don't know why I hadn't grasped that before - I'm sure people had tried to get the message through in the past but I suppose I was too caught up in fear to really hear them.  That one client, though, managed to break down the barrier for me and I realized that my unique vision and style were precisely why they were asking me to do the work in the first place!

It was an astounding moment for me as an artist and on a personal level, too.

I had thought people were looking for this:

But they weren't.  They were looking for this:

Once I accepted that potential clients were not asking me to make a photo-realistic image the act of creating a unique Dia de los Muertos portrait for them seemed a lot more doable - and much more fun!

I'm offering custom portraits through Etsy right now, if you are starting your Christmas shopping and are stuck for a unique idea, or if there's a wedding coming up and you know the couple will get a kick out of seeing themselves as skeletons in love. :)

Click here to go to the listing and read about the process and pricing:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Saying Goodbye to My Beloved Dog. It's a very very sad day

Ronny (2000-2013) 

This black lab mutt you see in the pictures above was, I'm not ashamed to say, one of my best friends.  He lived a long and happy life for which I am thankful.  His passing was almost ideal as far as passings can be, however I don't want to think about the end right now.  I would rather take one last walk with him, even if it's just down memory lane.

I remember the chaos that an 8 week old pup brought to our home and thinking more than once that maybe we'd bitten off more than we could chew (but not more than he could!)

After I adjusted to having his hair all over the place, making sure to pick up anything that I didn't want him to swallow whole, to having him stand exactly where I needed to be at every turn and to all the other little inconveniences I realized (thankfully not too late) how much this wild beast meant to me and to my family.  The newness and adjustments of learning to live with this pup as a member of our family seems both long ago and yet it also feels like only yesterday.

On about October 7th of this year - seemingly out of the blue -  his organs began to fail him.  He had not been eating for a couple of days, and the look in his eyes seemed perplexed and frightened.  I will never forget his face as it seemed to say "I love you guys, but I must go now."

We took him to the vet and tests were done but we wouldn't know the results until the next day.  We brought him home for the night and my husband slept beside him. We were to return to the clinic early, and I almost dreaded going.  But our Ronny was clearly not well - even though he gave me a hearty wag when he saw me in the morning he still would not take food and did not even try to get up to go outside with me.

The vet confirmed our worst fears.  Not only his liver and pancreas, but also his kidneys were all but shut down.  I tried my hardest not to let my pup feel the worry and sadness that filled my heart.  We listened as the vet explained that he was too sick to carry on and that he would surely be in great pain very soon if he wasn't already.  As soon as we knew for sure that there was no treatment for him and that his pain would increase we made the incredibly difficult decision to have his life humanely and peacefully ended at his lifelong veterinarian's office.  He lay on his favorite pillow for the end, and we were there with him.

Ronald Weasley Nelson Wills.  :)  It's a long name to be sure, but we mostly just called him "Buddy" anyway.  And he was - he was our buddy.  Ron was the epitome of kind.  He was always trying to make everyone happy.  He loved Tim-Bits (a donut sorta thing) and of course, meat of any kind.  :)  Ron also loved to sniff as we tried to walk him, finding messages in the grass and at the bases of trees and lampposts everywhere he went.  He was a squirrel hunter (or should I say chaser but not catcher?)  He used to like to go into the lake, although he really wasn't a fan of swimming.  The heat of the sun was his favorite sensory experience.  Luckily, because we work from home, Ron got to lie in the sun to his heart's content, and was rarely alone.  When he was happy (which was almost all the time) he would wag so hard that you thought the house would come down around him.

Something we all talked about often over the years was the fact that Ron had been returned to the pound by his previous owner, who had adopted him but lost patience after two weeks of attempted housebreaking.  So Ron came to us, chosen out of a pack of possibilities, by then 7 year  old Maddie.  I was hesitant at first - this pup didn't look the perkiest of the bunch -  but am so glad that she chose with her heart and that I didn't argue.  She could not possibly have connected with a more loving creature and as soon as Ron was on the way home with us I knew that this little guy was going to fit right in to our family.  And you know what?  He learned to take his business outside almost right away.  I don't happen to remember even one accident, although my sense tells me there must have been, in those early days.

Over the years Ron taught me patience and unconditional love.  He taught me to try and push away sadness and not to wallow in misfortune.  He taught me about the joy of exploring your neighbourhood, and talking to strangers, and how wonderful it really is to just laze about on a sunny day.  Most of all Ron taught me to live while you're alive and I'm so glad that we remembered that and did that with him.

There is so much more I could write about his personality, the memories we all made together and the amazing gift it was to have had him bless our lives for more than a decade.

For now, though, I will close with a simple Goodbye.  Goodbye my wonderful friend, my constant companion, my clown, my cuddle bear, my Ronny.  Goodbye, Buddy.  You were deeply loved, and I know you deeply loved in return.  See you on the other side.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Vintage Tea Cups - Orange Pekoe and Talavera Pottery

I enjoy the simplicity of these teacups.  Painting them is somewhat therapeutic, really.  I can make the delicate, layered and distressed backgrounds, sketch in the simple shape and then just let my mood do the painting.  These photos are coming out blurry for some reason - maybe the compression?  grrr

Talavera Pottery (the second cup) is one of my favorite things to look at in the whole world.  Such freedom in the authentic stuff.  I notice that mine is holding on to a little of the uptight North American in me.  Darn.

Orange Pekoe might not be the most exotic of flavours, but it's my favorite.  I don't know why but I can't seem to convince myself to drink those floral, spicy smelling blends.  They are lovely and fragrant, but so is soap, you know?  Maybe one day.  I do enjoy a cup of Chai, so that painting lurks in my future.

If you'd like to purchase prints do visit my other Etsy shop here: 

For the original pieces, please come to my web site or contact me directly through the comments.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Bones Nelson is honoured to have a place at Get Funky Boutique!

Get Funky is a little store tucked just north of Princess Street at 39 Montreal St Kingston, Ontario.  Owned and curated by Aara Macauley it is the kind of place that makes any creative type swoon.  High ceilings, bright colours, fabulous light and awesome decor -- add in the merchandise and there's eye candy everywhere you look!  

I was delighted to meet the owner herself a couple of weeks ago and I must say that I found her to be as charming as the Boutique she has created.  You can read more about Aara and her business journey right here.

Lucky for me she found something to like in my work and I've got my first batch of consignment merchandise in the store as of today.  I brought down a sampling of baby, toddler and kids wear featuring my original designs.  They are old school in more ways than one:  I have tried to keep a rockabilly vibe to most of the pieces, focusing on tattoo art and day of the dead imagery.  Not only are the images a throwback, but I`ve used a good old fashioned Hix heat press to apply the decals!  Ahhh, nostalgia!

For a look at what's in the store, check out Get Funky on facebook by clicking HERE.

Look for my DOTD (Day of the Dead) ornaments and Pop Art prints to be available there shortly, too!  To get an eyeful of what's coming, please check out my website by clicking:  Sherri Nelson Art and Wares

Friday, October 4, 2013

I did it! Sugar Skull Onesies!

I worked my tail off and got them done!  Here they are:

Ta-daaaaaaaaaaa!  Available on Etsy (click here) or contact me on Facebook (click here) 

Rocker Kids!! Tattoo Baby & Kids clothes designed by me!

Printed clothing available online at Etsy or Zibbet, or contact me through my Facebook Page Bones Nelson Art
It's very exciting!  I'm going to have the chance to have some of my very own graphic tee shirts and baby bodysuits in a bricks and mortar store downtown!  And not just ANY store, but the hippest store in the city: Get Funky Boutique on Montreal near Princess!

Oh yes...

and Hot Rods, and old school tattoo designs, and if I get to work right now instead of blabbering to you guys there will also be sugar skulls!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Today Etsy Rewrote the Dictionary ... Their New Definition of Handmade

NOTE:  Seriously, if my Etsy shop BonesNelson is closed when you look for it here it is because the Etsy gestapo got me.  They do that.  Seriously.  No warning, they just decide that you shouldn't be allowed free speech and they kill your livelihood and then never, ever respond to your inquiries ever again.  Stories abound on the web about it.  

MY MY MY - So That's what Handmade means to you, huh?

In case you missed it, Etsy had a Webcast today.  It was one of their so called Town Halls and at that Town Hall it was announced that they would no longer be sticking with either the dictionary's definition of "handmade" nor even the general public's understanding of it.

I watched the webcast (as much as I could stand of it) and here's a synopsis:
Blah blah blah horrible music unimaginative PowerPoint display lame joke cutesy photo walk down hipster memory lane audience grooming "there will be phone support.... for SERIOUS problems only (so don't get too excited) YADDA yadda "we are all about helping businesses grow" (and) transparency more grooming "How awful is it to go to the Post Office, right??" and then BAM...HANDMADE is redefined to mean having an idea and paying people in factories offshore to make the stuff and even ship it directly to the buyers!
A mini poop storm followed from the online community, which Etsy was monitoring.  So the panel went into damage control mode.  The talking points were as follows:
"OK, What I'm hearing is that you are afraid of competition. "
Quite honestly, there's no competition to fear - we as independent artists cannot compete at all when our listings are hidden in between thousands of product listings from factories.  We'll never get seen.  Ever tried to search for something on Etsy?  You can't narrow down your search, all you can do is go page by page hoping that something catches your eye.  Etsy has a secret formula for selecting which items show up in their Search Results (admitted today by their Chief Technical Officer Kellan somethingorother.)  It's secret, so there's nothing anyone without all day to spend on it can do to figure the method out of the madness.  (especially if you're busy CREATING and not just phoning an order into the factory)

So be warned.  if you want hand made or if you think you're going to be supporting a sole proprietor who works his or her buns off creating and trying like heck to live on the small deneiro that artists have contented themselves with, think again.  There's a good chance that what you're so tempted to purchase is listed by a big faker who is fronting for a factory in Guanzu province paying people pennies.  In fact, I'll tell you what Etsy is clearly aspiring to:  They seem to want to take AliExpress's market share.  Too much money going offshore to that operation for Etsy's liking.


Oh, and one more thing - I'm (this is somewhat shameful for me) already "indefinitely" muted from the forums.  I spoke too harshly when they refused to take seriously the fact that sellers were not being notified of sales that were being made.  !!!!  (I still think that's a REALLY serious bug in the system!)  My shop is still active but in the last week views and sales have dropped dramatically.  Not just for me, either.  Read here:  I started you out on page 152, but you can navigate using the page numbers at the bottom when you get there.  And that is by far NOT the only thread on the topic, just the biggest  So..
Anyway my point is that much to my chagrin and constant worry I might not be there too long.  If my shop out and out disappears you'll know that it was Etsy that removed it, not me.  And you will know also that it will be because I have once again spoken harshly of their practices.  

On the bright side, though:  Link to my very very new site here:  BonesNelson

Sunday, September 29, 2013

September 2013.. Rockabilly Babies and Day of the Dead Catrinas

This was a tough month, but thankfully it is coming to a close.

I've been working harder than ever, trying to branch into designs for clothing.  I see a lot of the same stuff out there for little ones - it's difficult in today's day and age in a mid sized city to get away from the three or four designs that "the Big Box Stores" have decided they want to present to us.  Do you all notice that, too?  Here are some of what I've come up with:

Rockabilly Baby Undergarments / Creepers / Bodysuits
Available on Etsy OR by contacting me at my web site:

The homogeneity of choice is making me crazy.  Sweaters without sleeves or cardigans without belts.  Low cut jeans.  Chevron Stripes.  Plain white onesies for babies.  Daddy's little girl.  bah.  same same same same.  I realize that fashions and trends have always been with us, but not too long ago there were little shops where one who didn't like the momentary trend could go to find relief (and say, a bathing suit out of season or a cuddly sweater in July.)  The only places like that any more are second hand shops and even their selection is becoming a reflection of the Big Box direction.  (a little rhyme for you there wink wink)

Anyway hopefully these Rockabilly Baby and Rocker Kid tattoo and Hot Rod inspired selection will at the very least remind everyone that the world used to be a more interesting place.  :)  

As always I'm painting, too.  This week I wanted COLOUR and GIRLY and PRETTY so I pulled out a sketch I had worked on a couple of weeks back and sat the main Catrina in a surreal background of floating hearts and roses.  It's a Day of the Dead piece and is on an 8" x 8" x 2" wood "canvas."

You can buy the original on my website.

Ciao for now

Saturday, September 21, 2013

So it's been a long time.. but I'm back!  I've been busy and right now all I have time for is to post some pictures.  Forgive me the watermarks, but it must be done.  Anyway, I hope you'll enjoy the photos and maybe click on one of the links in the sidebar to view my web site or my Etsy shop!

The two images above are of sets I've put together:  Mini Prints of my best loved 
"Kitchen Catrinas" series.

Betty Lou's Pies!  The original is available on my web site and the prints are for sale on Etsy.

We've got "Boarder" at the top of this bunch, followed by "Bola Ocho," "Welcome to the Carnival" and "Forever."

Friday, March 29, 2013


I've got a new project underway and it involves creating a portrait of a Canadian that I know.  I needed to keep it a little weird since trying to compete directly with those who have mastered photo-realism would be foolish for me.  Not to mention that an artist's gotta be who an artist *is* and at this stage of my development I feel I know who I am (right now, at least!)

I met with my subject (it was easy to do, since we live in the same house!) and he sat for me - all dressed up in Day of the Dead make up. I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to stylize the actual painting, but photos are my reference tool and I wanted to share a sampling.  :)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Painting in progress - Day One

I have a thing for flowers.  If you go to my web site you'll see that I paint them quite often.  I thought it'd be fin and informative for me to post progress photos that show how I go about getting the basic outlines onto the canvas, and show the different stages that a painting goes through.

I'm working on a 16x20 canvas and using oil paints.  The subject of this piece is a deadly nightshade in the Datura family - I believe it's known as Angel's Trumpet.  This wasn't my original plan, I was going to paint the frosty white bloom of the Jimson weed.  I had seen them before and I know they open as the sun sets, that certain twilight light makes for some lovely colours on the petals.  In my search for images I came across the swooning elegance of Angel's Trumpet and my selection was made.

below are the pics of my process and progress.  Enjoy:

I print out the image "tiled" onto several pieces of paper.
I tape them together and rub dark conte crayon over the back side.
You can see the light markings on the canvas where the conte
has rubbed off where I've traced over the design
And here I have begun to block the paint in

Sunday, March 24, 2013

My Folk Art Teacups - Mint and Lemon

textured and 'antiqued' if I can be so bold as to claim the ability to carry art through time
These are dainty and delicate, no?  I will be painting more soon, since the whole process is so girly and relaxing.  Perhaps for the one tomorrow I will display the progress - sort of a fast and dirty 'how to.'  Be warned, there is medium involved.  Matte Medium.  I don't really know how they get away with naming it Matte Medium, since every single thing artists smear or speckle or throw onto a canvas is a MEDIUM.. right?  Anyway Matte Medium is just this thick clear goo that I use for texture (in this case.)

While we're on this topic - does anyone know what the equivalent thickening paste would be for oil paints?  I don't live in a metropolis full of well stocked artist supply stores, so when I had a look through their supplies I didn't see anything that might work.  Tips on this would be appreciated in the comment section.

Oh yeah - I finished the box.  I don't believe I gave you a photo, though, did I?  Here's one:
I'm hoping to trade this piece for 2 prints from artist Kalkidan Assefa.  Fingers crossed!!
In case he doesn't bite, here's where you can buy the box, pictured above:  Nouveau Trinket Box, Etsy
I'm not usually up this late, but I spent the whole day cleaning (where is Spring!!??  Spring cleaning was even less enjoyable than normal without being able to sit outside in short sleeves in between rounds of Spic'n'Spanning!!!!!) and cleaning made me tired so I napped at a silly hour.   I may start a painting now.  We'll see!

Oh oh oh!  One more thing:  I have a secret!  there's a project in the works that stands to be quite exciting, but I do not have a final word on it yet.  Will possibly find out for sure tomorrow.  If I get good news, I'll blog it here.  If not, well, I shall never speak of it again.  *wink*
g'night peeps.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Artist / Educator

I've been busy!  I wish I could say I had a dozen new creations to share, but alas, my business was not in making art - it was in learning how to teach it!  Two weeks in a row I spent from Friday afternoon until Sunday evening at a course put on by the Royal Conservatory of Music and sponsored by the Ontario Arts Council.

The Course, called Artist/Educator Foundations, was held at the Pump House Steam Museum (I know, right?  Steam has a museum??)

Pump House Steam Museum (west side)

Pump House Steam Museum 
The course was amazing, led by co-instructors Ciara Adams and Andrea Piller (Andrea, if you're reading this, I'll gladly put in a better link if you tell me where to find one! :) ) and attended by 22 professional artists from in and around Kingston, Ontario.

I only have a couple of pictures besides the ones of the buildings, since once we got inside it was GO GO GO all the time, but have a look at what I did manage to snap in my twenty seconds of spare time:
One of the projects we worked on exploring materials and lines

The space was cramped, there was nowhere to put coats or lunches, you could barely move between chairs and you were lucky to get a seat at a table.  There was no coffee or food within 3 blocks, the bathrooms were directly off the main room and there wasn't even a water-fountain.  BUT.. the people were AMAZING and it was such a wonderful time - I learned a lot about lesson planning, the dynamics of a classroom, and so much more on a personal and professional level.

A great experience - if you can go, you should!  check out the Royal Conservatory of Music's website, or look through the Ontario Arts Council's opportunities.  You never know where your next adventure lies!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Project Saturday

From Plain to Just Plain Gorgeous!

I'm really into these wood jewelry boxes at the moment.

I have a L-O-V-E of antique/vintage tins like these:

(aren't they lovely!?)  So when I ran across these plain wood boxes I bought the last 3 they had and have been painting them.  (Other post here:  Painting Wood Boxes 1)

So I thought I'd show you all a little progress on the next one, and give a brief step by step.

Start with the plain wood box:

What I do to get the distressed look is to pick two colours that have a nice contrast.  In this case, I chose black and lavender.  Take one colour and paint all the edges and corners and allow to dry.  Then go over the whole box (but only LIGHTLY on the edges and corners) and allow that to dry.  Next, grab your medium grit sandpaper and sand it down, paying attention not to remove ALL the paint from large areas.

Now, I designed my own motif for the decorations, but you can use a stencil if you want.  Center and trace your design and choose the colours you'd like to compliment the background.  I've gone with black, slate and cream and plan to also use gold and *maybe* a hint of brick red later (I'm not done yet!)

Stay tuned, I'll go over sanding and varnishing next, and then on to lining the box and adding feet, too!

Be sure to go and have a look at my website where I display my fine art & day of the dead pieces.  Buy prints and originals as well as stationary there, too! Here:  Sherri Nelson Artworks