Painting Fnds a New Home

This painting was just sold  today to a new collector in Ontario.

‘Wish You Were Here”
4 x 6 feet,
acrylic on canvas.

'Wish You Were Here" 48 x 72 inches, © 2015 Shirley Williams SOLD

‘Wish You Were Here” 48 x 72 inches, © 2015 Shirley Williams SOLD



Ronald McDonald House Acquires Original Paintings

Signs of spring are everywhere which is putting a smile on everyone’s faces. The bright yellow of forsythia bushes always shocks me out of the winter doldrums and lightens my spirits.


Spring especially jump-starts my creative juices. At this time of year there’s nothing I love more than to roll up the big garage door in my studio, find a fabulous music playlist and paint all day and evening.

My studio has been a busy beehive the past few months with studio visits and new paintings in the works. I’m thrilled to have some exciting news to share.

This week, Ronald McDonald House  opened a brand new, much anticipated 3700 square foot facility at Metropolitan Hospital. It’s a fully functional, virtual home with seven bedrooms, on the pediatric / neonatal floor, for the families of sick children. Ronald McDonald House Charities provides a valuable service for parents to stay close 24/7 for as long as they need to.

Sarah Beveridge of SB Contemporary Art was the art consultant on this project. They were searching for original artwork that would be both cheerful and calming. Numerous artists from Southwestern Ontario were considered.

To my delight and surprise, they selected me.  Eleven of my original paintings were acquired to be featured in every room.

Ronald McDonald House Charities Permanent Collection

“In the Wind” triptych © Shirley Williams

The triptych above, titled “In the Wind” are on the feature wall of the main family room. Each are matted and framed in white. © Shirley Williams

Ronald McDonald House has a special place in my heart. They were a godsend when our baby grandson spent a month at Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto. I am deeply honored to be see my paintings grace their walls and hopefully brighten someone’s day.

Ronald McDonald House Charities Permanent Collection

“Hidden Messages” Original Series © Shirley Williams Art

Each of the remaining original paintings are in the “Hidden Messages” series, and are featured in each of the bedrooms and hall. Everything was framed with white mats and white frames for a fresh look.  © Shirley Williams

Windsor Regional Hospital and their Metropolitan Hospital Campus celebrated the Grand Opening of Canada’s 15th Ronald McDonald House on May 6th, 2016. An Open House for the following two days gave eager members of the Windsor community the chance to see this spectacular new facility.

I am exceeding proud to have my paintings play such an integral part. The outpouring of gratitude from families who have had occasion to need Ronald McDonald House in other cities was really touching.

Thank you to everyone who was involved in making it happen !!!

Thinking about Climate Change

I’ve  been reading and thinking a lot about climate change this past winter.
Here’s my latest painting expressing those feelings.

‘Rising Tide’
acrylic on canvas,   20″ x 20″  
© Shirley Williams Art

'Rising Tide' 20" x 20" acrylic on canvas © Shirley Williams Art

‘Rising Tide’ 20″ x 20″ acrylic on canvas © Shirley Williams Art

Inspired by Spring

Spring is inspiring me. I’ve been pushing myself to experiment a bit and I like it !

Another one from my new series just completed today.

‘Nature’s Path’
20×20 inches, acrylic on canvas
© 2016 Shirley Williams Art


‘Nature’s Path’ acrylic on canvas 20 x 20 inches © 2016 Shirley Williams Art

Just Finished Paintings

Just finished a pair of new abstract paintings. I’m already beginning to loosen up with my new creative direction.  

With these I imagined myself walking through a neighborhood enjoying the day.

Meandering 1 & 2″   acrylic on canvas   12 x 36 inches each © 2016 Shirley Williams Art


‘Meandering 1’ acrylic on canvas, 12 x 36 inches © Shirley Williams Art


‘Meandering 2’ acrylic on canvas, 12 x 36 inches © Shirley Williams Art

The Evolution of a Painting

Lots of you are asking about the new canvas painting series I’ve been working on.

Well, to my surprise, changing gears in the studio is taking a bit more time than I’d imagined.

It takes time to establish a new rhythm with the technical side of things. There’s always the temptation to revert to my familiar palette colors, tools and techniques. 

But every artist needs to shake things up once in awhile, to stay fresh. We all know you can’t get different results using the same approach again and again. So I’m feeling my way along, one step at a time.

© Shirley Williams Art. The evolution of an abstract painting

© Shirley Williams abstract painting evolution

My three photos above show how a painting looked along the way to completion. It’s fun to compare.
Read below for a peek into my thinking and painting process.

The first thing I do before beginning a painting is answer three questions.

  1. What is my Intention for this painting?
  2. What is my Color Combination?
  3. What is the Composition?
  • In this case my Intention was to paint a lively but quiet abstract conversation between colors.
  • My Color Combination was the three primaries, Dominant Blue, Red & Yellow.
  • My Composition choice was the Grid


© Shirley Williams – Abstract painting one third finished


After the first few days, this 20″ x 20″ canvas was developing but looking flat and very unfinished.

So far I had ….
– Primed and roughly textured the surface
– Done some preliminary blocking and drawing
– Added various layers of collaged paper
– Intuitively painted colors, shapes and values
– Stopped working to study it and decide where to take it next



© Shirley Williams - Unfinished abstract painting two thirds completed

© Shirley Williams – Unfinished abstract painting two thirds completed


After studying the last version, I could see it needed a more comfortable structure for the “conversation” to take place. 

Unlike a computer, areas that don’t work can’t be deleted. They can only be painted over.

With acrylic paint, graphite and oil pastels, I adjusted the darks and lights to make it more cohesive.

Although this is now closer to finished, the painting is still flat. The blocky shapes are too similar. And there’s no sense of engagement.


This is where changes need to be thoughtful without overthinking.

'Quiet Conversation' © Shirley Williams 2016, acrylic on canvas 20" x 20"

‘Quiet Conversation’ © Shirley Williams 2016, acrylic on canvas 20″ x 20″

  • Notice How:
  • Each of the colors , reds, yellows and blues are now talking to each other.
  • The variety in shape, texture and color is more interesting.
  • The the dark and light areas create a sense of open space and direction.

I hope you enjoyed seeing the evolution of this painting.

Until next time, remember…..
If there’s anything in your life you want to change,

It’s impossible to have a different result while repeating what was done before. 

Wishing you a life seen through fresh eyes every day.


Natural Inspiration

My recent painting retreat in the seacoast jungles of Mexico, was truly transformational. Yes, there have been lots of adventurous trips in my past, but nothing quite like this.

Artist Shirley Williams at Haramara, painting workshop in Mexico

“Life is Beautiful in the jungle.”

Working with other artists, sharing ideas and experimenting was so exhilarating. Painting days were long and intense.

Some of us even painted late into the night, wearing headlamps. We looked like weird aliens, but it worked. 



The winding path carved through the mountain-side, offered surprising variety and breathtaking views at every turn.

Maneuvering this path at least five or six times a day, never got boring. Each time, I would notice some new plant, flower, bird or butterfly and the feeling of connectedness to the earth. 


The variety of shapes, colors & textures of the natural surroundings was astounding.

I took hundreds of photos during the week as inspirational reference.


“How exactly did this experience transform my art?”

FIRST   ……  after getting home

I pulled out all my older paintings and studied them with a critical eye. Some still spoke to me, but many others didn’t make the grade. 

Rather than agonize over my old “failures” I simply slapped a coat of gesso over them. Letting go of the old and deciding to begin anew with a fresh perspective is always extremely liberating.


I decided I want to use more collage and mixed media in my paintings. I scoured my sketchbooks for old drawings and sorted through the various specialty papers I have on hand.

Then I began the process of enhancing these papers with drawing and paint to make them more interesting to use.


I prepared brand new canvases in small, medium and large sizes and reorganized all my paint and materials. 

Shirley Williams Art Studio FOURTH 

I dove right into a new series, starting with eight canvases of various sizes.

As you can see above right, the first active layer of collage, paint and imagery was intuitively added to these canvases. 

Of course there will be many more layers to come.

My biggest creative breakthrough has been in my approach. 

Before it was:
“Think first – paint second.”

Now it’s the reverse:  
“Paint first – think second”

Sounds simple. But it makes all the difference in the world.

Until next time, keep your eyes open to the beauty of nature in the world around you.


Incredible Painting Retreat

Before this season slips into the next, I want to express my gratitude for your interest in my art throughout the year. 

A big thanks goes to the galleries & institutions that exhibit and sell my art, and the collectors who purchase it. Your enthusiasm inspires me. Even though we may not see or speak to each other often, you all hold a special place in my heart.



Having just returned from a painting retreat in the coastal jungle of Mexico, north of Sayulita, I’m eager to begin anew after the holidays.



After 10 days with no cell phone, internet or even electricity, my re-entry into the “real world” was a bit of a shock. Everything seemed so loud and busy.





Every moment of the experience was memorable and transformative.



Haramara was built entirely by hand on 12 acres of virgin jungle. Open air casitas are sprinkled on a winding path down the mountain to a spectacular private beach.





The food was unbelievably delicious and filling.  Gourmet vegetarian with fresh fish daily – no wheat, no sugar, no salt, no preservatives.




The combined effect of a clean diet, strenuous hiking, nature’s energy and intense painting had a profound effect on me.



Our workshop leader was renowned California artistNicholas Wilton. His unique approach to accessing intuition combined with creative design principals was incredible. I’ve come back energized and inspired.

We were working on 12 panels at once, 12″ x 12″ each.  I’ll be posting new paintings from the workshop soon, once they’re finished and photographed.

Wishing you all a safe and happy Holiday Season !

Never a Dull Moment in the Studio

Have you ever had one of those times when both happy news and sad arrive at your door in a whole slew of rapid events? It kind of makes your head spin a little.

The past few weeks have been a career roller-coaster for me in just that way. Every day seemed to bring another surprise.  Some good; some bad – but each one transformative in some important way. 

My gallery in Toronto for 7 years

Leonardo Galleries


My first surprise was learning  Leonardo Galleries, my gallery in the prestigious Yorkville area of Toronto, decided to close their doors. Zoya Balija, the owner has represented me in Toronto since 2008 when I won a national painting competition. 

I’d been hoping to have an exhibit with her soon. But high rents and lagging art sales made it just too tough for her to continue as a contemporary art gallery.

Leonardo Galleries was always good to me and 100% professional to work with. Fortunately, Zoya also has a thriving side business as a fine-art appraiser and restorer. She’ll continue to do well and I wish her the very best.

As for me, as one door literally closes, hopefully another will  open.

With most of the galleries who’ve represented me going out of business during the past several years, I definitely sense the passing of an era.

When the writing on the wall became obvious several years ago, I was quite disillusioned. I’d spent 15 years building up my professional resume and carefully nurturing my international relationships. 

From an exhibit in Dallas some time ago

From an exhibit in Dallas some time ago


This photo is from one of my past exhibits in Dallas, Texas. They closed down a year later.






But as an artist colleague of mine pointed out, “Suddenly I have a clean slate”.  For the first time ever in my career, I have no upcoming shows. No pressure, no deadlines and no requirement to color within the line.  After so many years, it’s an odd sensation.

For the first time ever, I can spend time in the studio every day goofing around to see what comes out. I’m excited to be exploring new territory, free of constrictions.  And THAT, my friends, is when the magic happens.

So this bad thing may be a good thing in the long run.

Next came positive news from Oklahoma about a friend and colleague who had a brain aneurism two weeks ago. Pat, my web designer of eight years and I were in the middle of updating my website when it happened. Thankfully, she’s making a steady recovery without any apparent cognitive damage.

Naturally, everything is on hold with my website until she feels up to working again. Thanks for understanding if you notice things don’t look quite right.

The next day, as I was thinking how blessed I feel to have perfect health, the phone rang. Sadly, I heard that my dear friend, a lovely lady and talented artist had died of cancer that morning.

Sue’s creative spirit touched many people during her 71 years. I think of her with great fondness, while I paint. Her memory lives on to inspire me and others.

'Horizon' miniature original

‘Horizon’ miniature original



‘Horizon’     ID # P-0908
original © Shirley Williams
acrylic on paper, mounted on wood
float-framed      9 x 9 inches  $ 125.




Next, out of the blue, another door literally opened. I got a call from a galley in San Francisco. A mutual friend in Windsor had recommended my work to them.

The Director happened to be visiting Windsor and came for a studio visit. We hit it off right away and fortunately, she also really liked my artwork. I’m happy to report that Eunoia Modern is now representing me in the San Francisco area and beyond. I’ll keep you posted on how it develops.

There were several other peaks and valleys  throughout the past few weeks, too numerous to mention. But the one thing that always keeps me balanced is my creative work in the studio. When I’m fully absorbed in the process of painting, all stress disappears.

I’ll sign off by sharing one other GREAT thing that happened last week. 

Read the feature article in Windsor Life Magazine

Windsor Life Magazine


The October issue of Windsor Life Magazine ran this wonderful feature article about my art and career. It’s always a bonus to be given free press and I’m very grateful to the team at Windsor Life.

Thank you to everyone who’ve let me know they enjoyed reading it.


Read it here now  2015-08-Windsor-Life 


Keep your creative passion alive !


My6 Steps to a More Creative Life

A few weeks ago, while visiting my Mom & Dad in Shediac, New Brunswick, I received a disappointing email. My wonderful studio assistant, Christy Litster had been offered a full-time dream job and was regretfully resigning.


I’m actually happy for her. Christy is very talented and has the potential to do great work. In the eight months we’d worked together, I’d learned as much from her as she had from me. I’ll miss her input and wish her much success.

My hope had been to return after my vacation, refreshed and ready to ‘rock ’n roll’. As you read in my last post, Christy and I were working on revamping my color resource website

Progress on the site had not been going well. We’d been tied up of for over a month, with a challenging series of cascading technical hurdles.We were both frustrated and Christy kept saying, “It’s a sign you should be painting.” and we’d laugh. 









This is one of the paintings from the series I’ve just begun.

‘Wish You Were Here’
acrylic on canvas.
48″ x 48″ © 2015





We all get side-tracked sometimes. The trick is to look at a challenge as an opportunity to review the map and find your direction again. 

My approach has always been to ask myself two questions.
“Where am I now?” 
“Where do I want to go?”
I then re-set my course and get going.

Recently, the computer had become my master and was sucking up all my creative juices. The phrase: “Step slowly away from the computer with your hands up.” kept popping into my mind. 

I started reading older entries in my studio journal and instantly came across a list of conclusions I’d written several years ago. Not only did they remind me of my own path, but in retrospect, pretty much apply to anyone who wants to live a more CREATIVE, VITAL LIFE.  

  1.  Observe & listen. Notice what you notice.  
  2.  Clarify what has meaning for you. Decide what you want.   
  3.  Stay authentic and true to your values.
  4.  Keep it simple. Stop trying to do it all. Focus. 
  5.  Spend time in creative flow every day.
  6.  Share and be grateful for the opportunity to create.

This list helped me re-focus with a renewed purpose.  Often, what we see as a huge disappointment serves as an important reminder to stop and look at where we are. Only then can we take the next step in our own personal journey.

If you thought this post was helpful, please share it with others who might like it also.

Wishing you a creative life !