Tag: featured

Getting Your First Art Show

Flow Arte Exhibition at Archibald et Alistair Montreal

Snow fell for the most part of the day. That soft, fluffy thing. The kind I love. It wasn’t cold. Just a perfect, memorable day. I wasn’t necessarily nervous until about 4:30 when I realized that I was doing my first art show IRL.

Flow Arte exhibition

You may have felt the same at one point: something that seems momentous is happening, maybe a speaking engagement, a feature in a magazine or blog. Maybe your graduation or your wedding or an exhibition, for example.

All those things bring the spotlight towards you and it seems for a brief moment, you’ve achieved something grand.

I may have a strange philosophy which I’m reluctant to share, but I’ll do it anyway because it’s helpful to me and maybe it will be helpful for someone else.

Low expectations always.

This doesn’t mean to shatter dreams or self-deprecate or undervalue things. What I mean is that if you put too much weight on something, it will probably never meet those high expectations. If you have low expectations, the result will always surprise you and even if it doesn’t go well, you won’t feel crushed.

This philosophy has helped me manage levels of disappointment. Of course, when I’ve secretly wanted something very badly and it doesn’t happen, I am indeed crushed and it takes me a while to get over it. Usually it’s something I’ve left to chance and superstition, but when an event is set and I walk into it with curiosity and low expectations I am 97% of the time happily surprised.

There was an art show.

FlowArte Exhibition

Have you ever come across someone who is doing what you want to do and wonder, hey, how did they get there? It happens to me often. And up until last year, I thought it was truly a case of “build it and they will come”. But in reality, every event, from tiny to grand, has so many steps. Not least, saying YES.

I live in a neighbourhood in Montreal that is not well known. In fact when people arrived they were joking that it was the first time they rode the Green line to the very end.

Archibald & Alistair is a lovely café near my house. The first time I went there I got so excited I texted my husband: we have a café!! And a million emojis. We used to live on the Plateau, so I was missing my weekly coffee crawl.

I  went a few times, followed them on Instagram and Facebook and genuinely interacted with them. At one point I went and offered them some greeting cards on consignment and they said yes. Part of their mission is to promote local artists. They exhibit a different artist each month.

After my 100 day project, I focused more and more on watercolour and at the end of 2017 they asked if I’d like to exhibit my work. A first art show!

Getting your first art show, despite your introvert self.

Two weeks before the exhibition I was about to balk. I didn’t know how to frame things, how they would look, if my work was good enough (always the question…) what would people say?

But little by little, overcoming my fear and my procrastination, I purchased frames, cleaned them, did last minute touch-ups to some paintings. Made a list, wrote a bio, made the little cards that go with each painting. And I promoted the show. This was by far the hardest. And yes, we all know that it shouldn’t feel awkward or yucky but it does.

FlowArte Portraits

I showed three portraits. Which I haven’t shared on social media. These portraits are very personal. This one for example, is one of my dearest friends. A woman with a personality unlike any other, so intelligent and cultured, so authentic and yet mysterious. She’s not on social media. She’s out there living her life. Touching other’s lives with her unique way of teaching. Nobody can ever forget her.

Camille Claudel Portrait by FlowArte

And this, a portrait of Camille Claudel.

My very first attempt at a portrait was in 2014, precisely Camille. The horror! I still have it. It’s a reminder to keep practicing, keep experimenting, keep going towards the aesthetic you want to achieve. (The photos aren’t quite clear because it was getting dark)

Camille’s story fascinates me. The movie with Isabelle Adjani is one of my favourites.

I’m also showing a series of mono prints that I made using glass and watercolor. After failing to get prints I liked on the Gelli plate, I looked for ways to do printing with watercolor. Five of the best results are on display. Two sold!

Mono Prints FlowArte

So, low expectations?

It was a lovely, casual, friendly evening. I was able to relax and talk a little about my work. I happily took compliments and enjoyed the moment.

Sometimes small events are the best for dipping your toes, especially if you’re an introvert. Simply take the opportunities that feel right for you.  I usually feel I have to take every opportunity that comes my way and there have been times when the stress of it has not been worth it.

If I’d been in a frenzy treating this as a live or die situation, like opportunities sometimes feel, it might have been a very different experience. If I’d expected sales, amazing contacts, partnerships and all that business stuff, I would not have savoured it. Instead, I enjoyed hearing about upcoming marriages, babies, travel plans. Gather recommendations for our upcoming trip to France, discuss a favourite topic of mine: handbags!

So if you’re an artist, small business owner, freelancer, be on the low-expectation spectrum, take the opportunities that feel good and enjoy the moment. It’s cliché, I know, but it’s also a great place to be.

Five Things Friday

Green Shake Recipe

Little by little you climb the mountain. Or something like that. As much as it feels like the weeks are like a sneeze and you can’t see them go by, making this Five Things Friday recap will definitely give me some perspective. Especially when it feels (so often now) that I work so much and see so little results. It was comforting, as misery really does love company, to listen to a well known illustrator admit to not having had inquiries during the month of January. She is someone who has gained a lot of popularity on Social Networks.

Is January just slow?

Or am I climbing the wrong mountain?

  1. I confirmed the opening date for my exhibition! It is the first time I will show my work in person. I’m really nervous. All the self-doubt monsters are chanting loudly. It is never easy despite knowing that I’ve made progress that I can allow my work to hang on a wall. It was a wonderful surprise to be asked by this small café in my neighbourhood.


  1. I bought a box of Prismacolors a year ago and I hadn’t used it. See previous post about my clean-up. I decided to give them a go. Be a beginner again. I know nothing about colour pencils and it felt like I was wrangling them into submission. I had a hard time blending and shading. Portraits are becoming a thing for me. I love doing Sktchy portraits in the evening. I love I can sketch real people instead of models from magazines which I started to do waaaay back in 2014 I also prefer Sktchy instead of creating from my imagination because I usually end up drawing the same face over and over.

Sktchy portraits3. A weekend at the cabin. What luxury. No internet, just silence, light and painting. Lots of watercoloring, lots of experimenting in joyful flow. My first incursion into recipe illustration.

Green Shake Recipe

  1. I created a set of four printable Valentine’s cards. Though I know Valentine’s is a double sworded holiday as most holidays are. For some, they are painful reminders to what is missing whether it’s Mother’s day, Father’s day and all the rest. I was inspired particularly this year because of my tenth wedding anniversary. I feel it’s a milestone and as I painted these hearts in different colors I thought about the little things that show love day in day out as opposed as the grand gestures that movies, media and society keep showing us. A simple printed colorful card to acknowledge what we truly value is enough. And it applies to friends, family, significant other, co-workers etc. Blue valentine card

  2. Week three of MBSR showed me how truly one single sitting can leave me feeling refreshed. I tried the meditation stool which is definitely my preferred way of sitting in a  “dignified” position as my instructor says. I haven’t practiced as much as I should, I italicize because obviously that is a thought that comes like a Pacman to eat at my experiences.


Printable Valentine’s Watercolor Cards

Printable Watercolor Valentine's Cards

What are those small rituals you share with your partner? What are the things you want to say in a more permanent way than with an emoji? Do you often remember how you met? Do you anticipate what he or she will do or say? Do you imagine them as little kids and feel warm and fuzzy? Do you say thank you to your mother in law for creating this perfect creature?

Are you in the beginning stages? Are you building a home? Are you ten, twenty or thirty years into your life together? What do you share the most? Are there stories about him or her you do not yet know? (I often ask my husband: “Tell me something you haven’t told me…”) Do you melt with their little idiosyncrasies? Do you each buy your own toothpaste because one or the other won’t put the cap back on?

Do you keep quiet when they take a nap hoping to let them sleep as long as they want? And do they get up in the freezing morning to walk your beloved dog? Do they cook for you? Do they bring you a smoothie in the middle of the day? Do they let you choose the Netflix movie on Friday night?

Are you opposites? Are you alike? Can you be silent for a while and be OK? Can you talk about everything?

Maybe your days are full and there is no time to go and look for a pretty card, maybe you want to add a personal touch, you want to say things in your own hand writing.

Here is a Valentine’s day card which you can print on the paper of your choice. It’s easy and convenient to print, cut, fold and personalize.

Printable Valentine's Watercolor cards

Watercolor Valentine's Card

You can customize it by adding a bit of thread, adding inspired and romantic words as collage, giving it a more rustic look using crafts scissors to mimic torn paper like so:

FlowArte Watercolor Valentines Card

You can purchase it here as an instant download.


Psst: My newsletter subscribers will get it free! Join and I will send it out this weekend!

An Artist-Entrepreneur’s Quiet Path

Floral Explorsion Flowarte

Have you heard that Forest-Bathing is a thing? There’s no denying that a walk in a forest or even a park, is beneficial. It can’t NOT be. It’s silent, it’s solitary, it’s peaceful, it’s full of things to discover, things we don’t see every day. Most of these discoveries we keep to ourselves, we wonder how the tree got its bark, how a leaf falls, why do mushrooms grow in a certain patch of land, but we rarely announce it to the world. Maybe we take a few photos, but ideally, we wouldn’t be doing that.

In January I started my small business project with the help of a local organization. People come together and we follow a course to write a business plan and then we follow a sales course. I recently started that one, which is a HUGE step away from my comfort zone. I have to talk to people. I usually only write to people. I am terrible at small talk and at superficial conversation. I favor long deep conversations one on one, preferably over coffee (not a bar), or a walk. So a sales course huh? It’s compulsory if you want to keep your grant. Well, it’s going to be four months in which I will have to get over my introversion and my shyness. But this is a good thing (says the person who recently finished a YA novel titled Optimists Die First).

The noise and the changing landscapes

There is a rabbit hole, a never-ending, endlessly entertaining, bright and shiny path of noise and psychedelia called “being an entrepreneur”. If you were online, or blogging around 2006, you might have fallen through it and still haven’t emerged. Those were the days when the term pro-blogger was born and people started creating info-products. Where shopping carts were easier to install and the notion of “leaving your day job” “doing what you love” brain-washed us into thinking it was easy or that it was the ideal state of being.

I’ve tried on several occasions to create a business relying only on what is available on the internet. It seems so easy, until you start doing for real. When people tell me, you should give me a crash course on selling stuff online, I laugh and say, you have no idea what it takes. Because I didn’t have an idea myself.

I did what everyone else was doing: get a mailing list, be on all social media channels, follow like this and like that, create content per channel, write, work like crazy, listen to podcasts, take great photos etc. Until I finally realized that what “works” for some, doesn’t work for others.

I do it the quiet way and it’s hard.

I have been working steadily behind-the-scenes, I’ve written a 43 page Business Plan, I have hired a graphic design firm to help me. I’ve worked on my designs, on my Etsy shop and my Shopify shop. I’ve invested money, which is something that wanna-be entrepreneurs don’t want to do, especially if they want to build a business online.  I’ve printed prototypes of everything and through that, I’ve pushed myself to try different things in watercolor.

All this trying to silence the comparison-monster that shouts every time I look at Instagram. How can some people publish a book, film thirty or more online classes, launch a home decor line and maintain a shop, on top of having kids? I’m still trying to perfect my Photoshop retouching skills for my watercolors.

The good thing is that since I quietly opened my shops, people have been purchasing leggings and scarves. I have gotten great feedback and my friend Amanda even filmed a couple of videos wearing my Ultra Floral design.

I tell myself I could do more but I also remind myself that if I do things my way, chances are they will reach a finish line. If I try to do things like other people, I will feel disconnected and I will abandon my projects. This should be in the Luisa Handbook.

So I am launching Flowarte like if I were in a Forest. Walking slowly, observing, taking the time. Even if during my sales course they said you should be selling 80% of the time. I say, sure, but not yet. I’ll get there. I’m moving towards that goal a little every day.

Meanwhile I enjoy the summer, which gives me the strange impulse to try painting flowers again.

Take a peek into my shop, fun colors, lovely textures, high-quality fabric printed right here in Montreal!