Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Light of the Moon

Moonlight fascinates me.  I'm always trying to take a great photo or paint a lovely moonlight painting, but Moonlight is an elusive thing.  When I was a child, I would sit out on the back porch with my Grandmother while she told me stories about the faeries and we would watch the big old summer moon together.  Now every full moon that arrives finds me out watching, or at least watching from the sun room windows if the weather is way too cold to venture out.  Did you see the spectacular moon these past few days?  So bright and big!

Last Full moon, there was a dance at the other end of the village, and the music flowed up along the riverbank to our garden.   My Sweetie let the dogs out for their night time business, then came in and asked if I would like to go outside and dance, and that is just what we did.  We had a lovely time, just the two of us, while we danced by the light of the moon.  Romance is alive and well at Sheltie Hollow :)

I hope all of you enjoy the rest of the summer, and remember, there will be another full moon in September, so get out your dancing shoes!
Heather Anderson

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


It's been a month of upheaval with no time or no computer to do my blog, but for today at least, I can post one.  Today, I thought I'd talk about JOY.


Joy comes in so many ways.  Doing something fun fills us with joy.  We laugh and smile and generally feel great.   Dogs are very good at expressing Joy - there's just no holding back.                                 Joy also comes with being with your best friends.  You can relax and laugh and be yourself.                                                             

This week, I was watching one of our dogs standing back and looking a his buddy playing fetch with a ball.  We had tried to teach him the game, but we hit a blank wall every time, so rather than keep stressing the little guy, we just let him watch while someone else played.      Something else distracted the ball player and he ran off, just as I threw the ball, and the dog watching, suddenly became lit from within, and with a huge sheltie smile thrown back over his shoulder to me, he took off after the ball, picked it up and did a flawless return.  I wish I could show you the overwhelming joy on his little face!   "I DID IT!!"   Now we are all happy - Darcy is in the game too.    It made me think of the joy we artists feel when we get something right, something that has up to that moment been elusive and difficult.   I also thought about the joy I get in learning.  When we  were all tender young artists, unsure of ourselves but not  wanting anyone to know, I think most of us were reluctant to           share what we knew about techniques and materials, and hesitant about learning from others or (gasp!) asking for help.     Happily, most of us now have gained the confidence in our own unique gift to share things with other artists when they ask  and sometimes even when they don't.  As this blog so often proves. :D    I Hope all of you will take joy in whatever it is you are doing today.  It costs nothing, spreads like wildfire, and makes your world a much more inviting place to be.                                                                               

Cheers,                                                                                         Heather Anderson              www.heatheranderson-animalart.com                        

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Realizing a Dream

Today is Canada Day, and as I was enjoying a peaceful breakfast, looking out at our little haven, I thought again, as I have so many times, how lucky we are, those of us who live in a country where you can make a dream come true.  I'm talking about all the countries where this can happen, not just Canada, although I have to admit that I do love my homeland.

My big life dream arrived when I was about 12 years old, when I was given my first Albert Payson Terhune book about his Collies and Sunnybank.  He had passed on  years before I was born, but his books were still popular and easily available at the bookstore.  I became entranced, and as soon as I finished one book, I'd be off to the most wonderful bookstore (I'll tell you about it one day) and select another one.  Happily, I had a very indulgent Grandmother and Aunts who all wanted to encourage me to read!  About half way through those books, I decided that when I grew up, I wanted to live in the country, work at home, painting and writing, (even then I knew I had to paint), and have lots of dogs, cats and a horse.  And with lots of help from above, it happened.  

Granted, we have half an acre in a tiny village instead of 40 acres on a lake, and after my first couple of dearly loved Collies, we made the life long switch to Shelties, but making a dream into reality calls for a little compromise here and there.
And the odd thing is that over the years, I have come across many people who have had the same dream. Some have tailored the dream to suburban living, some have managed the whole acerage, but I know these people at once - the Clan of Terhune.  They have Collies or Shelties, their homes exude peace, there is a beautiful garden, and when we first meet, there is an instant friendly attraction. Some of them have become wonderful, loved friends.
So lets be sure to celebrate today and again on the 4th of July and give thanks for living in a country where dreams can come true.  And Thank You Bert Terhune, for giving a reachable dream, a wonderful way of life as a pattern for living, to all of us who have met you through your books.  

Heather Anderson         www.heatheranderson-animalart.com

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Just For A Change

I guess everyone knows by now that I love working in watercolour. It's always been my favourite medium and it always will be.  But every so often, I think a change is good.  I used to work in pastel, but the dust really triggered an asthmatic response, so I had to let that go, and the same thing with oils.  I have to admit that I enjoyed both those mediums, but I'm not going to make myself ill for art.  Especially not when there are other medium choices.   For a long time, I would switch to Coloured Pencil for a little break, especially for animal portraits, and I loved using them.  But Coloured Pencil eventually gets very hard on the hands, so regretfully, I packed them away.  I have to say too, that the quality of the pencils I most often used, fell quite badly, and that had a little something to do with my decision.

                                    Cairn Terrier                Coloured Pencil

So now when I want a little break, I choose Acrylics or Graphite.   There is a lot about Acrylic that I don't like.  I find the paint stiff to work with, I hate the smell, minor as it is, and they do dry very fast! But the painting builds up quickly, mistakes are easily fixed, and the fast drying time adds to the speedy completion of a painting.  So I'm hanging in with this one, trying to understand it's secrets, and make my peace with it.

                                      Jack Russell Terrier       Acrylic

Sometimes I love the challenge of Graphite.  Black and white is so elegant.  But it is nearly impossible to recover from a mistake, and all too easy to make one.  Still, I enjoy the focus required, and the way I have to distill colour into Black, White, and Shades of Grey.  Even a small graphite piece can take a very long time.

                                      Border Collie             Graphite

But when all is said and done, I always love coming back to the watercolours, feeling refreshed from my 'busman's holiday'.

                                    Hasten On Home      Watercolour

Heather                   www.heatheranderson-animalart.ca

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


It's nearly Midsummer.  You can feel that Midsummer magic all around you if you stop, look, and listen.  The birds sing their lovely chorus early in the morning and then a quieter version in the evening after their busy day of food gathering and chick watching is over until tomorrow.  The air is soft and sweet with the fragrance of flowers, both garden and wild, along with the unique scent of newly mown hay.  The little sheltie noses here at Sheltie Hollow never stop twitching, trying to take it all in.

Everywhere, wildflowers are springing up, almost as if everything has suddenly answered a Faery trumpet call.  Overnight there are huge drifts of wild phlox, billowing in the breeze, and frostings of daisies are appearing along the fence lines and road sides.  And don't forget to look for the Fire Flies flickering across the darkness of a mid June field or garden.  These little characters always thrill me.  I like to think they are on their way to light a Faery Ball.

This is a beautiful and bountiful time of year - think asparagus, new lettuce, and strawberries.  Take a moment to stand still in a quiet spot, look around you, listen carefully, and take a deep breath.  The rewards are great.  Oh, as to the name Mid Summer, when it is really the first day of  summer?    The ancient Celtic calendars had Spring arriving in February, so by June, it would have been mid summer by their calendar.   Some things are just too much fun to change.                                                           
Heather Anderson                                        www.heatheranderson-animalart@sympatico.ca                                                                            

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Horse, A Horse!

The first thing I can remember asking for as a little girl, was a HORSE . . . .  I want a HORSE for Christmas, my Birthday, for Easter, PLEASE!  Although I don't how the Easter Bunny was supposed to carry a horse in his little basket of eggs.  Hey, I was only three - I had no idea.
I gave my family members grey hair by racing off to try and touch every horse we came across, and kept hearing, "They'll bite you, they'll kick you, they'll roll on you!", but fortunately I was selectively deaf on this subject.  In the end, I was an adult before I got my horse, and what an adventure he was.  We were together for 19 wonderful years, and I'll miss him until we are riding Heaven's trails together.  (Presumably, my Sweetie will be playing heavenly baseball while I'm riding.)

For years, my painting focus was Horses, and I had the MOST fun going to horse shows big and small,to Jumping, Dressage and Evening, to harness tracks, to county fairs where there was a horse draw, to the harness track and  the Polo matches.  I boldy contacted people who had different breeds of horses to ask if I could visit and take photos of their horses, and nearly all of them were generous enough to welcome me.  I had the joy of hanging out with Friesians, Morgans,  Canadians, Quarter Horses, Paints, Percherons, Connemara Ponies, Saddlebreds, Andalusians and Arabians, and I'm sure I'm forgetting some.  Two major thrills from those days were two stallions, an Andalusian and an Arabian, because both of them were gentle and well mannered enough that I could stand with them and pet them.  Oh, Wow.  

I'm painting mainly dogs now, but every so often, I still need to take a trip down memory lane and paint a horse memory.  And every so often, I need to get to a horse show and find a horse who needs a soft nose rub.  These beautiful creatures have been part of  my life, one way or another, all my life, and that won't change.


Heather                        www.heatheranderson-animalart.com

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


It's always a joy to be asked to paint someone's beautiful dog, cat, or horse.  But I am an artist who finds Commissions very stressful.  Maybe it's the perfectionist in me.  Years ago when I was doing a lot of shows that ranged from CKC All Breed Dog Shows, to major horse shows in the area, to art shows, I would almost always leave a show with commissions.   It became something of a tradition at the big dog show I went to each year, for a dog to finish their championship and the owner would come to me for a portrait.  I always had a waiting list in the Fall, and I reveled in it.  Until I didn't.  At some point, the pressure got too much for me and I severely cut back on Commission work.   I still do Commissions, but far fewer than I used to, and I'm enjoying them so much more.  I also decided it was time to leave the shows.  They just weren't fun anymore, and you need the fun aspect to counter the massive amount of work that goes into them.

So how do I do a Commission?  Where do I start?  First I need several good photos, as one picture never tells the whole story. And using several photos enriches the creativity of the piece.  Once I've decided what I'm doing, I do a detailed hand done drawing on newsprint - I make most of my mistakes there, as they are easily erased and re-worked.  Then I  trace my own image using tracing paper that I then cover with graphite and re-trace onto the watercolour paper or canvas.   If any of the lines are too dark, I will use a gum eraser to pick up some of the graphite.    Then I begin painting and slowly develop the colour.  Naturally, by this time, I already have the client's intitial approval.                                                         

It can take weeks sometimes, to get to the point I can call the painting Finished.                                                              
One of the tricky little things about commissions is that it's not enough for the dog to look like the breed, if indeed, you are painting a pure bred.  Each dog within a breed has his/her own looks, and it's imperative to catch that difference.  I'll close by showing you two portraits I did of two sweet Cocker Spaniels, each the same colour, but each one has a unique face.

Heather Anderson                 www.heatheranderson-animalart.com


Wednesday, May 21, 2014


I know, it's usually Art and Home Blog day, but there's so much to do in the garden right now, and I also want to get on with the new Sheltie painting, so I'm taking a 2 week break. I hope you will come back and join the on-going gentle adventures of this blogger the first Wednesday in June.



Wednesday, May 14, 2014


I believe I was born loving animals.  I'm pretty sure that a deep love of these four legged creatures is born in you or it isn't.  People can be neutral about them - " animals are fine if you like them, but not for me thanks ",  or they can enjoy having a pet that remains a creature, something to treat kindly and responsibly but as something that you don't really communicate with other than to train it and make it do what you expect of it. And there's nothing really wrong with that if that is the way you connect with other species.  But there are many people like myself who see animals as fellow travelers on this planet, as creatures with their own way of communicating and doing things, and with thoughts and feelings.  I love learning to understand how they think, and how to communicate with them, using both my language and theirs.  
While I respect and enjoy the wild ones, especially the small ones (birds, squirrels, chipmunks etc) that come to my garden, it's the domestic animals that I feel a deep connection to.  There has always been a deep love of dogs, cats, and horses within me, and from the time I could talk, I begged for a dog of my own, a cat and a horse.  It took a while, but I got all three.  Since I was a teen, there has been a dog -at least one, usually three or more at a time, and as an adult, I added cats, and finally, my longed for horse.  All during these years, I read about them, learned about them, and painted them.

For a long time, I focused on painting horses because I wanted one so desperately, and then there was the giddy celebration when I finally achieved my dream.  Now that my dream is over, I still love horses deeply and still paint them once in a while, but it was time to give the other dearly loved animals the spotlight.             When I started painting animals, outside of Western Art and     Sporting Art, there wasn't much respect for painting the companion animals - the dogs and cats.  But they were what I was driven to paint, and so I did.  

I love painting dogs and cats, especially dogs, with all their various looks, personalities, and histories. There are so many coat colours and textures, so many body shapes - there are even three different skull types.  So much to love looking at and drawing, so much to learn!    And most especially, I love Shelties.  We have had Shelties for over 30 years and hope to always have at least one by our side.                                               
When it comes to animals, the title of this painting says it all:  It's About Love.
Have a lovely day, anyone who is reading this!                       
Heather                                                                www.heatheranderson-animalart.com                                                   

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Busy, busy, busy!

SO many things to do today!  I need to put some time into my new watercolour - I really want to be finished it by the end of the week.  It's a fairly simple one, so I should make my deadline.                 I feel the need to do some house tidying too.  Nothing drastic, just a polish here and there, but the mood is on me and I must clean.
There's a lonely lemon languishing in the fridge that is dreaming about becoming a lemon cake, so I should see if I can get to that too.      
And my delightful student is coming today.  She really brightens any day with her enthusiasm and work ethic.  AND, she's a delightful lady.  All good :)
I should also find a little time to work with our young sheltie.  He's going to school and needs to practice his homework . . . . a lot!!
So I should get going and get busy.  Wishing you a wonderful day!


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April Showers

It's raining again today, but in light of the weather so many people are dealing with, I'll make no complaints.  In Spring, rain means a day I'm not tempted to keep running out to the garden to dig up this young weed or trim back that rosebush.  For one thing, digging up a young weed now can cause angst in a few weeks when I'm wondering where on earth the Bea Balm went, and then the slow realizaion that, at some effort, I dug out that blasted clump of weeds in April.  !!!!!!  Oh, trust me, it has happened. :(                  The other thing is that I'm eager to get on with another painting.  There have been so many time and spirit restrictions during the past year and a half, that I'm near to bursting to get back to a solid painting routine, and to get my website remodeled and my Etsy store looking more full.  I had just got started on setting it up and then had to leave it to float on it's own for months.  Now I'm getting more things ready to post.  I'll let you know when the "shelves" are fully stocked.                                                          One of the things I love most about a rainy spring morning is the intensity of the colours.  Everything looks so fresh and new.  And it's BLUE BELL time!  A flock of tiny Bluebells, blowing in the wind as they nod among the new grass and old leaves always gives me joy.  I hope you come across your Joy today and have a really good day.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Basic Respect

 In the spirit of being respectful to all, I'd like to politely point out that Artists are people too.    Do non artists understand for one single moment how insulting it is to hear "Oh, so you're a lady of leisure.  Must be nice to not have to work."  Do they really think I live in Fantasy Land where a flick of a hand causes paint to leap onto paper while I sit back with a glass of lemonade and file my nails?  I wonder if they have ever done a 4 day outdoor show?  We artists rely on our incomes to pay bills, buy art supplies, and other needed things.  Many artists are supporting themselves and need to buy basic luxuries like food and pay rent/mortgage.  I'm in the fortunate position of just needing to pay my own personal bills and help out with household/pet/garden stuff.  My husband and I have always operated as a team.
I don't mean for this to be a rant, but I see over and over again, that basic disrespect for painters/sculptors pop up, and while we artists don't do the big super important stuff like those who go into medicine, the military, the law/law enforcement, fire fighters or teaching, (and I'm sure I'm missing some professions that should be included) we are generally people who work hard for very little return.  We deserve  respect for being people who are willing to work hard and follow our dreams.  It takes a bit of courage and commitment to step out of the general stream and do that.  We deserve to be paid for our work, and treated like the contributors to society that we are.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Easter is one of my favourite times of year.  Spring is either on the way or we are enjoying the first flowers of the year.  I love getting the house ready, making sure that the Easter wreath is on the door and the house is decorated with my Bunny collection.  It has sort of multiplied over the years, but as you  know, that's what bunnies do best.  I get some fresh flowers for the house, and get busy with our traditional Easter foods.  There will be a ham for Easter Monday, fish for Good Friday, and in our family, Chicken A La King was always served on Easter Sunday, and I continue that tradition.  Holy Thursday needs home made Hot Cross Buns, lovely spicy little tea biscuits with a sweet icing cross that I only make once a year.  I like to go out early on Easter Morning (around here, that's weather permitting) and walk around the garden saying a quiet Thank You for our blessings.
So, lots to do in the next few days, and I'd better get to it.  I'd like to wish all of you a HAPPY EASTER, and if you are celebrating Passover, I wish you peace and happiness.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Have you ever had the feeling that you are at a new gate - a new beginning?  That's what I'm feeling now, and as exciting as it is, it is also a bit scary.  Change is difficult, even though in the end, it is often for the better - much better.  The long winter we've had is at an end, and the longer winter of the spirit that I've been living through these past few years seems to be at an end as well.  And about time!  But new territory is . . .  well, new, and I will do my best to embrace it.  So many wonderful people and things from the past are still with me, and I cherish them.  And some wonderful new people and new things to enjoy have arrived in my life  this past year.   I guess that's the trick when we are about to walk through a new gate - the being willing to enjoy the gifts that are waiting for us, even though they are new to us.  
We are planning some changes here to the website, which will soon officially be SHELTIE HOLLOW ART.  I've been heading there for a long time, and now is the time to make happen.  I'll let you know when we have that up and running, and meanwhile, the present website remains active.  I have a new idea or two for my Etsy Shop "The Dog Art Gallery" as well.  Lots of changes happening.  It's the right time of year for new beginnings.  I hope all your new beginnings will be happy ones.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Almost There

I love the line from  Shelley's Ode To The West Wind, . . ."If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?"   This year, the answer would have to be "Yes!"  We have had the longest, harshest winter in many years, but I think (Shhhhh!) that it's finally on it's way.

We aren't quite at this point in my garden, but if things keep going the way they are, we should be seeing snowdrops  sometime next week.  I love the early spring bulbs, both for their own sakes and because they inspire me to think and paint SPRING!  I get the same feeling seeing the new clean little calves in the fields and  of course the wobbly foals.  I love when they decide they are quite grown up, thank you, and take off across the grass like little wind up toys.  They never go far before Mum calls them back and they tumble down at her feet for a nap.  There are SO many wonderful things to see and experience in Spring, and I wouldn't want to miss a single one of them.  Hope where ever you are, you can get out and be part of some spring magic yourself :) 

Cheers,                                                                                                 Heather                                                                                             

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Comfortable with Me.

There is a wonderful saying in French that translates loosely as "Comfortable in my own skin".   I think that's an important thing for an artist to feel.  After years of wondering how I should look, how my art should look, I finally did get comfortable.  Maybe it started with my horse, because when I was with him, I was no fashion plate, with wind tossed hair and faded jeans pockets stuffed to overflowing with apples for treats and Kleenex to wipe his often runny eyes. And I was as happy as could be!
The painting comfort was a little slower to come together.  For so many years I felt I needed the validation of art shows and competitions.  I was part of a great many art shows and never really enjoyed them, and was accepted into  a good number of competitions, and even won some ribbons,  but there was never the expected rush of "WOW!  I DID IT!!"  Instead, it was always a case of, "Well OK, I'd better get the painting ready to ship", or "that's nice, a ribbon".  So why was I going to the effort and expense to enter these things?  

Maybe it was simply time that brought me to the conclusion that my work is very good, (I don't need to be the best animal artist in the world, but I know I'm good) and that sense of confidence let me walk away from the shows and competitions.  Don't get me wrong - I'm not knocking them.  If these things are something you love to do, that's wonderful and Good Luck.  But not being a super competitive person, those venues are just not for me.  I still get invited to enter several shows/competitions a year, and I never do. 
 I prefer to paint quietly, show my paintings on my website and social networking, and once in a while, put some work in a local gallery or two.  I'm also starting off in my own Etsy Gallery - The Dog Art Gallery, and I love posting new work for sale there.  Selling my work gives me a big high too, and I love to hear nice comments about it.  It's these quiet things and doing the best work I can do, that make me happy with my paintings.   I think I have achieved comfort in my own skin.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Winds of Change

First, I have to tell you that I borrowed this title from a book one of my High School history teachers wrote.  I've always loved it, and the book was well done too.  Change is constant - just look at the clouds for a minute or so and you see change right before your eyes.

Life seems to be all about change . . . . how we change and grow as people, the situations we find ourselves in, even the people we know. 
 When a loved one is lost, well, it's the most horrible of changes, and it tears at our hearts, but it is a sadly inevitable fact in our lives, and perhaps in time it leads us to be gentler with those we still have around us to love, and helps us appreciate that every day with loved ones is a treasure.
Sometimes we lose someone because they don't want us in their circle of friends anymore, and then despite the hurt, we have to say "Thank you God, you know best", then cowgirl up and get on with all the wonderful things in life.  And there are SO many wonderful things! Change can be a wonderful thing if we let it.

Over the years I've seen how my art work has changed.  In the beginning,  I was always in a hurry. 'Get it done, get on with the next thing!!'  Now I take my time, savouring every brush of paint I put on the paper.  I used to experiment with different mediums, different realistic styles, but now I've settled confidently into  watercolours and into graphite as my favourite mediums and into a style that people tell me is recognizable as a Heather Anderson painting.  There will always be a brief foray into acrylic and ink, but they are not my mediums and I know it.
Maybe my biggest change has been my subject.  For years, I painted  almost exclusively horses because I simply, flat out, loved everything about them.  Oh,  I painted lots of  dog commissions and  set up at lots of dog shows with paintings of many breeds, but my imagination was filled with horses.

 A funny thing happened as the years went by . . .  more and more, I wanted to paint dogs, the loyal companions that sat beside me every day and snoozed beside our bed at night, sharing my joys and quietly offering the support of a damp tongue and a warm furry shoulder in my sorrows. I've always loved them, I've had a dog since I was a teen, and their warm, loving presence finally overtook my desire to paint horses.  Dogs are now my main subject with a little room now and then for some cats and horses, and I'm happier with my painting than I've ever been. 

Change can be difficult, painful at times, and it can catch you by surprise and be a huge challenge.  But it can also lead you to a wonderful place where things are better than you ever thought they could be.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Black and White and a Little More

These past couple of weeks, I've been posting images of Irish dog breeds on my Face Book page, and that meant going back to some note card designs I did a few years ago.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Way back in high school, I went through a phase when I only wanted to work in black and white. I was hugely lucky to have had an enlightened and patient art teacher who let me go my dark way unimpeded.  All he said was that one day I'd discover colour and that I'd never look back.  Then one day, mid year, he sat down beside me and casually began to paint gorgeous colourful Japanese inspired flowers in watercolour.  Naturally, I became hooked on these pretty, elegant images and wanted to do some too.  He was right, I fell in love with colour and have never looked back.  Thank you dear Mr. Lap.
Fast forward to art school and I found myself thrown back into black and white - ink work.  I discovered the fun of it all over again.

Years later, when I was doing my note card collection, I did it in ink because I wanted to print them at home and we didn't have a colour printer.  The cards were popular and I sold a LOT of notecards

                                                         Black Russian Terrier

But before long,  I was craving colour again, and as colour printing had now become something I could do at home, I looked for a way that I could  do the cards in colour without starting all over again.  I had over a hundred images to consider!  So I began to use a watercolour wash over the ink.  I loved the look and so did my customers.

                                Welsh Terrier

I've been asked about using watercolour over ink . . .  does it 'bleed', or run when the water hits it?  The answer is not if you use the correct ink.  I used to use an expensive Rapidograph pen that you need to fill with a good waterproof ink.  But these pens are high maintenance and need to be emptied and the nib cleaned after every use.  At that point, I wasn't into super maintenance of my art tools, and eventually I let ink dry in it, so it was a case of buying a  a new pen.  As my  ink work was minimal now, I switched to a Pigma Micron pen and as it has waterproof ink, it worked out quite well.  With this medium, you  have to remember to let the ink dry thoroughly and to keep the watercolour to a light veil of colour,  to let the ink show through.  It has a light, bright look all it's own that I still enjoy.  Many of these cards are still in my active file, so they have weathered the years well.  If you decide to give this medium a try, I'm sure you'll have fun with it.