Monday, 16 December 2013

Sergei, mostly composed

I've been reconnecting with classical music throughout this year. I'll quickly admit that I had far more knowledge of it when I was seven, mostly thanks to one of my elementary school teachers. 

These days, it's more about feeling it in my bones when I paint. Matching up the mood of a sweet, romantic violin when I need softness and embracing the drama of an angry piano when I want the opposite. Today I finally finished painting Sergei, who has given me so much of the latter. 

Before you go there - no, I was not trying to capture him thinking, for that would be impossible. Don't you imagine? To me, it's more about expressing gratitude.

Prelude op. 23 no. 5


Thursday, 12 December 2013

she had more work done

I thought she was done a week ago, but she wasn't. It became obvious as I was about to varnish her.

 She needed more depth in low values, especially on her underbelly. Also, I had too much warmth next to her wing before, so I blued it down. I punched up the high value on her wing and added some titanium on her hind foot when I saw that part would have had sun on it. Finally, I connected a leaf that had been was floating, glazed Payne's grey throughout the little window and adorned it with jewelry. 

Now she's complete. She'll be flying to Banff next week. Good bye sweetie, you were hard to let go of. May you find someone that will cherish you.

Nikol Haskova Studio

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

let the battle begin

Here's a sneak peek into one of my projects:

Confrontations, conversations, territory defence, bodyguards, watchers, wives, wise old men & some pissed off ones too. All part of crow's lives. 

I have no experience painting gulls - I'll get it when my brushes touch the canvas. I don't need luck because, at the risk of sounding arrogant, I have confidence gained from the works I've done in the last three years.  But, if you'd like to send some good karma my way, I'll put it on the big pile of love I've been receiving in my studio. There's a piece of it in every painting. Even when I paint an angry bird, I'm observing it and guessing the story as opposed to just painting a crow gone mad. 

Some of you that enjoy my grumpy corvids tell me that they crack you up. Well, laughing your butt off is an awesome reaction, so thank you so much for letting me know. I have much gratitude for all the good stuff I hear and often use it as fuel for the piece on the easel. 

Nikol Haskova Studio

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

as everyone rushed by

He ran by. So did she. Then a whole group sped by. 
No one saw her standing there. She was fine with that though. She just watched. 
Tilting her head a little, the sweet princess just wondered: "Why are you rushing so hard? Your feet will hurt and so will your heart."


Nikol Haskova Studio



slip sliding


goofing around


I have immensely enjoyed painting crows. Yet I get it, some of you are starting to wonder if that's all I have. Well, let me tell you. In a word, nope. 

Not done. You see, for a while I painted farm houses and churches. People recognized me for that subject matter. Then uprooted trees moved me to an emotional need so desperate that I wanted to (and did) paint trees. I became known as 'the tree artist'. When I started meeting crows and trying to capture pieces of their lives on canvas, I became the crow lady. 

Well, I still am. Of course I also love to plunge into a good abstract, birds other than crows and I plan a big body of figurative work for the upcoming year (pun intended). But I still have more to learn about crows. I know some of the good stuff, but there's a huge treasure still waiting to be found. So, yep, you're gonna see more crows.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

setting intention

It wouldn't be right to write anything about this painting. It would take away your opportunity to set your own intention.


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

the gift

I watched him pick up a leaf. It took some effort because the end of the stem was nestled under blades of grass, but he was patient. For about two minutes, he twisted and turned his treasure until he triumphantly lifted it up. He then walked, holding onto it, about thirty steps west. As he laid his gift down in front of her, I became speechless. Tears ran down my face without warning. My heart was beating so loudly I had to take a deep breath.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

follow your heart

She picked up a brittle leaf and held it up to the sun. 
She closer her eyes and felt the coolness of the shadow on her face. 
As the golden leaf slowly drifted away, 
deep inside she knew that everything is simple.


Wednesday, 16 October 2013

piano pie

How to best describe her? I didn't know till I found the link above. Much better than words.

Friday, 11 October 2013

I'll hang my flag on a tree

Wake before the sun comes up 
Just slip on your shoes and go
Look for my flag on an apple tree
Hands 'round a teacup, I will wait 

street cred

To say there is hierarchy among crows is an understatement. If you ever have a chance to watch a murder of crows descend upon a feast of crumbs, congratulations. You'll see one of nature's best shows. Watching a human badass walk down the street is nothing compared to seeing a black feathered Vader strut.

The idea for "Street Cred" came to me as I was watching roughly thirty crows battle for popcorn on Pacific Boulevard in Vancouver. The epic rawness and intensity of the fight reminded me of seeing a live UFC battle.

I thought of linking to a song that one of the fighters comes out to in the octagon here, but the lyrics are just brutal. If you like, do your own research. Don't forget to brush the dirt off your shoulder when done embracing your inner gansta. 


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

kissed by morning frost


Dew cooling -
things with shapes
               all alive

~Murakami Kijo~
  (1865 - 1938)

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

breathtaking Banff

Banff, Alberta is one of my favourite places to go. I try to visit at least once a year. This summer I enjoyed the Bow River and a little mountain lake in a canoe. Small green growth tickled the canoe from below, such a sweet sound. I also got up to the top of a mountain and spent about an hour breathing in the amazing, misty air. Oh how very wonderful.


Chase, BC

I've taken four trip this year and a biggie one remains. Some were for business, some for pleasure, but when I really think about it, it's always part business - which is part of my pleasures. You see, I love what I do. I know I am fortunate to be an artist and make a good living doing it. I have worked very hard for many hours, days, nights and years to be able to confidently say that and believe it.

When I go on trips, pieces of work always trickle in. I see a cloud, hear a cricket, save a dragonfly (more on that later), a wonderful person walks into my day - I wanna write about it or paint it. Inspiration awaits everywhere I go. I thought I would start playing with snippets of time spent outside my studio and share them. Please know I am fully aware of my technical (dis)abilities, wink - I just wanted to offer very simple pieces of my experiences. This is my first attempt.


Saturday, 7 September 2013

moon and honey

Sleep wasn't coming. She stayed in her warm nest and watched the stars. Luna kept whispering: "Come play, sweet honey!"

Such an offer. Still, she wanted to lay there and dream. But the moon got louder: "The grass is soft down below. Come out! For a little while...please?"

Honey slowly gave in. She was  glad she did. For the next hour, she danced in Moon's glow. Crickets chimed in and frogs also joined the orchestra. It was a simple time but one Honey would never forget. 


"Moon" by the wonderful Bjork

Friday, 6 September 2013

pretty little dirty bird

And now for something entirely different. Or is it? Of the crow family, yes, but...

Such a beautiful bird, so many hues, such colourful character. When I look at a magpie, I see nature's loveliness. This northern gem is striking. In my view, a perfect balance of soft, angelic whites, devilish blacks and, just for a rebellious touch, the satiny blues. Mmm. Add the long, helicopter tail and I'm ready to sit and stare for hours.

It turns out that the magpie, despite being so easy on the eye, is often despised. 'They' literally call this feathered creature a dirty bird. It doesn't bother me one bit. After all, some prefer a crow with its feet up in the air. It hasn't stopped me from painting her as a queen.

Nikol Haskova Studio

Friday, 30 August 2013

My first pie

I'm about 10 hours into a different kind of corvid. Really having fun with this, studying the subtle hues of warm and cool blues, purples, greys, whites and off whites, new and old greens. I met this  bird lady in Banff. My sweet son helped me bribe her with raisins to get some good poses. I'll post the finished painting soon, along with progress pics.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

I won't back down

I often have a title for a painting before my brushes ever touch the canvas. An idea forms based on an event, person, lesson, song, hike in the woods - you name it. From there I put my inspiration on a surface and name it accordingly.

In this case, I give a grateful nod to the song in the link below. I had the painting and wanted a title that nailed it. There are certainly many other interpretations of what happened in this painted story. Maybe you have some yourself. In either case, I hope my new creation makes you smile. Or laugh. Either would be wonderful. 

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Sunday, 4 August 2013


from LIGHT collection, painting two

"The radiant goddess of the darksome sky burned with love for Endymion and, forsaking the night, gave her gleaming chariot to her brother Helios to guide in fashion other than his own. He learned to drive the team of night and to wheel in narrower circuit, while the axle groaned beneath the car’s heavier weight; nor did the nights keep their accustomed length, and with belated dawning came the day."

~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca, ca. 4 BC – AD 65 ~

Nikol Haskova Studio

Friday, 2 August 2013


Oh. My. Goddess. Every time I hear it, I want to weep. So powerful, so wonderful, so emotional is Bizet's masterpiece. Introduced by the luscious, velvety voice of Julie Nesrallah, it is one of the most moving operas I've heard. Seeing it performed live is a truly incredible experience. Mmm. It is one of the many reasons to fall even deeper in love with classical music.


Saturday, 20 July 2013

the curious case of the button collector

It's well known that crows have a fondness for shiny items. Thieves of many beautiful things, they've managed to steal both precious and silly items that sparkle. What is less known is that they also help themselves to mundane, everyday items. Ever resourceful, perhaps best exemplified by a suburban corvid creature that built a nest out of clothes hangers, they are prolific and openminded collectors.

"the curious case of the button collector", 10" x 60", detail only, entire image available by request

Friday, 19 July 2013

sienna's parking lot

Ever since I was a kid, I've loved donuts. I don't mean in the regular way any kid loves anything sugary, I mean I LOVED donuts. It probably started when my mom and I used to walk 2 miles to the  village store every Friday, only because they had fresh hot donuts. Now this wasn't like a trip to your local Timmy's, this was an event. The village I grew up in had a population of 400 and groceries were trucked in from a nearby city. We grew our own veggies, fruits and had eggs from our chickens, but we relied on deliveries for a lot of other stuff. Friday was baked goods day. Koblihy, a two inch fried ball of dough, filled with red jelly and powder sugared on top, was our version of a donut. It was soft, messy and if you breathed too hard, the sugar would fluff up into your nose. Mmm. I still love donuts. Krispy Kremes, apple fritters and my favourite - toasted coconut from Timmy's. I've had Mexican, Chinese, German, Japanese and other versions of sweet fried dough and loved them all. 

One warm spring day I was pulling into Tim Horton's to treat myself, but I spotted Sienna, a gorgeous sepia hued crow lady, walking around the parking lot, picking up sweet crumbs. Needless to say, I didn't get my donut. I spent some time watching Sienna instead. My soul was fed by her beauty, my mind by the conversation we had and my belly forgot all about that coconut ring of yumminess.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

talking with earth

Dusk -
while the earth and I talk
leaves fall
~ Issa ~ (1763 - 1827)

photo: "talking with earth", 10" x 60", detail only
painting photo available by request

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

the intensity of love

It's not black and white
it's complicated
it's confusing


it's food
it's everything
it's love


Nikol Haskova Studio

Wednesday, 26 June 2013


Warm glow on the horizon and a cool breeze on my skin. Soft blue and fiery red. Steady mountains and swaying trees. Nature is always familiar yet constantly new.


freedom of speech



Tuesday, 25 June 2013

the agitator

Walking side by side. No words exchanged, just a visible ease that comes with years spent together. You know what the other is thinking without asking because - you just do. A pause here, a step there.

Then, the mood quickly changes. 


Friday, 7 June 2013

Whiskey Jack's Love Song

I met this little fella in my mom and dad's backyard in the Cariboo. After four days of running through the forest, spying on ravens, roasting marshmallows and eating comfort food, it was time to say goodbye. 

It was hard. I don't see my parents often now that they left the Lower Mainland permanently. Feeling down about the approaching leave, I went for a stroll through their forest. 

Looking for a log that I could meditate on for a few minutes before taking on the six hour drive, I spotted a Gray Jay. As if he knew I needed some nurturing, he stayed and kept me company while I closed my eyes and listened to the magical sounds around me.


Thursday, 23 May 2013


Success. For me, it is the intensely enjoyable process of making a painting that is both artistically and intellectually satisfying. The kind of painting that I drown in, forgetting to breathe, stunned how many hours have passed since I last looked up.

I've crossed milestones of acquired skill. They were important, but not always reflective of my internal need for something deeper. Something gutsy, something to chew on or fire me up, something more me.

There has been a handful of those paintings. Two of them were donations, one crossed the ocean and one I wish I had kept. 

Today I finished such a painting. It's the elusive and at times volatile one that's been tugging at my brain from eight directions. Some time ago I knew I wanted to begin a series called "Light". Define it as you may. To me, these works will be immensely personal, emotional and private - and yet, because of their nature, also full of release and accessible. Again, whatever that means to you.

The first in this collection is "2:28". No bones about it, I consider it my best to date. I've had favourites, but this one is the best. It is the one I've had waiting on a pedestal, collecting the dust of my mind until I decided I've had enough. I'm very proud of it.


Nikol Haskova Studio

Thursday, 9 May 2013

The philosopher, study

I don't often do a detailed study after completing a larger painting. In this case, I enjoyed this crow so much, I wanted to explore a little further. 

Push the contrast a bit more, define the body structure, heighten the purples and greens throughout the body. I also wanted to change up the background. I have loved the minimalist pale grey that I've been sticking to for so long, but I wanted something new. 

Or, rather, old. The intent was to present Mr. Philosopher in an old fashioned, oil portrait kind of way, with willowy clouds and a soft foreground. Kind of a dreamy, romantic setting for the grumpy creature. It wouldn't have worked had it been a 'happy' crow.


Such profanity from a heart shaped mouth

Fill in the words.


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

How a beautiful, brave young girl inspired me.

Here's the promised video explaining my donation to Art For Beth. After disappearing from this blog a while ago, it's finally back up. I don't know why, but there is no pretty thumbnail - don't worry about it, click the play button, the video is still there. 

Friday, 19 April 2013

The philosopher

I met him early one morning. 

His beard was full of dew drops he had picked up from the grass while finding his breakfast. Looking much like an intense thinker and unconcerned with his surroundings, he let me hang out for a while. 

After a few minutes, I became so absorbed in his presence that even I blocked out everything around us. When I finally looked up, a crowd had gathered. A few were wondering what was worth laying on the cold, wet grass. Others smiled.

Thursday, 18 April 2013


As ideas about the next direction spin every wheel in my head, it is difficult to focus. I realize that the only pressure I am feeling is the one I am placing on myself.

There are no expectations from galleries that represent me, my fans or my students. All by myself, I have built a ten thousand ton pedestal that this painting is placed on. It towers over me because it's important to my personal artistic integrity, no one's else's.

Again, I know I am the only judge here. 
I know there should be no judgement. 
I know I'll rock it.
For now, I settle with a walking meditation. It has been the only way I have been able to control my energy before I open my studio door in the morning.

Om Dum Durgayei Namaha
Om Dum Durgayei Namaha
Om Dum Durgayei Namaha
Om Dum Durgayei Namaha

Om Dum Durgayei Namaha
Om Dum Durgayei Namaha
Om Dum Durgayei Namaha
Om Dum Durgayei Namaha

Ashana's Heart of Gaia

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Blueheart's close up

One day, I'll take better photos. Better yet, I'll have someone take great photos for me. Maybe an a local art student. That'd be a good fit. I'd have properly exposed and coloured photos of my works and he or she would probably enjoy this gig more than working at a drive through.  

Well, there you go - it's not a crow. I fell in love with a non-corvid. Enough said.

Nikol Haskova Studio

Blueheart and cadmium

Good morning handsome! Come closer. 
Closer, shy baby. That's much better. 
You look like a sweetheart. 
I'll call you Blueheart. 

Friday, 12 April 2013

Wrapped around you

In your embrace
I would not run if I could
Pull me 
I give no resistance
Just melt and sink into you


Saturday, 6 April 2013

The floating blossom

This was one of my favourite projects ever. I am giving it away. Never having met Beth, I can only imagine the depth of courage she's had to find. 

I made a shaky video about this painting, but I am finding myself technologically challenged. I will add it when I remember how to. For now, two things are important:

I love this piece so very much.
It will raise money and every cent of it will go to the lady that needs it.


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

teaching bug

On Saturday I taught my first class. 40 eager to learn students showed up. As this was my first time teaching, I spent many, many hours preparing. I wrote the entire lesson out and recorded it to time myself, making sure I had enough interesting material for two hours.

When you interact with a crowd mostly made up of people you've never met, you don't know what to expect - especially if this is your first time. I wanted to send the artists home inspired not only by the technical demonstrations, but also by an emotional connection.

I got personal and mixed in my humble painting beginnings, the intimate nature of my inspiration and a whole bunch of stories. It was a risk because I didn't know if anyone would want to hear this kind of stuff. At the end, I got an applause. What really touched me were the hugs and an email from the only man that attended. Picking up his brushes with new inspiration after a two year absence, he was excited.

Needless to say, I need to teach. I love giving, but I'm also very much aware of how much I get back. Amazing. A very special thank you to Opus for hosting my first workshop. I look forward to coming back.

Nikol Haskova Studio

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Open to wonder

With my upcoming workshop, I'm going to get technical today. By the way, if you didn't get into the first lesson, Opus added a second one later that afternoon and a third one may be possible at a later date.

I started "Open to wonder" with a basic creamy layer for the sky. With the tree added in, I thought I'd get adventurous and collage in some coloured tinfoil. Previously I had been sticking to gold, silver and the occasional red, but I wanted to try a multi-coloured application. Well, it didn't work. It looked like a bunch of small Easter eggs had been splattered onto a soft landscape painting. 

I went over the added foil with gesso, whitening out most of it. I did leave bits, mostly glazed under the gesso, mellowing the colour out mostly if not completely. I liked the added shapes and texture. I had to go back into the sky and glaze in some reds, azo golds and blues. So now I was back to a textured painting with a lack of drama. Pull out the red. I used pure Pyrol and added some branches plus strategically placed smears for additional punch. Happy. Very happy. The lesson? Precisely that - it's always a lesson. You can't screw up with acrylic. You can always cover, remove, add, shape, glaze, collage and shade. So, go ahead, have some fun, try it out even if it seems silly. Sometimes it will end up elementary looking, but most of the time, you'll end up with a new skill and a great painting.

Nikol Haskova Studio