Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Naramata mentorship residency, Sunday, 10:45 p.m.

Rose incense I picked up in Indonesia last year wraps me up in a sweet, smokey blanket. I just finished layering gesso on my panels, right on the cabin deck. The massive tree up front cast a big shadow as I worked under moonlight. Kali is wrapped around my wrist on a silk cord, lovingly gifted by my beloved friend.
As I write this, a piece of gold tinfoil fell out of the pages and I immediately understood that it belongs with the painting I'm gonna float the red koi on.
My teacher said: "What wants to happen as opposed to what do you want to happen?" during our morning intro. This is my first 'what wants to happen' of this workshop.
I'm grateful Sonja ordered me to pull on my big girl panties and get my stuff done, despite a deep desire to soothe my aching muscles in the hot tub, plastic glass of Chianti on the side.

Friday, 5 December 2014

the most important word



Nikol Haskova Studio


August heat an indulgent memory
Indian summer so many sleeps ago
The path on the side frosted over
Dreams of footsteps

Please take a  sweet moment
Maybe pause and just listen
You'll hear a quieter pace
And a gentle heartbeat


Nikol Haskova Studio


Pranced around
Danced with herself
She did

Belted out a tune
Thought she was cool
Oh yeah she did

A stomp here
And a ya-I-got-it there
You know she did

Nikol Haskova Studio

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

an invitation to linger

Come in
Take a seat
Just be here
With me

I'll sing with you
Just for a while
We can sip time
In tiny amounts

I'll talk with you
As long as I can
We can hold space
In small touches

Please come
And be still
I'm with you
Just linger

Nikol Haskova Studio

Wednesday, 15 October 2014


One has a treasure. 
One is staring over her shoulder while she prompts the third one to charge westward with a purpose. 
The question is, who is the villain? 
The thief, if there is one - and which one? 
The commander? 
The sheep following the orders? 
The brave or the rude? 
How will this end?
Is it worth it?

Monday, 13 October 2014

naramata mentorship

It was amazing. A week of uninterrupted working, knowledge seeking, connecting, changing, thinking and re-wiring the mind. It'll take more than one post to document, perhaps best accomplished by sharing the daily journal notes. Here are a few photos to start.


Friday, 10 October 2014


It's hard to believe it's been almost a year since I've gone. Memories of the scents, tastes, sights, connections, sounds and awe are so vivid. I've traveled quite a bit, but I've never been as emotionally moved by a place before. 

The artistic, spiritual, natural and very human-based-connection beauty of Bali is undeniable. For a long time, I chose not to write about it. It was too painful. The western culture I live in offers so many conveniences that I am thankful for, but sadly, in my experience, this same culture often lacks the warmth of human interaction and heart. Daily existence here demands repetition and little room for play.

I hold so much gratitude for Payangan and other areas I visited in Indonesia. It invited my heart to be more vulnerable and connected to beauty. For that, an artist cannot possibly find a lesson, teacher or a lecture.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

heart of the matter

I can't explain this one with words. 
Perhaps listening to the link will shed a light on it:


Saturday, 4 October 2014


We met in Banff last year. This tiny helicopter landed in a puddle in the canoe I was awkwardly nudging up Bow River. Green growth tickled the bottom of the wooden vessel, making a swishing sound, the sun pierced the diamond-studded water and this tiny creature struggled with its wet, floppy wings. 

I picked it up and wrapped it in tissue, trying to provide a gentle shelter for it to dry out in. Back on shore, I was doubtful that the dragonfly would choose to wake up. While I took countless close up photos of it, it looked as if it had no desire to join the living world again. 

Of course, nature so often surprises me in ways no human ever could. The sweet helicopter suddenly fluttered its propellers. As breeze invited it to dance upward into the summer sky, the lovely creature accepted the proposal.

Nikol Haskova Studio

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

just before I spoke

Just before I spoke
You looked my way

Just before I spoke
You nudged closer

Just before I spoke
Blooms whispered


holy cow

Has it been that long? Wow! Hello, blog. Nice to see you again.

To sum it up: over the past months I've been developing a body of work for a solo exhibition, playing with my son through an extended school strike and studying under my creative mentor Suzanne. It's been a fast paced, crazy kind of ride, but also one that gifted me with the fullest buckets of knowledge I've seen in a long time.

I don't know how many times I called upon Ganesh, but I believe he came through every single time for I am back, ready to roar on BIG panels with a force.

Nikol Haskova Studio

Thursday, 24 July 2014

night blooms

This one's a remake. 

I've been enjoying collage and painting combinations. The process is fun, the outcome is organic and it's a great switch up from straight acrylic or pencil. There have been a few pieces I've loved dearly - usually very simple in aesthetic and pure in message. This was not one of those paintings. I got carried away with shapes, colours and overall composition. There was no ease to the design - something I didn't see for a while. It was then called "Talking With Earth". 

Not being one to hang onto old work, I had it shipped back. As soon as I unpacked it, I knew what to do. In a way, it's the opposite of my pale background, dark bird creations. A moody light, some blossoms and a glow is what it took to make it shine. 

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

the mouth on that one

What a sweetheart! 

Gentle poet, what will you share with me today? Will it be a song of your travels? About your nest? Or your friends? 

I sit, hands folded in my lap. I wait for your thoughtful musing, enjoying the sight of you. What a pleasure you are.

But wait - what? In a bad mood you find yourself? Well, we all feel like that sometimes. Oh. Really? It's not that bad, is it? Oh, I see. That is troubling. What a pity. I hope you feel better. Let's catch up another day. 

Friday, 18 July 2014

return to the natural way

A slow step
followed by a step
followed by a step
followed by a step.

A thousand steps.
Steps on Cookie-cutter Hardness.
Steps on Permanence.
Steps on Sameness.

Each step steeped in hunger.
An aching longing for unpredictable stride.
A gift of soft, organic Unknown.
Almost touchable, it is so close now 

Nikol Haskova Studio


the unexpected gift

Shadow on a pale concrete slab. Unapologetically challenged by a slick ink droplet. My eyes intently soak in the collision, but my heart is left yearning. 
I want soft. Warm. Welcoming. 
The ink drop shifts, spilling a little to my left. I shift with it. And then I see.


Hello, I've missed you!

Has it been that long?! 

Being busy with summer, including a stay visit from someone overseas has made the last two months a blur. While a piece of my heart and my mind was always in the studio, my physical presence was reduced to sleeping on a blow up mattress there. Now, with the space back to its intended purpose, I have been ecstatically painting, scratching, dripping, smudging, sanding, drilling, writing, drawing and singing. 

So much fun. As happens with stuff on hold, the pent up energy is happily bubbling out. Yay!

Nikol Haskova Studio

Sunday, 18 May 2014


I. Heart. Texture.

Mostly, I've been gentle and soft with it, rarely departing to roughness. It's not that the extra thick, edgy stuff doesn't appeal to me. It does. I quite enjoy others embracing it. Looking at another's painting, full of gutsy, even shard-like details is very satisfying. It's just that loud stuff does not come out when my brushes, knives or hands meet the canvas. 

I'm okay with that. As much as I like to push myself to be braver in the studio, I've learned that bravery shouldn't come at the cost of fine finish. To clarify, my style of painting doesn't naturally lend itself to quick strokes, powerful sweeps or hard application. While this may change someday, I'm happily exploring the smoother stuff and graceful subtlety, especially on birds. There is a myriad of sweet journeys I have yet to walk. One of which, I've recently found, is found in a variety of papers.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

working it out

A good painting, for me, requires a lot more than a skillful hand at work. Yes, one benefits greatly from studying his or her craft, but I like magic. I'm not just talking about the emotion put into the painting (or pouring out of it for that matter). I love a great story. Maybe it's my love of books, maybe it's life being art - whatever it is, I prefer to think. To sink into the visual dialogue. 

For that, composition is crucial. Two crows turning away from each other, as opposed to leaning in, tell entirely different tales. One looking down - or up toward another is quite a loaded situation. Since I work from my photos, I can easily take liberty with positioning 'my' birds. Likely, I am mirroring situations I've seen or been in. I generally don't know I'm doing it till after. It's a good way to be born, whether it's a note, a move, or a brushstroke.

The amount of planning, adjusting, composing and researching goes a long way when I'm speaking on canvas. Many, many birds that audition get cut. Acting should be believable, emotional, and most importantly, intelligent. Funny is fine, funny looking is something else.

Nikol Haskova Studio

Monday, 21 April 2014


We wanted to meet THE ONE. The raven that is not albino, but rather speckled grey and white and with 'regular' indigo-black peepers. Oh, what a sight he would have been, had we had the fortune of chatting with him that day! I know this because I had seen an awesome pic of Tom's taken earlier in the season. 

Interestingly, Tom, the birding expert (and a skilled painter, despite his doubt), guessed that this feathered fella may have been romantically challenged. According to him, it was taking a bit long for this unusual bird to attract a mate. The ladies choose the men in this species. As stunning as this raven was to me, he was not having luck getting a date. Tom thought this would change with time. I found that interesting on so many levels. 

As hinted, I didn't get to see the alluring bird. Although I had driven six hours in hopes of doing just that, I wasn't terribly disappointed. I've learned that I can't have expectations of Mother Nature. She knows what and if something should happen much better than I do. The morning Tom spent with me was a blast. Good coffee at a place I would have never noticed, sights of the cool high school crowd, a truckload of knowledge from a fellow artist and a walk around an enticing, unfamiliar place was worth each moment. Thank you so much, Tom.

Nikol Haskova Studio

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

just being around her

Opus hosted me for another two workshops and I had so much fun sharing! Minds eager to learn came for both lessons. Young and old, experienced and not, male and female, all came to create with their minds and hands.

Putting emphasis on direct demonstrations this time, I came up with a great panel. Layering a variety of materials was just the beginning. Someone asked about the look of dripped paint. Giving a nod to an elementary school project, I showed her how easy it was. What I didn't anticipate is how much I'd love all of this put together. Red. Gold. Japanese-looking. Introspective. Simple despite the amount of layers. Hot (I am talking about the feel of the red) yet cool (to the mind).

Well. My husband chimed in, as he has before: "Ah, you can do better." I hate that! I'm really not into someone kicking my ass into higher gear as soon as I thought I had reached my destination. Fortunately (and unfortunately), I am not into "I wonder if I could have done better, hmm...", either. Alas, he was right, again. The painting wasn't finished, because she was missing

I love her so much, I didn't give her a name. I would have become too attached, sigh. Just being around her puts me in a tranquil mood. 

(above, partial painting only)


Nikol Haskova Studio

note: I rarely entertain studio sales. In this case, I am tickled pink that a sweet friend bought this painting. She is the perfect person for it. Just looking at her look at the painting brought the tears to my eyes. And hers. I love that.

finding serenity

This was a technically challenging painting. There were so many layers, additions, deletions and things gone both right and wrong that it made my head spin. I'm not talking about mounting, elevation or hardware. Rather, the tough task was marrying the intellectual content to the medium. 

Acrylic is fabulous for playtime. (Weeeeeee!) For me, this means hours of happy brush splattering, hardware experimenting, skin pinching and gel mixing goofing around - which comes with failed attempts to communicating my thoughts. (ooh, look at that shiny bit there, sniff that fresh paper here, imagine the prickliness of that thingy - oh wait - that's not the pretty thought that was in my head, hahaha). It's all good - such is the learning path with many projects in life. I just wish it didn't take as long sometimes. Buddha would say something along the lines of: "It'll take as long as it takes. Go play with your son. You will continue tomorrow." 

The result was wonderful. As notes of a yummy Chopin piece trickled out of the stereo, the branches in my painting happily connected with a thin line of passion. Hence the red strip to crown it. For love. And, as the painting moved from infancy to being able to fly on its own, I bought it a ticket to Toronto. It was showcased at the Love Art Affair.

(detail above, for entire image please contact me)

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

caressing the mind

A soothing break for the mind
A graceful dance, low in the sky
A gentle nudge for a deep breath
Kissed by silver and bits of gold

Nikol Haskova Studio

Tuesday, 8 April 2014


With gorgeous sights, sounds and most importantly, scents of spring everywhere, I wanted to celebrate the luscious pregnancy of the season. While there is a breathtaking beauty to everything in bloom, I was after a different kind of loveliness. 

The kind that is in between winter and blossom, waiting, seemingly quietly, like a girl next door. Unlike the femme fatale of cherry blossom and magnolia blooms, she appears innocent.

Nikol Haskova Studio

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Put that failure on a shelf

I worked hard on this one. Changed it quite a few times. Added a brushstroke when I got up in the middle of the night. Thought about it over breakfast. Finally, I thought it was done.

I proudly showed it to my husband. A long, silent, torturous pause. I knew it right then. It wasn't done. Worse, it was awful. The words no artist wants to hear didn't need to be said.

But, of course, my husband said them anyway, bless his soul. In his view, it wasn't awful, but rather "creepy". Yep. SLASH goes a searing hot knife into my tender creative heart. Well, he continued. "If you were trying to depict a haunted forest, you succeeded". SMACK goes a massive imaginary hand across my forehead.

Needless to say, he was right. Which is exactly why I asked him. I wanted honesty. I may have wished for it to be served on a pretty saucer and wrapped in lace, but that has never been his way. I don't mind when he doesn't like certain paintings. He rarely praises my studio accomplishments, but when he does, it's better than getting a curator's nod of approval.

It wasn't that he thought it was a poorly done painting. I did. Because it failed to deliver the sentiment. The title was "Winter Sleep" and it was to be a soft and dreamy study of the wait for spring. The piece now occupies the highest drying shelf in the studio so I don't have to look at it. When I'm no longer pissed off at it, I'll complete it to my satisfaction. Meanwhile, I'm working on a painting titled "Vader".

Thank you, my love, for helping me grow. I don't always like the process, but I'm ever so grateful for the end result. I'll play the sweet, tender CD you gave me when I return to the aforementioned work in progress.

Friday, 14 February 2014

all senses seduced

In love with life, Violet was taking slow steps down a dusty path. With a sweet song serenading her mind and scrumptious sweet bits underfoot, she could not imagine the day getting any better. And then... 

Nikol Haskova Studio

Tuesday, 7 January 2014


I'm so excited to teach again - last year the classes were quickly filled with enthusiastic, eager to soak up new info, creative souls. We covered a lot of ground. This year, going in with a little more experience, I aim to offer a more focused lesson. 

It's wonderful how gifts land in our laps when we let stuff happen. Just a couple of days ago, I was thinking about how I'd love to return to Opus for a demo. It's such an inspiring, positive and friendly place. There, I receive as much awesome energy as I give out. The thought came and left without me acting on it. 

Yesterday, I was working on a large piece called "Surfacing". As I'm about to wash my brushes and call it a day, the phone rings and Camille says to me: "I'm planning spring demos. Do you want to come back? The first lessons will focus on surfaces." 

Nikol Haskova Studio