Saturday, 26 December 2015

to be continued

Tonight will find me in Paris. 
I will return in January, renewed, reconnected, wired in 
and with my creative fire roaring. 
See you then.

Friday, 18 December 2015


As solstice approaches, the new vision board takes shape. 
Pearls for twenty sixteen have been harvested throughout the year.  
Counting the things done well and cherishing successes, I feel 
that I am in a graceful place of unbound creativity, support and love.

The New Year will find me changing things that no longer serve 
my studio practice, including this blog. It's been an amazing vehicle, 
creating connections far beyond my website. Alas, time to morph has arrived.
Because my studio stories are read by collectors, students and perhaps 
a few curious souls, I will continue with them, though they will likely arrive in weekly (?)
packages here. The new stuff excites me as it will invite collaborations, celebrations of
my community and fuel for some good work.

This has been great fun. I can't wait to see this pet project mature 
into something more to chew on.

Monday, 14 December 2015

#regram as the cool kids say

5 year old sketch. How interesting. Often, when I review older work, the first thing I think of is how it differs from my current skills. Of course, that's a good thing and by no means do I buy into that "I wish this wasn't around cause I'm so much better now" thing. 

No. As predictable as it may sound, I like where I was, where I continued from there and where I arrived. These days, my studio is a smiling, eclectic mess of numerous disciplines. I no longer feel tied down to things "I should" make or am wanted to make. How delicious to taste a new something and find out I want to put my brushes aside in favour of assemblage - for example. And that cage in the garage, peeling with 50s green and rust is screaming for my attention. I know who I want to put inside (not crow, not hummingbird, perhaps flower, perhaps not).

Still, beautiful is the space which opens to gratitude. For this little sweetie, a young crow I met in Victoria, I am thankful. He was playful, graceful, full of life and joy. Just maybe, during all this exploration, I will set aside space for a good old-fashioned charcoal sketch.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

your beating heart

I get lost in your mind, body and soul

"Your Beating Heart", 6 x 6 inches, mixed media

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

her sweet words

About ten years ago, when I first began painting, I decided to include a story or a poem with each painting. Back then, this used to be done via a message tucked into the back of the works. 

As time passed, I started this blog. Though I still begin on paper (I find my thoughts are more fluid with a pen, I enjoy the scent of the sketchpad or scrap wrapping tissue and it simply feels delicious), having the final copy in an electronic form makes sense, especially in this social media age. Never had I used someone else's words to do this, the exceptions being Osho, Buddha and traditional Haiku masters in the form of a sentence woven in.

Until yesterday. Via another platform, a viewer was very moved by "Floating On Light". It reminded her of a poem she wrote. "Would I like to read it?", she asked. "I would love to", I posted as a reply. When I was finished, I felt like I was wrapped in a silk cover, transported by the story into a shimmering, light and ethereal space. I cried. A fulfilling, emotional cry that fed me. For the first time, another's story will marry my painting here. I am honoured that she permitted me. Here are her words: 

"This came to me in a dream vision and I wrote it down. 
Perhaps it doesn't fit with your painting but it reminded me 
of this wonderful painting of yours! No one else has seen this and I generally don't share my poetry but I thought maybe you'd like it.


(Karen Lipsett-Kidd)

I was promised
From so long ago
Before I was born
You sat to the right of him
He told you your time would come
That you would see
A cherry petal
That would not die when it fell
You would pick it up with reverence
Kiss it and hold it to your heart
The petal would transform you
As a stork you would fly
Ungainly first then with great wide wings
You'd journey to a distant shore. When you returned the following year and touched the ground you became a man and there waiting was a girl not old enough to know you but waiting still.
But you knew in time she would be yours and you were patient.
At the age of consent I was given and love of the greatest nature arose.
There was much celebration but the lovers only had eyes for each other.
Amidst the gaiety and noise
there was profound silence between the two as they stood
in awe of their combined souls union and they disappeared into one another.
Or so the story goes.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

when you slow down

An indulgent moment in nothingness
An acceptance space in everything-ness

That brews inside and bubbles up to arrive
On the comforting pillow of a deep breath

Nourishing the wondering mind with calm
Feeding the spirited soul by a soft feather

Expecting nothing and needing no thing
Just being, breathing, seeing and listening

Monday, 7 December 2015

bare, from a woman's point of view

I love women. Yes, I find them beautiful, but there is so much more to it. The depth of feelings and emotional capacity (two vastly different qualities), the nurturing ability, the child-bearing, loving and raising-little-humans gift many of us have, the sensuality and luxuriousness in their physical softness are mere examples of what I cherish about them.

The aesthetic fascination is harder to explain, because I think of myself as a hot-blooded, crazily drunk on life, creative and beautiful woman. This doesn't come from a place of conceitedness. Quite the opposite. I've worked on self-worth and confidence for a long time. It's still work in progress. I just found myself being a better artist when I decided to see my accomplishments rather than measure myself against the follow-the-sheep mainstream trends. In turn, my examining abilities, friendship depths and personal goals have all soared. For me, it's all in one bucket. I like to feel good about the inner me first and the outside shell seems to mirror. It's a rewarding space to be in, full of light and shine.

The goddesses that turn my head and often set my artistic heart aflutter seem to float by on a healthy confidence pillow. In my experience, that kind of beauty is deeper, more raw and real than the gorgeous "sexy thing" kind.   This aplomb originates in an all-ness of compassion, ability, intelligence, humbleness and grace. I like a sprinkle of badass-ness on top. A well-rounded woman. One that is cognizant of her vulnerability yet capable of being strong. That is intoxicating to me.

There will be an exhibition to celebrate The Women. It's an encompassing and emotional project. It's also a big one as it'll be run by artists instead of a gallery and likely spark a lot of online attention and, hopefully and more importantly, plant seeds for good conversations. Logistics have scratched the possibility of spring off the calendar. I'll cross my fingers for the fall. If not, for whenever it's meant to be.

For now, I'm compiling material, journaling, researching, interviewing, sketching and painting to get my technical as well as thinking skills up to where I want them. Once in a while, inspiration can't wait and spills out of my brushes by itself. I do nothing but connect to my inner self. That's always been the best place to sink into.

    "Silk & Silver"
mixed media, 6 x 6 inches


Monday, 30 November 2015


Assemblage. Sigh.
How enticing!
But how?
With what?
Flitter, how?!

The bug crawled in during the mentorship week in Naramata. Like street art (more on later), it's been simmering for a while, but when I saw Susan's work in person, the need to poke into it got under my skin.

I've always had a collection of found objects somewhere (ok, in many places) in my studio. Pieces have found their way into paintings and, happily, into collectors' lives. Even then I was careful with liberty, for a strangely - or worse, unworthy - placed addition on a 2 dimensional plane is just so wrong to me. The question: "Is it wanted?" had to be a answered with an absolute #%^* yes! Naturally, when it came to grabbing that skinny tall box and running into the studio with my headsetonfirebyalltheburningideas, the same question bubbled up. Only this time, it wasn't about one object or idea added into a project. This time, the whole thing was a question.

Because it was unfamiliar. Because it had so many components - yeah, that is a piece of my shattered thermostat in there and I so wanted to include the mercury but not this time. Because I had to find skills I didn't know I needed. Because I was almost as intimidated as I was excited. Almost. Because sometimes, there is no choice.

"Crown", assemblage, 3 x 30 inches, 1.5 inches deep, found objects, paint, silver leaf & resin. 
Above, complete project. Right, detail

Check out Susan McCarrell's work here

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

the love spinner

With the exception of a blue heart that you can't see
 in this photo because it's on the back frame, 
I am not going to say anything about this one. 
You do it, if you desire.

"The Love Spinner", 6 x 6 inches, mixed media on birch


Tuesday, 10 November 2015

ten for 10

 "We Are Gold", 6 x 6 inches, mixed media on birch

This is the second in a series of ten paintings to honour 
10 years of marriage. 

Each year brought my husband and me a deep pool of experiences. 
When I say loveliest love, luscious lust, diving disagreements, 
encompassing embraces, adorable adoration, saturated sadness 
and blindingly beautiful belonging, I am scratching the surface. 

To me, this unity so vastly varies from any other. It's amazing
and hard as well as nurturing and trying, sometimes at the same time.
It brings warmth, shine, delicious sparks of lightning and chills. 
From seductive spring to frosty winter, we've felt all the seasons. 

We are still here. The same and different. Young yet rooted. 
Mature yet excited. Calmer yet on fire. 

We are gold.



I. Heart. Mixed. Media! While acrylic will always be
my first love, the desire to push, embellish 
and be eccentric when I want to is deeply satisfied
with this choice. Let me loose!

"Playground", 6 x 6 inches, mixed media on birch

Thursday, 29 October 2015

It's a big one, but it's little

This magnificent pine is stunning. Old, huge, 
the needles are thick & glossy, it smells great 
- and this oxygen gifting giant is full 
of wee life, both the crawling and the singing kind.

I've painted her before on a panel over 5 feet tall.
This time I wanted to see how it would feel and
what it would say in a 6 x 6 inch version.
Indeed, it's an entirely different story.


Friday, 16 October 2015

Thank you Prague

My phone was off for the entire 3 weeks. I stuck to a conscious decision not to post on social media - or be anywhere near the internet actually - while enjoying this culturally rich trip with my son. Just me without my work, my son without his school and a handful of selected humans to keep us company at times. In my experience, the sounds are sweeter, tastes are fresher, sights are more vibrant and connections are deeper when I focus on them without electronic participation. 

I am still processing that indulgent and moving time in my head while journalling, sorting photos and meditating on many reflections. 

For now, here is a small sampling of revisiting places that formed a lot of the little girl I once was. A post about the opera night with the red carpet, door-opening Acura girls in tiaras and red "Pretty Woman" dresses and the private balcony may or may not appear. It depends on how much I decide to share and how much I keep bottled up to make art from. 

Monday, 31 August 2015

I'm fully rooted

Fort Langley! Thank you so very much for such a sweet reception on Friday. What a turnout. Family, friends, artists and art lovers alike came, saw the body of work I've been doing for the past 6 months and celebrated with me. I'm grateful to be part of this place.

The Fort Gallery, being an artist co-operative, is a big commitment of time, volunteering and out of the box thinking. It is also a place to shine, explore oneself and be helped by one's peers, mostly on a philosophical level. What an honour to be so fully welcomed to a group of academically superior artists.  I always question my artistic direction, but to be plainly asked "Why this?" is question I was only able to answer after much self reflection. This time it wasn't a "What inspired you?", but rather, "Why are you doing this?", to me meaning everything - material, composition, motivation, contribution. I have to say, after commercial success, this is an entirely different experience. My thought matters, my skills matter, my sales don't. It's a real headstand. I love it.

I'd like to add a very special thank you to Angie Quaale and her Well Seasoned team for the sophisticated catered experience and Lynette Sayers with the amazing Kalala organic wines. Local bites and sips. Last but not least, Ashley Waite-Womack, your smooth, gorgeously full and elegant voice  is unforgettable. I hope we can do this again.

Next up? A fun, but very important, community-involved Thing. See you this Sunday.  

Saturday, 22 August 2015

uncaged and blooming

I have a friend.  Let's call her Cinnamon Girl. She's been in my life for twenty five years, even when she was not in it. We've laughed together as 20 somethings driving in my Le Baron with an 8 track and our platform shoes, and when we shared stories about diapers and tamper tantrums of our babes. To say that I love her deeply would not be enough.

In the past few years, Cinnamon has gone through changes, at times hitting the deep dark trenches of raw despair. Were she to sing "Survivor", Beyonce would clap. My friend is amazing. 
I dedicate this painting to her. 

It is also for everyone that has broken their own cage, only to find themselves blooming brighter than ever before. I count myself in that motley crew. Are you one of us? Whether you are or not, may you be surrounded by kind words and love.

Nikol Haskova Studio


Friday, 21 August 2015

the case of the fallen

This one should have been easy. A purely technical painting, not much in a way of extra design, composition or colour interpretation. Still, I like to be sure the whole thing works when I'm done. As my current studio is teeny tiny for the scale of works in process, I often take a completed painting and place it high on the fireplace mantel on the main floor. I can then step back 15 feet and take the whole thing in in an entirely different view. Flowers that looked bold on the easel suddenly appear as timid little suggestion marks. And so on.

Yesterday, I propped "I Prefer Natural" up in this usual way. I turned my back and heard a crash. Besides being startled by the big bang and spitting out my tea, my mind immediately went: "Shit! There goes a week's worth of sweat!", quickly followed by "Shit shit! All the little paintings on the ground below are likely ruined too."

Once my heart slowed down, I picked up the big piece. Not a mark on it. Like a stupid move to jump off something that should break your legs but doesn't, it ended just fine. I was shaken and stirred. Ok, the little guys. The resin should've shattered, gouge marks should've covered them, a hole here and there would not be unexpected. Well. Someone is watching over me. Every single painting is alive and well. I have been chanting to Ganesha these past few mornings. Kind of prepping my day, planning tasks and asking for success and protection. Interesting.

My point? When you're most busy, slow down. It may seem counterintuitive, but, at least in my experience, it pays off.

Nikol Haskova Studio

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

home is where the heart is

Thank you, Miranda Gathercole at The Langley Times. Your writing, photography and graceful connection are a great example of today's skilled young reporters. You have an admirable ability to make it seem like a relaxed chat.

the Langley Times article

Sunday, 16 August 2015

delicious flora

After I cleared customs at the Bali airport, I walked through a glass door. A wave of wet heat hit my face and my western-girl-travelling-via-plane clothes became a microwave worthy torture chamber. But then the scent hit me. Luscious, exotic, intoxicating, sensual, yellow and pink coloured, sweet smell of orchids.

Two incredibly beautiful girls in traditional costume, smiling from ear to ear, extended their hands. "Welcome to Bali! Would you like an orchid?", they asked simultaneously.

"Yes, please! I would", I answered with tears in my eyes. One of the goddess-like young women tucked a precious bloom behind my right ear. I forgot about my Lululemon chamber instantly. Throughout that trip I encountered many orchid varieties, lotus flowers, tree blooms I couldn't identify, offerings of dry petals, and too many other beauties to list. I don't know which God or Goddess gifted these to the island, although I suspect Saraswati had something to do with it. I'm sketching and painting studies. So far, I'm not happy enough with the results, but some big paintings are coming. I'm thinking Valentines' Day.

Nikol Haskova Studio

Saturday, 15 August 2015

take a hike

This post is for the woman that kickstarted my career. 10 years ago I sent a submission to her gallery. It was the first time I had a no for an answer. The Taurus bull in me didn't like that, so I pointed out the reasons why she should reconsider, which she did. 
A decade and over 400 paintings later, we have both grown in our paths, both personally and business-wise. To say that I am grateful for her would be a huge understatement. Now being a mid career artist, I'm enjoying an entirely different connection with her. Instead of dinner & wine, home cooked meal (by her) and a hike. 
Life is amazing. Thank you, Barbara Pelham, for being a part of mine. Canada House in Banff is an amazing place for staff to thrive, artists to make a living and probably 10,000 collectors to enrich their lives. Here's to another 40 years!

Nikol Haskova Studio

Thursday, 13 August 2015

community support

Payangan changed me. I knew it would, I just didn't anticipate how much. While Ubud is the destination most likely to come up in conversations about Bali, its street ratio of expats and Caucasian entrepreneurs rivals that of the true locals. I will not mention the movie but will say I did not venture out to 'his' place. Nor did I visit the yoga centre founded by a down to earth yogi rock star. Instead, I embraced the little mountainside village where I spent a week with 6 other women. The tiny miracles, mind shifts and spiritual awakenings based on precious small earthly things were priceless. More on that later.

When you see an entire village come to the dirty, narrow roadside to greet you and point at the white girls to say their "hullo, how yooou?", it does things to you. When a tiny naked toddler giggles and extends his hand, only to be protected by his naturally caring and loving pre-school sibling and his bare-breasted grandma comes running to chime in, you kind of swallow hard. Hopefully you reflect and reach into your heart before you can't resist taking a picture.

There are so many things that happen to you there. If you're open, you begin to count your social and economical riches while you realize that you're deficient in one on one interactions and simple, raw exchanges of kind words and acts. When I got back to Canada, I stayed home for a week. Pretty much in my pyjamas, changing to take my son to school and that's it. I journaled, reflected, wrote, wrote, wrote and cried. I missed Bali. Not for its intoxicating beauty. It was the simple, natural, honest life. When I finally went to the supermarket for some milk and the poor girl doing her shift didn't look me in the eye when she dryly asked "How are you?" without expecting an answer, I swallowed a tear. I felt shortchanged. I wanted to smile at her and tell her she looked pretty. I didn't. When I got home, I realized that she could have been exactly the person that should hear those words. I felt bitter about her lack of interest in me, based on connections with people that live for a gentle word and a few extra dollars for their kids. Quickly I realized that I couldn't fault the supermarket goth girl. She did what she knew. She treated me the way she'd been treated in a highly plastic society. Every time I go back, I tell her something kind now. It doesn't matter how small the exchange is. She looks at me now. And she smiled once.

Nikol Haskova Studio

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Art Farm

I love to give. Whether it's a painting for a cause or for someone that needs a little love, instructions to students that can't afford classes, or my time to teach to raise money, it just feels so great. One day I'd love to be a philanthropist.  

Last week I spent two days working with The Fort Gallery. It was exhilarating. With eager students, some gorgeous sunshine and a number of talented instructors, we enjoyed a day at the farm, creating. 

Thank you, everyone that paid to come learn with the experienced teachers and with me. I hope to see you next year again, maybe with some friends. Huge. Humbling. Experience.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

nurtured land

It was a warm autumn afternoon. 
Everything basked in a glorious golden pause.
The cherry tree in the front yard was naked for the season now,
yet looked more alive than during a luscious spring.

The black feathered gentlemen and their escorts, 
I'm guessing around fifty of them, 
certainly provided an eclectic buzz. But that wasn't it.
It wasn't the 70s orangey filter on everything either, 
nor was it the absence of those metal driving machines.

No, it was none of the sound or the visual. 
It was more of the feeling. 
I knew I was witnessing something
extraordinarily touching. 
It may have been the profoundly simple gift 
of nothing and everything at the same time.


Friday, 24 July 2015

the dream spinner

softly tiptoeing beside a pillow
he gently settled for the night

pink peonies and shiny silver
and clouds of soft white

he spun out all kinds of blooms
and smiled with a deep delight

and then, with a sweet whisper
he gently blew a soft breath out

sending all flowers and silver
into long dreams to float about


the dream about a canoe

I wrote about this sweetie before, so here's a shortened version:

A couple of years ago, I was canoeing with honey and my son on Bow River. Although we were under attack by many flying beings, this poetic water journey remains one of our favourite summer memories. I can still hear the swishing sound the undergrowth made when it tickled our vessel from below. 

There's often a small puddle in the bottom of a canoe and so was the case that August day. In it, a dragonfly was floating. I picked her up and wrapped her in a tissue. Despite being still asleep when we got back on shore, I hopefully held on to this 'helicopter' and while I took countless photos of her, she indeed came back from her dream. I finally painted her last year. That piece found a good home in Winnipeg. I thought it was only fitting to paint her again and this time, bring the creation to Banff. Full circle, just as Nature is. 


Thursday, 23 July 2015

perfection of an ordinary day

The giant orb was descending and opened the door for the ritual. 
It was the same, every single day, a million times over. 
And yet, this time was different. 
As was the time before and the million times before that. 
Today, the horizon's veil was Quin Azo Gold. 
A birdsong trickled through my ears, distant and warm. 
The smell of earth was thick, sweet and muddy, with an aftertaste of leaves. 
A coolness kissed my ankles, giving me a welcome shiver and a reminder that I am present. 
I sank into the feeling, gulping it eagerly and letting the tiny piece of now echo within my entire body.

12" x 12", mixed media on panel, resin


inner song

"How do I begin to meditate?", she asked.
"I really don't think there's any right or wrong way", I answered. 
"It can start with a single breath."

"What do you do?", she continued. 
"Nothing. That's my thing. Just nothing. It's beautiful. 
You need nothing, no one, just you, the lovely you."

6" x 6", mixed media on panel, resin

the hopeless romantic

deep in thought Frederick was
as lusciously luring blooms
danced in his curious mind

he floated along a pretty road
without a wee worry  or a rush
and indulged in each sweet petal

6" x 6", mixed media on birch, resin


violet and her pet

on her tiny stage balance she did
a quirky song sing she did
performed for no one
but herself she did

a smile spill across her face it did
added a miniature dance she did
a pet on a string have she did
Peach was the name

6" x 6", mixed media on birch, resin


Tuesday, 21 July 2015

cortes island

So magnificent are British Columbia's gulf islands that I feel inadequately equipped to describe them. 

I find it so surprising that mere hours from the big city, one can find such stunning, savage, sultry beauty. The way there is lined with rich, familiar evergreens within a lush rainforest, yet marked by seeming rural poverty. Working life seems hard, if real. Small pleasures are noticed and celebrated. 

I'm not going to describe the sensory experiences. As if lured by a west coast siren, the world's nature seekers are pulled in. Close to the steep banks and lulled by the salty air, the blessed may just hear a tempting song. The place marked me. If you go, I hope it leaves traces of itself on you as well.    

Friday, 17 July 2015

salt spring, first night

the green scented forest envelopes me in warm, evergreen arms
I sit here, sipping my glass of ahh, my boy asleep in the loft

the sounds are different from those at the lake a hundred feet below
luring me for a late stroll yet whispering to just walk in my mind

I agree that the comfort of my meadow blanket deserves more time
and wind down the city echoes in my bones, fingers and thoughts

a raven couple seems to bicker gently while a nearby branch snaps
and a docile deer mother with two younglings enters my eye window

my favourite camera is intentionally left at home and I'm good with that
because I ask this furry group a permission to enter their realm instead

I may borrow my sister's records as she indulges in her preferred joy
her digital speech is royal and becomes her quietness as she sips

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

you're getting all light and pretty

Am I? 
I never thought I was dark in that context, 
but when I look at the last few years' body of work, 
calling it mostly monochromatic makes sense. 

I thought I had shaken off that "brooding eastern European"
image long ago, but when emails, conversations the social media
engagements all pointed out the fairytale-likeness, I took note.

The thing is, I've always committed to listening to my heart, 
guts and circumstances when I create. Whether I'm writing, 
painting or teaching, you know exactly where my mind is at.

Hmm. There it is. 
Life is good. Creativity abounds. Love envelopes
me in a hundred ways. Friendships bloom. Trips await.
I'm shining. High voltage, retro warm & emotionally able. 


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

feet firmly planted

on a poured concrete sidewalk. 
Normally not a huge source of pleasure 
as it's a grey, plain, hard, artificial and unloving surface. 
That doesn't mean it isn't engaging. 
There are subtle lines, ridges, bumps and veins of sand 
as well as a lovely play of shadow and light among all of those. 
And day... I came back and the same, predictable plane
 was shimmering with absolute magic. 
There was green, oh my goddess, was there green! 
Yellowy, yummy, slimy, alive, acidic and intoxicating. 
Nature often finds its way into man made monopolies. 
Hello, beautiful organic stuff. 
How utterly gorgeous you are! 
Look at you, standing your ground against that reddish cedar bit. 
How beautifully you oppose the rusted piece of something. 
And, perhaps most importantly, That Tiny Speck of Blue is simply luscious.