New Watercolor Set – Ireland Map

I hope everyone had a good week. Here in my little corner of the world (southwestern Nova Scotia, Canada) we seemed to have almost jumped from spring right into autumn. While much of North America is sweltering, we really have nothing to complain about. The days have been sunny and warm for the most part, with a few rainy days thrown randomly into the mix, and the nights are downright cool. (Thank GOODNESS for that!) I think there have so far been only one or two nights this season that one would call ‘uncomfortable’, as usually I need to snuggle under the covers to keep warm. It is just the way I like it and I am very grateful.

About the middle of last week, my significant other took a half-day road trip around the southern tip of the province. We had both reached a point that our work was caught up and it was only about noon. The sun was shining and the air was warm and on a whim we decided to jump into the car and just drive along the ocean. With all the miles and miles of lovely coastline to see, it is always so relaxing and inspiring. We headed toward Yarmouth to the south of us and picked our way northeast from there, following the coves and inlets, and enjoying the lovely scenery. Even after living here for nearly sixteen years, I never lose my sense of awe at how beautiful it is. We ended up in Barrington Passage and took a nice walk around the beach over the causeway and by that time the afternoon was weaning and it was time to head back home. We got here by supper time and felt like we were away for far more than a mere six hours. I guess that is part of living in such an amazing place. Many people come here for their vacations, yet we get to be on vacation just about every day. I sure do love it!

The rest of the week was rather run-of-the-mill, with me spending the early part of it cutting, packing and mailing out orders and the latter part and weekend working on some new designs. I have nearly finished one set of ornaments that I am making for an online class in September for Toletown ( ) which is a wonderful online painting community. I am on their Design Team and design two full projects which include instructional videos and one “Quick Paint” which is a quick and easy to paint project pattern per year. Each month two full classes and videos are added as well as the Quick Paint project and assorted other challenges and so forth. I have been working with them for many years and love Lorrie, the proprietor, as she is fun and easy to work with and offers SO much for such a small cost. If you want to find more information about it, you can follow the above link to learn more and see the great projects available. Being a member allows access not only to the monthly project, but all previous projects as well. (Which is a LOT!) I highly recommend it as a place to learn and share.

Here is a sneak peek at the project I am offering in September:

Of course, these are not done yet, but I thought I would tease you a bit. I will be doing a full blog post about them when they are released. So far, they are pretty fun and I only have to do the video to complete the six-ornament lesson. I am ahead of schedule for a change so my reorganization of my time must be working! (We shall see!)

In the meantime, I wanted to show you a fun painting that I did for a dear friend from grammar school that I visit with occasionally on Facebook. I so enjoy talking to my childhood friends after so many years. With some of them, we are closer now than we were way back when we were at school. It is wonderful to catch up and see where we all landed in the world. We are spread far and wide now and I love the photos of the places, families, and vacations. I always say that Facebook and social media is what we make it and I choose to use it for good instead of evil. No wonder I am so happy! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I had purchased a set of Jean Haines watercolor paint by Daniel Smith not too long ago after seeing them demonstrated by Jean in one of her videos. This set is called the “Master Art Set” and contained ten, 5ml (small) tubes of paint in some basic, yet beautiful colors:

Not only did I love the palette, but I liked the fact that some of the colors in the set were ‘granulating’, which means that when painting with them, instead of laying down smooth, the pigment separated a bit from the binder and water and it gave a beautiful, textured effect. There were also some colors in which the pigments themselves gave a somewhat multi-tonal effect. This would be wonderful for certain kinds of paintings such as forests, grasses, and ocean scenes.
Aren’t they just YUMMY? I couldn’t wait to try them out when they arrived. Coincidentally, they came just after I had spoken to one of my friends and was thinking that I would like to make something special to send her. Her family was like a second family to me and I had many (many!) fond memories of times spent at her house with them for parties, occasions, holidays, and just days after school and on weekends. She was one of my best friends and part of the group that meant more to us than anything.

One thing I remembered most about her family was their pride in their Irish heritage. Coming from Chicago where they dye the Chicago River green each St. Patrick’s Day and hold a large parade, I remember parties and celebrations that focused on their Irish roots. So it came to mind to me that maybe she would enjoy having a watercolor map of Ireland as a keepsake.

I saw a relief map on Google and decided to use that. I am afraid I don’t remember the actual source, but there are many maps in the public domain that would be suitable.

I drew a rough outline and began toning and painting the map. I used the Daniel Smith paint, my Black Velvet #4 brush by Silver Brush, and Canson Montval 140lb, 300 g watercolor paper. The size of the paper is 9″ x 12″.

I certainly didn’t want to paint every single nook and cranny, but I got the basic shape as close as I could. After working through a few layers, I was pretty encouraged and it was looking pretty nice.

You can really see how beautifully the granulation effect worked on the below picture:

I kept layering and it really turned out quite nice:

But that somehow didn’t seem to be ‘enough.’ I didn’t want to just leave it plain like that, even though I loved the effect of the paint.

So I had an idea . . .

I decided to use a little bit of my gold metallic paint and LIGHTLY wash the brighter areas here and there. The gold I used was by Paul Rubens and I had a set of 24 half-pans of Pearlescent colors that are actually metallic colors. I got mine on Amazon for a very reasonable cost and I actually prefer them to the Daniel Smith Metallic Watercolors (also Jane Heines colors) that I had. They seems to require less paint for more of a shimmer and work just beautifully without having to over-saturate the painting again. By adding a small amount of shimmer to the ‘high’ areas on the relief areas, it really added depth and brilliance to the painting.

The effect was very subtle and you needed to look at it on an angle to see the metallic effect. It didn’t wash out the dark areas and left the painting with a beautiful contrast.

But once again, I still felt it still needed a little something ‘more’. So I decided to add a Celtic trinity symbol on the upper left area of the painting:

I thought that the Celtic symbol would be the perfect touch. I created it in colors similar to those I used on the map.

I must say – painting and shading the symbol was both fun and relaxing. I was so, so pleased with the result.

As a final touch, I decided to take things just one more step further and add some real gold leafing on the map and symbol. (After all – legend has it that leprechauns hide their gold in Ireland, don’t they? So why not add a bit of gold to really put this project over the top?)

I gently tapped some leafing adhesive here and there and sprinkled the metal gold leaf into place. The result was awesome!

And here is a photo of the Trinity with the leafing in place:

How cool is that? I really think it came out awesome!

I was thinking how nice this concept would be for a family gift for either Christmas, housewarming, or any occasion. You could do a ‘heritage map’ in watercolor, acrylic, colored pencil, or any medium that you feel comfortable using.

To finish things off, I cut a double mat for it so it would fit into a standard 11″ x 14″ frame. That way I didn’t have to choose a frame or ship one all the way to Chicago from Nova Scotia. Below is the final painting:

I am happy to say that I think she liked it very much. I know I really enjoyed painting it. Not only that, but I like the whole idea of this type of thing (a map) as a gift for someone on your list that is difficult to get something for. Who wouldn’t like a commemoration of their family heritage as a keepsake? With so many into genealogy and family trees and trying to find their roots, I think it would be a suitable and cherished gift for so many. Something to think about for this upcoming holiday season . . .

For more information on the Jean Haines Master Artist paint set by Daniel Smith, you can visit Jean’s website here:

For those of you who paint, it is a beautiful addition to your watercolor paint collection and whether you use these colors ‘as is’ or mix them with each other or colors in your own set, I think you will love them. I certainly do.

So that is about it for this week. I will be spending the weekend working on my next new design and goofing off a little bit as well. Right now I am in a very comfortable place with my work, and while I feel there is a bit of a ‘lull’ in my personal creativity (I don’t have anything in the works for my finer art paintings and/or creations) there is enough creativity in working on my patterns and on designs from fellow artists to keep me happy and productive. I know my own creative juices will flow freely again, too. It is just that things often go through cycles and allowing them to flow the way they were intended is easier than fighting things. In any case, I won’t be bored or looking for something to do. I have lots of fun ideas of things I want to try.

Have a wonderful weekend and a productive week ahead. Sunday is AUGUST already! Sheesh! Where did the summer go?

Don’t forget you can join my creative group:ย Letโ€™s Paint (and CREATE!) with Sheila Landryย . It is a great place to share your projects, meet other happy, creative people, and stay inspired!ย 

Until next time . . .

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Vera says:

    I know how lucky you are surrounded by such beauty in Nova Scotia. I have loved my visits to you.

    Your water color is exquisite. I love how it turned out. I also love your Tole Town project. They are a cool vintage style that I so love.

    Iโ€™m looking forward to seeing more of your creations!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just love where I live. It is beautiful every day in every season. Thanks for your nice comments. ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. Nothing like a good day’s outing. Love the map – looks great.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Andrew. There are so many peaceful and beautiful places here in my neck of the world. I am truly grateful to live in such a lovely place. Thanks on the map, too. A simple idea that really came out nicer than I expected. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Sheila. Reading about your trip around the coast brought back memories of our trip to Nova Scotia a few years back. I have fond memories of meeting you both over lunch. Nova Scotia is a beautiful place and Jim and I sure enjoyed the places and the people.

    Your map of Ireland is stunning and I like your inclusion of the Trinity knot. You have got my brain ticking over and a project came to mind for a Christmas present. If it turns out as Iโ€™m visualizing it in my head, I will sent a photo.
    Enjoy the long weekend Sheila. Happy August!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. That seems so long ago, doesn’t it? We were in our tiny place back then. I love our home and area here so much. We are very lucky and I am happy you wanted to stop by.

      I love the idea of this map and I can’t wait to see what you come up with. I hope you do follow through on it. Somehow the lightbulb just went off and it was one of those, “Why didn’t I think of this before?” ideas that suits so many occasions.

      I hope you are still staying safe out where you are and cooling off. Take care and my best to Jim. โค


  4. Lakshmi Bhat says:

    That is a wonderful drive. The ocean is always fascinating. Its infinity is a humbling experience. We live not very far from the Arabian sea. I too like Facebook because it helps me to be in some contact with friends and relatives. Your painting of Ireland has made it alive. Recently I was reading books set in Ireland ๐Ÿ™‚


    1. Thank you, Lakshmi. ๐Ÿ™‚ I also like books set in Ireland. (and Shetland, UK) I had read all of the detective books from Tana French – an Irish author, and I loved them. Thank you for your kind comments. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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