Painting with an audience is like stepping up to the plate – all eyes are on your every move!

opusandlibreteaPainting with an audience is like stepping up to the plate – all eyes are on your every move!

It is exhilarating, challenging
AND very vulnerable!

I’m so thankful to the staff of the North Vancouver Opus who welcomed me and helped me set up the demos that I hosted in the store.
Waiting with my tea in hand and what seemed like a very BIG blank canvas was probably the hardest part.





demo at opus
This is the 2nd painting that I started that day.

I have been practicing the art of letting go of outcome and since that was my major message for the attendees, behind the guise of a mark making demo, I took a few calming breaths and did my best to practice what I preach!

The fabulous dialogue and support of the people in room helped me put my worries aside and in no time, it felt like everyone at the demo was painting along with me!  They stepped on the field and we were in this game together!
I ended up with 2 canvases at the end of the day that I wanted to finish and share with everyone who came to witness the start.

Here’s a little play by play while I worked on the demo canvas from the morning session.


Running commentary of a painting in process:


To give you a little back story.  I demonstrated a whole series of mark making ideas with red, orange and pink acrylic paints.  I dried the paint with a hairdryer then used white and black oil based markers on the canvas. I then spent the 2nd part of the demo working in oil (my preferred medium), using complimentary blues.

This is how it looked at the end of the demo.  We all played with the orientation but when I got home I flipped it around again and blocked out some areas.




IMG_5153 IMG_5152These are a couple of sweet little details – we used some matte boards in the demo to find pleasing compositions.  It helps me to take close up photos or use the matte boards, especially when things start to get a bit chaotic, so that I can see some of the beautiful details.




I started to soften the piece with whites, creams and light blues to see if I could calm some of the chaos and allow some resting space for the eye.  This ended up being the final orientation but I flipped it around quite a bit while I worked on it.





It got too washed out at one point so I went back in with a dark marker and made very distinct shapes, then I filled them in with soft pinks & creams. The shapes seemed to float on top of the underpainting.






I knew that I needed to integrate the new shapes so I used a white oil based marker, oil pastel and white paint to blend and link the underpainting and the shapes together.   I also felt like I needed more colour so I added the gold bits.  I wanted to pull from the original warm acrylic underpainting that was orange, red and pink!


I’m happy with how it all turned out.  A friend of mine on instagram helped me name it, “Weaving the Tapestry.”  The title feels right to me because I really felt supported by the people in the room. They changed from spectators to team mates.  I like how the multiple layers have woven together to represent the many ‘hands’ involved in the process.

The afternoon session painting is not complete yet.  I’ve been posting work in progress on instagram if you are curious.

And if you are looking to dive deeper into process – take a look at some of the retreats that I’m offering.

Regardless of whether you were at the demo or not, I want to thank you for your encouragement, for being part of the whole story and for being on my team!



p.s. This link will take you to the demo/workshop page at Opus – there are some fabulous opportunities coming up!

Unity in Diversity Artist Statement via video!


This is my artist’s statement about my new series of oil paintings called the Unity in Diversity series.  Less than a minute and perhaps, my more serious philosophical side.



If you’d rather read than watch – here’s a slightly longer version:

Unity in Diversity

It comes from the shadow and the light.

It comes through the torment of Orlando, Istanbul and Nice.

It comes from my inner dialogue about gender, race, religion and power.

And out of the magic and memories of our retreat in Spain.
It is from the jaw dropping beauty of the Rocky Mountains and the experience of hiking in alpine flower meadows. And inspired by the music of Peter Gabriel and Sting on stage together.

It even comes from an encounter with a Grizzly bear.

It is from the pure beauty of colour, a celebration of rainbows and the joy of creating from a place within – that I feel so blessed to access.

It is about letting go of the idea that unity is somehow perfect, that it is circular and smooth.

It is about acknowledging the contradictions of your wants, words and actions.

It is rocking a pinstripe suit and a tattoo.

It is about recognizing that conflict and difference need to exist – they are the seeds of innovation and creativity.

And that being Whole doesn’t mean you’ve got it all together.

Unity is messy and dynamic and it is ok if pieces stick out and bits hang out on the edge.

This is the celebration of unity in diversity within our own nature,
in our relationships, in our communities and in our shared humanity.




A few pieces from the series:


I’m thankful for me (my inside me that is)!

I know that sounds kind of pompous so I’ll explain.

Up until a few years ago my most predominant self-talk was judgmental and pretty cruel.  I could hold space for everyone else.  I could find love and compassion for everyone else’s imperfections but not my own.

The voice inside my head that spoke to me was a real bitch.  She constantly reminded me that I was not good enough, that I didn’t measure up and that I should remain silent.

I’ve silenced her (for the most part) with kindness.

I realized that she hollered loud and clear because she was terrified.  She was scared that I’d get judged in the real world, scared that I would get rejected and deep down she was probably terrified of not being loved.

It has been a slow journey but through self-care, acceptance and stillness, I’ve started hearing other voices.  They are subtle and feel more like a chorus.  They often don’t even use words.  I can sense that they are speaking to me when my heart swells, when I soften a little and when I get a gut feeling.

The big loud obnoxious NO’s are being replaced with delightful openings and soft yeses or ah-ha moments.

So yes, I’m thankful for me.  I’m so glad that I take the time to tune in through meditation, walks in the woods, through art making and journaling.  I’m grateful for taking time to care for my body, my spirit and my being.

One of the greatest gifts from learning to listen is that my outer world has become a mirror, a reflection of my inner world.  I am so blessed in so many ways.  It is not to say that I don’t feel or experience negativity but I have tools to help ride through it.  I have my inner choir that chants and sings and lifts me back up.  And you know, I’ve learned to welcome the bitch into the choir.  She is kind of loud and sometimes sings off key but I think secretly, she’s happy to be accepted.


Take sweet care of yourself.  Remember to take a moment to thank yourself because all that lay out in front of you are a reflection of your inner cheer team!  Send love and compassion to your meany voice, she or he is there for a reason.  And in the meantime, it’s fun to imagine how life will unfold if we take a little more time to listen to the choir within.





My inner world on canvas:

“Grace & Courage” 54″ x 80″ oil on canvas by Marlene Lowden

What do you dream of?

I’ll tell you that I’ve dreamt about being a painter for as long as I can remember. I didn’t believe that I ever would be for almost as equally long.

Thankfully something shifted.

I can’t remember the circumstances. You would think it would have been a dramatic epiphany, but no.

It could have been one of those tragic news stories we hear almost daily, an accident, a loss. It could have been a whispered story, a diagnosis, grief. If could have been words in a book, a poem, maybe even a quote on coffee cup.

The source is irrelevant but the message was clear.

Do I have any regrets?

In this moment, at this time, if I were the subject of the news story, if I received the diagnosis, or due to loss or grief wrote the story in the book – did I have any unfulfilled dreams? Were their holes in my life, a void, or a yearning that I was ignoring?

I felt confident that I had given my girls a loving foundation that they could build on. I was blessed to have met the love of my life and be in a supportive and tender relationship. I had traveled to wonderful places. I felt secure in the knowledge that I was loved and that I had served.

I could honestly answer that only one thing remained – that at that point in time, I had not given myself enough time to explore with paint.

Simple I know and maybe to some trivial but to me, my heart’s calling.

I can’t tell you how amazing it feels now to know that even though I dream and plan and desire to continue to love, serve, and explore life – I am content.

I have honoured that dream of mine.

It hasn’t been easy. I’ve had to make choices but I return to that shift, that feeling as a filter for my decisions.

lcglogoOne of my closest friends, (since we were 18), took the leap this past year to fulfill her dream. She purchased a gift gallery in her hometown, supporting Canadian artists and artisans, serving those looking for unique and hand crafted work. I watch her working her magic in her window fronts, with her displays and her impeccable customer service.

windowpaintingI’m so proud of her. I’ll never forget the nightmare that perhaps created her shift and I am so blessed that she is in my life.

This past weekend, our dreams merged. I am her feature artist for the month with my paintings hanging in her gallery. I had the privilege of spending the day in Maple Ridge painting at the Little Cricket Gift Gallery immersed in her dream and sharing mine with those who walked in the door.

Maybe our story will serve you today.

Dream big and take a step towards it, we applaud you.