Anima McKertcher

Everything Beautiful

Crimson Blossoms and Gold

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Crimson Blossoms and Gold 6" W x 6" H x 1.375" D Oil Pastel and Acrylic on Canvas

Crimson Blossoms and Gold
6" W x 6" H x 1.375" D
Oil Pastel and Acrylic on Canvas

She is a miniature floral beauty with big grey eyes and red-auburn waves of hair. Her journey began with burnt sienna overlaid with gold and ended with embellishments of crimson, pink, coral and rose blossoms.

The Pain of Writing

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Writing for me has always been a painful exercise. Not because I don't feel I have something to say, but because I worry about precision. Words are powerful and once they go out into the world, they cannot be brought back. This is especially true when they are written down for others to read.

So I go through the struggle of choosing the right words, and putting them in the perfect order. Then I second guess what I've written. Then I rewrite and second guess again. Eventually I have something I'm willing to share, but like I said, I find the process painful. I also feel very self conscience about the end result if what I wrote is about myself.

I was asked recently why I don't write very much and that was my answer. My husband has helped me tremendously by encouraging me to be more personal and less formal with my writing and not to worry so much about perfection. Still I find it infinitely more fulfilling to express myself through my art. 

When I googled "the pain of writing"  I was comforted to see that even gifted and professional writers struggle with this. For instance, Lauren Martin's wrote about this "hard truth that all aspiring writers must accept"

The worse the pain, the better the writing. The best works are completed while drowned in complete sorrow, all-consuming pain and utter despair. A good writer always writes through his pain, leaking the truths and woes that come with from real emotion. The words should cut the reader, soaking them in the very pain the writer just bled onto the page. The greatest works of literature, music and art are bred from pain.

So it seems that the writing process is painful for many of us, whatever level of talent we feel we have.

Transition to

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This summer I said goodbye to and transitioned to It's one of many changes I've been implementing over the past couple years. I'm also painting using a streamlined studio practice in a new home studio in a new house. I'm excited to reconnect with everyone again and share some of the new paintings I've been working on. There are around ten of them in various stages of development. 

Peaceful Fantasy Painting: Dreamscape

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© Anima McKertcher
20" x 25" (50 cm x 62.5 cm)
Oil Pastel on Canson Mi-Teintes paper
Colours: Blue, White, Pink, Purple, Chocolate Brown

After 15 months of painting, Dreamscape is finally complete! It's a fantasy painting of a black man and a tree that, I've been told, evokes feelings of peace and serenity.

Abstract Landscapes and Florals by Mandy Budan

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Forest Patterns by Mandy Budan

Artwork (with permission from the artist):
Forest Patterns

© Mandy Budan
16" x 20"
Acrylic on Panel

Canadian acrylic artist Mandy Budan's work is unexpected and striking. Her Etsy avatar was my first glimpse of her art, and always curious about another Canadian artist, I checked out her shop on Etsy. What a brilliant surprise!

What I'd assumed to be a contemporary abstract painting went far beyond that. The kaleidoscope of shapes and colors transformed into a beautiful summer landscape. I was fascinated.

Last Rose of Summer by Mandy Budan

Artwork (with permission from the artist):
Last Rose of Summer

© Mandy Budan
18" x 24"
Acrylic on Panel

By day, Mandy's a "mild-mannered graphic designer", to quote her own words. But by night, she recreates the scenery, decomposing sky, trees, leaves and flowers into discrete shapes and colors. Ordinary details are re-imagined as geometric designs, but with the structure, patterns, and rhythms of the natural world.

Mandy's strong use of color strikes a chord with me. Hues are vibrant and create stunning contrasts. My favorite thing about her work is the feeling I get of coming in and out of the painting, of seeing abstract forms one minute and an entire landscape vista the next.

Spring Light by Mandy Budan

Mist Patterns
© Mandy Budan
9" x 12"
Acrylic on Panel

Mandy's blog, features her paintings in progress. I'm filled with curiosity about her translation of reference pictures into her painting concepts and then to preliminary drawings. Her preliminary drawings are intricate, to say the least.

Looking through her portfolio of work, the finished paintings vary in their levels of abstraction. Some are barely recognizable as landscapes while the scenes of other pieces jump right out. It makes for a refreshing variety. Diverse color palettes and subjects also keep the viewer interested. Make sure you browse her abstract landscape art website to see her entire portfolio.

Related Articles

Under-Drawing or Preliminary Sketching Mediums for Oil Pastel Paintings

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Reader Question

A fellow artist and friend who's dipping her toe into the joyous world of oil pastels asked me:

With oil pastels, do you draw out everything in pencil first? I'm doing some practice runs but the pencil blends in a bit with the pastels... what do you do?

Quick Answer

I sketch with a neutral colored oil pastel stick or sometimes a pale grey colored pencil.

To Elaborate

In over ten years of using oil pastels, I've tried a lot of mediums for drawing out my composition. In this post I'll discuss using pencils, colored pencils, and oil pastels. There's pros and cons to each, but I definitely have my preferences.

For oil pastel paintings, I almost never under-draw the composition with graphite pencils.

Why I Almost Never Under-Sketch with Pencils

Graphite pencils are a natural first choice when it's time to draw your composition before painting. They're as comfortable as fleece pants on a cold northern Alberta day. After all, as artists, we've been drawing with them since grade school. When the general public thinks of the word 'draw', the word 'pencil' isn't far behind. So what's the problem, then?

On paper, pencil is an easy fit. But it's a different story on canvas which is my support of choice for major paintings. The natural roughness of the canvas' gessoed cotton or linen is a hassle as a surface for pencil. Pencil will skip over and skirt around the bumps, making your lines look shaky and broken.

Ever made a mistake on your drawing? How about changed your mind about where to put your subject's hand? Pencil can be forgiving but not always. If your marks are too dark, they may not totally erase away, whether you're using canvas or paper. In fact, some papers can't bear up under vigorous erasing at all.

Plus even lightly drawn pencil marks show through under layers of light to medium values of oil pastel.

Okay, I'm done raining on pencils now. They're not all bad when it comes to under-drawing. Pencils are great for drawing fine details (eyes and ears), complex subjects, or structures that call for precision (architecture). So if you're the kind of artist that completes detailed under-drawings before the oil pastels go on, you may want to consider pencils anyways. Just remember to press lightly!

For oil pastel paintings, I'll sometimes sketch with colored pencils.

Why I Under-Draw with Colored Pencils Some of the Time

Colored pencils marry the precision of graphite pencils with a soft blendable mark. Of course, the softness and blendability (is that a word?) will vary depending on the brand of colored pencil. So choose the brand based on your preference: hardness for precision and softness for blending and forgiveness.

I strictly use gray colored pencils for my under-drawing. Gray is such a lovely neutral color. It blends well with oil pastel colors and leaves a light mark that's easy to cover up. I tend to cover up changes more so than erasing them, so they fit well with my painting process.

Why I Under-Sketch with Oil Pastels

Because I like forgiveness and I need a lot of it! Changing my mind about compositional details is something I like to have the option of doing. It's my peroggative, right? Sketching with oil pastels gives me that freedom more than colored pencils and definitely more than a graphite pencil. They'll either blend with your other layers of color easily or be covered over, depending on the techniques you use for applying the oil pastels.

Be careful when under-drawing with colors that are dark or contain yellow. Dark oil pastels will stain your support and then their goes the forgiveness you were hoping for. Also, yellowish oil pastels may add unwanted tints to the colors you lay over top.

I typically use a warm pale grey color. It's easy to see over the whiteness of the canvas but blends beautifully with all the other colours.

The only negative to under-drawing with oil pastels is the lack of precision. Try cutting the edge of a blunt stick of oil pastel with a razor to help you make more detailed marks. But even with this trick, you'll rarely achieve the accuracy of a pencil (graphite or colored). But if you're like me and save your details until you get further along your painting process, then oil pastels are definitely the way to go.

What about you? What medium do you use for under-drawing your oil pastel paintings?

My Small Business is Painting Women

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© Anima McKertcher
36" x 48"
Oil pastel on canvas

Naomi Dunford at IttyBiz, easily writes the most colorful blog I read. And yesterday she invited us to play the 'What's your home business' game. Apparently one of her readers recently surprised her with just that question.

I can't imagine that anyone's unsure of what I do based on the giant Art by Anima lettering at the top of this page, but who knows. It certainly can't hurt to be more explicit. So here are my answers to Naomi's questions.

1. What’s your game? What do you do?

Art, baby, art. Specifically, creating visual art with oil pastels and acrylic paint on stretched canvas. Subjects: beautiful women, colorful flowers, and plans are in the works for fine wine too. Style: romantic realism meets fantasy.

Sometimes I release this art as high quality, professionally printed, limited edition prints. And sometimes I collaborate with you to create personalized custom portraits done to your specifications.

2. Why do you do it? Do you love it, or do you just have one of those creepy knacks?

I have an incredible passion for painting - the challenge, the process, and the final product. I'd like to think I also have a 'creepy knack' for it but mostly it comes down to practice and hard work.

3. Who are your customers? What kind of people would need or want what you offer?

My customers are self confident, know their own mind, and are bold about

expressing their personal taste. After all, they don't shy away from having a

large colorful painting of a beautiful woman on their living room wall. And occasionally, they like to spoil themselves with luxury items such as fine wine, fresh flowers, original paintings, and limited edition prints.

4. What’s your marketing USP? Why should I buy from you instead of the other losers?

Quality. Beauty. Originality. And great customer service directly from me.

5. What’s next for you? What’s the big plan?

Doing more of what I love.

How About You?

What's your small business? Write your own post, share here, and or comment on IttyBiz.

When Naomi does her round-up of everyone's posts and responses, I'll add the link here.

Color Reference Tip for Artists


If you're an artist, I recommend you go to Home Depot and grab one of every single color card from the CIL paint collection. I did this on Saturday. Then I grabbed the Ralph Lauren color sample book for good measure. I'm not sure how long it actually took but it felt like an eternity - there were hundreds, and hundreds of cards. Plus, I braved a record-breaking snow storm and icy roads. Ah, the joys of spring in northern Alberta!

So why bother? For three reasons:

1) Commissions

Getting the colors right on a commission is critical, especially when your collector has plans for where the painting is going to hang. But the words your collector uses for colors might be vague, inaccurate, or just plain different from what you're used to. For instance: peach, coral, and pink, or turquoise, aqua, and sea green, or mauve, lilac, and lavender. Which one is which, and would your collector, husband, sister, and best friend all make the same call?

It's so much easier to have them just point to the color on the card! This even works when there's no chance to meet with your collector locally. Just have them email you with the names and brand of the colors they like.

Then all you have to do is match their selections within reason.

2) Choosing the Right Color

Whether it's for a commission or your own self-directed painting, take the color samples to the art supply store when you're picking out your oil pastels, or your colored pencils, or whatever you're medium of choice is. If your memory is anything like mine it's best to have a tangible reference to work from and not a vague recollection.

3) Inspiration

This was an unexpected side effect of looking at all those colors. I felt instantly inspired. It was kind of like the feeling I get at the art supply store when I'm looking at all those gorgeous oil pastel sticks. Honestly, I'm getting tingly just thinking about it.

The different hues, shades, values, and tints can really get you going if you ever get painter's block. Just imagine all the color combinations you've yet to explore!

How About You

Check out how Jerry Lebo uses color references or share what you use for reference colors and why.

Painting Tips for Realistic Hair and Shadow Colors


In the last week I've read a couple really exceptional posts with painting tips that I'm going to start using myself.

Painting the Colors in Shadows

Jerry Lebo of Sixty Minute Artist offers an excellent exercise on exploring shadow colors.

The first message I want to get across is: shadows are colors! Let me say it again another way: the color you are putting in the shadow is just as important as the color you are putting on the highlight. If either one is wrong--the painting will suffer. Okay, so how do you find the right shadow color? Well, first, you need to be able to see the shadow color. So let me give you a little exercise that I have learned that will help developed your mind and eyes to better see shadow colors.

The Secret of Visualizing Hair as Ribbons

Ever struggled to paint hair simply but realistically? For many years, I've had varying degrees of success with painting hair. After reading James Gurney's article on the Ribbon Secret, I now have words for what I've been trying to do all along.

Earlier this week we looked at how to solve the “string mop” problem by using big brushes, keeping the masses simple, and softening edges. It also helps to visualize masses of hair as ribbons. In a real ribbon, the highlight goes across, not along, the curving shapes.

What are your useful painting tips and techniques?

You Got Oil Pastel Paint on Your Carpet! What Do You Do?

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You may already have read about how, to my complete and utter dismay, oil pastel paint was tracked all over my cream colored carpets. Now, here’s what my husband and I did to get it out, along with a few lessons learned about what not to do next time.

Pick and Cut it Out

The strategy of picking and cutting the oil pastel out of the carpet may seem barbaric and ill advised on first glance. However, I’ve implement it successfully on a few different occasions.

Start by using tweezers to pick as much of the oil pastel off of the carpet as possible. This works because oil pastels are a solid combination of pigment, oil and wax. Then carefully separate out the stained fibres from the clean fibres and cut the oil pastel out.

I like this technique because it’s effective, fast and doesn’t cause a lot of wear and tear on the carpet. But if the stain is large, do not attempt or you’ll end up with a patch in your carpet and a migraine in your head.

Dawn Dishwashing Soap

The next strategy was to pour undiluted Dawn dishwashing soap on the stains and dab at them. The idea came from a Google search on cleaning oil pastel stains from carpet. Eventually, the stains are gone, but with circles of blue liquid soap in their place. Obviously, though, a blue polka dotted carpet is not the objective here.

I have to say, I wasn’t too happy with this technique. The lather from the soap took forever to come out, and I’d really like to emphasize forever. Only after using both a rug doctor and a wet vacuum were the blue dots and the lather finally indiscernible. And I’m still worried there’s some left in the carpet.

What To do Next Time

I’d like to think we’ll never get oil pastel paint on the carpet again, but who am I kidding? So when this happens again, I’m going to do the following:

  1. Use tweezers to pick the excess oil pastel out of the affected carpet fibres.
  1. Put odourless solvent on two cotton swabs and gently press each affected fibre between the swabs.
  1. Repeat step 2 using Mona Lisa pink brush cleaner instead of the odourless solvent.
  1. Add a tiny bit of water for rinsing and dab the spot until dry.

Hopefully, neither you nor I will have to test out this method any time soon, but if and when I do, I’ll let you know how it went. Hopefully it’s in the far far distant future. In the meantime, here are some more ideas for getting out your oil pastel stains and remember to share your experience in the comment box below:

The Night Oil Pastel Paint Stained Your Carpet


It’s Friday at 5:55 pm. You’re bustling around the kitchen cooking supper when you see your husband pointing to a dark burgundy streak on the cream colored ceramic tile. And your heart sinks. Then he points to another one and another one and burgundy spots all over your pale cream living room carpet. And you just cannot believe this is happening!

This is what happened to me a few weeks ago. Apparently a tiny piece of oil pastel got stuck on the bottom of my husband’s foot. And, since he is almost constantly in motion, he tracked it all over the place.

Maybe you’ve experienced a similar sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach? If so read on. If not, read on – your day will come.

Getting the oil pastel paint off the ceramic tile only required soap, water, and a little scrubbing. Getting the oil pastel paint out of the carpet, though, was something else altogether. So how can you get it out? Read the post You Got Oil Pastel Paint on Your Carpet! What Do You Do? to find out.

Passionate Floral and Still Life Paintings by Lisa Ernst

Lisa Ernst Passionate Floral Paintings

Artwork (with permission from the artist):
Night Blooming Cereus
20" x 16"
Acrylic on Canvas

A couple weeks ago while wandering through an online art directory, I stumbled across an amazing find: some of the most beautiful floral paintings I've ever seen.

Lisa Ernst creates what she calls Passionate Floral and Still Life Paintings. Her work is large in scale, vivid, bold and colorful. I've been irresistible drawn to her site several more times since.

Flowers, leaves and vines have always been inspirational to me and I've featured them in several of my paintings including Efflorescence.

This summer, I'm trying to keep my digital camera with me so I can take reference photos of the beautiful plants and flowers I see in my neighbourhood. Hopefully I can incorporate these images into some of my new exotic fantasy paintings (I currently have over 50 planned). Other than a beautiful woman, nothing's more gorgeous than a luscious flower petal.

An Unwelcome Visitor


Lips of an Angel
© Anima McKertcher
6" x 6"
Oil Pastel on Canvas

Last night I spent the evening painting peacefully on my balcony until … well I'll get to that shortly. Let me set the stage first: I'm about to spend the rest of the night painting and usually, when I'm painting, I listen to music or watch a movie or something. But, alas, I had temporarily misplaced my iPod. And instead of popping in Pride and Prejudice and painting on the island in my kitchen, I'm lured outside by the warmth of the sun. For the last couple weeks, Edmonton has been having sensational weather: clear skies and 28 C (82 F) all the time. Absolutely perfect.

So I'm sitting back in my chair with a 6" x 6" canvas on my lap, watching the tall grass in the park dance with the breeze, and listening to the birds sing. My fingers were sticky from rubbing yellow, orange, and pink oil pastels onto the canvas and the sun is just starting to set. Contentment has slowed my hyper heart to an easy relaxed beat.

Then, my visitor arrives.

A ½ inch long spider. Grey and white with dark markings. Suspended behind my head on its silky white web. Wonderful. Just. Wonderful.

I'm pleased to announce that I neither screamed nor leaped up and spilled my art supplies all over the place. On the contrary, I'm very calm as I begin plotting to kill it. I contemplate using the painting I'm working on. After all, the flat edges of the canvas would be great for spider squashing. But no, I wouldn't want to jeopardize the painting so moving on … oh look! In my hand is the paper towel that I use for keeping my oil pastels clean. I could use it to grab the spider and squish it. That would bring the spider into very close proximity with me, though. And what if I missed when trying to make a grab for it and it wound up landing on my lap or my hand? No. Way. That would be unacceptable! So what now?

Ah, I finally notice the sandals I'm wearing. And as I'm preparing to slip off the sandal and do the spider in, I start to feel bad. I flash back to my husband telling me how spiders eat mosquitoes and how they're so small and we're the big mean giants compared to them. And, here I want to kill another living creature that's just minding its own business. This is the guilt trip (that inevitably fails) that my husband uses when I ask him to kill a spider for me. It's just - why does it have to have so many legs? And why does it have to be so creepy looking? I guess it can't help how it looks … maybe I should just leave it alone …

It wasn't easy, but I did manage to leave the spider alone. I turned around and tried to continue working on my painting. Concentrating was impossible and I found myself turning around again and again to peer at the disgusting little thing and make sure it wasn't about to pounce on me. But eventually I became re-engrossed in my painting, forgot all about the spider, and enjoyed the lovely sunset.

I'm very proud of myself for letting that spider live. However, I make no guarantees for the safety of the next spider that crosses my path. In fact, I make no guarantees for the safety of this spider if it manages to crawl off the balcony and into our condo. Hopefully, it's smarter than that.

Another 4 AM Painting Bender


Breath of Light
12" x 36"
Oil Pastel on Canvas

I think last night proved once again that I'm not the smartest person around these parts … but I couldn't resist. I started painting a really soft, dreamy background of yellows, peaches and pinks. And from there the painting progressed really quickly - so quickly in fact that the hours just raced by.

A seven-hour late-night painting binge later, I completed Breath of Light and I absolutely love it. It's proved to be very popular too, with the original selling before it was officially released.

I may have suffered a painting hangover the next morning, but it was well worth it. So that means I didn't learn my lesson and I'll probably be doing this again very soon.

How to Respond to a Scam Email


I've been receiving so many scam emails as of late that I composed a special email response to use each time. Now I just reply to the email with this message and I never hear back from that person again. Why send a reply? On the off chance that someone sending a suspicious sounding email is legitimately interested in my art. Hopefully, this message will get around to the circle of scammers and I won't hear from any of them again.

Feel free to adapt and use this message whenever you get a scam email.

Your email has been flagged as suspicious for one or more of the following reasons:

  1. references to artwork not created by Anima

  2. the structure and wording of the email matches those used for fraud

  3. request to use private shipping company

  4. request to pay in either a Certified Cheque or Bank Transfer

  5. request for prices on artwork when all prices are already available at
Please note that Art by Anima will not ship any artwork until the payment has cleared the issuing bank. This often takes 4 weeks or more. There are no exceptions to this policy. Art by Anima will only accept payment in the exact amount of the artwork purchased. We will not reimburse a third party including a shipping company for any monies paid in addition to the price of the artwork.

If you have received this message in error we sincerely apologize. Just reply to this message and your email will be forwarded to the appropriate individual at Art by Anima.

Thank you,
Email Administrator
Art by Anima

June 4, 2007 Update: This email response has been working brilliantly. I haven't received any scam emails since May 8th. Hopefully, it stays that way, but I'll let you know if I receive another one.


Should you Buy a Giclee Print?

The buzz is stong and building: Giclee prints are everywhere - from your local gallery to world renound museums. And they're selling too! But not without controversy.

A lot of this controversy comes from the misunderstanding of exactly what you get when you buy a giclee or the misrepresentation of works for sale. (I'll be posting an article on how to protect yourself from this kind of misrepresentation called Giclee Buyer Beware! in the future.) Some in the art world also try to discredit giclee prints. Maybe you've heard statements like "Giclee is not art." An interesting article at debunks some common myths and misconceptions about giclee prints.

In light of this controversy it's only reasonable to ask, "Should you buy a giclee print?" Here are 3 reasons why giclee prints are not only worth your money but deserve your respect too.

1. Accepted & endorsed by fine art experts. Prominent and famous museums from around the world display and collect giclee prints. Here is a list of just some of these:

  • Metropolitan Museum, New York

  • Museum of Modern Art, New York

  • Guggenheim, New York

  • Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia

  • San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco

  • Los Angeles Museum of Art, Los Angeles

  • The High Museum, Atlanta

  • The Corcoran Museum, Washington, DC

  • The Louvre

  • The British Art Museum

  • The National Museum of Mexico

2. Appreciates in value. Because of it's high quality and relative rarity, a limited edition giclee is valuable from it's initial printing. But these giclee prints also become more valuable over time as the artist gains more and more recognition and the edition of the print sells out. In fact, at recent auctions, giclee prints have been purchased for thousands of dollars. The following are some examples:

  • $10,800 for Annie Leibovitz

  • $9,600 for Chuck Close

  • $22,800 for Wolfgang Tillmans

3. High quality, archival image. The giclee print medium has been a revolution in fine art printing. Recognized as the most accurate printing technique, giclees are 98% true to the original. In fact, without a close inspection some giclees are difficult to distinguish from the original painting. The professional 8 to 12-color ink jet printers used in the process produce a high resolution image of 1400 to 1800 dpi (dots per inch). And because no screens are used, continuous color is achieved. That means no visible dots as you would get with lithographs. Authentic giclees are made with the finest pigments and printed on acid-free substrates such as canvas. They are guaranteed to be light fast for 75 years. If framed under glass, this can even extend to 200 years.

It's no wonder Giclees are quickly gaining popularity over other fine art printing mediums like lithographs. So should you buy a giclee print? If you want to own a print that's archival, valuable and respected by fine art experts, then the answer is simple: Absolutely.

How to Turn Your Bathroom into a Home Spa


If you're looking for instructions on how to install a sunken bath tub this is not the article for you. I'm talking about giving your bathroom the look of a home spa retreat with a few decorating touches. Let's begin the transformation!

The Foundation

Start with warm, soothing colors to set the tone for your home oasis. Try borrowing your color scheme from our natural environment. There are so many great elements to work with. Visualize the grains and colors from trees like cherry, walnut, cedar and oak. Imagine the look and texture of stones like granite, onyx, slate and limestone. Whatever palette inspires you, relaxes you, go for it! Once you've selected the colors that suite your personality use them for your walls, shower curtain, window coverings, and floor mats.

The Details

1. Plants. Plants are a great way to bring the outdoors in - especially when you don't have French doors in your bathroom with a view of the park. Choose lush, leafy plants that bring the tropics to mind or elegant, darkly colored plants for a Japanese garden feel.

2. Towels. And lots and lots of towels. Stack them on the side of the tub. Fold a few beside your sink. Roll them up and stick them in a basket. You can use many different sizes of towels but it's best to stick to only one or two colors. I prefer white. It looks fresh and clean and goes with any of your other colors. Plus, since white towels are regularly used in hotels and spas it gives your bathroom an authentic and professional feel. And while you're at it, buy yourself a fluffy robe. It's a great way to end a long, hot bubble bath.

3. Glass. Practical, economical and beautiful. You can keep your cotton balls and cotton swabs in glass jars. Fill glass bowls and vases with stones, bath beads, rice or fresh flowers.

4. Soap. It's not just plain old bar soap anymore! Today, soaps come in so many forms: oils, gels, beads. They're fragrant, colorful, functional and an easy way to accessorize your bathroom.

5. Candles. Ambiance and aroma are a couple of the benefits you get from a few well placed candles. With different colors, shapes, sizes and fragrances you can create a cozy and unique environment.

6. Fountain. The sound of flowing water can take you away to tranquility like few other things. Consider incorporating a simple water feature into your bathroom.

7. Art. Now that you've gone this far, don't forget about your bare walls! Hang one or two paintings that highlight your color palette and enhance your spa theme. Exotic paintings that feature women, plants and or water work really well for this.

A few of these simple steps will transform your bathroom into a soothing oasis. All you need now is an aesthetician to give you a facial before you soak in your tub. Happy relaxing!

8 Ways to Add Height to Your Room


Do you feel like Shaquille O'Neal without the $20 million dollar NBA contract? You might not be able to move into a house with 10-foot ceilings but there are several tricks you can use "heighten" your room.

1. Paint your Walls

Paint your walls with light colors. The darker or warmer the paint color, the smaller your room looks. But this doesn't mean your walls have to be stark white. Choose a light tint of your favorite color. The best choice is a pale cool color from the family of greens, blues or purples. Even if pale walls are too 'blah' for your liking - there's lots you can do.

Paint one of your small walls with the color you want. Choose paint that's bright as opposed to dark. This will give the room the light, airy, open feeling you are going for. A dark color on the other hand can make your room feel like it's cozier. And this will only compound your low ceiling problem.

Feature large paintings on your walls to bring your favorite colors into the room. (There are more tips on selecting art to "heighten" your living space below.) Then you can leave the walls a light color. Not only does this help lift up the room, but it can also save you time and money. And you don't just save now; you also save because you don't have to repaint the wall when you get sick of that color down the road.

2. Paint your Ceiling

A dark ceiling can make a room with low ceilings feel even smaller and more oppressive. Fortunately, most homes already have a white ceiling. But if yours doesn't then pick up a roller and paint it white!

If you're adamantly opposed to white ceilings (I know some people who are) then choose another color. Just make sure the color is the same as your wall or a lighter shade of your wall color. The goal is to make sure your eyes can keep traveling upwards. A darker color on the ceiling will end that journey before it starts.

Consider this really cool way to add several inches of height to your walls. When you're painting your walls, extend the color to your ceiling by 2 or more inches. Measure it out and use painter's tape to make it look neat and consistent.

3. Use Dark Flooring

A dark floor grounds your living space. If you rent an apartment and can't change the flooring or have already invested a lot of money in hardwood or laminate, don't despair. Buy a dark colored rug. Make sure the rug is nice and large. Small area rugs can take away from your ceiling height.

4. Consider Your Architectural Details

Avoid crown moldings since they will only reduce the height of your wall even further. Paint your baseboards the same color as your wall. This will make your wall appear to stretch downward adding height to the room.

5. Hang Tall Art

Choose art with a portrait orientation. This will make your eye travel vertically. If you can, select a painting where the darker values are at the bottom and the lighter values are on the top. Again, your eyes will be drawn from the bottom of the painting upward. But any painting with a vertical composition will work really well here. Forget about art with a landscape orientation. It'll make your eye travel horizontally which is good if you have a narrow room but bad when you have low ceilings.

As an alternative to using one large painting, try hanging a few small paintings in a vertical line on your wall. This technique is great on a small wall that's ordinarily bare or doesn't have a piece of furniture in front of it.

6. Incorporate Tall Plants

Use tall skinny plants to decorate. If you don't have a green thumb and inevitably kill all plants (I have this affliction), then try bamboo or tall dried grasses and branches. Throw them into a tall thin vase and stick it in the corner of the room. It's fast, simple and zero maintenance (except for dusting).

7. Select and Arrange Your Furniture

Keep your furniture lines low by choosing couches and chairs with low backs. Use an open arrangement. When your guests walk into the room, there should be a sizeable open pathway leading to the sitting area. Minimize how much furniture you use. All of these techniques will open up the space, making it feel comfortable and roomy.

8. Lots of Lights

This may seem like common sense, but how many living rooms have you been in with very little lighting? In a room with lots of space less light can add to the ambiance. But in a room with a low ceiling it can just be depressing. Be generous with your use of light. Have as much light on your ceiling as possible. Tall standing lamps work really well for this. They draw the eye up and brighten up the ceiling making the room look taller. Small inset light fixtures in the ceiling will also work wonders.

You don't need to follow every single step listed here for success. Even using a couple of these tricks will give you the illusion of higher ceilings in your home. Have fun decorating and let me know how it turns out!

The Anima Controversy

I've seen a lot of blank stares on people's faces the first time they hear my name. "Ani - what?" they may ask. "Anima," I reply. That's pronounced Ah-Nee'-Ma, not Animo, Amoeba, Enigma, Anemic or 'that girl whose name is a disease' - though I have been known to respond to the preceding. I've even been called George, but that's an entirely separate story.

When my husband first met me he wrote down my name phonetically - I guess he realized he'd never be able to remember it otherwise. Now after I'm introduced to someone, I'll tell them that my name is spelled "like 'Animal' without the 'l'." It's amazing how much that helps.

People often tell me how unique or different my name is, that's why I'm so surprised when I "Google" my name. First I'm asked if I meant "Anime" which I find kind of funny. Then I come across a gamut of different ways that the name Anima is used:

  • in Latin it refers to passion and living essence

  • Carl Jung psychology uses Anima to mean the unconscious, true inner self or the feminine inner personality in the unconscious of the male

  • at least a couple different music groups use Anima in their name

  • DC Comics publishes a comic book named Anima

And on and on it goes. My favorite comes from my mother: She's always told me that my name means beautiful. I know I was named after my uncle Anim, so how can that be true? But why ask too many questions? She's my mother therefore she must be right and therefore my name means beautiful.

Oil Pastels: Drawing Vs. Painting

Anima McKertcherComment

You may have noticed that I always refer to my original artworks as oil pastel paintings. Frankly, I never gave this a second thought until recently. My husband was talking to an acquaintance about my paintings and she asked him what medium I used. When he told her oil pastels, she said I was really drawing and not painting.

When my husband told me the story, I decided to explore the subject: When I'm creating art with oil pastels am I drawing or painting? Painting usually refers to producing a picture using a liquid medium. Drawing implies a dry medium. So since oil pastels are a dry medium, I must be drawing, right? Well not necessarily.

Drawings are considered to be pictures produced in lines. But a completed work with oil pastels has a decidedly painterly appearance.

Even Pablo Picasso talks about painting with oil pastels. When he and Henri Goetz approached Henri Sennelier to design a fine art version of the children's crayon, Picasso told Henri the following: "I want a colored pastel that I can paint on anything, wood, paper, canvas, metal, etc. without having to prepare or prime the canvas."

After all of this research, what have I decided? I'm going to keep right on calling my creations with oil pastels, paintings. But if someone else wants to call them drawings - that's fine too. Either or works for me.