Paint along with Val to create a beautiful light-filled canvas in acrylic or oil, start-to-finish in one day. In this inspiring workshop, you will learn some tips on colour mixing for a vibrant palette, and how to keep brush-work relaxed in a loosely painted approach. All levels, but some painting experience is helpful.

Tuition: $140 includes GST. Payable by E-transfer

Supply list and Zoom link: Sent to you upon registration


FREE ONLINE DEMO: Painting the Domestic Interior with Val Nelson

October 09, 2021, 11am-12:30 RSVP @ OPUS ART SUPPLIES

Space and Light: Painting the Domestic Interior

“I don’t paint things, I paint the differences between things” – Henri Matisse

The subject for Val’s painting demo is her favorite room in an old Victorian guesthouse in Hampstead, London. She will discuss and demonstrate ways to create focal points as she works toward bringing her painting toward resolution. A number of things will be considered, particularly the idea of “difference” in terms of pushing contrasts in value, edge quality, and colour saturation.

Val’s Materials List

Pre-primed Opus Exhibition Deep Canvas 1.5 inch profile, size 16 x 12”. Val always adds one layer of Golden White Gesso for extra archival protection, and lightly sands the surface with fine 600 grit sandpaper. Lately Val has been also applying an underpainting of Golden White Gesso mixed with a little Golden brand burnt umber acrylic for a brownish pink tone that adds a warm glow to her painting.

Gamblin Oil Paints: Val arranges the colours on her palette in this order listed below. (Light to dark, warm to cool). She mixes her own blacks using ultramarine blue and burnt umber.

Radiant White

Cadmium Yellow Light

Hansa Yellow Deep

Yellow Ochre

Cadmium Red Light

Quinacrodone Red

Burnt Umber

Ultramarine Blue

Pthalo Green


Gamblin Galkyd Lite

Gamblin Gamsol Odorless Mineral Spirits


#12 Synthetic filbert

#6 Long-haired filbert bristle brush for oil-painting

#4 Synthetic bright

New Wave 11 x 15” Neutral Gray Disposable Paper Palette pad

Italian Palette and Painting Knife #17

Val uses shop towels or rags, lots of them, for controlling the amount of paint and medium on her brushes (not too wet, not too dry), and makes sure she cleans her brushes off well before switching to a new colour, in order to keep her colours clean and bright.

Register in advance for this meeting with the awesome folks at OPUS ART SUPPLIES, who are generously hosting this event:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Artist Bio

Val’s previous career as a ballet dancer informs her gestural, lush paintings and energetic drawings.  A 2003 finalist in the Royal Bank Painting Competition, she has received numerous grants and awards, and has been an artist-in-residence at Vermont Studio Centre, St Georges’ Senior School, and Powell River Music Academy. You can find her work in public collections such as Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Canada Council Art Bank, Surrey Art Gallery, and Vancouver General Hospital, as well as private collections in Canada and abroad. Val has enjoyed giving a number of demos for Opus over the years and really loves teaching. She offers a number of painting classes, from absolute beginner to mentoring professionals.




When I was about eleven years old, my Dad asked me to paint a simple image in poster paint of our family dog, Tia, as a prototype for a printmaking class he was preparing (he was an elementary school teacher). I had pretty much learned how to draw by making copies of images from cartoons, especially Walt Disney, and the Saturday morning comics that came as a supplement to the newspaper.

Lady and the Tramp (Disney): how to paint highlights on a nose

Those comics were delivered by a local paperboy, who would race down the driveway on his bike, shout “Here’s yer paper!” and dash off again. Our two dogs Jinx and Cocoa waited all day with evil anticipation for this very moment. With Olympian speed, they would race around the corner of the house to the front door. Jinx would seize the paper in her jaws and shake the paper into smithereens, after which Cocoa would pee…er…urinate… on the shreds. It was a race against time for us to interrupt these two partners in crime before they executed the dreadful deed.

But I digress.

This summer I had the opportunity to paint a different dog image, while teaching private classes to a 12-year old student.

I had met her parents when I was looking for a new home on Vancouver Island. Although I ended up not renting their suite, synchronicity was at play because they had meanwhile checked out my website and were excited to learn I teach art classes! Their eldest daughter has always loved to paint, and has been getting great results through her lessons with 4Cats. But her parents felt she was at the stage of needing some more detailed guidance, and they were eager to have her train with me.

I encouraged them to sign her up for introductory oil painting lessons, as she already had a nice facility with paint-handling using acrylics. The family would be traveling on their summer holidays, so I recommended a quick-drying oil-painting medium: Gamblin Galkyd Lite.


Over seven lessons, we covered the concept of value (the range of light to dark), how to pre-mix some of the main colours before diving into the painting part of a session, and how the best way to work with oil paint is to block in the dark values and mid-tones (on the value scale above, the mid-tone would be the “3”). It’s a good idea to hold back on painting the lightest passages to near the completion stage, to avoid muddy colours.

I remember, when I first learned to paint, that watching the instructor at work was probably the most exciting and important part of understanding how to use the materials. I still get a bit of a thrill watching other artists do their thing on Youtube! So with beginners I usually paint along with the student.

One of my heroes: Bob Ross

She chose several subjects, including a flower, a couple of landscapes, and her final project, a portrait of the family dog. Here is my version:

And here is the student’s version, which I think has a special sparkle.

Beautiful things happen when you paint what you love!

If you know of anyone who would really enjoy learning how to paint, or has some knowledge already and wants to go deeper, check out my Class Menu for several options I will be teaching this Fall. I also offer mentorships, critiques and demos.

You can tune in to a live demonstration, “Space and Light: Painting the Domestic Interior” I will be giving online with Opus Art Supplies on Saturday, October 9, 11am – 12:30. The announcement is not yet up on their website, but I will send a newsletter soon with the details. Meanwhile check out some of the other inspiring demos on offer with Opus in the next several weeks.

Talk soon!


This is a powerful course that builds your confidence in getting the colour mixtures you want in your painting practise. Using a double primary palette, Val will prescribe colour studies for students to work through, in order to absorb and understanding how to create endless possibilities for fascinating colour combinations in your compositions, avoid muddiness, or conversely, create more subtle tones with finesse, expand your knowledge in mixing greens for landscape, and more.

Nov 20 & 21, 9:30am-3:30pm

Tuition: $278.25 (incl GST)

To register:

Cancellation policy: Please provide 7 days’ advance notice if you need to cancel at which point you can receive a credit toward a future class.


If you think you can’t draw, this class will change your mind! Drawing is fun and engaging if you open up your perception and stay curious. Val will guide you through a variety of modes of looking and responding to the visual world using the humble pencil and a piece of paper. Explore different drawing techniques using gesture, massing, negative space, blind contour, value, mark-making, and more. No previous experience necessary!

Nov 27 & Nov 28, 9:30am-3:30pm

Tuition: $278.25 (incl GST)

To register:

Cancellation policy: Please provide 7 days’ advance notice if you need to cancel at which point you can receive a credit toward a future class.


In this lively weekend online Zoom workshop, participants will learn how to bring more depth, movement, and dynamic brushwork into their landscape paintings. Tips on making dynamic compositions, and expanding the range of green mixtures will also be covered. Instructor demonstrations ignite understanding and inspire; students will execute several landscape studies that help them absorb and retain the lessons.

Some painting experience recommended. Oil or acrylic.

Nov 13 & 14, 10am-4pm

Tuition: $278.25 incl GST

Registration: 778-865-2650

Cancellation policy: Please provide 7 days’ advance notice if you need to cancel at which point you can receive a credit toward a future class.


Sept 25, Oct 2 (Break), Oct 16, 23, 30, Nov 6, 2021

Hey Painter Wannabes! Please join me for the upcoming Fall sessions of Painting for Beginners.

I so love teaching this class because I get to watch my students light up and get cracking at the easel with a little technical know-how.

Not sure if this class is for you? Below are some common questions I am asked that I hope will inspire you to jump right in and get the paint flowing.

Do I need to have painted before?” Some of my students are taking up their paint brush for the first time. We all knew how to make art when we were children. We were born creative! It’s just that some of us kind of forgot somewhere along the way! Be assured, it does come back with a little coaching. Some of you have enjoyed playing with paint and experimenting, but may have felt frustrated because of some technical questions you just couldn’t find a way around. That’s where I come in!

“I don’t really know how to draw.” Don’t worry! Learning to paint is largely allowing yourself to open up your perception. I take you step-by-step through a process that helps you train your brain to learn how to really see. It’s super cool. In fact, you might even notice that as you expand your abilities in painting, you see the world around you differently too.

What will I learn?” In six information-packed three-hour sessions, you will learn important steps to building an acrylic painting using a loose, impressionistic approach. As you paint a simple still life, I give demonstrations to help you understand the block-in, develop your work with more detail, and learn about how value, basic colour theory, edge control, and brushwork can be used to create a dynamic painting with strong structure.  By the end of the class, you will have begun and possibly completed your own personal project.

Yikes, that sounds complicated!” Nope. The class begins with limited colour and gradually expands to full-colour projects. And the class size is small, so you get plenty of one-on-one instruction.

“I have a crazy schedule. What if I have to miss a class?” If you must miss a class, you needn’t worry, the Zoom classes will be recorded, so you can catch up at your own speed.

Great! When does it start, and how much does it cost?” Classes are on Saturday mornings, beginning Sept 25, 2021. See below for more details!



Six Saturday mornings 10am-1pm: Sept 25, Oct 2 (Break), Oct 16, 23, 30, Nov 6, 2021

Class Fee: $420 (includes GST)

BONUS Discount Fee: Sign up two people at once, and you’ll receive a free 15-minute follow-up consultation/critique with moi.

Registration Deadline: September 20, 2021

How to pay: E-transfer to

Cancellation policy: If you need to cancel, please give me one week’s notice. Within that time frame I can offer you a credit toward a future class. Six days’ notice or later, I am sorry I cannot offer a refund.

Supply List: Provided upon registration

To register: 778-865-2650

Cancellation policy: Please provide 7 days’ advance notice if you need to cancel at which point you can receive a credit toward a future class.


The taste of ripe blackberries and the cooler evenings signal an autumn vibe.

Pretty soon you can put on those jeans and sweaters again, and tap into that “back-to-school” frisson. Just so you can start getting your arty self primed for some serious easel time, here is the class line-up:

  • PAINTING FOR BEGINNERS SERIES (even if you can’t draw!) Sat mornings Sept 25-Oct 30
  • PRIVATE and small group PAINTING COURSES FOR AGES 11 and UP (weekday afternoons)

Interested? To be at the front of the line for classes, send me an email stating what you are particularly interested in, and I will contact you personally! 778-865-2650

Check back soon for more details!

Just Paint Already

I’ve been working on a 24 x 30″ canvas of Sans Souci Palace. Sans Souci means “without a care”.

I’m pretty stoked, because I got up at the crack of dawn yesterday and was at the easel by 8am, which was totally awesome.

What made yesterday’s session work? And how can I repeat that?

Hmmmmm, well maybe it’s helpful to look at what does not work? It seems that on days that I check my email before painting, it kind of scrambles the brain and gets me thinking about all the niggling things I feel obliged to do.

The golden rule: Paint first, admin later!

Maybe you painters out there have your “go-to” rituals that get the good stuff going in your studio, like lighting a candle, or a playing a certain song of music.

Here’s what works for me:

Up early after a solid sleep, a quiet breakfast of clean food with an excellent coffee avec oat milk, and while clear-headed, calm, relaxed, remaining playful and curious–


That sweet-spot mode of non-attachment to outcome, focussed like a laser on colour-mixing nuances and paying attention to USING THE RIGHT BRUSH for the job at hand.

ergo: no teeny tiny brushes in the background!

it flattens the space!

and makes things too busy!

and no “trying”!

Kind of a zen thing–“try/not try”.

At the start of a painting session it takes a bit of time to switch into “painting mode”. First I take a few minutes to assess where this piece is at and get a glimmer of understanding of what I need to develop. You have to set some kind of intention, even if it ends up changing. No flailing desperately. Okay, sometimes flinging paint on randomly CAN jumpstart you, just make sure you are relaxed about it!

And through the doing, the brain becomes wordless and judgement-less and something magical starts to happen after I have put on enough wet paint with which to have a conversation. Now we’re in business.

There’s a method that is pretty effective called “Tomato” (it seems to have come out of someone using their kitchen cooking timer which was in the actual shape of a tomato).

I love when I remember to use this handy trick to get some sh*t done on my canvas. Set your timer for 30 minutes, and just go for it. Do not stop and check email. Do not go and eat chocolate. Do not sort your laundry or make phone calls or cut your toenails.

Just paint, already. Only for 30 minutes. You can do that, right?


A view in Paris of the Seine in summertime.

Hello Everyone!

The long days of summer are before us, hopefully a time for relaxation, a chance to move away from work-related energies, maybe do some goofing off 😉 and perhaps also to enjoy expressions of creativity like painting––for pleasure, self-reflection, and upgrading one’s skill level.

With this in mind, I am offering online Open Painting Studio sessions on four Sundays over July and August. Staggering the classes every two weeks allows for some flexibility in planning holiday excursions, yet you can still keep your practise going.

For those of you who would prefer a private class for something specific you have been wanting to improve in your process, I am happy to set up a date and time that is convenient for you. 🙂

See below for both options:


This is a three-hour group session I offer to provide students with mutual support, inspiration and technical guidance, and a lovely opportunity to have someone to paint with. I can help you with all aspects of painting process, whether you work in acrylic or oil, representational painting or abstraction. Bring a project on the go, or start a new one.

July 11, July 25, August 8 & August 22. 10am -1pm

*Tuition: $85 per three-hour session. Sign up for all four session for $300 and save $40.

Registration Deadline: June 30, 2021


These one-hour sessions are customized to your needs, which may consist of technical considerations, such as detailed use of materials, loosening up brushwork, understanding colour, OR improving drawing skills, but could also include consultation with me on other aspects of your practise, such as getting out of your own way to feel more relaxed at the easel, focussing your energies toward an exhibition, developing an artist statement, and/or goal-setting to help your practise grow.

*Tuition: $125 per hour

Four session package: $450

How to pay: E-transfer to

*Cancellation policy: If you need to cancel, I am happy to offer you a credit toward a future class. Please give me one week’s notice if you need to cancel. This gives me some time to fill your spot.

Supply List: Provided shortly after registration

To register: 778-865-2650

I look forward to hearing from you!