The Memento, an Autographed Copy

What a thrilling moment to finally get my hands on my own autographed copy of The Memento by acclaimed author Christy Ann Conlin!

The reproduction of my painting, End of Spring, inspired by the author’s own photo and licensed by Doubleday, came out beautifully and I’m adoring all the details of the jacket designed by Five Seventeen. The feel of rag edges fill me with delight and the inscription and acknowledgement made my heart sing and my eyes tear up!

And then there’s the story itself  – an exquisite, genre bending tale of waves and islands, of teacups and tragedies of secrets and whirs and whispers, of needle sharp jabs and sensual tinglings, of promises and betrayals, of heavy scented languid days and mysterious spine chilling nights, all set in that place I have called home in a tongue I am not unfamiliar with. A place called Petal’s End – how dreamy is that?!  Enjoying this gift from my dear friend the master storyteller!


The Next Chapter…

Today Shelagh Rogers interview of author Christy Ann Conlin was broadcast nationally in Canada on CBC radio’s The Next Chapter!  That’s my painting, End of Spring (cover art for Conlin’s novel The Memento) up there on The Next Chapter shelf – a beautiful sight!

Shelagh Rogers brings out the best in the authors she talks with and I loved hearing Christy Ann Conlin share with her how ghost stories infused her upbringing in Nova Scotia and influenced her writing, how she’s fears the sea (ironic for a Maritimer – or maybe not), and the actual inspiration for Petal’s End. She speaks so tenderly and insightfully about this hauntingly beautiful place we both grew up in.

My autographed copy should be in my hands any day now…I can hardly stand it!

Click here for a link to the interview.

Sharing a Shelf with a Hero

Maybe you’ve already heard the story of Alex Colville (iconic Canadian artist) opening my very first art show at Acadia University all those years ago…well, I never imagined then that our paintings would be sharing a bookshelf together as cover art one day…never in my wildest! 

Yet here they are, mine on Christy Ann Conlin‘s novel, The Memento and Colville’s on Nino Ricci‘s, Sleep, in Chapters Indigo bookstores Can Lit displays across Canada!  The rest of the company is not to shabby either – authors like Margaret Atwood, Yann Martel and Mona Awad. As if I needed another reason to go into a book store and look for Canadian Literature!

Behind a Cover – a Collaboration of Artist and Author

Today is the official publication date for The Memento, Christy Ann Conlin’s haunting new novel and I thought to celebrate I would share a little bit about how my painting, End of Spring, wound up on the cover!  Spoiler Alert – I know the author…but it is so much more than just that.

A book cover is a big deal! It’s supposed to lure in the reader with a compelling image that not only captures the spirit of the book but works well with text and has fantastic shelf presence. A lot is riding on this image for both the author and the publisher. Consequently, there is a designer and a sales & marketing team in place to get it just right.  Not something you might trust to your best friend, not if you were the author, not if you were smart…or is it?

Truth is, the author and I go way back, growing up only a few miles apart and have been collaborating (formally and informally) for years!

We’re both so influenced by this unique place we come from, its compelling culture, its crumbling beauty and its often lost potential, all of this informs the approach to our work – our sensibility and aesthetic.

In fact, one of my photographs was licensed for Christy Ann Conlin’s debut (and best selling) novel, Heave (although I think they may have cropped out the best part). We had been traipsing along dirt roads of the North Mountain between the Bay of Fundy and the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia checking out abandoned houses, graveyards and wildflowers when I snapped this candid shot of my oblivious friend.



Christy Ann Conlin is a great photographer as well and she’ll often share a shot with me and I will fall in love with it both because of her great eye for subject and composition but also because it speaks to me on a deep level of the essence of home. Such was the case when she sent my this lovely photo of a field of wildflowers overlooking the bay out toward Isle Haute. I called the resulting oil painting, Christy Ann’s Lace.



Another example of this cross pollination comes from a photo she’d taken of her mother’s vintage creamer filled with Lily of the Valley which she’d placed on the railing of her porch. I loved the ring of cows around the lip of the creamer and thought it would be a little surreal to paint cows into the field as well, inspiring not only, Lily of the Valley with Cows but my entire Birds and Teacups series, of which Blackberry Tea I was the first!

Christy Ann had been working some birds and teacups into her writing as well which I became increasingly aware of while working on this Birds and Teacup series. I realized that my series, while not derivative of her work was very complimentary. When The Memento was finally finished and it was time to talk about a cover with her publisher at Doubleday, Christy Ann recommended they take a look at this series on my website. While they loved the paintings, they were immediately drawn to another piece, End of Spring, without even knowing that the painting had been inspired by the author’s own photo! They said it was everything the novel was, striking in it’s melancholy and mystery, poetically but unforgivingly rendered, Gothic but terribly tender!

It’s no wonder! Christy Ann had found the bird lying dead on her doorstep as she was deeply in the process of writing her novel. She’d slipped her grandfather’s shovel under the bird and taken a photo, overcome by it’s sad beauty. I adored the photo and told her what a great painting it would make. It had a striking composition and an up tilted perspective, the shovel elevating and framing the bird, even reading like a tombstone. To me, the image spoke of our curious arm’s length relationship with death. The photo seemed to honor the bird and allowed us the intimacy of seeing in death that which is fleeting and unobservable in life. The translation to paint and canvas was very true to Christy Ann’s photograph I heightened the color, contrast, texture and the larger-than-life scale helped to make this quiet moment feel monumental.

Needless to say, I was delighted when I was approached by the publisher for licensing rights and am so thrilled and honored to have my art on the cover of my dear friend’s fabulous novel. It’s a real tribute to our collaborative working relationship!

If you’d like to see the stages of the painting process, please visit an earlier blog post here.

If you’d like to enjoy a trailer of the book please click here.

If you’re American or don’t have a fantastic local bookstore you’d like to support click here.


End of Spring as a Book Cover!

I am so delighted to announce that my painting End of Spring has been picked up by Doubleday Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada to grace the cover of best selling author Christy Ann Conlin’s new novel, The Memento, set to be published this spring 2016!

This is my first glimpse of the advance reader’s copy that will go out to get reviews and the like but already I’m so pleased with how it’s looks. I love the color reproduction and the font they’ve chosen……I can’t wait to hold it in my hans and read it over and over!

Closer to the publication date I will begin to share all the glorious details of how this came to be!


Painting Lily of the Valley with Cows

Day 1

It’s so good to be back in the studio! Summer vacation is drawing to a close and all that intense holiday travel is still fresh in my mind. It seems only appropriate to work on something that’s loaded with nostalgia for the Annapolis Valley from which I’ve just returned.

This great image it based on yet another fabulous photograph by my dear friend (and novelist) Christy Ann Conlin, Sparkle Face. Her son called the flowers “deadly of the valley”after their poisonous reputation, all the warnings have paid off!

Christy Ann Conlin's Deadly of the Valley photograph 2012

I love the band of cows running around the deco pitcher in which she placed great handfuls of lily of the valley. I thought it would be fun to paint cows in the pasture beyond the pitcher as well, so I went out to Santa Cruz and snapped a bunch of pictures of cows (same kind as Nova Scotian cows) and placed them in the composition.

Cows near Santa Cruz  photo Marie Cameron 2013


And here I’ve used photoshop to plan my preferred placement of the cows, it’s fun to move my herd around the field.

Photoshop blend of Conlin and Cameron's photographs.

Lily of the Valley and Cows 1- Marie Cameron  2013.jpgLily of the Valley and Cows 2 - Marie Cameron  2013.jpgLily of the Valley and Cows 3 - Marie Cameron  2013.jpgLily of the Valley and Cows 4 - Marie Cameron  2013

Lily of the Valley and Cows - Marie Cameron detail of cows 2013Lily of the Valley and Cows - Marie Cameron detail of cow 2013Lily of the Valley and Cows - Marie Cameron detail band 2013Lily of the Valley and Cows - Marie Cameron detail of flowers 2013Lily of the Valley and Cows - Marie Cameron change of light on pitcher 2013


One thing to be careful of when you are working from multiple sources (Christy Ann’s photo of the vase and my photos of cows in the pasture) is that your light source remains unified. I realized that my sources did not match up at all and it seemed easier to modify the lighting on the pitcher and flowers that on the cows. I’ll have to work on that some  more tomorrow and try to figure out what I want to do in the foreground. Perhaps I’ll give the suggestion of lace for texture, although part of me wants to put in a big wet nose or furry ear. Suggestions?

Day 2

I decided to work on the star of the show today, those lovely lily of the valley.  They symbolize purity and a return to happiness in the Victorian floriography, which I think is perfect for the spirit of this painting. Humbling though, when you’re working with a small brush, you can see the whole day dissolve away without a lot to show for it! Here I’m trying to capture the specific look and character of these little cheerful little flowers but struggling to keep it painterly – I don’t want it to end up looking like a tole painting!

Lily of the Valley with Cows - detail flowers on green Marie Cameron 2013
Lily of the Valley with Cows - detail flowers Marie Cameron 2013
Lily of the Valley with Cows 5 Marie Cameron 2013


Day 3

Okay, so I’m not blowing myself away with my progress on this painting but I’ve been shuttling kids to and from camp and practicing yoga and then there was that day at the beach….. ah well, school starts next week and my excuses will come to an end. Today I worked on building up the bouquet, refining the cow border and the volume of the pitcher. Maybe this time next week I’ll be shopping for a frame!

Marie Cameron painting Lily of the Valley with Cows 2013 webLily of the Valley with Cows band Marie Cameron detail - flowers 1 2013Lily of the Valley with Cows band Marie Cameron detail - flowers 2 2013Lily of the Valley with Cows band Marie Cameron reworked 2013Lily of the Valley with Cows band Marie Cameron 6 2013


Day 4

Today I worked on the foreground. I was excited to use the beautiful vintage pinwheel lace that I had picked up at an auction in Nova Scotia years ago as inspiration. It not only complements the lacy feel of the flowers and adds a soft pattern to move the eye around the composition but it is a human web of sorts.

Pin Wheel Lace 2013Lily of the Valley with Cows -painting lace Marie Cameron 2013


Lily of the Valley with Cows - shears and lace Marie Cameron 2013

I knew that my foreground object should bare some direct relationship to either the cows or the flowers and after much thought I decided to go with some kind of scissors or knife to  add a sharp contrast to the sweetness of the pastoral and domestic scene without seeming out of context. I thought it also symbolized cutting life short (the darker side of picking flowers and raising cattle) in a very subtle way.  So after looking at a lot of old clippers and pruners and horn handled knives, I chose a great beat up pair of grass shears and painted them into the lower right hand corner where their open blades would lead your eye back to the pitcher and leave a gentle sense of menace.

Lily of the Valley with Cows with shears photoshop Marie Cameron 2013

Unfortunately, after I painted them in, I realized that they were actually over a foot long and would look more like this Photoshopped image in relation to the little bouquet. It’s a pity because I really fell in love them, the rust, the flaking enamel, the perfect colors, so much so that I was willing to overlook that they’re overkill for picking the delicate lily of the valley that slip away with a gentle tug. Didn’t bother me.  However, I do draw the line when it comes to scale.

Lily of the Valley with Cows - 6 lace and shears Marie Cameron 2013

There are a lot of exquisite Victorian gardening scissors I could consider, but I think there’s enough sweetness in this painting already. I might try out these wrapped Japanese ones tomorrow, they’re worn and their not too big or too small. Could they be just right?

Japanese scissors wrapped


Many Days Later

Lily of the Valley with Cows - Marie Cameron - oil 30 x 40 inches 2013

The daily progress was so imperceptible, I gave up on shooting it until I’d finished. It’s so hard keep up the spirit and flow of a piece when your working time is broken up with other commitments and obligations! Finally, I reached a point where I felt there was a consistency to the brushwork and lighting, More of the cows actually show on the right  but  the photo crops them out.  Time to MOOve on!


Day in the Studio

Marie Cameron Studio With Iridescent Cobwebs 2013

My studio as the wisteria would see it, the air laced with iridescent cobwebs.

Today was a perfect day, iridescent spider webs trailing from the skies and across my face on the way to work. The air was heavily scented with wisteria and lilac, all flooding through the open windows of my studio, mixing with the smell of linseed oil. NPR was talking about the secret lives of cats as seen though mini cat cams and I was finishing up a painting that my son has named End of Spring.  I was taken with the melancholy beauty of this image when I first saw this photo by my multi-talented friend and novelist Christy Ann Conlin. She was generous to let me use it for a painting and although I should be prepping for Open Studio I’m so glad I dropped everything to do it. I love how this dead robin lying on a shovel transcends its profane circumstance and is elevated, literally and figuratively, to a vantage where we can experience a moment of wonderment at its life.

White Wisteria 2013

Wisteria sinensis “Alba” I wait for it all year long.

Sensation Lilac 2013

Syringa vulgaris ‘Sensation’, a twist on a childhood favorite grows beneath my studio windows.

Marie Cameron painting End of Spring 2013

Finishing up End of Spring.

End of Spring Marie Cameron with feathers 2013

Examining real feathers.