The Elephant Family

Meet the family! Beatrice, Hugo and their son Hugh. Their creation was inspired by our love for the largest land animal to roam our planet and as a sad reminder that they are on the brink of becoming endangered. Elephants are widely respected for forming close-knit matriarchal clans and their loyalty to each other and the humans they love – a point made famous in 2012 when elephants mourned the passing of Lawrence Anthony, known as the Elephant Whisperer, by holding a vigil around his house for two days. Their unique beauty, deep wisdom and kind hearts – along with their fierceness in defending their young and protecting their herds – are all reasons why we chose to portray an elephant family in this art project.

The Elephant Family

When Nola McPhail and I found out about summer’s annual members art show, at The Old School House Art Gallery on Cortes Island “The Colour of Our Muse”, we could not resist the opportunity of collaborating to contribute a piece. So we dedicated the month of June to creating The Elephant Family. Nola McPhail has been joining me for my Creative Sessions for the last year and we have explored many media and techniques together. When we chose to collaborate for this show, we opted to create a piece using many of the different media we have explored together as a way to push our creative boundaries, learn from each other, as well as have a lot of fun creating art together!

The Elephant Family art project consists of 3 elements:


Hugh, the son, is a collaboratively-created piece crafted from 3 recycled wood panels – each painted separately with acrylic paint and kroma crackle. His tail is made from braided wool sourced from Cortes Islander Joy Shipway. His face is made with polymer clay and finished with acrylic paint, kroma crackle, glass eyes, and false eye lashes; his trunk, tusks and ears are made from hand-sewn canvas.

The other two elements consist of individually-created art dolls – since those have been one of the strong focuses of their Creative Sessions.

Beatrice by  Nola McPhail

Nola McPhail opted to make the proud mother Beatrice using polymer clay, recycled textiles from an old skirt of hers, and false eyelashes; the piece was then mounted on a piece of yellow cedar.

Hugo by Laura Balducci

I created Hugo, the hard-working father, out of polymer clay, recycled textiles, wool, and a found hat; he is also mounted on yellow cedar.

We look forward to continuing our Creative Sessions starting in the next month or so and doing more work together.

Members Show

Every summer, The Old School House Gallery curates a Members’ Show. The theme changes yearly but the talent gracing the walls only gets more and more impressive. This year’s theme was inspired by sharing thoughts on the topic of climate change as we watch it happen and escalate in our environment.

Primary Elements – Annual Members’ Show opens on July 22nd and run to July 31st and will feature a wide variety of mediums coming together under one roof. This event is a wonderful opportunity to mingle with the fantastic crowd that always attends and to see the works of the talented people who live on beautiful Cortes Island.

(Wink wink! Watch out for RainBow and Monsters!!!)


This Happened @ The Opening

Last Friday was an energy-filled evening on the opening night of “The Other-Side presents That Wall”at The Old School House Gallery on Cortes Island. Del Riveria floated around the room and outside while playing his vintage 1962 accordion, as more and more guests kept on walking through the door. It was quite overwhelming to say the least, and very delightful to watch people engaging with my art installation and jiving to the sound track. The enthusiastic comments and warm smiles made me feel like I accomplished my goal of inspiring  viewers to think, to dream, and to feel something new or different, even if for just one evening. A friend even came bearing a gift that would only happen on Cortes Island – 3 new laying hens! (I bet you wondered why I chose that picture! And if you look closely, you will see Del and his accordion on the porch too.) Much to my surprise, the hens were well appreciated by everyone and have now made their forever home on my farm. What a great evening! Xoxo

The show also received a rave review by Richard Trueman 🙂


The Old School House Gallery

I am so happy to announce that this Friday, my art installation “The Other-Side presents That Wall” opens at The Old School House Gallery. I am really excited for my solo art show to be presented in the art gallery on the island I live on!

There is so much history at this location – from being the first school on Cortes Island to showcasing the works of many accomplished local artists at what eventually would become the only gallery on the island. The Old School House Gallery is run by volunteer members and on a donation basis. It is open for only 8 weeks a year, so it is a true honor to have the opportunity to share my solo art show this year. The location has intrigued me ever since I moved to Cortes Island – their art shows are always very unique, filled with lots of talent and one of the highlights of my Cortes summer activities.