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Specialty paint finishes Upcycled Beauty

My Top Specialty Paint Finishes #1

Specialty Paint Finishes #1:

L’essentiel European Style Shimmer High Gloss Top Coat

I promised my Facebook followers on PlafessionalEDU to post on a product I love and use including specialty paint finishes. This is the first as promised…

By now you may have realised I love shine and bling. While I don’t like furniture to be garish or over stated, I do love the prestige of metallic finishes and a little shimmer and shine. For this reason, I’ve become rather attracted to a product called European Style Shimmer High Gloss Top Coat. This product looks like mother-of-pearl paint, but without the colours of mother-of-pearl. I would best describe it as a semitransparent white glittery coating which dries quickly and is a hard top sealer.

Specialty paint finishes Shimmer Top Coat

I use this specialty paint finish more like a glaze than an overall top coat but intend to do a piece of furniture with this on the whole surface in time. It pretty much turns any light colour into a glittery metallic-like finish.  I have discovered that sponging or rolling and sponging it on a surface will create a frosted effect. This is what I recently used on some side tables I did in Grey Goose and White Clay. The White Clay was dry-brushed on sections over the blue and sponged in other places before the topcoat was applied. Then I dabbed it with a damp cloth to create this effect.

Specialty paint finishes Upcycled Beauty

It is really beautiful over whites. I use it on this bed head with great effect. While the bed head was beautiful painted, the shimmer topcoat took it to a whole new level. I gave it a generous brush over sections of the headboard. It has been used sparingly on other pieces of furniture to create a slight sheen. This can be done by dry brushing over the painted surface or the high spots of embossed surfaces or applique’s.

Specialty paint finishes Upcycled Beauty Specialty paint finishes Upcycled Beauty

I have used it with great effect over white or light coloured paints. It looks like a Pearl over white and almost silver over a grey.  I’ve yet to use it on dark colours that would imagine it to be used sparingly as to avoid looking cloudy over darks.

The L’essentiel European Style Shimmer High Gloss Top Coat comes in a generous 500ml bottle which goes a long way. If you would like some, go to my shop link, order today and I’ll post you some pronto! It is one of my secret ingredients that’s not so secret now!

We Worship God
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We Worship God by Kayleen West and Nancy Streza

We Worship God – Limited AU copies…


Exploring the character of God through alphabetical devotion

I thoroughly enjoyed and fondly illustrated We Worship God. Each illustration is painted in watercolour. A very limited number of books are arriving in Australia soon. I will have the only copies! Reserve your copies by pre-ordering yours here!

We Worship God, ABC Christian Picture Book. Nancy Streza and Kayleen West

‘C’ page (comforter)

We WWe Worship God, ABC Christian Picture Book. Nancy Streza and Kayleen Westorship God – Poetic ACB

We Worship God is written by a very talented US author, Nancy Streza. This beautiful picture book is not only an alphabetical story but a poetic dedication of praise – so clever! I can imagine this book will be recited by children. I fell hard for this one-it felt like an extension of Adoptive Father and my heart was immediately invested. Rainbows of love poured from my brush as I personally devoted each illustration to our amazing God.

I took several studio and work in progress photos so I’ll share more later on the making of the book. Perhaps even a video.

It is so good to finally get to share with you this gorgeous new picture book!

>>Read the reviews<<


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A furniture painter’s worst fear. Please no not again!

What is a furniture painter’s worst fear?

Have you ever invested your heart and soul into a creative piece, built something or written something beautiful and then as soon as it is complete and perfect –something terrible happens to your perfect creation? This has to be a furniture painter’s worst fear surely? It is no longer finished or complete. You need to fix it right? Not doing something about it would my furniture painter’s worst fear too.

As a furniture painter it is heart wrenching is to put your whole heart and a bucket of time into a beautiful piece only to watch it be damaged–before it even has a life! At times I really struggle to watch clients pickup their furniture. I know it is now their my a few second ago they where my babies-right. This has happened a few times to me and is horrifying to watch unfold. I am confident that if you paint furniture for other people it will happen to you too.

Once one of my over zealous clients threw the large item into a van on top of a shelf. It was forced in and a side piece came off it. On closer inspection it looked like it had never been glued properly in the first place so was an easy fix. None the less, I felt ill watching the big push!

furniture painter's worst fear

The second one was very recent. Another client had a few people helping to take home this beautiful blue boy. I think there was a bit of coordination challenges and I feared for its life watching it leave m,y driveway. Sure enough, shortly after it arrived home, I received a phone call from a distressed client, telling me her new baby had been damaged. My reaction? You guessed it… pleeeeeeeeeeze noooooooooooo!

This week I had to try and rescue it. It had some nasty gouges in the side. The challenge was that I had used a special mix of paint colour and wondered if I could match it perfectly. I prayed, held my breath, mustered up some faith and marched into my clients home pit-bull determined to finish with success.

I’m sure it would be a scary thing to tackle for most furniture painters. If you are one of them, I have good news. I created this video a a super quick tutorial for you. Or maybe you know a painter this would help. Please share it if you do! It might help them sweat less when it happens to them. Please share in any groups that may benefit too.

The biggest furniture painter’s fear tuned into yet more experience – and a video to boot!

The video speaks for itself and my client commented on my Facebook page, Upcycled Beauty this.

“Baby doing well thanks to furniture doctor Kayleen West. And a much relieved blue boy mum ?”



Inktober Day9: Woof Doof

Inktober Gallery and inky news!

Pray for Paris - Free printable

Pray for Paris: Prayer Printable

Sketchbook collaboration drawings: Bugs Bunny and Kids

Fan Photos to Sketchbook

Colouring pencils and markers: My favourite pencils and best option for my new colouring book is wax pencils like Polychromos
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Colour Pencils and Markers – My favourites

Celia and Nonna. Children's Book Illustration by Kayleen West

Books that build in hard places.

Empowering others through imagination

Anyone can choose to encourage or build others in helpful ways but sometimes imagination is needed to harvest additional opportunities. Accompanying a servant’s heart is a mind that will seek to discover ideas that will influence positively often enhancing the life of others. Creative people have countless opportunities to invent in this area.

Have you ever opened a book and had one or more of these thoughts?

Wow, that’s life changing!
I learned something that will help me grow!
Now I understand ______ better and I’ll do __________ differently from now on!

I certainly have.

Valuable life lessons, no matter how minor they first appear, have potential for significant, positive transformation. Scattered between the pages of a good book we often find pearls of wisdom in unexpected places; dormant hope waiting for a reader to identify with, and embrace wholeheartedly.

When creating story in word or image I ask if and how someone will benefit from it. I prefer communally beneficial and emotionally uplifting assignments that give me creative freedoms to explore how I can contribute. I believe we live to serve one another. To inspire moments of happiness or ease the pain of another is the best way to use talents and time. Though romantic, I hold onto this conviction. I like to dream big!

How I translate this conviction in children’s books?

Illustration is a wonderful vehicle for transporting a child reader through the emotions of a story powerfully but safely. Invention surfaces when we can look past the obvious elements of a story and find potential macro stories within the original. We ask the question, how by invention, can this illustration enhance the reader’s transformational experience and entertain them?

Illustrating emotion in a particular way is the answer. Some strategies I have used are:

  • A touch of humour to lighten a particularly uncomfortable moment.
  • Controlling drama or excess tension by moderating the visual risk.
  • Illustrating humility to ensure character flaws are judged with compassion.
  • Capturing heroism through specific actions or appearance (empowering the character and reader)
  • Repeating images to emphasise important emotion.


In one of my most recent picture books my challenge was to guide the child reader through uncertainty, tackling a tough subject of change and adult challenges. I had to make the visual experience enjoyable, reassuring the reader through the story and end it with a sense of intimate peace.

Emotive imagery in Celia and Nonna

Celia and Nonna was the perfect canvas for emotive imagery. I needed to illustrate tension and emphasise particular emotions and actions to capture the story.

Celia and Nonna. Children's Book Illustration by Kayleen WestModerating tension: placement of characters, adding humour and humility

In the above illustration Nonna forgets she is cooking (adult error-imperfection). The spilling pot is the closest visual to the reader and creates immediate DANGER! Celia is placed near but far enough from the stove to be safe from burns. We still see her alarm as she signals the distracted adult. Should she look up, Nonna can still see the pot from where she sits making it less threatening.

Poor Nonna. I can relate to this myself. I have been known to do the same. Here’s one example! It was fish and vegetables before I killed it.11089039_10152901460174013_4050968061784294035_o

But I digress. Back to Celia and Nonna…

Near the spillage I placed teddy cakes they successfully baked on the previous page; a safe, comforting scene. One cake is broken/imperfect because Celia made an imperfect cake or perhaps has a naughty or impatient moment eating and extra ear or eye when Nonna wasn’t looking (child error-imperfection). This juxtaposed visual adds humility hopefully moderating uncertainty in Nonna’s perceived failings as a responsible (safe) adult. Hopefully children can consciously or subconsciously identify and bond with the elderly character through the comparisons


Repeating images to emphasise important emotion


Celia and Nonna. Alzheimer’s and dementia in picture book. Hospice.
On the first spread I emphasised the safest place for most children – the loving embrace of an important adult. Apart from abusive situations, this is a significant place of safety for children.

I repeated the symbol of the embrace between Nonna and Celia on this spread deliberately. Like the stove example, the foreground would be noticed by the reader. I place two birds in similar intimacy on the handrail. Inanimate objects were also used to mirror this; the two penguins on a cover of a picture book and Celia’s shoes positioned in a crossed fashion. The penguins are later mentioned and a perfect prop.

Celia is seen close contact with her grandmother in in the first few pages, concreting the sentiment from the beginning.

Body language speaks volumes

The embrace was deliberately introduced at the beginning and end for the child to safely enter and exit the story. Later illustrations show Celia busy drawing near her grandmother and Nonna’s new friends. Her comfort is also made evident by her body language. Celia is engaged and happily distracted.

Empowering a reader by capturing heroism, illustrating specific action or appearance

Celia embraces residential change by drawing pictures for Nonna; lovingly preserving Nonna’s favourite memories, nesting as they decorate the new walls and celebrating their relationship through particular images of the two together. Celia is empowered by contributing. During this she discovers their time together is what is most important. Don’t you love a good ending!?

Sensory experience

In the examples above I have demonstrated how illustrations can be an important sensory experience in children’s books. Illustrations can make or break a picture book. They stimulate emotion and are visually entertaining – arguably the most important part of a picture book story. And if an image is worth a thousand words, they need to be the right images. They can provide additional story, equally projecting the original imagined by the author.

I pray my illustrations speak to the heart, helps families and is a blessing to children and adults who contemplate them. It is my hope that stories like Celia and Nonna reach into homes and the hearts of children dealing with any form of change or helplessness. Victoria Lane’s story is not just a story about aged care or dementia; if you look further you will see our collaboration is so much more. I hope it softens any confronting challenge of growing old, apart, different, or any fear and sews a seed of empowerment and creative victory in every person who reads it – young or old.

World Dementia Month – September

A select group of Australian children’s authors and illustrators (myself included) have collaborated to showcase books about ageing and dementia for World Dementia Month. Each unique and beautifully illustrated story is based on personal experience and offers practical strategies to connect and share love with elderly grandparents even in difficult, changing, and confusing circumstances. You can read more HERE

World Dementia Month September - Books Encourage Children to Connect

Note to writers, Illustrators and All creative people…

Regardless of occupation I encourage you mine the hope and joy in your story or project. Look for the details that can translate that hope. It just might change the whole appearance of your next assignment!

Further reading: Explaining Dementia to Children

Carers Corner has an informative article on explaining dementia to children. This compliments what is written above adding more light on this subject.
You can read the article HERE

Wisdom of old, more precious than gold

Wisdom of old, more precious than gold!

Wisdom of old, more precious than gold

For Illustration Fridays theme this week (old) I dedicated my sketch to the older and wiser generation with lovely old gent.

I wrote the words, Wisdom of old, more precious than gold! because I think we could learn a lot by listening to those who have lived life longer.

It has been some time since I have submitted to Illustration Friday. There have been times I have had the theme sketched out and forget, but alas, life is distracting when your head is always in a sketchbook! But I managed this week’s theme, old in the nick of time!

best colouring pencils
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What are the best colouring pencils to buy for colouring books?