This is another gouache painting that I made this week. I had no specific plan other than to irreverently remove the black ink layer from a small prepared scratchboard, apply gouache paint to the board and later scrape into the paint!

It wasn’t until after I saw the painting from afar that I realized it was about the massive wildfires burning in Western Canada and in the northwestern part of Ontario, the province I live in. Even though in the south, in Toronto, we’ve had an unusually rainy summer, the fires are with us in the smoke in the air that smells of the burning.

The effects of human caused global warming are here now and are revealing themselves ever more dramatically as the years go by. The face I’ve painted reflects the flames burning forests, plants, animals and houses and the feelings of the person watching this happen.

Fire, Gouache Painting, 5″ x 7″
© Lily S. May, 2021

*You can also see some of my work at: *

Painting, Printmaking

The Innocent Heart

I’ve been working on The Innocent Heart for around two weeks. I again deliberately let the piece develop as I worked as opposed to planning it ahead of time. It’s a gouache painting layered with stamps I made. It has gone through massive changes. And not until earlier this week did I recognize the work as being a dream from my childhood and accepted it as such.

The Innocent Heart, Gouache Painting with Stamps,
© Lily S. May, 2021,
11″ x 14″

*You can also see some of my work at: *



My most recent work is a departure from the scratchboard work I’ve been doing. I’ve been thinking of painting for several months and finally turned thoughts into action. I was fortunate to have supplies in good condition that I bought a few years ago–two gesso boards and tubes of paint. So, off I went into the land of bright colour. I had great fun painting and plan to continue.

Forest, Acryl Gouache Painting, 9″ x 12″,
© Lily S. May, 2021

*You can also see some of my work at: *

drawing, scratchboard


This is the latest work I’ve made, an abstract piece. The shapes remind me of an aerial view of islands or part of a map. It’s a scratchboard drawing with pigment felt pens layered on top in places.

Islands by Lily S. May, 2021, 5″ x 7″

*You can also see some of my work at: *



I’m working on another scratchboard drawing, learning from further mistakes. And I take walks every day, in the neighbourhoods and parks in the city. On Tuesday, I was walking on a street I love, admiring the gardens and trees, the birds, the houses I passed. I took a few photos on my phone as I often do. (My resolve to not take as many photos this year as last has melted away.)

As I was walking up the street toward the avenue, I suddenly saw the beauty of old worn and overgrown steps at the side of a church I often pass. I realized I hadn’t really seen the building before–consciously, that is. So I stopped and took the follwing two photos that I turned into black and white images because that expressed the feeling I had about the scene more than the colour images they were taken in. The black, white and grey brought the images together into more of a whole for me.

Church Steps, Photo by Lily S. May, 2021
Church Steps and Door, Photo by Lily S. May, 2021

*You can also see some of my work at: *

drawing, scratchboard


There were beautiful dogwood trees in flower in Toronto over the past few weeks. I love the shape of the petals and included them in a scratchboard drawing I made recently.

Dogwood in Toronto, 2021

Although I’ve made several scratchboard drawings, I’m just learning about the medium. I’m not someone who usually takes courses in a new medium ahead of time. So I’m doing what I usually do. That is, I generally jump in and learn as I go. I could probably save myself a lot of trouble, but…

What I discovered as I created Dogwood is that, depending on the depth of the marks I made, traces of them remained visible in the finished piece. I was actually making a shallow relief image in places. The link to carving linoleum and wood returns!

In Dogwood, I originally had images of eyes on each petal that I decided to remove as I worked. Yet, they remain as traces of white on white with slight shadows from different angles. Perhaps I can use this property deliberately in the future and make the ghosts of earlier images stand out in a more defined way. Also, I am reminded to first make very light marks as I develop an image. I often only have a rough idea of the design I want to create. I prefer to develop it as I work which keeps the process more interesting and challenging for me.

Dogwood, Scratchboard Drawing, 5″ x 7″
by Lily S. May, 2021

*You can also see some of my work at: *

drawing, scratchboard

Springtime 2

I know it’s just turned summer. But here’s the scratchboard drawing, Springtime, I’ve been working on. I’ve continued to work on the areas of light and dark and have experimented with colour. I used pigment felt pens in this first trial. I’m going to see if acryl gouache works well on scratchboard on a new work I began a few days ago. I’ll show you how that goes when I finish it.

Springtime, scratchboard drawing with added colour by Lily S. May, 2021

*You can also see some of my work at: *

drawing, scratchboard


This is the most recent scratchboard drawing I’ve been working on. It may be finished. I’ll have to be with it for a while more until I decide if it needs more adjustments. I’m happy with how it’s going. Originally the image was quite different–done with fine lines and different design elements that I eliminated. I then used a tool that created the wider lines of white and very quickly, almost feverishly, worked on the image.

The idea for the image came from the many crabapples that were flowering around the city last month. As a child in another city I always wished the flowers would last forever as I stood under them looking up into pink with blue sky beyond. In place of myself, I have put admiring birds.

I had trouble with the photos for this work. That’s because it has many overlapping lines that didn’t show up well once I decreased the image size for this post. So, in addition to the image of the whole work which may look a bit fuzzy, I’ve included some close-up segments so you can better see what’s going on.

Springtime, Scratchboard Drawing, 9” x 12”
by Lily S. May, 2021
Springtime Detail, Scratchboard Drawing by Lily S. May, 2021
Springtime Detail, Scratchboard Drawing by Lily S. May, 2021
Springtime Detail, Scratchboard Drawing by Lily S. May, 2021

*You can also see some of my work at: *

Photography, Writing

Tragedy Revealed

It is difficult to find words up to the task of revealing what lies within. Obviously it’s been a time of tragedy around the world with covid deaths, violence and injustice. I look for light wherever I can find it. However, that does not include turning away from the terrible news out of British Columbia, Canada.

Through the use of radar that penetrates the ground, the graves of 215 indigenous children have been found on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. This school was one of over 130 residential schools across Canada. They were sponsored by the federal government and run by a variety of churches. This one was administered by the Catholic Church from 1890 to 1969 when the government took over the operation of the school.

Between the mid 1800s and 1996 when the last residential school closed, indigenous children aged 4 – 16 were forceably removed from their homes and sent to Indian residential schools. The idea was to assimilate them, to destroy their indigenous identity. Many of the survivors of these schools report being horribly abused in them. Children died at these schools, though not all their deaths were reported. The Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission reported that large numbers of Indigenous children never returned home from residential schools.

If there is any good to come out of this tragic news, it’s that truth is coming to light. Let that truth lead to action beyond words to right the lethal injustices to indigenous people that are still present in Canada today.

Photography, Poetry, Writing

The Time of Lilacs and Lilies of the Valley

It’s the time of lilacs and lilies of the valley,

their perfume arriving on the breeze before I reach the flowers themselves

in the gardens of houses that enchant me this spring.

Mid summer heat has arrived early and the gardens are showing off:

forget me nots, bleeding hearts, wisteria, irises,

red bud trees and one last pink crabapple tree that has not yet lost its blossoms,

horse chestnuts in bloom,

peonies and succulents in flower.

All in one day’s walk through streets, across the commercial avenue with shuttered shops

to the park where I sit under now deep green trees and fallen catkins

then circling back, greeting robins on lawns

riding above the trees in this old brick building,

photo mementos in hand.

*You can see some of my art work at*