Painting like a unicorn in a lolly* shop

At the end of my last paint session, my palette looked like a rainbow unicorn had vomited a lolly shop over it. Either that, or I just hadn’t used much black (but who’s going to believe that?)  It was all very bubblegum flavoured.


The back-story to all this is as follows:

I’d spent literally hours trying to set up and compose another painting, but just couldn’t find an arrangement I felt happy with. Then a friend happened to send me a photo of some colourful Tupperware cups (with snails in them!), saying it reminded her of something I would paint.

I was thrilled to think that my paintings are memorable enough to inspire thought beyond my four walls, and even more grateful for the inspiration that her photo generated for me.

Raiding my kitchen drawers, I gathered up the stock-standard supplies of any parent or child carer: the IKEA children’s plastic ware – in radioactive neon hues. 

Setting them up was easy. It really felt like being in a lolly shop with a rainbow unicorn – they looked so cheery and bright under lights.

After I’d finished with the preliminary under painting, I took another look and wondered if (like the rainbow unicorn) perhaps I’d bitten off more than I could chew…

All those semi-transparent surfaces and mixed-up colour combinations… Even the cast shadows for each object threw different colours across the table surface. Oh, how deceptive those optimistic first impressions had been… My lovely little lolly shop just gave that rainbow unicorn a stomach ache.

After lengthy procrastination, I finally took the unicorn by the horn and began mixing colours. I decided not to over-think things, and just paint what was in front of me – whether it made immediate sense or not.

So many colours in one pink bowl – and in such unpredictable shapes… eek! 


This painting was only going to come together towards the end of proceedings – which kept me pushing through, albeit with fingers-crossed uncertainty. Having a ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained‘ mindset also helped me paint more loosely – which I like.


Snack Time – 15.2cm x 20.3cm (6″ x 8″) oil on panel

The end result was an absolute pop of kiddy colour – which produced some real nostalgia on my part: Surveying this little scene reminds me of all the snacks I’ve prepared, and which my children have consumed off these vibrant everyday objects.

Always healthy snacks of course, and never in such quantities that they were forced to vomit on my paint palette like a rainbow unicorn emerging from a lolly shop… But who’s going to believe that?


* Lolly is Australian for sweets or candy or confectionery.

* * If you have some ordinary, everyday objects you think would make a good painting, let me know in the comments section below – I’m often on the lookout for inspiration!

Thanks for taking a look at my painting progress.  If you’d prefer to receive these posts direct to your inbox, just hit the Follow button in the side menu. I usually post once, sometimes twice a week.

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