Happily Ever After

“Happily Ever After” by Val McDowall (2017)

This was a freehand acrylic painting I did in the summer of 2017 as part of a wedding shower gift. Up until this point, I’ve always drawn my pictures first then picked up the paint brush or coloured pencils. For this one I decided to be more organic, go with the flow and see what happened.

I’m sure most artists would agree that there is a lot that goes into a picture beyond the obvious brush strokes. That was definitely the case with this painting. Since the painting was for a wedding gift, I wanted to gift the happy couple with an abundance of good luck and happiness, so I decided to include some symbolism in the painting as well.


The bride-to-be already had a penchant for flamingos so immediately I knew I had to paint a flamingo picture for her. Flamingos are rather fabulous and flamboyant, as I’m sure you will agree.  I’ve never painted one before but I will definitely do some more.

FLAMINGOS exemplify a state of seemingly effortless grace and balance apparently. As symbols of balance, flamingos remind us to seek the same in our own lives.

Since painting this flamingo painting, I must admit that I too have been hit with the pink flamingo stick and started receiving all kinds of gifts and cards with the image of this beautiful and exotic bird. They are addictive, I love them! Seeing and having objects with flamingo images reminds me to celebrate the beauty, romance, and fun in life.

I couldn’t miss the opportunity of painting these two love birds facing each other, forming a love heart with their beaks, heads and long slender necks.

Setting the scene on the BEACH was also another romantic theme I wanted to incorporate. The symbolism of a beach is that of a new beginning which in this case I used to represent their new marital journey together. The sea water and the tide washes away the old sand and allows the sand underneath to have its own new beginning on top constantly keeping things fresh and fluid. On the original painting, the majority of the artwork was done in a glossy acrylic finish, however, the sand itself is in a matt finish which gave a lovely grainy contrast.

The SUNSET is yet another romantic symbol I think. Who doesn’t appreciate and enjoy a beautiful sunset? Symbolically, if you were to dream of a sunset on a beach, it foretells that you will meet someone special who will make you happy and that you will spend romantic moments with this person and quite possibly your whole life together. I thought that was perfect for the sentiments I wanted to convey in the painting.  Plus, its pink and you can never have enough pink when it comes to a flamingo painting!

PINK is all about love, affection and harmony. Pink also symbolizes youth, good health, and playfulness. It’s the flush of first love and stands for nurturing femininity. It was also the bride-to-be’s favourite colour and so it was a perfect choice as far as I was concerned.

I love the moon and, since I live in British Columbia on the coast of Western Canada, I added a WAXING CRESCENT MOON as seen in the Northern Hemisphere. This is the moon’s first step toward fullness which, for me, is representative of your wishes and dreams being fulfilled. I also liked the thought of it representing the start of a journey and life together, growing slowly over time to become full.

And now for a fun fact … to achieve the perfect crescent shape, I dipped a portion of the bottom of a shot glass in white paint and stamped it on the canvass. My artistic take on a ‘toast’ to their health perhaps?

The number FIVE is also significant. I included 5 flying birds off in the distance because 5 is the number for harmony, balance and peace. What better way to live life in order to reach happiness? The number 5 has been used as a symbol of love, loyalty and marriage since ancient times, particularly in reference to the marriage between Heaven and Earth. The ancient Mayans considered the number 5 to be a symbol of perfection.

It’s a lucky number too!  Many women might adore the perfume Chanel No 5, but what you may not know is that number 5 was Coco Chanel’s lucky number.

So, there you go: love, peace, harmony, good health, romance, a heavenly marriage and luck all rolled into one little picture!

And finally, what to call the painting?

Well, what is the last line of every great fairytale love story … “and they lived happily ever after.” At the end of a movie, the two loved up main characters will often be seen walking or riding off into the sunset to begin a new, happy life at the end of a story.

On a different note, I am continuing the process of digitizing many of my art pieces and getting them printed as 5” x 7” postcards in full glossy colour as mini frameable pieces of art which I will ultimately sell.  I’ll add the link for that as soon as I have it. Stay tuned, there is definitely much more to come!

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