2016: What’s New?

December 25, 2016

Ron’s painting “Eli’s First Day”. Acrylic on canvas. 16″ x 20″. Private commission.



December 6, 2016

From Ron’s Guest Post on the Orca Book Blog for the 25th anniversary edition of “Waiting for the Whales”. 


Throughout my illustration career I have never believed in imposing one art style on every project. I’ve been fortunate to have the facility to adapt my approach to the needs of the project, be it a picture book, book cover, magazine article, poster or advertisement. I’m no different from art directors who vary their choice of layouts and font styles for the books they design. I’m probably best known to the children’s literature community for the realistic style I have used in a number of my picture books such as Waiting for the Whales, How Smudge Came, Wild Girl and Gran and A Poppy Is to Remember. This style requires the use of models and extensive research, so it has been refreshing to also illustrate books that allowed me to work more from my imagination such as I Can’t Sleep!, The Happily Ever Afternoon, Pumpkin People, Juba This, Juba That and FRANKENSTINK! Garbage Gone Bad.

Over the years I’ve worked with ink, pencil, coloured pencils, acrylic paint, watercolour, and oil paint. The needs of the project and the style I chose dictated the tools I used. I always liked to experiment and sometimes tried out and discarded a variety of approaches for my picture book illustrations before settling on the most appropriate one. My first concept for the Waiting for the Whales illustrations was very graphic, but not sensitive enough for the changing moods and emotional content of the story.

After completing several illustrations with this linear approach I decided that a softer, photorealistic style using coloured pencils would be more appropriate. In the images seen, I also altered the composition, positioning the characters closer together to better communicate the warm intergenerational bond they share.


First illustration design done in a linear style.



Chosen photorealistic style.



November 1, 2016

A poppy is to remember.



October 31, 2016

Seeing eye to eye.



October 20. 2016

Today we walked along the Cornwallis River Greenway, a scenic trail a few minutes from our house. The trail runs through Coldbrook and Cambridge, along the old Dominion Atlantic Railway corridor. Our destination was a rest area next to a pond where I read while Ron sketched. The colours were beautiful, it was like being inside an Impressionist painting.




“Cornwallis River Greenway”  Acrylic on paper   9″ x 12″








October 18, 2016

Today we  joined Kentville Mayor Dave Corkum and Spike the pumpkin person at Kings County Academy in Kentville for a Pumpkin People reading and book giveaway for the Grade 3 students. It was great fun, as always, with lots of love and enthusiasm from the kids.  The Town of Kentville promotes literacy and local culture by presenting every Grade 3 KCA student with a free signed copy of Pumpkin People at this annual event.



Thanks to KCA principal Mike Ouellette for hosting this event.



October 7, 2016

We enjoyed a picnic today on the beach at Baxter’s Harbour on the Fundy shore of Nova Scotia.


The view at low tide is spectacular.  The Bay of Fundy’s shape and prevailing ocean currents conspire to create the highest tides in the world.


Ron painted an acrylic sketch using his Posca paint markers.



“Low Tide At Baxter’s Harbour” Acrylic on paper 9″ x 12″


October 6, 2016

It’s harvest time! One of Ron’s paintings from our book Pumpkin People is featured on the cover of the October 6-20 issue of The Grapevine. Text inside reads: “Do the pumpkin people have a secret life? Do they celebrate the harvest in odd and eerie pumpkin ways while the town sleeps? These questions inspired Sandra and Ron Lightburn to turn folk art into folklore. As Sandra wrote the rhyming text, Ron painted fun and spooky characters… and a book began to grow. Reading Pumpkin People has become a harvest time tradition for valley families.”



September 14, 2016

Sock Monkey Violet the Cockney Cleaning Girl chose the colour for her mop handle and was eager to lend a hand with the painting!



September 8, 2016


Ron’s painting “Annapolis River, Bridgetown” is in the Sept 8-22 issue of The Grapevine on page 6:




August 25, 2016

Violet the Cockney Cleaning Girl is a new ChatterSox collector doll made by Sandra.

As a baby, Violet the Cockney Cleaning Girl was found on the steps of Highgate Home for Orphans and Waifs. While growing up she mopped floors at the orphanage and dreamed of music hall stardom. “I wanna gow onna styge!” she would tell her fellow orffinks. She now has a job with the cleaning and maintenance staff at Margo’s Place nightclub and has high hopes of performing show tunes for Margo’s patrons. One of her favourite tunes is from the musical The Sound of Mopping. “The halls are aliiive, wiv the sound of mopping… the pools that ‘ave formed from a thousand beers…”

To see more pictures of Violet and to read her continuing story, visit the ChatterSox Facebook page.


2016-08-24 ChatterSox_Violet_Armed 003.JPG

2016-08-24 ChatterSox_Violet_Armed 006


August 21, 2016

Ron has retired from the world of illustration and applied art to focus his creative direction on fine art.  (The term “fine art” refers to an art form practiced mainly for its aesthetic value and its beauty – “art for art’s sake” – rather than its functional value.  The term “applied art” refers to the application of artistic design to utilitarian objects in everyday use.)  His diverse fine art influences include the Impressionists, the Group of Seven, Edward Hopper and William Seltzer Rice.  Ron studied art history as a student at the Alberta College of Art and subsequently began to establish a career in fine arts with exhibits of his landscape paintings in Victoria, B.C. art galleries.  During this period he was asked to create a magazine cover illustration, and the positive response to this painting led to an award winning career in applied art.  Ron’s commercial commissions left little time and opportunity for personal artwork, but after 35 years he feels it is time to return to his fine art studies.

During the past year Ron has been painting scenes from his garden, neighbourhood and other Nova Scotia locations.  He is interested in creating images that have a personal connection by interpreting the beauty of his local environment.

Paintings 013Daylilies and Coneflowers   Acrylic on canvas.  16″ x 2o”.  2016.


Paintings_rockThe Waterfall, Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens   Acrylic on canvas.  18″ x 24″.  2016.


Paintings_Sullivans_House 008Sullivan’s House, Summer Evening   Acrylic on canvas.  18″ x 24″.  2016


Lightburn_Annapolis_River_BridgetownAnnapolis River, Bridgetown   Acrylic on canvas.  18″ x 24″.  2016.


July 14, 2016

We enjoyed a Sommerfrische at White Point Beach Resort on the south shore of Nova Scotia.  Ron tried out his new Posca Paint Markers for some plein air painting.

2016-07-11 White_Point 001




April 27, 2016

Ron’s book FRANKENSTINK! Garbage Gone Bad (Tundra Books) is the 2016 winner of the Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Excellence in Illustration.  The announcement was made at the Atlantic Book Awards gala in Moncton, New Brunswick.



April 23, 2016

We had a great day celebrating children’s literacy at the Kingstec children’s book fair in Kentville!  It was lots of fun sharing our work with kids, parents, teachers and librarians.

Kingstec_Book_Fair 006

Kingstec_Book_Fair 005

Kingstec_Book_Fair 003


April 22, 2016

It’s ‪‎Earth Day‬! Time to read ‎FRANKENSTINK‬! Garbage Gone Bad, ‪published by Tundra Books.


You may purchase a signed copy with a FRANKENSTINK! Little Stinker stuffie here:


Wolfille_School_Frankenstink_reading 004


April 18, 2016

Celebrate Children’s Literacy at NSCC Kingstec, Kentville on April 23rd!
Parents and children are invited to the campus for a children’s book fair from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm. Over twenty local authors, organizations and businesses will be in attendance selling books and promoting their services. We will have a table with books, posters, cards, book pajama bags and more!
There will even be activities for children throughout the morning, including storytelling, science experiments, and more! This event is free of charge, and all families will have a chance to win great, literary door prizes!
We look forward to seeing you there 🙂
For more information visit: http://bit.ly/literacy2016


February 9, 2016

Bernice, the Bingo Bombshell, hails from the Sunny Shores Resort and Trailer Park in Cocoa Beach, Florida. She has had many misadventures travelling across North America. First there was the tale of the “Chattanooga Blazing Bus Breakdown”, followed by “Bedlam and Brawls at the Backwater Bowling & Bingo Barn” and finally “Back on the Road with the Beasty Biker Boys”. Bernice really makes a splash with her colourful homemade outfit, inspired by the orange groves and blue skies of Florida.

ChatterSox_Bernice_and_Estelle 041

“Bernice the Bingo Bombshell” by Sandra Lightburn. 2016.

To see more pictures of Bernice and to read her continuing story, visit the ChatterSox Facebook page.



February 9, 2016

While lying in bed one morning Ron studied this view of our grapevine through the window. He was struck by the graceful art nouveau curve and Notan silhouette of the vine against the bright backdrop of hydrangeas and coneflowers.


“The Grapevine, October” by Ron Lightburn.  Acrylic on canvas.  16″ x 12″.


January 23, 2016

The evening light falling on our neighbour’s house last summer caught Ron’s eye and inspired him to create this painting.

Paintings_Sullivans_House 008

“Sullivan’s House, Summer Evening” by Ron Lightburn. Acrylic on canvas.           18″ x 24″.

The first stage was to create a monochromatic underpainting, using raw sienna acrylic paint.  This allowed Ron to establish the composition and values before adding full colour.

Paintings 008