Gonna Climb Me a Mountain!

So last week we were painting a scene from the foothills of Alberta, this week we painted a scene from Belly River – Waterton Lakes National Park.

Alberta Mountain Spring Runoff

The colours are very bright, but this is how the mountain lakes and springs are in Western Canada.  Apparently it relates to the glaciers melting……mineral content, light angle etc.  I just think it looks really beautiful.  It was a fun piece to do.

This week we started on a scene from the Bow Lake Glacier Falls area in Banff.

 

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Like Riding a Horse

Back at it!

Ok, so I know it’s been a very long time since I posted!

Last year was a series of highs and lows.  The greatest low being that I have not painted very much: life sometimes gets in the way!

We enjoyed travel with friends and family.  We hosted friends and family.  I volunteered a little with the OAS Art in the Park (unfortunately illness prevented me living up to all my commitments there, but it’s such a worthwhile venture I just had to try to support it in any way I could).  Although I haven’t painted I have been “painting with my camera,” collecting scenes and ideas for future projects, so all has certainly not been wasted or lost creatively speaking!

But here we are, well into 2018!  New start!

Pushing forward…

The first few months seem to have flown by.  I have signed up for a 4 week class at the Oakville Art Society to “jump start” my paint brushes.  My first class was on Monday. The class is called “Painting the Foothills of Alberta” and is all about painting snow scenes and big Alberta skies.

Robin Mitchell is the teacher and I’ve taken classes with him before (look back at my writings about “Out of my comfort zone: painting outdoors for all the world to see”.  I took Robin’s plein air courses before writing that).  I enjoy his teaching style.  He comes across very relaxed and has a very supportive way of teaching.  I also enjoy his sometimes quirky (like me) sense of humour.

He starts his class painting.  Robin had completed a painting of the scene at home and then he started the same scene in class so we could observe the process, giving us a running commentary of what he’s doing and why.  So we have the reference photo, his completed painting and the new painting he does in class to refer to.  After about 30-45 minutes he had pretty well completed the new painting on his easel! The guy is really talented!

That was our cue and we all got started on the same scene trying to utilize his suggestions.  I always love how a whole class can work on the same scene and yet everyone’s painting turns out so differently.  We included 3 deer on a frozen lake which was cause for some hilarity as our deer started out looking like dogs or something Santa would never dream of enlisting to pull his sleigh! Robin circulates the class offering suggestions as he goes and is always right there if you have a question.  At one point I was so wrapped up in my creative process, I’d stopped looking at the reference photo and actually forgot about a key component: a snowy road leading up to the mountains!  This is what I’ve missed.  Losing yourself in the paint is so restorative!

Our Spring weather seems to be elusive at the moment and I’m hoping that perhaps next week we’ll have a warmer scene to work on that will perhaps motivate the “weather Gods” to heat things up a bit.  As I sit writing this, the occasional snow flake dares to drift by the window!  I really need to get this snow scene finished so perhaps Spring will make an entrance!

Well, my paint brushes (and deer) call to me.  I will add a photo of my completed snow scene later.

Deer“Oh Deer”


Milestones

Canada celebrates 150 years this weekend!

You may remember that I talked about participating in the Canada 150 Mural Project in an earlier blog (History in the Making 2016). Many communities have participated across Canada and I can’t wait to see the finished product when they virtually join all the murals together.  Be sure to check out the project on line!  -Such an amazing concept.

http://canada150mosaic.com/

Recently I helped to paint the Oakville Art Society’s submission to the Bronte BIA’s Muskoka Chair project.  The chair features similar graphics to those on the posters featuring this year’s Art in the Park.  Agencies and individuals successfully submitted designs to complete 60+ hand painted chairs that will be displayed in Bronte on Canada Day!  You can’t look at a Muskoka Chair and not think “Canada”.  I can’t wait to see what everyone has done.

I’ve fallen behind on projects due to some health issues.  Things are picking up, so I finally finished two small plein air pieces.  One I started at the last “Paint the Town” event -it’s a window at Knox Presbyterian Church in Oakville (I call this one “Reflections from God”).   The other I started using the gardens at Sovereign House,  in Bronte as my inspiration.

plein air 2017

Wherever you are, whatever you do, I hope that you have a wonderful Canada Day!  We have so much to be thankful for living here…..eh?

garden frame


Recognition, Reflection and Gratitude

I can’t believe that May is almost here!  Again time flies by.

This year has been a rollercoaster for me.  A time of major ups and major downs.

After a wonderful Christmas and New Year with our family in England (alwayBronte Lighthouses the best fun), I started 2017 back in Canada having a great time participating in a watercolour class at the Oakville Art Society.  Classes give you the opportunity to meet fellow artists, play with some paint, and there’s always something new to learn.  It certainly doesn’t hurt that Shelley Prior is an amazing teacher!

Muskoka WeekendIn February a girls’ weekend in Muskoka inspired me to paint some snow scenes.  It was something I hadn’t done before and Shelley had some great tips for me.  The cottage we were at was magical: like being inside a snow globe looking out at the frozen lake and counting the deer (yes “deer”, there were SO many, it was unbelievable!)

At the beginning of March I was so honored when Oakville ArtWorks  chose my “Cuba Blues” acrylic painting I did last summer for their Juried Show.  The opening reception was March 2nd and I was so pleased to see friends come out to support me.

Then in April I was accepted into the Oakville Art Society’s Juried Show!  –To be recognized in two important juried shows in a row!  What an honour.  I’m so thrilled!

Just as I was on this all time high of creating and enjoying life, and feeling blessed to  receive such valid recognition, I was given a reality check.  We all know that life has its ups and downs.  I like to think that I don’t take anything for granted, but this Spring between these truly great times I had some unexpected time for reflection.  I’ve had to deal with some serious health issues and always figured I knew what my challenges were, but this one caught me by surprise.  Things can change on a dime and I was painfully reminded of how fragile life can be when I found myself being rushed into hospital to be admitted, not once, but twice with acute severe asthma exacerbations.  I know I have asthma, but it’s always been more of an occasional nuisance: easily controlled.  It’s never been anything “life threatening” and that’s what this was.  It was a “perfect storm” -it happened so fast.  The good news is, I’m here now writing about it, but it was one of the scariest experiences I’ve ever had.  Not being able to breathe and then not be able to talk…..

But enough!  Here I am at the other side of it, thinking I really need to create more, paint more, worry less, buy that crazy shirt, dance in the rain, do the things that feed my soul……I know this, we all know this, I’ve said it here and I say it all the time, but we also all tend to backslide.  Which is probably normal too.  We can’t walk around obsessing about it all, but I am so grateful to be here.

I’ve been thinking about some new pieces I’d like to do.  My husband wants me to “paint big”….so maybe I’ll dust off my bigger brushes and canvases and try something a little different!  I was back at my Tai Chi class today.  I’ve been to one “Asthma Class” (not as much fun as Shelley’s class).  I’m slowly, but surely getting back on track. I missed the deadline for Shelley’s Spring class I wanted to take, but that’s ok.  There’ll be others!

I love this time of year.  Everything “greening up”.  Birds returning and getting their summer feathers.  I feel like I’m waking up too.  I’m so grateful for all I have.  I am so lucky.  Let’s paint fun, pretty things!!!  Oh and if you stop by and visit me: expect more dust bunnies and dishes in the sink.  After some reflection, I’ve decided to re-arrange my priorities a bit!

The Oakville Art Society Show is on now, so moving forward I look forward to the reception May 7th.  If you can make it out, be sure to look for my watercolour:

OAS Juried Show 2017FullSizeRender


Sorry I haven’t written, -but I HAVE been creating!

Last time I wrote, I was talking about “Pushing boundaries and going outside our comfort zones”.

Remember my summer of painting at the Bronte Lake Walk outside Cuba’s Restaurant where I told you I was going through my “Cuba Period”?  Well, that really paid off as my painting “Cuba Blues” has been selected for the 2017 ArtWorks Oakville Juried Show!

juried-show-2017

The exhibition runs from February 27th – March 25, 2017 at QEPCCC Gallery (2302 Bridge Road, Oakville).  The opening reception is Thursday, March 2nd from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.  Everyone is welcome and there is no cost to come!  If you’ve forgotten the painting, check out May’s blog!

QEPCC also hosts a huge variety of art shows in its corridors.  It’s a very interesting building and well worth the visit!

What a wonderful time I’ve had.  I got outside early last fall and managed one plein air piece at Sovereign House.

After the summer I also decided to attend watercolour art classes in the Fall and during Winter at the Oakville Art Society (OAS).  Classes help you to develop a more regular painting schedule, is a wonderful opportunity to socialize with other artists, and you ALWAYS continue to learn!

I lovingly completed 5 paintings for specific people in watercolour.  Two were surprise gifts for family in England.

My great niece has a very special pet bunny, who really doesn’t know he’s a bunny -he has painting-collagean amazing personality.  She recently re-decorated her bedroom and wanted art work.  Her mom suggested asking me to paint “Alfie”.  I think she’d forgotten about it so it was very special to see her face when I gave it to her.

The other was for our nephew who visited us in Canada a few years ago for his 40th birthday.  He loves nature and our very dear friends invited us to their home on a lake in the Parry Sound area. Paul loved going out in their kayak and exploring the shore.

So I painted him a scene of the Georgian Bay area for his new home.  His “Canadian Memory”.

Three were also surprise gifts that people had commissioned.  Two were in memory of a very special Mom and one was of a very special family cottage.  I always like to know the backgrounds of commissioned work: what does the reference photo mean to them, what was the person/place like.  For example the imposing rock in front of the cottage is where the family have gathered for pictures over the years. It’s always so rewarding when you can “deliver” what people hope for…..or surpass it!

I’ve said it before, I love to catalogue memories for people and artwork is a very satisfying way of doing that.

So I may not have been writing much, but the paints have been out a lot!

 

 


Pushing Boundaries: Bronte and Beyond!

September 1st will be the last “Bronte Lake Walk” event for 2016.

I’ll be in front of Cuba’s Restaurant again, so try to stop by. Summer is winding down and we need to grab every chance we can to enjoy it. We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful spot in such a wonderful country.

Last month was very toasty. I actually didn’t bring out as much of my work as I have in previous months. I expected it to be slow and it was a quiet night –occurring just after “Art in the Park”, and with the extreme heat, you can’t really fault people if they stay close to their air conditioners.

Again some very dear friends dropped by to surprise me!

I’m always humbled by the support I get from people. I love my craft, but like a lot of artists, I really appreciate the support and encouragement. As in anything, paintings don’t always work out: I do really like to challenge myself, try new things, push myself out of my comfort zone. That can sometimes be a recipe for disaster! Last time I worked on a “Cuban Dancer”.  She may not get to dance, I’ve not given up on her yet, but if I can’t tease her out of the canvas, I may just paint over her.  Pushing boundaries is never a failure.  It offers opportunity to grow and to learn: –sometimes what not to do! LOL.  Someone once told me that the only “bad” canvas was a blank one.  I’m not sure what I will be working at on September 1st. Any suggestions? I really don’t want to be left with a blank canvas!

IMG_5033Over the past two weeks I tried something totally different! I went to a very special 2 day Art Therapy class. We rolled out clay (literally…..with a rolling pin) and then we each chose items from nature to lay out on our clay. After creating our “layout” we then we rolled the items so that they imprinted into the clay. We rolled out a long strip to attach around our clay imprint, creating a mold. Then plaster was poured onto the mold and hangers set into the plaster. Once dry, the clay was removed and I painted my plaque using watercolour paints! I loved the anticipation and surprise of seeing how it  turned out.

We all face challenges in our lives and in our world.  We all need something to ground us.  Something that offers escape from everyday work and life.  Some people paint, some people golf, some people use photography, some read and attend book clubs, some take up sports, the list goes on and on

……some people even collect art!

 


Summer of 2016

Blue skies that go on forever. Long, steamy days filled with cicadas telling you just how hot it is.  Crickets chirping to herald the arrival of August!  Ice cream, fruits, berries, salads!  The feel, the smells, the tastes, the sounds of summer leave imprints on our minds. 

As kids, summers stretched on forever for us. 

Whether you went, or whether you always dreamed of going, nothing quite says “summer” like a beach!  

July’s Bronte Lake Walk was a scorcher!  That evening I arrived at Cuba’s Restaurant with a blank canvas and continued my “Cuban theme” by starting a beach painting.  Here it is “finished”.  Look at it and imagine the sounds and smell of the beach, but watch out for spray from the waves!

I’m not sure yet what I will do this Thursday.  It promises to be a beautiful evening for another Bronte Lake Walk event. Come out and celebrate summer!