And so it continues….

I find I need the escape that creating brings more and more often as this crazy year continues.

I participated in another “paint along” online session. This time with a talented artist and teacher Julie Wurtele of “Artfully You” (visit her on You-Tube!), initially put on through the Oakville Art Society.

We started by painting our canvas all black and cutting in the colour to create the scene. It was fun and I was very impressed how Julie navigated the various ages and abilities online while juggling any intermittent internet access challenges. She is very supportive and relaxed and held everyone’s attention. You would never know that online group classes were new for her too! Here are my efforts with her produced this waterfall scene (don’t get splashed!):

Back to the “day to day”

Weeks have passed by, filled in with gardening, organizing online grocery lists, sorting files and piles throughout our home (which seems to have resulted in more piles of stuff to do!), cleaning, watching TV (but avoiding the news), and “repeat”. A bit like “Groundhog Day”. Keeping disciplined is a challenge as the days blur together! ZOOM meetings and FaceTime get togethers with family and friends help us to socialize and catch up with everyone safely.

A commitment I made gives me some much needed discipline

I’ve been a member of Wellspring Birmingham Gilgan Cancer Support Service since 2014. In 2010, as a way to “give back” I painted a watercolour of the rear view of the house with its picturesque pond to commemorate their 10th anniversary.

Wellspring 2010

It seemed only fitting that a couple of years ago I made a commitment to paint a rendition of their expanded house for their 20th Anniversary. Needless to say, all of their services have moved online during the pandemic but in the spirit that “this can’t last forever”, I completed the painting for them and dropped it off last month (safely social distancing). This time I used acrylics and painted the front view of the house -which has expanded since 2010. My goal was to project some of the strength and light that this amazing place gives to people, especially during challenging times!

Wellspring 2020

Grounding myself with art!

Time marched on and I found myself really needing another paint day! So I browsed through my “muse” file that I’ve collected over the years. I thought I should try out some of Julie’s techniques from the waterfall online exercise we did and so I came up with this: (photo reference credit to Mark A. Hunter of Newcastle UK:

There’s something solid and sustaining about old bridges and when you add in the cooling moss and soothing water, you can only win! I’m not sure what is next. I have a very large canvas sitting on my easel that I’ve been working on occasionally: truly a “work in progress”! We’ll see how it goes. I enjoy painting the smaller snapshots or postcards in between. One silver lining to all this social isolation is that I have picked up my paints again. There’s been lots of time for reflecting upon where we’ve been, where we are and honestly not much of the “where are we going” as at the moment this is it: here and now, “just being”! Isn’t that all we really have anyway? Enjoy today (every day) and stay safe everyone!

A Different World 2020

Farm 2020

Post Cards from the Edge

Since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic there has been a lot of opportunities for “Isolation Art” online.  However it was memories of my last class at the Oakville Art Society (back when the world was “normal” and we had NO idea what was coming) that prompted me to do this little 8×10” painting of a scene from the UK.  Our individual worlds have gotten smaller so creating a “little” painting seemed appropriate.  A post card?

Our family are in the UK and I think that when we are faced with extreme stress and fear, our thoughts turn to loved ones far away.  Hence this misty scene of typical countryside that could be located anywhere near where they live.

I find painting meditative and a bit like reading a good book.  It takes you away from the here and now and gives you a much needed break.  I feel I can almost smell the dampness and feel the cool mist on my face and hear the sheep bleating.

So for a little while I was in the scene!

Where to next I wonder?

Long Over-due!

It has been WAY too long since I contributed to this.  Life has had other plans for me for awhile, –but I’m back!

To jump start my artwork I again turned to the Oakville Art Society and took an acrylic course with Robin Mitchell.  You may remember earlier posts where I painted scenes from western Canada and Florida in his classes? He encourages you to paint something new every week, so you definitely come away with a sense of accomplishment.  So I will begin by posting examples of the assignments I completed in his class.  It felt really good to “play with paint” again and became clear as glass (pun intended) that I need to be painting again!

Blue Glass

CF Art collage March 2020

I had forgotten how good I feel when I’m painting!  July 2018 I had major surgery that really “pulled the rug out from under me” and so I had put my paints away for awhile.  I needed time to sort myself out before I could return to it.  Someone suggested I use my art to work to help me to get through, but somehow I didn’t want to stain it with my challenges.  So I turned to other methods of working through my recovery.

Now here we are and everyone has had the “rug pulled out from under them” with COVID-19!

Life is certainly different at the moment.  I don’t want to go into long dialogue about this time in our history.  You can turn on the TV, radio or go online for updates.

I’ve discovered that painting is a way for me to “run away” from day to day challenges and give me a break.  It’s like reading a good book. You can immerse yourself in it!  We all need a little respite from our current reality. I sincerely hope that you’ve found yours.  Above all be kind to yourself and to others.  Our world is full of heroes.

I’ve been trying new things while “staying safe at home” (everyone’s new mantra).  I did an online “paint along” which was a challenge as it’s hard to keep up, but I was pleased with the finished product: Summer Promise

I also tried completing another challenge today with an artist I’ve actually had a very successful workshop with, hers was beautiful, but alas not so successful (on my part).  My take away:  I have developed my own way of doing things and I really need to be true to myself!  I also need to work small on these particular projects.  So certainly not a waste of time!  I have learned new tips and tricks or had techniques reinforced by doing these exercises and I will continue to look at other’s methods as you can always learn something new!  I may take this “work in progress” (which I honestly hate) and turn it into something more up my alley.  It’s only paint, and you do need to know when to put down the brush.

“Live to paint another day!”


Changing it Up

Florida Keys

Well I said I’d be warming it up!  Last week, I started in my new class, “Painting the Landscapes and Beaches of Florida” with Robin Mitchell.

The primary requirement was that we add people to the scene in the Florida Keys.  I thought it was a bit like a postcard.  Are you hot enough?

Canyons and Mountain Mist

So here is the “Bow Lake Glacier Falls”  and “Canmore” scenes that complete my four week study of Alberta scenes

It’s been a fun class! One artist surprises us each week by including animals in her scenes (bears in the water fishing for salmon and moose in the foreground of the mountains).

I’ve often been asked why I still take classes  —-I always learn more and you can’t beat the peer support you get from fellow artists.  We have a good laugh, sharing successes and helping each other when we literally can’t see the mountain for the trees or there’s something blocking that water from flowing!

Some people go to cooking classes or book clubs:  we share recipes, but colour mixing recipes instead of food, and we share stories but instead of using words, we use our paintings.  Can you hear the sound of water? Can you smell those evergreens and feel that crisp Spring air with just a shadow of winter’s bite?

So with all this in mind I say farewell to western Canada (for now) and started a new course with Robin this week.  This time we’re tackling the landscapes and beaches of Florida.

So things are going to be heating up!

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.


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”


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.

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…

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!


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!