I love watching birds in flight. The beautiful, majestic bald eagle soars high riding the wind, then dives down toward the water to catch a fish. This is the time of year that people start watching for eagles at Wolf Lodge Bay on Lake Coeur d'Alene, mid November to end of January, with the peak between Christmas and New Years. Last year peaked 217 eagles were counted on December 30 at Wolf Lodge Bay. The eagles come to feed on the kokanee salmon. Several birds can be spotted on the same trees. How many do you see in the photo here? I count 5.
Isaiah wrote: "but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not be faint."
The closest I come to flying is in an airplane. I recently took a trip to Colorado and on one of the flights we experienced a lot of turbulence (more than I remember ever experiencing before). I will admit that a plane dropping what feels like 2-3 feet suddenly and shifting and swaying makes me extremely nervous, terrified. I have an active imagination that can picture way too many scenarios. I realized that I could panic or I could trust the pilot, who had probably flown through plenty of turbulence, and pray. So I closed my eyes and relaxed. I allowed myself to ride the waves of air. It was like a rollercoaster up, down, toss to the right, now the left, drop and up again...It was not nearly so bad as I thought it would be.
And as I sat through it and relaxed into it, I began to think about my fears. How many of my fears are based on being out of control? How much do I not enjoy the things that put me in that position, like down hill skiing, roller coasters, huge water slides. Yet as an artist, very little of an art business is really under my control. I cannot predict what will sell or touch someone's heart. I cannot know which classes people will want to take. Oh I try and I stress myself out over it all.
Can I learn to ride the wind with my Lord?
Soaring with the wind like a bird on the wing
Can I learn to let go, close my eyes and trust
Ride the waves of air
Up and down, sideways, up
Trusting He will not let me fall
Let go and just ride
When relaxed it is not nearly so bad
As I thought it would be
Could I learn to enjoy it?
Would that be going too far?
Let it go.
Relax in His arms on the waves of the air
Trust and relax
Let it go, that control
Let it go
On Eagles' Wings, Watercolor
(Above) 7 in x 11 in
Update on the painting of the North saskatchewan River West of downtown Edmonton. I decided to post the progression of the painting process and I will add more as I complete the painting.
I like Summer. It's a time to rest from the busyness of the year, a time to take a break, hike, travel, try something new, and meet a new friend.
This summer I took a break and traveled down to the San Francisco Peninsula, where I explored the natural scenery, and had time to paint, rest and visit with some family. A lot of my time was my own as my husband, Sam, was busy taking courses on Enneagram training. The weather was beautiful. We were fortunate that all the smoke from the forest fires stayed north of us, but we certainly got our fill of it coming home.
My cousin Nate and his wife, Karen, generously opened their home to us for a part of our stay. They have landscaped a beautiful garden with paths and raised garden beds. I found one flowering bush, a Red Tiger Abutilon, particularly enchanting. And one day as I sat in the garden painting the Tiger's blooms, I heard him. He made a clicking noise, and I looked around to see a humming bird flitting from flower to flower on the other side of the Tiger. He was curious, too. He even came and looked me over, fluttering just three feet away! My camera was right next to me, but he wasn't ready for that yet, and zipped away as I reached for it.
I decided to go a little slower, to get to know him first. I learned his song, and when I started to hear it I reached for my camera even as I looked for him among the trees and flowers in their garden. He wasn't as shy this time, and even posed for me, letting me catch him sitting on a branch.
The next day I came again to his garden, taking time to just be still. I sat and I read, enjoying the beauty of the garden. And I waited. I waited for him to come to me. Forty-five minutes had passed when I heard his song. He came, dancing, darting, pausing in mid-air like a breath, flitting from flower to flower in the golden sunlight of the morning. And then he was off again, and it was my turn to breathe and wonder. So beautiful.
For me, the beauty and wonder of God's creation is part of his love song to us. In big and small ways nature speaks of God's great glory and love, and I particularly enjoy first hand experiences like these.
And I also love it when I can capture nature's beauty on film so I use them later when I create with God in my paintings. I was dancing inside as I experienced each of the beautiful animals and places on our trip. Each one felt like a gift.
I saw elephant seals, California seals, egrets, hummingbirds, pelicans, deer and fawns, tide pools, the ocean, redwoods and lots of people. I took thousands of pictures, sketched and painted 'plein air".
Here are some of the paintings I started… or sketched...
I look forward to sharing some of these new paintings when they are finished. Some of them are a perfect fit for the new show I will be installing at the Glenrose in late October: Flowers and Birds. Mark your calendars for Wed October 31 for a reception 2-6pm.
One of the things I do when I teach is to demonstrate painting techniques. Sometimes I already have a painting in mind and sketch it out before class, knowing it can work for a demo.
However, most of the time it is a technique or project that I start with the class or a demonstration of a technique for one of my student's projects. Then, I have a partial painting or just some random colors and texture that I can turn into something else.
Over the last couple of years of teaching, I have accumulated more unfinished pieces than I have managed to complete. I just counted 59 I had photgraphed last fall to record the process of painting. Rather daunting. I had no idea there were so many. Not all of them will be completed. For those that will be completed, something about them inspires me to press on with them.
Last Sunday, we drove out past Drayton Valley, to the Alberta provincial Crown forest land to tromp through the woods and choose our Christmas tree. This has become a tradition in recent years for Sam and I and our youngest daughter, Reena. Then, we bundled it up on our car to bring home. I love the fresh, living pine smell. With the extra branches, we made wreaths: one for outside and one for a candle centerpiece. All our decorations are up, inside and outside. It was a fun time of decorating with both girls still at home. I even change the paintings on our walls to go with the winter-Christmas theme. I like to sit in the dark with just the Christmas lights on. It is peaceful and provides a serenity to begin and end my day.
With the pandemic encroaching on our celebrations this year, revaluating why we do what we do – and finding ways to still share in the joy of Christmas together -- seems important. I was thinking about this as we took the time to drive and pick out a tree, decorate the house, make or buy presents, and sing carols together. We were even thinking of ways to get together outdoors with our extended family until that was put on lock down too. So, we are now looking at ways to share time together online with those of our family not in our house.
What is the significance of traditions? They help us to remember, to take time away from our busyness and prepare our hearts for Christmas and the coming of Christ. Here are some of the meanings behind these traditional symbols we use in our home:
Pine tree – an evergreen, reminds me of the everlasting love of God, always present and green with life even in the dead of winter.
Wreath – a circle – complete, never ending
Candles and lights – Jesus is the light of the world. Star of Bethlehem.
Advent calendar - preparation, prepare our hearts.
Creche -manger scene - retelling the story of Christ’s birth.
Sing carols – singing the story, praise, and halleluiah. celebration
Ornaments – beauty – memories – ones given, ones made, ones chosen
Poinsettia - a winter blooming flower that is shaped like the star of David.
Gifts – to think of others – Christ gave himself to us, wise men gave gifts
I have been working on painting Ornaments again in these last couple months. They are miniature reflections on love, joy, peace, hope, life, and beauty. I found myself painting some of the symbols I find most meaningful as well as other themes that I keep coming back to. I will share a few of them here, all of ornaments are on my website in the "store" under Winter category.
Love Birds – (bashful quail on one side and “Love” on the other) My sister took the photo of these quail parading around her backyard. Their stance made me think of a bashful young couple not quite sure of themselves but loving each other. Love extends through thick and thin.
Shout for Joy – (two children jumping together) The exuberance, laughter and joyful wonder in children celebrates the joy in our hearts. I think of my two grandchildren, and the joy they are.
Walk through the Woods – There is a peacefulness and stillness when I go walking or skiing through the snow blanketed woods. Especially when the snow is falling, muffling the noises.
Garden Beauty, Anemone and Butterfly- Both of these are reminders of spring and the beauty of flowers and growing things. Spring will come again. This is also a sign of hope and promise of coming life.
Poinsettias – the flower that blooms in December in Mexico, like red stars illuminating the landscape. I don’t tend to paint these at any other time, but I enjoy it now as I let it remind me of the Mexican legend and its association with Christmas.
Waterfalls - God is the living water. He fills us up with his everlasting love. This is a theme I come back to all year long.
And the Angels Sang – What did the shepherds see when the host of Angels sang , “Glory to God?” I imagine it was like the northern lights – full of light and moving color vibrating with music.
Some of my favorite Christmas songs:
• What child is this?
• Mary do you know?
• Long time ago in Bethlehem (Mary’s little boy child)
• Angels we have heard on high
• Carol of the bells
• I heard the bells on Christmas Day
• Good King Wenceslas
• Ding dong! Merrily on high!
• Do you hear what I hear?
What traditions do you have for this time of year? What is the meaning or significance for you?
“Mom! Mom! Wake up! You said you would go with me. I got an Aurora red alert. You said to wake you up!” Reena whispered as she shook me awake.
I dragged myself out of bed, threw on more layers and drove out with Reena east of Edmonton into the frigid -28C to see what we could see.
We started to see them as we drove past Sherwood Park. We looked for a place to pull over and got out of the car for a better view. Beautiful dancing lights!
As I watched the lights dancing a set of vertical bands of pink, white and peach traveled from one side of the sky to the other amidst the luminescent greens. Amazing! Inspiring!
Reena’s phone captured the best photos. Here are a couple of them.
Since then, I have been working on some northern light paintings in watercolor. As it was so cold the night we saw the Aurora Borealis, and it was so cold in the couple weeks following, I felt it was appropriate to try the frost paintings again.
Frost pattern paintings are something I try every year when the temperature is low enough. I put a wet watercolor painting outside until it freezes. It works best with temperatures below -8C. It was in the range of -25C to -40C with the windchill.
Here are some of my works in progress. I have the ground (trees or snowscape) to put in yet on these. The first one here had the best most distinct frost pattern.
Here is a section with a frost pattern: You will have to look closely to see it.
Whether I am walking, hiking, on a bike, or in a car, I am soaking in the view, the details and the beauty of the world around me. I am open to possibilities and yet when one comes it sometimes seems to leap out to catch me, other times the beauty just quiets my soul.
We were camping at Gregg Lake in the William Switzer provincial park. As we biked through the park, there were a couple places that caught my eye enticing me to come back to paint them. In the morning, as we sat by the lake, I painted the first one: the misty morning mountain. The kayakers paddled into the painting as I worked on the peaceful scene I shared last month.
In the afternoon, I took my supplies and biked back to the end of the lake that had caught my eye earlier, where the water meanders a path through the reeds, reflecting the surrounding hills. In the shallows where a stream empties into the lake, submerged rocks add their hidden depth to the beauty.
I did the preliminary layers of paint on location that afternoon in the sunshine, but as the clouds rolled back in, the light changed enough, so I stopped working. (Besides, we wanted to take our own kayak out.)
The next day the same scene looked very different. The light that had caught my eye the day before was not there. It would have changed the mood of the painting and the hidden depth was not as visible on the cloudy day. It just felt different, less inspiring.
I took the painting and the photographs with me to work on during one of the art walk weekends. I was disappointed with the photos as they did not line up with what I remembered, but I worked with them anyway and got to a completed stage.
Yet, later at home, the painting still was missing that hidden depth of the foreground that had captured my eye in the first place. But what I remembered wasn’t in the photos. How could I paint it in?
Then, as I was going back through my phone, looking for the photo I took of my set up on site where I used my bike as the easel, I finally had a photo that matched what I remembered. With this photo, I was then able to do the finishing touches on the painting. Yeah!
Sometimes, or maybe more often than not, I have to push past what I think Is done. I set a painting up against the wall and sit with it for a awhile until it tells me that there is more to do with it or it is done.
Often, while I paint and work on a piece, I wonder what it was that caught my attention. For this painting, what was it about the rocks in the foreground, and the ones I could see through the water in places, the hidden depth that the camera could not see? It was like seeing two perspectives at once: the reflective surface and what is underneath in the hidden depths.
We have hidden depths. We also reflect (deflect) to hide ourselves, sometimes intentionally, sometimes subconsciously. With the right lens, we can see to the hidden depths within ourselves. There is beauty there to be discovered, in each and every one of us.
It takes a journey to find those hidden depths in ourselves and in each other. It is worth the journey.
Artist: Julie Drew
October 25, 2018 - Jan 2, 2019
Reception: Nov 20, 2018
2 - 6pm
Location: Blue Curve Gallery
Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital
10230 111 Ave NW, Edmonton AB
I love flowers and birds there is something that is so joyful of the beauty of flowers and the singing, the soaring and the delight I find in watching birds. When I walk in the great outdoors, it is like a treasure hunt to see what I can find. I am thrilled when I find something that really catches my eye and my heart. I take a photo reference or sketch it right away.
Flowers come in so many shapes and colors. I seek to capture the details and essence of the flowers. Birds have a character all their own. I particularly like the ones I do not see every day, like the egret, eagle and osprey. These birds and flowers speak to me of God’s beautiful creation.
Sept 27, 2019 -Jan 2, 2020
Art on the Inside gallery, Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital
10230 111 Ave, Edmonton (basement level outside the cafeteria)
- Just being present
- With anticipation, expectantly
What are you looking forward to?
- For clarity, direction and inspiration
- For redemption… and transformation
- For Spring, new life, hope
- For rebirth, regeneration, new growth
Is about letting go and trusting the process
but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint. - Isaiah 40:31
Empty Nest, Winter of my Soul
New things come, old things pass.
It is hard to let go.
It is hard to say good-bye to what was,
Treasured moments; the good, the bad
letting go is part of living.
It is part of loving.
There will be new beginnings;
Such is the circle or spiral we live in.
We cannot hold on to the present.
It must fly
And the empty nest
is the memory we have left.