Julie Drew

Julie Drew

sketching waterfallatgrassilakes canmore

My daughter, Reena, was home from university for a few days and we took off a day to hike in Canmore. She hiked on and left me to watercolor sketch at the beautiful waterfall on the grassi lakes trail.

WaterfallatGrassiLakes Canmore

I did a quick ink sketch too.

WaterfallatGrassiLakes Canmore inksketch

This fall I will be teaching some sketching classes here in Edmonton. We will get out and enjoy the fall colors as we capture what is around us. 

Autumn Landscapes in the River Valley; Drawing and Painting - Yorath House in Buena Vista park 4 Tuesdays starting Sept 19.

Sketching at the Valley Zoo, October 1

Exploring Fall Colours in Watercolour: Drawing and Painting Exploration 6 Fridays starting Sept 22.

(If the links don't work, the details of registration and classes are also on the Fun Art Classes Page with more classes and information.)




At the end of my residency, I had a spontaneous show on April 1, 2023. Here is the unedited video my daughter recorded as I shared my Art Talk. 


Below, I include some close ups of what was set up for display on the tables during the show.


For over a decade I have been painting, writing and thinking about Water, from the perspective of water crises as a metaphor for our thirst for Living Water to Saturation. I was in the process of reworking the Living Water series, but I was stuck. I couldn’t seem to get past the idea of connecting and collaborating as the next part, but how?

This Residency gave me the opportunity to devote some time and energy into it, giving me a direction to pursue further.

I shared the poem on Water I wrote in 2010. You can read it here.

water paintingsJulie Drew NSaskatchewanRiver fall Acrylic 9x12inWater - acrylic pouring 8x8inwater2water3water3

 Connections: Connecting with People

Part of preparing for the Residency, was gathering what I already had in paintings, unfinished paintings and sketches, as well as photos of the river valley.
In 2020, during covid, weekly Plein Air workshops were a way I could still connect with my students. These paintings were all started during that year as we explored different parts of Edmonton and the surrounding area.

Thank you to all who came to paint on the Plein Air Excursions, especially my friend Marjie who came all 13 weeks in 2020.

connecting with peopleRundleBridge NSask.River 6x12in watercolor JulieDrewWolf Willow Beach N Saskatchewan River  7x11in artist Julie DrewFort Edmonton Footbridge wc 7x11inGovernmentWayPark watercolor unfinished

Connection: East to west – transportation route

Flowing to Lake Winnipeg, the Saskatchewan was the major transportation route that connected eastern Canada to the Rockies before the railroad.

The North Saskatchewan River begins at the Saskatchewan Glacier in Banff National Park in the Rocky Mountains and flows southeast through the northern tip of Banff National Park and into the foothills where it opens up into Abraham Lake, created by the Bighorn Dam.

The South Saskatchewan River is formed by the junction of the Bow and Oldman rivers, the headwaters of which are in the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

Today we can canoe or kayak down the river. Part of the photos I reviewed for the residency were of our two kayak trips down the river through Edmonton.

N Saskatchewan River transportation connection Transportation - canoeing the river at Devonseasons NSaskRiver

Connection: Seasons of life along the river
The basin of the North Saskatchewan river supports life, animals, plants and people. It is the source of water for Edmonton.
Wahkohtowin, a Cree word which denotes the interconnected nature of relationships, communities, and natural systems. Its literal meaning is "kinship."

seasons connection to life cyclefromthesketchbooksHawrelak BeunaVistaFootbridge watercolor 15x30in JulieDrew

Connection: Building bridges
When we build bridges we connect two places together, two sides of the river, different parts of Edmonton together.

As I worked the bridge paintings, reworking, drawing them until they looked correct, building the one out of handmade paper, piece by piece, it took effort. It was even painful as my hand took a few days to recover from the overextension of muscle.

This made me also think about relationships. We can build bridges between people as well, like the LRT bridge. And like my paintings and hours of work to get the bridge right, it takes effort to put aside our differences and build bridges to another person.

buildingbridges with handmade paper Buena Vista footbridge mixed media 18x24in artist Julie Drewbuilding the bridge

Connection: Treaty 6 territory  - Building Bridges in Community
We acknowledge Treaty 6 territory—the traditional and ancestral territory of the Cree, Dene, Blackfoot, Saulteaux and Nakota Sioux. We acknowledge that this territory is home to the Métis Settlements and the Métis Nation of Alberta, Regions 2, 3 and 4 within the historical Northwest Métis Homeland.

The North Saskatchewan flows through Treaty 6 territory. As we have taken steps in Canada to honor the First Nation people through Truth and Reconciliation, Edmonton built the newest LRT bridge to make connections between the indigenous and Canada. Below the main deck of the LRT, is the footbridge for people to walk, bike, roll and enjoy the beautiful artwork on the ceiling that tells the story of the First Nation people. The artwork on the ceiling is by Indigenous artist David Garneau.

I will work on a painting of this in the spring when the greening of the trees begins, reflecting the new life building bridges can bring to relationships. I went to sketch the bridge again as the buds on the trees were opening. I have one of the hotos I will reference as I begin the painting.

 LRT bridge -  building bridges in community photo Julie Drewspringgreen LRTbridge



February 26

Last week, I started a self-directed artist residency at the Yorath house in Buena Vista Park in the North Saskatchewan River valley here in Edmonton. I will be pondering the word “connections” and see where it leads me. I wrote in my proposal that I would “explore the metaphors I find of the connections of the river valley between the river, the land, the animals and people that are connected to it.” This residency is giving me an opportunity to take the time I need to explore what has been percolating in me for that last three years.

tracks across the river IMG 3489 tree with deep grooved bark
The first two days it has been cold (-17C and -22C) I did take a half hour walk along the river at the end of my day there on Tuesday and took some photos. At Buena Vista park, the river is a solid swath of white – with animal tracks bounding over the snow covered ice.

At other parts of the river which we drive over, there is a dark ribbon of river that ripples along near the middle. 

Since the weather was not conducive to painting outdoors yet, I decided to look through the photos I have taken of the river valley over the years and pull out the unfinished plein air paintings I started in 2020 and 2021 of the river valley.

As I started swiping through the photos from our kayaking trips down the North Saskatchewan, all of the unique bridges spanning the river caught my eye. Here is a way of seeing connection that I had not been thinking about, connecting banks of the river, building bridges. Also, three of the four unfinished plein air paintings were of bridges. It is a place to start.

bridge paintings in progress 

I look forward to seeing where this takes me in the next few weeks.


I am excited to have finished mixed media painting, Regeneration 3, I started working on in the Acrylic Explorations class in the fall! 

It will be shown for the first time at the Nina Haggerty Gallery, 9225 118 Ave NW,

during the Deep Freeze Festival January 21-22, 2023 12-6 pm 

Buiding a Textured Painting:

demo blocking in color regeneration3

I blocked in the colors and used it to demonstrate texture building 

building texture regeneration3 w1000painting over the texture regeneration3adding moss regeneration3adding ink regeneration3

I added the trunk in handmade paper, eggshells create the texture of the burls and for the ground cover of pine needles I used saw dust and sand. I painted over the textures.

detail regeneration3 w1000detail handmadepaper ferns regeneration3

After adding the ink lines to the bark of the tree, I added more handmade paper for some 3D effect of the ferns and branches coming out of the burls.

I have painted this particular scene several times, each time is a little different. Here is one: Redemption-New Life Another one was part of the Waiting series that was shown at the Glenrose with this poem/ meditation.

You can see the painting this weekend at the Nina Haggerty Gallery during the Deep Freeze festival. I will be there in the building at the Artisan Market. If you come to the festival, be sure to stop by for a visit!

May the road you travel be filled with Sunshine!

Our funny Christmas tree story...

We don’t have a tree this year. We like to get a permit and drive the hour or so to the crown land and cut one down. Sam and I were all set to go on a Sunday when something came up unexpectedly with Sam’s project that had to be done that day. So, we postponed it to the following Wednesday. We drove all the way out there, got out of the car to start tromping through the snow, when Sam got a phone call from work, and we were called back to town…with no tree. We set another date to go on the following Sunday, but that weekend I had two migraines, one each day. A tree this year was not meant to be.

But my Christmas Cactus is blooming and festive… it is an “ever green” …

So, this year instead of a tree, we have a blooming Christmas Cactus.

2022 ChristmasTree replacement



From Coast to Coast and Places Inbetween

I am feeling thankful. My husband and I did a whirlwind of travel mid August – early September. It was a lot of long days of driving so that we could spend a couple days with people here and there. I sketched along the way and took thousands of photos.

Englishman river falls BC Prov. Parkmygrandchildren 2022

We traveled with our middle daughter, Natalia, to Vancouver Island to go camping with our son, Thaddeus, and his family at Englishman River Falls Provincial Park Campground. Our grandchildren are delightful. Griffin is fearless on his bike. Jade loves playing on the playground with other children.

We came home for a day and headed out with our youngest daughter, Reena, to drive her, her bike and belongings to Kingston, ON where she will be taking the rest of her schooling at Queens University in person. We had really long days on the road, listening to audible books and music. I took out my sketchbook to capture a few things as we drove along. It was good practice in quick observation and memory as we passed by and I was still drawing the scene.

Haybales along the highwaypond along the highway

We went by way of Marblehead, MA to see Sam’s Mom, Jeanne and Mike where they relocated this year. They took us on a ferry to Boston to see historical sites there as well as around Marblehead. One of the ocean coastlines was inspiring to me! I can’t wait to work on completing a painting that has been sitting unfinished since 2018.(see the Marblehead, MA  photo above with my husband, Sam, climbing on the rocky shore)  I wasn’t able to spend the day painting, but I took photos and I hope to be working on it this fall. The picturesque town of Marblehead with the brightly colored houses reminded me of places in Europe, particularly in Norway. 

Ferry view Boston to Marblehead Ferry to Bostonjeanne mikecolorful home marblehead

I got up early to watch the sunrise just down the street from where we were staying in Salom, MA. A heron and egret joined me. I love seeing the larger birds. 

salom beach lowtide dawnegretandheron


One of our overnights on the way was with my aunt and uncle in Syracuse, NY whom I had not seen since 2000 a week after Reena was born. I was happy to introduce Reena to them and we enjoyed our brief visit, especially all the weaving creations my aunt wove. Beautiful! Seeing it brought back good memories of weaving from the time I went to school in Norway. I had enjoyed the rhythm of weaving the shuttle.

hummingbird1 turning red maples

From Marblehead we traveled northwest past Ottawa to stay a couple of very restful days getting to know another uncle and aunt of mine in Pembroke, ON. Delightful! They live in a beautiful home they had built on an acreage surrounded by tall white and red pine. Hummingbirds and a variety of other birds came to their feeders. We were too early for the fall colors, but one or two had started to turn.

Reena QueensU

After we dropped off Reena and got her set up (we went shopping for furniture – a desk, chair and bed),
we stopped to see Niagara Falls briefly on our way back toward Chicago. It was only an extra 2 hour side trip to the day.

half of Niagra Fallsniagra falls

We had lived in Chicago before, so we went to stay with our friends for the long weekend before heading back to Edmonton. Sam went kayaking on the Chicago River, we went biking down the lake shore pathway, we went to the Art Institute and saw my favorite impressionists’ paintings and the Botanical Gardens.

Seurat sundayonlaGrandeJatte1884

I will devote another post to the art institute and my favorite painters. Here I am in front of one of them - George Seurat, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte - 1884. It is all done with dots of paint.

along the highway construction worker waiting

We had a couple days home before we went camping with my son, Nathaniel and his wife for the weekend. We hiked to see another waterfalls. It was a good way to end the summer trips. I am so thankful we had one more trip with our dog, Lizzy.

yellowhead lake lucerne campgroundOverlander Falls BC overlanderfalls samandjulie lizzy

Whew! What an end to summer and beginning of fall, but I am thankful we saw everyone we did, we managed to spend time with all of our children and grandchildren. We traveled safely from coast to coast and home again. We saw beauty everywhere we went, and I am feeling inspired to paint.


I am excited! I took 19 paintings today to have them set up in an art show at The Carrot Community Coffeehouse for the month of August. Woohoo!

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted to move up my art show from November to August. On that short notice, I pulled together waterfalls and rivers that I had available and titled it “Let the Rivers Flow.” I put four of them into frames and the rest were ready to go.

Let the Rivers Flow,  August 2-27, 2022

As the rivers flow, and cascade on their downward path, spilling over rocks and making their own paths, they bring life with them to nourish the thirsty world.

I enjoy painting water, it’s movement and flow. It is peaceful to sit and take in the beauty of a river or waterfall, but to go further and capture the moment with paint is delightful. I experimented with different painting methods for capturing the water scenes: watercolor, acrylic, oil, combining ink and watercolor, and using handmade paper for texture in some of the paintings.

This series includes 19 paintings of waterfalls and rivers in Alberta, Oregon, Croatia, Iceland and Norway.

Opening Reception
7-8pm on August 4, 2022
The Carrot Community Coffeehouse
9351 118 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T5G 0N3

Let the Rivers Flow Art Show will be up from August 2- 27, 2022
The Carrot Hours: Tues.-Fri. 9am to 8 pm; Sat. 9am to 10 pm. (closed Sun. and Mon.)


Registration for all the classes below are on the movelearnplay.Edmonton.ca website then click>registered programs>arts programs>adult programs> ***painting classes are now under Painting Classes and drawing classes are separate under Drawing and Mixed media art programs. The classes are listed alphabetically. I put the class code with each class that may work in the search. ALTERNATIVELY,  you can call 311 to register. There are similar class titles by other instructors. Check the time and instructor information as well. 


Classes in September

 inkdrawing treealongrivertrailsketch class NSaskathchewanRiversketching botanicals 2

Autumn landscapes in the River Valley: Drawing and Painting - Class Code #727575

4 Tuesdays, Sept 19-Oct 10

6-9 pm

Cost: $92 (all supplies included)

Yorath House , 13110 Buena Vista Rd NW, Edmonton  

It is different to draw and paint from life than just using photos. Artist Julie Drew will teach you that what our eyes can see is so much more than a photo can capture. This weekly class at Yorath House will have you experiencing your Tuesday evenings seeing and sketching the scenes around you while learning important drawing and painting skills and techniques. Each week you will spend time enjoying nature with a sketchbook and watercolour pencils in hand. 


Wolf Willow Beach watercolor, watercolor pencil and ink

Exploring Fall Colours in Watercolour : Drawing and Painting Explorations - Class Code #727655

 6 Fridays, Sept 22-Oct 27, 2023


Cost: $180 (all supplies included)

Location: City Arts Centre 

Love watercolours but you have never taken a drawing or painting class? No problem, this class is for all skill levels, taking you to the next step in the process. Use watercolor pencils and ink to draw and sketch landscapes, animals, and people; all while exploring the beautiful Fall colours of the season. Artist Julie Drew will show you numerous techniques to combine a variety of watercolour methods and even have you explore working outdoors with plein air sessions (weather permitting)



Classes in October

sketch ottersketch rabbitsketch turtle

Sketching at the Valley Zoo  -  class code #727667 Class listed under Drawing and Mixed Media classes  

Sun. Oct 1 

10 am -3pm

$70 - (all supplies included)

Catching wildlife in pencil & ink as it lives and breathes allows you to capture the energy in the drawing. Enjoy a day drawing en plein air (in the open air) at the Edmonton Valley Zoo observing the animals and capturing the essence in your sketchbook. Artist Julie Drew will teach you that it is much different to draw from life than just using photos, what our eyes can see is so much more than a photo can capture.




Acrylic 1&2 - Class Code #727550

8 Wed. Oct 4 - Nov 22,

6:30-9:30 pm

Cost: $170

Location: City Arts Centre

Quick drying time and multiple textures make acrylics a great choice for beginners and intermediates. In this weekly course learn painting basics such as composition, colour, and numerous painting techniques. Talented artists and painters will guide you through various subject matter such as still life, portraits & figures, landscapes, and much more in this inspiring and engaging weekly course. Have the opportunity to learn a wealth of knowledge and express your personal creativity.


painting flowers acrylic

Painting Botanicals at the Muttart: Acrylic Workshop - Class Code #727622 

2 Thurs. Oct 5 &12, 6-9 pm

$80 all supplies included

Muttart Conservatory

Capture the beauty and translucence of flowers and variegated plants in acrylic during this two evening workshop at the Muttart Conservatory. Through hands-on demonstrations from artist Julie Drew, learn to paint petals, leaves, and backgrounds using a variety of painting techniques. ALL MATERIALS ARE INCLUDED, just bring yourself & your creativity


acrylic landscapes JulieDrew

Acrylic 1&2 - Class Code #727552

Fri. Oct 27 - Dec 15, 6:30-9:30 pm

Cost: $184

Location: Dr. Anne Anderson Community Centre: 11810 35 Ave 

Quick drying time and multiple textures make acrylics a great choice for beginners and intermediates. In this weekly course learn painting basics such as composition, colour, and numerous painting techniques. Talented artists and painters will guide you through various subject matter such as still life, portraits & figures, landscapes, and much more in this inspiring and engaging weekly course. Have the opportunity to learn a wealth of knowledge and express your personal creativity.

 gerber daisy wb

Painting Botanicals at the Muttart: Watercolour Workshop  class code #727623 

2 Thurs. Oct 26 & Nov 2, 6-9 pm

Cost: $80 all supplies included

Capture the beauty and translucence of flowers and variegated plants in watercolours during this two evening workshop at the Muttart Conservatory. Through hands-on demonstrations from artist Julie Drew, learn to paint petals, leaves, and backgrounds using a variety of painting techniques. ALL MATERIALS ARE INCLUDED, just bring yourself & your creativity.


Classes in November & December


watercolor pouring

Pouring Watercolors: Fall Colours & Painting Techniques - Class Code: 727644

Thurs. Nov 2 - Dec 7, 2023

1-4 pm

Location: City Arts Centre: 10943 83 Ave NW, Edmonton


Take your watercolor to new levels with pouring watercolours and working with layers. Explore the techniques of watercolor in new ways using the natural world as inspiration. During this 6 week program with artist Julie Drew you will learn a vast range of watercolour skills such as: masking, pouring, working with layers and salt, painting in details, composition, and working with the results – listening to the painting. This course is perfect for those who are starting out with watercolours or are looking for an expressive technique or for those with previous painting experience looking for a new style and inspiration.


JulieDrew GardenWall Acrylic 10x10in

Acrylic Painting Explorations - Class Code: 727553  

See what other classes have done here
6 Fridays. Nov 3- Dec 8 

1-4 pm (City Arts Centre)

Cost $138

Explore the possibilities with acrylic paint with artist Julie Drew during this weekly class. To begin, gain knowledge in paint and colour by learning about colour mixing and themes. After getting used to brushwork and paint handling, then experiment with adding textures and inclusions: eggshells, sand, and collage elements such as handmade papers and transfer techniques.

Students can expect material costs to be between $50 - $200


Hand painted Holiday cards: watercolour and Ink workshop - Class Code #727648 

Sun.  Dec 3, 9:30 am-12:30 pm

$55  all supplies included

Muttart Conservatory

Create your very own Holiday cards while enjoying the gorgeous scenery at the Muttart during this one morning workshop. You will have the opportunity to paint the foliage of the ever popular poinsettia plant in the Feature Pyramid at the Muttart as well as paint the stunning Northern lights from photographs! Be guided through several techniques, colour suggestions, and basic composition strategies as you come away with the know-how to continue painting both the Northern Lights and poinsettias. ALL MATERIALS ARE INCLUDED, just bring yourself & your creativity.

20221201 204639 poinsettiapaintingclass

Poinsettia Painting at the Muttart: Watercolour Workshop - Class Code   #730513 

Thurs. Dec 7 & 14, 6-9 pm

$110 all supplies included

Paint the foliage of the ever popular poinsettia plant in the Feature Pyramid at the Muttart! Enjoy two evenings capturing the beauty and colourful hues of the leaves as you explore using watercolours. Through hands-on demonstrations from artist Julie Drew, learn to paint the poinsettia’s flowers and leaves using a variety of painting techniques. ALL MATERIALS ARE INCLUDED, just bring yourself & your creativity.


We had 12 of us at the Art Vocabulary for the Soul Retreat last weekend! I am so thankful for the beautiful people who came and explored as we contemplated going “Into the Unknown.” We looked at parts of the stories of Ruth and Jonah, as opposite ways of dealing with going into the unknown. We used art to process our own journeys. I was blessed with their stories, and their creativity. I was so caught up in experiencing the weekend, I forgot to take photos.

group photo Art Vocabulary for the Soul Retreat June 2022

For my own exploration, I find sometimes I am like Ruth, willing to venture forth and try new things. But sometimes, I am like Jonah going the other direction or slow to make any changes until I feel prepared. One thing is sure, when I am grounded in presence, letting the flow of my creator’s living water run through me, the journey into the unknown becomes do-able and an adventure to take.

Photo of 2 pastel sketches of my processing "Into the Unknown.".

into the unknown- 3rd exercise

into the unknown  - Julie Drew


I also love going out to King’s Fold Retreat Centre. It is such a beautiful place to retreat with so many trails through woods and meadows and down to the river below.

King's Fold Retreat CentreKing's Fold Retreat Centre

King's Fold Retreat CentreKing's Fold Retreat CentreMark your calendar for next year’s Art Vocabulary for the Soul retreat: June 23-25, 2023. Early bird registration closes on March 20, 2023.


Happy Easter!
Christ is Risen!
He is Risen indeed!

Spring is slow in coming this year. Well, I’m not sure it is any different than other years, but we had a teasing 20C day a week ago, which has made this past week feel even more cold with its sub-zero temps.

snowflakes fell

This wintry spring that doesn’t want to let go brings to my mind the last verse of the Easter hymn, Now the Green Blade Rises:

“When our hearts are wintry, grieving or in pain, your touch can call us back to life again,
fields of our hearts that bare and dead have been; love is come again like wheat arising green.”
(J. M. C. Crum 1872-1958, French Carol)

paintingatmuttartpaintingatthemuttart 1

The beauty of flowers and the promise of spring lighten my heart. They bring the promise of new life, hope, and the renewal of love touching our wintry hearts and souls. A touch our world surely needs.

I contemplated these things as I sat in the Muttart Conservatory on Monday, delighting in the lovely scent of tulips and hyacinths and painting the fresh signs of spring while the cold wind blew outside.

workinprogress frilledtulips

I continued to work on the painting a little bit more this morning, but it is still in progress. It is at the long stage of pushing and pulling, deciding what details to keep and what to abstract or suggest. The process cannot be rushed. Although I refer to the photos now and then, I also listen to the painting and let it help me decide where to take it. The delicate fringe of the frilled tulips is delightful to paint, but whether I saved the frilly whites well enough with the masking fluid I will not know until it is ready to be removed.

12 students learned to see the flowers in new ways and paint their favorites during the Acrylic Flower Painting workshop last Saturday at the Muttart. Here are some of their results:

student work at Muttart 1 student work at Muttart 2 student work a  Muttart 3 student work at Muttart 4 student work at Muttart 6 student work at Muttart 5

As people learn the creative process, regardless of the medium, I find I am always teaching them how to see this beautiful world in new ways and the nuances of light and contrast. It is all about seeing and trusting the process of painting as it unfolds.

New classes begin again in May and June 2022. Click here for the selection. 

Hoarfrost dawn skiing

Even winter has its beauty. I completed this painting of cross-country skiing at dawn amidst the hoarfrost. Title suggestion? I loved that crisp morning with the light of dawn coming through the trees as we skied the field and enjoyed the magical hoarfrost sparkling and lighting up the trees. Medium: Acrylic on canvas, size: 14 in x 17 in.


Being around creative people sparks creativity.
Creativity relieves us of our burdensome self consciousness.
Creativity connects us to our heart and relationship with reality.
The sense of meaning and delight in creativity has more to do with the process than the end product. Find in the process what you want to communicate and find out something deeper about yourself. 

 - Russ Hudson, Enneagram and Creativity Online Class, Monday, February 28, 2022                                           


As I listened to Russ Hudson during the monthly online class I am taking on the Enneagram and Creativity, I resonated with these descriptions of creativity and  with the following parts of the Point Three perspective.

Three’s will work hard to develop their skill, and stick to goals, but threes need to let the process lead them and not the goals. Slow down, if you are in a rush you are not present. 

More Twists and TurnsArt has been and still is, a saving grace for me as a Three. It has been a place to retreat into, to work out my feelings and work through fears. It has been a way to explore new things, new thoughts. Not just in my own art, but the art others produce; paintings, stories, poetry, music and dance that have inspired me to further my own journey to unknown depths in myself and my relationship with the One who Created me.

In my newsletter and blog posts over the years, I have shared some of this journey. I sometimes spend months on a theme that I feel needs exploring. Sometimes it is something I need to revisit when it comes up again. We are works in progress and like an onion, we peel off layers and find more to see within.

I asked Russ Hudson during the class about getting past the pain of failure, and why one negative voice will shut me down even amidst a large quantity of accolades. Russ encouraged me on a journey back to the heart to sit with and walk through the pain and sadness, giving time, attention and space to reframe, letting a new work spring up, allowing it to reshape what I was working on, even taking it in a direction I had not anticipated.

As I reflected on this, I remembered that although I didn’t complete to publication the book I had been working on, “Waiting on the Lord: An Artist’s Journey,” I did include some of it as I reworked and expanded the God is my Refuge Devotional book in 2017. I have since learned more about waiting and have come to realize the book wasn’t ready to be complete yet. Afterall, I have more to learn about waiting. If you were to word search ‘waiting’ on my website (and scroll down the page for the results), you will see it is a theme I still come back to. It isn’t done with me yet. I find this encouraging. Once I pass through enough layers, maybe I will be able to write it again or something new.

creative space3

At our Art, Vocabulary for the Soul Retreat, we give attendees space and a starting point in which they can explore their own journey. Like the descriptions of creativity above, we also create for the joy of creating, entering the peace that can come from play and being present to our selves and our surroundings. King’s Fold Retreat Centre is in the foothills of the Rockies overlooking the Ghost River valley.

This retreat is for those who wish to explore how art can speak to them and through them. How it can have a voice that helps one to understand one's self. How the process of creating can be life giving.

All are welcome whether you think of yourself as creative or not. All art mediums are welcome to be used, such as painting, drawing, poetry, writing, song writing, music, and photography.

Will you join us this year?

Three spots left to for this year's retreat. sign up today. Payment plans available. A bursary is available to those in financial need.

Too far to drive? Calgary is the nearest airport and transportation options from the airport can be discussed with King’s Fold staff.

Ghost river, King's fold

The month of January slipped away from me…

My daughters and I drove down to stay a week with my parents and sister in Spokane, WA. It had been 2 years since I saw them last in person. I have been thankful for being able to “see” them via zoom, but even so, it was good to be really face to face.

My sister, Dad and my daughter, Natalia, all like putting a puzzle together. Since I knew this and wanted to do something they enjoyed, I selected one.

Putting puzzle pieces together was a bit of an exercise in self awareness.

Of all the puzzles to choose from, I chose the one with the northern lights, even though I knew it would be more difficult with all the subtle shifts of color. (I am a bit obsessed with northern lights ?.)

As I worked on the sky section with all the nuances of green, I could feel the tension building within me the longer it took to find something that would fit. The lack of accomplishment in so small a thing that really isn’t that important was like seeing myself under a microscope. I could easily see this pattern, this tension and need for accomplishment rising within me. Then the unbounded joy of putting several pieces in right after another. I could even feel the failure and comparing myself toward the others who would occasionally walk up to the table, see one piece, and immediately put it in place in the puzzle.

puzzle  sky black to green

Early on, I recognized the tension building, I decided to work on the buildings to gain a sense of achievement. Then, I could go back to the night sky of dancing green and tackle it with fresh eyes after a break. This move helped me relax and laugh at myself, letting it go.

puzzle 3 buildings

All the feelings within me would still be there, but they had less power over me, which meant I didn’t have to act on it or let it control me as I have in the past. I could enjoy working together on the puzzle. Breathe, take my time, I did not have to be in a hurry to get things finished and get on to the next task.

It is good to see how far I have come on this journey of self awareness. It has been important as I work through paintings. Sometimes, it takes longer to get where I want the painting to go. The way I thought was not working and I must try for a new solution, do research, and try again. I need to wait for it.

I have been working on and thinking about a commission for over 11 months now. Just when I think I am ready to complete it and put it all together, another issue comes up that needs to be solved. I suppose I could have just done a straight painting, but the idea called for more, something unique. So, I have had to practice patience and waiting for the ideas to come, taking breaks to let ideas percolate and see it with fresh eyes. It is about a willingness to wait for the process and not rush it.

I had been hoping to have it finished to show you, maybe by next month it will be. Here is a picture of all pieces to this puzzle I am working on.

puzzle commissionI

I made a video of the pieces of the painting puzzle and explain a little more of the process I have been going through with the painting. Here it is:


 Since I filmed this, I have repainted the hands until I am satisfied with them and prepared the handmade paper for the stone background. Now the stages of putting it all together. 

I have a little video I put together as a gift for your Christmas enjoyment.

As I was rewatching the little video clips on the aurora I shared in November, and the pulsing of the colors, I saw the pulsing falling into a rhythm like the repeating voices in the Halleluiah chorus. I put together a project bringing the videos and images of the Nov 4, 2021 event and some of my newer watercolor responses and music altogether. I requested and received permission (Yeah!) from some of the photographers in the Alberta Aurora Chasers group to use their beautiful photos, especially the ones that make me think of angels. I even have a still shot from one of my little videos that also looks like a figure.

angel dance

As you watch the video, think about the shepherds watching their flocks at night, when an angel appeared, "and glory shone around them", telling of the good news of the Savior's birth...
      "Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

    “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:13)

Turn off the lights as you watch, to see the pulsing color better. Enjoy! 

Can you see the angels?

Thank you to the photographers from the Facebook group Alberta Aurora Chasers and their beautiful photos: Abdulmajid Ahmed-Jimale, Andrew Wilson, Catalin Tapardel, Christopher Candela, Grace Miron, Heidi Haenni-Hoogland, Isobell Springett and Mark Jinks

I am inspired to paint more northern lights.

Part of the fun of teaching is watching the creativity start to flow. We have finished 5 out 8 classes. The students are getting comfortable with the medium and trying some ideas of their own. (After the initial classes, I have added more of the final images for some of the student paintings. I didn't remember to take photos at each class.)

In the acrylics class, we did some fun textures of adding eggshells, sand and sawdust to provide texture to the paintings. One of the students went home and added lentils and semolina to his painting. I didn’t get a picture of that one, but here are a few others:

Acrylic eggshellpainting student1Elaborate Stucco house with crushed eggshell 

Acrylic eggshellpainting student2Acrylic eggshellpainting student2 Acrylic eggshellpainting student3yellowstuccowdoorwayeggshell wall lentil path

I brought some collage scraps of my handmade paper to the class and showed them possibilities with a couple of my own pieces.

handmadepaper samples for collage 

Their ideas started flowing and they started in on creating. Their works in progress were fun to see here.

acrylic collagestudent1 1aEggshell painting reddoorway acrylic collagestudent2 2a

acrylic collagestudent3

We started the process of transfers. I brought an option of my own ink drawings photocopied for the class to use. I look forward to next class and the new possibilities the students will try. The flamingo and trio of rocks are my quick samples from my ink drawings. One student was ready with her image of a polar bear which turned out great.

acrylic transfer acrylic transfer student1 painted transfer on painted background


Some of the other projects in class:

Monochomatic painting

monochramatic painting studentwork

Experimenting with techniques: Textured backgrounds, sponging, pointilism

experimenting with texrtured backgroundspointilism flowerExploringwith pintilism

We did some work with Perspective in our last class:

perspectiveperspective painting demoperspective painting studentwork1perspective painting studentwork1Bperspective painting studentwork2

perspective painting studentwork2Bperspective painting studentwork3perspective painting studentwork3B


I saw the northern lights again! And it was just as exciting and beautiful as last February. (But not as cold.)

I woke a little after 2:15 am on Thursday morning (to use the washroom), and while I was awake I thought of checking the status at aurorawatch.ca, since it was a 50% yellow alert for seeing the northern lights as I was heading to bed. The status had moved up to a red alert (70% chance) after midnight!

I was too tired to drive outside of Edmonton. It takes 45 minutes to get away from the light polution. What to do… As I pondered it, I heard one of my daughters moving around. She was just heading to bed and had to get up early, so she declined going with me.

So, I thought I would see if there was any faint sighting in the field by our house. I stepped out on our back porch and looked toward the north. I saw green bands dancing low to the horizon between the trees! They were visible right here. My heart did a happy leap and filled with anticipation and thrill. I had to share it with someone.

I went back inside to get my other daughter, Natalia, and we went to the field together to enjoy the show. I took a few pictures and we lay down in the grass and just watched the sky dance until we were too cold. (From about 3-4 am)

20211104 032405 300w

It may not have been as vibrant with all the Edmonton lights dimming it, but it was still beautiful and pulsing and dancing across the sky, changing patterns. Some of it looked like angel wings, some columns of lights piercing the darkness.

20211104 031608 500w

There are some gorgeous photos of the Aurora in the facebook group Alberta Aurora Chasers, if you want to check out some others.

I am still learning to use my new phone camera and the settings that worked outside the city didn’t work that morning, but I did some adjustments and have something to remember it with. 

I went out a couple of other times to look for the northern lights - but we missed their showing. I did, however take some lovely one of the stars as I started learning what kinds of photos my new phone can take.

20211101 002532 vibrance500wstars at Elk Island Park 120211101 000624 1100w

stars at Elk Island Park 220211101 001437 1000w

This Saturday, Nov 13. I will be teaching a workshop on Painting the Northern Lights in Watercolor. There is still some room in the class if you would like to participate. (Beginner to advance students.) Click on the link for more information and the registration link.


When the fall colors start, I can’t wait to grab my supplies and a camera and go paint and enjoy it. It is such a short season here in Edmonton, so every bit counts.

My husband, Sam and I kayaked a couple hours down the North Saskatchewan River last Sunday through all the colors. It was glorious. I took some painting reference photos for my upcoming fall classes to start us off.

kayaking on North Saskatchewan River with fall colors

kayak 9 26 21 k450

Yesterday morning, I went out with my plein air session painter to paint on location at the Wolf Willow stairs. We went last week, too, to the Wolf Willow Beach.

I tried out a new feature I found out about on my new phone a "directors view" which uses both the front and back cameras at the same time. It will take a bit to get used to where to put my hands so they are not in the way. But, it gives a taste of what I do when out plein air painting and teaching. I was going to try it out more, but we picked a very busy location with people doing their cardio going up and down the stairs.

We spent an hour and a half or so on painting, sketching in the scene, masking the whites/ light areas, laying in the initial colors. Between the start we did on site and the photos and memory, we can complete the painting at home.


Plein Air Sessions ($20 each session) Friday afternoon.

I will continue to go paint outdoors as the weather and colors hold. I will be switching to Friday afternoons. If you would like to join me for a plein air session ($20 and your own supplies), you can contact me for more information.

Next week, Oct 8, 1 pm we will gather at the Clifford E Lee Nature Sanctuary.