Julie Drew

Julie Drew

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.

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 student1 Acrylic eggshellpainting student2 Acrylic eggshellpainting student3

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 1a 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

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)

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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.

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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. 

What to paint, listening and responding…

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.

mistyMorning greggLake watercolour 4x16in julieDrew 400w

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.

paintingjourney 1

The trials of plein air - painting on location.

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. 

paintingjourney 2

When is a painting finished?

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.

paintingjourney 3

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!

paintingjourney 4

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. 

A matter of perspective, reflections on the journey…

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.

We have had a full summer already with a family visit, in-person classes opening up, art walks to participate in, new websites, and projects to create. Yet, we have taken a weekend each month (June -Aug) to go camping and get out to enjoy the beauty of Alberta. Inspired by the quiet beauty of the landscapes we saw, I started a painting on location on each trip, completing the pieces at home.

 bike as easel

Sometimes this is restful, and other times I am trying hard to get it right and I feel tense or anxious. Often, I have to get through it to the other side, but it takes trusting the process and letting go of ‘getting it right.’ It all looks the same on the outside (a painting results) but how I feel along the way changes. Stillness and being present are key to getting past the tense parts, but it isn’t always easy and sometimes I just have to start over.

gregglake

I was listening to more of Steve Bell’s work recently, and his song, Wait Alone in the Stillness, caught my attention. I resonated with the phrase: “wait alone in stillness, O my soul, wait alone.”  I have long meditated on the verse which I believe the song is based on (in Psalm 62) – for God alone my soul waits in silence. Bell’s rendition changes the semantics of the phrase, and I can’t help pondering the meaning of his interpretation. There is an element of trust in “for God alone my soul waits…” In the former, the sense is about being alone in the stillness. (The Hebrew word "duwmiyah" can be translated as silence, stillness, quiet, trust, waits.) I think for me stillness also means, giving myself space in quiet – no phone, no music or book to read, not necessarily painting or doing. It was in this kind of stillness that the thoughts for this blog started to churn. I thought about it more as we went camping last weekend and I sat again in stillness.

I have been learning the value of stillness, of quieting myself, being present to the moment. When I am practicing that presence as I paint, it is calming and restful and I can lose myself and let the painting take me where it wants to go. I can listen, relax and trust the process.

However, when I cannot be present, when I am worried about getting it right, or what others may think of the piece, or any other part of my life I am anxious about, then there is a couple of different exercises I might perform to release tension. I can take a deep breathe and try to get present again or I can set what I am working on aside and find my way back to stillness by just playing and creating. Allowing myself to experiment and play with my mediums gives me the break I need to release my anxiety in the creation process, letting it express itself. Once that is released, I can return to the piece that was causing me angst.

During the winter of 2020-2021, as I was feeling down and stressed, I needed that sort of space, and I tried something new to “play” with, acrylic pouring and methods of using fluid acrylics. It was a fun process. I tried pouring and moving the fluid paint by blowing it using a few alternative methods; a straw, blow dryer, balloon, cling wrap, and turntable, were all employed in my efforts. I continued to experiment. Once I understood the process more, I could apply it in other paintings. It will also become part of what I teach in acrylics classes. The pieces I created will be available at my next art walks for those who are curious.

Here are some of the results of some of my favorite acrylic pours and experiments:

flower dance, acrylic pour, 7x7in Julie Drewkaleidoscope, acrylic pour 7x7in Julie Drewbountiful blooms acrylic pour 7x7in Julie Drewocean wave acrylic pour 8x8in Julie Drewrainbow reef acrylic pour 12x9in Julie Drewwaterfall acrylic pour 10x8in Julie Drewriver of delight acrylic 12 10 Julie Drew

Do you find ways to practice stillness, or being present?

 

Northern Lights in Watercolor  Workshop  Register at Paintspot.ca

Nov 13
10 am - 4 pm.

$80

Capture the beauty and movement of the Northern Lights using watercolor in this step-by-step workshop. These simple landscapes can be done by beginner to advanced students.
Learn to:

  • work with pouring and wet into wet to create movement in a night sky
  • mix colors to create the night scene
  • use photo references and imagination to sketch out ideas for painting the landscape
  • combine different watercolor techniques to achieve the elements in the landscape

432 DancingLights2 8x11 wc JulieDrew 300w 

Supply List for Workshop:

Watercolors: tube paint 

  • Dioxazine purple or Deep, dark purple
  • Alizarin crimson
  • Phthalo blue
  • Lemon yellow
  • Permanent Green

Palette for watercolor
Arches 140 lb cold press full sheet, tear into quarters
Painting boards (tape on watercolor paper) heavy cardboard or Masonite are good options
Green painter’s tape
Container for water Brushes

  • 1 in flat brush
  •  Rigger brush
  • Small Round brush
  • Assorted other brushes

Rag/ paper towel
Masking fluid
Old toothbrush
Salt
Sea sponge
Cling wrap
Pencil and eraser
(optional – permanent ink pen with fine tip)
Small sketchbook
Photo references (optional): northern lights, landscapes in the dark
Apron
Lunch, water bottle

sample mixedmedia acrylicclass

Acrylics 1 &2  Course #695306   Register at MoveLearnPlay.edmonton.ca

12:30 - 3:30 pm  8 Tuesdays at the City Arts Centre in Garneau, 10943 83 Ave

Oct 5 - Nov 23, 2021

Quick drying time and multiple textures make acrylics a great choice for beginners and intermediates. In this class students will learn painting basics (composition, colour, painting techniques) as well as have a chance to express their personal creativity. Students can expect material costs to be between $100-$200.

tuesdaymorn 

Drawing and Painting with Mixed Media  Course #695313  Register at MoveLearnPlay.edmonton.ca

1 - 4 pm   8 Thursday Afternoons at Terwillegar Rec. Centre, Multi-Purpose Room B (Enter the Entrance 2 and go up the stairs to the right and all the way down the hall.)

Oct 7 - Dec 2, 2021

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. You can also try travel sketching with some plein air sessions during the eight weeks, weather permitting.

 sharie fall2016 2
Watercolour 1 & 2  Course #695318  Registration will be at MoveLearnPlay.edmonton.ca on the last page of the classes
 
Oct 18 - Dec 6, 2021  8 Monday afternoons at Terwillegar Rec. Centre, Multi-Purpose Room B (Enter the Entrance 2 and go up the stairs to the right and all the way down the hall.)
 
For beginner and advanced students. Learn to apply watercolor techniques to any subject matter. Use your creativity to expand on what you learn and take the next step in the learning process for yourself.

September 12, 2021

12 pm - 7 pm

Strathearn Drive, between 89 and 91 streets

If you missed me at the Art walk or my pop-up event, you can come see me here! I will be outside in my art show tent. The event is free so bring some friends!

I have a number of new paintings this year including all the Northern Light series I showed at the online show I did in May. I just finished up a couple more watercolor paintings that I started on location (plein air) this summer and I am excited to share them with you.

See you there!

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For this commissioned painting, Lilac Garden, I recently finished, I imagined a place of peace and rest. I would like to sit and enjoy a garden like that. I am so glad they liked the painting!

I used eggshells and sand for the texture of the wall and sawdust for texture in the ground. The stone path was also of eggshells. It is a fun way to create texture. The bench was made from acrylic paint I mixed and poured out on plastic so it would be like a “skin” of paint. I cut out the bench and attached it over the painting for another 3D effect.

As I write this, I am sitting on our deck in the cooler morning hours, listening to the variety of birdsong around me. and enjoying the beauty of the flowers in planters. This year for one of the pots, I chose a flame colored dahlia which I started to paint in watercolor to capture its translucent, brilliant beauty. I am including a short video here of the first part of the painting. 

Since Easter, I have been noticing our resident hawk. I noticed when it looked like he got a mate. Since June started, I have been too preoccupied to notice, but this week, I discovered that the hawks have now become a family of five. They were all sitting in a tree together sitting perfectly still as the sun came up. Alittle while later, two of the younger ones were calling out and flying in circles like two children at play. I had wondered why I was hearing the call of this bird more frequently throughout the neighborhood. The “youngsters” actively and incessantly voice their flights, more so than the parents.

hawkfamilyyounghawk

I love that even in the city, we can see and hear the beauty of the natural world if I stop long enough to notice, to sit and just “be present.”

The idea of sitting still is foreign to our culture. It has taken work, but I find myself sitting and not feeling a need to always do something. I must admit that I easily fall back into doing mode and wander around lost when I have nothing pressing on me to get done. I can feel the difference when I am racing around, exhaustedly trying to get a lot done; when I push myself past where I should have stopped or rested. But I find if I maintain being present as I work, pausing to smell the flowers and listen to the birds, I am more awake, alert and relaxed to deal with whatever comes my way. It is more peaceful and I feel content.

In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. Is 30: 15

We enjoyed a week with our children and grandchildren around. I had lots of opportunity to practice just being present with everyone and enjoying the time we had together. Like the young hawks, children have a lot more energy and keep the rest of us moving. So thankful for the visit with all of them!

familyphoto2021

Spend a summer evening learning to paint watercolours outdoors and learning about the historical John Walter Museum. The night will start with a brief tour of the site with an interpreter and after you'll learn how to paint on location in the beautiful river valley, mix colours, work on composition and more! All supplies included.

Two dates to choose from:

Monday, July 19, 2021 course #688972
Monday, Aug 9, 2021course #688973

$65 each

Sign up through MoveLearnPlay.edmonton.ca 

Riding the Waves of the Unexpected…

This was to be the theme at the June Art and faith retreat, but as Alberta didn’t make it to 70 % vaccinated by June 10, the retreat had to be canceled. A group retreat would hardly be a group retreat if everyone is confined to their own room due to no indoor gatherings.

When I finally accepted that we had to cancel the retreat, I felt intense disappointment and that I had let people down. I had been so sure we could meet together following the “restaurant reopening” rules, but King’s Fold falls under a different category, so everything other than eating together was not allowed under the no indoor gatherings restriction.

When King's Fold and I finally got on the same page and how we would be limited, I thought we could still have the retreat and just make the best of the situation. We would forge ahead and ride those unexpected waves. But then Sam asked me what if riding the waves of the unexpected meant we cancel the retreat. That was a tough one for me. It made me feel like a failure. So, instead of agreeing with Sam, I wrote an email to our participants asking how they felt about it.

I received good questions in response to my email about how I saw this retreat moving forward which really put it into perspective for me. I realized that we could not offer the kind of retreat experience that the retreat was all about. I had to let it go.

Riding the waves of the unexpected this time meant letting it go - letting go of the retreat and my desire to please others and be a success. (One of the scripture passages for the retreat was Isaiah 30: 15-18 which describes the Israelites pursuing their own way ending on hill with a battered flagstaff. See passage link below.) If I had gone forward with the retreat at this point, I would have been like the battered flagstaff on the hill. I would have been forcing my own way and reacting out of the failure and disappointment I was feeling.

The scripture passages I had chosen for the retreat were: 

Isaiah 30:1,15-18 Which is about the rebellious Israelites, and God waiting for them.
The book of Ruth There are only 4 chapters, and so much of the story falls under the unexpected and how Ruth and Naomi dealt with the unexpected.
James 1:2-4 I wanted to share with you this story and the scripture passages and invite you to contemplate your own journey that has brought you to this day. What was unexpected? How did you ride the waves?

I invite you listen, to sketch or paint it, write a poem or just sit with it. What comes up for you?

If you are willing to share, send me an email.

The 26th annual Whyte Ave Art Walk is going forward with an indoor marketplace on weekends June 11 -August 1 in the former Army and Navy building on Whyte (82 Ave and 104 St) with up to 60 artists per weekend.

I have registered to participate in three of the weekends:

  • June 18-20, 2021, Fri 3-8 pm, Sat and Sun 10 am - 5 pm.
  • July 23-25, 2021, Fri 3-8 pm, Sat and Sun 10 am - 5 pm.
  • July 30-Aug 1, 2021, Fri 3-8 pm, Sat and Sun 10 am - 5 pm.

Due to COVID-19 capacity restrictions, entry times and tickets ($5 each) will be booked through Wild Heart Collective. You will also be able to purchase tickets at the door. A ticket is good for the entire day, so you can go out and come back in. Friday the 18th is free for admission with a donation to the food bank.

Tickets can be purchased here: Art Walk Tickets

 

Volunteers are needed. https://art-walk.ca/volunteers/. Volunteers will receive free admission for the day. 

On Friday, June 4th at 6:00 pm MST, I will be hosting a live show on my youtube channel to debut my new series on the Northern Lights. The Dancing Lights depicted within my paintings are based on the Aurora Borealis my daughter and I saw this past winter. To capture the essence of our experience that cold winter night I used frost painting techniques to give the images an ice-like look. Needless to say, I had a lot of fun experimenting with different techniques in my efforts to paint one of nature's most beautiful phenomenons.

Though I will only be going live on the Friday the 4th, you will still be able to watch my show after the fact on my youtube channel. I will also be posting a few short videos on some of the paintings, to give you a more thorough experience. Below is the link to the show itself or you can access it by going directly to youtube

This series has been a passion project of mine since February and I am excited to finally be able to share it with you!

To preview some of the paintings you will find them on the Store page under New Work: Frosty Northern Lights.

***Note*** If you would like to chat and ask questions during the Virual Art Show, you will need to have a gmail account and create a YouTube account for yourself.

Anticipation ....

The buds on the trees are swollen in anticipation, ready to burst forth, but waiting for the right timing.…

Spring in Alberta is this long, long anticipation of summer and warmer weather. Every year I watch the transition with interest. The grass is slowly starting to show some life. Once the trees decide the time is right, their leaves pop out seemingly overnight, maybe a week. This year has added the drama of a bird of prey waiting...and calling to a mate? There is a second bird that shows up and they flutter together before it flies off again.

our neighbor

Reena, Natalia, and I traveled the late-night roads near Elk Island last week in pursuit of another aurora borealis. (Another exercise in waiting and anticipation and hopefulness.) It was not spectacular. In fact, it was a very faint green haze, but the moon was bright and beautiful and the coyotes, ducks, and geese were noisy and active which added to the adventure. And since there is no snow now, I used the excursion as an inspiration for the last few paintings in my 18 piece northern light project. Watch for my online showing coming this next month.

447dancinglights5 350w

We are in waiting mode in other ways too, wondering when we will be able to be together again in person. Waiting can be hard. How are you doing with it? I have found it frustrating to make plans and have them dashed to the ground. I lose some of the excitement of anticipation to skepticism. Disheartened, I look again outside to revive my hope, blue skies and ready to burst buds rejuvenate me. I see a bud on my tulip peaking through the green leaves. I am hopeful.

tulipbud

In hopefulness, I decided to participate in the Outdoor Bloomin Garden Show and Art Sale, even if there is a possibility of a cooler weather. If you are in Edmonton, I invite you to come see me!

The in-person classes I was hoping for were moved back online and begin mid May. Each class will be four weeks and we will have fun painting together online instead. Three classes: Watercolor, Mixed Media and acrylic.

The art retreat will run IF we get to stage three before June 10. (If that happens, are you interested in coming? I will contact you if you let me know.)

I am hopeful that our plans to see our grandchildren in July will come true. What are you anticipating? Where does your hope lay?

Happy Easter!

This morning I put my the handmade paper butterflies on the window and watched the sunrise. I love the sunrise and try to catch it most mornings as part of my quiet time in the morning with God.

butterfly sunrise

Today I was thinking of the beauty of the sunrise after the dark of night... the spring after the winter with its new life and new growth...and butterflies that break forth from their cocoon. All ways of seeing the resurrection and new life.

I did a photo shoot of the butterflies flying across several of my paintings - the northern light ones.

dancing butterflies1

We hid our daughters' Easter baskets, a fun tradition that still goes on. We sang and read a couple stories over zoom with our son and grandchildren in Victoria.

After the girls got up and found their baskets, we sang together our favorite Easter songs.

dancing butterflies3

Later today we will go for a walk with our girls, and our son and daughter-in-law. Maybe we will see signs of spring and new life bursting forth. The pussy willows have started to pop in the last week or so.

How will you celebrate today?

Christ is Risen! Hallelujah! Have a beautiful weekend.

dancing butterflies2

 

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