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.
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.
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.
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:
Do you find ways to practice stillness, or being present?
Northern Lights in Watercolor Workshop Register at Paintspot.ca
10 am - 4 pm.
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.
Supply List for Workshop:
Watercolors: tube paint
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
Rag/ paper towel
Pencil and eraser
(optional – permanent ink pen with fine tip)
Photo references (optional): northern lights, landscapes in the dark
Lunch, water bottle
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
What will this [year] be like? I wonder. What will my future be? I wonder.(see full lyrics below)
Do you recognize this first line of a song (with day instead of year)? As my daughters and I put away the Christmas decorations last night we were singing musical numbers like the song above, ‘I have Confidence’ from the Sound of Music. I enjoy this song and Maria’s approach to the unknown. I have used it to bolster my own courage over the years. Looking at the year ahead, I need bolstering. We are still in uncertain times when plans have to be flexible to flow with the changing circumstances. (Below is a clip of the song for you to enjoy with a copy of the lyrics)
This is the time of year I take to look ahead to the new year. Part of this is to look behind and see where I have been and to celebrate any accomplishments.
It was a rough year in many ways. I took on a huge learning curve to do more with filming my art as I paint, and learning to teach online. I am thankful for the students who came out to the plein air excursions around Edmonton all last summer. And I am thankful for the students that were willing to try the online class sessions in the fall.
This week, I am attending a class with art business coach, Alyson Stanfield of Art Biz Success, on planning. I could probably do it on my own as I have before, but it is good to have some new ideas. And it is encouraging (and bolstering) to do it in community, even if it is an online community. It helps me get the ideas and possibilities moving, besides just creating the space to get it done.
With this class, I have been reminded of the benefits of working with others through a community. Yes, we can be individuals. We can do things on our own. But the energy from a group to generate ideas and get things done is good too. There is a benefit to camaraderie, to bouncing ideas off each other, to encouraging each other. I have missed the in person community this year, but I am thankful for opportunities to still ‘get together’ online.
One of the things I will be trying this year, is online live sessions of Painting Prayers to invite people to process their feelings through art exercises. With all that has happened in the last year globally and locally, there is much to be processed. When we push down feelings, they can come out in other ways like through anxiety, lack of sleep, anger, eating disorders, etc. These sessions will be once per month. I will let you know when they begin. If you want a notification or to know more, send me an email.
Why take a class – a class gives you the space to paint. Do you need the structure to create the habit of painting time? Classes also provide feedback on your work, help with techniques and steps in your painting. A class can also inspire your own work to new directions through the interaction with other students.
I am starting up the Thursday afternoon online art sessions again. It includes ‘coaching’ on your own paintings and demos of techniques. In community we share paintings and encourage each other. All the classes are recorded for viewing later if the live session does not work for you. For more on how it will work.
Correction: Thursday Morning Online class 9:30-11:30 am will start on Jan 28, 2021.
Classes Starting at the City Arts in Edmonton - all online. Both of these classses will have two online workshop sessions first and last week with demos and Q&A. and video teaching for the two weeks in between.
Starting February 1, 2021 for four weeks.
Beginner Acrylics - Monday morning 10:30 am- 12 pm Link to MoveLearnPlay.edmonton.ca #684969
Watercolour Florals Monday afernoon 1-2:30 pm Link to MoveLearnPlayedmonton.ca #684970 includes painting kit.
I Have Confidence - Sound of Music.
Lyrics to I Have Confidence - Sound of Music
What will this day be like?
What will my future be?
It could be so exciting
To be out in the world
To be free
My heart should be wildly rejoicing
Oh, what's the matter with me?
I've always longed for adventure
To do the things I've never dared
Now here I'm facing adventure
Then why am I so scared?
A captain with seven children
What's so fearsome about that?
Oh, I must stop these doubts
All these worries
If I don't I just know I'll turn back
I must dream of the things I am seeking
I am seeking the courage I lack
The courage to serve them with reliance
Face my mistakes without defiance
Show them I'm worthy
And while I show them
I'll show me
So let them bring on all their problems
I'll do better than my best
I have confidence
They'll put me to the test
But I'll make them see
I have confidence in me
Somehow I will impress them
I will be firm, but kind
And all those children
Heaven bless them
They will look up to me
And mind me
With each step I am more certain
Everything will turn out fine
I have confidence
The world can all be mine
They'll have to agree
I have confidence in me
I have confidence in sunshine
I have confidence in rain
I have confidence that spring will come again
Besides, which you see
I have confidence in me
Strength doesn't lie in numbers
Strength doesn't lie in wealth
Strength lies in nights of peaceful slumbers
When you wake up
All I trust I leave my heart to
All I trust becomes my own
I have confidence in confidence alone
I have confidence in confidence alone
Besides, which you see
I have confidence in me
Songwriters: Richard Rodgers
I Have Confidence lyrics © Williamson Music
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?