Friday, 9 November 2018

Winter Wreath

Blog 45

In this second week of Christmas projects, I will describe how I created my winter wreath. I love projects that will bring joy not only for the Christmas season but can be left out for the whole winter.

Here is a list of the materials:
  • Grapevine wreath or any other type of wreath
  • Small bears, forest animals, or birds
  • Artificial Christmas garland
  • Ribbon
  • Felt for hats and scarves
  • Stars, snowflakes, and white pompoms
  • Artificial berries or other holiday decorations you like
  • Hot glue gun
  • Craft wire
  • Scissors
  • Pliers
  • Needles and thread

Here are the steps to create your wreath:

1) Take your wreath and wrap the artificial Christmas garland around. You can use wire to keep the ends in place if necessary.

2) Wrap the ribbon either around or create a bow and place it at the top or bottom of the wreath. You can attach the bow either with a wire or with the hot glue.

3) I attached the bears with wire but you could also glue them to the wreath. The wire has the advantage that you can change the animals over the years.

4) Glue the pompoms, stars, or snowflakes onto the wreath.

5) Attach the berries (either with glue or wire).

6) I made little scarves and hats for the bears from sheets of felt. With needle and thread, I used a backstitch to close the back of the hats. You can also knit or crochet little hats.

7) I also added little fly amanitas that I had felted to the wreath which which is a symbol of good luck in Germany.

I hope you have fun creating your own holiday wreath. You can find most of the materials at your local discount store. I would love to see photos of your creations. Is there anything that you would attach to your wreath for good luck or because it symbolizes winter or the Christmas season for you?

Friday, 2 November 2018

Felted Hearts

Blog 44

It is already November, and thus, it is time to think about making handmade gifts for your loved ones for Christmas. During the next four weeks, I will give you some suggestions for easy holidays projects. As with all arts and crafts projects, it is up to you to take the basic project idea and to make it special and unique according to your own personality and skills.

This week, I will describe to you how I created my felt hearts decorated with a poinsettia flower.

First, here is a list of the materials:

  • Toy stuffing material
  • Sheets of felt in light and dark green and red
  • Wool rovings, yellow felt or small buttons
  • Embroidery thread
  • Needles and scissors

How to create the heart:

  1. You can either create a template for your heart or fold a piece of felt in half and then cut out half a heart; this way your heart is symmetrical. Then place the heart on a second sheet of felt, take a pencil that is visible on your felt or a marker and trace the heart to the second sheet of felt. You could also pin it with needles to the second sheet of felt. Then cut an identical heart as a backing.
  2. Cut an odd number of smaller and bigger petals for the flower.
  3. Cut any number of leaves.
  4. Sew the petals and leaves to the upper heart. If you have felting needles you can also attach the leaves and petals with a felting needle.
  5. Add veins to the petals and leaves either with embroidery thread or by felting with small wool rovings.
  6. Attach little buttons for the inside of the flower or felt little yellow circles for the inside of the flower.
  7. Put the two hearts on top of each other and start to attach the two hearts with a whip stitch. Before the heart is completely closed add the toy stuffing to fill the heart. Then continue to sew the heart together.

I hope you will have fun creating your own hearts. Depending on the size, they make lovely ornaments for the Christmas tree or can be hung on a door or in front of a window. If you follow my Facebook page, you will be able to see a video of me creating one of the hearts next Thursday, November 8, 2018.

Friday, 26 October 2018

Is it already Christmas Time?

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You are probably thinking about Bing Crosby’s song “It’s Beginning To Look Like Christmas” when you go to the stores these days. We have not even reached Halloween, and in stores and online you get the impression that Christmas is just days away. I always get very annoyed when I see the first Christmas merchandise already in stores in September. We are robbing ourselves of the magical Christmas time, because we are already tired of everything related to Christmas by the start of Advent.

So why am I writing to you about this theme? There is one good reason to think about Christmas right now: if you plan to give handmade gifts this year, then now is the time to start creating. It might actually be already too late for some very time-consuming projects, but there are still so many options for beautiful gifts for most people. Maybe you can even get a group together to create your gifts together. This will be even more fun, plus allow yourself to stay on track. You want to make sure that you leave yourself enough time. I am not a good example for that as I have spent a couple of late nights to finish a gift for a loved one at the last minute.

First of all, things might not go as smoothly as you had thought. That is why I cannot answer you the often asked question how long it takes me to finish a painting. Sometimes, the painting basically paints itself. Other times, you get stuck and you have a hard time to put the pieces together. Then you have to consider that your schedule might get really busy or that something unexpected happens that makes impossible to stick to your regular creative routine.

While most gifts will be cherished as much even if they are finished after Christmas Day, I am sure you are anxious to present the unique gift in its finished version to see the awe of the recipient.

Handmade gifts are so much more personal than a store bought article, but before you go out to the art or craft store and buy all kinds of materials for all the projects that you can envision and ask yourself if you have the time and skills to get the job done. Making your own gifts is supposed to be fun for you and not stressful and frustrating. Perhaps you can ask a friend for help or find a workshop where an instructor can guide you along the way.

Starting next week, I will give you some suggestions for easy holidays projects. If you are interested in a holiday themed painting party, I would like to invite you to my Angel Painting Party on November 25, 2018 at 2pm.

For two hours, we will paint with acrylic paints on a 16" x 20" canvas. As it is the Christmas season, we will also use some embellishments to sparkle up our angel. The price is $35 per person. All painting materials are included. No painting experience is necessary. The maximum number of participants is 12. To register, please pay by November 19, 2018 at 6pm. Payment can be made by e-transfer to Prepayment is necessary to reserve a spot. Please do not hesitate to contact me, if you have any questions.

After we are finished painting, we will share some cookies, tea and coffee in the spirit of the Christmas season (from 4pm to 5pm). 

Friday, 19 October 2018

Waiting to be Finished

An Afternoon in Kamouraska, acrylic, 8" x 16" fresh off the easel

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While I love summer and am always sad when the swimming season is over, early fall is my preferred season to go painting outside. The mosquitoes are gone, the sun is still warming up the cooler days enough so that you are still comfortable without heavy boots and snow pants. The colour of the trees is amazing, and the light is warmer. Moreover, many places are less busy than during the summer months. While I try to get as far as possible, many of the paintings still need some touch-ups in the studio. Especially after a painting trip, I have quite a number of paintings that still need some work. The last Kamouraska trip was an exception as I used the rainy day to touch up some of the paintings from the first two painting days and finished two paintings from previous trips. As we usually have at least one day when rain makes it almost impossible to paint outside, we always bring some material to bridge the day. A still life or a painting from reference photos is a good choice. For the last couple of trips to Kamouraska I have brought paintings from previous trips as I feel more inspired in the area where I created the pieces. Nevertheless, I still have lots of unfinished paintings from painting trips and painting demonstrations.

unfinished tree painting, acrylic, 16" x 20"
I assume many of you have the same issue with partly finished paintings that you might have started in a workshop. Maybe, you started a painting and then got stuck and frustrated, and put it away, hoping to get back to it at another time. Some of you might also enjoy the social aspect of painting in a group, which is part of the attraction of painting parties. Whatever the reason for your abandoned artworks, I can offer you a solution: the Art Circle. We will get together every first and third Wednesday afternoon of the month to finish artworks that have been standing in a corner for too long. You do not necessarily have to paint. As long as you can work on your project sitting at a table and do not use any odor causing mediums, you are welcome to join us. Please bring your own materials. I provide easels. There is no instruction, but we will support and help each other. You can register until two days before each event for $5 each, or you can buy a 10 visit pass for $50 and you will get a complementary 11th visit. For more information and to register please contact me at

If you like the idea but are only available in the evenings and on weekends, please let me know. If we find enough people who are interested, I will gladly offer an additional time.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Trip to Kamouraska - Part 4

Blog 41

Our week in Kamouraska was filled with so many impressions. We visited many of our favourite places, but also took the time to explore new areas. Here is the fourth and last part of my Kamouraska travelogue:

Friday, September 14, 2018

We had another fantastic day. Unfortunately, Janis had to leave after breakfast. Therefore, we took the group picture, then we all set out on our separate ways. Marje and I decided to stay in Kamouraska, and went to the “Chemin Pelletier” and painted the view towards the church. As it was already quite warm in the sun at 10am, we made sure that we set up in the shade. However, due to the wind, I felt cold quickly and put my socks, boots, and winter coat back on. However, as soon as the sun reached us, I had to set up an umbrella to keep cool as temperatures kept climbing until they reached 30 degrees by 4pm. We left our spot around 3pm, bought some souvenirs at “Le fil bleu” and returned to the house, where I spent another two hours painting wild roses in the garden.

Tonight’s dinner consisted of leftovers from the previous dinners. We had my dinner with a slight twist as the compote was put over the pasta instead of the vegetable sauce by mistake. We picked out the peaches and plumes, and had a hearty laugh. Sharon saved the dinner by adding cream cheese. Those who did not know about the incident were pleasantly surprised about the creamy sauce with a hint of cinnamon. We had the peaches and plums over ice cream for dessert. If you were lucky, you even found a piece of pasta in the dish. Instead of sitting at the table, we enjoyed tonight’s meal sitting in rocking chairs in the covered veranda watching the amazing sunset that changed the colour of the sky from red over pink to purple.

This was the best week we ever had. The weather was just phenomenal. We spent many hours a day painting, laughed a lot, shared wonderful meals, and created many memories. We are all exhausted after an intense week of painting but also happy about the art that we created. Even though we like some paintings more than others, each painting is like a journal entry. It is fascinating to see what inspired each of us to capture a certain section of our surroundings. Tomorrow morning, everyone wants to head back home early, but we definitely want to come back next year. Au revoir Kamouraska.

After my return from Kamouraska, there are still some paintings that need some work. I am sure that many of you have still a couple of unfinished works standing around, therefore, if you would like to continue working on them in a group of people and maybe with a little bit of guidance, the Art Circle might be for you. This is not an art class, but rather a group where we will all support each other. Our next meeting is on October 19, 2018. For more information please go to my website or my Facebook page You can also contact me directly at

Friday, 5 October 2018

Trip to Kamouraska - Part 3

Saint-André at the “Parc de l’Ancien-Quai
Blog 40

I hope you enjoy my travelogue. Please forward it to family and friends who might be interested in the Kamouraska area or plein air painting. Today, I publish the third part:

Thursday, September 13, 2018

St André Lighthouse, 14” x 11”, acrylic
Going to the same picturesque landmark does not mean that you have to paint the same section of the landscape again. Today, I spent the day with Janis and Marje in Saint-André at the “Parc de l’Ancien-Quai” that we have visited on every of our trips at least once. Before Janis and I started painting, we walked east on the dike until we reached the next Monadnock. It was a beautiful walk in the morning sun. I am glad that we took the time for the walk. Usually, we are so focused on finding the best painting spots that we miss out on absorbing the vastness of nature. There are so many beautiful areas that are so large that you cannot capture their size on a canvas or a photograph. You just have to be in the moment and absorb the wonders of nature.

As the day progressed, it got quite warm. Temperatures climbed up to 26 degrees, and if you were in a sheltered spot, it was hot. However, for the first time since our arrival we had quite some wind gusts. I was sitting under my umbrella to find shelter from the sun but gave up after my setup flew away a couple of times. Nevertheless, I spent four hours creating a 14” x 11” acrylic painting of the lighthouse. Usually, we come here to find shelter from the wind. Today the wind was manageable and I was finally able to paint the building.

After a quick stop at our favourite Monadnock located at the end of the “Route de la Grève” in Saint-Germain, we headed back to the house where I had a lot of chopping to do. I made vegetable pasta with different vegetables in tomato basil sauce as well as a peach-plum compote that I served with vanilla ice cream.

Now, that my cooking day is behind me, I can enjoy the last painting day tomorrow even more. Unfortunately, Janis has to leave after breakfast as she is taking part in a weekend art show in Ottawa. As Helene is driving home with me, Janis will already take all of our oil painting materials and already created paintings. Helene will work with watercolours tomorrow, and I will use my OPEN Acrylics again. It looks like another perfect day is ahead of us.

Next week, I will post the last part of my travelogue. For now, I would like to wish my Canadian readers a Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the time with family and friends, share your food, and create lasting memories.

If you are getting in the mood for pumpkins, here is your chance to create your own pumpkin painting to decorate your house: Pumpkin Painting Party, October 21, 2018 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm at 1270 Kinsella Drive, Cumberland, ON, K4C 1A9. We will paint with acrylic paints on a 16" x 20" canvas. The price is $35 per person. All painting materials are included. No experience is necessary. Fun is guaranteed. The maximum number of participants is 12. To register, please pay by October 15, 2018 at 6pm. Payment can be made by e-transfer to Pre-payment is necessary to reserve a spot. Please do not hesitate to contact me, if you have any questions.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Trip to Kamouraska - Part 2


Blog 39

Every day, we have to make a decision about our destination when painting. By now, we have enough experience to know that it is best to stay in one spot, because once you pack up your gear and drive around looking for another painting spot, you lose a lot of time. Therefore, we try to find a picturesque spot that offers many painting possibilities. This is also helpful as we all create at a different speed. The size of the canvas or board certainly plays a role in this but so does the painting style. Some of us are rather fast while others take their time to capture their impression.

Following is the second part of my travelogue for this year’s trip to Kamouraska:

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Baby Bateau, oil, 8” x 10”

Before I tell you about today’s gorgeous day, I will quickly summarize yesterday’s activities. After I wrote my blog, I finished the painting of “Baby Bateau”, that I had started in 2011. While eating lunch, I discovered some issues with my paintings from the previous days and fixed what bothered me. 

Église Saint-Louis de Kamouraska, oil, 14" x 11"
After lunch, I started my work on another 2011 painting of some of the Kamouraska houses and the Église Saint-Louis de Kamouraska, seen from Rue Saint Louis that I finished after getting groceries and eating ice cream at “La Fée Gourmande” with Janis and Helene. Helene was Tuesday’s chef and served us lasagne and salad, followed by flan cake with custard, jam, and whipping cream.

Beautiful Weeds, oil, 5" x 7"
When we woke up this morning, we could hardly see anything through the dense fog. After it lifted, we all went to L'Islet-sur-Mer where some of our group had seen an old mill next to a stunning waterfall. Unfortunately, it turned out that the only spot from which you had a great view was from a bridge on highway Route 132, which was definitely not a safe spot to set up our equipment. We were quite disappointed, especially because we had to drive about 45 minutes from Kamouraska to get to L'Islet. Instead we spent a couple of hours painting at the side of the “Chemin du Moulin”. At the beginning, I did not really feel inspired (and I feel it shows in my painting) but I still painted a small section of the St. Lawrence River panorama that extended in front of us. After lunch, I created another painting of a fascinating wildflower that I discovered on the beach. Both oil paintings are only 5” x 7”.

Later in the afternoon, we went to “L'ange de Glaces” where we could have picked “Le Choix du King”, but were very happy with a well-deserved ice cream. Next, we visited the “Parc Havre du Souvenir”, from which you had a terrific view of the rock formations of the St Lawrence River at low tide.

As Janis had injured herself while climbing down to the beach, we decided to head back to the house. As it was still so beautiful outside but I did not feel like unpacking all my gear again, I spent the rest of the afternoon in the garden sketching a couple of wild roses with my watercolour pencils.

At suppertime, Marje served delicious fajitas with chicken and vegetables followed by date squares. Tomorrow, it is my turn to cook; therefore, my painting day will be cut short. As everyone before me, I can hardly wait to put this responsibility finally behind me.

I you enjoyed my travelogue and would like to see more more photos, please go to my Facebook page where I will post photos of this year’s trip in my “Photo of the Day” post for the rest of the month. Next week, I will continue with the third part of my travelogue.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Trip to Kamouraska - Part 1


Blog 38

September 11, 2018

This is already the third painting day in Kamouraska. Today is a rainy day, and so it is a perfect day to write my blog before working on some older paintings indoors.

I drove up in a convoy with my friends Janis on Saturday, with the car packed heavily. You need a lot of stuff for a one week painting trip. We were the second ones to arrive, and it was lovely to see and to greet everyone. After the long ride, we enjoyed sitting in rocking chairs in the covered veranda for happy hour while watching the breathtaking sunset. Later, Sharon served a delicious dinner of chicken, mashed potatoes, and corn on the cob. The final course was mango with ice cream and chocolate sauce. As you can see, our trips are not only about the painting but also about spending time with friends, enjoying delicious meals, and not having to think about chores and responsibilities. Even the cleanups after our meals are filled with chatter and lots of laughs.

On Sunday, there was hardly any wind, which is uncommon near the river. We all decided to stay at Avenue LeBlanc and to set up right across from the house. The tide was out, and we were fascinated by the two boats sitting on the sand. 

Grounded, 8" x 10", oil

After lunch, we were ready to stay in the house sitting in our rocking chairs. However, it was too lovely to stay inside. We drove around a little bit in town but then set up another time at Avenue LeBlanc, just metres away from the first spot. By this time the tide was coming in again. Therefore the scene looked totally different.

An Afternoon in Kamouraska, acrylic, unfinished

At night, Janis spoiled us with pork loin, couscous with fruit, and salad followed by her blueberry grunt that we love so much that we enjoy eating it every year.

“Havre du Quai”

Yesterday, it was another windless day. When I was heading out with Janis and Marje, I mentioned that it would be the perfect day for St-Roch-des-Aulnaies. As it turned out that was exactly what Janis and Marje had also in mind. We painted at the “Havre du Quai”, a nice park overlooking the river, with great views all around. Often, it is so windy that you cannot paint there, but yesterday it was almost windless for most of the day. It was even warmer than on Sunday.

Rocky Shores, St-Roch-des-Aulnaies, 8" x 10", oil

We stayed the whole day, and I created three paintings. When we left around 4pm, I was exhausted and had a headache. Really concentrating and observing your surroundings for the whole day is demanding. If you add the fresh air, you can imagine how tired I was. I could have gone to bed at 6pm, which is very uncharacteristically for a night owl like me. Instead, I changed and took a walk along the river.

Horseshoe of Rocks, 8" x 10", oil

Bill served us Shepherd’s pie and coleslaw for dinner, followed by an assortment of strudels from the local bakery with vanilla ice cream. To keep us all awake, Sharon entertained us with with the origin of some famous sayings. We laughed so hard that our bellies were hurting.

I hope you enjoyed the first part of my travelogue. If you would like to see more photos, please go to my Facebook page where I will post photos of this year’s trip in my “Photo of the Day” post for the rest of the month. Next week, I will continue with the second part of my travelogue.

The Red Tree, acrylic, 8" x 10"
If you would like to learn how to paint a fall landscape, I would like to invite you to my workshop “Painting a Symbol of the Canadian Autumn”. We will study A. Y. Jackson’s painting “Red Maple” and create our own 16" x 20" painting. No experience is necessary. All materials are included in the registration fee of $35. Please register by September 24, 2018 at 6pm by sending an e-transfer to

Friday, 14 September 2018

Painting the Same Scene

Kamouraska, Acrylic, 24" x 18"

Blog 37

When this week’s blog is published, I am at the end of my painting trip in the Kamouraska region. When I was sitting down to write this blog, I realized that this is the ninth time that I go together with the group. Four of our group of six or seven artists have been the same over the years. Others had to miss out due to illness and other responsibilities. Some of you might wonder why we continue to go to the same place year after year. It is not just that the members of the group get along so well or that the house is just perfect for our group, but rather we are drawn back to the ever changing landscape along the St. Lawrence River.

It is fascinating to discover the area again every year. Sure, there are some favourite spots that we have painted a couple of times, but the scene and the paintings never look the same. The light changes not only depending on the time of day but also dramatically depending on the weather. For the St. Lawrence River, the changes of the tides give you very different views of a certain area. An area that might have been inaccessible during high tide might provide a fascinating view at low tide. However, it is crucial to watch the incoming tide as the water moves in quickly, and you want to be able to make it back to shore in time.
Painting a scene for a second time is similar to watching a movie for a second time; suddenly you see something you missed during the first time. You concentrate on certain aspects because you already know the plot. You are attracted to different aspects of the scene. Painting en plein air certainly heightens your observation skills and forces you to make a decision with regard to the moment that you want to capture, because your view changes constantly. If you want to keep up with the changes, you either have to be extremely fast or satisfied to capture a certain moment. Otherwise, you would constantly change the composition and colours on your canvas.

I hope you enjoy the variety of works from past trips:

I will have lots of new for you next week.

If you would like the art of the Group of the Seven, I offer the following workshop on September 28, 2018, 2pm - 4pm at 1270 Kinsella Drive, Cumberland, ON, K4C 1A9:

Painting a Symbol of the Canadian Autumn
We will study A. Y. Jackson’s painting “Red Maple” and create our own 16" x 20" fall landscape painting inspired by his painting. No experience is necessary. All materials are included in the registration fee of $35. Please register by September 24, 2018 at 6pm by sending an e-transfer to Please do not hesitate to contact me, if you would like more information for this workshop or have any other art related questions. To see a full list of my fall workshops and courses, please go to

Friday, 7 September 2018

Creating en plein air

Blog 36

When you read this blog, I am getting ready for my painting trip to the Kamouraska region. I will be away from September 8 - 15, 2018 for a week of uninterrupted painting time with some of my painting buddies. After my return, I will hopefully have lots of new material to share with you.

I am slowly getting back in the rhythm of painting. I continued with the tree painting from my workshop in May. However, I hit a roadblock and have to let the painting sit for a while before I will continue. I don't like the red leaves in the foreground. I am debating whether I should add more roots and leave the leaves out.

During a painting demonstration at Da Artisti Studio & Gallery last Saturday, I spent more than three hours painting a scene from our trip from Toronto to Vancouver in 1995. It is the first painting in a row to accompany my journal entries from the time. Unfortunately, during the trip, I was not in the habit of taking a sketchbook along. While I have two photos that show me painting during that trip, I was not able to find any sketches. Once I have created enough artworks to accompany my stories, I plan to put the travelogue and the paintings together in a book.

Nowadays, I have a sketch pad with me in my purse all the time. There are so many occasions where my little sketch pad has helped me to bridge some waiting time or to capture a certain moment. This summer, I also took every chance I had to spend time painting or sketching with some artist friends in the vicinity of our houses. You do not have to travel far to find interesting spots. If you are in the right mood, you can find something to draw or paint right in your house or backyard. The problem is that we are often too ambitious and look for the perfect spot instead of finding pleasure in the little things around us, like a beautiful flower, an interesting tree trunk, or a piece of fruit on a plate. I hope you will grab your equipment of choice and study the world around you.

If you would like some help, I offer a drawing beginner drawing course at François Dupuis Recreation Centre starting on September 17, 2018. As soon as I have my fall work schedule, I will also offer additional workshops from my studio. If you would like to receive information about my upcoming courses, workshops, and exhibitions, I encourage you to go to my website to subscribe to my monthly newsletter or you can find the information on my website at

Friday, 31 August 2018

Painting Fun

Partial view of the stage

Blog 35

This week, I was so busy with planning new fall events and getting back into a regular routine while adjusting to my daughter’s start of university that I almost forgot to write my blog.

I did not even think about picking up the Creativity Challenge again. I felt like painting but was reluctant to pick up my brushes to continue working on the 16” x 20” acrylic knife painting that I had started in early May. At first, I did not know where to start, but soon I was in my element and it felt so good to be painting. I plan to finish the painting before I leave for my painting trip to Kamouraska next week.

Yesterday, I finally met some of my friends for our yearly summer “Painting in the Park” get-together. We had to postpone the event a couple of times due to the heat in July and were happy when the weather cooperated this time. While we were painting a bowl with pansies, we laughed so much that we basically got an abs workout at the same time.

 If you would like to join in the fun of painting, please contact me for further events. I am in the middle of putting my fall workshops together, so please do not hesitate to let me know how I can help you to improve your painting skills. The first workshop “Painting a Symbol of the Canadian Autumn” will be on Friday, September 28, 2018 from 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM at 1270 Kinsella Dr, Cumberland, ON K4C 1A9, Canada. We will study A. Y. Jackson’s painting “Red Maple” and create our own fall landscape painting inspired by his painting. No experience is necessary. All materials are included in the registration fee of $35. For more information and to register please contact me at

For all of you in the Ottawa area who stay at home during the long September weekend, I would be happy to chat with your during my painting demonstration at the Da Artisti Studio & Gallery on Saturday, September 1, 2018, from 9am to 1pm. During your time in Cumberland Village you can also go to the Farmers’ Market, the Black Walnut Bakery, and the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum.

I wish you a wonderful last weekend of summer! Enjoy your favourite activities and the company of family and friends. Make it a memorable weekend!

Here are some of my sketches from my trip to Germany that help me to keep my memories alive:

Perhaps you would like to take a sketch pad or a journal with you to capture some of the impressions that you experience this weekend. It is not important that others can understand and appreciate what you are sketching or writing, but it is a way for you to have a special and very unique record.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Visiting the old ¨Heimat¨

Blog 34

This summer, I went to Germany for a three week visit to my hometown. It had been over two years since my last visit, and so it was wonderful to see my family and friends again. As my hometown has only a population of about 12,000, some areas have slightly changed, but everything still feels just like during my childhood.

Whenever I go home, I automatically compare the two countries. This time, we arrived during an extreme heatwave; we are used to temperatures in the low to high 30s in the Ottawa area, but these temperatures are not common in Germany. The last comparable summer was in 2003. While our family does not have air-conditioning at home, our home is surrounded by trees, and we are certainly used to air-conditioned indoor places all around us that are open to the public. In general, I find the temperatures in stores and restaurants uncomfortably low and always bring a jacket. In Germany, however, not only is air-conditioning in private homes extremely rare, but I was surprised that most stores and restaurants, hotels as well as public places do not have air-conditioning. The grocery stores were air-conditioned but in two of the local stores not only did the air-conditioning stop working, they also lost power of the coolers for more than a week. While it was not even tempting to try on clothes and must have been tough for the sales clerks to bear the heat, I sympathized the most with the chefs in the different restaurants.

While it was quite unbearable for those working, we stayed close to my parents’ house and the pool, spending the afternoon hours indoors like it is common in the south-European countries. In the late afternoon, I used the time to create some watercolour paintings of my parents’ wonderful flowers that bloomed in abundance. I also used any opportunity to sketch. I am quite happy with some of the sketches but had challenges with others, especially when I decided to capture a person. Some just moved their head in the critical phase of my drawing, others had the nerve to leave. It was lots of fun nevertheless. For some of my sketches, I used watercolour pencils. At home, I brushed water on the sketch and created little watercolour sketches this way.

So while we are complaining about the heat, let’s think about the construction workers, firemen, policemen, guards, and the people who pick up the garbage who are exposed to the heat without being able to seek shelter. For the rest of us, let’s just think about the fact that winter is just months away, and we would be happy about a couple of extra degrees. Stay cool and enjoy the sunshine!

Friday, 17 August 2018

Visiting Family Abroad

Blog 33

While I am in Germany with my daughter to spend time with family and friends, I decided to post some of my favourite paintings to keep you entertained until my return.

While I usually only take pictures and create some sketches of places, objects, and people that I see while I am traveling, I have created two paintings in my studio after a trip to Germany.

The painting "Hayfields in Nauheim, Germany" shows the landscape in my small hometown, Nauheim, with a population of about 11,000 people. I moved here when I was 7 years old, and my parents have lived there since then. The small town is surrounded by the cities Darmstadt, Mainz, Frankfurt am Main, and Wiesbaden which are known by tourists for their culture. Together the four cities form the centre of the Rhein Main Region, a metropolitan area of about 6 million people.

Nauheim is the “Musikgemeinde” (Music Community) of the area as many instrument makers from the Sudentenland settled in the town after the Second World War.

What I love about this little town is that you can get anywhere in town by bike. There are also bike paths between the farmers’ fields as well as extensive bike routes to the surrounding communities.

My daughter and I will definitely take the bikes out to get some exercise in between all the visits that usually involve lots of delicious food.

The second painting is “Odenwald”, which captures the view of the fields from the “Veste Otzberg”, a medieval castle on the summit of the hill Otzberg in the Odenwald forest.

Our visits to Germany are mostly for the purpose of seeing family and friends, but we try to put little bit of sightseeing into our programme, so that my daughter gets to know more about the country of her ancestors.

Have you been able to visit the country of your families’ origins or is it still on your bucket list? I would love to know where your you are from and whether you still relate to the countries of your ancestors.

When you read this blog, my vacation in Germany is already in its last stretch. I will have lots of new material for you next week.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Missing My Pets

Blog 32

I am in Germany with my daughter to spend time with family and friends for the next three weeks. As I will not have Internet service all of the time and want to enjoy the time off, I will not post updates of my Creativity Challenge for the next three weeks. However, I will try to continue drawing or sketching something daily. Do you know the difference between the two of them? While a sketch is usually a quick and therefore rather loosely drawn work, a drawing is a more finished work with more detail. However, the distinction is not very precise and often used interchangeably. I will show you my pieces after my return at the end of August to demonstrate the difference.

For my vacation time, I picked some of my favourite paintings to keep you entertained until my return.

Whenever I go on vacation, I am looking forward to the time without any obligations. In case of a painting trip, I enjoy the company of fellow artists as well as the uninterrupted creative time. When I am flying to Germany, I am always looking forward to finally seeing my family and friends. However, whenever I travel alone or with only some of my family members, I always miss the others at home, especially our pets. While modern technology makes it possible to make video chats or phone calls home, I will not be able to interact with our dog Alex and our cat Miko. Even if I see them on the screen, they do not recognize me and do not know what to make out of the image on the screen or my voice.

Luckily, I am usually busy with activities and loved ones so that the time passes fast, and I do not have too much time to feel sad. Do you feel the same? Do you feel guilty for leaving your pets behind, even when you know they are well taken care off by other family members, friends, or a great kennel?

Here are a couple of paintings I created of my pets that give me joy whenever I see them (even though Candy and Jessie passed away years ago):

Top row: The Bone, Winter Fun, Jessie - Forever in my Heart
Bottom row: Miko, Young Miko Sitting in the Sunshine, Sweet Candy

If you are interested in having your precious companion captured in a painting, please do not hesitate to contact me for more details. I welcome commissions.

Friday, 3 August 2018

Air Travel with Painting Equipment

Blog 31

My Creativity Challenge will take a three week break while I am in Germany with my daughter to spend time with family and friends. I have a full schedule and I am not sure how much sketching time I can squeeze in, even though I will have lots of beauty to capture. For this reason, I kept the art supplies I packed to a minimum. I took my watercolour pencils, a pocket watercolour set, pencils, and a drawing pad.

As none of the materials is considered a dangerous goods according to the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations, I can either put them in my check-in suitcase or in my carry-on luggage as long as I remember to empty my little water container.

If I was going on a painting trip, I would have to make more preparations. Tubes of oil-based and latex paint used by artists are accepted for air travel provided the paints are packaged in absorbent material and placed in a heavy, plastic leak-proof bag/container according to Air Canada. However, according to paint manufacturer Gamblin, it is best not to refer to artist oil paints as oil paints but rather as artists paints made from vegetable oil, as commercial oil paints are on the list of banned materials due to their solvent content. You want to avoid confusion.

Even as containers of 100 ml/ 100 g (3.4 oz.) or less are allowed as carry-on baggage at the security checkpoint, they have to fit in one clear, closed and re-sealable plastic bag no larger than 1 litre (1 quart). One re-sealable plastic bag per passenger is permitted. So if you have hand cream or medication with you, you might exceed the space of the bag and your paints might be confiscated.

It is also important to pack any sharp tools into your checked-in luggage as the will otherwise confiscated at the security check. All art materials should be in their original packaging with the original labels.

As solvents, painting mediums, fixatives, and varnishes are flammable and therefore banned from airlines, you have to get those at your destination. If you are worried that there will not be an art store in the vicinity, you can order the materials online and have them shipped to your destination.

For any art materials that might be questioned by the security personnel, it is best to have a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) from the paint manufacturer ready to show. The MSDS includes a section on fire and explosion data. Materials you can take onto a plane have to have a flash point that is higher than 60 C (140 F).

If you are looking for more information, Winsor & Newton has very detailed information about their products at or you can go to the Golden Artist Colors website and look at their air transport statement at

During the last couple of days before my trip, I went again to the Humanics Institute with my friends Janis Fulton and Hélène Martin. This time, we all drew different sculptures. I drew the untitled sculpture of a young woman as well as a quick sketch of a flower (see at the top of the blog).

I also finished a felted elephant for a friend of mine.

For the two upcoming weeks, I will post some of my favourite paintings. If you would like to contact me, please be aware that I will only have intermittent Internet service while I am away. Therefore, I might only get back to you during the last week of August.

Have a great long weekend! Whether you are working or going on vacation, I hope you make the most of your summer!

Friday, 27 July 2018

Creativity Challenge - Week 30

Blog 30

It has been a busy week for my as I prepare for my trip to Germany that is just a couple of days away.

I continued to created 15 minute art projects that I posted on my Facebook page from Monday to Friday. This week, I picked one subject and painted it with watercolour, gouache, acrylic, and oil paints to give you a quick glimpse of the differences of the different media. I will continue my 15 minute projects until July 31.

As you probably have noticed, often I went past the 15 minute mark, usually because my project was too ambiguous. However, I always like to go with my feeling, and I really was drawn to create a certain image that day. If you are not inspired by what you see, it is really hard to bring excitement to your project. Instead, I love it when students do not want to stop at the end of the class because they are so involved in their creative process. They have fun. This is so much more important than to follow a timer. Some days, you might be restricted in time but if not, why not keep creating? In general, I recommend to take a break after about 90 minutes to move around and stretch. Creating art is lots of fun but it is also challenging for your eyes and hands. However, if you are in a flow just keep on going. Sometimes, you do not want to break a very productive streak. Set your own rules and routine, because we all have different needs.

Here are the other artworks that I created during the last week:

I finished both another felted butterfly and a felted elephant that I had started during my vacation. They were challenging but I am quite happy with the results.

unfinished acrylic painting, 8" x 10"
I also went out twice with two of my friends. Once to the Beechwood Cemetery where I painted the pond with the water lilies.This painting is still unfinished.

The other time to the Humanics Institute Sculpture Park in Cumberland, where we spent the morning drawing the sculpture “Motherly Love” of a hippopotamus holding her baby in her arms.

from left: Janis Fulton,
Hélène Martin, Kerstin Peters

I also felted a butterfly that I had started during my vacation at the cottage.

As I am putting together my schedule for the fall, are there any skills that you would like to learn, any projects that you always wanted to work on but always postponed? You can either send me an email to or send me a message to my Facebook page at

Friday, 20 July 2018

Creativity Challenge - Week 29

Blog 29

After the last two blogs about “Creating Art with a Group” that were a collaboration with fellow artist Anne Warburton, I will continue with my Creativity Challenge for the rest of July.

Since July 2, I have created 15 minute art projects that I posted on my Facebook page from Monday to Friday. I hope they have inspired you to follow along or to pick up your own projects. The main goal is to have fun in the process and hopefully to learn something new along the way.

I am very passionate about sharing my art with you because I hope that it will help you to look at the world around you with a fresh eye. Has it ever happened to you that you have driven through a part of your neighbourhood and all of a sudden you see a house or a barn that you never noticed before? Or maybe you reach a spot on your way and you wonder how you cannot recall your way? Our world is so full of sensations and we have so many things on our mind that we often do not really pay attention to our environment.

I would like to challenge you to have a fresh look around. If you have certain art materials, try a new technique, a new pattern. Challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone.

foam sheet mosaic that took much longer than expected
Creating these 15 minute projects have been out of my comfort zone at times, especially since I have tried new materials or a new technique. I always was nervous that I would not be able to live up to your expectations of me as an artist. However, if I try something new, I also have to practice to find out how to get the most of the material or how to apply a certain technique properly. I had to remind myself of my own advice: The important part is the process and having fun. Only when you try different things can you find out what works for you and what doesn’t.

If you would like to see the 15 minute projects of the past three weeks please go to my Facebook page

Here are some of the other artworks that I created during the last two weeks:

I did a lot of sketching while I spent a week at the cottage. Some of the sketches turned out to my satisfaction, while others were too ambitious but will still give me enough information to help me remember a certain moment, even if the perspective or scale of elements are not correct. Then there were those where I tried to draw without looking at my sketchbook that were at least good for some hearty laughs.

I also took my sketchbook to the theatre again. It was so dark that I had to sketch without really seeing what I was doing.

still untitled, acrylic, 10" x 10"

At the cottage, I also painted a peony that I had seen at the Ottawa Ornamental Gardens a couple of weeks earlier. I was lucky to be able to rely on a good photograph of the beautiful flower.

"The Old Shed", acrylic, 8" x 10"

On Wednesday, I finally went painting again with some of my painting buddies. We spent the morning at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum where I painted an old shed that nature is slowly taking over.

I would love to see some of your projects. You can either send me a photo by email to or post a photo on my Facebook page at Please do not hesitate to ask for advice if you are stuck. I will do my best to help you.