Friday, 30 April 2021

25 Years in Canada - The Year 2013 Part II

The Wave, acrylic, 16" x 20", SOLD

Blog 14

When we went to the cottage in July, I was in desperate need of a break. It was an escape from the chaos at home after a group of painters had given our rooms the long-awaited splash of colour. Since our move into our house in 2004, most of our walls had been white. It was a lot of work to empty all the cabinets and armoires before moving them to the middle of the rooms.

I finally enjoyed a house full of beautiful colours. I had picked a fresh lime green for the living area and a soft yellow for the kitchen, dark orange for the hallway, and a light blue for the bedroom. Even the conservative members of the family were excited. Colour makes such a big difference in how you feel.

The Ballerinas, oil, 10" x 8"

As always, I had taken my painting equipment to the cottage. My daughter had invited her friend, both of them dancers. Inspired by the two ballerinas, I started a painting of my daughter and her friend at their dance recital. Both of them are in their ballet costume, waiting for their next performance on stage. While I was painting them, they were choreographing new dances, which inspired me even more.

As my children were twelve and sixteen during the summer of 2013, they were pretty independent and wanted time for themselves. I finally had more time for painting. To showcase my art, one of my summer projects was a four-season image on our mailbox. To prevent any damage from the cold, salt and snowplows, we always take it indoors for the winter months.

For the first time, I also agreed to teach for a couple of hours during a City of Ottawa day camp. It was exciting that most of the kids were eager to create art. Unfortunately, some only did seem to pass their time waiting for the next chance to play with their game boys. It seemed they were in the camp because of a sibling rather than for their interest in art. 

St Pascal, oil, 11" x 14, CAN $375, framed

Our yearly painting trip to Kamouraska was from September 7 to 14, 2013. During the trip, we usually left the house already before 9 am. Most days, we painted between 4 1/2 to 5 hours, which does not seem like a lot, but it is very tiring for the eye to concentrate so hard. Most of the days, we already had a plan where we wanted to go. Disappointingly, it was the first time that we had a lot of rain and fog, and only one beautiful sunset. Often, we drove around quite a bit to find an inspiring location outside of the intense cover of white that made painting outside almost impossible.

I did not have time to feel tired after the trip. Exciting events happened right after my return. I had a busy teaching schedule in the fall. Aside from my private German students, I taught one private art student. I also offered workshops at the local Wallack’s art store, taught children’s drawing courses at the new Francois Dupuis Recreation Centre and two painting courses at the Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex.

Whenever I teach, it is always is a big inspiration for me to try different techniques and help the participants to reach their full potential. I felt blessed that I could share my passion.

In the summer, a brand new gallery had approached some of the local artists. They were looking for artists to exhibit with them in the heart of the Byward Market in Ottawa. On September 19, 2013, was the grand opening of Artworkz. I was proud to be part of the very talented group of Ottawa artists to exhibit our works in the beautiful stone building.

Frozen, acrylic, 16" x 20"

After seeing what my fellow KAM 7 artist Maria Mask could achieve with painting knives, I felt the need to learn how to use these tools. I registered for a workshop with Andrea Mossop to explore new skills to keep the art from getting dull.

On the last weekend of September, I was part of the Glebe Fine Art Show again. As always, the setup and takedown were very stressful. I needed the help of my son and husband as we had to lift paintings and grids up the stairs and into the building. However, I loved the beautiful building as the setting for the event and was happy to show and sell my art.

Path Along The River, oil, 8" x 10", CAN 250, framed

In October, I spent a week with my husband at the cottage. As the weather was beautiful, I met two of my painting friends from the area for a day of painting. I also spent another afternoon painting right on the beach.

Then, on the last weekend in November, I held my first Open House, which was very successful, as I sold four paintings. I enjoyed showing my works on the walls of my house.

To learn more about the marketing side of my business, I participated in two marketing workshops. I created an e-book and got ready to launch a monthly newsletter and weekly blog in the new year.

The future looked bright. The Artworkz gallery had announced a move to Montreal, and I was excited about the prospect of finally showing my work in Montreal. However, the story did not have a happy ending, which you will see in my blogs about 2014.

Friday, 23 April 2021

25 Years in Canada - The Year 2013 Part I

Fall Splendor, acrylic, 18" x 24, CAN $600

Blog 13

I started 2013 with a visit to the Frida and Diego exhibition a the Art Gallery of Ontario. I could relate to Frida Kahlo’s way of expressing her pain and feelings in her art. I could feel the rawness and strength of her emotions. Diego’s paintings, on the other hand, did not touch me at all.

My passionate response to Frida's art was possibly related to my worries about our daughter. She developed persisting headaches and dizziness followed by stomach problems that resulted in several trips to the children’s hospital. The doctors did not know what was wrong, as her test results did not show any abnormalities. We were extremely anxious.

We also worried that she would fall behind in school. On most days, Christine was in too much pain to go to school. Luckily, she had a great teacher who prepared material for her that she worked through whenever she felt well enough to concentrate.

While I worried about my daughter and our upcoming trip to Germany, I experienced an exciting success in my business: a former client bought four larger paintings at once.

Gentleman Smoking His Pipe, acrylic, 20" x 16", CAN $400
I needed the good news. I was disappointed about a recent commission. I had spent a lot of time creating a portrait for another client. I should have realized from the start that the project was doomed. The client had commissioned a painting of his late father using a reference photo of another artist’s black and white drawing. The drawing showed only the face and a hand with a pipe.

Creating a portrait is tricky. The image we have of a person might not at all be a reflection of the way someone sees himself or a loved one. In this particular case, I had not even seen the person or a photograph. I should have realized that this drawing was already an interpretation of the father’s image. Therefore, my painting was an interpretation of that drawing. The whole process was like whispering a message from one person to the next. Usually, the information deviates more and more from the original.

My client did not recognize his father in the portrait. I was disappointed but at least sold another painting to him. The failed artwork was a good exercise, but it is probably not a painting that I will ever sell.

Fortunately, I found lots of enjoyment in working with my private students. My adult painting student was very talented and hardly wanted to stop at the end of each class. My two German students and I shared lots of laughter.

At the beginning of March, my children and I finally sat on a plane to Germany, where we visited my relatives and friends. We also went on a short trip to Paris with my mother and sister, which left us with many unforgettable moments.

While I was in Germany, I received news that I had passed the first level for being accepted as a member of another gallery. I had to deliver samples of my work for further jurying. In the end, the jury rejected my application with devastating remarks. For weeks, I was so depressed that I wanted to stop painting forever. There were only two facts that saved me: another friend received similar remarks, and my urge to paint reappeared after the first shock had passed.

Back at home, Christine’s medical appointments continued. Despite all the pain and missed school and dance classes, she was still determined to finish her school year with high grades and participate in her dance competitions. She succeeded.

Cold Sunny Day, acrylic, 20″ x 26″, CAN $770

 At the end of April, I was one of the seven members of our plein air group exhibiting “Seven Artistic Visions” at the Wall Space Gallery in Orleans. It was exciting to be part of the group with fellow artists Janis Fulton, Hélène Martin, Lucie Leclerc, Malcolm Cowell, Robert Murrell, and one of my former teachers, John Alexander Day. 

Less than a months later, Janis and I went to paint at the Tulip Festival to warm up for our painting trip in the Whitewater region with Hélène. The three of us spent a couple of days at our cottage, where we went out every day to paint the spring landscape with our friend Bill. 

I Can Smell the Lilac, oil, 8" x 10", CAN $250

These days were my last retreat before a couple of hectic weeks of soccer tournaments, dance recitals and exhibitions. I had a solo show at Lunasole Restaurant in Orleans. Two of my paintings were on display at the Shenkman Arts Centre in Orleans during the Arteast exhibition “Cumberland Museum – En Plein Air”. Then, I participated in the Navan Art Exhibition and Sale, where I sold three paintings.

The Vegetable Garden, oil, 11" x 14, CAN $375

To re-energize, I spent a day with members of Arteast Ottawa in Montreal, where we visited the breathtaking Chihuly exhibition. I could not get enough from the bright colours and shapes of the fantastic installations. What exceptional art!


Soon, a new opportunity arose: The Plein Air Ensemble organizers wanted to pass on the torch. My friend Hélène asked me whether I was interested in working with her. The prospect of scouting out new venues and organizing the trips for the group was as tempting as the prospect of cheaper trips. At the end of June, we made our first discovery trip to the Maniwaki area. It was fun to spend time together and also a good practice of my French skills.

Next week, I will let you look at the exciting second half of 2013. If you like my stories, please share my blog with family and friends.

Friday, 16 April 2021

25 Years in Canada - The Year 2012 Part II

At the Market II, acrylic, 16" x 20", SOLD

Blog 12

The second half of 2012 started with one week at the cottage. During our summer week, I usually find it too hot to go for daytime hikes. Instead, I spent a lot of time painting and felting when we were not at the beach. I sit in the mosquito-netting enclosed part of the patio, finishing paintings and sometimes working on new artworks. I love the feeling of being outside, sheltered from insects and too much sun.

For many years, I did not work in July and August to spend time with our children during the beautiful Canadian summers.

Burst of Energy, Hibiscus Delight, The One,
Waterlily Delight, Burst of Orange, Magical Iris, acrylic, 6" x 6


As I knew I would not find long periods for painting, I created 6” x 6” images of flowers. At the end of the summer, when my daughter and her friend were at a day camp, I managed to spend more time in the studio. I created At the Market II for the West-Carleton art show theme entry. For this purpose, I had visited the Cumberland Farmers Market to take pictures as a reference. I create a bright painting of a stand with lots of vegetables (see above).

I also took the opportunity to meet with other Arteast artists at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum for a day of plein air painting. 






On August 25, I took part in the Art in the Park event at the Cumberland Farmers’ Market. Setting up the grids at 7 am was torture for me, but I had a successful day talking to potential art students. I sold a tulip painting and greeting cards. Looking for new venues was high on my list of goals when the Gallery Old Chelsea relocated. Following the move, they only exhibited works of the associate members. I was busy preparing for some upcoming exhibition in the Glebe Community Centre and the Ottawa School of Art Showcase. I also applied unsuccessfully to become a member of another gallery.


Kamouraska Landscape, oil, 12" x 24", SOLD

On the second weekend of September, my friend Janis and I drove up to Kamouraska for our yearly painting trip. We had a terrific week, although the strong winds were challenging at times. However, the temperatures were as high as never before. We spent two days painting in summer clothes with temperatures reaching 27 degree Celsius.

While I was settling in after the painting trip and already preparing again for the next art show, I received devastating news from Germany. My beloved godmother had a brain tumor. The news hit me especially hard as nobody had told me that she had health problems for months. It was not the first time my family had decided to keep me in the dark about a critical situation. They often hoped to deal with the problem without me worrying from afar. Needless to say, that it led to me worrying even more when I learned the facts.

On September 22 and 23, I participated in the Glebe Fine Art Show. I was frustrated with a lack of sales, even though I was excited when one of my former customers told me that she still enjoys her painting every day. The bunny would still look as lively as the day she first saw the portrait. 

I was also disappointed about the cancellation of my German class with the local recreation centre. Completely unexpected, I received the notice of dismissal from the City of Ottawa. I was shocked as I had discussed switching from German instruction to art instruction with my supervisor. Luckily, I received a new contract for the winter session.


There was also another positive outcome. One of the registered participants of the cancelled course became one of my private students. He was not only a long-time student but became a good friend over the years.

Two weeks later, I took part in the West Carleton Arts Society's Expressions of Art Exhibition in Carp. It was my first exhibition west of the City of Ottawa. I met many interesting people but was disappointed that I did not sell a single painting. However, this disappointment changed into delight when one of the visitors contacted me after the show and bought four. 

On October 20, I was a facilitator at the You Deserve It Women's Day Conference in Orléans. I held two workshops with the theme Explore Your Creativity Through Painting. It was a new and exciting experience for me. Every participant had so much fun, no matter whether they used a paintbrush for the first time or had painted before.

On the weekend of November 24 and 25, I participated in my first Christmas show at the Watson's Mill Annual Christmas Market and Fine Art Sale, 5525 Dickinson Street, Manotick. I enjoyed the companionship among the artists but disappointingly did not sell anything.

Waterlilies, acrylic, 18" x 24", not for sale

I finished my creative activities at the beginning of December with a two-day impressionist workshop by Andrea Mossop. Claude Monet is one of my favourite artists. However, I realized during the workshop that even though I admired his artworks, I would never want to apply his technique again.


I have always enjoyed painting in the techniques of the masters because you learn something new every time. After each workshop, I have admired their mastery even more. Each time, I incorporated some of the gained knowledge in my work. I feel the influence of some artists more than others, not only from the masters but from my fellow painting buddies.

If you want to see what new challenges and opportunities I faced in 2013, come back to this blog next week. To see more of my 2012 paintings, please visit my website

Friday, 9 April 2021

25 Years in Canada - The Year 2012 Part I

Waterfall at Dorcester Parc I, oil, 8" x 10", SOLD

Blog 11

We began the year 2012 in the quiet setting of the cottage. There we enjoyed a beautiful view of the frozen Ottawa River and the snow-covered landscape. At the time, my children were still young enough to spend the week with us. Due to the short winter days, we still had lots of time after our hikes to watch movies and play games together.

I still squeezed in some time for creativity. In the winter months, I usually prefer to practice drawing as it is easier to bring a couple of pencils and a sketchbook instead of all the materials for painting. Plus, even though acrylic paints don’t smell, the mediums I use do.

Back at home, I brought a new painting to the Ottawa Little Theatre, where I regularly exhibited with the Ottawa Art Association. The next stop was the vernissage of the Plein Air Panach 7 exhibition at the Gallery Old Chelsea. I was proud to be part again of the Plein Air Ensemble exhibition.

Even though my children still had a busy schedule of sports and music activities, my days were less hectic. Closing our Galerie de la Rive, handing over the Ottawa Art Association website, and concentrating only on my private courses created some more creative time.

In the second half of January, the painting course at the church started again. Later in the spring, I also taught a private student.

The Perfect Fish Tank, acrylic, 16" x 20", NFS

Aside from teaching, I got into the habit of painting every second day. I felt good about my regular time in my studio. In general, I only paint for 90 to 120 minutes before I need a break. Only when I am close to the end of a project, I completely lose track of time and might spend half a day painting without a break.

I also continued teaching German. I enjoyed sharing my language and traditions. For the longest time, I was nervous about losing my German. I had heard stories of immigrants who were not comfortable talking and especially writing in their mother tongue anymore. I learn something new all the time when I am teaching. When you grow up speaking a language, you never question grammatical rules as you use most of them intuitively. Once you have to explain grammatical structures to people who do not necessarily know anything about grammar, you gain a deeper understanding of their struggle.

Fishing Huts at Petrie Island, oil, 11" x 14", SOLD

At the end of February, I went painting the fishing huts at Petrie Island with some of my friends. It was my first visit to this little winter town of colourful structures. They appear every winter on the Ottawa River and is quite a typical activity during the Canadian winters. It is not a very common winter activity in Germany. It is only allowed at few lakes, and anglers do not build sheds. We talked to some of the fishermen. One even invited us into his cosy hut, furnished with a small stove, a table and chairs.

We were lucky to spend March Break also at the cottage. This time, my parents had arrived from Germany to spent the week with us. We had a great week time. However, all the relaxation vanished when we arrived at home and heard heart-melting cries from our cat. I ran into the basement but could not find him anywhere. I was frantic. He sometimes liked to disappear in the ceiling, and I feared he was stuck. Suddenly, someone called from outside. They had found Miko sitting under the kitchen stairs with red ears and paws.

As it turned out, he had escaped when a neighbour had visited him. Luckily, the sun had been warm, and the shelter under the stairs had prevented the worst. He still had some frostbite and was a little skinnier than we had left him, but all in all, he was OK. However, he was scared and suddenly cried every night for a long time.

The pastor of our congregation asked me to paint a Palm Sunday scene for the church. I was not too crazy about the request as Jesus riding on a donkey seemed challenging. I felt nervous about creating a religious painting, but I also felt too shy to refuse the work. The struggle is visible in the artwork. It is not my style and, despite frustrating efforts, not a good painting - a perfect example, what happens if you create something and your heart is not in it.

Rivière du Nord, oil, 10" x 8", CAN $250

At the end of March, I went with my friends Janis and Hélène to the next Plein Air Ensemble trip to St. Adèle in Quebec. Most of the days, the sky was grey. On our last day, however, the sky was cloudless and blue, but the wind was so icy that Janis and I spent most of the morning in the car. We only got out to take pictures until we found a big rock in a sheltered area. When the wind had calmed down in the afternoon, we created a second painting at the Rivière du Nord. This time of the big waterfall.


Together, oil, 10" x 8"

In May, I exhibited paintings at the Tulip Festival for the first time. I had already painted with Janis and Hélène at the festival for a couple of years. The beautiful flower beds have always inspired us. We also have some stories to tell about interactions with other visitors, but that is a subject for another time.

In mid-June, I joined other members of Arteast, a local art organization, for a trip to Montreal. After a visit to the Montreal Fine Art Museum, we strolled through the streets of Old Montreal. Some of us created little sketches, but most of us visited the many galleries to see what they considered worth showing.

Spending time at the museums and with other artists is very important for me. The life of an artist can be lonely and very frustrating at times. I cherish the interactions and exchanges with my fellow painters and the inspirations of the masters.

If you want to read what the second half of the year had in store for me, please join me again next week. I encourage you to subscribe to automatic delivery of my blog to your email inbox.