Friday, 25 December 2015

Season's Greetings and 2015 Review

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On this Christmas Day, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and all the best for the year 2016. I would like to thank all of you for your ongoing support and hope you will spent some relaxing and happy days with your family and friends.

As next Friday will fall on January 1, 2016 (Can you believe it?), and everyone is hopefully busy with activities they enjoy, the first new blog of 2016 will be published on January 8, 2016.

Instead of my usual blog, following you will find the first 12 paintings of my advent calendar that I posted from December 1 to 24 on my Facebook and Google+ pages, which I invite you to follow. Next Friday, you will find the second 12 days of my advent calendar. I hope you enjoy my walk through my paintings of the last 12 months.

Day 1:
In Germany the advent calendar is very popular to help kids count the days until Christmas Eve. It helps to shorten the waiting time until Christmas and heightens the anticipation.

For this year, I will post my personal advent calendar, each day showing one of my favourite paintings of this year. Today, you get to see a special treat: the progression of my painting Evening Glow (see above), an 18" x 24" acrylic painting I created with painting knives.

Day 2:
"Tulips from Amsterdam", a 10" x 8" oil painting, was created during the Plein Air Ensemble trip to Val David. I had spent the morning painting outside and was so cold that I decided to stay indoors for the afternoon. The title comes from my grandmother's favourite song, and I am very happy that the painting has found a permanent home at my parents' house.

Day 3:
I painted this 11" x 14" oil painting at the beginning of May at the Black Chute Rapids of the Ottawa River. You would not believe how loud the sound of the crashing water is. I titled the painting "The Buseater" because this is the inofficial name of the chutes. The waves are so high, they could easily swallow a whole bus. What I find really interesting is the fact that it looks like horses are racing through the water.

Day 4:
"Spring Bouquet With Gerbera and Lilac", an 14" x 11" oil painting, is another painting from the painting trip to Val David. While it was raining cats and dogs, my friend Janis and I were sitting in the cottage painting this still life. The flowers and pitcher were already standing on the table. We added the oranges that were left over from lunch.

Day 5:
Rittke Road Swamp, Eganville, is a 5” x 7” oil painting. My friend Hélène and I both painted the scene and were so immersed in the painting process that we did not even notice that we were watched by a deer. This little painting found a new home on December 5 during my Open House.

Day 6:
My 7" x 5" acrylic painting "Rose Hips" was created during my summer holidays from a photo I had taken on one of the visits to the Kamouraska area. Even though I usually do not find much time to paint during our summer week at the cottage, I always take a small paint box and some reference photos with me.

Day 7:
My 9" x 12" acrylic still life "Have Some Fruit!" makes your mouth water for a fresh fruit. Maybe, you have noticed that this still life does not contain a single apple.

Day 8:
I started my 11" x 14" oil painting "Purple Fields, Saint-Pacôme, Quebec" in September 2013 during our yearly trip to Kamouraska. My friend Janis and I were sitting on the top of the ski hill and could not take our eyes from these richly coloured fields. I actually painted a second painting with similar purple fields a couple of days later in Kamouraska which I completely forgot to upload to my website after my husband and I had a little accident while framing the piece for a show. We managed to damage the expensive frame when the screws for the wire went through the front. The screws that we used were longer than what I was used to. I was so upset at the time that the artwork stayed for months in a corner in my studio. I managed to repair the frame, not perfectly but good enough for my own collection. It is a nice little piece, and will be added to my website shortly.

Day 9:

I started my 10" x 8" oil painting "Pink Gerbera" during a demonstration to the students of my introduction to painting class. I love the vibrancy of the flower. It took me a while to mix the right pink but I am quite happy with the final result.

Day 10:
My 11" x 14" oil painting "The Pilgrims, St.-André-de-Kamouraska" was started on September 12, 2014. My friend Janis and I spent the morning driving around trying to find a sheltered painting spot. It was bright and sunny but the wind made it hard to open even the car doors. Therefore, we drove to the lighthouse in St. André. There we met our friend Leslie who had the same idea. Leslie and Janis set up in the lighthouse but I decided to go outside as the wind had decreased.

I had a great time painting while listening to an audiobook. I did two paintings, had some interesting conversations in French with a couple of people that dropped by, and just felt very blessed to be able in that wonderful spot.

Day 11:
My 8" x 10" acrylic painting "Yellow Mushrooms" also started out as a demonstration at one of my introduction to painting classes. I just love all those mushrooms in the fall forest. When I look at the painting I am reminded of the smell of the autumn woods.

Day 12:
I started my 24" x 18" acrylic knife painting "Iced Birch" with reference photos in early March 2015 but put it aside when I was struggling with the branches of the tree. I had a certain image of the ice covered branches glistening in the sun in mind but was not able to realize it on the canvas. Then spring arrived and I did not feel like finishing a winter painting. So finally in November, when I was preparing my "Winter Wonderland" exhibition, I went back to the easel and this time everything just came together.

Friday, 18 December 2015

"Monet: A Bridge to Modernity" at the National Gallery of Canada

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This week, we had our annual Painting Buddies Christmas lunch. The Painting Buddies are a group of artist friends who get together in the Ottawa area to paint outside. While we were really active the last couple of years, this year we did not paint much together. Everyone was busy with their own lives but we still managed to meet this week to celebrate our friendship and the Christmas season. Usually, we only go to a local restaurant but this time we decided to visit the National Gallery of Canada to see the special exhibition “
This week, we had our annual Painting Buddies Christmas lunch. The Painting Buddies are a group of artist friends who get together in the Ottawa area to paint outside. While we were really active the last couple of years, this year we did not paint much together. Everyone was busy with their own lives but we still managed to meet this week to celebrate our friendship and the Christmas season. Usually, we only go to a local restaurant but this time we decided to visit the National Gallery of Canada to see the special exhibition “Monet: A Bridge to Modernity”.

Claude Monet (1840–1926), is one of France's most famous impressionist painters, who aspired to capture the fleeting impressions of nature in his plein air works.The exhibition contains twelve artworks of Monet's bridges from collections around the world. Claude Monet created the paintings between 1872 and 1875 in Argenteuil, a small town on the outskirts of Paris .

One of early pieces of this time is his painting “The Wooden Bridge - Le pont de bois (1872)”, a piece that is currently on long-term loan to the National Gallery. The rather dark painting shows the highway bridge under repair following the destruction during the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871). The composition with the cropped bridge gives you the impression of a picture within a picture.

Monet was very productive during his years in Argenteuil. He experimented with different viewpoints, techniques, colours and brushstrokes to develop his own style of landscape painting. His bridge paintings lay the groundwork for Monet's status as one of the leading artist of modern art.

It is very interesting that his first paintings of the time are rather somber, reflecting the mood of the post-war town, while his later works are bright and full of vivid brushstrokes. His reflections on the water and his beautiful clouds really captured me.

“Monet: A Bridge to Modernity” runs until 15 Feb 2016 at the National Gallery of Canada. Maybe, you will find some time between the holidays to check it out. Even though it is a small exhibition, it is definitely worth the visit.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Christmas Projects

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This week, I finally worked on some Christmas projects which I like to present in this blog. All of them are easy, do not need a lot of equipment and materials, and require only an hour or two to finish.

The first project is a set of coasters.

I picked up a package of four black tiles and a couple of oil based Sharpies. These opaque paint markers work on almost any surface according to the manufacturer. They definitely worked well on the tiles.

The paint is quick-drying, fade, abrasion and water resistant, which is great because it allows you to wipe off the coasters.

I even tried them out on a cork coaster. I needed two coats but the design is nicely visible.

Next, I created little tree ornaments. As all of my family and most of my friends live in Germany, creating a small lightweight gift is always something on my mind. This year, I created small felt tree ornaments.

All you need are some cloth or felt pieces, fabric paint or markers, and ribbon for the hanger. You can add little pompoms or small buttons to make the little gloves even fancier.

To start, cut two identical gloves out of your cloth. If you use felt this is easy to do. If you use a cloth which has a different front than back, make sure that the back glove is reversed. Create the design on the front (or both sides) of the gloves. Once you are finished and the paint is dry, attach a second cloth piece to the back. Do not forget to pin the ribbon ends between the two felt pieces. Sew the pieces together with a topstitch in the colour of your felt.

The last project is a collage.

I cut out some inspirational and loving words from magazines. Then I took a photograph of my daughter and I and changed it with the help of Picasa to a pencil sketch before I printed it out. Picasa is a photo editing and management programme.

On a piece of watercolour paper, I created a background with colours of liquid acrylic paints, then glued the photo and the magazine cut-outs with gel medium (glue would also work) to the paper. I added some more paint, then took some watercolour pencils to colour the photo. Now, I only have to buy a frame and have a nice personal gift for my daughter. I plan to do the same for my son.

Instead of liquid acrylic paints, you can also use watercolours, markers or pencils.

I hope I gave you some ideas. Hopefully, these ideas will just be the starting point for you. When I started looking for ideas for Christmas projects online and in magazines, what I saw created a whole explosion of new ideas. The more I thought about something, the more ideas suddenly came to my mind.

I wish you lots of fun creating some unique gifts. Get the whole family involved and create some wonderful memories.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Magazine Review: Cloth Paper Scissors

For more information on the magazine please go to

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The last couple of weeks were so busy, I did not have time to work on any holiday projects but will have some ideas for you next week. They will be easy and quick projects you can still finish in the two weeks before Christmas.

As magazines can also be a great gift for both beginning as well as advanced artists alike, I will give you a review of one magazine for which I have had a subscription for the past two years: Cloth Paper Scissors.

Cloth Paper Scissors has been published in the US since October 2004. I noticed it for the first time in 2011 when I was browsing the craft and art section of the magazine stand in a local big box store. I was attracted to the different mixed media projects that were described in detailed steps.

As a professional artist, you get into a certain routine when you work. Do not get me wrong, I enjoy my time in my studio and outdoors when I capture an image of nature on my canvas but it is still my work. From time to time, I like to mix it up by taking a course from another artist or taking some time to play and experiment with new techniques and materials. I want to keep growing, and integrating new techniques and materials into my art keep the process of creation fresh.

As I found it a hit and miss to find the next issue at the stores, I finally decided to subscribe to the magazine. I have to say that I found something in every issue that inspired me to try something new.

The magazine is published every second month. Both beginning artists as well as experienced artists will get lots of inspirations for many mixed media projects, creating fiber art works, collages, art journals, whimsical figurines, jewelry and much more. It gets your creativity into high gear because you get so many ideas for new materials and techniques you can incorporate into your art - even if you do not follow any of the featured projects.

The magazine and my teaching experience also inspired me to offer my “Creativity and Me” workshops. It always makes me sad when someone tells me how much they are touched by art, but that they would never be able to create something. I am a firm believer that everyone can express themselves through art, however not necessarily the way they imagine. In my “Creativity and Me” workshops, I encourage participants to try different mediums and art projects to break out of the self-determined boundaries. I see art as a means to relax, have fun, grow, and connect with others through the process of creating.

If you are thinking of subscribing to Cloth Paper Scissors, I would encourage you to visit their website There is lots of information, free resources, a blog, project suggestions and videos, as well as forums.

If you do not feel like subscribing to a new magazine and do not care when you receive the issues in order, you can often find some great offers for previous issues on the Cloth Paper Scissors website. The magazine is also available in a digital edition.

I hope you are getting excited for next week's blog when I will present you with some projects I have tried out for you – not necessarily all from the Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.

If you would like some more information about my “Creativity and Me” workshops which are held at my house once a month, Friday evenings from 6:30pm to 9pm, please do not hesitate to contact me at

Here are the dates for the first half year of 2016:
January 22, 2016: Winter doodles
February 19, 2016: Felting animals
April 15, 2016: Collage on a canvas tote bag
May 13, 2016 Painting flowers in acrylic

Friday, 27 November 2015

Tranquility of Winter

Tranquility of Winter, acrylic, 11"x 14"

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The first snow is on the ground. While I sit here and write this week's blog I can see the beautifully transformed landscape. I know that this snow will not last but it has magically transformed the subdued landscape into a bright and peaceful place.

I like this time of the year, when more and more houses are getting dressed up with cheerful Christmas decorations. Every night when I drive past the beautifully lit Cumberland Heritage Village Museum, I can hardly wait until it will finally open the doors again on November 28 for its yearly Christmas activities.

The little museum village looks just like a place Santa would love to stay in, and for everyone who is wondering, he is indeed in one of the houses waiting for the nice kids to ask him for a gift for Christmas.

Thinking of the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum, made me remember my painting “Tranquility of Winter”, which was a commission piece for my father-in-law. He wanted to give a winter painting to a friend in Germany. The building in the painting is the Dupuis House, in which Eva Dupuis lived on St. Joseph Boulevard in Cumberland until her death in 1983. Eva is a descendent of François Dupuis, a war veteran of the War of 1812. He arrived in the area in the1830s, and many consider him the founder of Orléans. The François Dupuis Recreation Centre was named in his honour.

After Ms. Dupuis’ death, the house was moved to the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum. The house was built in 1820 and was hardly changed over the years. It was heated with coal and wood. The only washroom was an outhouse. A well in the backyard was used to supply the water. Ms. Dupuis did not even have electricity. Instead of in a fridge, she kept her food in an icebox.

When I look at the snow-covered house in my painting, it seems like a monument of a different area, when time was moving slower. It seems to be a relic of history which was preserved by the cold to be studied by generations to come.

This Christmas season, the house is decorated with lots of Christmas lights which makes it, and all the other buildings in the museum, sparkle like stars in the dark night.

The Vintage Village of Lights will officially open on Saturday, November 28 with the Tree Lighting Ceremony. The museum will be open from 4:30 pm to 8 pm.

On Sunday, November 29 and on the Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays before Christmas, the museum will be open from 3 pm to 8 pm. For more information you can go to

For our family, visiting the Vintage Village of Lights has become a Christmas tradition. It brings moments of quietness into the hectic season. It is definitely worth a visit for both young and old. Maybe, it will also become a new tradition for you.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Christmas Gifts for Creative People

photo taken by Josie de Meo

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With Black Friday just a week away, I can see that people around me are getting more and more anxious to get their Christmas shopping started. This blog contains some of my tips for getting someone an arts-related gift for the holidays.

As an artist and instructor, I certainly believe that art should have a place in everyone's life. However, not everyone feels this way. While it is tempting to give everyone around me gifts of art, such as a painting, art materials, colouring books, or materials for Do it Yourself projects, it is always important to ask yourself whether the well-meant gift is really something the receiver will enjoy.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I had the perfect gift in mind for a friend of mine. Luckily, during a conversation she made it very clear to me that what I had thought would be the perfect gift, did not interest her at all. She told me that she would not even know what to do with something like that. I was certainly glad that I had not bought the gift for her.

When you are looking for gifts for your family and friends, you can get really lucky, if the people in your life tell you exactly what they would like to receive for Christmas. Would it not be nice if everyone would continue with the tradition of writing a wish list for Santa. This would facilitate buying gifts. However, often you have to find out the information through listening to them. If you are thinking of a certain gift and are not sure whether it is indeed a good idea, you could try to bring the subject to this gift in a conversation, e. g. “I just saw this new 3D marker, and would really like to try this out.” The reaction of the person you are talking to will usually give you a good indication of whether or not they would enjoy the gift. You can also look around their work area, talk to them about materials they use, look at flyers together, or visit an art store with them before the holiday season.

Once you have figured out whether you have any creative friends or family members, check the art store and bookstore advertisements (either online or in the local stores) to see where you can get the products. This way, you can already get a good idea what you are looking for and avoid getting overwhelmed by all the products in the store. Once you are in the store, always choose the best quality you can afford as many cheap products will bring rather frustration than pleasure to the receiver.

Here is a list of art materials and equipment for your creative adults that caught my eye when I started browsing the Internet for ideas for this blog and at the same time for my Christmas wish list.

With regard to new materials the following look quite interesting:

Winsor & Newton Pigment Markers are pigment markers which means they use fine art pigments instead of dyes. Therefore, the artwork does not fade. With the use of a special blender you can also blend the colours.

Winsor & Newton Watercolour Markers are highly pigmented, water-based markers which can be used with any regular watercolour. They are very useful for detail work. Each marker has a fine point on one end and a flexible brush tip on the other end.

Golden's new High Flow Acrylics have an ink-like consistency. They are very versatile and can be used for many techniques. They are are fully compatible with all other acrylic products. They can be used in an airbrush, a refillable marker, or with a regular brush.

Now some equipment that might make it possible for your loved ones to take their creativity into a completely new direction:

The iSketchnote, a slate which is a smart drawing pad, allows the instant digitization of paper drawings onto an iPad. The artists can use their regular pencils and pens. To see a demonstration go to This is something that would really interest me. Unfortunately, I do not possess an iPad.

I say the picture of a 3D Pen for the first time in the Chapters Christmas flyer. This afternoon, I watched a video about the use of it because I could not understand how you would be able to create 3D images. To see the YouTube video please go to It looks interesting but I do not think that it would be something I would enjoy.

Last but not least some hands-on books to get the creative juices flowing:

This year's big craze are colouring books. They top the the book charts, and there are so many variations on the market that you will see tables of different books in any main bookstore as will as long lists online, something for every taste. You better find out what subjects are of interest to the gift receiver because the sheer volume of different books will overwhelm you. Colouring books are great for people in your circle of friends and family who love colouring as a way to relax. Paired with some good coloured pencils or markers, this makes a very nice gift.

For someone who needs some inspiration, the books “642 Things to Draw” and “712 More Things to Draw” by Chronicle Books will give new ideas to challenge oneself.

You could also give a gift certificate for a painting course or a paint party.

Many community centres offer a variety of art classes at very reasonable prices. A course at a local art school or private lessons are other options. New courses generally start in January so the receiver of your gift certificate does not have to wait too long to redeem the certificate.

If you would like to create lasting memories of a time spent together, a paint party is a good choice. No experience in art is necessary and a lot of fun is guaranteed. My friend Josie de Meo and I offer paint parties both for adults and kids. If you are interested please contact us and we will gladly discuss prices and options with you. You will choose the painting you would like to copy. We will deliver all the materials, take care of the setup and cleanup, and make sure that you leave with a beautiful painting. We are able to cater both private or corporate events. For more information please contact me at

I hope I was able to give you some ideas. If you have used any of the suggested items, I would be glad to hear your opinion. Hopefully, Santa will bring me one or more gifts from this list. Then I will give certainly give you my own review. For now, I wish you happy shopping!

Friday, 13 November 2015

My Reasons to Switch to Oil Paints

St. Pascal Fields, oil, 11" x 14"

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If you have read my biography on my website, you may have come upon the sentence “For her studio paintings she prefers acrylic paint, while her plein air work is now solely done in oil due to its better characteristics for the Canadian climate.” Have you ever wondered why? At first, this seems rather odd, as oil paint is a slower medium to dry. Therefore, you are left with a wet painting which you somehow have to transport. While one might still be feasible, how about a whole bunch when you are on a painting trip? Would it not be so much easier to work with watercolour or acrylic paints? The paintings would be dry almost right away, and storage would be no problem. While this aspect is definitely true, there are other reasons as to why I switched from acrylic paints to oil paints for my outdoor work.

I was painting a turning road in St. Pascal on a sunny late September day in 2007 when I got frustrated with the fast drying time of my acrylic paints. Even though I used a retarder and a stay-wet palette to increase the drying time, I had a hard time to get my paint onto the canvas.

However, it still took me a while to change to oil paints, and it was not without challenges.
I had started out my art studies with oil paints, then switched to acrylic paints when my first child was born. I fell in love with the fast drying time and the possibilities the different gels and pastes gave me to manipulate the paint. I did not want to get back to the messy oil paints.

When I finally brought my oil paints to a winter paintout in St. Pascal, it was a bright sunny day with a couple of wind gusts. I still do not remember why I wore my good winter coat - I assume I had not remembered my dad’s old construction coat that I wear nowadays - but before I could even react, one of the wind gusts pressed the painting against my coat.

While I might have had a couple of paint spots on my coat had I painted with acrylic paints, I wore the mirror image of my oil painting on my coat. However, because oil paints dry slowly, I was able to finish the painting session and take my time putting the coat into the washing machine. Every little spot of paint came out. With acrylic paints, I would have had to react immediately. Otherwise, the paint would have dried on my coat.

Oil paints, which contain pigments and drying oils as a binder, take a long time to dry, depending on the oil used and the pigment. Drying oils are oils that react with the oxygen in the air to gradually change from a liquid to a hard paint film, like linseed, safflower, poppy seed, or walnut oil. They differ in sheen and drying time. Other additives might be added to make the paint easier to apply, to decrease the cost of the paint, the drying time, or to change the appearance. Different pigments and the thickness of paint also have an influence on the drying time.

When you look at the drying times of oils, which are generally dry to the touch in two days to two weeks, you can immediately understand why I switched mediums. When I am exposed to the elements, the slow drying process is a big advantage. I can mix bigger amounts of paint at a time without having to fear that the paint dries. It also gives me more time to blend the paint. Another advantage is that oil colours do not change during the drying process, while watercolours get lighter, and acrylic colours darker.

Now, that I use with oil paints for all my outings, I have adjusted my painting gear accordingly. I am happy that I do not have to carry large amounts of water with me to be able clean my brushes right away. Now, I just wipe the excess paint off my brushes and wrap them in plastic foil when we change locations. Often, I do not have to clean them for a couple of days. Thanks to my painting buddies, I also found some slotted boxes which make the transport of my boards easy.

These days, after a painting trip, I really have to pay attention to my painting practices when I am back in the studio working with my acrylic paints. It is tempting to leave paint covered brushes lying around. There are still means to get the hardened paint off the brush but it might shorten the life of your brushes.

If you are interested in learning more about watercolours, acrylic, and oil paints, their advantages and disadvantages, you will enjoy my free eBook "I am ready to paint, but where do I start?", which you will automatically receive when you subscribeto my monthly newsletter at

If you would like to see most of my plein air winter paintings (and some new studio work), I would like to invite you to my solo exhibition "Winter Wonderland" at Tyros Shawarma Lebanese Restaurant at 5929 Jeanne d'Arc Boulevard South, Orléans, ON K1C 6V8. The "Meet the Artist" event will be on December 13, 2015 from 4 pm to 6 pm. This is also a great opportunity to try some of the fantastic food the restaurant has to offer. I would like to thank Adnan Bawab for the opportunity to show my works in his restaurant. Another thank you goes to my friend Josie De Meo who curates the exhibitions at the restaurant.


Friday, 6 November 2015

November Paintings

Ottawa River, Rockland

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We are already at the end of the first week of November and the weather of the last couple of days was just spectacular. When I made the schedule for 2015, I had planned to write about a different painting for this week, a painting that is part of my “Winter Wonderland” exhibition which I will hang this afternoon at Tyros Shawarma Lebanese Restaurant at 5929 Jeanne d'Arc Boulevard South, Orléans, ON K1C 6V8. The exhibition runs until January 8, 2016.

However, the warm temperatures reminded me of November 12, 2012 when I spent a very mild late fall day in Rockland with some of my painting buddies. From the grounds of the retirement residence Jardins de Belle Rive, we painted the beautiful view of the Ottawa River. I worked on the 14” x 18” oil painting “Ottawa River Islands” and the 11” x 14”oil painting “Ottawa River, Rockland”.

Ottawa River Islands

When I started painting “en plein air”, I took every opportunity to paint outside, especially when we were on painting trips. My friend Janis and I went outside even if the temperatures dipped below 20 degrees Celsius. Nowadays, I am not going outside anymore when the temperatures are below -15 degrees, even if it is one of the brightest and most beautiful winter days.

As I drive my daughter to dance school to Rockland most of the year, I pass the little islands in the Ottawa River regularly. It is one of the places where you can see some of the most magnificent sunsets. I always wanted to paint those little islands, and on that mild November day in 2012, I finally got a chance. We all were really excited because we do not get out too often in the late fall and winter months.

In November, the landscape often starts to look rather monochrome and sad after the last leaves have fallen and before the snow puts a crisp white blanket over the land. The rainy and grey days do not help to lift the mood. On the day we were painting, however, the sun brought out the warm golden reds and ochres of the vegetation on the islands and the purple of the distant Gatineau Hills on the other side of the river make them seem even brighter.

Unfortunately, I was not able to paint outside this week but I am glad I created those two paintings. They are so much more than just two paintings of the site I saw and always wanted to paint. They contain all the memories I have of that day. I would probably not have remembered this particularly mild November day otherwise. No matter whether my plein air paintings turn out successfully or not, every painting I created is like a journal entry. The ones that do not turn out the way I had hoped are a memory of the struggles I faced. Maybe, I was tired that day or my mind was not fully engaged in my painting process, maybe the cold or heat distracted me. The successful ones help me relive the glorious feelings I had on site.

Which means do you use to keep your memories alive? Do you enjoy filling scrapbooks with photos of precious moments or do you write down special moments in a diary? Do you collect souvenirs that remind you of a special day or place? I am sure there are many other ways to keep your memories alive. If you would like to share yours, please leave a comment.

Friday, 30 October 2015

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I am not sure how many of you are true Halloween enthusiasts, and go out of your way to convert your front lawn (and yourself) into a scary Halloween display, which looks like a scene from a horror movie. However, I assume that most of you will put out carved and lit pumpkins to let children know that your door is open for trick or treating.

The month of October (and especially Halloween) is definitely the month of pumpkins. Therefore, I would like to tell you more about my 16” x 20” acrylic painting “Magic Pumpkins”, which is one of my favourite paintings.

Most of us have heard the story of "Jack and the Beanstalk", in which the young boy Jack exchanges the cow he was supposed to sale on the market for some magic beans. His widowed mother desperately needs the money from the cow to be able to provide for the two of them. When Jack comes home with the beans instead of the money, she throws them out of the window in her anger. However, overnight the beans grow into a gigantic beanstalk.

When I saw those huge pumpkins next to the forge at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum one fall, I immediately was reminded of the story of the magic beans. I had never seen pumpkins that grand before. I was so mesmerized that I wanted to capture this image.

In the background of my painting, you see one of the walls of the forge. I am quite happy with the way the pumpkins, which are my focal point, turned out. They look really three-dimensional. This painting is also a good example that many painting rules can be broken. In the case of “Magic Pumpkins”, I broke the rule of odds. The rule of odds originates from the opinion that it is more interesting and pleasing to the viewer to see an odd rather than even number of objects in a painting, especially if you have a small number of objects. Often you find groups of three as they form a triangle. As a triangle is one of the strongest compositional shapes, it can add a sense of unity and help the eye to move around in your painting.

In my painting, the wagon wheel behind the pumpkins is a repetition of the pumpkin shape. It almost feels like the two pumpkins and the wheel create a unity, one big circle. This makes the bright pumpkins the focal point of the painting. In addition, the leaves create several triangles which make the eye move around.

Do you agree with the rule of odds? Do you find it generally more interesting to have an odd number of objects to look at, whether it is in an arrangement of flowers, or a grouping of artworks or other collectibles? Or do you prefer the stability and symmetry of even numbers of objects? Maybe, there are some areas in your life where you prefer even numbers which allow us to group them in pairs, and other areas where you find it more pleasing and interesting to have arrangements with odd numbers. I am interested in your opinion. You would like to encourage you to leave a comment below the post.

Have a happy and safe Halloween tomorrow! For our family, it will be the first year without participating in the activities. My kids are too old to go from house to house, and because we live in the country, we have never had children come to our house. I am sure I will feel weird, like something is missing.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Plein Air Ensemble Fall 2015 Painting Trip to Lake Clear, Part 3

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This is part three and the last part of the travelogue about the Plein Air Ensemble trip to Lake Clear.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Today, was a great day. The sun never appeared but it cleared up and was quite mild. There was absolutely no wind, and the couple of raindrops fell before we even woke up.

Hélène and I stayed at the resort. Katia, the owner, showed us a spot behind her trailer where she looks toward a beautiful marsh with a couple of fallen and crooked trees. She named the scene “The Star Tree”. We spent the whole day on the spot working on a single painting but we are both very happy with the result.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Because Hélène and I forgot the time while chatting last night, I never continued writing my travelogue. Usually, I write my blog at night when we are on painting trips because both Janis and Hélène go to bed before me.

Last night after supper, we had “Show and Tell”. Everyone put up some of their best works and we looked at all the places everyone had gone to. It is always one of the highlights of the trip. It was nice that our friends Sharon and Bill as well as some of Kathy’s artist friends were able to join us.

For the first time, we also had a name tag competition. Usually, one of the members prints nice name tags with the name of the venue but this time he was out of the country, so we decided to ask the participants to decorate their name tags. Everyone received a white tag with their name. Hélène and I were overwhelmed with the response. Everyone loved the idea, and they want a repeat at the next trip. This is awesome!

Later, Hélène and I played “Paquet” again. Despite one phenomenal game where she got rid of all of her cards in one turn, I brought home the total win for the evening. Having been done with our job of organizing the trip, we were tired but also happy and got into a long chat. It is great that we get along so amazingly. Hélène has been a friend for many years but working with her as coordinators of the Plein Air Ensemble activities has brought us even closer.

This morning, we got ourselves organized and the car packed, then decided to paint “Big Rock”. The weather channel had forecasted a sunny day with 18 degrees, and it was quite mild but we never saw the sun, even though it tried really hard to break through the clouds. We spent the morning at the shore of Lake Clear painting “Big Rock” and “Little Rock”. Just when we were ready to pack it in, it started drizzling. Not enough, however, to prevent us from eating our lunch on the rocks of the shore. Then it was time to get on our way home.


We had a fantastic time. It was so great to see so many regulars return to the trip, we enjoyed the lovely music Charlie, Louis, and Mary played for us during “Happy Hour”. The food was great, and the cottages were cosy. The German resort owners and their staff were amazing. I have to admit that it was a special bonus to be able to speak German with them.

On one of the colder days, they even put the fireplace on in the restaurant which was also our meeting room and (in case it had rained) our painting room. We will definitely come back.

If you are looking for a nice cottage or camping resort on a beautiful lake, I can highly recommend the Opeongo Mountain Resort, RR # 2, 949 Lake Clear Rd., Eganville, Ontario K0J 1T0. Telephone: 1-800-565-9623 or 613-754-2054. Email:

If you would like to get more information about the Plein Air Ensemble and upcoming trips, please contact me at Right now we are working on the details for our spring 2016 trip.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Plein Air Ensemble Fall 2015 Painting Trip, Part 2

Blog 41

This is part 2 of the travelogue about the Plein Air Ensemble trip to Lake Clear.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

I woke up early today, just after 6am. When I looked out of the window, I saw one of the most beautiful sunrises. The sky was just pink over the blue water of Lake Clear. Unfortunately, now, an hour later the sun seems to have disappeared. As long as we do not get rain, I am happy. It has been very windy since we arrived and looking for painting spots does also include finding a sheltered area.

Today, Hélène and I plan to go to the other side of the lake where we hope we will be sheltered from the wind.

Yesterday, we had a great painting day. Hélène, Janis, and I drove towards Combermere where we stopped at the Crooked Slide Rapids. We painted the marsh in the morning - Janis and Helene from one side of the river and I from the other side. After having slept only one hour the night before, I needed some time alone. However, the scenery was just too beautiful to lounge about. I got busy and even started a second piece in the afternoon. While Janis and Hélène painted the rapids, I decided to concentrate on another view of the marsh.

We had to come back to the cottage early because Janis was only able to stay for three days and wanted to be home before it got dark.

Hélène and I went for a small walk to find the marsh close to the resort. We only found the smaller one which is beautiful but fully exposed to the wind. After a time of rest, we prepared the “Happy Hour” where everyone was indeed happy, not only because of the wine, but also because they all had a great painting day.

After dinner, we were treated to a presentation from Kathy about her father, who was friends with A. Y. Jackson and painted with him on several occasions. He spent most of his retirement in the Arctic and painted until his death at age 88. It was fascinating and wonderful to see some of his original paintings.

Let’s see what today will bring.

By now, it is past 10pm. Before I go to bed, I want to write down today’s adventures. Hélène and I decided to stay close to the cottage as we had already done a lot of driving the past two days. It was still windy, so finding shelter was still important. As the day was mostly cloudy, the colours were not as brilliant.

After checking out the area around Manning Road, where we saw two beautiful horses, but did not find anything else that attracted our interest, we went further to Wittke Road where we spent the day painting two sides of a marsh. This does not mean that the view and the crystal clear water of Clear Lake were not absolutely amazing, but it is difficult to describe it in words and hard to translate it into an exciting painting.

We took our time for the first painting. Usually, Janis is the one who is finished pretty fast. Without her the two of us lost completely track of time. As it was already around 2 pm when we had lunch, we did not bother moving to another spot. We found out later from a passing driver that we were watched by a deer for quite a while. This is something different for a change. Hélène and I were so engaged in our painting that we did not even notice.

Back at the cottage, we put everything together for “Happy Hour”, then decided to rest for ten minutes. What can I say, we almost missed it. Hélène fell asleep and I was reading and not watching the time. I was close to falling asleep as well when suddenly my phone beeped. I am sure the others would have been not so happy if we two organizers had not appeared with the wine and cheese.

We were able to welcome one last participant who could only arrive today and who found the missing purse that was never left at a gas station in Ottawa but fell under one of the beds in the cottage. If only we had known...

On the down side, a new participant decided to go home without informing either Hélène or myself. We all were very welcoming to her but “plein air” painting is not for everyone. Even though we are very lucky to have had dry and mostly sunny weather, it has been cold. The wind has been strong for the past couple of days, which certainly is a challenge. I am glad for my snow pants, winter coat, wool socks and gloves.

After another delicious dinner (squash soup and vegetable or Caesar wraps), we had our game night with an art infused Trivial Pursuit. The game guarantees always lots of laughter and seems to be a crowd pleaser as almost all of the artists participated. One of the categories is “Canadian Painters including our Plein Air Ensemble painters”. Tonight, two of the picked images showed paintings of mine. It was not easy to keep a straight face. I was just glad that the comments were all very positive.

Despite the strong groups, we had a clear winning team at the end. I am sure we all also learned a thing or two about art history, materials, and techniques.

It would be nice if the weather cooperated tomorrow as well. It would be one of the few trips without snow, rain, heavy fog, extreme wind or arctic temperatures. We often experienced a combination of some of the weather challenges. It certainly would be my first dry trip.


To find out if the weather continued to cooperate and what we experienced the last two days please return to my blog next Friday for the final part of this travelogue.