Friday, 31 July 2015

Mer Bleue

Blog 30

This is the last week of my Ottawa travel destination blogs. I hope you enjoyed the insights into some very nice areas not to far from downtown Ottawa. This week, I would like to share the beauty of the Mer Bleue bog with you, which is the largest bog and natural area in Canada’s Capital Region and the second largest bog in southern Ontario. It has a northern ecosystem that is more alike the Arctic than the Ottawa Valley. A special area is the boardwalk where dogs are not allowed. Therefore, I usually only go there to paint. However, there are many nice trails in the Mer Bleue bog area where you and your four-legged friend can walk together except for the winter months when the trails are reserved for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

If you plan an outing to Mer Bleue don't forget your bug repellent and for the boardwalk a hat as there is hardly a space that offers shade. However, close to the boardwalk is a beautiful covered picnic area. So bring some snacks.

Here are my Mer Bleue paintings sorted by season:

Summer Greens, Mer Bleue, oil, 8" x 10"

Wolkenspiel - Cloud Formations, acrylic, 11" x 14"
the only Mer Bleue painting done in the studio

Summer at Mer Bleue, oil, 8" x 10"


Crisp Fall Morning, acrylic, 8" x 10"

Mer Bleue, acrylic, 20" x 16"


Frozen Mer Bleue, oil, 8" x 10"

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Friday, 24 July 2015

Petrie Island

Blog 29

Living in the east end of Ottawa has the advantage that I am very close to one of my favourite spots in the city: Petrie Island. The only issue that makes me a little upset it that dogs are not allowed on the island, so I can never share the joy of the trails with our dog Alex. I know it is for the safety of the ecosystem, but when I see all the garbage people leave behind, I wonder who the real threat is.

Nevertheless, Petrie Island's vegetation and animal world is beautiful. I love to experience the different seasons, and to watch and listen to the frogs, birds, and the turtles taking sun baths on logs.

I have painted on the island during every season, although our painting group usually avoids painting there in the summer because the island is attracting lots of people looking for a place to swim, to play, to relax in the sun, or for a nice picnic. There is nothing like a relaxed picnic in the evening while waiting for the sunset. I am lucky that I often pass Petrie Island on my way to work, and have seen some pretty spectacular sunsets.

Here are some of the paintings I created on location sorted by season:


Finally Spring, oil, 10" x 8"


"Late Summer Day at Petrie Island", oil, 8" x 10"


Golden Days of Fall, acrylic, 8" x 10"

Fall at Petrie Island, acrylics, 14" x 11"


Fishing Huts On The Ottawa River, Petrie Island, oil, 11" x 14"

Then there are the four sunset paintings I did in the studio. Even though my painting buddies and I have always talked about painting a sunset on location, so far we have not managed to go out at twilight. My sunset paintings were all done in the studio. I am just mesmerized by sunsets, therefore I am sure will paint other sunsets.

Sunset over Petrie Island, acrylic, 18" x 24"

Sunset Magic, acrylic, 24" x 30"

Peacefulness, acrylic, 16" x 20"

Have you ever been to Petrie Island? Do you go regularly? If so, what do you like to do there? Do you have a favourite spot on the island?

Next week is the last week of my little trip to some of my favourite destinations. Any guesses which spot I will pick? Where is your favourite retreat?

Friday, 17 July 2015

Cumberland Heritage Village Museum

Magic Pumpkins, acrylic, 16" x 20"-  huge pumpkins next to the Forge

 Blog 28

One of my favourite spots to visit in my neighbourhood is the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum. In the museum, you feel like being in an idyllic world where life is a lot simpler and less hectic. I enjoy walking my dog on the museum ground, even though he is not allowed in the buildings.

The little village does not only have historic houses but even a working forge, and sawmill. The volunteers wear costumes are extremely knowledgeable and friendly. They put a lot of care in looking after the village, including planting vegetable gardens and feeding the animals.

I have visited the museum on several occasions with my painting buddies. We enjoy the quietness of the historic town. We do not have to worry about cars, there are shaded areas for a hot or rainy day, a picnic area, and for a day-long outing a great plus, washrooms.

Some of the paintings I created of the museum's buildings were done on site, others from reference photographs.

Mainville House, acrylic, 16" x 20"
Mainville House” is a 16" x 20" acrylic painting which I did in my studio because I just loved the house surrounded by the beautiful pink bushes on the bright summer day. I was able to admire the scenery when I sat next to the house while painting the “Vegetable Garden” with members of the art organization Arteast. However, I just felt I had to paint the Mainville House like I had seen it on this summer day with a cloudless beautiful blue sky. 

The painting is part of my solo exhibition "Summer Destinations" at Tyros Shawarma Lebanese Restaurant at 5929 Jeanne d'Arc Boulevard South, Orléans, ON K1C 6V8. I would like to invite you to the "Meet the Artist" event on Sunday, July 19, 2015 from 2pm to 4pm

Duford House, acrylic, 16" x 20"
I started the “Duford House”, a 16" x 20" acrylic painting with my group of painting buddies on location. If you go to the museum these days, you will probably notice that a full veranda was added to the building after I had painted the house.

De Groot Barn, oil, 11" x 14"

The 11" x 14" painting “De Groot Barn” is one of my first paintings for which I used oil paints while being on location. While I love my acrylic paints in the studio, I found it really hard to work with them “en plein air”. The paint just dried so fast, it was frustrating. As I had worked with oil paints before, I wanted to give this medium a try.

I am not sure what went wrong but there is a small area in the trees where the paint has cracked. Therefore, this is a painting I am not selling, even though the cracks look very intentional and have not increased during the years.

French Hill Schoolhouse, acrylic, 15 3/5" x 19 1/2"
When I painted the “French Hill Schoolhouse”, a 15 3/4" x 19 1/2" acrylic artwork, I was drawn to the shadows the leaves left on the school's roof. I started the painting on site but had to adjust the perspective at home. Painting perspective is still something I constantly have to work on. It is a challenge every time. This painting found a wonderful home. I was very happy to see it at my buyer's home which is always a special treat for every artist.

Tranquility of Winter, acrylic, 11" x 14"

The White House, acrylic, 10" x 14"
Both, the 11” x 14”acrylic painting “Tranquility of Winter” and my 10" x 14" acrylic painting “White House”, are paintings of the Dupuis House. “Tranquility of Winter” was painted in the studio while “White House” was painted on location. However, just when I packed in my gear, the lady with her backpack sat on the bench in front of the house. I knew immediately that she was what had been missing in my painting. I added her at home.

Watson's Garage, oil, 8" x 10"
My 8” x 10” painting “Watson's Garage” is one that did not work at all like I had envisioned it. It does not excite me at all. When I prepared this blog, I realized it was not even on my website.

The Vegetable Garden, oil, 11" x 14"

The “11 x 14” oil painting “Vegetable Garden” was painted on an Arteast paintout. I am always fascinated with the range of produce that is grown at the museum. That particular day, I knew I had only a short time available to paint due to the presence of my young daughter who patiently read while I was painting. I did not feel like starting another building but painted the vegetable garden with the scarecrow.

Quiet time, acrylic, 12" x 12" - one of the animals of the museum
In case my blog makes you want to go to the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum, here is the website:

The museum is located at 2940 Old Montreal Road, Cumberland, ON K4C 1E6. 

Friday, 10 July 2015

Whitewater Region

Ottawa River, Whitewater Region, acrylic, 12" x 16"

Blog 27

July is the month I take time off from teaching. It is my month to recharge my batteries. This past week, our family spent a at cottage in the Whitewater region, right on the Ottawa River. I usually do not find the time to paint during our summer stay because we always have company. However, like last year, I did a couple of sketches.

The only two paintings I ever did during our summer vacation were an acrylic painting of my kids in front of my in-laws' cottage, a painting my parents-in-law had asked for, as well as an oil painting of my daughter and her friend at a dance recital. I got excited about painting the two girls when I watched them practicing their dance moves in the cottage. Even in the summer, I always bring a small set of painting equipment and reference photos with me in case of bad weather. That time, I had a photo at hand which I had taken earlier that year backstage during the year-end recital.

In general, I prefer to paint outside when I am at the cottage. The beautiful scenery has always something to offer and inspired me to many paintings, no matter the season.

In the spring and fall, I usually spend a couple of days with some of my painting buddies in the area. All of my oil colour paintings were done on location, mostly in the company of my friends. My acrylic paintings were painted with the help of reference photos.

In winter, it is often impossible to set up the equipment on the spots I like – either because of deep snow, ice, or chilly wind. While I have tried to paint outside in temperatures around -20 degree Celsius, I do not do it anymore because I just do not enjoy myself. It is just too hard to stay warm.

Following are photos of my landscape paintings from the Whitewater region:


River Panorama, acrylic, 8" x 10"

Presqu'ile, oil, 10" x 8"

Just a Touch of Red, oil, 8" x 10"

Ottawa River, oil, 10" x 8" 

Ottawa Rapids, oil, 8" x 10"

Spring Greens, oil, 10" x 8"

The Buseater, oil, 8" x 10"


The Orange Tree, oil, 10" x 8"

Fall at Whitewater Village, acrylic, 20" x 24"

Path Along The River, oil, 8" x 10"

The Red Tree, acrylic, 8" x 10"

Broom Creek, acrylic, 14" x 11"


Breaking The Ice, acrylic, 14" x 18"

Presqu'ile Point, acrylic, 20" x 24"

Next week, I will take you to a place closer to home, the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum, one of my favourite spots for an outing. Do you have some favourite areas you like to visit regularly? What attracts you to the destinations?

Friday, 3 July 2015

Creative Things to Do with Your Kids This Summer

Blog 26

With the start of the summer break, many parents might be looking for activities for their kids. If you are one of these parents, this blog is for you.

Even if you take a week or two for your family vacation, there is still lots of time for activities to do at home, especially if your kids do not attend day camps.

As an artist and instructor, I always encourage others to increase the creativity in their lives. Here are some suggestions on things to do during the summer. As I live in the Ottawa area, I will make some recommendations that are specific for the area, but I am sure your area will offer similar venues.

If you have artistic kids, you might consider going with them to the National Art Gallery which offers lots of kid-friendly activities. They make looking at the artworks in the gallery lots of fun and encourage the kids to create their own masterpieces. The Artissimo program runs from 11am to 4pm on weekends and holidays, as well as daily in July and August. For more details, please go to

Another great option is the Canadian Children's Museum in Gatineau where your kids can travel the world through exhibitions, props, costumes and hands-on activities. It also has a fantastic outdoor park. For more information, please go to

These are only a few recommendations, and there are many more possibilities to choose from. Almost all family-oriented museums offer activities for kids where they can build or recreate something they saw. However, you do not necessarily have to leave your house for a fun day.

Depending on the weather and your space, you can either set a camp up in your backyard or in an area of your home. If you do not have a tent, a table or even two stable chairs covered in sheets can do the trick. Have a picnic, and read or tell your favourite stories. You can also lie on a blanket in front of your tent and watch the clouds or the stars looking for shapes. Later, you can draw or paint a picture of what you saw.

Most kids love to play dress-up. Whether you organize a pirate day, a princess tea party, or recreate a historical area, bring out the costumes, prepare some food for the occasion, and your kids will not only create their own story but also play a main part in it.

Play “Restaurant” by encouraging your kids to participate in creating a menu, order pads, and definitely by having them participate in the preparation of some easy meals. Guten Appetit!

On a rainy day, setting up different games will definitely lift up the spirits. Pictionary is a great game to increase creativity and good for laughs. Have you ever considered creating your own game board? The kids could get inspired by a game they love and create their own version on a sturdy cardboard. Finally, they can make the rules.

At the beginning of the summer, you can also encourage your kids to create a vision board of things they would like to do during their holidays. Magazines, travel catalogues, combined with markers and crayons will encourage everyone to create their own wish list of activities.

At the end of the summer, you could pick photos of some special moments of your holidays and put together a scrapbook to keep alive all the beautiful memories.

These are just some suggestions. I would like to hear if you and your children have some special summer activities that everyone is excited about. Just remember, being creative does not mean that you have to draw or paint. You can build something, make music, create a new recipe, try out a new craft, or even write a short story or a poem. Whatever you do, I hope you will keep your electronics out of your hand for a while and enjoy the fun of creating.