Friday, 26 May 2017

Painting Tulips

Progress of "Pink Tulips", acrylic, 20" x 10"

Blog 21

Every May for the last couple of years, I made my way to the Tulip Festival in Ottawa to paint the tulips with on site. This year, I knew that my chances to get there were slim, as I work now from Monday to Friday. There were still the weekend, but the places around the tulips are so crowded on the weekends, that it is nearly impossible to set up and paint. I had hoped that I would be able to go on one of my days off but it turned out that the weather was not too cooperative on those days. At the end, I decided to set up my easel in my own backyard to paint a couple of pink tulips. I was busy with planting on the weekend, but Tuesday was finally a day where the weather was decent and I had some hours to paint. Instead of my usual painting buddies our dog Alex kept me company. It could have been a very pleasant painting afternoon. Unfortunately, Alex was not the only company. I slathered a good amount of mosquito repellent on me, added by some organic spray for my hair and Alex' back.

For a short time, I was able to paint in peace. The sun was out and the smell from the repellent seemed to keep most of the unwelcome attackers away. I enjoyed sitting outside, my loyal companion by my side. As the three tulips were all clumped together, I decided to change their placing on my canvas. As they still seemed a little lonely, I added two more tulips on my 20” x 10” canvas. I was struggling with the new tube of Liquitex Magenta as I was not able to mix the colour I was looking for. I had used a different brand before which seemed to produce brighter colour mixtures. This was a good reminder that the same colours from different producers do not necessary look the same or create the same mixes due to the different ingredients.

After an a good hour, dark clouds covered the sky and the we got swarmed by mosquitoes. I did not feel like putting another round of repellent on and gave up my spot for the day. This spring, the number of mosquitoes seems to be especially high. I decided to finish the painting indoors. I took some reference photos that I used to work in my studio. In my finished painting, I changed the position of one of the added tulips again because I did not like the repetition of the two overlapping tulips. The area felt too crowded.

As you can see, you do not need to go far to find a beautiful spot outside. There is beauty everywhere around us. Often the simple things make a much better picture than a vast landscape when you struggle to find a focus.

I hope you found the view into my backyard adventure entertaining. Take the time to cherish the beauty around you. If you enjoy my blog, I would like to encourage you to sign up for the automatic weekly delivery of my blog into your inbox at the bottom of every page at

Friday, 19 May 2017

Nature's Force

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

Blog 20

I had planned to write about painting at the Tulip Festival this week, but the recent flood in Ottawa and Gatineau made me realize once more how fragile our world is. The rivers that once provided beauty, fun and relaxation to so many suddenly have turned into an uncontrollable force that lets us feel helpless and desperate. I am sure many of us have envied those with properties along the banks of the rivers for their view. I certainly did from time to time, but now I am more than relieved that we live far enough away from any source of water. I cannot imagine how desperate all of the people must feel who worked so hard to save their houses but were not able to stand up to the water, and who have lost so much in the last couple of days. They lived in a beautiful house and are now homeless with no idea what the future holds for them and how they will build their lives up again. It has hit close to home. I am sure all of us know someone who has been affected.

I cannot believe the destruction that I see everywhere. I look at Petrie Island where I loved to spend time, have a picnic, watch the sunset, and more than anything else paint. I am not sure the island will ever be the same. All the sand from the beaches will probably have been swept away. I am sure that the geese and ducks have a great time but what about all the other animals and the vegetation? We take things so easily for granted. I hope once the waters recede, people will work together to rebuild the community. We are all challenged to help find solutions so that living along the rivers will be a place of beauty, fun, and relaxation again. It is worth fighting for our beautiful world.

After all the saddening and just unbelievable photos we saw from the Ottawa-Gatineau area in the last couple of days, I hope that nature recovers and that the victims of the flood will get the so desperately needed financial help and ongoing support from volunteers.

May we - despite everything - not forget to see the beauty and kindness in the world around us. The crisis has brought many people closer together and created new bonds. Unfortunately, it often takes a major crisis for us to reconsider our priorities.

Here is one of my favourite paintings of a Petrie Island sunset called “Peacefulness”. I hope all of us will find a place of peacefulness in this stressful time.

Peacefulness, acrylic, 16" x 20"

Friday, 12 May 2017

Spring Flowers

Tulip Festival, acrylic, 14" x 11"

Blog 19

Spring is finally here and for me, spring is all about beautiful flowers. After months of monotone colours, I yearn for the first blooms of the early spring flowers. I have to admit that my knowledge of flowers is pretty limited, I just know the names of the most popular ones, like roses, tulips, daffodils, gerberas, irises, sunflowers, peonies, poppies, and waterlilies. Not surprisingly, many of them also appear in famous paintings. Just think about van Gogh's sunflowers and irises, or Monet's water lilies, poppies painted by van Gogh, Monet, or Georgie O'Keeffe. I never considered myself a painter of flowers, but the beauty of flowers fascinate me. I have a friend with a beautiful garden that I pass every day on my way to work. Seeing the flowers always lifts my spirits. I always wonder which ones will bloom next.

Often, flowers are attributed with certain symbolic meanings which often vary depending on the culture. In Western societies, red roses are considered a symbol of love and passion. In Canada, poppies are worn on Remembrance Day to commemorate soldiers who have died in times of war. They are often a symbol of sleep and consolation in time of death. Daisies are a symbol of innocence. Flowers in art are also used to symbolize femininity.

Even though I painted the occasional flower in my early painting days, the yearly paint-outs at the tulip festival with my painting buddies as well as the studies of flowers in my garden and winter garden have inspired me to paint more flowers. I am not interested in their symbolic meaning, I just paint them to capture the beauty of these perfect and delicate blooms.

As colour is very important to me, I love the wonderful varieties of the tulips at the tulip festival in all their bright colours and the way they are grouped. Since I moved to Ottawa, spring only really begins with the flowers at the Tulip Festival.

Here are some examples of my spring flowers:

I am looking forward to visiting the festival this year again, even though I fear I won't have time to paint on site. Hopefully, I will be able to paint at least one of my own tulips at home. I hope you take the time to smell the fragrant spring flowers either during the Tulip Festival or in your neighbourhood. Maybe, you have a chance to take your mom to the Tulip Festival on this Mother’s Day weekend. I wish all of you who are moms a Happy Mother’s Day!

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Friday, 5 May 2017

Whitewater Region

Blog 18

This week, I stayed at the cottage in the Wildwater region. This is something I have done every spring in early May for the last couple of years. I usually invite two of my friends to spend the week with me for a girls time-out. We all enjoy plein air painting. Often, we get together with two of our other painting buddies who moved to the Eganville area years ago.

We used to paint almost weekly together but somehow all of our lives got busier with work, travel, or grandchildren. The May week as well as the trips with the Plein Air Ensemble and the yearly trip to Kamouraska are now our best chances to get at least part of the original local group together.

Unfortunately, only my friend Janis was able to join me for part of the week this time. We were not too lucky with the weather. It rained almost constantly. We knew we could not paint on site but were determined that we would still paint outside. We set our equipment up on the covered patio. Janis painted a still life. I started the commission work of a beautiful cat. We lasted 2 1/2 hours with one break to warm us up before we gave up because the cold wet air chilled us to the bone.

The next day, I made another attempt painting on the patio, but the wind was so cold that I packed my stuff after an hour and continued painting inside for a short while. The light in the cottage is not the best on a very grey day. Therefore, I did not get far. Instead, my son and I took the golf cart for a drive through the resort which was nice despite the rain.

If you would like to see my video of the high water at the Black Chutes, please go to:

On Wednesday, my last day, we finally saw the sun again. However, it was too windy to paint outside. I did not even attempt to set up on the patio. I am a little disappointed but happy that I made good progress with my cat painting.

Even though I did not paint as much as I had hoped for, I worked on two new felted pieces: one of pink lilies and another of a cardinal. I hope I can finish the cardinal in time for Mother's Day. It will make a great gift for my mom who loves birds. This year, she will be with us in Canada so we can celebrate our Mother's Day together.
Usually, we stay until Friday morning but I had been asked to provide members of the Women’s Business Connections Orleans with a painting party experience Thursday evening. As we had only an hour for painting, I created a 10” x 8” painting of the Canada 150th Tulip. Everyone had a lot of fun and here is a photo of the success that speaks for itself.

If you are interested in hosting your own painting party, please contact me at for more information. This is a great way to have lots of fun and to create memories for many occasions like birthday parties, bridal showers, a girls night out or any get-together with friends. I take care of the set-up and take-down, and provide all the materials. You can also check out the information on my website