Friday, 24 November 2017

How to Overcome Your Own Resistance

"The Essence of Summer", acrylic, 10" x 8"
Blog 48

Last week, I wrote how important it is to make time for art. I wrote about how frustrated I got when my life changed and I had less time to be creative. Now, I have scheduled regular time to paint and felt. Every Wednesday (and if possible also on Friday) evening, I go to my studio to paint for two hours. I also take time to be creative on Sundays, when I usually spent the afternoon felting while meeting friends. Every second Wednesday, when I enjoy a day off, I also spend time in my studio or painting with friends.

If you have a busy schedule and do not schedule time for your hobbies, you will always find a reason why something else needs to be done first. Chores are never ending. It is up to you to define your priorities. You might say, that creating something when you are not in the mood is impossible. Years ago, I would have agreed with you. Now, if I am absolutely not in the mood to work on a certain painting, I start something new, pick up a pencil and draw, or grab my felting equipment. Once I get started I usually forget all about my resistance. I completely lose track of time and just go with it. That’s why my Wednesday night painting sessions usually last longer than the two hours.

“Indian Summer at Petrie Island”, acrylic, 12” x 9”
To give you an example of how painting changes my mood, I will tell you about my painting day at Petrie Island last year in early November. My friends Janis, Hélène, and I had decided to make the most of the fantastic late fall weather and agreed to meet at Petrie Island for some plein air painting. I had lots going on at the time and so I only went out to take some photos and be with my friends. However, when I saw my friends painting, I did not just want to sit around. Once I started painting, I was happy to be out in nature and got absorbed in my surroundings and the process of putting the image on my canvas. The result is “Indian Summer at Petrie Island”, a 12” x 9” acrylic painting that I created with painting knives on a black canvas. It was an interesting experience. I usually use oil paints for painting outdoors, but as I was not in a mood to paint when I went out, I had just taken a few tubes of acrylic paint in case I would change my mind. I am glad I did. It was a lovely day, and I actually forgot about everything else going on in my life.

I encourage you to give it a try. It might be hard to start this in a month like December when parties and family gatherings, holiday shopping and preparations take a lot of our time, but on the other hand why wait? There will always be times when it is hard to stick to your plan. Maybe, creating handmade Christmas gifts can be the first step. Or you might consider just doodling for five or ten minutes every day. The goal is not to create a masterpiece but to let your creativity flow to reduce some stress and have fun.

If you want to wait until the new year, I will start January again with my own creativity challenge. During the month of January, I will keep practicing my drawing, felting, and painting skills by creating art every day. I will not focus on creating finished artworks. Some might be just sketches, some might even be failures, but all of them will be a learning experience. I will publish my creations every week and journal about my challenges, surprises, successes and frustrations. Hopefully, this will inspire you also to bring more creativity to your life.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at, if you need help to develop a skill. If I cannot help you, I will make sure to find a fellow artist who can.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Making Time for Art

Nature's Mirror, acrylic, 12" x 16"

Blog 47

Since I started my part-time job as a German instructor in January, I have struggled to find time to paint, especially because I still teach in the evenings. With more than two hours of driving each day, I found it hard to find a new rhythm. With less time at my disposal for creative projects, my plan was to put aside three hours on Saturdays and Sundays. However, chores and visitors interfered with my plan. I got frustrated about my lack of creativity and missed the balance in my life. All I did was work. I knew I had to find a solution.

The first step was to accept that any artist has periods of more or less productive times for different reasons. Sometimes lack of recognition, low sales, a creative block, health or relationship problems can be the root of such creative breaks. Other times, it is due to a shift in priorities or a new focus on a different medium. Sometimes, it even helps to take a break to get a fresh start.

I did not intend to take a break and felt something was missing in my life. However, soon I also realized that it was not only painting that I was missing. Painting in my studio and the administrative part of my business are usually very secluded activities. My lesser availability had also resulted in me neglecting to spend time with the people that are important to me. During the Kamouraska painting trip, I realized that I needed both art and my connection to my family and friends.

I love my work, both my art business as well as my instruction of students, but I did not want to regret at some point that I missed out on doing what was important to me in favour of working. I started to make changes. I always thought that I would be too tired to paint after work but what I found out is, that I feel totally re-energized once I am in my studio. This gives me more options to paint. I also started meeting friends on Sunday afternoons, but instead of just having coffee and tea, we bring some craft or art project to work on while we are chatting.

I am quite happy that I also have every second Wednesday off at the moment, which gives me an extra day to paint and spend with my painting buddies. This gives me more flexibility, especially if I know I will have a busy weekend ahead.

At the end, it is not different from making time to exercise. You have to put it into your schedule and stick to it, but be flexible enough to realize that sometimes life gets into the way. Instead of giving up, it is important to get back into a routine and make time for the things and people that are important to you.

Winter Glow, Painting Parties, acrylic, 20" x 16"
If you feel, you could need some extra bonding time with loved ones, painting parties are a fun way to get together with family and friends to create lasting memories. If you are interested in learning more about painting parties and how to host an event for your family and friends (both adults and children), please go to my website at or contact me directly by phone (613) 316-1543 or by email to My focus is small parties (up to 12 people) to help you create memories and have fun with your family and friends.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Remembrance Day Poppies

Blog 46

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day in Canada. It is a day to remember the sacrifices of the Canadian soldiers who have served and are still serving during times of war and conflict to help establish and guarantee peace.

To commemorate those who died in war, the red-flowered corn poppy is used, which became popular due to the famous poem "In Flanders Fields" by the Canadian surgeon and soldier John McCrae. Did you know that poppies are a symbol of sleep and peace? This connection comes from the possibility to extract opium from some varieties of the flower. In Western civilizations, red poppies often symbolize death in Western civilizations. The color of the poppy changes its meaning. White poppies are considered a symbol of peacefulness, while purple, pink, and blue poppies symbolize imagination, luxury and success. In Eastern civilizations, a red poppy is a symbol for love and success.

This summer, I created red poppies with a group of ladies. We created these flowers by dry felting wool rovings with the help of specialty needles that have very sharp, barbed blades. These needles are repeatedly stabbed into the wool fibers, so that they get tangled and compacted creating three-dimensional felt sculptures.

This repetitive movement is not only very relaxing, it also help you to get rid of frustrations and anger. If you have never tried felting, and are looking for an activity that is fun and offers limitless ways to express yourself, I hope the photos inspire you to learn this old craft. A word of caution: it is highly addictive; just ask my former students.

When I look at the poppy on my coat, I am reminded of the sacrifices the soldiers and military families have made throughout history and to this current date, so that we can live in peace. They are still making a difference not only in the many areas affected by war, but also help in cases of disasters. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the Canadian soldiers and their families.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Fall into Landscape Painting

Slide Rapids Marsh, oil, 10" x 8"

Blog 45

November is here and with the wonderful fall weather we had, it seems that it arrived out of nowhere. For the last couple of weeks, I wrote about my painting trip to Kamouraska. The time of our trip in early September is the beginning of the most beautiful season to paint outside.

The changing colours create a breathtaking landscape. However, many artists prefer to paint outside either before or after the peak of the fall colours. During the peak time, the intensity of the colours is overwhelming. The colours are so strong, that it is hard to concentrate on a focal point. Everywhere you look, the trees are competing with each other for the spot with the most amazing colour. It is like being in a candy store, where you cannot decide on what to choose, because there is just too much of everything.

Painting in the fall has some further advantages. The temperatures are usually quite pleasant and you have to endure less bugs. I am also very energetic and motivated in the fall, because I know that a long winter is before me and I want to make the most of the limited time available.

Ottawa River, Rockland, oil, 11" x 14"
While I have done most of my fall paintings in September and October, there is still some hope for nice sunny November days that feel like a special gift. I remember a mild November day a couple of years ago when my friends and I were just overjoyed with the extra painting opportunity.

While I know of a couple of painters who go outside in almost any kind of weather on a regular basis, I limit my plein air painting time these days to temperatures above -10 degrees Celsius. There was a time, when I felt I had to go outside during a painting trip no matter the weather, but these days I resort to working from reference photos, finishing paintings in progress, or setting up a still life. After all, there is still the next spring to go back outside. In the meantime, I find lots of art projects to work on inside during the cold winter days.

Winter Glow - Painting Party
Talking of spending time inside, painting parties are an exciting and different activity for get-togethers with family and friends. You will be creative, have fun, and create lasting memories. If you are interested in learning more about painting parties and how to host an event for your family and friends (both adults and children), please go to my website at or contact me directly by phone (613) 316-1543 or by email to My focus is small parties (up to 12 people). Due to my teaching schedule, I am available primarily from Friday to Sunday.