Friday, 31 May 2019

My May Projects

Blog 20

It is the end of the month again and therefore time for a look at my May projects. As I have had visitors from Germany, I was not as creative but spent lots of time being a visitor in the town that has been my home for the past 24 years. I Iove to rediscover the local sights. We went to the Tulip Festival, the fireworks at Dow’s Lake, downtown, Pink Lake at Gatineau Park, the Mer Bleue boardwalk, and the Humanics Institute Sculpture Park. I got so much inspiration and can hardly wait for my vacation at the end of the month to spend more time painting. 

As for my May projects, I created two scenes for the first comic of my Cartooning and Comics classes as well as drawings of a scorpion spider, Raven from “Teen Titans”, and Detective Pikachu. 

At the Navan Fine Art Exhibition and Sale, I created a painting to the music of pianist Bev McKiver. I was the second one scheduled and had assumed that I would paint an abstract piece. Instead, I felt inspired to paint flowers and butterflies. I found the experience quite unsettling. Usually, when I go into my studio, I know exactly what I want to paint. I might struggle with the composition or the process, but I know where I want to go. This time, I did not know what to expect. I did not know the music, or how I would react to it. I also was aware that people were watching me and talked to spectators during the process. The result is a flower painting that does not talk to me at all at this point. It will be interesting to see whether I can transform it.


During the Agatha Christie play “A Murder is Announced” at the Ottawa Little Theatre, I managed to create some sketches even though we were not sitting in our usual first row seats.


I finished the 16” x 20” acrylic painting “For the love of van Gogh’s Irises” from my “Celebrate Spring with Flowers” workshop. You can definitely see that van Gogh's painting "Irises" was an inspiration for the painting, but I also used my own photos from the lovely irises at the Ottawa ornamental gardens, as well as of the rather beautiful flowers of the dandelions in our neighbourhood.

For my June painting party, I created a 16” x 20” acrylic painting of the apple blossoms in our garden. If you would like to join me for the event, please go to for more information and to buy your ticket.

The felted 8.5” x 11” “Orange Lily” was inspired by my painting with the same title. I also started a new felted flower after I visited the Tulip Festival. This yellow and pink tulip reminded my friends and me of vanilla pudding with raspberry sauce. This artwork is only in its first stage. The nice thing about working with wool is that I can decide while I am felting how big the final piece will be. I will keep you posted on my progress.

How are you doing with your own projects? I would love to hear about your creative adventures. Does the season influence you in your choice of projects?

If you enjoy my blogs, please share them with family and friends. Thank you for helping me to reach a bigger audience.

Friday, 24 May 2019

Blog-free Week

Enjoy the beautiful spring flowers that are blooming everywhere! If you live in Ottawa, the tulips still look beautiful all over the city. My next blog will be published next Friday.

Friday, 17 May 2019

A Labour of Love and Healing

Alex and Candy, acrylic, 30" x 40"

Blog 19, May 17, 2019

If you are wondering what happened to last week’s blog, I decided to cut down the number of blogs to make more time for painting and felting. Since I started working as a German language instructor part-time, I have hardly been in my studio working on my own projects, even though I have still been able to create lots of sketches and drawings for my classes and workshops. I am sure you understand my decision and hope that you will continue to follow me on a bi-weekly basis.

Today, I write about a special painting that I created for my family. When I started the painting, I did not know that it would take me six years to finish. I had painted our first dog Jessie many times and had also created one portrait of Candy and another of Alex, the two dogs that we adopted after Jessie’s death. This time, however, I wanted to create a double portrait of the two dogs while they were still in the prime of their lives.

When I started the painting in 2013, I thought I had lots of time to finish it. At that time, both dogs were seven years old. Little did I know that Candy would already leave us just over a year later when she died without any warning from a burst tumour.

Our whole family was sad, but Alex and I were affected more than the rest of the family as we spent most of our time together with Candy. In a way, however, it was easier to process her loss than when we lost our first dog Jessie, as I still came home to a barking dog who awaited my return full of joy, even though I felt guilty of leaving him alone in the first place. I knew that I had to help both of us over the loss, but it took us about half a year to adapt to the new situation.

In 2016, I finally continued my work on the painting but was frustrated because I struggled first with Candy and then later with Alex. Part of the problem was that I had picked a reference picture that showed both dogs in a very common pose but turned out to be not very sharp, which I only realized when I enlarged it to see details of their faces. This was quite frustrating and made me lose focus. In the end, I picked another head position for Candy and re-painted her face completely. Working on Alex was a little bit easier as I had my model right with me in the studio. I was able to check the colour on my brush against the colours of his fur and to study the details of his face more closely.

Alex is now 14 years old and usually does not sit anymore. He has lost almost all of his hearing and his sight has deteriorated. He has arthritis in his hind legs, but he is still very active for his age. We continue to go on our daily walks. He also enjoys chasing after our cat Miko, but he usually lies down otherwise, except if his nose smells something delicious on the countertop. I thought he was not able to stand on his two hind legs anymore and was very surprised when I caught him just a couple of weeks ago trying to steal the ham.

When I look at my painting, so many memories of happy and silly events resurface which make me smile. Both Candy and Alex had such different personalities but they were a great team and a wonderful addition to our family. I hope that Alex will still have some time to enjoy his life with us. He is a daily inspiration for me how to deal with getting older and making the best of every day.

If you are interested in having your pet painted, I welcome commissions. Please check out the portfolio of my pet paintings on my website Please do not hesitate to contact me for any questions.

At the end of this blog, I would like to encourage you to pick up the hobby that you want to start once you are retired, or once a certain task has been finished, now. Don’t postpone the things you want to do. Now is the best time. You can always convince yourself of obstacles or life’s busyness to postpone, but if you are waiting for the perfect moment to pick up a new hobby or a new habit, you might miss out on your chance.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Blog-free Week

Tulip Magic, 10" x 8", oil

This is a blog-free week. Starting this month, my blogs will be published only every second week. The next blog will be published on May 17, 2019.

I am wishing all mothers a Happy Mother's Day! Enjoy your time with your family! If you live in Ottawa, maybe you will have the chance to visit the Tulip Festival.

Friday, 3 May 2019

Online Art Courses versus Classroom Art Courses

Blog 18

For the past couple of years, I have offered classroom courses and workshops through the City of Ottawa as well as in my home. As online workshops and courses are getting more and more popular, I thought it would be interesting to compare the two different ways of studying art.

Let’s start with the advantages of online courses:

1) Flexibility
Registering for an online workshop means that you can watch the video at any time from anywhere. You avoid travel costs as you do not have to get out of your house. This is a big advantage, especially in the cold and dark winter months, or if you live in a rural area. You will never miss a class due to other engagements. You can also replay the workshop as often as you like, stop and play the video according to your needs, and even watch it in slow motion. This way, you can adjust the speed of instruction to your personal needs. You might also be able to take a course that you cannot find in your area.

2) Convenience
You do not have to pack up all your materials and carry them to the course and back home, risking to forget something that you need. Especially, if you work with a slow-drying or messy medium or on a big piece, you do not have to worry about any transportation issues. You can also avoid distractions from other participants who might monopolize the teacher with their questions.

3) Lower Price
Online courses are often offered at lower prices as the instructor does not need to provide a classroom and to be present after the production of the video, except for online support of the students.

Now, let’s look at the advantages of the classroom experience:

1) Personal Connection
For most people, art classes are not alone about learning new skills, they also enjoy the social aspect of being among like-minded people. Many good friendships have formed among people who have participated together in classes. The teacher is available to help and support you directly, giving you suggestions according to your specific needs. If you are in a class setting, you can also learn from the struggles of your fellow participants. When you are frustrated with the progress of an artwork, the feedback from fellow participants might help you to see your piece with a fresh eye, and show you possibilities to continue your work.

2) The Chemistry between Teacher and Student
As every person is unique, you will also find that you will connect with some teachers immediately while you do not feel comfortable with other instructors, or their way of teaching. If you know and trust a teacher, you will be more open to asking for help and accepting constructive suggestions to improve your work.

3) Limitations of Video Technology
Some painting scenarios cannot be captured with a video camera, e.g. creating the experience of a plein air painting session or painting a still life arrangement as the regular camera is limited to displaying a two-dimensional image. You cannot touch the surface of an object. The colours of the originals objects might not be the same as the ones you see on your computer screen. Just move the screen of your laptop a little backward and forward, and the colours will already change depending on the light that falls onto the screen.

4) Customization of the class
Especially, if you take private or small-group classes, the teacher can customize the classes to your personal needs and wishes with regard to materials, techniques, and subjects.

As I find the person to person contact very important when I am teaching or taking courses, I will continue to offer in-person workshops. To make it as easy for the students as possible to come to my classes, I provide the materials and set everything up for the workshops. To serve you and your needs better, I encourage you to let me know how I can help you to improve your skills and to have lots of fun and relax at the same time.

If you are interested in my workshops, I encourage you to visit my website regularly. I have lots of new workshops and painting parties planned for the summer months.