Friday, 27 December 2019

Block-free Week

Frosty Charlevoix, acrylic, 16" x 20"

I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas time and wish you all the best for the year 2020.

Friday, 20 December 2019

Top 10 Artworks of 2019 - Part 3

Blog 37

While I created both a variety of acrylic and felted artworks this year, I did not take out my oil paints except for a demonstration in a painting class. I have gotten quite comfortable with the OPEN acrylic paints so that I used them for all my plein air painting outings. I can see myself moving away from oil painting as I feel that I can achieve similar results with my acrylic paints and the right mediums. I also feel a strong attraction to working with wool. I see myself experimenting more with felted paintings. I will offer more felting workshops as many people have voiced their interest in learning this very relaxing and versatile craft.

In this last blog of the year and I reveal my favourite four artworks of 2019. It is probably not surprising that my two favourite artworks are portraits of my dogs. All four artworks were created indoors.

4. For the Love of van Gogh’s Irises, acrylic 16" x 20"

During the “Celebrate Spring with Flowers” workshop, we studied Vincent van Gogh’s painting “Irises” before creating our unique paintings. You can see that van Gogh's painting was an inspiration for my painting, but I also used my photos from the lovely irises at the Ottawa ornamental gardens, as well as of the rather beautiful dandelions in our neighbourhood.

3. Spring Along the Rideau Canal, acrylic, 11" x 14"

I finished the Ottawa spring scene that I had started as a demo painting a couple of years ago. The place is a park area along the Rideau Canal. When a family member saw me working on the painting, she fell so much in love with the painting that she bought it right away, which was very exciting.

2. Sweet Candy, wool, 8.5” x 11”

This year, I created the felted version of my sweet Golden Retriever Candy. I created the 12" x 12" painting two years earlier. It was interesting to recreate the image in wool. As I do not dye the wool, I depend on the colours I possess. While I can put layers of wool on top of each other to blend colours, I do not have the same possibilities of mixing a colour that I have while painting. 

1. Alex & Candy, acrylic, 30” x 40”

This is a very 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 a portrait of Candy and another of Alex before. This time, however, I wanted to create a double portrait of the two dogs.

When I started the painting in 2013, both dogs were seven years old. I had no idea that Candy would already leave us just over a year later when she died unexpectedly from a burst tumour. While the whole family was sad, Alex and I were affected the most, as we had spent the most time with Candy. In a way, however, it was easier to process her death than the passing of our first dog Jessie. Alex still awaited my return home full of joy, even though I initially felt guilty for leaving him alone.

In 2016, I finally continued the painting but was discouraged because I struggled first with Candy and then later with Alex. Part of the problem was the reference picture, that turned out to be blurry, 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. It was a little bit easier to paint Alex, as he spent his time with me in the studio. I was able to check the colour on my brush against the colours of his fur and could study the details of his face more closely.

Alex is now over 14.5 years old and does not sit anymore. He has lost all of his hearing and his sight has deteriorated. He has arthritis all over his body, but he still likes to go on our daily walks and to chase the cat.

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 inspires me daily to be the best I can without worrying about the pains of getting older.

I hope you enjoyed my review of my artworks. At the end of this blog, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for your support. I will do my best to offer you interesting content for 2020.

Friday, 13 December 2019

Top 10 Artworks of 2019 - Part 2

Blog 37

I continue the countdown of my favourite artworks of the year 2019. As I paint a lot during my painting trips, it is not surprising that I created many of the artworks en plein air. Here are some artworks from the Ottawa area:

7. Summer at Mer Bleue, acrylic, 14" x 11"

On July 4, I went with the Ottawa Plein Adventurers and Arteast to the Mer Bleue Bog. It was already hot when I arrived at 9:30 am. Most of us had decided to give it an early start as temperatures were forecasted to reach the low 30s.

As I had painted the lake area of the bog a couple of times before, I set up at one of the wider areas of the boardwalk and painted the bog with its beautiful pink flowers. At first, I was very comfortable under my umbrella and wondered about the warning of lots of bugs, but the warmer it got, the more horseflies started to attack me. It got so bad that they were sitting on my sunglasses, not caring about all the repellent I had sprayed on myself. I surrendered when I was using my brush more to swat away the flies than to paint.

I had a hard time to finish the artwork as I was struggling to have enough distinction in the hues and values of green to show different plants, and especially the transition from foreground to background.

6. Pickerel Weed, acrylic, 8” x 10”

On August 1, I joined the Ottawa Plein Air Adventurers for an outing to Petrie Island. I love this little peninsula and would go there a lot more often if dogs were not prohibited. Walking around the trails, I found members of the group hidden in the spots that were in the shadow. To my surprise, I also ran into a woman whom I usually only meet in the gym at Zumba. We have gone for years to the same classes and never knew that we were both painters.

After scouting out the area, I decided to join her at a spot overlooking the calm water and little islands of purple water flowers. They became the focus of my painting. It was lovely to listen to the concert of the bullfrog and to watch turtles sunbathing. Families of Canadian geese were swimming noiselessly through the water.

At first, I was rather disappointed with my painting, but when I looked from a distance, I liked it. Therefore, I only added my initials in the studio.

5. A Bunch of Lilies, wool and mixed fibres, 19” x 14”

Sometimes, it takes a while to finish an artwork. Either you get stuck at a certain point, or you lose interest because more intriguing subjects attract your attention. It had been two years since I had last worked on the lilies. This summer, after I finished the felted tulips, I was ready to continue this felted artwork. I used mainly wool with some synthetic fibres and some embroidery floss.

Are you already looking forward to my top four artworks? I wonder if you would have put them in the same order. Maybe, you have a favourite that did not even make my list. I would like to hear which artworks touched you the most. Are there any that inspired you to pick up your paintbrush?

Friday, 6 December 2019

Top 10 Artworks of 2019 - Part 1

Blog 35

This December, my blogs will not contain my Advent Calendar. If you would like to see this year's Art Advent Calendar, I encourage you to visit my Facebook page Instead, I will post my favourite ten paintings of the year. Let's start the countdown:

10. Le Gros Pèlerin, acrylic, 6" x 12"
Some days, it takes a long time to decide on a painting spot. Whenever we are in Kamouraska, the strong wind can make it tricky to find a spot that offers enough shelter so that we can set up our equipment. On those days, it is impossible to paint close to the river, where the wind is even stronger. On September 9, we had a day with mixed weather. When the sun came out, it was very warm. However, whenever the sun hid behind the clouds and we were facing the wind, it was so cold that I wore my rain pants, scarf and gloves. First, we drove up towards St-Germain but did not find a spot that inspired us. We kept driving around until we finally found an amazing view of the Îles Les Pélerins near St. Alexandre de Kamouraska. As I am usually not a fast painter, I needed the whole day to create this small painting.

9. Yellow Flower Served on a Platter, acrylic, 8" x 10"

During a cold January day, I met with some of my friends for an indoor painting session. We decided to paint a still life, but it took us a long time to set something up, that we all liked, and that looked interesting from three different angles. I painted this 8” x 10” still life of a flower on a napkin with acrylic paints, and I am happy to inform you that the painting found a new home in November.

8. Sunshine Family, acrylic, 11" x 14"

This is another painting from the Kamouraska painting trip. One afternoon, Hélène and I drove to the Jardin des Générations in the Rue Notre-Dame in Saint-Pascal, next to the arena. There, we painted some beautiful sunflowers in the sunshine. It got so warm that I took off my shoes and socks. Two hours later, we fled from the mosquitoes that had eventually caught up with us.

Have you already spotted a painting that resonates with you? I would love to hear from you. Next week, I will post the next three paintings. The four top paintings will be posted on December 20, 2019.