Dog

Dog

Friday, 16 October 2020

Blog-free Week

Pumpkins, acrylic, 20" x 16"

 

Many of us are frustrated and depressed because of the increasing COVID numbers, but now is no time to withdraw into a cocoon. I know how it feels to be alone and to miss your loved ones from my early years in Canada, far away from family and friends. I am sure many of you also find physically distancing from loved ones very hard. However, this time we have modern technology to see each other - even if it is only virtually.

 

Therefore, let's meet online to create lots of joy by painting together. Bring your favourite relatives and friends and have fun together. I will guide you through the process of creating the above seasonal pumpkin painting on Sunday from 3 pm to 5 pm. Limited spaces are available to keep this painting party personal despite meeting in my visual art studio. 



This activity is child-friendly. Register together with your child (younger than 13 years), and I will give you a $10 discount. The fee is $30/person. For more information and to register, please go to https://www.kerstinpeters.ca/product/pumpkin-painting-party/. The registration deadline is October 16, 2020.
 

Friday, 9 October 2020

My Immigration Journey - Part 13

The Spring Bears, acrylic, 20" x 16"


Blog 22



The year 2001 started with lots of agitation. At the beginning of February, we found our dog lying in a large puddle with water dripping from the ceiling. When we looked for the source, we discovered that the water was running down from the upstairs master bedroom wall to the basement. The carpet was soaked. We and we had to change the towels every hour to keep the water from dripping to the lower levels.

All this excitement probably did not help me with my pregnancy. Even though I had another six weeks ahead of me, I started having contractions. I and could not feel my otherwise active baby anymore. Once we were at the hospital, our little girl moved so much that the nurses could not get a continuous reading of her heartbeat. As the baby was quite big but much too skinny, I had to stay on bed rest for ten days. I felt very lonely in my misery and guilty that my pregnancy prevented me again from living without confinements. Instead of taking our son to the playground, we spent the time reading, creating art and watching TV, which was not what our active almost-four-year-old boy felt like doing all day long.

On March 5, when we started dinner, the contractions started again. After the long labour I endured with Dominic, we decided to have dinner first before leaving the house. A big mistake! Suddenly, the contractions came strongly and in short intervals. It was snowing, and we had to drive Dominic to a friend first before we continued to the hospital.

When we reached the hospital, things happened quickly. I was rushed through the hallway to a birthing room. People had to jump into the room to make space. I was relieved to see two doctors in the room, one of them the same doctor who had already delivered our son. I still wore my street clothes when Christine was born minutes after we reached the room. From the time we had entered the hospital until she was born, only 20 minutes had passed.

Despite the new challenges of having a newborn in the house and not sleeping more than five hours during the night, I continued to go to my monthly theatre outings with friends at the Ottawa Little Theatre, Canada’s oldest community playhouse in downtown Ottawa.

Starting in May, I started going again to the monthly Arteast meetings, the local art organisation. I was lucky that it took Christine only a month until she started sleeping through the night. It was time to start painting: first a tulip bouquet, then three of my bears sitting in a tulip bed (see above). I was determined to finish the painting in time for the yearly Arteast critique night. I was happy when the feedback was mostly positive and thankful for the suggestions for improvement.

I also continued to go to the National Gallery special exhibitions. Usually, I brought both children along. It was hard work because one of them often wanted to be carried around. Nevertheless, I was soaking up the beauty of the art and found inspiration to keep painting.

Whenever we had visitors, I took the chance to take them to art events. When I visited the Glebe Studio Tour with my sister, it was not only exciting because of the art, but also because of the beautiful neighbourhood.

At the time, Ingo and I kept looking for houses and building lots outside of the area where we lived. Our yard bordered on a small wooded area that led to a public transportation parking lot. The closeness to the bus station had resulted in more and more incidents of burglary. We were excited when we finally found a large lot in Cumberland with lots of trees and wild roses.

 

Mushrooms, acrylic, 16" x 20"

I continued painting in the fall when my parents came for a visit. At their cottage, I painted a group of mushrooms in the garden. It felt so liberating to be able to sit outside and paint while my parents entertained our children. Painting without interruptions was a rare treat!

When I go through my journals of the past, more and more pages are left empty because I was so busy caring for our children, our Golden Retriever and the household. I am surprised that I still managed to sketch and paint at all. It shows my strong urge to create. No matter how bad things are, creating art makes my life better. It is not something that I can stop. The desire to express myself and to capture the world around me is too strong. It gives me so much joy and feels meditative.

I hope you will join me again in two weeks when I have a look back at the year 2002.



Friday, 2 October 2020

Blog-free Week

Pumpkin sketch, watercolour and watercolour pencil



Now is a great time to be outside and enjoy the autumn colours. It is a beautiful season to walk, bike, or create art. 

Maybe, you want to bring a sketchbook and a pencil. I prefer to take a mechanical pencil so that I do not have to worry about sharpening. Sketching is a great way to journal and to bridge any time you have to wait somewhere.

Capturing a view or an object will bring back memories every time you look at the sketch. You might even remember what kind of day it was and how you felt that day.

Don't worry about what people think. Sketching is your unique visual journal entry. It is only important if you are happy with the information that you captured about a scene or an object. If you enjoy your sketch, it will be a great help when you decide to create a painting or detailed drawing at home. And if you are not happy, then it was at least an exercise in observation and concentration.

I hope you will all have a chance to get outside to enjoy the fresh autumn air before we retreat into our homes because of the colder temperatures and shorter days.
 
If you would like to learn how to draw, I invite you to join me for the weekly Let's Draw What's in Your Fridge sessions. Every week, we will draw another fall vegetable and fruit.
You will not only learn how to draw but also to really look at objects. Soon, you will see things in your environment that you overlooked so far. You will train your eyes to observe and to look for details, to see the world around with a curious eye.
 
This workshop is for you if you would like to:
  • have a fresh look at what is in your fridge
  • you want to learn how to draw
  • you want to learn how to look at an object and see all the amazing details that we so easily overlook
  • you enjoy drawing but never get to it on your own
  •  you want to create art for fun and relaxation
 
If this interests you, please click here for more information.

 

Friday, 25 September 2020

My Immigration Journey - Part 12

 

Jessie Swimming, acrylic, 24" x 30"



Blog 21


At the turn of the century, many people feared that the so-called Millennium bug could create dangerous interruptions of computer-controlled utility systems, public transportation and financial transactions. Luckily, experts recognized the problem early and were able to fix most issues.

I started the new century with my son, surrounded by my family in Germany. When I returned to Canada in early January, it was freezing, and not only compared to the mild weather in Germany.

As I still lived alone with my two-year-old son and dog, I was happy when I saw the brochure for preschool classes for children over 2.5 years at the local YMCA. I registered my son right away for two mornings a week. He also went to a daycare provider one afternoon a week. These were my much needed moments of alone time.

I had developed a well-established daily routine with Dominic and Jessie. There were times like during Dominic's flu when life as a single mom was very challenging, but most of the time, I felt in control. When the time of Ingo‘s return approached, I was excited but also scared that this would interfere with our carefully established routine.

At the same time, I had a hard time to accept the second wave of pregnancies in my circle of friends. While the first ones were about to deliver a second time, the second group was getting pregnant. Having only one child had its advantages. I still had time to satisfy my thirst for culture. Once a month, I went to a small local theatre with a friend.

I also felt lucky to live close to the National Gallery with a fantastic art collection. I exposed my son to art from an early age. At the age of four, he created innovative structures from our recycled garbage. We had to destroy these large objects when we planned to sell our house a couple of years later. I deeply regret that we did not take any pictures of his artworks. Even though his love for art has not lasted, he still possesses a lot of imagination to develop mechanical innovations. He built a hovercraft out of grocery bags and designed and build his own remote control race car, to name only some of his later projects.

With my husband’s return in the spring and Dominic at preschool twice a week, I managed to have more creative time. I increased the production of new bears and bear-related projects to be ready in time for the Gloucester Craftsmen's Guild Spring Market.

I was encouraged by my husband’s praise of my art to paint more. Jessie Swimming (above) was my largest painting for many years.

Then suddenly, my whole life changed again when we found out in early July, that I was pregnant. However, this pregnancy was even worse than the last one. I was so nauseous that the that I had to take medication for the whole duration of the pregnancy.

Ottawa Sunset, acrylic, 16" x 20"

I was so tired that I spent a lot of time lying down reading to Dominic. Despite the morning sickness, I continued to paint one more painting that was part of the Arteast exhibition called Sky. I needed the rest of my energy to make bears and bear-related products. In November, I participated in the Christmas markets of the Cumberland Arts and Crafts Guild as well as the Gloucester Craftsmen's Guild before life led to my next creative break.

If you would like to find out how I managed to create art again after the birth of our second child, I invite you to return for the next chapter in my immigration journey.



Friday, 18 September 2020

Blog-free Week

Sunny Kamouraska

Acrylic, 11” x 14”, $375

 


 

For the past ten years, I have spent this week in Kamouraska with some of my painting buddies. We have always rented the same house and spent a whole week painting in the area around Kamouraska. A painter's dream! Well, not this year. I miss the painting time with my friends and hope that we will be able to paint the beautiful landscape along the Saint Laurence River for many more years together. At least, I have lots of beautiful pictures that keep the memories alive.

 

This year, I was supposed to be in Barcelona right now, my favourite city. I love the works of Gaudi. I was looking forward to seeing his fantastic artworks again, especially the progress at La Sagrada Familia. I visited the cathedral about thirty years ago. My father-in-law and I had planned the trip for ten years. I am disappointed that it was cancelled, but there will be another chance to go. At the moment, it is more important to do our part to stay safe even though it is hard if your family lives far away and you do not know when you will be able to see them again.

 

I could focus on the negative, but instead, I choose to go to some the neighbourhood spots and my backyard to paint. You can find beauty everywhere. I hope you will go out this weekend and look around your neighbourhood with a fresh look. Have a great week!

Friday, 11 September 2020

My Immigration Journey - Part 11


Dancing Trees, acrylic, 30" x 24"

Blog 20


1999 was a challenging year. While our son grew up with well-developed motor skills, he still spoke less than 20 words at the age of two. It was very stressful to see our little boy struggle, worrying that something was wrong with him, especially since the scare after his birth. An additional challenge was that we raised Dominic bilingually. I spoke German to him and my husband English. After assessments by speech therapists, we had to go to weekly speech therapy sessions. It was a long and often frustrating path that paid out in the end.

My husband still worked on the project in Halifax and was gone often. He finally moved to Halifax for six months in the fall of 1999. Therefore, I kept busy meeting friends and exercising regularly at the gym. I finally met two German women who had small children and shared common interests with me. We spent a lot of time together, sometimes meeting even twice a day. The bond between us changed when the other two became pregnant for the second time. They became closer, and I felt like the fifth wheel.

I was eager to have another baby, though my husband was not ready for more children. Our disagreement about this crucial decision for our family created a great rift between us.

However, my husband was not the only one who was unhappy in our relationship. Regularly, I felt crushed by my roles as a 24-hour cleaning lady and child caretaker. I wanted more from my life. I wanted to challenge myself. That is why I became the president of the Orleans Newcomers Club only three years after I had joined. Due to my thirst for more cultural distractions, I already had a membership to the National Gallery and its Junior Member Society. In 1999, I also joined the Gloucester Craftsmen Guild and Arteast, an Orleans art organization.

My parents had purchased a cottage so that they could have their own space when they came for their visits. During the rest of the time, we were able to use it. It had a beautiful garden with lots of flowers. It was a very relaxing place to retreat from the daily routine. There, I found time to sketch and paint.

In October 1999, I took part in the Arteast art exhibition at the Gloucester Library. It was the first time that I hung two paintings in a public place for sale. At the same time, I continued to make bears for the Gloucester Craftsmen Guild Christmas Market. I was proud about this step and wondered if anyone would be interested in buying my creations, even though I was not ready to part with them.
My family was not too supportive. They did not understand that it was more about approval than making money.

When I went to Germany with Dominic for Christmas, I was not sure what the new millennium would bring for our family. I enjoyed the support from family and friends. The happy times ended abruptly when my grandmother was hospitalized on Christmas Day and died the following day. It was a sad finish of a burdensome year.

However, during the times of crisis, I also learned a lot about myself and the people around me. I felt stronger and was happy about the bond to my wonderful son. I realized that a second child might not be the right decision for our family. My husband and I had too many other interests and dreams. Nevertheless, I was optimistic that we would become a family again. If you want to know how the story continues, I invite you to read the next chapter of my story in two weeks.



Friday, 4 September 2020

Blog-free Week

Alex, wool, 14" x 11"

If you follow my Facebook page, you will have noticed that I was not very active during the past week. I also postponed the painting party. Our beloved dog Alex is not doing well. He is at the end of his life, and we don't want him to suffer. As I rescued him from an abusive home, his death will hit me very hard. I have spent most of my time with him over the last couple of months as he has adopted me as his caregiver. I have no regrets and I have decided that he will be my main focus right now.



I will continue to serve you starting the second half of September with new courses and workshops. All courses and workshops will start as scheduled except for the September Art Cafe that is cancelled.

 

Learn Basic German Through Art for Children aged 6 – 12

Thursdays, 17:00 – 18:00, starting September 17, 2020, 10 weeks, $150/person, online, minimum 3 children/maximum 6 children

Learn Basic German Through Art for Adults and Children 13+

Thursdays, 18:30 – 20:00 starting September 17, 10 weeks, $220/person, online, minimum 4 participants/maximum 8 participants

Felted Owl, Poppies, Snowman

Felting Experience 

1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, September 20, October 18, November 15, 2020

  

Let’s Draw What’s in Your Fridge Fall

Wednesdays, 3 pm to 4:30 pm, 5 weeks, starting September 16, 2020, limit 8 people per class


For more information please go to https://www.kerstinpeters.ca/eventscourses/.


 

 

 


Friday, 28 August 2020

My Immigration Journey - Part 10


Lilies, acrylic, 20" x 16"


 

Blog 19


During the six months we spent in Nova Scotia, Ingo worked long hours. I spent the time isolated, looking after our son Dominic and our young Golden Retriever Jessie. I could hardly wait to return home.


I had been eager to be part of the Newcomers Club executive to be more involved with other women. As the position of the Head Convenor had already filled, I put in my application as vice president. When I learned after the executive meeting that I was elected as president instead, I was both shocked and honoured. I accepted the nomination as the challenge was good for my confidence.


On our way back to Orleans, we made a detour to Prince Edward Island. There, we visited the Green Gables, the farm that was the setting for the Anne of Green Gables stories by Lucy Maud Montgomery. The landscape was so idyllic that I would have loved to unpack my painting equipment. I could have painted for weeks.


Crossing the Confederation Bridge, we entered New Brunswick. I was delighted that the Trans Canada Highway went along the Saint John River. Some parts of the river were so vast that we could not see the other side of the bank. The landscape was breathtaking.


Once back in Orleans, I went to breakfasts and luncheons, visited friends and invited friends. After six months of isolation, I had a lot of catching up to do. I started going to a private playgroup with babies who were all born in the same year. I enjoyed my time at this group as we all had similar problems - with the children and with our roles. Some of these mothers are still my friends.


As Ingo was still commuting between Halifax and Ottawa, I spent a lot of time alone with Dominic who moved fast and climbed even faster and a rambunctious young Jessie.


My happy place became the National Gallery of Canada. It was a place where I could be myself, where I found relaxation and inspiration. One of the first outings was the visit to the special exhibition of the works of Picasso. Even though I am not a big fan of his paintings, his creative spirit was inspiring and revolutionary. I love his bright colours and was impressed by his prints.


I became a member of the Junior Member Society of the National Gallery which offered regular events for members under 35 years. When I visited a guided tour of the exhibition called Crossings, I was excited and a little nervous participating by myself. While I would have looked at the strange artworks shaking my head, the guide's explanations filled me with wonder by what I had seen. I felt enlivened to do something that did not involve taking care of a baby.


I went to every special exhibition in the National Gallery. In the fall of 1998, I admired the mastery of the lithographs of James McNeill Whistler. I was so fascinated by his works that I took a print workshop with the Junior Member Society, where we created prints inspired by his work.


In November 1998, after some random sales of my hand-sewn bears, I took part in an artisan market. I was excited to show my bears and paintings. Even though I was disappointed that I did not sell either a bear or my art. What was most important was that I had lots of fun creating art, and I was rather proud of how the paintings had turned out. The art I saw in the museum inspired me to paint more.


What inspires you to create art? Do you feel more inspired after you see the beautiful works of the masters? Do you prefer to create art alone in your studio or surrounded by others who share your passion?


Friday, 21 August 2020

Blog-free Week

 

 
 
I am looking forward to a nice weekend after a fabulous week of "Learn German Through Art Camp". The success of language  learning supported by art was exceptional. I can hardly wait to try this programme with the first group of adults in the second half of September.
 

If you are looking for a safe and fun activity for your children for next week, I offer another week of "Learn German Through Art". The camp is for novice German learners aged 6 - 12 years old.
 
 
If the cooler weather makes you think of hobbies for the longer fall and winter evenings, check out my fall schedule at https://www.kerstinpeters.ca/eventscourses/for the exciting programmes I have planned for you.  

Enjoy a wonderful summer week! I will be back with a new blog next Friday.
 
 

Friday, 14 August 2020

My Immigration Journey - Part 9

 

Rose drawing from early 1998


Blog 18


The second half of 1997 passed very fast. We had lots of visitors who wanted to meet the new Peters offspring. As we could still take Dominic with us everywhere we went, we continued to go to events of the Newcomers Club. I also spent time with young moms and their babies who had founded a playgroup. While I was socializing more, I still was not able to build close friendships as the interactions were more about the interest in our children than ourselves.

I was still quite unhappy. I was exhausted all the time because Dominic was crying so much. On top, I had to care for our less than two-year-old Golden Retriever who was acting up as she missed being the centre of attention that she had been before Dominic's birth. I struggled to get the household tasks done, let alone have some time for myself.

Ingo had recently switched companies and received the opportunity to work with the team in Halifax, a good step ahead for him in his career. As we had decided to go together, we rented a furnished house in Lower Sackville for half a year.

We left right after the ice storm of 1998, which luckily had hardly affected us. While many people around us lost power for weeks and suffered damage to their property, we only lost electricity for a couple of hours.

For me, the time in Nova Scotia was a step back. My physical and social isolation at the time was worse than anything I had experienced before or since then. I spent my days caring for our baby Dominic and our young Golden Retriever, Jessie. I was exhausted from seeing nothing but housework and looking after the energetic duo. As Ingo took the car to work, I was not able to visit other places but the streets around our house. As it was winter, everyone kept to themselves. I did not connect with anyone during the whole time we lived in Lower Sackville. I felt very lonely and wished that I had stayed in Orleans, where I had access to a car and could go to the mall, visit a museum or some of my acquaintances.

Only the visit of my parents and my sister lifted my spirits even though I exercised daily and carved out some time for my hobbies. I created a couple of drawings. I also continued to make bears as I was still hoping to find a market for unique bears.

Ingo, on the other hand, enjoyed his new position very much. He worked long hours but enjoyed the engagement in the team. He went for weekly billiard evenings and Sunday hikes with his colleagues. 

All my positive memories of the time are related to our weekend trips when we explored the area with its beautiful landscape and beaches. Halifax, Peggy's Cove, and Lunenburg were some of the well-known sights we visited. I wish that I already had the habit of taking a sketchbook with me wherever we went. If I look back at the photos, I feel like going back for a plein air painting trip now that my children are young adults and have their own lives.

Is there a place you want to visit for a second time? Maybe even a place that you did not appreciate as much the first time around. I will share more of my immigrant experience in two weeks as things began to turn in ways I had not expected.

Friday, 7 August 2020

Blog-free week

 

Whenever, I think of August, I think of Sunflowers. Possibly, because they are my mom's favourite flowers, and her birthday was at the beginning of the month. As the sunflowers are at their peak right now,  I created lots of sunflower artworks during the last couple of weeks. If you love sunflowers, maybe you can share with me if you grow some in your garden or love to watch sunflowers in the neighbourhood. 

Do you feel like creating sunflower art? Check out my website for my upcoming sunflower event at https://www.kerstinpeters.ca/eventscourses/:


The August Art Cafe
August 9, 2020, 2 pm – 3:30 pm: Sunflower Greeting Card, $10/person

Sunflower Felting Workshop
Sunday, August 23 and August 30, 2020, 11 am – 12:30 pm, $40/person

Sunflower Painting Party
September 1, 2020, 11:30 am - 2:00 pm (rain or heat date: September 8, 2020), $35/person

Have a great week! I will post the next part of my immigration journey next Friday.


Friday, 31 July 2020

My Immigration Journey - Part 8

At the Market, acrylic, 16" x 20"



Blog 17



In early May 1997, it was still a month until my due date. However, on May 9, our son decided that the time was ready for him to meet us. Even though he was four weeks premature, he had a healthy weight of 6 pounds 6 ounces so that we were released two days after his birth, which was Mother’s Day, my first Mother’s Day ever.

However, after the first night at home, Dominic had a blue crust on his lips and looked yellow. We made an appointment with a pediatrician who assured us that everything was normal. I should continue breastfeeding and put Dominic in front of a window so that he would get some sunshine. A horrible mistake that almost cost Dominic’s life!

Four days later, we called the hospital when Dominic started to refuse feedings and was gasping for air. A nurse suggested to get some nose drops and to keep observing him. We waited another couple of hours before we took him to the hospital. At this point, he was already in critical condition. He was hypothermic, and the sodium content in his body was extremely high. While we waited in the waiting room, he collapsed and was immediately put under a heating lamp and received infusions.

I felt so guilty. I felt that my failure to breastfeed Dominic correctly had threatened his life. I collapsed at the hospital in shock. The nurses tried their best to comfort me but with no success. The doctors warned us of seizures, possible permanent urinary tract and brain damage.

It was upsetting to see my little son attached to so many wires and tubes. I spent the next ten days with him, holding him in my arm and reading him stories. I was sitting on a hard rocking-chair among sick and crying children and their worried parents. Some of the stories I heard were heartbreaking. We were lucky: Dominic did not suffer any permanent damage. After ten days, we were able to bring him back home.

Having a baby in the house was extremely exhausting. While I had been complaining about not feeling well enough to do much while I was pregnant, I still had spent some time creating bears until the end of the pregnancy. With a newborn, I did not have any time to myself. Without any outside help, it did not take long until I experienced the first signs of burnout. In the beginning, Dominic still was only able to drink small amounts at a time (beginning with 60ml). I had to feed him all the time. However, after four weeks, he was thriving. Nevertheless, he kept crying due to colics. We had a tough time ahead of us.

I still looked for opportunities to be creative or at least to surround myself with art. I joined the “Stitch & Chat” group of the Orleans Newcomers Club and occasionally managed to sew bears. I enjoyed visits to the National Gallery of Canada, where I enjoyed the fantastic art of the old masters. I also made sure to visit other cultural events like shows at the Ottawa Little Theatre.

Reading my journal entries from my early motherhood, I can see that I had no idea about the sacrifices and hardships of caring for a baby. I had been seeing things through rose-coloured glasses, imagining that I would be able to pick up my creative activities after a period of adjustments. I neglected to cave out regular times for nurturing my creativity. At least, I was still determined to make bears, but it took about two years before I started painting again.

All my life, I have had the urge to create things, whether I was painting or designing clothes. As a result of the guilt after Dominic almost lost his life, I wanted to be the perfect mother. I neglected my own needs. In two weeks, I will tell what happened before I slowly regained a little bit of creativity in my life.

Thank you for reading my blog. If you know someone who can relate to my journey, please share my blog.

Friday, 24 July 2020

Blog-free Week

A Bunch of Lilies

Wool and mixed fibres, 19″ x 14″, $550, custom-matted

Every year, I can hardly wait for the appearance of the first flowers after the long and cold Canadian winter. I love colours and the winter season, when everything is covered with a white blanket, makes me ache for the beautiful colours of flowers.

Once I see the first leaves peeking out, I go into my garden every day to admire all the new blooms that appear. I thrive in the warm weather as do the flowers.  I am mesmerized by their natural beauty and variety. Have you ever looked at a flower and studies the fine lines, the colour variety, and the shapes and structure of the petals? My paintings capture this beauty so that I can have some permanent flowers in my home that make me happy on the darkest day.

It is hard to believe that half of the summer is already behind us. I hope you have a chance to enjoy nature's beauty this weekend by spending time in nature. I will be back with a new post about my immigration journey next week.

P. S.: Did you know that you can buy this painting online at https://www.kerstinpeters.ca/make-a-payment/? Please email me to info@KerstinPeters.ca if you have any questions.




Friday, 17 July 2020

My Immigration Journey - Part 7

Rose, mohair

Blog 16

The year 1996 ended on a high note for me. After weeks of feeling discouraged about my teddy bear business, I finally experienced my first success. Ingo had taken some of my teddy bears to work as one of his colleagues had seen them and wanted to buy some more. It turned out he sold five of the bears. I was not the only one celebrating. Ingo was so excited that he offered to create a website for me. What a prospect for the new year!


When the day of our trip to Germany arrived, I was very emotional about having to leave Jessie in a kennel. She was not only my first pet, but she was also my confidant, my English practice partner, my cuddly buddy. She helped me immensely through my lonely days. It was the first sign of what would be my reality for the future: No matter where I stay, I am always missing people and pets in my life. A friend once told me that he divided between his country of birth and his new home country. It was only a first glimpse of his reality that was slowly becoming mine, too.


Once in Germany, it was time for our big revelation. We gave the letter of resignation to my father that we had set up as he wanted to retire when the first grandchild arrived. He read it aloud and caused quite the excitement. My parents and sister could not believe that we had kept the news from them for such a long time.


We enjoyed the time with my parents, sister, and grandmother. We also visited Ingo grandmother, aunts and uncles who excepted me immediately as part of their family. I felt close to Ingo’s Omi as she reminded me of my Oma, my mother’s mother. She and I had a very close relationship. I still miss her interest in my life and her openness to the world in general.


I was excited to see my friends, especially my friend Claudia, who was also pregnant. I was a little envious because she had already a couple of ultrasound images of her baby. We still had to wait until January for an ultrasound and had not even heard our baby’s heartbeat. The gynaecologists were on strike, and our family doctor did not have the right equipment.


We had the rare chance to celebrate the 75th birthday of one of my uncles with a big party. Since my move to Canada, I missed most of the important events that brought my social circles together: weddings, special birthdays and funerals. I became an outsider. My husband and my children cannot understand the feeling because they hardly know my family and friends, except for their close relationship with my parents.


When we came back to Canada two weeks later, the only silver lining was the reunion with our beloved Golden, Jessie. She had made friends at the kennel and was not at all heartbroken when we picked her up, even though she was excited to see us. Once at home, she wanted to be part of every activity. She wanted to cuddle all the time, even when I tried to exercise.


I was still without a circle of friends to share all my news and worries. I had a hard time connecting with other women. I hoped that our baby would become the connecting link as it seemed that women with children had an easier time to make friends.


In January, I had my ultrasound and the first visit to a gynaecologist. We found out that we were expecting a little boy. Having a baby finally felt real. Despite all the excitement about my new role, I vowed not to give up everything as I had seen it with other mothers. My hobbies were still important to me. I realize now that although I did not paint or draw during the time, making my teddy bears, as well as all the projects I created for our baby boy, helped me to get through the lonely days.


Do you turn to arts and crafts when you want to relax? How do you feel when you create something? If you would like some help to be more creative, please check out my summer schedule at https://www.kerstinpeters.ca/eventscourses/. On Saturdays at 1 pm, you have a chance to experience working with me for free during my 40-minute Art and Craft projects. I invite you to join me to explore and play.



Friday, 10 July 2020

Block-free Week

Beebalms and Globe Thistle

Acrylic, 8” x 8”, $230

While I am still on my summer break, I hope that you are also enjoying the long summer days in nature. There is so much to see and do outside. The landscape is always changing. You can have fun being active or being still and watching the clouds, dreaming of exotic animals or magical landscapes. The possibilities are endless. There is no better place to relax and re-energize. I will be back with new content next week.

Friday, 3 July 2020

My Immigration Journey - Part 6


Jessie Swimming, acrylic, 24" x 30"


Blog 15



When I moved to Canada, I left my social circle of friends and family behind. One of the main struggles was my loneliness. I needed to make new friends to become more independent. Ingo and I joined the Newcomers Club of Orleans. We volunteered as newsletter editors to get more involved with the people and activities. However, instead of getting closer to the other members, I still felt like an outsider wondering whether it was my lack of understanding that made me feel so uncomfortable. I continued to worry about my English and was self-conscious even if people complimented me on my language skills.


My first friends were other Germans. However, I soon realized that it was more the common language than the interest in each other that brought us together. Often these relationships were very short-lived. My first longer friendship was with Astrid, who was married to a Canadian soldier. She already had two children and was expecting her third child soon after we met. After the birth of her third child, she hardly had any time anymore, which was understandable but also quite disappointing. I realized very quickly that friendships with military wives were only temporary. They moved every couple of years so that it was impossible to keep in touch. Therefore, many of the first people I met were very focused on their immediate family and had only very superficial relationships with friends.


It was hard for me to get out of the house to meet new people due to the severe morning sickness during my pregnancy. At first, I felt especially sick at night and just not very hungry in the morning, but with every week, my nausea got worse. I felt ill for the whole day. The more weight I lost, the more and more tired and exhausted I became. I spent a lot of time asleep. I could not even do the housework, let alone continue to exercise. My energy was so low that Ingo had to walk Jessie even before I reach the third month of my pregnancy. He also started to cook and go grocery shopping. I felt quite guilty for not being able to do my share and got irritated by everything that piled up.


I was also worried because I still did not have health insurance. I was in a strange position. As a landed immigrant, my travel insurance was no longer valid in Canada. While I was eligible for the benefits Ingo received, regular medical visits were exempt as they are covered by OHIP in Ontario. Therefore, I did not have health insurance for the first three months after becoming a landed immigrant.


While I was looking like a picture of misery, I told my parents and sister who did not know that I was pregnant how marvellous my life was. We wanted to surprise them during our visit to Germany in December. We decided to write a letter of resignation for my father. He had always said that he would stop working when his first grandchild was born. I imagined his surprised face. Covering up my bad health got, however, more difficult as my sister started to get suspicious. She had called several times when I was alone at home, while Ingo was at the gym or walking Jessie – activities we had always done together.


Aside from the physical ailments, the loneliness was tough to endure. Nobody called or visited to take my mind off my troubles. I was thankful for our soft puppy with the big brown eyes. Petting Jessie’s soft fur and holding her in my arms helped me to get through the days and feeling a little bit less lonely.


Things also did not look positive on the employment front. After a visit to a teddy bear and doll show, I had applied for the necessary registrations as well as bought new materials to open a teddy bear business. However, my fragile health threatened the start of my business because I was too sick to sew my bears.







There were some days when I felt well enough to do things. I enjoyed my plein air course and continued with my painting classes downtown. I had also started a part-time French course for landed immigrants and new Canadians. However, I missed a lot of classes which I found quite embarrassing.


After the plein air course had ended, One of the participants of the plein air course had complained that she had not learned anything in the course. Therefore, two additional indoor classes were added. Funnily enough, the participant in question did not show up, letting the instructor know that she had changed her mind. The other participant had already said that she would not join so that I was lucky to have two private classes. The teacher complimented me on my progress and told me that I had the potential to become a good painter. I was delighted and, for the first time in weeks, happy. What a mood booster!


Whenever I struggle these days with an artwork, I remember the support I received from former teachers which helps me persevere. It is important to me to offer the same support to you on your journey to express yourself creatively. Therefore, I limit the number of participants also for virtual workshops so that I can give individual attention to each of the participants. I am passionate to share my skills with you and to build a creative community to support and inspire you. If you are looking for art workshops for yourself and your children during this summer, please check out my schedule at https://www.kerstinpeters.ca/eventscourses/.


Friday, 26 June 2020

Blog-free Week

Just a Touch of Red 

Oil on canvas
8″ x 10″
$ 250

 
From June 26 - July 11, I take my yearly summer break. This vacation will be different from what we had planned, but it will still be a time to relax and re-energize with my family. I will do a lot of biking, reading and enjoying the days without appointments and obligations. During this time, I will check my messages only irregularly.

In the meantime, you can already check out my schedule for the rest of the summer at https://www.kerstinpeters.ca/eventscourses/.

As we have entered the second phase of reopening in Ottawa after COVID-19 shut everything down, I would like to know if you would be interested in meeting in a park for an in-person meeting? We could get together for a painting party as well as a drawing, painting or felting workshop. As we would still need to spread out, I will check out some locations during my vacation. Please send me an email if you would like to receive further information.

As Wednesday is July 1, 2020, I would like to wish all my Canadian followers a Happy Canada Day! Even though the big events are cancelled this year, I hope you will still celebrate with some dear family members or friends.

The next part of my immigration journey will be published next Friday.

Friday, 19 June 2020

My Immigration Journey - Part 5

Spring Greens

Oil on canvas
10″ x 8″
$ 250



Blog 14



After the highlight of the wedding in Germany, dealing with all the bureaucracy was tiring. It started with the need to redo my driver’s licence. After months of driving in Canada and the USA, once I passed my G1 level, I was suddenly not allowed to drive anymore without Ingo by my side. I certainly wanted to go for my driving test as fast as possible. However, in Ottawa, all the spots were booked until November. I was devastated until I was finally able to book an appointment in Cornwall within days. On a hot September day, I passed the driving exam without problems. At least I had overcome one obstacle in my way to more independence.


The day after my theoretical driving test, I became a landed immigrant. I was not very excited about it. Instead, I was starting to get tired of running and waiting around for documents at every agency. I was disheartened, regretting my decision to move to Canada. I was so depressed that I was not looking forward to my friend Bettina’s visit.


With Bettina, we went to the Peters cottage in Muskoka. The weather was fantastic, and I felt happy. We spent the time canoeing, playing cards and sitting on the deck. I was looking to practice drawing as I was not satisfied with my recent results. Finally, I switched to watercolours and felt better about my efforts. Every day during the weekend, I painted a scene. Most of the time, I was not fully satisfied with the result but discovered some improvement in my paintings. After the productive weekend, I felt much better about my situation.


In mid-September, I finally started my new painting class. I was delighted by the number of young women in the class. I was confident that we would be able to connect. I also started a daily 2.5-hour French class with other landed immigrants and new Canadians. All my activities outside of the house improved my mood as time passed fast.


I was planning to enrol at the Ottawa School of Art in the next year to get a diploma. The teacher had told me that I had enough talent and, even more importantly, enough persistence. I was excited about the new developments and in good spirits.


The next excitement was already on the horizon: In early October, we found out that I was pregnant. Ingo was excited. I did not feel ready to become a mom. I doubted my motherly skills as I was already annoyed by Jessie's mischievous behaviour as well as my reaction to her getting sick. Plus, I worried that a child would restrict my freedom even more than I dog.


early plein air attempts, 1996


Two days after I found out that I was pregnant, I started my first plein air painting course. I was surprised that only two other female participants had registered. We began drawing trees but soon had to look for another spot because the crowd of hikers made it possible to concentrate. We ended up at the bank of Meech Lake. I discovered that drawing details was easier for me than creating a complete scene. It took me too much time to capture the essential elements of the scenery.


However, I loved painting outside despite the frustration of struggling to capture what I saw on paper. There are still days when I am struggling, especially when I have not painted a lot for a while. However, when I look at these early attempts, I can see how far I have come. I also remember the words of my teacher that talent is only one ingredient to being a successful artist; perseverance and practice are even more crucial. I would add to this that enjoying the process of creating it the most important.
 

For everyone who would like to enjoy some time with me this weekend to see how much fun creating art is, I invite you to my free Art and Craft Workshop on Saturday, June 20, 2020, at 1 pm ET. We will be drawing the mushroom in the photo.





Are you looking for safe activities for your children this summer? Starting on Monday, June 22, 2020, I offer a daily one-week German language course called Learn German Through Art for children who love art and would like to learn some basic German. Each class will consist of an art project that is related to the language material. Learning a new language is fun. It also enhances creativity and helps with problem-solving, improves memory and concentration. And in case you have German-speaking friends or family members, can you imagine how happy they will be if your child can talk with them in their native language? A second week runs during the week of July 13, 2020.



Friday, 12 June 2020

Blog-free Week

Three Poppies

Acrylic, 9” x 12”, $ 275


I love this time of the year when more and more flowers are blooming. My irises are now in full bloom and create a beautiful contrast to the white snowdrop anemones. The only lupin in my garden has also started blooming, which makes me long for the beautiful fields of lupins that we saw during a visit to Prince Edward Island. It makes me dream of another trip to the island. For now, I am happy about the flowers in our neighbourhood. I am also excited about the prospect of painting with my friends again. We will start next week with a small group. And while we will make sure to stay 2 metres apart, it is a first step to spending time together again. Have a wonderful weekend, and make sure to make time for something that you love to do.


If you would like to try drawing, I invite you to join me for a free 40-minute workshop on Saturday at 1 pm. I offer these workshops every Saturday except for my vacation time between June 27 and July 11, 2020. This week, we will be drawing a trillium. For more information and to register please go to https://www.kerstinpeters.ca/product/art-and-craft-workshops/.


Friday, 5 June 2020

My Immigration Journey Part 4

The Bone, acrylic, 16" x 20"


Blog 13


At the beginning of my second year in Canada, I was focused on our little puppy Jessie and the organisation of our dream wedding. Our little family had settled into our new home and a routine. Once a week, I went to the Ottawa School of Art for painting classes. At home, I also created many teddy bears. I even knitted sweaters and sewed skirts for some of the bears. When I arrive in Germany in mid-May, I still had lots to organize: from flowers to the wedding cake, musicians to the menu. However, I felt that I had everything under control. Only days later, I would see how little control we have in life. On May 26, both my grandmother was taken to the hospital after she had not been feeling well for a couple of days. On the same day, our precious Jessie had run into a car and needed to stay at the animal hospital. Luckily, both my grandmother and our little puppy recovered.

Ingo came a couple of days later, and we prepared for days of celebrating. We started with the “Polterabend” with friends, colleagues, and neighbours. The next day, we went to Weilburg with our parents and some close relatives to listen to a piano concert by Mozart in the church of the Weilburg castle. The following day, we held a welcome party for relatives of the Peters family at my parents' house. Finally, on Saturday, June 8, 1996, we celebrated our dream wedding. If you would like to read more about our German wedding, I encourage you to read the following blog: https://kerstinpeterspaintingblog.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-german-wedding.html from 2016. In short, we celebrated for four fabulous days.

After the festivities, it was hard to leave again. Only the reunion with Jessie made the arrival in Canada easier. I had missed my little puppy so much. She was my first pet, and I treated her like my first-born.

The farewell was also made easier by the visit of my friend Britta who arrived less than three weeks later. It was wonderful to have someone to talk with for a whole week. As Britta and I have been friends since grade 1, we are quite close. We can talk about anything. Until the fall, three more German friends visited us.

I enjoyed these visits immensely, as I had a hard time to make friends in my new environment despite joining the Orleans Newcomers Club. A lot of the members were in the military and very focused on their immediate family. It did not help that Ingo was not interested in building close friendships. He was happy to spend some time with two of his colleagues for sports and the occasional beer.

I needed to establish more connections with people without Ingo‘s help. As I had enjoyed my time at the Ottawa School of Art in the spring, I decided to register again for an art class in the fall. I hardly painted alone. One time in late August, I went with Ingo and Jessie to a place that I had wanted to paint for a long time. After I was finished, I was surprised to see that the painting looked better than I had expected.

When I had started painting again after years of sacrificing my art to my heavy workload, I was shocked at my lack of skills. Slowly but surely, my technique improved and I regained some of the skills from my previous art education. I am not sure what happened to most of the paintings that I created during my first years in Canada. It would be interesting to see my improvement.

People have told me how lucky I am to have so much talent but practice makes perfect. Whether you paint, learn a language or exercise, you have to keep practicing to maintain or strengthen your skills. If you are looking for fun workshops to improve your creative expression, please check out my summer schedule at https://www.kerstinpeters.ca/eventscourses/.

Friday, 29 May 2020

Blog-free Week

The Flower Garden

Oil, 14” x 11”, $375


Now, that nature has exploded into lots of colours, I hope that you will be able to spend some time outside this weekend. I love to be in our garden, and enjoy the peacefulness of this natural oasis. Every day, new flowers, bushes and trees seem to bloom. I love all the wonderful smells. Enjoy the fresh air and soak up nature's energy! You will feel so much better.

I will continue with my immigration journey next week. Writing the story has made me realize how important art has been in my life. I have not only learned new skills but made some wonderful friends. If you would like to join me in any art events, please check out my website https://www.kerstinpeters.ca/eventscourses.

Friday, 22 May 2020

My Immigration Journey Part 3

The Wedding Day, acrylic, 16" x 20"caption



Blog 12



1995 was a year full of excitement. The biggest highlight was scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend when my parents and sister came to our wedding. I had not seen them for almost half a year, and I was excited like a little kid about the reunion. We drove to Mississauga at the same time as my parents and sister sat on their plane. After everyone had arrived, my future in-laws served champagne and freshly baked cake, which is a rather German custom, followed by a barbecue, which is rather Canadian. I did not realize at the time that they had found their unique way of combining the traditions of their home country with the ones of the country they had chosen to make their home.

The next day, we went to some of the must-see sights of the greater Toronto area: Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake. The sun was shining so that two beautiful rainbows formed while we were all outfitted with blue raincoats on the “Lady of the Mist”.

On Saturday, we got married in a civil ceremony at City Hall. Only our parents, siblings, Ingo’s best man Derek and two close friends of the Peters, did attend the ceremony. Luckily, all my in-laws and their friends spoke German. Therefore, my parents felt right at home during the celebration. Finding some evening entertainment was not as easy. In the end, we saw the musical “Beauty and the Beast”, a perfect choice as music breaks all the language barriers.

The day after the wedding, my parents and my sister came with us to Ottawa. For the next three days, I went sightseeing with my parents and sister, while Ingo went to work. Soon, it was time to drive with them back to Toronto. In the months since Ingo started his new job, we had purchased a house. Instead of a honeymoon, I left Canada with my family to organize the move of my possessions to Canada to furnish our house.

I was very busy during the four weeks in Germany as I also had to say goodbye to lots of friends and relatives. I missed Ingo, and without emails, our communication was limited to letters and occasional phone calls, which were still quite expensive.

We moved into our house at the beginning of December. The isolation and repeated colds increased my homesickness. I found it hard to adapt to the new neighbourhood as everyone stayed in their own secluded space during the cold weather. What helped me to find comfort was our new family member, our Golden Retriever, Jessie. I was also busy organizing our church wedding in German in June 1996. I created all the decorations, from wedding bear centrepiece to invitations, place cards, and table decoration. While it saved us money, creating all these unique decorations also gave me something to be proud of and let me dream about the happy celebration.

I hope you enjoyed this part of my story. Please share my blog with friends and family, especially if they have experienced a similar journey. Thank you in advance for your help to increase my audience.

Friday, 15 May 2020

Blog-free Week


Tulip Magic 

Oil, 8″ x 10″, $ 250








In Canada, we will be enjoying a long Victoria Day weekend, which is often considered the start of the summer season. Many people usually head to their cottages to spend time with family and friends. This year, however, things will be very different. In Ontario, we are still asked to avoid unnecessary travel. Gatherings are still limited to a maximum of five people unless more than five members live in the same household.


I hope that the nice weather will encourage you to spend time outside. Cherish the time to relax and observe the magnificent nature. Last week, I painted the only tulip that was blooming in our garden. It looks like some more will bloom this weekend. I will take the opportunity and paint them to capture the beauty that still surrounds us.


Before I head outside, I will be hosting a free 40-minute drawing workshop. Would you like to join me in my little game of "I spy with my little eye"? Every Saturday in May, at 11 am, we have a different theme. This week, we will draw something blue. To participate, please register at https://www.kerstinpeters.ca/produ…/art-and-craft-workshops/.

Friday, 8 May 2020

My Immigration Journey Part 2


Spring in Ottawa, Acrylic, 11" x 14"


Blog 11


Thank you for following my immigration journey. I enjoyed reading your comments on my Facebook page. While I am going through my journals to write my blogs, I have realized how important art has been in my life. Creating art has always helped me to find a place of peace and joy.


This week, I continue my story with our move to Ottawa. I visited Ottawa for the first time when Ingo had an interview in the middle of July 1995. I liked the smaller city with a European flair, and I could imagine living in this beautiful city. While Ingo had his interview, I visited the National Gallery of Canada. I was in awe of the old masters from the Queen's collection. I also loved the paintings of the Canadian landscape in the Canadian collection.


Until the interview, staying in Canada had only been a farfetched idea, a dream other people had. Suddenly, this option became a possibility. This realization threw me into a state of panic. I realized that I might be permanently separated from my family and friends. On the other hand, I was also fascinated by the extraordinary experiences ahead of me. How many people have the opportunity to pack up their belongings to start a brand-new life on a new continent? I was fascinated by the prospect of finally having time to pursue my hobbies, which I had neglected for years due to working long hours and studying at the same time. The prospect of not having to work for a while was very enticing. In retrospect, it was a very naive view as it made me financially dependent on Ingo.





While we were waiting for news from Ottawa, I spend more time painting. In the beginning, I was very frustrated, because I was lacking practice. However, the more I painted, the more confidence I felt. Painting became my refuge. Even when it was time to decide our future in Canada, I retreated to painting. As we were at the cottage at the time, I went down to the deck to paint the sunset. Painting gave me a way to express myself were words failed. I was able to calm down and clear my mind.


I managed to avoid the talk about our future in Canada for three days. In the end, I encouraged Ingo to accept the job offer. I still felt guilty about the decision as I was wondering how I could do this to my parents. They had hoped that we would return after six months abroad. I wished that I could at least call them. It had been three weeks since our last call and I truly wanted to discuss this big milestone with them. They were more supportive than I had hoped by encouraging us to stay where Ingo had the best job possibilities.


Five days after Ingo accepted the position, we arrived in Ottawa. While Ingo and I had talked about not being ready to get married days before Ingo accepted the position, we changed our minds ten days later as is became clear that this would be the easiest way to get me approved as a landed immigrant. At this point, I was still a regular tourist who needed to leave the country at least every six months. I had neither a residence nor a work permit.


This decision meant that on Thanksgiving weekend we were looking forward to a big reunion with my parents and sister. I will start my next blog with this big event in my life. Thank you for reading my story. Please let me know if you have a hobby that you retreat to when life gets out of balance. What do you like to do to calm down and find joy?