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Friday, 22 January 2021

25 Years in Canada

 

The Bone, acrylic, 16" x 20"


Blog 3


In 2007, I was determined to improve my art skills. I was still going to the life drawing sessions bi-weekly. At the end of January, I started a new drawing course with Mirana Zuger to experiment with different drawing techniques and materials. I also went to John Day’s acrylic and oil painting course. I knew him from the life drawing session and loved his landscape paintings.


I still painted with the Blackburn Hamlet Art Group. In February, I painted an acrylic painting of Jessie as a puppy chewing on my house shoe (see above). She did not pay any attention to her bone that was lying next to her. I finished the artwork in late February, in time for the Arteast exhibition Guilty Pleasures. I was excited when the jury accepted it after my paintings for the last two shows had been rejected.

 

Path of Life, mixed media, 24" x 48"

 

In February, I went to the Wonders of White workshop instructed by Andrea Mossop. It was the first time that I created a mixed media collage. Andrea had asked us to bring a big board. Mine was by far the biggest. It was so much fun that I was exhausted but at the same time full of energy after the workshop. I was full of new ideas for projects.

 

The Park Across the Street, acrylic, 14" x 11"

I also joined the Ottawa Art Association and participated for the first time in their exhibition at the Ottawa Little Theatre at the end of March. For this reason, I had finished The Park Across The Street. The hanging was on Sunday morning. On Saturday evening, I decided to rework the foreground after neither Ingo nor I liked the flowers. At first, the painting looked even worse, but in the end, I succeeded. Luckily, it was an acrylic painting. If it had been an oil painting, it would not have been dry for the hanging.


As I enjoyed working with John Day, I also registered for his Painting the Light workshop. I had a great time and learned how to break up the objects in simple shapes. Later, I took a colour mixing workshop with Deborah Czernecky.


left: Frankie, right: Colour Explosion, acrylic, both 12" x 12"

Next, I painted our former foster dog, Frankie, again. This time in bright colours. I wanted to see if I could still capture his personality even if I painted him unrealistic colours. My family did not like the new painting, but some of my friends did.


I felt invigorated and full of energy when I created art, but nobody at home supported these feelings. Therefore, I was delighted that Frankie's new family bought my original portrait of him.


Wildflowers, 12" x 24"
At the beginning of July, I finally started another painting inspired by a wildflower bouquet that my husband had picked for me. During the Cumberland Garden Tour, I agreed to paint in my friend’s garden. However, I hid behind her garage to be less visible to visitors.


During the Guilty Pleasures vernissage in mid-March, I met another artist from Cumberland. In August, I finally joined the plein air painters who painted with her in my neighbourhood. I was so nervous when I went to meet the group the first time because I did not have experience painting outside. The others were already quite experienced, but they were all so supportive. Most of the time, we ended our painting session with a potluck lunch. I finally felt like I belonged.


In September, we had to find a new rhythm because the school start had changed, which meant that I could no longer paint with the Blackburn Hamlet group. At least, I could continue classes with John Day.


To earn some additional money, I became a mystery shopper. I enjoyed my little assignments even though I never managed to make a lot of money. It was more a job to give me some recognition outside of being a wife and mother.


The White House, acrylic, 11" x 14"
 

In October, I started my part-time French course to improve my chances of employment. With even less time, I still finished the painting The White House for the Arteast Arts and Photo Exhibition - again only hours before the drop-off.


In the middle of November, I started working at the daycare at the Bob Macquarrie Recreation Complex to replace a friend who had planned to visit her family. The timing worked great as I could continue my painting class and painting with my friends in the afternoon. After not having worked since early 1995, this was not my first choice but an opportunity to get my foot in the door.


To see how my story continues, please read the next part in two weeks. Next week, I will write about my latest artworks that I created during my Creativity Challenge.


Friday, 15 January 2021

 

Breaking Through The Ice, unfinished



Blog 2


Like every January for the past couple of years, I started with a Creativity Challenge to get back into a creative routine after the holidays when we spent time with family. This year, we stayed at home. Nevertheless, the addition of a puppy, Shadow, to our family in early December brought lots of excitement and adjustments to our daily routine. I am happy that I have a walking buddy again. On the other hand, a young puppy needs more training and supervision than an older dog.


We all have things happening in our lives that present obstacles to being more creative, more active, or to achieve any other of your goals. It is a matter of priorities. You can always make up excuses. With very few exceptions, I worked on something creative every day for the past two weeks. For January, I will publish one post with the story about my 25 years in Canada, followed by an update on my Creativity Challenge.


Here is a summary of my past projects:


I created an oil pastel drawing of Olaf dancing on the ice and an outline drawing of a polar bear for an upcoming art class.


While looking at our advent wreath, I was inspired by the reflection of the candles in the Christmas balls so that I created a quick oil pastel sketch one day after breakfast.


During my weekly Zoom meetings with my painting friends, I finished a sketch of one of the old trees on our property using watercolour pencils.



This week, I painted a watercolour painting of a bog.


During one of my classes, I created a 14” x 11” winter sunset with acrylic paints.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 As I want to concentrate more on felting this year, I continued working on my pear still life and a felted version of my painting Breaking the Ice (see above). Both are unfinished.




During the January Art Cafe, I created my goal mandala for the year 2020. Did you know that people who write down smart goals are much more likely to achieve them? If you are writing down your goals, you have to think about what you want to achieve and this way you get a clearer picture of what you want. I put my beautiful mandala next to my desk to have my goals always in front of me.


I would like to know what you are creating at the moment. Did you already start a new project in 2021?


I finished the second week with some work on my acrylic painting Low Tide from the 2019 trip to Kamouraska. The rocks still need some work, but I am happy with the progress.








Friday, 8 January 2021

25 Years in Canada

 

Jessie - Forever in my Heart, acrylic, 16" x 20"

Blog 1 

 

2006 was our year of the dogs. On Friday, January 13, we were on our way home after returning from Germany. Suddenly, we received a call from the Humane Society to let us know that they had a fourteen-month-old Golden Retriever named Coco for us. We were ecstatic and decided to drive by right away. I told Dominic and Christine that Coco might not be the right dog for us and that it could be a while before we found our new companion. While I directed the talk to my children, it was as much relevant for myself. The closer we got, the more nervous I got. What can I say, we adopted Coco right away. She was darker than Jessie. She was a beautiful caramel colour with a bulkier build and a shorter snout.


From the beginning, Candy had health problems. First, she got sick with diarrhea and vomiting. What was very worrisome was that she had lost almost 5 kg within three weeks. I was so scared. Luckily, after a couple of days, Candy was back to normal. She either ate something that did not agree with her or was stressed about her change of environment. Next, Candy had a reaction to the anesthesia when she was spayed and needed an IV. But it got even worse in the summer when she had wolfed down three wooden game figures of 10cm in height. The ultrasound did not show any foreign objects, but the vet cautioned that wood and certain plastics were not visible. He was right. Candy needed an emergency operation.


At the end of January, I started the portrait of our beloved Jessie from a photo taken on her last birthday. It was the day before she died. While I worked on the painting during studio time with the Blackburn Hamlet Arts Group, I felt good and proud of all the compliments our beautiful dog got. Once I was in my car, the tears came back. Candy was a lovely dog, but not able to fill the hole Jessie had left.


Princess Christine, acrylic, 14" x 11"
Painting Jessie was very emotional. I started a portrait of Christine, my daughter when the pain was too overwhelming to continue painting. Even a look at the finished painting, brought out the rawness of my grief.


Christine’s portrait was also not without challenges. I was not happy with the face until I realized that it was too long. Even though many people had told me that Christine was the spitting image of myself, I disagreed. Therefore, it was interesting to see that I felt like looking into my face at one point.


I registered both paintings, “Princess Christine” and “Jessie - Forever in my Heart” for the juried Arteast Budding Artist Exhibition. When the organizer informed me that my dog portrait had won an award for its expressiveness, I was exhilarated, proud, and so emotional that I cried some tears. Both paintings had received high marks for execution and artistic skills. I was very touched that my work of love had also moved the jurors. The news encouraged me to take my passion for painting past the hobby stage. I considered concentrating on pet portraits even though nobody in my family supported my vision.


The summer was busy with lots of activities and the visit from one of my friends and her family, a four-week stay of a Spanish exchange student, and the fostering of eight-month-old Beagle Frankie. After Jessie had died, we had applied as foster parents for BARK (Bytown Association for Rescued Kanines (B.A.R.K.) Dog Rescue. Even though we had already adopted Candy, we felt we should still foster a couple of dogs. Frankie came in mid-July and was such a fun dog. He was much smaller than Candy but believed he was the ruler of the pack. He stayed with us until Candy needed her emergency operation.


On September 19, our life got even abundant when I picked up a seventeen-month-old Australian Shepherd called Alex. He had spent his young life in a cage in his owner’s garage. It was love at first sight. It took me a week to convince my husband that we should adopt him. Candy was only half a year younger than Alex. There was a chance that we would have too old dogs and possible high vet bills at the end of their lives. However, once I saw Ingo and Alex playing together in the yard, I knew that my wish would come true.


Top: Coco, 11" x 14", Bottom: Frankie, 12" x 12" 
 

After I painted Jessie, I worked on portraits of my sister’s dog Coco and of Frankie.


At the beginning of September, I started again with life drawing classes and a painting course with Patricia Savoie. A couple of months later, I was excited to see one of my paintings together with my teacher’s artwork in the November Awards Show of the Ottawa Arts Association at the Ottawa Little Theatre.


Aside from creating pet portraits, I still kept learning different painting styles. In November, I took part in the “Naked in the Landscape” workshop at the National Gallery. I created art inspired by Edwin Holgate.


I ended the year with work on a painting of my in-law’s dachshunds Trixie and Wedel. With every successful artwork, my confidence increased. Please join me again in two weeks, when I will tell you about my creative endeavours of 2007.