Friday, 26 March 2021

25 Years in Canada - The Year 2011 Part II

Fall in Gatineau Park, acrylic, 16" x 12", sold

Blog 10

I started the second half of the year 2011 with our annual week at the cottage. The days leading up to our vacation were so busy that I wondered again why we even went on vacation. I was stressed and in a bad mood.

On the day of our departure, I received a call that one of my good friends had a bad accident, and she and her daughter were gravely injured. News like this brings everything back into perspective. Suddenly, you realize how careless and unsatisfied we often are with our lives, missing the fact that every moment is unique and precious! Due to all the commitments, I had neglected the relationships with my German relatives and friends. I had started writing monthly newsletters to stay in contact since August 2002. In 2011, I had not written a single issue because I was so busy and postponed it from one month to the next. Suddenly, I felt the urgency to write again. It also renewed my determination to keep painting.

Look, How Strong I Am, acrylic, 11" x 14"

 While we were at the cottage, I continued working on a double portrait of my children for my in-laws. I was struggling with several issues. One was the reflection in the windows, but my children’s expressions also gave me a lot of trouble. I hardly made progress until finally, the pieces fell into place.

We enjoyed the time even more because it was scorching and while the cottage had an air-conditioner, our house did not. The day after our return, my family flew to Yukon with my father- and sister-in-law. I was glad not to accompany them as I am not a fan of camping. The temperatures soared around the 40 degree Celsius mark. Even at night, it was warmer than 30 degrees and even hotter with the humidex. At one point, I even took our dogs with me into the basement. They were usually not allowed there as it was our cat’s territory, but it was too hot upstairs. I was just glad for our little pool.

Usually, I dedicated my summers to my children. However, August 2011 was very busy. I still had to fight against the disapproval of my expensive hobby from my family. Despite the frustration, I could not stop painting. It is amazing how a painting comes to life layer by layer. It is an indescribable sense of pleasure when you can capture your vision on canvas. It is relaxing and energizing at the same time. I forget everything around me when I am painting. When I paint with my friends outside, I love the sounds and smells of nature, the fresh grass, the musty trees.

At the beginning of August, I participated in the juried exhibition Glorious Gatineau at the Gallery Old Chelsea with my painting Fall at Gatineau Park (see above).

Fall at Petrie Island, acrylic, 14" x 11", sold

At the end of August, I was one of the artists at the Art in the Park at the Cumberland Farmers Market. I had to get up at 6:15 am, which was torture. I was still up the evening before packaging my greeting cards. Preparing for the event took two days. At least, I sold Fall at Petrie Island during the event.

Once the end of summer, we had the opportunity to share paintings from past trips to Kamouraska at the Atrium Gallery in Ottawa. We received a lot of positive reviews, which was very encouraging.

Fields of Kamouraska, oil, 10" x 20", sold

From September 10 to 17, 2011, we returned for a fantastic week to the Kamouraska region. Except for the day I cooked, I was out every day from before 9 am to about 5 pm.

The scenes change so fast in front of your eyes due to the changing light that you create a different painting every time, even if you go back to previous spots. It is fascinating.

At the end of September, I took part in the Glebe Fine Art Show at the Glebe Community Centre for the first time. I sold two paintings and enjoyed many great talks with visitors and fellow artists.

During the summer, we had made the difficult decision to close the Galerie de la Rive at the end of September 2011. Despite the move to the new location, we were not able to attract more visitors. It was time for everyone to move on. I truly enjoyed working with so many talented individuals, learned a lot during my time on the board and made some good friends. 

The Barn Near The Creek, oil, 14" x 18", CAN $420

The next painting trip followed right away: the Plein Air Ensemble trip to Sutton, Quebec, from September 30 to October 4, 2011. Most of the drive to the beautiful countryside was sunny. When we arrived, we saw a breathtaking sunset and mountains in gorgeous fall colours. That was the last time we saw the sun for the next three days. Only late on the very last afternoon, a little bit of blue sky appeared. Janis and I looked at each other and could not resist the temptation to paint a small forest scene.

After the trip, I started teaching my fall courses: another art course at the church and a private student. I also continued teaching German with one private Level 4 course and a beginners course at Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex.

Victoria Island, acrylic, 11" x 14", CAN $375

Our recent plein air trips had renewed our desire for painting outdoors. Our group of painting buddies finally went out painting together in October. It was the first time since last winter. We captured the beautiful fall scenery at Petrie Island. In early November, we went downtown to Victoria Island, where we painted the last colourful leaves of the season.

Looking back, 2011 was one of my most productive years, mainly because of the two painting trips. Next Friday, I will not post a blog as it is Good Friday as I will take a couple of days off. You can read the next chapter of my journey on April 9, 2021. Thank you for your interest in my story.

The Barn Near The Creek, oil, 14" x 18", CAN $420

Friday, 19 March 2021

25 Year in Canada - The Year 2011 Part I

Presqu'ile Point, acrylic, 18" x 24"

Blog 9


At the beginning of 2011, I continued to teach German for the City of Ottawa and privately with former students who wanted to continue improving their skills. The problem with courses run by recreation facilities is the lack of flexibility due to the fixed costs. While this was not a problem for the beginner courses, most students were happy with the basic knowledge and did not register for further sessions. During all my years of teaching for the city, I only instructed one level 3 course. Offering small group and semi-private classes was the solution that worked well for myself and my students.

Starting in February, the gallery board organized life drawing classes at our Galerie de la Rive. The new building offered us the perfect setting to host the classes, which were very popular with our artist circle. I was excited to practice my observational and drawing skills regularly again after a break of almost two years.

Masquerade, acrylic, 20" x 16"
For the Arteast exhibition “A Night at the Theatre” at the Trinity Gallery in the Shenkman Arts Centre in Orleans, I created a self-portrait of myself hiding behind a mask.

After a visit to the cottage in mid-January and being in awe of the beautiful colours of the winter sunset, I painted in the bay of the Ottawa River from reference photos (see above).

Members of our church approached me to teach them how to paint. I guided them through my ten-week course in the different uses of watercolour, acrylic and oil paint. 

In early March, I developed a tennis elbow on my right arm, which handicapped me gravely for the next six weeks. I could not even open a door or hold a mug with my hand. 

Besides, my worries for our five-year-old Golden Retriever, Candy, increased. It became clear that the partial paw amputation was the only way to save her life. Even though the tumour was benign, the stretched skin over it ripped all the time, which endangered her life due to infections. Taking her for consultation was very difficult for me. I remembered my last trip with our first dog, Jessie, to the hospital. At the time, I had still hoped that her sudden lethargy was only a treatable autoimmune disease. However, a few hours later, we found out that she had mere days to live due to spleen cancer.

After the consultation, I was relieved that Candy would make a full recovery and could still lead a life without restrictions, but worried about how to afford the operation. I found a way, and she finally had her amputation in early May. It was hard to watch her in pain after the procedure. Candy was not very sensitive to pain, so I knew that she was suffering despite the medication when she winced in between doses. It was hard to witness. 

Despite my health scare the year before, life had fallen to the old routine. As much as I love living in the country, the lack of public transportation was a huge disadvantage. I was constantly on the road. 

Lemon and Peppers, oil, 11" x 14", CAN $375

I worked for the gallery, taught art and German, and drove my children around to their many activities. By mid-April, our lives became chaotic as it was the start of the competitive soccer season. Besides taking my son to the practices and games, I also became the co-manager of the team. This task meant that I had to organize the tournaments and be at the games, with the team roster and the players’ cards, to check the opposing team.


It was also the height of the dance season with rehearsals, competitions, and shows. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the mother-daughter time that my daughter and I spent together, especially during our trips to Kingston, where we spent the weekend at a hotel. 

In May, I held my first art course for children in the building of our gallery. The big room with long tables and a sink was the perfect space to teach. Even ten years later, I still remember the fun and enthusiasm of the children. After one of the classes, one father arrived to pick up his son, who declared that he was not ready to go. He still had to add more colour to his picture. 

I felt excited to share my passion and the joy art brought to my life with adults and children. With every course, I also learned something. Especially the children had refreshing views of the world around them and were not afraid to express themselves freely.

Standing Out From the Crowd, acrylic, 12" x 16", CAN $400

I am not sure how I found time to paint during this time, but I managed to produce enough paintings for the Galerie de la Rive exhibitions. I continued to paint with my friends en plein air during visits to the tulip festival and Petrie Island. 

Odenwald, acrylic, 20" x 24", CAN $450


In my studio, I painted Odenwald, a painting from reference photos taken during my previous trip to Germany. Over the years, many people felt attracted to the image. The landscape seems to remind them of areas in Canada.

Thank you for following my journey. I will post the blog about the second half of 2011 next week. If you know someone who might enjoy my story, please forward my blog.

Friday, 12 March 2021

25 Years in Canada - the Year 2010 Part II

Fall at Beckett's Creek, mixed media, 30" x 40", NFS,
Winner of the "Viewers' Choice Award" at Galerie de la Rive
in the spring/summer exhibition 2010

Blog 8


If you read last weeks blog, you saw how busy my life was. Going through my journal, I felt exhausted from all the activities. I am not sure how I managed to coordinate everything. You might have guessed that it did not end well. 


In June, I started to have dizzy spells, felt very weak and tired. My body shut down with a vengeance. I was diagnosed with severe burnout. For weeks, I could hardly get out of bed, let alone to do anything else. I slept a lot. Even after a month, during our vacation in July, I was still too weak to make the five-minute walk to the beach without stopping.


I had to take care of my health because my children and I had tickets to Germany at the end of July to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of my parents. Luckily, a trip to Germany also meant pampering from my parents.


While it was exhilarating to see all my relatives and friends, the trip to Germany was not a time to relax. When we returned, I still tired quickly and needed at least eight hours of sleep. I got easily irritated and overwhelmed.


Nevertheless, I continued chauffeuring my children around. Dominic’s competitive soccer season was in full swing, which meant that I drove him around several days of the week for training sessions and at least one game. Most of the games were far from home. Plus, there were additional tournaments. At least, we were car-pooling to the out of town games. I should have stayed home from time to time to care for my health, but I did not want to miss seeing my son play. 


On September 2, we adopted a new family member, the orange tabby Miko. His job was to help us get rid of the mice problem in our house in the country. We could not prevent the rodents from entering the house despite all the efforts we had taken. When we finally decided to add a cat to our household, I was relieved as my phobia caused me anxiety every time I went to the basement. 


Candy, acrylic, 20" x 16", NFS
While we welcomed the cute addition, we also worried about our not even five-year-old Golden Retriever, Candy. The benign tumour on her paw grew fast. We had the lower part already removed, but it grew back in a short time. The only possible solution was a partial amputation of her paw - an expensive and scary option. We tried to protect her foot with a sock and shoe, but soon the tumour almost reached the size of a tennis ball. Her skin started bleeding because it was so stretched. I was terrified that we would lose her only four years after our first Golden. I did not want to leave her but could not resist the temptation of spending time in Kamouraska with the KAM 7 Group again.


Feels Like Paradise, acrylic 11" x 14", CAN $375

Therefore, on September 11, my friend Janis and I left Ottawa on a beautiful bright Saturday to join our friends. In Kamouraska, it was also sunny but a lot colder. Nevertheless, we spent a wonderful week painting in the fresh salty air, enjoying fantastic dinners and fun conversations. It was great to spend time with people with the same interests who understand your passion and struggles. After the week, Janis and I left the others behind, who stayed for another week. As our children were still young, a one-week trip was already a challenge to organize and quite a treat for us. I have to admit that I was quite happy to go home to my family. It had been an intense creative week, and I needed a break from painting. 


The next exciting adventure was waiting: I offered my first two art courses at the Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex as part of the City of Ottawa programming. One was an adult beginners painting class and the other an art course for children, that started in the second half of September.


At the beginning of October, I hung my next solo exhibition at the Blackburn Hamlet Library.  

At the Tulip Festival, acrylic, 14" x 11", CAN $ 375


Exciting times were also on the horizon for our Galerie de la Rive. At the end of November, we moved out of the retirement home that housed the gallery until then and into a new building, the City of Clarence-Rockland Arts & Culture building. We had a big vernissage on Sunday, December 5, 2010, with a new exhibition of artists from the region, live music and a book reading. 


Magic Pumpkins, acrylic, 16" x 20", SOLD

As many other organizations used the building, we were optimistic that more people would see and buy the great artworks. We finally had the space to hold workshops and courses for adults and children. We had big plans to encourage young artists. Our gallery and the local artists association collaborated to present the Budding Artist Prize in 2011. We put a call out to the Clarence-Rockland schools to have their students participate. We also invited the local schools to visit the gallery as part of their visual arts programme.


If you want to know more about the future of the gallery and my year 2011, please return next week.

Friday, 5 March 2021

25 Years in Canada - The Year 2010 Part I

Frosty Charlevoix, acrylic, 16" x 20", CAN $ 420

 Blog 7

At the beginning of 2010, I worked at the daycare again for two months as my friend visited relatives. However, it was a relaxing time as there were many days when not a single kid came to the daycare. However, getting our children to the bus and arriving at the recreation centre on time was a stressful task. Plus, I also worked as a skating attendant one afternoon and taught a full German course one evening a week. Then, there were all the chauffeur services for my children: trips to volleyball school games, soccer practice and piano lessons for my son, piano and dance lessons for my daughter and volunteering at school. These activities increased the stress to get the housework done and made it almost impossible to find time to paint.


Roch-des-Aulnaies, QC, acrylic, 16" x 20", CAN $ 420

On January 10 was the Plein Air Ensemble vernissage at the Old Chelsea Gallery, which was exciting as it was the first time I participated. Three weeks later, I exhibited some of my Kamouraska paintings at the same gallery with our KAM 7 group. It was also my first exhibition with this group. We had lots of visitors, which was very encouraging. Following the exhibition, the gallery committee accepted me as a regular guest artist at the Old Chelsea Gallery. What thrilling news! They asked to keep three of my Kamouraska paintings in the gallery for a longer time. While I was excited, this also threw me into a panic because I needed eight new artworks for the next Galerie de la Rive exhibition at the end of February. The only way to reach this goal was to take a couple of days off work.


When my sister's dog got sick, I decided to continue writing my book about our dog Jessie. Looking for the sketches that I had done during her last evening with us, I realized that my drawing skills had improved quite a lot during the past four years. Whenever I had a chance, I looked for opportunities to learn more about techniques and materials. In early February, I went to a two-day Arteast workshop to try out different Golden products. I had so much fun!


Final Days of Winter, acrylic, 8" x 10", NFS

Before the new Galerie de la Rive exhibition, I was thrilled to see one of my artworks in the local newspaper. "Final Days of Winter" was the first artwork that was in a newspaper. 


On March 26, Janis and I drove to Charlevoix for the next Plein Air Ensemble trip. The weather was fantastic. We had brilliant sunshine. However, after a day with + 14 ℃, the temperature had fallen to below -10 ℃. We stayed at the beautiful Auberge de nos Aïeux in Les Éboulements that offered a beautiful view of the St. Lawrence River. Luckily, it also had a large studio for artists overlooking the scenery because temperatures were below -20 ℃. Nevertheless, nature looked breathtaking in the bright sunlight. 


Mountainous Charlevoix, acrylic, 11" x 14", SOLD

These days were a luxury for Janis and me: uninterrupted painting time, the company of fellow artists, breathtaking views, delicious food that I did not have to worry about and absolutely no housework. We spent the first morning in the studio, then drove to St-Joseph-de-la Rive, where we painted sheltered by the car. It was brutally cold. While my acrylic paints did not give me any trouble, Janis had problems with freezing paint on her brush. 


Chapelle de Port-au-Persil, acrylic, 11" x 14", CAN $ 375

The following day, a group of us drove to Port-au-Persil. Even though it was milder than the day before, I could not get warm at all. The high humidity and strong wind made me tense up and miserable. When the sun finally broke through the clouds, it was time to pack up. 

Snow over Charlevoix, acrylic, 11" x 14", CAN $ 375


As it snowed on the third day, we went back to the studio to paint the winter wonderland. The irony about the weather: The following weekend, the temperatures were in the twenties. It felt like summer. 


In April, enough students registered for a second German course, which was exciting because I could finally introduce new material. I enjoyed the end of my work at the daycare and the skating rink. At last, I was able to join the painting buddies more regularly on outings in the neighbourhood. I loved feeling the warm sun listening to the birds and frogs in the company of my friends.


On the other side, we were getting discouraged about the disappointing visitor numbers to our Galerie de la Rive exhibitions. Despite painting demonstrations and beautiful art, we could not attract enough visitors to make it worth all our efforts. You see that a lot happened in the first half of 2010. Therefore, I decided to split up the 2010 blog and publish the second half next week. Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you find inspiration in my story.

If you wish to buy any of the paintings, you can buy them online on my website All prices are in Canadian dollars. Shipping is not included. I accept credit cards and PayPal. Please do not hesitate to contact me at if you have any questions.