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