Monday, December 29, 2014

The Basics and the beginnings of an artist.

"Calla from the top"

When I began painting a few years back, as is with everyone
I started with a theme.
I had no idea about what I was good at, and had very little
Self-expression show in my paintings.

I think for any beginner this is the case.
We see a scene, a flower, a sky
and think 
"I would love to paint that."
We have no idea about mixing colours, perspective or shadowing.
We just know we want to translate it onto canvas.

One of the first flowers I ever painted was
A little canvas celebrating the first bouquet that a child presents to their
Mother with much love, and showing what this gift looked like  to the Mother.

After that I proceeded to venture into different shapes and colours

"Dogwood Blossoms"
My first serious foray into shape, form and shading.


This one started my love of the background.

After that I explored colour shape and style.
backgrounds and sizes.
You can see here that I did not allow myself adequate room for the roots coming from the bulb.

"The Wedding is Off!"
A whimsical Painting.
Mr. Froggy is keeping out of the rain.
No Wedding for him today.
This (I think) is the only painting in which I attempted to actually do Rain.
It can be scary, you complete  (at that time)
a perfect painting and you just know
That the first stroke signifying rain has to be perfect
or the whole thing is lost.
I lucked our on this one.

An art Challenge from
a participating forum on "Wet Canvas"
One of my all time favorite florals.
My favorite part is actually the way I painted the
stucco wall.

Ruffled Asian Lily
I worked very hard to get depth in this painting.
At the time I thought I had it.
But looking closely, I achieved a good depth on only one Petal.

An all time favorite of mine.
Simple lines portraying elegance.

There is much beauty in the simplest of flowers.

Again, here I worked on shading and tonal values.

Here I attempted to do a "Red" painting.

While Not specifically a Floral, this painting
is the first that I achieved pleasing results with
a collection of plants.

"White Flower"
I liked the background of this one very much.

Every step I have taken in teaching myself how to paint
has gone through phases.
And with each painting I learned.
I perfected a certain style and method of application.
I have had many many canvas that I have painted over
(Or as my friend Diane calls them "Wall leaners")
....put in a corner on the floor, leaning on the wall
to be forgotten or painted over.

But with every painting I have completed I have taken away something new.
I have learned when to put my brush down
"Leave it alone"
What colours make each other Pop!
How to load a brush with paint
and countless other things.

One fact that I learned very quickly was that I
had no propensity to paint people/faces or animals.
I do not enjoy painting these subjects.
The one exception to this rule was the painting I did of a couple of Pelicans
(But then again birds are not people or animals)


Actually, any attempt in that genre has resulted in frustration, anger
and a feeling of hopelessness.
So I just do not even try them. LOL
I think these things have made me a better Artist.
And hopefully I will continue to enjoy the learning process
of creating art.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

"Painting Winter & Snow"

Canadian Arctic
Acrylics on Watercolour paper
10 1/2" X 7 1/2"

I love painting Winter.
There is something about snow that excites me as I begin.
It took a long time for me to find my stride in this genre
This is a blog entry about how snow looks at different times and how I have interpreted it in my art.

Snow can be tricky to paint
as while it has no colour, it reflects the colours that surround it.
I like painting Winter on the coldest days, when the temperatures 
plummet well below any comfort level.
that is why most of my snow has undertones of blue and grays
with no yellow highlights.

When a very cold day is bright with no sun visible
you actually see no colour excepting the things around the snow, such as cars, houses and people.
the photo above was taken on an extremely cold day a few years ago.
You can see that there are no colours with the exception of whites, Blacks, and Grays.
The scene is  a very cold day after a Hoar frost
and a gentle snow was falling.

This photo was taken the same day, the absence of colour is apparent when you see the red parking

"No sky, no colour."
Seems like a very strong thought coming from an artist, 
but often times ones enjoys a rest from our visual senses 
when we are surrounded by peace and quiet, even if it is just visual.
I have come to love these days, there is something peaceful about just a moment in time when everything 
is black and white.

This painting is in a good home now

An interesting after-note;
On very clear  nights  when the Moon is full
at any time of the year the same thing happens.
The Moon does not cast any Yellow hues, 
and the beauty of the scene it produces has the same effect.
Whites are dominant and reds disappear.
Oh the Magic of our visual senses.
I have added various scenes that I have painted of Snow/ Winter, along with
some photos I have taken in my area, either after a snow or a Hoar frost, and as well showing the difference between the day/night/and no visible sun days.
These will give you a good idea of how the colours of the snow works.
If you have any questions./comments please Email me @
I will answer each and post them here.

You will notice this painting with a line of trees along a walk.
It was a sunny day and the colours are totally different.
Still the only Colours I used were blue/white/a bit of black,
and brown for the tree trunks.

This painting is looking toward the West just at sunset.

My first attempt of painting the Larches in Winter, Not great,
but the person that bought it loved it.

This photo was taken at dusk in a field covered in Hoar frost.

The stand of Larches facing west, the sunrise`from the East  is glowing in The West sky
(Totally covered in Hoar frost)

The same Larches a few days later

Taken the same day as the above sidewalk photo

 A bright sunny day after a Hoar Frost.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

"Storm Over Canola Field"

"Storm Over Canola Field"

Acrylic on Masonite
24" X 24"

It has been a long, long time since I painted anything that did not have a tree in it.
This exception is a scene I have wanted to paint for quite a while.
In Southern Alberta, we have storms, big storms, and the clouds as they roll in are just breathtaking.
At my daughters home they have a back deck that is about 20 feet off the ground.
And, all you can see for miles and miles is Canola growing during the season.
This view is due East, and the bright spot in the middle of the clouds is the sun still rising in the morning.
The fields are rolling hills. undulating with changing colour.
That morning I could feel the electricity in the air, and because it had rained overnight I could smell the rain.
This area of Canada has without a doubt, the most incredible skies.
Even more so, the storm clouds are just beautiful in all their power.
Because of the very close proximity to the Canadian side of the Rocky Mountains, we expect storms.
But our elevation is such that at times you feel if you stand on your tip-toes you can reach up and touch them.
I shall remember my feelings watching this cloud moving toward me.
I  hold my breath when I look at the painting even now.

I hope I have captured the Magnificence of this cloud.
The beauty of the rain it fed to the fields 
and the cleansing feeling I felt
as it passed over me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Willow Bay"

"Willow Bay"
Acrylics on Birch Panel
24" X 24"

Over the course of my years, and recently here in my blog,
 I have had talked about my love affair with the natural beauty of the Northern Part of Manitoba, Canada.
Growing up in isolation, then on to town life, and then the city, I have found that in my mind, I have
never left that natural pristine beauty.
For the greater part , my art encapsulates trees, nature and the world around me.
always, influenced by those early years when I originally connected with the beauty of Nature.
Make no mistake, there are no Natural Wonders there, just a raw beauty of Nature growing unimpeded.
Of Forest fires that devastate, highways running through and city people wanting a weekend of time beside a 
lake shore.

Willow bay is a  bit of a walk  from the old cabin I grew up in.
The Lake shore was always visible.

The I cabin  grew up in  had no running water, no electricity and no inside facilities.
That all would come much later, but there was never to be running water in the place.
There was an Arteisan well just outside the front door.

My good memories were always outside those walls.
Amongst scrub Poplars, Birch trees, Willows  and Canadian Spruce.
of sitting beside a creek that flowed into the lake that was full of fish during Spawning season.
There were Deer, Moose, and Brown Bears.
Oftentimes Lynx would roam the area.

But it was quiet
the skies were clear and the stars shone their brightest.
Some nights the sky would look like a shot gun full of diamonds was aimed upwards to the heavens,
and fired,
where they settled in, never to fall.

This painting is of Kyle & Cathys  (Brother & Sister in-law) Cottage nestled on the shore line of Willow Bay.
(Known as Deightons Beach when I was a child)
My favorite place in the whole world.
It is calm, it is beautiful and it is secluded.
This area shaped who I was to become in my elder years.
I am so fortunate to have known it.
The details of this painting are below, it took a long time, and the very last
correction was the slope of the cottage roof, It just never rang true to me, but I finally got it.
I hope you enjoy the painting process of this , one of the most personally pleasurable works of
I have ever attempted.

 Initial stage;

Before I changed the slope of the roof;

Monday, October 27, 2014

"The Canadian Way"
24" X 24"
Acrylics and Mixed Media
 Birch Panel

This past week has not been a good one for Canadians.
Two Canadian Soldiers were murdered, just because they wore uniforms proudly.
My country is in mourning for these brave and good men.

Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, 53

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, a reservist.

W/O Vincent was run down by a motorist (Purposely) and killed  in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

Cpl. Cirillo was gunned down as he stood guard (unarmed)  at the Canadian War Memorial in Ottawa.

Needless to say these type of happenings are not commonplace in my Country.
This painting is in Honour of these two brave men.
The people that selflessly put themselves in danger to try and save their lives,
To say thank you to the Sergeant at Arms in the House of Parliament
Ken Vickers
who shot and killed the person that murdered Cpl. Cirillo
I hope I have represented these brave people with a painting that shows us all.....
"That no matter how hard you try to rip the  fabric that holds Canadians together,
the good citizens of this country of all races/creeds & religions
will never be undermined by wanton acts of cowardice such as these."
The step by step process of this painting

In the beginning I wanted to represent all of Canada.
In our National Anthem there is a wonderful line
"From Sea to shining sea"
That is why the colours.
threads torn from a scrap of fabric to represent
what people such as these murderers want to do to our country.
As if to tear apart the threads that hold us together as a Nation.
Red paint representing blood spatters speak for themselves.

then I added a piece of fabric seemingly holding itself together to show our unity as a nation

the threads
Forming the Maple leaves with gel and paint

adding the Maple leaves
Each leaf is partially free of the painting as if they are falling down
side view of some of the Maple Leaves
Almost finished
What looks like light blue is actually an interference paint that shines when

The Canadian flag is added
not too obvious as that is who we are as a people, quiet, reserved, just a country
getting it done in the best way we know how
"....In Unity"

detail of the flag

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Acrylics on Canvas
8" X16"
If you are not familiar with Forest fires, there are some very interesting facts about what happens to the land after they have passed.
There are ground fires that burn up.
And secondly,
There are those where the flames skip across the canopy of the trees and burn in a downward direction on the trunks.

No matter what way the fire burns, the forest is devastated.
The interesting thing is, that either way, the fire heats the pine cones, and seeds that were laying on the ground, opens them and then they germinate and begin to grow.

From "Rising from the Ashes"
"In fact, fire is a natural part of the forest’s regeneration system. Most forest trees need to be exposed to fire every 50 to 100 years to invigorate new growth. As we found out in Yellowstone National Park nearly 20 years ago, suppressing forest fires too long can actually be detrimental to forests. Extreme efforts to prevent forest fires there led to a huge consumption of trees when fire finally broke out."

Within days of the ground cooling new growth begins and the forest will (If left alone) begin to regenerate.
Many scientists believe that a wild fire helps regenerate the forest
and rids the land of all the previously dead remains from older trees.
In some National Parks in Canada there are "Controlled burns"
that do exactly this.
These fires do have a devastation effect on the local wildlife and human residents.

I called this painting "Rebirth" because when I posted a work in progress of this painting a friend commented
"it was such a sad thing to see."
My reply was...
"It is sad, I have seen this type of devastation all too many times, but the Forests give birth as soon as the Earth cools and it begins anew. There is always hope."

I hope you can see the hope in these paintings.
I hope that you can see the new and diseased free rebirth of what is to come.
I hope that you can understand that Nature has a way of balancing itself out.
And I hope that, what may look like devastation to some remains, and always will be a clear path to the future.
For some reason I have not been able to receive or post the comments many of you have made lately.
Here is my email if you cannot.
I would love to hear what your opinions are on these posts.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


"It is Not all Black and White #4"
Acrylics on canvas 
14" X 18"

We are in the Middle of the Summer, here in Southern Alberta.
Summer in Canada means forest fires all through out the North and far North.
For that fact any well forested area is prone  to fire.
The Lightning, combined with the heat, dry conditions all contribute to this devastating phenomena.

I grew up in Northern Manitoba, Canada, and we were all aware of the impact these fires would 
have on our lives.
We were all aware that every able bodied man would (and usually was) conscripted to fight them.

Todays painting depicts such a thing.
I hope I have represented both the devastating effects of fire as well as the hope for rebirth after the burn is done.
I will post photos of this canvas in order of preparation and progress.

Initially, I had no idea of the best way to paint fire of any type.
I had never even attempted to do this before so it was a learning thing for me every step.
I knew that yellow and red made orange, and that brown added would add distance to the flames.
This painting was done with six colours.
(All Golden Acrylic fluid)
Hansa Yellow
Yellow Oxide
Quintacridone Nickle Azo Gold
Pyrrole Red
Bone Black 
Van Dyke Brown.
Initially, I lay out drops of the colours in a circle on my Pallette
and dipped a very large fine haired brush in them.
I then dabbed the tip of the brush on paper towels turning the brush every time I blotted it
and mixed the colours randomly that way.
I achieved this effect on the canvas with my loaded brush.

The top left corner was scumbled Brown with carbon black, this gave me a perspective point.
I then followed with a very basic outline of my main trees drawn on the canvas with a
Watercolour pencil.
(I love watercolour pencils for drawing ideas on my canvas' as the marks wash off so easily.)

Then I focused on the fire burning actively in the background

 from there it was just a matter of how I wanted to proceed.

I began to shape and form the trees that would frame the approaching fire.

With this done I refined the trees and foreground, and began to add the darkness
in the area of the viewers eyes.
and I finished it off.

I would like to thank the many photographers that posted Fire images to the internet.
They were invaluable and I am sure I could not have done this without their daring
and astounding works.
This painting is a compilation of many images, and for that I am grateful.
A side note:  I have never liked working on a smooth canvas, so as is with most of my painting I had
prepared the canvas initially with a layer of Goldens regular Gel, and gessoed over that.
The canvas is intentionally Not smooth.

All comments and inquiries welcomed.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

"Night Skies!"

(Almost done, clean up the snow and get rid of bottom branch)

As some of you that follow this blog are aware.....
I have no formal training in art, or  or the use of paint.
I have learned from some very knowing people on line, discussions with other Artists
the wonderful site "Youtube."

I have learned a lot of things by trial and error.
Surprisingly, a lot by error.

When I entertain a new idea, or dredge up an old idea that seemed impossible at one time,
I begin with trying to figure our what I want to achieve, and how to paint it.
I wonder if it is to be "Mixed Media" or just plain old Acrylics on canvas.
I wonder if I can actually achieve the desired effects with my limited knowledge.

 I grew up in Northern Canada.
not way far North, but far enough that
the lake was pristine,
the stars gleamed at night
and the water was pure.

I grew up with fireflys
huge Spruce trees
and on the shores of one of the largest lakes in the world.

But most of all,
I grew up with
"The Northern Lights"
They were magical  as they danced across the night skies.
They were, to me, a  magical world where everything was perfect.
All the while never being aware I was, at the time,
 surrounded by perfection.
But I was young, and dreams are for the young.

Now in my 70th decade, 
I am still as enamored with the Northern Lights as I was as a little girl.
As an artist, I have often wished I could paint them
to show the world their Majesty and Beauty.
How to do it?
What did I have to do to achieve the desired effect?

So, I started at the beginning.
There are Scientific terms and a proper way to do everything.
But I am not a Scientist, and I am not trained in Painting.
I prepped the canvas with Black Gesso
and over that a healthy coat of Anthraquinone Blue.
then with the two colours.
Goldens Fluid Tourquise Pthalo Blue (green shade)  
Goldens Fluid Hansa  yellow (medium)
I began.

I prepared washes of both colours and started quite a few times
 but could not get the "Dance" like movement I was looking for.
until I accidentally knocked a brush out of the pot and onto the canvas.
as the wide (dry) brush fell it swiped across a wet yellow line and feathered it!
My goodness, answers come in the strangest ways.
So from there on in, I stroked/feathered.
I stroked and feathered for almost 20 hours and got it.
Yeppers it looked like the night sky of my youth.
I have included a series of progressive photos below to show how I proceeded.
The snow and tree were the last things to go in, but I knew how to do a tree & snow so they were not a big deal to me LOL.
What is a big deal, is that the Northern Lights still mesmerize me.
They are still Magical
I still glow within when ever I stand outside and watch them.
(For those of you that have never seen them, The Northern Lights can be seen in Both Winter and Summer.)
I just opted to make this a Winter scene.

 The only two colours/brushes I used on this painting
(Excluding the tree/snow)

first attempt (Not good at all)

Kind of what I want, but no movement

And just after the brush fell!

Coming to life
Added the tree line
(Cleaned  up the snow and added the tree just after this was taken.)

The final painting.
The colours in this one are just impossible to capture straight on.
The true depiction of colour is in the  photo above.