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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Mexico travel sketches - Melaque

 These are some of the travel sketches while we were in Melaque Mexico visiting with Ken and Marg. The first is a sketch that I did in a small format to work out a larger one I was going to give as a thank you gift (see previous post).

The middle sketch is of a pickle ball tournament we were in (our first). As usual the players were gracious and inclusive. We had a great time especially as Gord and his partner came in first for the men. It was a fun tournament and the prize (besides bragging rights) was a jar of pickled asparagus! 

 The third sketch is of a beautiful beach Ken and Marg took us to (Tenacatita). I had to correct the spelling on my page. It was stunning, calm and great for snorkeling.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Gratitude Gift in Melaque, Mexico

Gord and I joined my brother and sister-in-law (Ken and Marg) for a week in Melaque, Mexico. They had already been there for 3 weeks and we just did whatever they were doing including Spanish lessons. Juan Emmanuel was giving them private lessons for an hour each day so we joined in (I was way behind them but enjoyed trying to figure out what I could). I painted a small water colour sketch of their home in my sketch book. then painted a larger one and put it in a frame we brought. They were confused as to why I would paint their house, then extremely grateful when they realized it was a gift for them that I had personally painted. The bright white nose and marks on our heads is just the sunshine (great placement!). It was wonderful to get a photo with the whole family.

The painting on the right is the original ink and water colour sketch of their home, Our lesson was usually on the upper floor balcony. They also had rental units in the building and a laundry service.

We had a great time with Ken and Marg and the week flew by! Marg is also an artist so we were quick to bring out our sketch books whenever we could. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Duck's View

"Duck's View"
16" x 20" Oil on 3/4" canvas with painted sides

I love the look of bullrushes; how solid, fluffy and soft they look. I made the mistake of bringing some into my house once and I had the seeds (fluff) everywhere. They are definitely something to enjoy outdoors in their natural environment.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Holiday Reflections

"Holiday Reflections"
12" x 36" Oil on canvas with 1 1/2" deep painted sides

This painting is of the channel view in front of the apartment we rented when we enjoyed a holiday in Edinburgh, Scotland. Lucy, Gord and I toured around for 4 days. Other than suffering colds we had a really enjoyable time travelling around the city enjoying the sights, sounds, scotch, castle, museums, walking and food. This painting is quite a bit darker, particularly the buildings but the camera keeps lightening it up. It is more of an evening painting but looks daytime tin this photo.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Summer Living

"Summer Living"
20" x 16" oil on canvas with 1/2" painted sides

This painting is based on a photo I took while travelling in England. Lucy and Peter took Gord and I on a holiday to the English coast and toured us around for a few days. Hengistbury Head is where these beach houses (and many more) are lined up. Some are very tiny and are basically one room with washrooms being in a different communal building. They reminded me of the "Painted Ladies" in San Francisco. We had such a wonderful time on this exploring holiday.

Sunday, November 26, 2017


20" x 16" Oil on 3/4" canvas with painted sides

This is a painting that just flowed. I loved the way it looked and felt through the whole painting process. I think it is one of my favourites of the year.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Alberta View

"Alberta View"
16" x 20" Oil
on 3/4" canvas with painted sides

This is a very familiar view if you travel around Alberta. The big open land with the beautiful Rocky Mountains within view. There is just something about the majestic Rockies that makes my eyes sing at the first mountain glimpse when travelling. The big open sky is a given. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Roadside Attraction A & B

As I was driving back to Calgary from Sicamous, I finally stopped at a view point I admire every time I drive that way. The parking lot is just off the highway and is usually quite full and chaotic so I don't stop.

I painted Roadside Attraction below but felt like I was struggling with the values. I am happy with the final result but took a break and started all over again only this time with a palette knife, chunky and not detailed (left). What the camera doesn't pick up is how textural it is. They both have a different feel and look.

"Roadside Attraction 2"
16" x 20" Oil on canvas

"Roadside Attraction"
16" x 20" Oil on canvas

Friday, November 10, 2017

Mountains Revisited

I wish I had taken a photo of this painting in progress when I became "stuck". The painting on the right is in stage 2. The trees in the front were to fussy and the mountain shadow colours were not receding enough in stage 1. Doug corrected the shadow colour and "smooshed" all the trees I had painted in the front with a large brush.

This is the finished painting. I reworked around the painting with Doug's direction and suggestions and am now quite happy with it. The sky is lighter, more definition in the ground plane and of course the tree line reads correctly now.

"Mountains Revisited"
16" x 20" Oil on canvas

Monday, November 6, 2017

Happy Urban Space

"Happy Urban Space"
8" x 10" oil on canvas panel

I wish I could of painted this en plein aire (on location) but loved the sunny feel of it against a very dreary building background. The planter looked unkempt and wild growing but still bursting with colour.  "Grow where You are Planted" seemed like a metaphor for my art journey.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Alberta Fall and Dinner Time

"Alberta Fall"
8" x 10" Oil on canvas board
"Dinner Time"   10" x 8" Oil on canvas board       #20101117B
I started taking a weekly group art class with Doug Swinton. We work on what we want and he walks around and helps as needed. I usually like to go in with a painting at least half done but did not have anything ready or photos of what I wanted to do. After asking what I wanted to paint, "Buildings" I said. He produced two photo references and away I went. The photos were really busy and complicated. The lesson here was to pare and chop the reference into something meaningful and interesting. His vast knowledge and very humorous way of teaching keeps everyone in the class entertained and progressing in their art journey.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Leighton Christmas Sale Invite

3 Is Not A Crowd
11" x 14" Oil on canvas
Photo reference by Mya Helena

This painting (and a wide variety) of 14 others are going in the Leighton Art Centre Annual "Christmas in the Country Art Sale". There will be over a thousand pieces of fine craft and unframed artworks by local artists. Each artist can put up to 15 pieces of unframed art in a named bin. The prices reflect unframed work. It is worth the drive to see the spectacular views, free admission and a crazy amount of original art. Two weekends of Christmas Cheer - Nov 4 & 5 and 11 & 12.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Harvest Ready - Grape Escape Series - #11

"Harvest Ready"
"24 x 18 " Oil on panel
#11 in Grape Escape Series
Photo Reference by Joan Keating

This is the last painting in this series. I started painting grapes as a distraction from watching the sump pumps and preparing for a flood on Mara Lake this spring. When I asked my friend Joan Keating to help name my paintings, she also supplied more photos from her travels. Her husband Ross suggested I paint a grape rolling away and title it "Grape Escape", voila I had the series title! This series was a mental escape.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Fall Bounty - Grape Escape Series - #10

"Fall Bounty"
Grape Escape Series - #10
16" x 20" Oil on canvas
Reference photo by Joan Keating

I really enjoyed exploring with a wider range of colours and shapes in this painting. The posts with bright tape holding the trunk upright really caught my eye. It was interesting trying to get a sense of depth with size and colour.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

2 Art Shows This Saturday

You are invited to both art shows this Saturday. Free parking, entry and door prize ballot for original art.
The Federation of Canadian Artists show (left invite) is a juried show and all 4 of my paintings were juried in. I will be helping with the setting up of this show but will not be in attendance. There will be a lot of artists there to help or answer any questions. The paintings for this show were juried (images on line) through Vancouver FCA.

The Calgary Sketch Club (invite on the right) is not a juried show. I will have 10 paintings in this show and art cards for sale. As I try to alternate shows, I will be in attendance at this show all day.

You will be amazed at the variety of beautiful original art work at both shows. If you are in Calgary, know you are invited and welcome to go to either or both shows.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Epoch - Grape Escape Series - #9

#9 in Grape Escape Series
8" x 10" Oil on canvas board

I painted this painting as a demo on how to "start" a plein air oil painting. This was not done en plein air (outdoors on location) but I brought my plein air easel and showed how I set up. I was not satisfied with my under painting or "start" when I got home so I wiped half of it out (see below) and started again. I took pictures so I could show the Eagle Valley Brush and Palette Club how you can wipe out an oil painting unlike acrylic where you paint over.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Final Travel Sketches in the UK - #6

 These are my sketches of the fun that Gord, Lucy and I had in Edinburgh Scotland. From a full regalia bagpiper, a foot high veggie burger, my first scotch, dressing up in period clothing at the National Museum of Scotland, funky outdoor music and learning about the royal Britannia ship were just some of the fun.

 Our last 2 nights were with the Hart's in their home. We were tired from Edinburgh so the last day was spent leisurely. We walked along the canals, enjoyed walking and having a coffee break in the Hampton Court Palace Gardens and walking through the beautiful park.
Barbara eagerly taught us how to play Rummikub. The first time she handily beat us (Gord and I played as one), and Lucy won the second game. The last night Barbara won again! We brought a crib game as a gift (in the shape of a bear) and only had time to teach Peter one game. I think challenges for both games will be played in the future.  It was a very different holiday for us and very enjoyable. We came home happily tired.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Two birds that made it through Canadian Thanksgiving! Top is alcohol ink, bottom is an oil painting. I was lucky enough to be able to celebrate with lots of family in Sicamous, B.C. this year. Safe travels to everyone travelling home.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Travel Sketches in the UK #5

I celebrated my birthday at the Hart's home. I woke up to banners on the doors, balloons and presents!! We had a delicious celebratory barbeque with their friends Wanda and Steve. It was a very memorable birthday!

 We tried a variety of foods, a clotted cream tea (Gord in Shaftebury), curries (Indian and Thai), Full English Breakfast etc. A favourite dining spot was "Spoons" or Wetherspoons when we were travelling. Menu and grocery store items had the most common food allergens bolded so it was easy for me to feel comfortable with what I ate with my cow dairy allergy. I enjoyed a lot of latte coffees.
Barbara had also bought items I had never tried that were dairy free (very thoughtful).
Shaftesbury was high on our list. Our our fireplace in Sicamous is a large framed photo of this famous street that Gord's Dad had been given as a retirement gift. We now have a photo to add in the corner of the big one.

This sketch is a view from our AirBnB apartment balcony overlooking the river in Edinburgh Scotland. Lucy, Gord and I flew there for a 3 night stay. We packed in a lot of the sights while there and really enjoyed ourselves.

I painted a night time view of this scene and left it in a frame in the apartment as a thank you gift.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Travel Sketches in the UK #4

Lacock chocolate shop

 We did a lot of travelling with Peter and Lucy. What a difference it makes when you can travel by car and stop where you want. We did not waste any time as well as we were taken right to the spots we were most interested in.

I was fascinated by all the history, stone work, beautiful land and the variety of sights to see.

Lucy, Gord and I walked up to Corfe Castle and the view was amazing. The houses in the town below were made from the castle rocks.


We saw so many sights including a bi-plane with a wing walker when we pulled over. We walked to Hengistbury Head and really enjoyed looking at all the crowded cabins (really an updated shed in size) along the water. The grass, sand and dunes were really visually relaxing after the bright coloured cabins.

We had another beautiful view in Lulworth and even managed to get some dog playing time in.
Tyneham had a spooky feel to it. The government took the town of 228 people over for training in 1943 and never gave it back. A note was left on the church door "Please treat the church and houses with care; we have given up our homes where many of us lived for generations to help win the war to keep men free. We shall return one day and thank you for treating the village kindly."

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Travel Sketches in the UK #3

 Some of these sketches went from Urban Sketching (done on location) to holiday sketches done in the evening or early morning. The sketch above is in Bradford On Avon. The AirBnB place we stayed on was just on the left of this bridge. We traveled over this bridge multiple times a day.
We biked along the canal system to Bath and I toured the Roman Baths while Gord toured the city to find all the places we wanted to see together.
The canal boat below is the Barbara McLellan that takes people for tours up and down the canal system.

We met Jacqueline Redfern as we biked past her canal boat. Jacqueline and her husband retired, sold everything, bought a channel boat and they have traveled and lived on the channels for 3 years. They are now living the dream they didn't know they had. Loved her art and the whole concept...Gord is now worried. You can check out her art at

Monday, September 25, 2017

Travel sketches in UK #2

 These are the next set of travel sketches I have done. The bottom painting on water colour paper was left in a frame as a thank you gift at the AirBnB that we stayed at in Bradford On Avon. It is of the apartment building we stayed in. I have had to do them piece meal as there hasn't been enough time to finish one on location.