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Monday, May 12, 2014

About "After The Rain ~ Florence"

I've been requested by the show committee to send in a short writing about my painting that has been accepted into the Red River Watercolor Society national show. I'd like to share that with you now.

"After The Rain ~ Florence"

The skies darkened and the rains came the moment I arrived in Florence.  Not to be deterred I pulled out my umbrella and headed into the beautiful, old, Italian streets.

The buildings had such beauty, such character, as the rain washed over them. The colours, rich and warm, intrigued me. I turned a corner and at the same moment I first saw the Duomo, the clouds parted and the sun shone through creating the most dazzling light. The colourful marble walls and sheer size mesmerized me but it was the reflections upon the old paving stones that took my breath away.

Friday, May 9, 2014

"After The Rain ~ Florence"

I've just received notice that my painting "After The Rain ~ Florence" was selected for inclusion into Red River Watercolor Society's 21st Annual National Juried Exhibition!

"After The Rain ~ Florence"
30" x 22"
original watercolour

The show dates are June 16th through July 26th, 2014 at the Hjemkomst Gallery in Moorehed MN. On June 17 nationally recognized artist and juror Michael Reardon will announce show winners during the awards reception.

What a great privilege it is to be selected for this prestigious show!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Spring Has Sprung....I Hope!

Here in Canada (and many other parts of the world) we've been waiting very impatiently for spring to finally arrive. This winter has been very long, cold and snowy and I thought what better way to think spring than to paint it. Although there are still a few snowbanks around I've decided the tulips must be up somewhere in the world!

15" x 22"

Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. A time for giving thanks. May you have many things in your life to be grateful for. 

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Exploring The Hills On Crete ~ Part 2

This next adventure took me further inland and higher up the mountain. It was larger than the last village and I noticed as I was driving up the hill that there were ruins below the main road so that was where I was headed. I find it interesting how instead of tearing down the old buildings they just kept building up the mountainside leaving their history in tack.  I do love sketching crumbling old walls and doors!

When I first got out of my car I saw 2 women walk by. I smiled and we said Kalimara. (good morning) Turning now to the left I began my descent in search of the ruins I first saw when approaching the village.

That's when it happened. Another gunshot went off! I couldn't believe it! Surely the people from the last village haven't found their way here!

The light cast delicate patterns through grape vines overhead and bounced between the old crumbling buildings. At every turn there was another beautiful sight to behold. The further down the hill I went, the more ancient the ruins became.  For me, this is inspiration at its finest!

After a short walk I found the perfect door to sketch. It had a single large plank of wood that was at least 30" wide hanging across the entry. The textures were wonderful! There was also a rusty old gate that caught my eye so I settled in and began to sketch.

Another bunch of gunshots sounded and I couldn't help but wonder just what was going on. Some sounded fairly close and others off in the distance. I concentrated on my sketches and tried to forget about it.

After about a half hour a woman walked by. She began speaking in Greek and all I could do was smile and say Kalimara. I showed her my drawings and paints and told her I was an artist from Canada. She smiled and left.  It's times like this when I wished I could speak many languages!

Shortly thereafter a man came along and asked me what I was doing. I explained to him that I was sketching and in broken English he asked me how long I'd be until I was finished. I told him I should be done in about 20 minutes. He then said I must walk back along this narrow road when I was ready to leave.  I nodded and he left me to my paints. Of course I would do as he asked out of respect. I was, after all, a stranger here and I could technically be trespassing.

When I was done sketching I packed up my supplies and started walking up the narrow road as requested. When I turned the last corner I could hear talking and laughter ahead. At first I wasn't sure where it was coming from but then, as I got closer, I noticed there was a group of people sitting in the shade under a canopy of grape vines.

Looking into the courtyard I recognized the man and woman from earlier smiling at me. He jumped up and invited me in to share lunch with them. I was in shock! Who does this?!!

At first I felt I would be intruding but then I realized they were waiting for me. That was why he wanted me to walk back down that particular road. I was overwhelmed and of course accepted their very generous offer.

They seated me at the head of the table, a place of honour, then introduced me to everyone. Sadly I can't recall any of their names but I do remember their relationships.

The first man to my left was my host's brother. To his left was their mother, who I was told had Alzheimer's. 

At the opposite end of the table was my host's son and to my right was his wife (the woman I'd met earlier) and my host holding their young daughter.

They began piling the food on my plate and the wine was poured. They explained each of the delicious dishes to me and also proudly stated the only thing they had to buy was flour; everything else they grew themselves. Incredible! There was yummy lamb stew, spanakopita (which was light flaky filo pastry triangles filled with spinach, onions and feta cheese) and other various vegetables. They also had a delicious humas with lots of yummy garlic. I've never eaten so well!

My host wondered if it was ok to ask me questions. Of course! Anything they wanted to know I would be happy to share!

The first thing they asked was how I felt about living in Canada, if I trusted my government and was happy how they ruled the country. I told them I love living in Canada and was happy for the most part how the government did their jobs. I also stated that no country in the world was without troubles too, not even Canada. There are good and bad people in powerful positions everywhere in the world but one must trust that when voting time came that the good ones were elected.

They also had questions about our healthcare system, safety and education. As I answered each question he translated for the rest of the family. I loved every second of our cultural exchange!

As we were talking I noticed their teenage son carefully reach over and lift a silver strand of hair off of grandma's black sweater, then gently pat her on the shoulder like nothing had happened. He kept on talking and laughing and I couldn't help but feel I've just witnessed something very special.

Apparently they had a cousin move to Canada from their village 12 years ago and every year he writes to tell them they should move to Canada because life was so much better. My host was the head of the family and made decisions for them all and he was wondering if he was making the right one for them by staying in Greece.

I said why would you leave here? You have everything you need to be happy. You have a family who love you, a good home, all the food you need and a good job. (he's a police officer) They really take care of each other and respect each other and I know for a fact this doesn't happen everywhere in the world, not even Canada.

As I said these words you could see the weight of the world lifted from his shoulders. He was so relieved and happy to know he was making the right decision for his family.

When we were done eating, their little girl was climbing all over me playing with my hat and having fun. I do love children!
I was introduced to the village priest and later met his 2 sons. He also spoke English and we talked for a while. Everyone was so friendly!

How wonderful it was to sit there in that beautiful courtyard with new friends sharing a delicious lunch and learning about each other's cultures! For me this is the best thing about travelling.

When the priest left another man stopped by. He was their friend and had just come in from a successful rabbit hunt as today was the season opener. So that's why I heard so many gunshots!!  Me and my crazy imagination!!

I'll be leaving soon on my next great adventure. I depart for Greece, Spain and Portugal later this month and will be posting more stories about my travels here in the coming weeks.

Thank you for being a part of my Artistic Journey!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Exploring The Hills On Crete ~ Part 1

More stories from my time exploring Crete, September 2013.....

While staying at a B & B in the small village of Xerocampos, I mentioned to the owners that I loved to explore old ruins and small hilltop villages to gather ideas for my paintings. They recommended a few for me so I packed my car and headed up into the hills.

A narrow dusty road brought me to my first village. It was very small and almost abandoned. As I pulled the car to the edge of the single lane road I noticed an elderly man watching me from behind a vine-covered gate. He obviously wasn’t accustomed to seeing many tourists here and I wanted to let him know what I was doing.

My knowledge of the Greek language is next to nil so I showed him my sketchbook and paints to help explain my intent. He nodded and waved his approval so off I went up, up, up, the narrow alleyways. Around the first corner a big dog came at me growling and barking wildly. Thank goodness he was tied up! I considered leaving right then but I thought I’d try to make it to the old church up on the top of this hill.

About 15 minutes into my hike I heard several gunshots but since I was almost to the church I decided to push on. Surely the villagers weren’t trying to scare me off!! Still, I did have an eerie feeling as I continued on.

I passed many abandoned houses with overgrown grape ivy, beautiful old doors and rusting iron gates.

One particular house had something extra special about it. The light filtered through overhead vines that covered a small terrace creating a magical atmosphere. A beautiful old wooden door with peeling layers of blue paint told me it had been abandoned for some time.Though it's now in ruins, I feel it is still a very special place. The open door was my unspoken invitation to explore further.

As my eyes adjusted to the dim interior light, the first thing I noticed was a plate rack on the wall. Broken ceramic pieces littered the floor and on a woven chair seat I noticed a dust covered woman's leather shoe.

It was a small open space and from what I could tell it had been vacant for several years. Some old torn bits of fabric littered the mantle and a few old rusty olive oil cans lay in the corner. I could see this space had been well cared for at one time but is now a forgotten jewel. 

What happened to the old woman? Where was her family? Was hers a hard life or one full of joy? I would like to have met her.

In another home close by I came across this abandoned loom. I imagined the beautiful textiles created here after countless hours sliding the shuttle back and forth. I was walking in a living museum and felt I have become a part of her history. The stories in my mind now have a place in what happened here so many years ago.

Another gunshot went off.  I was beginning to feel like I was in a movie and I was the crazy woman who wouldn't make the right choice and leave. Ok, now you know that I have a wild imagination! The sign of a true artist I'm told!

I finally made it to the small church. I went inside and found many beautifully painted wooden panels that are still in remarkably good condition. I can see this place has been well cared for.

Silver Icons were draped across the main panel. These silver pieces are used for prayer requests and the different symbols represent what it was the person was praying for. I love learning about different cultures and traditions.

This hand carved angel was painted on a thick wooden plank.

Another gunshot went off and I decided it was time to head back down the hill. Of course I took many more pictures along the way!

The dog and the old man were there to "greet me" again. I smiled and waved as I pulled away relieved to be leaving the sound of gunshot behind but also very glad I stopped to explore this small village.

I'll share more about my next hilltop adventure and reveal the answers to the gunshot mystery in my next post.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"Paint In" Memories

Last week I spent some valuable time with a very special group of artist friends. Karlyn Holman and Mary Rice, our gracious hosts, invite us to this "paint in" getaway each year to the remote northern area of Washburn, Wisconsin.

The paint in of 2014 was extra special as it marked 30 years since its inception. What a gift it is to be a part of this magical week!  Thank you!

The paintings posted here are ones I began last week. I still have some work to do on each of them and will post the completed images soon.

Astronomical Clock ~ Prague
22" x 30"

During this time we all work on our own paintings and at the end of each day we have a group critique which is when the learning really begins. Listening to others describe their work and how they resolve their painting problems really helps us to think outside of our way of painting and learn new ideas.

St. Mark's Square ~ Venice
watercolour in progress
22" x 30"

Others also comment and since we all work in very different ways and in various mediums, we hear many interesting viewpoints which is a very valuable way to learn. I highly suggest you get a group together in your area and begin your own special learning and fun time!

Bugaboo Mountains
watercolour in progress
22" x 30"

Of course it wasn't all about working hard. When we were painting we were also talking about art and about life. This sharing brings us closer and forms a very special bond. We have become a painting family. Wonderful!
Duomo Reflections ~ Florence
watercolour in progress
30" x 22"

This was also the year we said goodbye to a very special and talented artist, Joyce Gow. Joyce has been a long time friend and part of the paint in for many many years. She loved to share her knowledge with others and she really knew the importance of living life with a smile, inside and out. Her laughter and wisdom will be missed and she will be remembered as not only a great artist, but also a great friend. I talked with Joyce a couple of days before she died. She was laughing and talking about how wonderful life is.

What a gift she was and now memories of her and her beautiful paintings will continue to shine on....

Sunday, December 15, 2013

"Glacial Light"

"Glacial Light - Bugaboos" 
-work in progress-
acrylic on canvas
24" x 36"

Here is my latest attempt at capturing the magical spirit of the Bugaboo Mountains in British Columbia. I can't stop dreaming about this amazing place and have been forever changed by its beauty, 
its life force.

Painting up there on the mountaintop has awakened something deep within and I feel like I must keep exploring this place in paint until I have nothing left to say. Somehow I don't think that day will ever come and that's a good thing! 

Thank you Robert Genn for showing me the Bugaboos. If not for you I would never have experienced the wonder of these mountains!  I've learned so much from you through our time there and also from your Twice Weekly Newsletters on The Painter's Keys website.

Now back to the easel I go...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Childhood Dreamer ~ Poem

Every once in a while I have words floating in my head and I must write them down. The following poem is the result of a childhood memory. I've also included some of my favourite photos of frosty crystal magic. Dream on....

Childhood Dreamer

Snowflakes fall in gentle rhythm
whirling twirling their way
across this frozen landscape 
like the children they do play

They float and glide their way to earth
in games of dance it seems
how I would like to be a part
of this magical crystal dream

When I was young so long ago
I'd dream of days like this
to take me far into the night
on tales of wondered bliss

Adventures I would have out there
in crystal flight of free
pretend to live among the stars
as I hovered o'er the sea

And then I grew and realized
some things cannot be true
there is a time for wandering 
but growing up now too

So for a time I did forget
and lived with grounded feet
I did what was expected
no more the child I used to be

And now my children's children see
these crystals in the air
I hear them talk of fabled lands
of magical places fair

I had forgotten but now I see
what was lost has now been found
I tell them it is good to dream
and to listen for the sound

What sound is that they ask eyes wide
I tell them quietly
keep dreaming dreams of far off lands
they will keep you company

There is a world outside it's true
but there is also one inside 
it's here you'll find what you will need
to be happy, free, alive

A place of wonder waits for you
where life's mysteries are found
visit often here inside your  heart
 where adventures do abound

So keep on dreaming dreams so fair
of crystal lands and snowflake stars
come here often, feel the calm
and all your dreams will bring you far

I invite you now to follow me 
look inward, you will see
all the childhood wonders wait for you
dreaming day and night, just be

And when the times are done for me
I'll smile as I take flight
discovering new lands so fair
on a crystal shining light

I wish you and all you love a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year too! 

Thank you for being a part of my Artistic Journey.

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