Friday, 8 December 2017

Advent Calendar: Days 1 - 8

Blog 50

As I had already announced last week, the blogs of the weeks until Christmas will contain an advent calendar of some of my 2017 artworks.

This blog contains the images of the first eight days. If you do not wish to wait for the weekly count-down to Christmas, you can go to my Facebook page at, where a new image is revealed every morning at 7:30am.  As not everyone sees the images automatically on their timeline due to the Facebook algorithms, I decided to bundle them weekly in my blog.

Day 1:
This is a 9" x 6 1/2" felted version of my acrylic painting "Winter Glow". The original acrylic painting is 36" x 24". It was fun to create the dramatic winter landscape in a smaller scale in wool. It was not easy to create the soft transitions.

Day 2:
"I'm Watching You" is the first cat portrait I created this week. I started the 8" x 10" oil painted when my student wanted to paint a cat. She had picked a picture that I used as a reference to start my painting. Once I had the initial sketch on my canvas board, I changed the cats appearance to make it my own original work. Therefore, this cat painting is not a portrait of a specific cat.

Day 3:
The third artwork of this year's advent calendar is the 11” x 14” oil painting “At the Narrows Bridge”, which shows the view from the covered bridge over the Fitch Bay Narrows towards the hills. I painted it dressed in thick winter clothes, including battery heated socks, during the spring Plein Air Ensemble trip to Orford, Quebec.

Day 4:
The 20” x 10” acrylic painting “Pink Tulips” was started en plein air. I was disappointed that I did not manage to go to the Tulip Festival this year and decided to paint right in my own backyard.

Here is a link to a video of my painting experience:

Day 5:
This felted artwork was done for the Navan Fine Art Exhibition & Sale shoe project. The 10” x 12“ piece was inspired by the boots that my daughter wore as a young child. I loved them so much I kept them for her.

I picked this artwork for December 5, as German kids will put their boots in front of the door at night, so that St. Nikolaus will bring them some goodies overnight.

Day 6:
The 10” x 8” acrylic painting “Miko Sitting in the Sunshine” is the second painting of our cat. I started it during our summer vacation when I had a lot of time to paint, because the weather was not really nice enough for being at the beach. This painting was for my daughter who always misses her lovely companion when we go away for a couple of days.

I thought it was finished, but when I actually saw Miko again after our vacation, I made some further adjustments. Later, I even took the painting out of its frame again, when the lines of his front leg bothered me.

Day 7:
This artwork is an oil painting created with water soluble oil paints. I have to admit that I really like to work with this type of oil paints. You get the advantage of the oil colours with the convenience of an easy clean up using water.

“Unspoiled” is a 9” x 12” painting inspired by a photo taken of a lake in the Kamouraska region. I started the painting as a demo piece for my student who wanted to paint a landscape with a water. She picked this image from a variety of photos I presented to her.

Day 8:
 " Hansi", is a felted squirrel that I created after the squirrel in my acrylic painting "The Cheeky Squirrel".

Since I was a young child I have loved watching squirrels. The German word is "Eichhörnchen", which was much too difficult to pronounce for a toddler. So I named them all "Hansi".

I hope you enjoyed this first part of my advent calendar and will return next week. If you enjoy my blog, please share it. Thank you for helping me to increase my audience.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Enjoy What You Are Doing

Winter Glow: You can see the acrylic painting and the felted artwork during my Open House.

Blog 49

It is already December: a very busy month for most of us. Many of us are attending more social events in December than at any other time of the year. Then, there is the preparation of the house for the festivities, the baking, the cooking, and last but not least the buying of gifts.

With all this busyness, it is important to ask yourself whether you are really enjoying what you are doing or whether you are only striving to prepare the perfect holidays for the people around you.

Last weekend, I went to Baz’Art, a local winter arts market, to volunteer at the Arteast booth. Arteast is a visual arts organization in the East Ottawa area that is very active not only for their members but also in community projects. I have been a member for almost 20 years. Even though this is a busy time of the year, I have helped out at their table during this event for a couple of years. We are allowed to bring greeting cards and one painting for sale, but participating is not about selling our art. It is just a pleasant opportunity to spend time with fellow members, while giving demonstrations and talking to the visitors. It is such an energy booster.

I feel the same way about my yearly Open House. It is my chance to invite my customers to my house to show my latest paintings to them. I get a chance to talk to them about my art and hear their reactions. I don’t feel rushed, because I did not have to rush to set up my artwork. Plus, I also enjoy to see my new art decorating the walls of our house. When I made the list of 2017 artworks, I was surprised that I have created about 40 artworks this year despite my lack of creative time. My painting trip to Kamouraska definitely helped to raise the number of paintings. However, it is not about the number of artworks that I created but about the memories I associate with them, how looking at them makes me and others feel.

For many years, I wanted to make everything perfect for the holidays, especially for our kids. Over the years, I have learned that it is more important to cut down on some things to enjoy the time together. It is also important to take some time for yourself. Art is a wonderful way to get lost in a different world, whether you create it yourself, visit an exhibition or a show, or immerse yourself in a book.

If you enjoy looking at art and live in the Ottawa area, I would like to invite you to drop in for my Open House at 1270 Kinsella Drive, Cumberland, ON, K4C 1A9, from 10am to 2pm on Saturday, December 2, 2017. You will be able to see my new paintings in the setting of my own home. If you are not available this Saturday, you are always welcome to make an appointment with me in order to see certain paintings in person.

There will be lots going on this Saturday in Cumberland Village: The Cumberland Farmers' Market has its Christmas Market, the Lions Club hosts the annual Breakfast with Santa, the new gallery Da Artisti on Old Montreal Road will be open, and from 3pm  to 8 pm the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum will also be open with its Village of Lights.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Friday, 24 November 2017

How to Overcome Your Own Resistance

"The Essence of Summer", acrylic, 10" x 8"
Blog 48

Last week, I wrote how important it is to make time for art. I wrote about how frustrated I got when my life changed and I had less time to be creative. Now, I have scheduled regular time to paint and felt. Every Wednesday (and if possible also on Friday) evening, I go to my studio to paint for two hours. I also take time to be creative on Sundays, when I usually spent the afternoon felting while meeting friends. Every second Wednesday, when I enjoy a day off, I also spend time in my studio or painting with friends.

If you have a busy schedule and do not schedule time for your hobbies, you will always find a reason why something else needs to be done first. Chores are never ending. It is up to you to define your priorities. You might say, that creating something when you are not in the mood is impossible. Years ago, I would have agreed with you. Now, if I am absolutely not in the mood to work on a certain painting, I start something new, pick up a pencil and draw, or grab my felting equipment. Once I get started I usually forget all about my resistance. I completely lose track of time and just go with it. That’s why my Wednesday night painting sessions usually last longer than the two hours.

“Indian Summer at Petrie Island”, acrylic, 12” x 9”
To give you an example of how painting changes my mood, I will tell you about my painting day at Petrie Island last year in early November. My friends Janis, Hélène, and I had decided to make the most of the fantastic late fall weather and agreed to meet at Petrie Island for some plein air painting. I had lots going on at the time and so I only went out to take some photos and be with my friends. However, when I saw my friends painting, I did not just want to sit around. Once I started painting, I was happy to be out in nature and got absorbed in my surroundings and the process of putting the image on my canvas. The result is “Indian Summer at Petrie Island”, a 12” x 9” acrylic painting that I created with painting knives on a black canvas. It was an interesting experience. I usually use oil paints for painting outdoors, but as I was not in a mood to paint when I went out, I had just taken a few tubes of acrylic paint in case I would change my mind. I am glad I did. It was a lovely day, and I actually forgot about everything else going on in my life.

I encourage you to give it a try. It might be hard to start this in a month like December when parties and family gatherings, holiday shopping and preparations take a lot of our time, but on the other hand why wait? There will always be times when it is hard to stick to your plan. Maybe, creating handmade Christmas gifts can be the first step. Or you might consider just doodling for five or ten minutes every day. The goal is not to create a masterpiece but to let your creativity flow to reduce some stress and have fun.

If you want to wait until the new year, I will start January again with my own creativity challenge. During the month of January, I will keep practicing my drawing, felting, and painting skills by creating art every day. I will not focus on creating finished artworks. Some might be just sketches, some might even be failures, but all of them will be a learning experience. I will publish my creations every week and journal about my challenges, surprises, successes and frustrations. Hopefully, this will inspire you also to bring more creativity to your life.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at, if you need help to develop a skill. If I cannot help you, I will make sure to find a fellow artist who can.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Making Time for Art

Nature's Mirror, acrylic, 12" x 16"

Blog 47

Since I started my part-time job as a German instructor in January, I have struggled to find time to paint, especially because I still teach in the evenings. With more than two hours of driving each day, I found it hard to find a new rhythm. With less time at my disposal for creative projects, my plan was to put aside three hours on Saturdays and Sundays. However, chores and visitors interfered with my plan. I got frustrated about my lack of creativity and missed the balance in my life. All I did was work. I knew I had to find a solution.

The first step was to accept that any artist has periods of more or less productive times for different reasons. Sometimes lack of recognition, low sales, a creative block, health or relationship problems can be the root of such creative breaks. Other times, it is due to a shift in priorities or a new focus on a different medium. Sometimes, it even helps to take a break to get a fresh start.

I did not intend to take a break and felt something was missing in my life. However, soon I also realized that it was not only painting that I was missing. Painting in my studio and the administrative part of my business are usually very secluded activities. My lesser availability had also resulted in me neglecting to spend time with the people that are important to me. During the Kamouraska painting trip, I realized that I needed both art and my connection to my family and friends.

I love my work, both my art business as well as my instruction of students, but I did not want to regret at some point that I missed out on doing what was important to me in favour of working. I started to make changes. I always thought that I would be too tired to paint after work but what I found out is, that I feel totally re-energized once I am in my studio. This gives me more options to paint. I also started meeting friends on Sunday afternoons, but instead of just having coffee and tea, we bring some craft or art project to work on while we are chatting.

I am quite happy that I also have every second Wednesday off at the moment, which gives me an extra day to paint and spend with my painting buddies. This gives me more flexibility, especially if I know I will have a busy weekend ahead.

At the end, it is not different from making time to exercise. You have to put it into your schedule and stick to it, but be flexible enough to realize that sometimes life gets into the way. Instead of giving up, it is important to get back into a routine and make time for the things and people that are important to you.

Winter Glow, Painting Parties, acrylic, 20" x 16"
If you feel, you could need some extra bonding time with loved ones, painting parties are a fun way to get together with family and friends to create lasting memories. If you are interested in learning more about painting parties and how to host an event for your family and friends (both adults and children), please go to my website at or contact me directly by phone (613) 316-1543 or by email to My focus is small parties (up to 12 people) to help you create memories and have fun with your family and friends.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Remembrance Day Poppies

Blog 46

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day in Canada. It is a day to remember the sacrifices of the Canadian soldiers who have served and are still serving during times of war and conflict to help establish and guarantee peace.

To commemorate those who died in war, the red-flowered corn poppy is used, which became popular due to the famous poem "In Flanders Fields" by the Canadian surgeon and soldier John McCrae. Did you know that poppies are a symbol of sleep and peace? This connection comes from the possibility to extract opium from some varieties of the flower. In Western civilizations, red poppies often symbolize death in Western civilizations. The color of the poppy changes its meaning. White poppies are considered a symbol of peacefulness, while purple, pink, and blue poppies symbolize imagination, luxury and success. In Eastern civilizations, a red poppy is a symbol for love and success.

This summer, I created red poppies with a group of ladies. We created these flowers by dry felting wool rovings with the help of specialty needles that have very sharp, barbed blades. These needles are repeatedly stabbed into the wool fibers, so that they get tangled and compacted creating three-dimensional felt sculptures.

This repetitive movement is not only very relaxing, it also help you to get rid of frustrations and anger. If you have never tried felting, and are looking for an activity that is fun and offers limitless ways to express yourself, I hope the photos inspire you to learn this old craft. A word of caution: it is highly addictive; just ask my former students.

When I look at the poppy on my coat, I am reminded of the sacrifices the soldiers and military families have made throughout history and to this current date, so that we can live in peace. They are still making a difference not only in the many areas affected by war, but also help in cases of disasters. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the Canadian soldiers and their families.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Fall into Landscape Painting

Slide Rapids Marsh, oil, 10" x 8"

Blog 45

November is here and with the wonderful fall weather we had, it seems that it arrived out of nowhere. For the last couple of weeks, I wrote about my painting trip to Kamouraska. The time of our trip in early September is the beginning of the most beautiful season to paint outside.

The changing colours create a breathtaking landscape. However, many artists prefer to paint outside either before or after the peak of the fall colours. During the peak time, the intensity of the colours is overwhelming. The colours are so strong, that it is hard to concentrate on a focal point. Everywhere you look, the trees are competing with each other for the spot with the most amazing colour. It is like being in a candy store, where you cannot decide on what to choose, because there is just too much of everything.

Painting in the fall has some further advantages. The temperatures are usually quite pleasant and you have to endure less bugs. I am also very energetic and motivated in the fall, because I know that a long winter is before me and I want to make the most of the limited time available.

Ottawa River, Rockland, oil, 11" x 14"
While I have done most of my fall paintings in September and October, there is still some hope for nice sunny November days that feel like a special gift. I remember a mild November day a couple of years ago when my friends and I were just overjoyed with the extra painting opportunity.

While I know of a couple of painters who go outside in almost any kind of weather on a regular basis, I limit my plein air painting time these days to temperatures above -10 degrees Celsius. There was a time, when I felt I had to go outside during a painting trip no matter the weather, but these days I resort to working from reference photos, finishing paintings in progress, or setting up a still life. After all, there is still the next spring to go back outside. In the meantime, I find lots of art projects to work on inside during the cold winter days.

Winter Glow - Painting Party
Talking of spending time inside, painting parties are an exciting and different activity for get-togethers with family and friends. You will be creative, have fun, and create lasting memories. If you are interested in learning more about painting parties and how to host an event for your family and friends (both adults and children), please go to my website at or contact me directly by phone (613) 316-1543 or by email to My focus is small parties (up to 12 people). Due to my teaching schedule, I am available primarily from Friday to Sunday.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Painting Trip to Kamouraska 2017 - Part 6

Blog 44

This is the last part of my travelogue about the fantastic trip we had to the Kamouraska region this year. I am so happy to have had this opportunity again. What could be better than sitting in nature painting on a sunny day? 

Friday, September 15, 2017

"Stages if Life", acrylic, 11" x 14

After we took our group picture and Janis left for Ottawa, Hélène and I went to the Chemin de la Madone in St-André, where we painted the flowers from the flower and vegetable garden of the school Les Pèlerins. Sharon and Bill joined us to paint the wonderful sunflowers. Sharon also painted a beautiful red canna. Every school should have a garden like this. The students were impressed with our work. It was so great to see their interest and to answer all the questions they had.

"The Tide is Going out", acrylic, 11” x 14”

In the afternoon, we all went to the Chemin de la Grève East in St-Denis, where we painted the St. Lawrence River with the tide going out. Close to the river, we could definitely feel that temperatures had gone down. I was happy to have my winter coat and scarf. Unfortunately, the spot that we had picked to get shelter from the wind turned out to be close to a sewer; at least that’s how it smelled after the wind died down. Moreover, the mosquitoes were more than happy to get company, not very much to our liking. However, the scenery was breathtaking. The water was an amazing green of old glass bottles.

As Janis had taken my oil paints, so that I can take Hélène home with me, I painted with OPEN Acrylics. I had brought a small travel set and was quite impressed with the performance. When I first bought them, I was not too happy with them as the coverage is not the same as with the regular acrylic paints. However, since this summer, I have taken my set with me on a couple of occasions and have taken this fact into consideration, sometimes adding some regular paints and OPEN medium. You need more layers than with the regular acrylic paints but my paints stayed workable for hours even in the sun and with wind.

This evening, for dinner we had the second set of leftovers. The chili with fresh baguette from the bakery followed by their wonderful shortbread cookies with nuts and ice cream were just perfect after a full day of painting.

Now, our equipment is already in the car. We are looking back on a fantastic week. The weather could hardly have been better. We did not spent a single day indoors. It was sunny and warmer than ever. We enjoyed each other’s company and the good food we shared. Cooking together a frittata was lots of fun.

Tomorrow morning, we only have to pack our personal belongings and clean out everything from the kitchen before we can get on the road. We will certainly stop at the bakery one more time. Then we have to say goodbye for another year, but we will be back next September.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Painting Trip to Kamouraska 2017 - Part 5

Misty morning at St-André

Blog 43

This is already the fifth part of my travelogue. It was my last day of painting with Janis before she had to return to Ottawa.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Today was another fantastic day. Although it was warmer yesterday if you only look at the temperatures, it felt warmer today, because there was hardly any wind. Janis and I went to the old quay at St-André that the other three had found yesterday. At first I created an 8” x 10” oil painting of the l'Îlet, a little island slightly west of the old quay.

Then I painted the view towards the Parc de l'Ancien-Quai with the Monadnocks in the background. At that time the wind completely died down, which would have been great, if the mosquitoes had not appeared at the same time making it almost impossible to concentrate on painting - despite the use of mosquito repellent.

Janis and I decided on a lunch at the house. We sat in the Muskoka chairs in the garden and eat our lunch while looking at the St. Lawrence River. It was so relaxing that it was hard to get back on the road again.

As we still wanted to paint, we went to Rivière-Ouelle but were not really inspired by the scenery. Therefore, we turned back to Saint-Denis-De La Bouteillerie and drove from there down the Pointe-aux-Orignaux, where we painted the fishing hut, that we had already painted a couple of years ago. It was already 5pm, when we finally made our way back to the house. Nevertheless, we were the first ones back, but the others followed soon after.

Usually, each of us is responsible to cook one evening but as we were short of two participants, so we had planned to go out for dinner. However, as we still had so many leftovers, all five of us worked together in the kitchen to create an amazing frittata followed by a nice variety of ice cream flavours.

Due to Janis’ early departure tomorrow morning, we had our show and tell already tonight. Each of us had a lovely variety of works to show. It is always so much fun to look at each other’s works, and to figure out where they went to create the paintings. We have come here 9 years, and we still manage to find new and interesting spots to paint.

Next week, I will tell you about the last day in the Kamouraska. The time just flew by. If you enjoy my blog, please sign up for the automatic delivery of my blogs to your email inbox. This way, you will not miss a topic. Please feel free to share the content with family and friends who might enjoy the blog.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Painting Trip to Kamouraska 2017 - Part 4

at the nature resort at the end of Route Beaulieu

Blog 42

This fourth part of my travelogue starts with the second half of our trip. We continued to experience outstanding weather. Please continue to read my entry.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

This morning, we awoke to sunshine but heavy wind. Janis and I were traveling alone today. We went east towards St-André to the Parc de l'Ancien-Quai but it was too windy to paint outside and also too misty to make out the surrounding islands. We continued to Route Beaulieu, where we painted years ago. The area is now a gated nature resort that is accessible to the public. There are a couple of paths through the resort that are lovely for a walk but too difficult in order to drag and set up our equipment.

View from Notre-Dame-du-Portage,  oil, 10” x 20”
A little bit disappointed, we continued our drive to Notre-Dame-du-Portage, where we went to the park overlooking the St. Lawrence River. I created two paintings, a 10” x 20” and an 11” x 14” painting.

Stone Creatures, oil, 11” x 14”
On the way back, we stopped at the Monadnock at the Route de la Grève in Kamouraska and finished with a stop at the local store “Le jardin du bedeau” to get some gifts for our family.

At night, Bill served a wonderful home-made chili with bread and pastries from the bakery, not to mention very generous portions of ice cream.

After a couple of nights of knitting, I went back to working on my felted water lily. I have added more pedals that I have assembled but I am still not finished. This week is definitely giving me lots of possibilities to unleash my creativity.

Thank you for reading my blog. Hopefully, you enjoy taking the ride with me. I still have two more sequels for the next two weeks. 

My painting sale is still ongoing. To find out more about it, please go to my website or to my Facebook page

There is still time to join me at the Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex for the four week mini-session "Acrylic Landscape Painting".  It starts on Monday, October 16, 2017 at 6pm. For more information and to register please go to You can also register in person at any City of Ottawa recreation facility.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Painting Trip to Kamouraska 2017 - Part 3

Blog 41

This is part 3 of my Kamouraska painting trip travelogue. We had a very productive trip, possibly because we had no expectations but to have fun and to enjoy the painting time outside in this beautiful part of Kanada.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Today, we had another great day, even if the weather was not as sunny and warm as we had expected. It started out very promising but around lunchtime the sun suddenly disappeared and only came back by the time we had to get back to the house so I could prepare dinner.

“Mountain Road”, oil, 14" x 11"
This morning, Janis, Hélène, and I drove to St-André where we took the road past the school up the Monadnock. We found a great space where we were partly sheltered from the wind, and stayed there the whole day. Later Sharon and Bill joined us by chance. All five of us were painting the humongous rocks in front of us and all of us ladies also painted the view down the road where a maple had turned red.

For dinner, I prepared a vegetable pasta casserole which entailed a lot of cutting vegetables. As dessert, I offered the wonderful strawberry-rhubarb pie that I had brought from the Black Walnut Bakery in Cumberland. I would not have had enough time to prepare the dessert myself.

Tonight, Bill is playing the guitar for us, and the rest of us is taking it easy with puzzles and reading. After finishing my travelogue, I will continue to felt the water lily I am working on.

It is hard to believe that the first half of our trip is already behind us. Time really flies when you are having fun!

I hope you have fun following my adventures. If you enjoy my blogs, I encourage you to subscribe to the automatic email delivery of my weekly blogs.

Golden Days of Fall, acrylic, 8" x 10"

My painting sale is still ongoing. To find out more about it, please go to my website or to my Facebook page

For all of you in Canada and all Canadians abroad, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving with family and friends celebrating the abundance of life.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Painting Trip to Kamouraska 2017 - Part 2

Blog 40

This is the second part of my travelogue of the September 9 - 16, 2017 painting trip to Kamouraska:

Monday, September 11, 2017

We had just an amazing day! The sun was shining from sunrise to sunset, and it was pleasantly warm if you stayed sheltered from the wind.

The Overflowing Garden, oil, 5" x 7"
Janis, Hélène and I spent the day painting together again. We started out at the Avenue Chassé, where we painted the flowers of a beautifully planted private flower garden. Unfortunately, we were not the only ones admiring the multitude of flowers -- whole groups of people showed up to take pictures while we were painting. I started with a 5” x 7” painting of sweet peas growing all over the fence followed by the garden, this time towards the blue house of the restaurant L’amuse-Bouche. 

View towards Île aux Corneilles at Low Tide, acrylic, 8" x 10"
After lunch, we felt too tired to drive out again. Instead we walked along Avenue Morel with our small painting kits looking for a place close to the house so we could easily go back for a nap. At the end, we stayed a couple of metres west of the house on Avenue Le Blanc and painted the low tide. I felt so energized after the first painting that I created another 7” x 5” painting of some wild roses. I am quite happy with the little painting, even though I did not have any magenta in my small acrylic set. I have to brighten up the colour a little bit when I get home. Magenta is one of the colours that is really hard to mix, I usually have a tube with me when I go to paint flowers but I had not really planned to paint with acrylic paints on this painting trip. I had brought them in case we found a picturesque spot that was not accessible with my usual painting cart.

Kamouraska Sunset, oil, 12" x 24"
After our Happy Hour, we finally, after years of talking about it, went outside to paint the sunset. Unfortunately, there was not a single cloud in the sky, which would have made the sunset even more dramatic, but we all managed to capture a stage of the sunset. If you have ever watched a sunset, you know how fast the sun moves. It is a question of minutes. Even though we are used to the fast changes while painting outside, this took it to a new level. The sky and the water change constantly. None of us even took the time to take a picture.

I am extremely happy with my day. I cannot remember ever having painted five paintings in a day, not that the quantity really matters, but I was excited and energized enough to paint for six hours. That’s a long time of concentration.

After finishing the sunset painting, we devoured Hélène’s vegetable quiche, salad, and goodies from the bakery. After cleaning the dishes, we all were so tired that it was a quiet evening of checking emails, puzzles, and knitting. Spending so much time in the fresh air concentrating on our painting subjects makes it hard to get through the evening. During the painting trip, even I go to bed an hour earlier than my usual midnight bedtime.

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you will return next week for part 3. If you are interested in my day to day news, please go to


Friday, 22 September 2017

Painting Trip to Kamouraska 2017 - Part 1

Blog 39

It has been almost a week since I returned from the painting trip with my friends Janis, Hélène, Sharon and Bill to Kamouraska. We had a great time, and the weather was the best we ever had. Except for one morning, we did not have any rain and mild temperatures.

The following is part 1 of my travelogue:

Sunday, September 10, 2017

On the sunny morning of September 9, it was time again for our yearly trip to Kamouraska. Janis and I left in the morning after getting lunch at the bakery and buying some last minute necessities for our week at Kamouraska.

Unfortunately, we had to go in two cars again as Janis has to leave a day early. However, on my way back Hélène will come with me. That will be a lot for fun. It is a long drive when you drive by yourself. I switched between rock music, Spanish and French language learning tapes. When I arrived my voice was a little hoarse but at least I made it through without falling asleep.

It was a nice reunion when we arrived. Even the house owners were there. It almost feels like family. We started by sitting in the winter garden, looking at the beautiful sunset and making plans to finally paint it during this visit.

We enjoyed Janis’ home-cooked meal of salmon with rice and a salad followed by the crowd pleaser blueberry duff before we spent the evening catching up.

This morning, we were a little disappointed that it was raining. Janis, Hélène, and I decided to get the errands out of the way. After we did our “mandatory” trip to the bakery, we looked for a place to order a dinner and found the bistro “Le Comptoir Gourmand”, where Janis and Helene enjoyed a coffee on the patio while I drew some flowers.

Once the grocery shopping was done, the sun came out and we headed to St-Roch-des-Aulnaies, because we hardly had any wind at the time. There, we spent the afternoon at the parc “Le Havre du Quai”. All three of us painted two paintings despite the increasing wind which seems to be always stronger at this little park.

Le Havre du Quai, St-Roch-des-Aulnaies, oil, 11" x 14, unfinished

Afterwards we went to “La Seigneurie des Aulnaies”, which contains a mill, a bakery, and a Victorian manor with adjoining gardens that was part of the “la Fête du Pain” (Bread Festival), that was going on that weekend. We enjoyed a stroll through the garden with its beautiful flowers and I even got some specialty flour for my daughter from the mill.

At the house, Sharon and Bill were ready for Happy Hour, which was followed by Sharon’s wonderful creamy meal of “Creamless Cream of Cauliflower”, corn on the cob, ham with mashed potatoes and carrots followed by a creamy dessert with fresh fruit.

Now, we are all sitting happily but very tiredly in the living room enjoying a lazy evening.

I hope you enjoyed my travelogue and will join me for the continuation next week. Thank you for reading my blog. Please share my blog with family and friends who might be interested in my writings.

Friday, 15 September 2017

The Interpretation of Symbols in Still Life Paintings

Spring Bouquet, acrylic, 16" x 20"

Blog 38

While many still lifes nowadays are painted in order to show simply the beauty of the objects and the interesting composition, many early still lifes contained symbols to express the artist’s opinion with regard to common religious, spiritual, social, cultural, and moral views.

The so called vanitas paintings contained big arrangements of objects that held a lot of symbolic meanings with regard to life's fragility and the inevitability of death, often warning the viewer that all earthly riches are vain.

Some of the most popular natural objects used in still life paintings were food, flowers and plants, animals, shells, skulls, bones, rocks and stones, feathers, and shells. Books, china, vases, jewelry, coins, and tools were man-made objects that were often used as well.

Sometimes, the painting of natural objects was done to symbolize a scientific interest in nature. More often natural objects were used to show abundance or deprivation of material goods, and mortality. In general there is the distinction between fresh and decaying objects. For example, fresh food signifies abundance and wealth, while decaying food serves as a reminder of our own mortality. The same is true for freshness of flowers and plants. They are often also a reminder that life is short and fragile, or symbolize certain seasons. In some cases, flowers of different colours have a different meaning (see for example the rose).

Here are a couple of flowers and their meaning:
Lilies: purity, chastity, and innocence.
Orchids: perfection.
Poppies: sleep and death.
Red roses: love and passion, are also used as a symbol for the Virgin Mary
White roses: virginity and purity
Yellow roses: jealousy and infidelity.
Sunflowers: loyalty, admiration, longevity and faith.

In Western cultures, the Christian Church was a strong influence on artists and one of their most affluent commissioners, therefore many religious symbols were used to tell the constant battle between good and evil. The triangle with its point upwards and the three divided clover leaf are signs of the Trinity of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, while four-leafed clovers represent luck. The butterfly often represents the soul and the resurrection of Christ. Bread symbolizes the body of Christ, while vine leaves and grapes can either be a symbol of Christ’s blood or a symbol of earthly pleasures, but also of the loss of self-control. Feathers can either symbolize the religious virtues of hope, faith, and charity or freedom as they make it possible to fly, and rise up to heaven. Therefore, birds symbolize the resurrection of the soul after death. The apple often represents temptation and sin according to the bible story of Adam and Eve. At the same time it is a symbol of knowledge and death. Skulls or bones also symbolize mortality. Skull also represent inner contemplation, and eternity.
Clocks, hourglasses and burning candles show the passing of time, but when a candle is extinguished it symbolizes the end of life or loss. In a Christian painting a candle can also be a symbol for the light of Christ.

Musical instruments are often added to still lifes. String instruments like the violin often symbolize the vanity of our life, because their strings break easily. The flute on the other hand is often a symbol with sexual meaning. Music is often associated with a lazy and sinful life.

Luxury items like jewelry symbolize wealth and power in still life paintings. However,
when they are toppled, it is a sign that earthly riches are fleeting. Meat and fish also symbolize wealth, as well as greed and temptation. They also warn of the transience of wealth.

When looking at the meaning of objects used in a still life painting you have to use caution as some objects have a different meaning in different cultures and settings. If you are more interested in the subject, you can find a lot of fascinating information online and in books.

This was my short introduction to still lifes and my attempt to show you that especially the older artworks contain a lot of information and meaning behind the beautiful facade.

When this blog is published, I am on our yearly painting trip in the Kamouraska Region at the St. Lawrence River. Starting next week, I will share my travelogue with you. In remembrance of my wonderful Kamouraska trips, this week’s painting on sale is the 16” x 20” acrylic painting “Roch-des-Aulnaies, QC”. The painting is in a gold frame. The original price is $420. You can purchase it for $375 until Monday, September 18, 2017 at noon. Shipping and handling fees are added, except if you pick up the artwork or live in the Orleans area. To buy the painting, please send me an email to Payment can be made in cash, by check or e-transfer. Photos of each new painting are posted every Monday on my website as well as on my Facebook page

I hope you enjoyed my blog and will return next week. If you enjoy my blogs, I encourage you to subscribe to an automatic delivery of my blogs to your email inbox.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Have Some Fruit!
acrylic, 9" x 12"

Blog 37

For the next couple of weeks, I give you some more information about still lifes, a genre of art that has a long history. While still lifes were already found in the interior of Egyptian tombs of the pharaohs and Ancient Greek vase paintings, for the longest time pure still life paintings were one of the less valued painting genres due to the lack of people in the composition.

Joachim Beuckelaer: Kitchen Piece, with Jesus in the House of Martha and Mary in the background, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

At first, still life objects were included in religious and allegorical pieces as well as portraits to support the focus of the painting. The rise in popularity came with the discovery of new continents in the 16th century that lead to an immense interest in the study of new species of plants and animals.

Claude Monet: Still Life with Apples and Grapes (1880), public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

With the rise of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists who were interested in the effects of light on nature’s color schemes, experimenting with brush strokes, tonal values, and colour placement, still lifes became less realistic but expressed mood and energy instead.

Juan Gris: Still Life with a Guitar, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Over time, artists explored for fresh ways to create still lifes. They lost the interest in creating realistic still lifes and were looking for ways of abstraction. The illusion of perspective was replaced by objects constructed of flat shapes in bright colours, followed by breaking down the painting into geometrical shapes that found its peak in the works of the cubists who arranged the simple shapes of the deconstructed objects to show the object from different perspectives in one painting.

The Surrealists on the other hand explored the subconscious mind and painted their often distorted objects in fantasy scenes, making it seem that the objects were weightless and floating.

During the pop art of the 1960s and 1970s the sterile still lifes of mass production objects put the commercialisation of the products into the focus showing the attitudes of society rather than the characteristics of the objects. The objects lost their uniqueness and became interchangeable.

Nowadays, still lifes are created mainly for the depiction of the artist’s interest in the object, either to capture the beauty of the object, an interesting composition or the play of colours and shapes. In the past, many artists added symbols to express their view of mortality, religious and moral opinions as well as to use them to tell a story in allegories.

Next week, I will I will discuss the symbolism in still lifes. I hope you enjoyed my blog and return next week for the continuation.


If you are interested in bringing a little bit of history into your house, this week's painting on sale is "The Duford House", a 16" x 20" acrylic painting of one of the buildings at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum. The painting shows the house before a veranda was added to the front of the building a couple of years ago. The original price is $400. You have until Monday, September 11, 2017 at noon to purchase it for $340. To buy the painting, please send me an email to Payment can be made in cash, by check or e-transfer. Shipping and handling fees may be added depending on the destination.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Do Compare Apples and Oranges

Spring Bouquet With Gerbera and Lilac,
Oil, 14” x 11"
Blog 36

With the start of the new school year, the subject of lunch and snacks comes to my mind once the school supplies are bought and the school bag packed. With the increasing consciousness about healthier eating, fruits and vegetables are a big staple in our house.

Fruits and vegetable are, however, not only great for eating, they also make beautiful objects for still life painting. Still lifes are artworks that depict objects that are not alive, often vegetables, fruits, flowers, shells, and even dead animals, or man-made everyday objects to name just a few.

I love painting still lifes in class or as an impromptu project on a rainy day. While I have no problem with artists using photos as reference materials, I feel it is essential that one also practices drawing and painting from nature. When I teach a class at night, it is not possible to go outside to paint. Setting up a still life gives students and myself the challenge to create an illusion of a three-dimensional object on a two-dimensional surface while actually looking at a three-dimensional object not an image of the object that is already two-dimensional.

I usually take photos of the things I paint. Sometimes, when I look back at the photos, I am surprised that the scene does not look the way I remember it. Often the colour is not the way I saw it in real life, especially considering blue and violet objects. In the photograph, the depth is compromised, the highlights and shadows are usually too sharp and would look not convincing in a painting.

Fruits especially also help to demonstrate that you should start the composition with simple shapes. This is one reason why I like to paint apples. They are nicely round. You can also demonstrate while looking at an apple that they consist not only of one colour but mixtures of colours with different values. These different values create the illusion of perspective. Observing different fruits also makes you realize how an apple differs from an orange, peach or apricot, even though they look similar in shape. When you look at a still life you learn how to observe characteristics you might overlook otherwise or see what some characteristics that you have taken for granted are in reality. We have all been programmed to assume that things look a certain way, while they actually change appearance according to the light source and the surroundings.

Here is just an easy exercise: Just look at a tree trunk at different times of the day. It is not simply brown as the first response might be, if you were asked about the colour. The trunk has different colours according to the type of tree, which change when it is in the sun, shade or wet from rain. This will show you how light influences the appearance of objects.

Here are some of my favourite apple painting:

paintings of my "An Apple a Day" series

Thank you for reading my blog. I wish you a wonderful long Labour Day weekend. If you are going back to school or work after the holiday, I wish you a good start. After the long summer break here in Canada, not only school starts again, but also all the fall courses at recreation centres. This fall, I will teach one adult landscape course at Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex in Orleans from Mon, Oct 16-Nov 6 from 6pm-7:30pm ($67.00, code 1114789). You can register online at or at any of the City of Ottawa recreation centre. I am also available for private or semi-private classes. Please contact me at, if you would like more information. I also offer kids cartooning and comics classes at both MacQuarrie Recreation Complex ( and François Dupuis Recreation Centre (