Friday, December 17, 2010

Steveston Britannia Cannery

Boat Study
8 x 10
Since I'm enjoying rather rainy damp weather here on the coast I thought I'd do a small study of a retired boat and cannery turned into a historical park.   A possible candidate for a larger piece.  I enjoyed doing this quick little painting but discovered that the canvas sketch pad that I was using is student grade and the oil and medium has soaked through.  Another lesson on why it pays to use the best quality materials possible without exceptions.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Earthquakes and rogue waves

orchard study
8 x 10
oil on canvas board
The last time we were in Hawaii was in 2006 and just as I was was about to step through the magnetometer at the Honolulu Airport the alarms starting going off throwing me into a panic!  I've always been nervous about the whole security procedure and when everyone assured me that it wasn't me and in fact there had been an earthquake my next thought was the realization that my husband had already cleared security and I didn't want us to be separated so I jumped thru and thankfully we were into the waiting area with a Starbucks coffee in our hands before the entire island of Oahu lost power and everything ground to a halt.  This all happened in mere minutes and we were very lucky to catch the only flight out that day to the Big Island which was the epicenter and had received most of the damage.  One of the largest quakes in years for the Hawaiian Islands.  So we arrive on the island of Maui a couple of weeks ago and what happens - the biggest quake since 2006, not one but 3 - well we didn't feel the 2nd and 3rd one but one of our neighbors also reported on a rogue wave that had come in the middle of the night.  Our travels are never dull!   Anyway while on holidays I only sketched a little with watercolors so I have posted above an oil study done just before I left.  The fall colors were so vivid as to be almost overwhelming.  Now it is very grey here and the colors are much more muted.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Neighbors Garden

Chesapeake Garden
12 x 16
oil on canvas board
Fortunately my neighbors are great gardeners!  This garden is near our coast home and is a delight to walk by.  I sadly don't have much of a green thumb and restrict my gardening efforts to our desert home where I don't have to worry so much about watering.  Cactus and sage survive my efforts.  As usual I tried to put way too much detail in and spent over half the time on this painting taking out unnecessary information that was very distracting.  Still a lot going on here but I'm happy to leave it for now.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

An Unusual Plein Air Painting Location

Fraser River Log Booms
8 x 10
oil on canvas board
Where else would one go to enjoy peace and quiet, natural beauty and timeless moments but the local sewage treatment plant!  A park has been created around it and it has become a popular destination for picnickers, walkers and cyclists and though it is only 20 minutes or so from downtown Vancouver it is possible to find a spot on a sand dune with no one in sight, only birds, boats on the river and the occasional plane taking off from the nearby airport.  The only downside is a whiff of nasty odor every now and then but I managed to find a nice place upwind with a good view of the river.  The next time I paint this scene it will be of the tug that went by as I was painting in the log booms.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Dangling off a bridge

Harbour study
8 x 10
oil on canvas board

I drove back and forth over the bridge and finally parked the car, jumped over the railing and sat on a chunk of concrete hanging out over the little inlet.  My goal was to pay attention to the values and simplify as it was quite a busy scene in front of me.  It was so restful though to sit there with my pochade box on my lap listening to the birds and the occasional dog walker passing by.  I've often seen fishermen standing on this bridge, what a wonderful place to spend some time.  No fishing this time I guess because I had it all to myself!

Friday, October 1, 2010


Fall Colors
8 x 10
oil on canvas board
I've been posting little but painting lots, not for the purpose of producing a finished painting but instead to play and experiment with some of the concepts that I have been learning from Stapleton Kearns blog. He is so very generous with his knowledge and there is much to learn. At the same time I want to take a far looser and more colorful approach to painting but the basic rules of landscape painting can still be applied. The little painting above is based on a scene I photographed as I was pulling out of a park after a plein air session. The sun had momentarily come out from behind the clouds and I quickly parked the car again and got some great photos. Now I see what painters mean when they say one has to catch the scene quickly or the light changes. The hard part was to try not to put too much detail in and I finally had to put down the small brushes and stick to the big ones.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


View to Skaha Lake
12 x 12
oil on wrapped canvas
I've been doing an enormous amount of reading various artists' blogs and have picked up so many tips and ideas and sometimes wish I could go back and find out where some of these came from. I should really document as I go. This painting above was from a photo taken during a plein air outing and the method I used was to do a fairly detailed underpainting in one hue that being iron oxide. I found this helped me get a better range of values and an idea of whether the design was going to work. It also helped to cover all the white right away as I hate those little specks showing through. Then it was just pure fun adding in the colors!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Between Races

Ladner Marina Pochade
8 x 10
oil on canvas board
This little piece was a plein air painted a few blocks from my home on the coast.  A few buildings were taken out as with landscape pieces I find that I have problems with design if I don't change things around a little.  And although I was trying to be on the realistic side regarding hue I'm now thinking I should have used my artistic license and changed the color scheme.  I'm loving how much I'm learning by getting outside to paint.  In the meantime I've now finished my last big event - riding my bicycle from Vancouver to Whistler and have also found out that I've sold some more paintings so now I'm going to have to put the bike away and get back to some serious painting!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ironman Week

Village Gateway
12 x 16
oil on canvas board
This lovely little village main street was one of many that we road our bikes through last summer in the Pyrenees. I often wondered where the cars and people were till someone told me that many villagers have moved to the big cities. It's so sad to see such beautiful places abandoned but I guess we have that problem here too. Well the summer is almost over, we've felt the shift in temperature with the evenings cooling off. I've had a great time with lots of family and friends to play with, sold a few paintings, didn't paint enough but will soon and this weekend will finish it off with the Penticton Ironman Canada Triathlon. I've spent much of the summer swimming, biking and running in preparation for it and though I've enjoyed it immensely I'm ready for a break. I'll have one more event to do, a ride from Vancouver to Whistler and then I plan to take advantage of the last warm days to do some plein air painting. I've spent the last week building a pochade box and can't wait to try it out!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Something different

Looking out to Sea NFS
8 x 8
oil on doorskin

My first portrait magically evolved yesterday over top of piece of board that I had been using as a practice area for testing colors. It felt very much like when one finally decides to commit and plunge into a freezing sea, very scary and yet exhilarating at the same time! Done quickly and loosely it was a lot of fun, many of the test colors left to show through. Haven't been painting much lately as I've been spending far too much time floating away the hot summer days on the lake. Today we are suffering from the smoke of over 400 hundred forest fires burning in this province and we can't even see the sun so I'm back to the easel for a while.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Breaking the second brush stroke habit

Skaha Bluff Trail SOLD
8 x 10
oil on canvas panel

This scene is of a conservation area overlooking Skaha Lake and it is absolutely stunning with sage brush, wildflowers and beautiful rock formations. If you get lucky you may see some mountain sheep. Sitting out in the sun in the middle of a 35 degree day made it necessary to just block in some values and hues and head home for the finishing up but this was basically just an exercise in putting down one brushstroke and then reloading the brush and planning before putting down the next. I often find that I dab away and have to wipe off brush strokes that pick up unwanted paint and most often it is the second brushstroke that does it so I am determined to quit that habit. Something else to work on is deciding whether the shadows will be cool or warm and I battled back and forth on this. Another challenge was pushing the distant trees back. So much learning from one little plein air piece.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Plein Air Dangers

Kaleden SOLD
12 x 16
oil on board

This should have been a plein air painting but as the original suffered a 'wipe down' fate and I still felt the need to paint this scene I did it at home. Much as I love taking my loyal little Yorkie I was worried the whole time he'd end up in a bunch of cactus or worse being bitten by a snake so I wasn't able to concentrate with him under my feet. Today he did everything in his power to get out that gate and into the car but I got away without him. I think the guilt was worse than the worry so next time he comes with me...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

rain, rain, go away

in progress
10 x 8
oil on board

We live in a desert though you wouldn't know with all the greenery carpeting the hills and it's raining relentlessly so I'm working on an image that I caught at a local market last year back when it was sunny. This fellow was under a tent and I had to crop his head for the composition but I really just wanted to catch his enthusiasm with his feet kicking up to the music. Funny how little things make a difference. Had he been just standing no matter how lively the music I would have walked by. I love painting people in motion and will eventually work on dance if I can get some good resource photos.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Eye Candy

Tucelnuit Lake
8 x 10
oil on board

Saturday I rode my bike 60 kilometers down our beautiful Okanagan valley and every direction I looked was so incredibly beautiful, truly a treat for the eyes. I'm often brought to tears while I'm out there drifting silently past vineyards, climbing valleys, descending down mountain sides. The next day I gathered up my paints and along with my plein air partner Iggy the Yorkie off I went to capture some of the scenes. The one above was one of the many lakes in the area and the blue of the water was absolutely electric. I didn't quite catch it but am close I think. Today I finished it up at home but poor Iggy slept all day on my supply bag waiting to head out.

Monday, May 31, 2010

By the Sea

Cannery Study
8 x 8
oil on doorskin

I'm on the west coast right now and managed to take advantage of a few hours of dry weather to go to Steveston , an old fishing village, and join a few plein air painters. Above is an old cannery converted into a park with working canneries nearby. Lovely to be by the sea and of course had to indulge in some fish and chips. Now it is back to the usual drizzle mixed with downpours and it's almost too dark to paint.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Plein Air Adventures continued

Sand Cliffs
12 x 16
oil on wrapped canvas

Last Sunday after cheering on friends at a local triathlon I ventured off into the back country searching for a location where I could pull off the road and easily set up all my plein air painting gear. I finally found a spot that would work perfectly, got all organized, paint brush in hand, canvas on the easel and then I realized I had not brought paint. I am going to have to make a list as it seems this whole thing is as complicated as camping and I know I always needed a list for those excursions. The next day I headed off again, this time with my little 4 pound Yorkie who managed to squeak through the gate and into the car. Never wanting to miss a road trip he can often be found curled up on a suitcase or bag by the door knowing that they are destined for the car and he does not want to be left behind. He turned out to be good company and so will be one more item to add to the list.
My highlight of the week was receiving in the mail a painting from Kim Rempel which I won in a draw in honor of her reaching 100 followers! Go see her fabulous paintings at

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A very cool plein air experience

View to Trout Creek
8 x 8
oil on doorskin

Today I headed up the west side of Okanagan Lake and set up in a lovely little rest area with beautiful views of the community just north of here. I was busy getting all my stuff unpacked when I heard some rustling and up from the beach came a pair of ducks right up to my feet. They checked out my easel and then settled down right underneath it only stirring when someone was walking by as if to warn me. My little buddies stayed till I was finished and then flew off across the lake I had just painted. What a perfect outing!

Below is the second painting that I did down at Vaseux on Sunday.

McIntyre Bluff
8 x 8
oil on doorskin

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Plein Air #2

Vaseux Lake
6 x 8
oil on doorskin

This is my second go at plein air and what made this kind of fun was spotting another artist scouting around for a good vantage point. I later followed her route up a back road and found several lookouts above this lake where I set up for my next painting. I often cycle by this lake wishing I could pull over and paint so today I finally was able to spend the morning soaking up the sun and listening to the meadowlarks. I am definitely hooked on plein air!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Ladner Harbour
18 x 24
oil on wrapped canvas
This little scene is only 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver and is actually only a block away from downtown Ladner yet it feels so peaceful and quiet. I drove by on my way to get groceries last week and the reflections were so incredible I had to stop to get a photo and couldn't wait to paint it. The little tent on the dock is storage for kayaks which can be rented and paddled up the many little channels off the Fraser River. The stubby little pilings on the right have great tufts of grass growing on them and the forest behind is a nature park.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

My Lucky Week

16 x 20
oil on wrapped canvas

This week started off a little rough. Cold, wind and rain were putting a damper on my Ironman training, keeping me out of my garden and deterring me from any plein air attempts. Not to be discouraged I looked forward to the workshop I'd be going to in a few days. And then imagine my surprise when the news arrived that I'd won a painting! What a shocker - I never win anything. Time to buy some lottery tickets I think! Anyway Kim Rempel in celebrating reaching 100 followers drew a name to receive a beautiful painting! Check it out and her other paintings at Her work is fabulous. Thanks Kim so much!
And as for the workshop it was put on by Bonny Roberts, a great BC artist. We were able to take 5 paintings that we were stuck on to be critiqued and hopefully resolved. Fix It Finish It was the name of the workshop and the above horse which I posted last year as 'in progress' is finally now finished. Thanks Bonny for putting on a great workshop.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

so much for plein air

10 x 8
oil on wrapped canvas

I scoped out my next plein air site, a nice harbor scene and taking just my camera to get a few photos to plan the composition I hopped out of the car, braved the west coast wind and rain to get a few pics and within minutes decided I'd wait for warmer weather, or hold off till I'm back in our desert interior. So instead I decided to try a still life with a twist - just had to put myself in it. My daughter and I love to go for a proper tea and here we are at Victoria's Butchart Gardens enjoying our treats and the scenery out the window.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Now I understand why one should paint plein air

Skaha View
8 x 8
oil on doorskin

Last week I discovered a French plein air easel on sale at my local art shop and since I've been reading about the necessity of getting outside and painting from real life and frustrated with my attempts at landscapes I decided to treat myself to a late birthday present and purchased it. Like a kid with a new toy I made a list, packed my paints, bought a little folding chair and off I went in search of a private location to set up and try plein air painting for the first time. Very shy abouting painting publicly I drove up into the hills overlooking one of our large lakes and rounded the last corner into a parking lot full of cars! Climbing season has begun! I decided to head up the trail anyway and went off a little ways till I had a good view of the lake. Feeling excited but very awkward and full of anticipation I quickly set up, squeezed out paint onto my palette, grabbed a brush and took a big breath and started to paint. Immediately realized I'd forgotten my glasses, had no where to put down my brushes and the wind was not only whipping my hair around my face which didn't matter anyway as I couldn't see but it was also trying to blow my paper palette away. No worries, this was only a trial and after a half hour of loose easy brush strokes I packed up and headed home. The connection I felt with nature being out there with the wind in the trees, the birds singing and the feeling of peace and timelessness has made me want to go back and I look forward to the next adventure. Hopefully I'll be a little more organized next time.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Painting what I think I see...

Gloria's Bouquet
12 x 12
oil on wrapped canvas

Two subjects I think I know well but cannot seem to paint easily are flowers and landscapes. What ends up on the canvas is nothing like what sits before me and I have finally discovered that I have to focus very hard with my eyes on all the shapes, hues and values instead of letting my hand paint what my brain thinks the subject should look like. Now that spring is here I should get lots of practice. This beautiful bouquet was a gift to a very special friend who gave me a push to get back to the easel and I will be forever grateful for her support.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Olympic Withdrawal

Vancouver Reflections
30 x 40
oil on canvas

Long after the Olympics are over I am still suffering withdrawal, cold and fatigue forgotten, regrets on not spending more time downtown, wishing it was an annual event here and yes I would do it all over again. I know I said I wouldn't but I have said that about Ironman too and here I am signed up to do it again in August. So with two weeks away from the easel I could feel a painting coming on and it was going to be a big one. Another Vancouver scene. The last two days spent painting and I thought it was done but as is often the case as soon as I get it on the computer I can see all kinds of touch ups needed. The challenge in this one besides the people and reflections was the varying nature of Vancouver's downtown buildings with rounded sides and odd shapes and positions. I tried to worry not so much about perspective but more about getting some interesting patterns with the hope that in the end it reads okay.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Paralympics Experience

Lantern Forest Walk
24 x 18
oil on wrapped canvas

Heading back downtown for my Paralympic volunteer duties I couldn't help but feel nostalgic for the crazy three weeks when Vancouver was one giant party. The painting above is a scene on Granville Street where a bamboo forest was built decorated with lanterns designed by children and lit by LED lights. People loved to stomp on the platforms making it sound like a rain forest and with the sunlight filtering through it certainly felt like a magical place. There is still a festive feel to the downtown but not on such a big scale. Most venues are closed and mine had it's final day with the Paralympic Opening Ceremonies. After spending four hours checking tickets outside I was able to get in to thaw out and see a little of the show. There was a different feel to this event, a little less formal but just as much energy and excitement and it was great to see so many youth involved whether it was with a choir or a dance group. So now I am home and will try to paint a few more Vancouver scenes while they are still fresh in my mind.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Olympic Volunteer Experience

Vancouver Benches
24 x 18
oil on wrapped canvas

I have lived in Vancouver most of my life and have never seen anything like the last three weeks of Olympic partying. I commuted most days downtown to my volunteer job at BC Place where the opening, closing and medal ceremonies were held and before long was starting to go early and stay late just to experience the amazing energy of the friendly crowds and the crazy fun entertainment. My volunteer experience itself was brutal and one of the hardest things I've had to do in my life. The first ten hour day started with an unexpected all day posting outside in inadequate clothing and I was left feeling dismayed and humiliated when I found out I was not allowed into the very venue at which I was working. I was given a half cup of chili and that was it for food for the entire ten hour shift. By the time I arrived home I'd been standing on cold concrete in winter weather for twelve hours, couldn't get warm and it took several hours to fall into a fitful sleep. Most of my shifts were like this so I began to pack extra clothes and my own food and I had to sleep and rest on most my time off. I was yelled at on a daily basis, an easy mark in my 'blue jacket' for those frustrated with the Olympics and the inconveniences they were experiencing or for those who found the venues difficult to get around. I was often posted as an Access Control or at the security checks where I had to deal with angry work force, arrogant media or impatient ticket holders. I suffered from the rain and cold all the while working alongside paid security people who were given winter clothes and shelter under a heated tent. One night the security team kept bringing me in under the heater as they could see I was turning blue. I got sick of course, lost six pounds and am still trying to recover. Were there any good moments, something that made it all worthwhile? Well I wouldn't go that far but I did get to see the opening and closing ceremonies, met my favorite singer Sarah McLachlan, made some good friends and had some pretty funny moments that still make me laugh. Would I do it all again? Not a chance. I am so happy to be home and painting again!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

50's lake boats

Lake Boats
9 x 12
oil on wrapped canvas

I am enjoying the winter sports right now leaving little time to paint. Often I can be found up the mountain skate skiing one of the many trails but yesterday I ran a ten kilometer ( 6 mile) snowshoe race and so today am looking for any excuse to sit! Perfect for a small painting where I don't have to get up and stand back to look at it. This one is done from another of my great Uncle's photos from the 50's. I was fascinated with the colors and shapes and enjoyed focusing on these aspects and not worrying too much about detail. A nice way to get back to painting after being away for a few days.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Pilot's Day Is Done

To Sea
18 x24
oil on wrapped canvas

"To Sea" my husband might say when I ask what his assignment is and then I know he will be taking a ship from somewhere near Vancouver out past Victoria and as the ship continues out to sea a pilot boat will come alongside to pick him up. He often takes his camera with him and was able to capture this scene so I couldn't resist painting it. Here is a fellow pilot having come down the side of a tanker by stairway, a ladder and finally stepping on to the deck of the pilot boat all the while trying to keep his balance, a challenge on stormy days. What fascinated me about this was how the man on the ship looked like he was suspended in the air with all the light reflecting off the side of the ship. I liked this effect so decided to keep it but found it challenging trying to make it look like it was receding. The reflections on the pilot boat were fun though. As usual my lesson learned here was to draw properly from the beginning as I spent quite a bit of time making corrections.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Back in the Saddle

Christmas Flower
12 x 12
oil on wrapped canvas

Too long a break over Christmas and the result was three wiped canvases. In a slump I decided to read instead and picked up Robert Genn's "Twice Weekly Letters", a treasure of inspiration. One passage in particular struck a cord and reminded me that success was usually hard won with persistence and so I tackled for a fourth time this flower painting. I tried very hard to look and paint what I saw instead of what I thought it should look like and the result I am happy with. Flowers aren't easy for me and I did spend a little too long and picked too much but learned a lot on this project. Happily painting again!