Best Laid Plans and Curve Balls

 Even with our best laid plans, curve balls can appear out of nowhere , as we all know.
 

This was the first step in the process. Some of the ladies were happy with their backgrounds and were waiting for further instructions. )Photo Thanks to Jilene Schafers)

Paint Nights have been a popular activity in the last couple of years. I had been wondering recently, what it would be like to put one together. How challenging would it be? Could I pull it off successfully?

 Using skills to help others

The St. Albert Urban Agriculture group was looking for a fund raiser to purchase the plants and materials needed to expand the community food forest. Since growing food is something I love to support, it was an easy fit for me to pitch in and facilitate a Paint Nite event for them. But, I had never instructed one before. I had not even attended such an event! I had no idea about what I was getting into….
 
It was exciting to think that some of my skills could be used to help others and help me grow at the same time. This would be a push out of my comfort zone, put me in front of a new audience, help grow my experience, and exercise my problem solving muscles. I knew that coming up with a simple, quick painting would be a bit tricky. A painting the size of the one I was offering for the paint nite normally takes around 20 hours for me to finish. I tend to get totally lost in the process and time doesn’t usually matter that much….The time-frame for everyone to complete this project was approximately 2.5 hours!

Approaching the Challenge

 The first thing I did was to sketch out a few possible design ideas. The criteria was that the image had to be colorful, have a pleasing composition in a garden theme, and be simple enough for unpracticed painters to create. 
 
Checking out paint parties on the internet and talking to people who had attended similar events really helped to wrap my mind around how to make this as good an experience for the participants as possible. Writing down lists for supplies and methods of approaching the project really helped me to get started. It also helped to have some recent teaching experience.
 
More cost effective ways to paint would have to be explored because artist quality materials are quite expensive. Using supplies unfamiliar to me, meant that it would be important to use the exact same paints and brushes etc. as the attendees were going to be using. I had to understand fully how everything worked and how to solve the problems that might arise ahead of time.

 Environmental concerns

It was also important to incorporate as many environmentally friendly features into the project as possible. Consideration was given not only to the cost of supplies ( to leverage fund-raising efforts) but what would happen to the used resources afterwards? Leftover paint would be scraped into a container for use later in my studio; recycled paper towels were sought out and dollar store brushes would be carefully cleaned for re-use. Used paint water was to be collected, brought home to settle in a pail, and later taken to the eco station. Because they are easily recycled, tin foil pans were chosen for the paint palettes. All of the packaging materials would be recycled as well as the paper covering the tables. As little plastic as possible was used for the project.
 
These environmental efforts by no means take care of the waste and footprint problem perfectly. But, they are an attempt, at least, in the right direction.  I felt that this way of doing things would also fit with the concerns of the group I was serving as well as my own.

The best laid plans come together 

Initial Paint Night ideas that I didn’t really like.

I painted a couple of my design ideas, but was not thrilled with any of the samples that came from those efforts. Searching for another simple, but colorful spring inspired concept was challenging. One evening in my studio, I turned around and noticed the miniature painting on my windowsill which had been completed a few weeks earlier. Why not try that design with a few changes?  The event organizers decided that this was the most exciting project I had submitted. The only problem was that it took me longer than 2 hours to paint…. I had to practice this painting 3 times over in order to find shortcuts and the best way to demonstrate the method.

A friend volunteered to come over and be my guinea pig. We had a great time and it only took about 2 hours and 15 minutes to coach her through it. That would have to do, it should all work out great! Little did we know that life would throw a slight curve ball the evening of the event….

Ways to lessen the stress

Having everything loaded up a few hours ahead of time made for a lot less stress!  I am learning not to leave things to the last minute….
My daughter, Jilene and our friend and event organizer, Jill, would be my assistants during the event. We we pretty sure that we had thought of everything. Even hair dryers to speed up paint drying time, just in case. Jill and Jilene would make sure everyone had enough supplies and refreshments (wine!), answer questions and help clean up. I would concentrate on the painting part. All the bases were covered.

The curve ball arrives

As we all know, even with our best laid plans, curve balls can appear out of nowhere. Shortly after we had arrived to set up, the venue’s caretaker asked what time we would be packed up and ready to leave. At the time, I thought this was a rather strange question. We told him that we should be finished with everything by around 9 or 10 pm. He  mentioned that he thought we would be done by around 8:30 pm and that he was expected at another event by 9 pm. This was stressful news! We  requested and had been approved to use the space until about 10 pm.
An hour less would really rush everyone’s painting experience which was what I wanted to avoid. Later we found out that there was a miscommunication with the person who recorded the booking. A lesson learned in double checking the details!
 

Half way through the project, with wine and treats to compliment the evening! (Photo Thanks to Jill Cunningham)

No time to over-think

Pictured here are most of the paint night participants. Despite the time challenges, their paintings turned out great!(Photo Thanks to Jill Cunningham)

These Paint Night attendees were a tremendous group of ladies! After explaining our dilemma, they were really good about it. Our rushing through did lessen the enjoyment for some, and some did not get their painting finished the way that they had hoped, but it all worked out ok. Someone commented that there was no time to over-think anything! Many of them we so kind as to help pack up the supplies and bring it to my van. With their help it took only about 15 minutes to get out of the space so that the care taker could meet his next obligation. Once home, Jilene and I had quite the mess to sort through; a few hours of scraping paint and cleaning brushes!

 
In the end, it was a great experience. Would I do it again? Well since I have a decent design and most of the ground work figured out…. You might twist my arm.
 

Fun Vacation Photos

Here are a few fun vacation photos in no particular order, from our trip to Arizona and Texas.  

Love the Desert in Green! There may just be a painting or two to be created from this experience. This photo was taken in the Phoenix area.

Sister-in-Law, Fran showing of Austin. It’s a Lovely City! She took us on quite a few tours.

Here is Fran, my sister-in-law, at the Hope Outdoor Gallery in Austin.

He acts as if something shocking is happening….. poor guy. He almost had a heart attack, apparently.

Here is Marian, my mother-in-law, enjoying her 1000 piece Mural Mosaic puzzle. She just loved looking at all of the painted images within the main picture!

My painting spot in Yuma at Herman and Marian’s home. Rain or shine, this is where I enjoyed many of my holiday hours.

A fun family photo of Shane’s youngest brother, Elben (at the top) and his 3 children at the bottom. Shane is second from the top and I am the third.

The desert wildflowers were so Amazing!! there were only 2 varieties that I recognized and the rest I had never seen before! I just couldn’t get enough of them.

These were simply everywhere. How wonderful since purple is my favorite color! I wanted to pick them, but I felt that they were happier left alone. Hence the dozens of photos….

A little flower patch on the rocky hillside. We saw this on our way out of the campground.

I have never seen these before and have no idea what they are. This one plant only appeared in one location.

These bright butter cup like yellows were everywhere and most often appeared next to the purple ones.

These were so tiny that I had a hard time getting a good photo. Now I see that they strongly resemble petunias!

That’s it, folks! Hope you enjoyed the fun vacation photos!

 

Inspiring Winter Getaway

Glamping out during our inspiring winter getaway in the desert near Lake Havasu City Arizona.

Shane and I hit the road with our truck and fifth wheel trailer on January 28 and headed south for Yuma Arizona. It was plus 5 degrees Celsius when we left home but the weather got colder the further we traveled. He was hoping the weather would warm up much sooner. Fifteen hours later, Shane finally decided it was time for some shut eye.  We had reached Idaho Falls around 1 am, where the temperature was minus 24 degrees Celsius and snowing! Maybe we were going in the wrong direction?

The furnace in the trailer was turned on and we both crawled into bed still wearing our clothes. I didn’t even take off my winter coat! This is not the first time we have slept in the trailer on a cold night. On one trip, we awoke to a snow drift in the bedroom of our trailer….on my side….  It was not quite as bad this time, but it still took me quite a while to warm up and settle in to sleep. As usual, Shane was snoring as soon as he hit the pillow. Parking in a truck stop over night has it’s perks. One of them being noisy diesel engines that can serve as an alarm clock. Thank goodness for my earplugs! We were up and on the road again by about 6 am. 

 Nerve Wracking End to a Long Day

The highways were in good shape and we made it to Lake Havasu City the next night. We thought we’d just camp out in the Walmart parking lot at the northern edge of town, since it was already 9 pm. It has become well known in RV circles that Walmart welcomes short term campers, so this idea is not unusual. But it is something that does not sit well with a growing number of municipalities. Shortly after we arrived, we were approached by a security guard who told us that we were not allowed to park there over night. He was very nice about it and gave us a card with info about other places we could stay.

One suggestion that the guard gave us, was to head north for a mile to find the entrance to a government owned free campground in the desert. It was pretty dark and we almost missed the driveway. Down a really curvy, narrow gravel road we slowly drove. With really huge boulders gleaming in the moonlight, crowding in on the narrow path, Hubby was getting a bit nervous. What have we gotten ourselves into? Even a pro trucker like Shane can’t necessarily turn a big rig around in a tight spot in the dark. As we went along this cow-trail, we noticed a few Rvs parked along the sides and managed to find a spot that was in a more open area to settle in for the night. 

Glamping in the desert near Lake Havasu City.

The Inspiring Winter Getaway Begins Here

The next morning, we were greeted with warm sunshine and the colorful desert wilderness. Shane and I decided to hang around for a few hours because it was so quiet and peaceful, but we had no food or water to speak of. A trip back to Walmart was in order; to gather a few groceries, water, and maybe look up a neighbor friend who was supposedly staying at an RV resort in town.  Since we needed to fill our water tanks, we thought it best to find that RV resort and stay there for a night or two, depending on how much we liked it.

On the way out of this campground we saw how truly beautiful this place was. The rock formations and desert plants were so inspiring and it was fun to think about sitting in the desert and painting what was in front of me. An activity I rarely have time to do on the farm.

Are You Kidding Me?

Finding the RV resort we were looking for, we decided to check and see if there was room there for us, even though our friend had already left for Alberta. It was right on the shores of Lake Havasu and was a pretty nice looking place. We had never parked in an RV resort before and had no idea what it was like. Truck stops, Shane’s parent’s place in Yuma and Alberta campgrounds were about the extent of our glamping experience.

We were asked by a friendly gate attendant to park in a special lot and go into the office. After answering some of our questions, the office clerk asked what year our trailer was.  Shane told her that it was a 2005 model. “Oh… well, then we will have to inspect it first. There shouldn’t be a problem,” she said.   What??

The manager returned from his inspection and told us that if we were only staying one night, then it was ok for this time only. If we wanted to stay in their resort again, the decals on our trailer would have to be replaced. They were beginning to fade and crack… After all, this is a five star resort….
Interesting. We had never heard of such a thing before!

No Surprise

Seventy-two US dollars a night seemed a bit steep in our opinion, so we decided to just try one night for the heck of it. We needed water, a shower and a proper supper anyway. Turns out, we didn’t think it was really worth it because the RVs were packed in like sardines, it was quite noisy and the promised internet was crappy to boot.

Shane and I decided that the desert was much more our style, even without hookups. So guess where we went the next night?  Our friends would not have been the least bit surprised ūüėČ

 

Mysteries Under a Blanket

Mysteries under a blanket could refer to a few things….
You can guess what I am actually thinking about here. Nothing naughty….

snow covering spruce branches, shades of grey colors, radiating composition

“Silence in Grey”, original acrylic by Judy Leila Schafers

I absolutely love the mystery that a fresh blanket of snow creates as it is laid over the varied contours of the garden, field and forest. Each snowflake joins together to form beautiful marshmallow-like shapes and hollows. These little vignettes evoke questions in my mind about what the snow might be covering. Is there a creature or two hiding under there? 

Fleeting Beauty

Why else would I spend time in the dead of winter, searching for inspiration, while having to endure frosty fingers and a runny nose? It would be a shame to miss such wonderful things to contemplate: soft, yet frigid shapes, cold shiny crystals and diamonds, sculptural, temporary, ever changing, ethereal. And then one day, usually without fanfare, they are gone.

Such fleeting beauty is worth exploring and capturing on canvas. At least I am not required to paint it stationed outdoors in the sub-zero temps! I am not sure I am THAT dedicated….  The digital camera does a great job of capturing enough of the detail for me to work with in the comforts of my studio. My fingers are saved!

A Forgiving Process creating mysteries under a blanket

It is a fun challenge to create pillow-y soft looking shapes on a flat surface. Layer by layer, the canvas takes on a 3-D look. We generally think of it as white, but it always amazes me how much color can be found in snow. The colors will vary each day, location and time of day. All of the subtle arrays of hue take time to see, understand and add to the painting in just the right amount in the right place.

My aim is not to copy the photo, but to make my painting look ‘believable’.  Put a layer of paint on the canvas and add another color or shape. Oops! I’ve made a mistake. I will then try to block it out with more layers and then enhance what’s working. Eventually something lovely is created through this push and pull process. Mysteries under a blanket are always interesting to think about and will inspire me for years to come.

 

 

A Momentous Occasion!

This summer, we had the pleasure of participating in a momentous occasion with our family.

Pictured here is Sabrina's new husband Damien along with Sabrina's mom, Val, Val's parents (Gladys and Erwin Knuth), Sabrina's brother, Justin and Sabrina's Dad's parents ( Marian and Herman Schafers).

Pictured here is Sabrina’s new husband Damien along with Sabrina’s mom, Val, Val’s parents (Gladys and Erwin Knuth), Sabrina’s brother, Justin and Sabrina’s Dad’s parents ( Marian and Herman Schafers).

On August 27, our niece, Sabrina (Shane’s side of the family) married Damien on the farm where Sabrina was raised. It was a truly wonderful wedding, beautiful in all aspects, despite the cooler, rainy weather. The cloudy conditions made for great photos!

We were all amazed by how the rain stayed away during the ceremony. Here are the brand new Mr. & Mrs. shortly after the ceremony.

We were all amazed by how the rain stayed away during the ceremony. Here are the brand new Mr. & Mrs. shortly after.

Just after signing the important papers.

Just after signing the important papers.

The site where Sabrina and Damien were wed is on the same piece of ground where Sabrina’s great grandparents had farmed. There is a lot of family history on this piece of land to¬†which the Pastor referenced during the ceremony.

A beautiful borrowed car used during the wedding.

A beautiful borrowed car used during the wedding.

The wedding party gathering for official photos.

The wedding party gathering for official photos.

The reception took place at the Rich Valley Agriplex. What a magnificent way to transform a hockey arena!

The reception took place at the Rich Valley Agriplex. What a magnificent way to transform a hockey arena!

Sabrina with her cousin (our son, Devin).

Sabrina with her cousin (our son, Devin).

It is a family tradition that if the younger sibling gets married before the eldest, then the eldest must dance in a tub. We have no idea where this came from, but Justin was indeed a good sport!

It is a family tradition that if the younger sibling gets married before the eldest, then the eldest must dance in a tub. We have no idea where this came from, but Justin was indeed a good sport!

Couldn't stop myself from exercising some artistic license with the camera!

Couldn’t stop myself from exercising some artistic license with the camera!

 

 

Harvest 2016

Here are some photos of harvest 2016.

Harvest this year has not been typical, even though it is true that every year differs in one way or another. This fall has seen great yields but a lot of unseasonable rain which has made for some interesting and frustrating moments.

Here, Shane is unloading the combine hopper full of wheat that was grown on the home quarter.

Here, Shane is unloading the combine hopper full of wheat that was grown on the home quarter.

The whole growing season¬†has been a challenge in that the first part was incredibly dry and the last half has been unusually wet! Shane was right. He said during seeding time, “Seed in the dust and your grain bins will bust”. In May, we actually thought that the old wisdom might be invalid this time around. ¬†But his prediction came true. Does that mean I should follow his advice more often??

It looks like this could be an all-nighter for Shane....

It looks like this could be an all-nighter for Shane….

One of the main frustrations is that¬†there is a fairly significant rain every few days. When combining standing wheat, it is often¬†difficult to tell where the ground will be too soft/wet for the big machines to maneuver without incident . Shane has gotten stuck on the tops of hills and has somehow managed to swath through lakes! I don’t remember if we have ever¬†had to¬†bring the big tractor into every field¬†to pull out the combine a number of times each day. Now the guys bring the big tractor out to each field just in case! As you can imagine, this procedure takes a lot more time and effort than normal. ¬†At this rate¬†we may not complete the harvest until mid to end of October. In comparison, last year at this time we were almost finished.

Truck is waiting for more canola seeds!

Truck is waiting for more canola seeds!

At the time I am writing this, the field work is about half complete. All of the grain that has been harvested has had to be fed through the grain dryer. Last year the crop came off dry and the grain drier sat idle. As a result of the wet weather, the grades for the quality of the crop for selling purposes has been at the bottom of the scale, which means that it is worth a lot less money. But on the up-side, the yields are fairly high, so I guess it all balances out.

The most satisfying way to garden, for me, has been to include flowers in the vegetable garden.

The most satisfying way to garden, for me, has been to include flowers in the vegetable garden.

Now while the guys are in the field, I am often in the garden doing my own harvesting. There have been a few light frosts, so I am still able to enjoy my flowers!! You may have somehow guessed that I love flowers.

This is what I gleaned from the garden in one afternoon. There is lots more coming!

This is what I gleaned from the garden in one afternoon. There is lots more coming!

A good portion of the produce from my garden is used everyday to feed the threshing crew. It takes a bit of planning and time, but it is so worth it because the food is much fresher and of great quality. This is such a satisfying and healthful thing to do for my family.

Another one of my favorite planters. I will miss them all greatly.

Another one of my favorite planters. I will miss them all greatly.

And of course I always have a hard time saying good bye to my flowers, which generally look their very best just before they freeze off. Most years I am trucking planters on and out of the house or covering and uncovering them every day. This year, I have decided to be a little less concerned about it and just let nature take it’s course. I will be overwintering some of the plants, but a lot less than last winter. I think….. maybe….

The Food Was Amazing!

Many people who attended my Art And a Country Garden event commented that the food was amazing again this year. The only item I baked were the chunky-monkey banana cookies, which have become a recent family favorite.  As promised, below are some of the recipes you asked for.  Enjoy!

show food(photo Thanks to Memory Roth Photography)
Curried Carrot Soup (prepared by Yolande Stark of Tipi Creek Farms) This was the orange colored cold soup served in little canning jars.
2 Tablespoons butter
1 pound chopped carrot,
1 chopped onion,
1 large shallot (optional),
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 heaping teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced jalapeno pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon curry powder
3 cups broth
Saute above ingredients until soft.  Puree in blender until creamy.
Add 1/2 cup coconut milk and 1 1/2  Р2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice to pureed soup.
Serve warm or cold, garnished with seasoned, roasted pumpkin seeds, fresh cilantro or fresh parsley (all optional)

Flourless Brownies
3 large eggs

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar or to taste
1/4 cup quality cocoa powder
12 ounces chocolate chips
1/3 cup tapioca or arrowroot flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla
extra chocolate chips for topping
chopped nuts or dried fruit (optional)
Melt together chocolate chips and butter. Let cool and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well but don’t over beat or brownies will be rather dry. Spoon into greased or parchment lined 8″ x 8″ pan. Sprinkle extra chocolate chips on top of batter, instead of icing later. Bake at 350 F until done in the center. Try not to over bake. (if over baked, let cool until just warm and cover pan with plastic wrap overnight, sometimes this helps to restore moisture) This recipe can easily be doubled and frozen.

Home made rhubarb punch!

Home made rhubarb punch!

Rhubarb Punch
After cleaning and chopping rhubarb, put into large pot and cover with 6 or 8 inches of (filtered) water. Bring to a gentle boil for about 5 minutes and then simmer for about 1/2 hour, stirring once in a while.  

Let cool for about 1/2 hour. Use a fine siv/colander/cheese cloth (whatever you have) and strain out as much liquid as possible. If you don’t want rhubarb solids to appear in the final juice, strain a second time through a cloth.

While still warm add 2 heaping Tablespoons of raw honey. Once chilled you can add about 1/2 and half sprite of 7-up or mountain dew to the rhubarb juice.
Otherwise you can just sweeten to taste with any sweetener you desire.

My Oma made this every year, and as kids, we LOVED it!

 

Judy’s Chunky Monkey Cookies
Here is the banana cookie recipe I developed which may be easily modified to suit your taste:
I will be guessing here as I never measure these ingredients out.
The trick is to make the dough a very thick consistency.
They also freeze well.6 ripe bananas mashed (I use the mixer)
3 heaping cups of shredded coconut
1 or 2 eggs (optional)

sweetener to taste if desired (I use stevia)
1/2 cup coconut oil melted (or avocado oil or butter or a combination)
1 Tablespoon vanilla
Cinnamon to taste (optional but will make the cookies taste sweeter and less need for sugar)
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
Stir in pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, dried cranberries, raisins, nuts, chocolate chips, hemp seeds, protein powder ( I use hemp seed powder of pumpkin seed powder)
Throw in whatever you can think of!
1/2 cup  or more Coconut flour (this will stiffen the dough, add a little at a time to bring it to the right consistency)
Spoon onto parchment paper covered pan and form into cookie shapes.
Bake at 325 – 350 degrees F for about 20 mins to 1/2 hour? It really depends on how much coconut flour you have used.

Re-visit Art And a Country Garden

Here is a chance for you to to re-visit my Art And a Country Garden event. Or, if you didn’t make it, then you might enjoy a look at the highlights.
It was a big relief that the weather co-operated for most of the weekend which, of course, helped the attendance to be about as good as last year.

Guests looking at art in the studio Saturday morning.

Some of the first guests in the studio Saturday morning.

39  new artworks were created for this show along with several new magnets. The Walter Foster art instruction book was also finally available. My good friend Julie, who had worked with me on this event since April, helped to organize and hang the paintings, which took us over 4 hours. It was quite a challenge for us to decide which pieces to group together and which ones would not be included in the exhibit. As always, I was surprised that there were plenty of artworks to fill the space!

For the second year, Jack and Steph returned as our talented roving musicians whose performances were enjoyed by everyone.

For the second year, Jack and Steph returned as our talented roving musicians whose performances were enjoyed by everyone. (photo thanks to Memory Roth Photography)

A guest enjoying the fairy garden put together by The Wheelbarrow Gardener. My rock painting, "Down to Earth" made the scene complete! It was a lot of fun to create all of the garden vignettes.

A guest enjoying the fairy garden in an old desk put together by The Wheelbarrow Gardener. My rock painting, “Down to Earth” made the scene complete! It was a lot of fun to create all of the garden vignettes. (photo Thanks to Memory Roth Photography)

Quite a number of people left their mark in my garden, which was really fun to see!

Here we have my friend painting on the trunk of a retired spruce tree. This was a new activity for this year which turned out to be pretty neat!

The above 2 photos show my friends painting on the trunk of a retired spruce tree. This was a new activity for this year which turned out to be pretty neat. It will have a sealant applied before winter and I will have it as a remembrance for years! (photos Thanks to Memory Roth Photography)

It was crazy busy in the studio at times. People were encouraged to help themselves to the goodies, enjoy the art and wander the gardens.

It was crazy busy in the studio at times. People were encouraged to help themselves to the goodies, enjoy the art and wander the gardens. (photo Thanks to Memory Roth Photography)

Two of my many creative and talented friends who came to help and support me! They have all been such a blessing.

Two of my many creative and talented friends who came to help and support me! They have all been such a blessing. (photo Thanks to Memory Roth Photography)

I believe they are counting the Blackbirds in the painting for the scavenger hunt.

 

I believe these two are counting the blackbirds in the painting “Song of the Red Wing Blackbirds” for the scavenger hunt. (photo Thanks to Memory Roth Photography)

Woohoo! Lots of visitors! (photo Thanks to Memory Roth Photography)

Woohoo! Lots of visitors! This is always so exciting to see. (photo Thanks to Memory Roth Photography)

Katelyn and guests
Fran photobombing

Here, Dolly Bolen is about to interview me for the Morinville Free Press. My sister-in-law, Fran is happily photobombing! ¬†And…¬†that’s not my beer…. (photo Thanks to Memory Roth Photography)

art outside
When the weather was nice on Saturday, this made an interesting addition to the garden. However, a storm blew in during the late afternoon and my quick thinking helpers rescued it from the wind and rain. I had forgotten all about it sitting out there! (photo Thanks to Memory Roth Photography)

showing off my book


A new, enthusiastic  friend shows off her copy of the Walter foster art instruction book that I had contributed to. I hope everyone who purchased the book gains lots of helpful painting tips from it! (photo Thanks to Memory Roth Photography)

me demo 1


On Saturday afternoon, I demonstrated a few painting techniques in front of a small audience.  I had prepared 2 canvases with the same painting earlier in the week so as to show the progression of the techniques I often use for close-up nature scenes. (photo thanks to Memory Roth Photography)

Alison and Paulette
Since the weather was not conducive to outdoor performance, Alison sang and played guitar for us in the studio Sunday afternoon, which was very enjoyable for all. (photo thanks to Memory Roth Photography)
Randy and Wendy
It was so wonderful and amazing that people came from as far away as Barrhead, Sherwood Park and even further to see the show. How very cool is that?! (photo Thanks to Memory Roth Photography)

Lots of shoes

Karen and Barb
Karen and Barb, generously lending their time and efforts to help me out! In all, at least 20 different people had pitched in in preparation before and worked during the event. ¬†Here’s hoping I can repay them all, or at least play it forward. (photo Thanks to Memory Roth Photography)

3 paintersThese ladies are going on a scavenger hunt! (photo Thanks to Memory Roth Photography)

Bud and IMany people like Bud, almost always attend my shows. How lucky am I to have their ongoing support? (photo Thanks to Memory Roth Photography)

Hopefully, you enjoyed this little report and are inspired to attend in July of 2018!

 

Two Docks Are Better

As my usual policy for painting landscape commissions goes, the first attempt to paint the image a client has described to me is created on a small canvas. This time, it turns out that two docks are better than one!

Above: "Echoes Through Time", 14" x 32", shown framed and haging in the client's home.

Above: “Echoes Through Time”, 14″ x 32″, shown framed and hanging in the client’s home.

A¬†local couple asked me to paint a scene that was very special to the woman who¬†had spent many summers on the lake¬†where this dock has resides. They presented me with several photos and specific ideas about what the painting should look like. Certain items could be¬†left out and other things emphasized. The overall feeling to be depicted was one of a perfect sunny Alberta summer day, very much like those she enjoyed¬†as a child on her family’s property on Lac La Biche.

I proceeded to paint everything understood and remembered about the image¬†they spoke about. Once the¬†‘preliminary’ painting was near completion, it was photographed and the image emailed to the client. As usual, a few nerves were¬†involved in waiting to learn what they thought about the preliminary painting. I was pretty happy with it,¬†but wondered: did I interpret correctly according to their vision? Was it at least on the right track? In projects past, sometimes the answer has been a polite ‘no’.

This time, however, the couple were very happy with the first attempt. Since they did not know what size the final painting should be, I showed them a number of blank canvases in the proportion that would suit the composition. They settled on one and soon after, I began the process of re-creating the scene in a much larger format. Once again fooling myself, I thought that this would be fairly straight forward, since most of the difficulties were worked out with the first painting.

A¬†few minor changes to be made on the final canvas required that I move the horizon line nearer to the top than in the first one. The seamless gradation in the sky was quite a challenge as there were no clouds to hide any imperfections and the area to be covered was quite large. The humidity was so low¬†that the paint would dry more quickly than usual. There are at least 15 coats of paint on the sky alone. I only had to paint the horizon line 3 times to get it right….. progress!!

Because the clients loved the colors in the first painting, it was important to recreate them again as closely as possible, which did not come as easily as first thought. Much larger pools of paint had to be mixed and adjusted over and over again because acrylics tend to change color as they dry.  Rocks and reeds were painted in, and then painted out. And then painted in somewhere else. Finally, it felt ready for the couple to take a look at.

Their reaction was heart-warming and a relief for me at the same time. It was important to me that this painting was everything they had envisioned it would be. The lady said the painting brought back many memories of her family and the quiet meditative moments she had spent in company of this old dock. They loved the painting and and felt that it brought them right back to that special place. Their thinking was that two docks are better than one! One for their home and the small one for her office!