Here are a few fun vacation photos in no particular order, from our trip to Arizona and Texas.
That’s it, folks! Hope you enjoyed the fun vacation photos!
Here are a few fun vacation photos in no particular order, from our trip to Arizona and Texas.
That’s it, folks! Hope you enjoyed the fun vacation photos!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 😉
Mysteries under a blanket could refer to a few things….
You can guess what I am actually thinking about here. Nothing naughty….
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?
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!
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.
This summer, we had the pleasure of participating in a momentous occasion with our family.
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!
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.
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.
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??
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.
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.
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.
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.
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….
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Reprinted with permission from The Free Press.
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!
(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 – 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice to pureed soup.
Serve warm or cold, garnished with seasoned, roasted pumpkin seeds, fresh cilantro or fresh parsley (all optional)
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.
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.
My Oma made this every year, and as kids, we LOVED it!
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.
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!
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! This is always so exciting to see. (photo Thanks to Memory Roth Photography)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Hopefully, you enjoyed this little report and are inspired to attend in July of 2018!
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!
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!
Sometimes an artist is asked to create something that expresses someone else’s idea. I have done this before, but this time, it was different.
Last summer, a couple were excited about an idea they had for a painting that depicted beautiful moments from their past. They approached me to paint a large custom ‘moonlight shining on the snow’ scene with a verbal description of the possible image. It was unclear to me what that painting could look like as they didn’t have any photos for me to work from.
Painting a moonlight night scene presented an unusual challenge for me as I had never done that before. After a bit of research and several sketches, some concrete ideas began to form. The client had sent some autumn daylight photos of a location that was special to them and gave me free reign over which ones to use, if any. This was also a bit of a challenge because I am used to working within specific perimeters when it comes to producing a painting for someone. But it was fun at the same time because I could make things up as I went along.
Shortly after completing the drawings, I painted one of the designs (compositions) on a small canvas to work out what the colors might look like. It turned out alright, but it might not be dark enough. Or maybe it was too simple or too blue….
That was another question: how to get a night scene dark enough, but yet light enough so that one can actually see it from across a room? I spent quite a bit of time studying how a landscape looks during a winter night under a full moon. I had to really pay attention and noticed that everything was some shade of grey. There may have to be some color embellishments to make the painting more interesting. I studied what trees looks like in the distance and close up, how much detail can be seen and what the shadows look like. It was quite an education!
After emailing the photos to the clients, they responded with excitement that I was on the right track! What a relief!! This is why I always do ‘preliminary’ paintings before tackling the final, usually much larger piece. There were a few changes for the final painting which was to be 24 by 36 inches. Oh, and why not add the big dipper to the sky? More research ensued once the final painting neared completion. Did you know that the constellations change their orientation in the sky according to the time of year? Fascinating!
The animal tracks were second last to be added in, at my suggestion. They would make the painting more interesting and break up the large empty space on the lower right side. It was a good thing that there was plenty of snow colored paint leftover as quite a few corrections to the tracks had to be made. To create the right mix in order for corrections to become invisible is time consuming because the color shifts as it dries. Once I was satisfied and could not think of a single improvement to make, I proudly added my signature!