Category Archives: Travel and Art

Kidnapping Some Time

When would be a good time for me to sneak away? Kidnapping some time for myself had been on my mind for quite a while. There is always so much happening on the farm during spring and summer that it felt like a break was long overdue. Where could I go that would be quiet and comfortable enough for me to accomplish a few things of my own and also get in some R&R? After some focused thought on the question, a sweet little plan emerged!

The kind of solo getaway that I dream about. Just me and nature!

It’s about kidnapping some time!

At least 20 years had passed since I had gone away for some solo time. Being somewhat of an introvert, this type of kidnapping some time is something I often dream about. My daughter, Jilene, encouraged me to take the idea seriously and not just let it slide as I tend to do. Since Shane (my husband) had recently gone on a four day fishing trip with his buddies and a couple of out of province auction sales, my thinking was, “Fair is Fair”. I made a deal with him and he didn’t seem to mind the idea of me leaving everything behind for a little while. Besides, what could he really say? Our daughter would look after meals and our son would be working on the farm with his dad. He’d be fine.

What is an Artist in Residence?

Throughout the years, I had heard about artist in residence programs. but had never applied for one. I knew many artists who had taken advantage of such opportunities and they reported coming away from the experience with more confidence and growth in their art practice. This is kidnapping some time with a defined purpose. These Artist -in-residence programs exist to invite artists, and all types of creative people for space away from their usual environment and obligations. They provide time for reflection, research, presentation and/or production. For some reason, I always felt like the whole concept was too much of a commitment for me.

“So why not set  up an ‘artist in residence’ of sorts, for myself?”, I thought. A kind of informal one, but where there are no forms to fill out, no competition with other artists for the opportunity, or the need to travel a significant distance?

This is my makeshift studio in the living room of the park model trailer that I stayed in during my solo getaway.

For eight magical days at the end of August and beginning of September, I stayed at a beautiful,  private campground. This little piece of paradise on the Pembina River was owned by a long time family friend. She offered me her cozy park model trailer to stay in and all I needed to bring was my own food, bedding, and art supplies. Perfect!


Adding some purpose to my proposal

In order to make the most of my time there, I set certain goals for myself. One of them was to climb the approximately 1/2 mile, 30% grade road that led down to the river at least once a day. After all, sitting and painting for hours on end was not good for my mind or body. It was pretty tough, but I managed to make this trek twice a day on every day but one. Having no reliable cell phone signal down by the river was enough motivation to get me up that hill and do the promised daily check in with my family.

The light has changed drastically since beginning this painting. I will have to rely on memory to finish it. It took me 2 hours painting time to get to this point in the process.                    

Another goal was to attempt a ‘plein aire’ painting of the river.(Photo above) This is a good skill to practice but for which there seems to be no time at home. I also wanted to paint as many paintings as possible, get some reading and writing done and immerse myself in nature. As usual, I had much too long of a to-do list…..

Wasting no time

Shortly after arriving on Sunday evening, I set up my makeshift studio. There was plenty of room to spread out and start organizing painting possibilities. So many ideas, so little time; not a new problem. But how exciting! A couple of small paintings were started before leaving home so that it would be easier to get back into the creative flow. I worked on these the next day. What a treat it was to think and paint without interruption! Later that first day, I began to peruse all of the possibilities and became rather overwhelmed until I focused on the concepts that sparked the greatest amount of excitement for me in that moment.

In need of power

A large diesel generator provided the electricity a distance away from the trailer. For the first half of my stay, I ran the generator in the late afternoon and evening to charge my phone, keep the fridge cool enough and have the lights on for painting at night. But it was rather unsettling to go out into the bush in the dark to shut down the generator, so I decided to have it run earlier in the day. Living so near the city and the airport, I am no longer used to such dark nights. It was eerie and I was surprised by my reaction. Instead, I read by candle light and solar lantern after dark. One night, I began a miniature painting using only an led headlamp for light. It was interesting experiment that I would not recommend. It’s a good thing acrylic is a forgiving medium!

new paintings in progress, Judy Leila Schafers fine Art

What was accomplished?

Every morning, I could not wait to go and see what the river was up to. Such a scene does not exist near my home, so it was rather special and seemed to change daily. Then off I would go, on a little trek in my rubber boots down some of the many bush trails with camera in hand. I ended up taking just about 200 photos! I ate very little, did no cooking nor tidying up until the very last day there, when I did a thorough cleaning. Most days, the owner would come for a pleasant but short visit to check on what was new. In the late mornings and afternoons, I would paint my heart out. 

Three miniatures and a small painting were completed and 4 others had a good start. Of course, it would have been more satisfying to have completed more paintings. Every night, I would read by candle light, in complete silence, except for the sounds of nature and cattle bawling occasionally. No tv, no news all week! It was heaven!

Showing some gratitude

Part of the obligation that often comes with Artist Residencies is that the artist is asked to give something in return for their stay. Often the participant will create an art related community outreach project, put together an art show and invite the public or create a public art piece etc.. In this case, I offered to give the owner a painting as a Thank you gift for the use of the space and she was pleased with the prospect.

Should I go home?

At the end of seven days, going home was a mildly interesting idea. I began to miss my family. The weather was cooling down so much that I could see my breath in the air before getting out of bed in the morning! I was also running out of food…

It would be nice to try kidnapping some time again, but possibly for longer. I was rather surprised to be feeling a bit tired at the end of my stay.  Maybe expecting so much from myself is not that wise. Can I ever learn to relax? That remains to be seen.

I met a neighbor, directly across the river from where I was staying. Glad we did not meet up on one of the trails. The owner suggested I carry a bell, just to be safe.


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


Waves of Inspiration!

Wonderful waves of inspiration. I have developed quite a fascination with them. I think I will do a series on waves.

Wonderful waves of inspiration.!  I have developed quite a fascination with them and would like to do a series on waves and streams.

Other artist’s sketchbooks and travel journals have always inspired me. They have such rich and interesting character to them and look like a lot of fun to do. ¬†One of the things I wanted to accomplish while visiting Costa Rica was to fill an entire sketch book with art and notes of inspiration of our time there, similar to what other creatives¬†do.

I have several half-filled sketchbooks, but had never entirely completed one and they were all created without color. This was going to be a bit of a challenge because we had decided to travel light which meant leaving my familiar art supplies behind. Not a bad thing. The use of water color pencils and fine ink pens were mediums I had not explored to any extent in the past, even though they have been in my supply stash for a number of years. They would be easy to tote along. Time to stretch my skills while I sketch!

A page out of my book. My first water color pencil landscape done while at the beach.

A page out of my book. My first water color pencil landscape done while at the beach.

Being in an unhurried state of mind freed me to try different approaches and not be concerned about the final product. In other words, these works did not have to turn out well. They were just experiments and impressions. In the process, I¬†tried new approaches,¬†learned a lot and gained some confidence in my abilities. You will be able to view this little book at my upcoming ‘Art and a Country Garden’ event in July.