Out into the Light

My studio is in full production mode right now; I’m enjoying a surge of creativity that’s been inspired by the beauty of fall.

leaf study | Angela Fehr watercolours http://angelafehr.com

The quality of the light in autumn is so inspiring; golden and warm. Every leaf seems defined and haloed by sun on a September afternoon, and it’s irresistible to a painter’s eye. I started painting leaves on the weekend. The painting above was feeling a little too disorganized, kind of a chaos of colour and line, but I snapped a detail photo of just a piece of it before I abandoned it, and when I saw this cropped version on the computer screen, it took my breath away.

Paintings don’t always get finished. Paintings don’t always get finished quickly. I can be incredibly busy painting and full of inspiration and have very little to show for it; letting the kids sleep in and start school later so I can squeeze in a few minutes painting in my bathrobe, stopping in passing to lay a few strokes on the way out the door, setting a painting aside because maybe I’ll know how to finish it later. Right now I have three leaf paintings in various stages of completion/abandonment, a stack of newly completed landscapes to be catalogued and stored neatly, and on the easel right this minute is a sketch of a sunlit forest that I can’t stop looking at. I am so blessed. In delighting in my own handiwork, that sentence from Genesis takes on a personal meaning; “And God saw that it was good.” People tell artists, “You have a gift,” and it’s true, but not in the sense I used to think – a gift to give the world – but it’s a gift given to me. Like buried treasure, as I unwrap it and bring it out into the light, it becomes more valuable and precious as I explore what it truly is that I have been given to hold.

Peace Watercolour Society Fall Show & Sale

 

2014 fall invite

You are especially invited to join me at the Peace Watercolour Society Fall Show & Sale. This year’s show features work by select watercolour artists from the Peace River region, and takes place at the Beaverlodge Cultural Centre, in Beaverlodge, Alberta Canada. I’ll be there with five of my favourite paintings from the past year. This is our big event of the year and I’ve been planning for this for months! Thank you as always for supporting my art, whether you live near or far, I value your support more than you know.

Artists Blog Hop

I’ve been invited by Leslie Redhead to participate in an artists’ blog hop. This is a way for artists to find other artists with blogs that they may otherwise never have seen.  I will introduce you to Leslie, answer four specific questions about my work and then introduce you to three artists whose blogs I follow and whose work I admire.

I’m always delighted to find watercolour artists who share my beautiful province, British Columbia, and Leslie Redhead is not only a skilled watercolour artist but a dedicated teacher. I would love to take one of her workshops one day and see watercolour through her eyes.

"Changing Skies" by Leslie Redhead

“Changing Skies” by Leslie Redhead

Leslie was born in Murray, UT and was raised in Maryland where she was exposed to all the wonderful art that the museums of Washington, DC had to offer. Her degree is in Zoology because she planned on doing scientific illustration. However, after a move to Boston and the birth of two children, she began painting and teaching more in watercolor. Eight years ago her family moved to Canada which is where Leslie’s husband is from.Leslie’s paintings are in private and corporate collections worldwide. She recently graduated with a Master of Education in Art from the University of Victoria and has signatures with Northwest Watercolor Society (NWWS), Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour (CSPWC), and the Federation of Canadian Artists (AFCA). Leslie continues to teach and conducts workshops inCanada, the U.S., and Spain. Her work is featured in Splash 10: Passionate Brushstrokes from the Splash: Best of Watercolor series, Leslie Redhead: the life of an artist, and Making It! Case Studies of Successful Canadian Artists.

Leslie currently resides in Vancouver, BC with her husband, two children, and dog. She is represented by Madrona Gallery in Victoria, BC. More of Leslie’s work can be seen at www.leslieredhead.com and leslieredheadart.blogspot.com

Questions for me:

1)  What am I working on?

I wish I had more time to paint right now! I homeschool my three children so the first weeks of school are always busy and home-centred, focused on getting acquainted with a change in routine. When I do get time to paint I am working on several paintings of northern British Columbia (Muncho Lake), which we visited Labour Day weekend for the first time.

2)  How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is a tough one! I think all artists are striving to carve a unique niche in their medium/subject/genre and I have found that the paintings that most resonate with viewers are the ones that are the most truly “me.” So I am constantly trying to paint more authentically, asking myself “What am I trying to say?” as well as learning to listen to and trust my inner voice. I think this kind of authenticity happens best when an artist is technically confident, so another side of painting from the heart is honing one’s skills and being willing to learn.

3) Why do I create what I do?

Something inside of me always wants to “do” something in response to the beauty I see around me. Painting is my outlet for that urge. I love the fluidity of watercolour and the movement of brush across paper, juicy colours flowing and mixing.

4) How does my creative process work?

This is something I’ve become more aware of in the last year or two, when I realized that I paint best by “painting out” my subject; painting it over and over again in a series of “sketches” as a means of learning, composing and stepping toward a confident, finished painting. I love that I can give myself permission to explore my subject in this way, instead of feeling disappointed when a painting idea doesn’t turn out on the first try. I also believe in taking time away from a painting to allow the mind to dream, imagine and explore the subject, so as to come back to the easel with the mental work done, and a host of ideas ready to spill out in the brush.

Inspiring Artists: 

Cady Driver: A fellow mum, homeschooler and watercolour artist, Cady is an inspiration. Her realistic watercolours are full of light. She recently started a fundraising artistic venture as well, “Birds for Babies”. I love her generous heart! Here’s a bit more about her:

Awarding winning Raleigh artist and children’s book illustrator, Cady Driver, loves to paint complex subjects with luminous, bright colors.  Self-taught, her work reflects the vast range of subjects that capture her attention. Cady especially enjoys painting children and animals and her pen and ink line of artwork benefits orphan/adoption causes (Birds For Babies) .  Cady resides in Raleigh, NC with her husband and home schools her three kids.
Her website is www.ArtByCady.com.
Watercolour by Cady Driver
Watercolour by Cady Driver

Sharon Lynn Williams:

I took a course with Sharon Lynn Williams last year and came away with a whole new appreciation for colour. Sharon paints in oils, acrylics and watercolour, lives “next door” to me in Alberta and I’m always inspired by her diversity of subject and medium.

M.E. (Mike) Bailey: 

You’ve probably already heard of Mike Bailey. I love his blog because he writes so well about the constant learning process of being a painter. He’s an experienced instructor and I always learn something from his blog posts. And he’s a renowned watercolor painter as well, and it’s easy to see why.

Hope you enjoyed this little “hop”. I would love to hear about artists who inspire you – feel free to leave a comment!

Weekend Links

Happy Saturday! It’s been a busy week and it’s so nice to have a peaceful day at home. The air is full of drifting golden leaves.

branches | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

Thought you might enjoy seeing where I’ve been (online) this week:

The Tumbler Ridge News published an article I wrote on creative learning at home. British Columbia just ended a labour dispute and public school kids are finally going back to school on Monday. I wrote a post on Facebook for my public-schooling friends, and was asked to share it in a newspaper article. I love opportunities like that!

Watercolour artist Leslie Redhead included me in a creative blog hop. These have been going around for a while and it was fun to get time to participate. You can see my blog hop post next week.

And completely unrelated to me, but still fun. The kids and I are thinking we need to have our own lip sync competition after watching a few Youtube clips of Jimmy Fallon and friends. Our particular favourite is Mr. Roboto:

Have a great weekend!

Posted in Art

Wildflowers & Artistic Identity

Thursdays on my Facebook page, I’ve been playing along with Throwback Thursday, hashtag #tbt , posting paintings that are several years old, and maybe hold a special meaning or memory. I thought it would be fun to let my web site join in, so to start it off I’m sharing this botanical style watercolour, painted way back in 1998. This is the painting that defined the beginning of my artistic career.

alaska highway wildflowers 1998

When I painted this, I was young, just twenty years old, a few months away from marrying Wade, and I remember clearly sitting at the table in my apartment, carefully shading the petals. It was a tentative process, but exciting, because what was appearing on the paper was, for the first time, nearly equal to what I had envisioned when I sat down to paint. Through my teens I had dreamed of being able to legitimately call myself an artist, and was basically waiting for permission to do so. This painting was my green light, the moment I realized I could be an artist, and not be ashamed to define myself as one.

Years later, I see things a little differently. Art has always been at the core of who I am, and that would have been the case whether my paintings were ever “successful” or not. But feeling capable of creating work of a certain calibre did give me a confidence in pursuing my dream that I might not have had otherwise. It is possible that if I hadn’t had this defining moment painting, I would have hidden my art and my dreams away on a shelf somewhere, and my life would have looked very different in 2014.

But maybe not. I’m not very good at giving up on dreams. And I still love this painting.

Northern BC Beauty: New Painting

I have a bit of a thing for skies. Talk about an unlimited canvas of ever-changing, amazing wonder!"Breaking Through" watercolour, 15" x 22"
“Breaking Through” watercolour, 15″ x 22″

I have four paintings in various stages of completion, using photos from our road trip into northern British Columbia last weekend. Stunning scenery! When my reference photos turn out so well, it’s hard to imagine improving on them in a painting. But of course, painting isn’t about copying photographs. In my paintings I want to draw out emotions, to show a bit of the awe I feel at the beauty in the world, in tiny and not-so-tiny moments of splendor.

“Breaking Through” is available for purchase. Email me to inquire.

Student Work: Growth and Style Development

I love seeing my watercolour students’ work as they progress in my classes and continue to pursue watercolour on their own. While I enjoy teaching how I paint, it’s even more exciting to see students apply the techniques and interpret them in their own way, and of course, this is what truly makes art art.

Here are a few of the paintings that have inspired me from my students’ work these last few weeks (don’t forget that you can check out my online classes and sign up here):

denise h

Denise H. explored negative painting, and created this image that would make a wonderful Christmas card in my online “Florals” class.

Poulami

Poulami watched my “5 Stroke Berries” video on Youtube (and yes, I know I used more than five strokes) and was inspired to create this fluid berry painting.

arlo wild rose

While my floral class features daisies, Arlo used the techniques to create this lovely wild rose with fascinating edges.

Mary Jo (2)

Mary Jo is also taking the Florals class and created this summery arrangement. I like the way she didn’t forget which way the sun was coming from (I had such a hard time with this when I was starting out…still do sometimes!)

Jocye C

Here are a couple from my “Exploring Fluid Colour” course. Joyce painted lychee nuts (which I haven’t tasted since I was a teenager, living in Papua New Guinea!) and while her painting appears realistic, there are lots of areas of fluid colour and looseness here to enjoy.

Estefi S

Estefi’s paintings are breathtaking – I have to admire a portrait artist, and she’s posted a number of paintings in my Skillshare class that have such expression and mood! She wasn’t happy with her dog’s nose, but I think you will agree with me that those doleful eyes make this a wonderful painting.

Patricia K

Patricia posted this painting of sea grapes in my Floral class gallery and I think what I love most is the clarity of it – it almost has a transparent feel somehow, like a piece of stained glass.

Julieanna M

Julieanna is a new student who is not afraid to use colour. Lots of interesting edges in this painting, and a great use of dark and light values.

After enjoying a gallery of paintings like this, I am always excited to paint some more. There is so much variety to be achieved! If your tendency is to feel discouraged, don’t despair. Watercolour is a journey, and we are all at different steps along the path. If you love it, you will keep painting, and if you keep painting, you can’t help but grow!

 

Alaska Highway Road Trip, Muncho Lake & Liard Hot Springs

I consider myself very fortunate to live where I do. Canada is a vast and beautiful nation, and British Columbia one of its most varied and awe-inspiring provinces. This Labour Day weekend my husband and I drove our family north, far past the limits of our sadly American atlas (which cuts British Columbia off somewhere past Fort St. John, less than 100km north of home) to mile 463 of the Alaska Highway for a weekend camping adventure.

family photo at Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

Our ultimate destination: Liard Hot Springs. I had been there once before, on my eighteenth birthday, which was nineteen years ago. Did I mention that my birthday is in February? Though it was -30C that day (-22F) my parents, siblings and I bathed comfortably in the natural hotsprings, framed by frost-rimed trees. I had never visited the hot springs in summer, and Wade had never been north of Fort Nelson.

The eight-hour drive became much more scenic after leaving the oil & gas fields of Fort St. John and Fort Nelson. The trees thickened, the mountains emerged and the highway wound, nearly empty of traffic. Just the way we like it; tons of scenery and no one to share it with!

into the north | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

I promised myself I wouldn’t take photos through the windshield. Promises like that can’t help but be broken when the scenery is so spectacular around every bend.

northern BC rainbows | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

We were prepared for rain, but saw little – our camping was chilly; tenting in the north requires lots of layers as even at the end of August, frost is a definite possibility. We were fortunate and it didn’t freeze at night. We pitched our tent on the shores of Muncho Lake, and I went out several times a day to photograph the jade-green waters and moody skies.

Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com sky over Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

The lake makes no claims to warmth; the estimated summer temperature is 10C (50F) but we just had to take a dip anyhow. Brrrr! It was gaspingly cold!

swimming at Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

From cold to hot; we achieved our main objective when we arrived at Liard Hotsprings. This beautiful spot is a true gem on the Alaska Highway and it was wonderful to see it in summer. The hot springs have been maintained as naturally as possible. One side of the springs holds the change rooms, stairs and benches for entering the water, and the other three sides are natural, banked by rock and clay, ferns and green plants and trees. The bottom of the springs is pebbled with black & grey and the springs flow into a lower pool of cooler water, and then out a narrow, twisting channel until the water justs trickles away.

Liard hot springs | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

The pool was enjoyed by about twenty other people – we overheard conversations with both locals and tourists, and many who, like us, live a few hours’ drive away and were visiting for the weekend.

boardwalk at Liard Hot Springs | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

Though the day was brisk and cool, we were heated through and stayed warm through even after changing and drying off in the unheated change rooms and walking a quarter mile along the boardwalk back to the truck.

I can’t tell you how much we enjoyed our weekend! I took so many photos with future paintings in mind. I spend way too much time thinking, “How would I paint that?” and I can’t wait to start trying to answer that question and painting some of my impressions of beautiful northern British Columbia.

cloud break at Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

bison at Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

bisonstone sheep at Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

We saw stone sheep, bison and caribou along the edge of the highway.