About Angela Fehr

I'm a 37-year-old professional watercolour artist living in northern British Columbia, a painter and creative loving the beauty found in everyday moments.

Paint Splashes and Creative Classes!

It’s a beautiful Canada Day and I’m pretty proud to be Canadian. I’m so thankful for my country; for the freedoms we enjoy, the diversity of its inhabitants and the vast beauty of our landscape. My husband is self-employed and rarely takes the holidays off, so I have a quiet day planned. I love my home and rarely complain about having to stay home instead of get out (unless I’m tired of making meals). Today I’ll help the kids put a tent in the backyard, make a frozen dessert and maybe before I even get to those things, rush to the studio to check on a painting I started last night. I always love coming back to see what’s happened between the last juicy brushstroke and the “morning after.”

I’ve also been busy recording my new courses! I started with a thought to update my “Basic Techniques” course, followed by creating “Loose & Fluid Watercolour II” and “Watercolour Sketches” but in beginning the new Loose course, I got excited about the idea of recording a new Florals course instead of the Sketches course, or maybe in addition to! Wouldn’t it be great to have three new courses by fall?

Here’s a peek at something you can see right now:

apple demo

This apple is demonstrated in my in-the-process-of-revision “Basic Techniques” course. It’s $20 US for a limited time; I will be increasing the price when the update is complete as I am adding a ton of new information and demonstrations.

Also new today is this one-layer peony demonstration. This is a painting you can make in about five minutes, and it’s so much fun!

peony

You can watch the speedy version on my Youtube channel, or the full video with instructions in my “Joy of Watercolour” free online course. I add to this course periodically, sharing ways to experiment and explore watercolour, grow your skills and have fun in the process.

peony 4

Every painting holds a new colour experience, and I’m so excited about what I’m learning as I record what I already know. I grow my watercolour skills every time I paint, and every time I teach. It’s one of the things that makes me excited about becoming an old lady; imagining how much better a painter I’ll be in 20, 30, 40 years!

peony 3

So if your future looks a little dull and lifeless, grab a paintbrush and a tube of quinacridone magenta. You might just fall in love with colour!

peony2

A Trip into the Wilderness

The sun is shining and the strawberries are ripening! We’ve had a beautiful and very dry spring and now that summer has hit, so have summer thunderstorms. I’m thankful for adventures that have already happened this month. Every time we go out adventuring, I get to add to my life experiences and my paintings get richer. The trick is deciding what to paint!

A couple of weeks ago, we loaded up some ATV’s and met my sister and family for an off roading adventure about 3 hours from home. We were able to drive into the northern Rocky Mountains and explore along the Red Deer River. I’m not a rugged outdoorsy type, but I do love nature and beautiful scenery, and there was plenty of both!

red deer 1

We stopped for lunch at the beginning of the trail, surrounded by mountains.

red deer 2

Everywhere along the trail you could see traces of wildfire destruction. Most wildfires in our region are caused by lightning, and the skeletal trees lend an extra sense of the power of nature in the raw.

red deer river

The river curved beneath us, glacier blue.

red deer 3

When I wasn’t driving quad, I was crouched along the trail, catching photos of the wildflowers. I could identify many; columbine (shown), wild forget-me-nots, lupines, wild roses, paintbrush in neon hues, and many more I wasn’t familiar with.

red deer 4

Were it not for my brother-in-law, we might have missed the trail branching off to the falls, a short walk and we were there. Water cascading, fire-stripped trees right up the river’s edge on the south side of the river, and a whole micro-system of flowers and mosses thriving in the misty air. We scrambled down to the base of the falls;

red deer 5

The misty coldness felt fantastic on our dusty faces after our 10 km trail ride. One of the things we love most about living up north is the solitude. Throughout the day we were the only ones at the falls and saw only a few signs of other humans around. We did scare away a grizzly sow and cub, but otherwise we felt like the only people in a hundred miles. It’s one of the things that is disillusioning about travel; going to a famous park or landmark and being just one of the crowd. It’s pretty fun to feel like you are part of a beautiful secret; a gem of nature that few people get to experience.

red deer 6

The long drive home (we got home at midnight!) was pretty painful; we were all so tired and grubby. The glorious sunset made it better, and we counted wildlife as we drove, watching carefully we saw moose, elk and a grizzly bear along the road. That grizzly was pretty confident of his position as king of the forest; we stopped the truck to look at him in the darkening night and he ignored us as he foraged in the weeds. Nature is pretty amazing, and it always inspires me. I’m so thankful I get to enjoy the beauty of the world where I live. As much as I’d love to travel, there’s so much to see here that I haven’t experienced yet!

The Fun of Painting Flowers

 

One reason I love painting florals is that you can go from this:Hiking above the Murray River near Tumbler Ridge, BC Canada

To this:

Calypso Orchids | watercolor by Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

and it’s so much fun! I get to be in charge when I paint, and let the colours run the way I want, creating shapes that suggest beautiful flowers without painting every detail. I love dropping in beautiful colours like cobalt teal, green gold and opera pink, letting them flow & mingle for maximum impact and gorgeous juiciness.

Calypsos; detail of watercolor by Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

I love sharing what I’ve learned about using the loose & fluid properties of watercolour in my online courses. My “Loose & Fluid” watercolour course is a great introduction to “playing” with free & easy painting and “Colour-Drenched Florals” is a great followup to really explain my processes in painting flowers in watercolour. If creating dynamic florals is something you’ve always wanted to do, check out these classes today! They are more than worth the money and there’s a 30 day money back guarantee if you disagree.

Sign up here: Angela Fehr Watercolour Classes

Here’s a few details to help you decide:

1. The classes are self paced so you can watch them anytime, and you get lifetime access so you can watch them as many times as you want to.

2. Loose & Fluid I is just $20 USD, while Colour-Drenched Florals is $99. But you can buy all five of my paid courses for $150 for the best value of all.

3. By posting your work in the Student Gallery (there’s one in each course), you can receive feedback, guidance & critiques from me as well as from the other students in the course. There’s already a ton of great information in the galleries as I share insight on how to improve students’ paintings.

Here’s a few more of my beautiful floral watercolour paintings. These inspire me to make more lovely paintings every day, and I hope they inspire you too! Many of these are available for purchase by clicking here.

Spray of Wild Roses | watercolour by Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

"Fragrant" watercolor painting by Angela Fehr

“Fragrant” watercolor painting by Angela Fehr

Sunflower on Edge | angela fehr watercolors "Alstromeria" watercolor by Angela Fehr oleander | Angela Fehr watercolours "Reds" watercolor by Angela Fehr freesia sketch 5x7 watercolor by Angela Fehr Golden Gift hothouse flowers & vase Dainties 600w "Kaleidoscope" watercolour by Angela Fehr | http://angelafehr.com gerber first wash | Angela Fehr "Withered" watercolor by Angela Fehr wild rose cascade 600w party line Spring Dresses Liz's Wild Roses | Angela Fehr watercolors Violets of My Affections Summer Fling | watercolour by Angela Fehr "Market Garden" watercolour, $120 unframed | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

Lasting Value, Pain and Growth

I’ve been working hard this last month on a personal project of improving my diet and it’s been exciting lately to see the changes I’ve made turn into habits and the accompanying results. I really wanted to write a blog post sharing my achievements in this area, however, I read a post on Facebook by Jann Arden and it’s been clanging around in my head all day:

Nothing can take the place of loss- not food or drink or drug. Loss is its own sticky mass of nothingness. What good I have learned in my life has come from it. What has made me better and more empathic has trickled into my soul because of losing. Winning has only served to make me more shallow and more narcissistic. Winning always somehow managed to give me a false sense of pride and unearned status. I much prefer he gentleness of defeat- the humility that comes with not getting it right-the subtle beautiful shame that only comes with being beaten down.
The people that have come and gone from my life have shaped every facet of my personality. They’ve taught me how to cry with reckless abandon and clench my teeth without breaking them off. There are people still very much alive- that I will mourn until the day I die. For whatever reason the universe pushes us onward, forcing us to change ourselves over and over and over again. No amount of time can erase the pain of lost love. It lingers like smoke from burning rubber tires. The scent seeps into your bones and stays there to remind you how small you are in all the vastness. How could something so very small- feel so incredibly BIG?

I believe that this is so very true. As I look back over the last month, I can’t minimize the difficulty of working to “win” at changing my diet and attitudes about food, however, focusing on self-improvement has a tendency to turn my focus inward and make my field of view very narrow. Losing a few pounds feels like a victory, and it is, but it’s not as valuable as becoming a kinder, more giving, more loving person, and I have to be very careful not to let my perceived accomplishment give me that false sense of pride or the idea that I am somehow a better person because I’m a little healthier or thinner.

Not only my diet falls under this false sense of pride, but my art career. It is exciting to see growth, to receive emails from fans, or awards from my peers. It is pretty easy to fall into the thinking that “I must be pretty special to get all this attention.” It’s dangerous. I never want to stop striving to be better, to give more, to appreciate what I’ve been given. Blessings are gifts that are unearned; none of us enjoy giving a gift to someone who accepts it as their rightful due.

We cannot underestimate the value of empathy, generosity of spirit, kindness of heart and faithful love. These are of inestimable value, and they don’t come on the easy path. They are won through pain, tears and perseverance in struggle and loss. Recognizing the value of pain in developing our character gives meaning to suffering, and offers hope for the future. Maybe we don’t want an easy path through life. Maybe in hurting we will be better able to share hope in a hurting world.

Jann’s wise words on Facebook paraphrase the wisest wordsmith of all:
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Romans 5:4-5

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Note: I’m not saying making physical changes, or working to improve oneself isn’t a good thing. But I so need that reminder of where true and lasting value lies, and that maybe I need to brag on myself a little less and love others a little more. I’m so thankful for the people that model that kind of selfless love in my love. Many of them are family members and they are ones who leave a legacy.

My Love Affair with Colour: Spray of Wild Roses (new painting alert)

Spray of Wild Roses, watercolor by Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

It’s wild rose season, and the air is full of their fragrance. I almost feel silly painting wild roses; they are so ubiquitous and symbolic of our region that I feel like they’ve been done to death. But when you’re inspired, you have to go with it, and I realized recently that I really only have completed two wild rose paintings. So I pulled out a sheet of watercolour paper and channeled my inner rose.

Spray of Wild Roses, watercolor by Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

I have studied roses extensively for many years and so I didn’t use a reference photo, I just started painting, studying the roses at the roadside during my morning run. The benefit from studying roses live in person is that you can see the context; their environment, their scent, the bugs and the feel of the sun and wind. It makes for a more well-rounded painting, capturing more of the “essence” of the painting subject.

Spray of Wild Roses, watercolor by Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

Painting loosely means I also get to use the best characteristics of watercolour to my advantage. I love playing with granulating colours – that’s how I get the texture of granules of different colours side by side. These colours are mixed with a wet brush, and then as they dry, they separate. It’s stunning and always unique.

Spray of Wild Roses, watercolor by Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

I’ve been teasing you with detail shots, because there are so many beautiful details in this painting, you have to see it to appreciate it. Here’s a look at the full painting:

Spray of Wild Roses | watercolour by Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

“Spray of Wild Roses” measures 14″ x 18″ (36 x 56 cm) and is available for purchase here.

From Watercolor to Fused Glass: One Artist’s Interpretation

I meet some great people through watercolor, and by “meet” I mean not just in person, but through email, Facebook & online conversations; even the occasional phone call. Creativity connects people and it’s one of the most energizing parts of my job to be a part of making those connections.

I saw Willow Grove Hill Studio‘s fused glass work on Instagram while around the same time Willow Grove’s artist, Anna DelBon Masucci, was watching my sunflower watercolor tutorial on Youtube. I love glass art and have often dreamed of taking a glassblowing course, trying lampwork or stained glass, and my favourite jewellery pieces are glass. I think it’s no coincidence that glass artists are often fans of watercolor as well. The transparency of the two medias is certainly similarly beautiful! Look at this gorgeous piece; my favourite from her site:

Willow Grove Hill Studio

Anna emailed me to share the painting she created inspired by the tutorial (I have to recommend my sunflower video tutorial; it’s a very forgiving, step-by-step intro to watercolor techniques), and then last week she emailed with something new; a wonderful fused glass art piece inspired by my sunflower demo.

glass art by Willow Grove Hill Studio

Isn’t that beautiful!? With glass, Anna achieves something that I can only dream of with watercolour; wonderful transparent colour AND texture on top of that! I hope you’ll check out more of her lovely work on her web site, Willow Grove Hill Studio. And I’d love to hear about the path creativity has taken for you; it’s so awesome how we can see a great idea on Pinterest or anywhere, really, and take it and make it our own unique interpretation. Creativity is wonderful.

Hiking the Murray River Overlook: Viewpoints of Northern British Columbia

Since we returned from our USA vacation in April, I’ve had a crazy hankering to travel. You would think I’d be over it, but I just want to see and experience everything! Fortunately we live on the doorstep of some really beautiful and mostly unspoiled wilderness, and a drive of as little as an hour can get us to a view like this:

Hiking above the Murray River near Tumbler Ridge, BC Canada

The river you see is the Murray River, south of Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia. This time of year it’s muddy with runoff and it’s icy all year round. We’ve visited Kinuseo Falls, north of Tumbler, but this was our first time hiking the Murray River Overlook trail, an easy 5.5 km trek with nonstop views.

Hiking above the Murray River near Tumbler Ridge, BC Canada

The trail starts out through the forest, and unlike the tangled mess of the aspen forest in our backyard, this is an evergreen forest, mossy and aromatic. Wild clematis grew everywhere in a viney swirl, looking far too delicate for such a rugged environment. It always seems like the more tough the region, the daintier the flowers. But maybe that’s just me.

Hiking above the Murray River near Tumbler Ridge, BC Canada

After ten minutes of easy walking, we came out onto the side of the river hill, with the Murray River far below.

Hiking above the Murray River near Tumbler Ridge, BC Canada

The rest of the hike followed the curve of the hill, and the change of scenery meant a change of vegetation as well. Hillside wildflowers added exclamation points of color all along the trail as it wound through grass, sand and aspen groves.

Hiking above the Murray River near Tumbler Ridge, BC Canada

People ask if we are afraid of bears. There are occasionally reports of bear attacks in our region (this spring a man was killed while camping near Mackenzie, BC, about 3 hours away), but I decided a long time ago that I wasn’t going to let fear keep us from adventuring. We make enough noise with a nine-year-old boy along that most animals know we are coming long before we appear, and just like us, they prefer to avoid confrontation.

Hiking above the Murray River near Tumbler Ridge, BC Canada

Plus, I let the boy lead the way, and he had a 2″ penknife. “If I see a bear, I’ll just stab him with my knife.” Oh, for the confidence of boyhood!

Hiking above the Murray River near Tumbler Ridge, BC Canada

The trail ended right about the time we were ready for a snack, and we parked on a log bench overlooking the valley, right where the river makes a hairpin turn and meanders from north to west.

Hiking above the Murray River near Tumbler Ridge, BC Canada

I think it’s so cool that we live in a region that lets us explore so freely. In our two-plus hours hiking, we encountered only one other couple, and the trail was pristine.

Hiking above the Murray River near Tumbler Ridge, BC Canada

Clearly well travelled but with absolutely no litter. Aside from the signposts and deadfalls cleared from the path, there was no other sign of human interference. That was one thing we didn’t get when we were hiking in the USA; you were always around other people, and most parks require admission or parking fees. It’s free to use our trails and parks for day use.

Hiking above the Murray River near Tumbler Ridge, BC Canada

The travel bug shows no signs of going away. But we saw signs of another trail near this one, and we’re planning a quad (ATV) trip for next weekend to an even more remote location.

Hiking above the Murray River near Tumbler Ridge, BC Canada

Not only that, but within a few hours’ drive we can reach beautiful Jasper National Park. I have a bucket list experience connected with that park, and I’m determined we’ll do it this year.

Hiking above the Murray River near Tumbler Ridge, BC Canada

I also have to research all the wildflowers we saw on our hike. There are at least a dozen varieties, and while I know most of them, this pink one was new:

Hiking above the Murray River near Tumbler Ridge, BC Canada

And we spotted a single Calypso Orchid beside the trail, and very carefully admired it. So lovely!

Hiking above the Murray River near Tumbler Ridge, BC Canada

I believe everyone can find beauty in their own backyard, and I’d love to know about the scenic spots you’d take me to were I to visit your neck of the woods!

Meeting with the Peace Watercolour Society

On Sunday I joined the other members of the Peace Watercolour Society for our annual general meeting and get-together. This year we met at the home of one of our members, Toni Schuler, about an hour’s drive into Alberta farm country.

cows

The PWS goes through cycles of growth and we are a small but tightly-knit group at this time, at only six members. Recently we lost a member, Janis Herbison, to cancer and part of the meeting was spent discussing her contribution to watercolour in the community and brainstorming some ways to honour her at our fall show.

cabin 2

In addition to painting, Toni operates a working cattle ranch, complete with the original homesteader’s cabin. Toni restored the cabin and it hosted our meeting comfortably. It was cozy to sit surrounded by Toni’s paintings and the relics of an earlier time.

cabin 5 cabin 4

You already know that I’m a nostalgic kind of girl; I love history, and in a region that was settled a century ago or less, history isn’t really very far away.

cabin 3

Artists need to be pretty self-motivated; we work alone for the most part and sometimes you spend so much time living in your own head you don’t know how much to trust your own judgment. Maybe this is why artists get such a reputation for mental health issues… Anyhow, spending time with other artists is refreshing. It’s reassuring to talk to others who understand where I’m coming from; to discuss the struggles of this unusual career and to encourage one another that we’re not alone.

pails

After our meeting we took a walk. Toni’s ranch is right beside Steeprock Creek and I ignored the mosquitos and wandered along the edge of the creek, past beaver-gnawed stumps and mysterious den holes, and sentinels of dried cow parsnip.

cow parsnip

I studied the lubricative properties of creek mud (in other words, I slipped and nearly fell into the creek), and looked for morels (Toni said he’s picked gallons this year), but, not knowing what they look like, I didn’t find any. I noticed that when artists wander, we come armed – with cameras, that is. I’m sure we all could compare photos and find we are almost matching in content and subject matter.

meeting
Marjorie & Judy coaxing cows to pose.

We’re excited about the year ahead. Our fall show will take place in Grande Prairie, Alberta, at the Centre for Creative Arts. We are hoping for a spring show (venue to be determined) and our 2016 fall show is also our 40th anniversary, so we are already planning the festivities for that. And as always, I’m encouraged by the variety of amazing paintings that come out of even a small watercolour society. Watercolour is amazing, and that’s why we love it.