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

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

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

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 Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr sky over Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr

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

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

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

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

bison at Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr

bisonstone sheep at Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr

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


Summer’s End

We’ll be starting school here in a week. My how the summer has whizzed by! This week will be a blur of fall house cleaning and homeschool prep. It definitely would be easier to pack the kids’ backpacks and send them off to school, and maybe I’d have more time to paint, but we believe in home education too much to abandon it now. I think my favourite aspect of homeschooling is that my children spend 95% of their time in an environment where they are loved and accepted just as they are. They get to be themselves without trying to conform to their peers. We recognize that home education is not perfect, or for everyone, and I like to say that I can be an advocate for home education while reserving the right to change direction if a different education plan serves my children better down the road.

Plus, this year I’m taking third grade for the fourth time. I am becoming thoroughly educated.

Summer projects are wrapping up. My husband had a week off work and spent his days off building an outside entrance and deck for my art studio. It’s beautiful! 400 square feet of view, and I can just imagine sitting out and painting here next summer. Or hosting a summer party on the deck; stringing up some lanterns and enjoying music and laughs with friends. The bathroom inside the studio is nearly finished, and once that’s done, I’m moving in. We do still need a heating system installed, but I can live without it for a few more weeks.

deck boys deck man

We’ve spent lots of time outdoors this summer, with one of the driest, hottest summers I can remember in the Peace River region, it’s been wonderful for hiking and picnicking, if not for gardening or forest fires. All of this time outdoors enjoying nature’s beauty will translate into lots of paintings celebrating this splendor this winter.

path in progress | Angela Fehr watercolour

I’ve been working out how best to paint a sunlit, tree-arched path in the woods. Those places always seem so magical!

path in progress 2 | Angela Fehr watercolours

Like always, I’ll paint several versions of this until I can paint it confidently. These studies are my favourite way of working out a painting.


Good Ideas Take Time.

Home again after a week’s absence. We went to Saskatchewan for a family wedding, and enjoyed time with people we haven’t seen in a while.

It’s funny what time away from the palette does to the mind. There wasn’t a day when I wasn’t thinking about painting, but being unable to paint can be very helpful. Several painting ideas seemed to take shape out of the creative whirlpool in my brain, and these are the ones I want to paint now that I am home again.

work in progress | Angela Fehr watercolors

I am always rearranging my studio area, trying to find the best way to set up my paints so they don’t get in the way of the other things I want to do in my large workspace. I like having several projects on the go (crafting, sewing, or just making room for the kids to create) but it’s hard not letting the paintings take over. Right now I have three pieces spread out on the floor (a good place to look them over), and my treadmill, which is only used during the winter, is an informal filing cabinet of paintings, studies and abandoned attempts. I really need to categorize my work into “finals”, “studies”, and “try again on the b-side”, but every time I do I find just a few weeks pass and the filing needs to start all over again.

One of the ideas emerging has been to paint some spare landscapes. “Spare” as in “open” and “simple”. There’s a beauty about the haze of wildfire smoke that hangs over the region. Beauty in dusk, when the colour is stripped from the landscape. Beauty in open, empty sky underlined by dale and field.

Haze Study | Angela Fehr watercolours

I completed one simple study of such a spare landscape last night. I want to use white gouache mixed with blue/grey to create an opaque mid-summer bleached sky. Still need to do some more experimenting to get the right mix. Questions and experiments that keep the brush moist and the palette awash with variegated puddles.

Ninja Germ Pancakes: Adventures in Authoring

This is a re-post from last summer, sharing one of the highlights of our summer and still a favourite giggle in our home. 

uncle bens

Here in the Fehr household, we are loving the freedom of summer. Laid back schedules and lots of laughs. I had to laugh out loud when I found these photos on my camera the other day. The kids were trying on some freebies won from participating in a contest. The staging was all their own idea!

Creative people are idea people, and while many of those ideas are junk, and quite a few, while good, may not make it further than idea form, every now and then an idea of sheer genius just has to be put into action. I had such an idea when the kids and I were looking at these photos.

When I was a girl, my siblings and I used to make our own story books. We would sort, cut up and arrange photos from Mom’s “not-good-enough-for-photo-album” box, glue them into scrapbooks and add our own text, creating zany storylines that we would laugh over again and again. Sometimes we would do the same using photos from the Sears catalogue (or we’d just go through the catalogue and write nutty speech bubbles over all the models).

Today’s digital cameras and photo technology has changed everything. My kids don’t have to try to arrange assorted photos into a cohesive storyline, instead, we can stage our own story, upload the photos, add text and order a custom photo book all in an afternoon. It was the most fun we’ve had in ages, and such a great way to spend time together!

We talked out our storyline before we got started, then we gathered our costumes and props and staged each photo chronologically. New ideas for story twists came to us as we went through the photo shoot, and once all the photos were taken, we uploaded the pictures to Shutterfly and created a new, blank photo book. Luckily the photos we took fit into their standard, 20 page book without us having to delete any. As we inserted each photo, from front to back, we made up our narrative. I did most of the writing, but everything had to be approved by the cast. Certain lines really tickled their fancy, and for the rest of the afternoon they could be heard, randomly spouting phrases like, “Oregano!” and “Having trouble with the germ-proof lid?”


Once the storyline was complete, we quickly proofed the book, reading it aloud to make sure it had “flow” and then I placed the order. The best part is that I can order three copies, one for each child, and it will be a keepsake they can share with their kids twenty or thirty years from now! We’ve also given it as a fun Christmas gift for their friends and the local library ordered a copy for the children’s book section! 

While I may not have gotten much painting done that afternoon, I think it was worth it! You can view the full story online here if you want – maybe you’ll get some ideas for quality time with your family, or just enjoy a laugh.

Vivid Fireweed

We have been enjoying a very dry summer here in northern British Columbia, and while the wildfire risk is very high right now, and the air is filled with a haze of smoke (again), it is idea weather for weekend adventuring. A week ago we drove out past Tumbler Ridge, BC to Kinuseo Falls. It’s a beautiful spot, and we especially love the solitude. Only the most determined traverse the ridged gravel 40 km into the backwoods to enjoy Monkman Provincial Park.

fireweed and bee

Along the way I was struck by the beauty of the fireweed, in full flower. Fireweed gets its name from being the first bloom to carpet burned-off wildfire zones, and it’s ubiquitous in our forests and roadways in summer, arching magenta spires above the sweet clover and wild grasses, twined among baby spruce trees and huckleberry bushes. In some areas it enveloped acres in a misty fuschia swath.

fire-kissed | watercolor by Angela Fehr

Of course I had to paint it when I got home, using a fresh tube of Opera Pink and my beloved Rose of Ultramarine from Daniel Smith. The violent pink dots are where I actually scraped the mouth of the open tube across the page, aiming for the fullest saturation of colour.

fireweed canvas 12x12 | watercolor by Angela Fehr

I recently bought a jar of Golden Watercolour Ground. This medium can be brushed over almost any surface to give an absorbent, paper-like finish that can be painted on with watercolour. Very exciting to try out and see how it reacts to my watercolour methods. I brushed it over a 12″ x 12″ canvas and painted a second fireweed-inspired painting. I added in a few individual blooms this time, and a burned out tree trunk. The watercolour ground really absorbs colour – I find that the first few layers of paint dry to a bit of a chalky finish as they soak into the ground, and the edges are a little different than I’m used to on paper, but I love the possibilities for painting on canvas – with a coat of finish, this watercolour won’t need to be framed under glass.

“Fire-Kissed” measures 19″ x 22″ and is available for purchase.

“Fireweed & Stump” measures 12″ x 12″ is available for purchase.

Wild Berry Bounty

This country is heaven for wild berries.

wild raspberries | Angela Fehr

The wild raspberries are smaller and tarter than the ones that grow in my garden; I think they’re prettier too.

huckleberries | Angela Fehr

Huckleberries, when ripe, are almost black. Berry picking is a sensory feast for me; I would go just for the beauty of it.

Saskatoon berries | Angela Fehr

Saskatoon berries, also known as serviceberries, are seedy and a bit bland in the wild. But I love the blush of dusky violet.


Student Work: Stepping Out

I love seeing my watercolour students step out independently! While you can learn a lot by copying the tutorials on my YouTube channel and online courses, it’s in trying your own subjects and compositions that you engage your brain in “working out” a painting. There’s a lot of problem solving in painting, and it’s the best way to learn. The following paintings are from my watercolour students, posted in the online student galleries. I check in regularly to comment and critique, giving guidance to help my students build stronger paintings, and encouragement to help them stay positive and passionate about learning.

runs with paint

“Runs with Paint in her hair” posted this imaginary flower. Imagination is a wonderful thing, and using it can help us be more creative. I love these colours – probably because I have such a hard time sticking to earthy tones in my paintings.

Anthea D 3

Anthea D is a girl after my own heart – I love painting rose hips too! These have such a lovely glow. I used this painting to demonstrate how a grouping of similar objects can create a visual path for the eye to follow. See how the outer rose hips form a triangle? Very visually pleasing.

Susan derby fedora blueberries

Berries by Susan D. This woman is on fire! Since Susan started taking my classes, she is painting up a storm, and the results are evident in the growth of her skills as an artist. I enjoy seeing the new paintings she comes up with, and feel only a little insecure that this student might one day become my teacher!

Lindsay A

Not all my students are beginners. Lindsay A is an artist by profession and used my watercolour workshop as an opportunity to try a new style and subject matter. I enjoy doing the same thing – it’s always healthy to stretch yourself as an artist, and this portrait of her daughter is lovely.

Patricia K 2

Patricia K has done several versions of this interesting composition. I also like to work out a composition by painting it over and over again, learning from each attempt. Every version has different aspects to love.

Helen S

Helen S is another watercolourist using my courses to try out a looser style. I love how she’s taking fluidity and incorporating it into her realistic style.

Check out all my online workshops by visiting this page. My new floral workshop is on sale until July 31st.


Strawberry Fields Forever: Watercolor Style

Are you a berry picker?

Around here we are berry pickers, eaters, and painters. I guess you could say I’m a berry reveller. Starting when the strawberries ripen in June, through saskatoon, raspberry, huckleberry, blueberry and cranberry season, I just relish the amazing wild berries we enjoy in our northern Canadian region. So much bounty, and the experience of picking berries is a feast for the senses! Even if the mosquitoes are bad.

"Strawberry Wreath" watercolour sketch | Angela Fehr

I do grow a few rows of domestic strawberries and raspberries, and while they never produce as much as I’d like, I love having inspiration in colour, scent and texture just a few feet from my home. These two sketches are purely fun, nothing I’m content with as yet, but just like berry picking, you never know what you’ll discover when you start out!

strawberry sketch | Angela Fehr watercolours

Enjoy your summer’s bounty, whatever it may be!


"Kaleidoscope" watercolour by Angela Fehr |

After all the colour inspiration blooming in my garden, it’s pretty easy to splash brights around on my palette! For this painting I used mainly QoR watercolors by Golden for their non-fading brilliance. They don’t lighten as they dry, which I love. The pink is Quinacridone Magenta.

I’ve been really enjoying playing with brushstrokes lately; scribbly marks that dance across the page give paths for the moist colour to flow and mingle. I love seeing the transitions between colours and their interactions are so dynamic.

“Kaleidoscope” measures 9″ x 12″ and is available for purchase.