I try not to feel guilty when I get too busy to paint during a week. Life goes on, and I do so many other wonderful things that are important.
My children take a lot of my time. Homeschooling has always claimed our mornings. I love history, and sometimes other subjects feel a little neglected while we immerse ourselves in an adventure, discovering Canada with David Thompson, or crossing the Rockies with Lewis & Clark. The kids are also in swimming lessons and piano, and we cherish our time together at home as well.
My oldest daughter turned eleven last week, and we celebrated by going downhill skiing as a family. It was a perfect Saturday, and finally gave us a reason to be happy we couldn’t afford to go somewhere hot on vacation this winter! You can’t downhill ski in Hawaii, after all.
I finally learned how to take a decent sunset photo. Our days are getting longer; the sun rises around 9 am and sets around 5:30 pm, and so around those times of day, I can be found looking out the window, hoping to see something like this:
The large studio space in the house faces west, and the view is fantastic. You can see a little black dot in the sky – a plane heading to the Dawson Creek airport just a few miles from our house. And the lights of town glitter at us and remind us that we are not alone on our hill.
Truthfully, beauty like this is so effortless for our Creator and I could never hope to come close to capturing it in a painting. Funny how my response when I see something like this is a desire to paint it, to do SOMETHING with the incredible view I’m seeing. I guess that’s how God made me!
Every week when I bring my girls to piano lessons, we pass this old grain truck and while it’s painting-worthy in any season, I think I’m almost ready to paint it in autumn. A nostalgic reminder of bygone days, while local farmers now haul their grain to town in shiny semi trucks, I can still remember the smell of mice living in the workings of Grandpa’s grain truck, the clash of gears and bounce over rutted back roads.
Textured with Kim Klassen’s “Kristin” layer and linked up to Texture Tuesday.
Enter my watercolor giclée print giveaway here.
On Sunday afternoon we celebrated a nephew’s birthday. Cake and piñata and a walk through the muskeg.
The muskeg swamp is why I love September. It just might be my favourite month for the beauty of autumn. The black flies and mosquitoes that pester are gone, and the air is crisp. Even though cedar doesn’t grow here, that is the scent I was reminded of as our feet sank into spongy moss and we drank in the colours of the cranberries, tamarack, birches and spruce trees, arching out of their mossy bed, crisscrossed with trails made by moose and deer. Squirrels scold from the branches, little caches of pine cones discovered beneath the boughs of the evergreens.
The cranberries were pretty sparse this year. But as much as I love cranberry muffins with tiny bog cranberries, I don’t really go to the swamp for the berries.
I go for the colours. The smell of the air.
The texture of feathery tamarack trees.
The sunlight on the spruces.
It’s a wonderful place. Photo above textured with Kim Klassen’s Grunged Up 1 & 2. Linking up to Texture Tuesday.
On Friday the Dawson Creek Art Gallery’s 30th Anniversary Exhibit opens. I have one painting in this show, my award winning “Withered.” And on Sunday I’ll be in Fairview, Alberta with the Peace Watercolour Society for our annual fall show. I have seven paintings in the show, including this one:
If you’re in the Peace River region, why don’t you come out to one of these great events and enjoy some amazing art?
Have a lovely Tuesday! A friend of mine saw this photo and said, “I can see that’s going to be an Angela painting.” I’m told the berries are wild currants, but they are covered in little spiky bristles and don’t look too tasty. With all the blueberries and huckleberries on the hill surrounding them, they are not at all tempting.
I love using Kim Klassen’s free textures to add an artistic look to my photographs. This photo uses Minus 43 and Pourvous. Here’s the original:
And I do love painting leaves and berries!
Linking up to Texture Tuesday and Tuesday Muse.
Last week I painted at the historic curved Kiskatinaw bridge. It was ridiculously hot for mid-September, and the rock I sat on was uncomfortable, and the sun glare washed out the colours from the steep river banks, and the water was a murky brown, but even so I came home with an appreciation for the beauty of the Peace River country where I live, and a bunch of ideas for a new painting.
The Kiskatinaw curved bridge is historic because it was built during the building of the Alaska Highway in 1942. American soldiers built the highway, originating in my hometown of Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and winding its way up to Alaska, in defense of an World War II attack via the Bering Strait.
The Kiskatinaw bridge is a little off the main highway now, which has protected this all-wooden bridge from destruction by heavy traffic. Its pronounced curve is picturesque and creative, and the small camp site at the base of the bridge is a favourite of locals. And if it hadn’t been our van we drove there, my husband likely would have been the one laying a little rubber along its 534 foot length!
These photos were taken a few years ago during a camping trip near the bridge. My camera broke recently and I’m awaiting a new lens anxiously!
I always say I love picking berries, but I think that berry picking is just a vehicle for me to be totally inspired by the landscape. Yesterday my sister and I and three of our children drove into the mountains (3 hours from home) to pick blueberries and huckleberries. We postponed the first day of homeschool so we could go (I love being able to do that)!
Huckleberries are elusive out here – most years we’ll get a few, some years there won’t be any and then there’s 2013, which has become The Year of the Berry. A perfect growing season resulted in an incredible harvest of berries and I think we’ll never be able to enjoy an “average” harvest again, we were so spoiled this year! I picked 4 gallons in as many hours, and took a ton of wonderful photos to enrich my paintings this winter.
We stayed close together – the bushes were tall and thick and we are wary of grizzly bears.
Wild blueberries – usually we only get low-bush, BB-sized berries but these were almost as large as domestic berries, on waist-high bushes. There is a rich scent of crushed ferns as we walk through the underbrush, and the birds scolded us as we interrupted their buffet.
The huckleberry in the rear is the average size, but I found many much larger! I stood in one spot for over an hour and didn’t run out of berries to pick. My fingers are still stained purple from picking yesterday. Huckleberries have a strong flavour and are wonderful in baking. I love to make a sauce to serve on pancakes. I am a pancake gourmet – true story! No pancake supper occurs without homemade sauce or syrup and buttermilk pancakes made from scratch. I made my sister hold an empty bucket for this quick photo! She’s actually a faster picker than I am.
On the way home, we were nearly at my sister’s house when we reached tiny Sundance Lake and saw a familiar vehicle. Her husband and son were just launching a canoe and we stopped for a few minutes to paddle too!
A perfect day. Sunshine, good company and the most beautiful country to wonder over. I couldn’t help but think of how God creates this abundance in the middle of nowhere, just for his own pleasure. How privileged I feel to be able to enjoy it too!
I need this quote on days when the kids seem to need parental intervention every few minutes, when a painting just won’t “flow”, when I’m passed over for a juried exhibition, or feel more envy than genuine joy at a fellow artist’s well-deserved recognition.
I believe that things will happen in their own time, that patience is rewarded far more than fighting to the top of the heap will be. Let authenticity drive the wheels of creativity and the fruit will be good in time.
I’m trying something new, sharing a photo & quote I enjoy,in a convenient size for you to use as wallpaper! Links at bottom of post.
My husband and I are total opposites. They say this has been known to happen. There’s actually even a saying about it. We were married well over ten years before I realized that part of us being opposites was that he’s a cool kid, and I’m a geek. Fortunately he isn’t too cool to like THIS geek, but he doesn’t understand all my geeky little quirks. Like:
- my enjoyment of word games & brain teasers
- my love of puns and plays on words
- why I insist that one day we will get our family photo taken, in costume, at a vintage photo shop.
- my interest in history and pop culture
- my ability to be transparently, easily delighted over little things.
I think that an active curiosity and interest in new things and the world around me is what keeps things interesting. Being curious has made me new friends, sparked fascinating conversations and discoveries and given me new skills and abilities that I never expected. Every day is an adventure when you choose to explore it!
Wallpaper (click on link, right-click on photo and “save image as”)
My daughters have been away at camp all week, and so during the day I have my son’s undivided attention. He’s just turned seven, and he’s full of energy. He’s talked my ear off all week and I’ve learned all kinds of things about his favourite video games, go-karts, and his plans for the camping trip he and his dad just left on. I’m so thankful he gets to spend some quality time in the bush with his dad, grandpa, uncle and cousins this weekend, and I have six whole hours to myself before I pick up my girls from camp!
During the week, Wes and I went berry picking. We love strawberries, and our little patch at home has never thrived. The nearest “u-pick” strawberry patch is over an hour away, on the banks of the Peace River in Dunvegan, Alberta. It’s a beautiful site, and after we filled our pails, we wandered the grounds of the garden and enjoyed some well-deserved ice cream. I would love to paint on location there, but seven-year-old attention span was worn out by the berry excursion, so I settled for grabbing a few reference photos.
I am very inspired by the blue shadows on these pristine white peonies!
I recently finished a painting that’s all about the wild roses that we love so much here in the north. I clipped a sprig from the edge of our driveway and brought it into the studio to paint. It smelled so wonderful!
I videotaped my process and uploaded it to Youtube today. I spend a bit of time at the beginning explaining my techniques, and then fade to music as I get absorbed in painting and forget to talk to my audience. Painting like this is very energizing and intuitive, and I am so thankful for the years I spent struggling to develop technique and grow comfortable with the medium of watercolour. With that work done, I can throw myself into painting from my heart, and it’s rewarding on so many levels.
Enjoy the video!
I wish that you could see my home the way I see it. It’s easy, even for those who live here, to get fixated on our distance from city and cultural centres, the long, dark, cold winters, and the “rednecks” who live out here. And maybe it takes a special person to recognize and love the Peace River region for its beauty and abundance.
It’s a wild beauty. Untamed and rugged.
The people have to be too, but they are warm and down-to-earth.
Full of contrasts, as dramatic as the scars on an aspen’s trunk.
To enjoy it, you have to be willing to get a little dirty…
And maybe encounter a thorn or two…
But, oh, the wild roses scent the air in June!
Dress warmly. Sweaters at hand, even in July…
And keep your eyes open,
Because beauty is everywhere.
I hope you love your home as much as I love mine. Photos taken during our family camping trip this September Labour Day weekend.