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 Book of Autumn

It’s so beautiful in the fall. Judging by the size of my photo files for September, it’s my favourite month.

red leaves | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

Drinking in the richness of leaves in transition, hues of gold, violet, cranberry. The sunsets missed through the long days of summer, flaring streaky over cobalt-shadowed landscape. Harvest haze of wheat chaff, farmers haloed in the glare of combine lights. I love the swirl of leaves as we meander down aspen-lined country roads, and the sleepy trickle of creeks banked with tangled purple-red cranberry bushes.

Autumn has been long been used as a metaphor for ending, the slow closing of a life-book. But I think autumn is a celebration of the generosity and abandon of summer. It’s a season set apart for memory and gratitude, a space to take a breath and savour all that has passed. To make that entry in memory’s diary and sign it with a flourish.

If summer was a party, fall is a meditation.

leaves & fence post | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

Plein Air Painting at Bear Mountain Wind Park

On Saturday I joined fellow members of the Peace Watercolour Society for our fall plein air painting excursion. The weather was almost perfect; sunny and warm, but there was a fiercely gusting west wind that made painting a little difficult. I had my palette and paper both taped down.

golden tree | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

The leaves bravely clung to the branches of the aspens flaming the hills around Dawson Creek with gold.

 yellow leaves

We met at the Bear Mountain wind farm. Completed in 2009, the turbines are still a relatively new site for those of us who’ve grown up in the region.

towers2  | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

I remember hiking this ridge before the turbines were built. The “rimrocks” along the top of the hill were a community treasure; one of those sites known by locals. Back then one had to hike about 45 minutes to reach the rocks and enjoy the view. Now the road goes right along the ridge beneath the towers,  and it’s only a 30 second walk to the rocks. With progress comes garbage. It’s hard to see the broken bottles and graffiti on the rocks and not remember the beauty of the spot when it was harder to reach. The view from the rocks hasn’t changed, however. It’s still a gorgeous panorama of forest and farmland.

  wind tower panorama  | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com wind towers bear mountain  | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

One thing I really enjoyed about this particular painting excursion was that I was able to bring my children along. All three have spent time at the wind park before, and they love the rimrocks. We spent over three hours there and I hardly saw them, they were so busy exploring and adventuring. There was a group of rock climbers scaling one end of the rimrocks, and they were interesting to watch, and the kids discovered a cave we hadn’t seen before. They didn’t complain about the wind at all!

wind towers | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

I was tempted to complain a little as painting outdoors is much different from creating in the studio. Drying time, especially in the wind, is much faster. Dirt and grit gusted over the wet paint on paper and palette, and my hands cramped up as I tried to keep a tight grip on my painting board and supplies when the wind picked up.

towers  | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

It’s good to paint outdoors though. I found it was easier to work out depth and distance and interpret it into a painting than when I’m using reference photos. I also saw a wider range of colours more clearly.

tower | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

Photographs aren’t perfect, but the days grow short and the world is white, I will be thankful for the many great photos I took this fall and the paintings that grow out of the time spent outdoors and the memories of autumn.

sunflare | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

 leafscape | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

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. 


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.


Other Things.

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.birthday girl

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: Peace Region sunset | Angela Fehr

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.Peace Region sunset | Angela Fehr

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!

A Relic.

grain truck | Angela Fehr

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.

The Beauty of the Muskeg

On Sunday afternoon we celebrated a nephew’s birthday. Cake and piñata and a walk through the muskeg.
hikers | Angela Fehr

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.

berries | Angela Fehr

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.branches | angela fehr

I go for the colours. forest | Angela FehrThe smell of the air.
tamarack | Angela Fehr

The texture of feathery tamarack trees.muskeg | Angela Fehr

The sunlight on the spruces.in the muskeg | Angela Fehr

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:

Huckleberry Hill | Angela Fehr watercolour

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?watercolour exhibit 2013 invite2


Texture Tuesday: Leaves & Berries

leaf quote 72dpi | Angela Fehr

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:wild currants | angela fehr

And I do love painting leaves and berries!

"Withered" watercolour painting (rose hips) | Angela Fehr

green fungus moss | Angela Fehr mossy niche | watercolour, Angela Fehr

Linking up to Texture Tuesday and Tuesday Muse.