Five Fun Florals in Watercolor

Paintings are happening!

I’m realizing that my work goes a little bit in spurts. Working on several paintings at once means that I usually have several great beginnings, but getting from there to the completed painting can be a little bit of a slog.

So it’s been fun for me to work on these small 5″ x 7″ paintings that will be gifted to my charity fundraiser $50 donors. They have been so generous that I have quite a list of paintings to send out!

"Blues" watercolor by Angela Fehr

 Many of the donors have requested a floral theme. So much for the “wisdom” that says artists shouldn’t paint florals! (I have actually heard this, and I think it’s ridiculous. Paint whatever you darn well want, is what I live by.)

"Lilac Sisters" watercolor by Angela Fehr

(two lilac themed paintings)

Painting floral themes is very liberating for me because I love exploring shape and colour and flowers are very forgiving. Not every artist feels this way. I had one artist tell me “Landscapes are harder than florals” and I was in agreement, and then another artist overheard her and responded that for her it was the opposite. So we all have our own natural bent, and that’s okay.

"Orchids 2" watercolor by Angela Fehr

I love growing orchids and have at least 8 different orchid plants in my home. They are easy to care for and the blooms last for ages, brightening a bleak winter’s day.

 "Reds" watercolor by Angela Fehr

This one was just a fun exploration of colour. The flowers are pretty little posies, more design elements than based on actual blooms. Artists can do that, you know! Invent a flower? Why not?

These blossoms don’t wither, and they brighten the day. My donors are getting a $100 painting free for their donation of $50 and you can too by donating here! This opportunity ends March 8, 2015.

Trees in Watercolor: “Birch Portrait”

One of my favourite local trees would have to be the birch. Our acreage in northern British Columbia is home to many birches, though they don’t all survive to adulthood as woodpeckers tend to drill them full of holes after they reach a certain age. I love the young birches for their coppery bark and the mature trees for the curls of bark peeling from the trunk and their feathery branches.

This winter I couldn’t get past the beauty of the sunset reflected on tree trunks and this painting was the result:

"Birch Portrait" watercolour by Angela Fehr |

“Birch Portrait”
11.5″ x 11.5″ (29 x 29cm)
available for purchase

I only wish my camera did the colours in this painting justice. The subtleties of watercolor are lost in photos. As with most of my paintings, it takes a little time before I know for sure a painting is “done”; a fellow watercolorist tells me he has been known to unframe paintings that are years-old to make changes and corrections, but I haven’t had that happen…yet. I think every painting deserves closure at some point!

Painting Epiphanies

I was talking to my sister on the phone the other night and we were discussing the trials and tribulations of raising middle-schoolers. It’s a different dynamic than when our kids were toddlers and comes with its own set of problems. I was explaining to her that I found that I was doing better at dealing with conflict with the kids when I stop to think instead of reacting instinctively. “When I remember I’m the mom,” I explained, “I am better able to handle things maturely and with authority, instead of stooping to their level.” She knew exactly what I was talking about, and only later I started to think about how that principle applies to my art life as well as to my parenting.

It’s pretty easy to let emotions take over. One bad painting, a show submission rejected, or an insensitive comment and I can start to feel pretty discouraged. “What am I doing this for?”

I need to stop and think. Remembering the milestones achieved, the many opportunities that have come my way and achievements and awards I’ve received. The initial highs fade so quickly, and without conscious thought, I can be swept along by whatever emotion I’m feeling, living reflexively instead of intentionally.

Intentional thinking regarding my art life is going to include ideas like this:

  • I’m on a journey. Everything that happens is a step along the path. Think of where I was 1, 5, 10 years ago and celebrate how far I’ve come.
  • I am exactly where I need to be.
  • Don’t force progress. I will take the steps I can to move forward, but I will also enjoy where I am right now.
  • My painting is for me, first of all. Others’ opinions, praise or criticism are secondary to my own satisfaction in my work.
  • Don’t get caught up in perceptions of success that involve accolades and awards. What truly satisfies is feeding my soul through painting.
  • I am so blessed with everything I have right now. To be able to paint fearlessly, to have everything I’ve been given (family, home, studio, love). Don’t let anything distract me from gratitude for my blessed life.

"Alstromeria" watercolour by Angela Fehr

“Alstromeria Study”  watercolour by Angela Fehr
A demonstration from my local watercolour classes.

2015 Angela Fehr Watercolour Calendar

I’ve wanted to publish a painting calendar for many years now, so I’m excited to share that I finally made the decision to make that desire into a reality! Presenting the very first (of many, I hope!) Angela Fehr Watercolour Calendar. I’ve put together nineteen of my favourite paintings into this colourful calendar. It’s a beautiful mix of floral and landscape paintings and will brighten anyone’s day in 2015!

calendar 2015 preview

The calendar retails for $24.99 plus shipping, however I’m offering 10% off through the month of October. You can order online anytime using this link, and local friends can order by contacting me. If you love my paintings but don’t have the budget for original art, an art calendar is a great way to enjoy my work in your own home, plus it makes a great Christmas gift!

Summer in the Studio

Summer! I have to love summer so much. I get to take the summer off from many of my responsibilities. Being a home educator (my title of choice over “homeschooler”), I find that I really need the break from school by the end of May or June, and the dynamics of being at home with my kids becomes so much more fun and relaxing. We have been able to do fun things like eat our height in licorice (red, of course!) and run a race and hang out at the pool and buy hats and take fun photos and plan a big July birthday for a certain almost-ten-year-old.Licorice kids

I was able to buckle down this month and finally finish my floral watercolor workshop. I’m so glad I can finally share the link for this great resource! I really packed almost everything I know into that one course, so next on the agenda is to get painting so I can learn more things to share in my next course. I’ve enjoyed developing this floral course as it has allowed me to revisit florals as a subject and awakened a revived enthusiasm for painting florals. Over the last year or two I’ve sought to become a stronger landscape painter, but getting back to florals has been so invigorating! Painting flowers just feels so natural and expressive to me that it’s just fun every time I put paint to a petal.

Strawberries in progress | watercolors by Angela Fehr

First wash of strawberries on my easel, watercolor, 10″x10″

It’s very easy to feel like I’m not making the kind of progress in my art that I want. We can be so hard on ourselves! Taking some time to just enjoy painting, and summer, and family is a great way to remember what really matters, and celebrate everything I have.

Foliage: Two Stages of an In-Progress Painting

One has to wonder what sights this tree saw over the years, overhanging the Peace River as it is. This country was settled late in Canada’s history; maybe trappers paddled past, or a raft laden with supplies for a homestead, steered by immigrants. Just up the bank is the historic, hundred-year-old log St. Charles Mission Church. dunvegan tree photo | Angela Fehr

I started a painting of this scene, and while I’m never certain until it’s complete whether or not it’s going to be a success or not, I am enjoying seeing it come together. This is what it looked like when I started painting this afternoon:dunvegan corner in progress - Angela Fehr watercolour paintings

And when I put my paints away an hour later: dunvegan corner in progress - Angela Fehr watercolour paintings

There is at least one mistake and a few unresolved areas, but I’m learning lots about painting foliage, looking for patterns of shadow & light, and using colour and texture. Whether this painting ends up in a frame or not, every painting helps me become a better painter in the long run.

2 Videos to Help You Paint Trees in Watercolor

Trees for video demonstration | Angela Fehr watercolours http://angelafehr.comI love our local trees, and we’re on pussywillow watch around here as we wait for the first signs of actual spring to appear (as opposed to the spring we’ve been pretending to have for the last few weeks. It’s snowing today.). Our local trees consist mainly of aspen or poplar, willow and evergreen trees like spruce, pine and larch (tamarack). So it felt right to work up a little video tutorial on how I paint these local beauties.

The video is in two parts. Part one is all about the greens – summer trees, both deciduous and coniferous:

And part two covers winter & autumn in all the colours of the spectrum. Enjoy!

Peace River Corner watercolor painting

I’ve been working on the same scene for a couple of months now. Started on one side of a full sheet (22″ x 30″) of watercolour paper (I like Arches 300# cold press), and when that one turned ugly on me, flipped it over and painted it again on side two.Peace River Corner (full sheet) | watercolour painting by Angela Fehr

Side two shown above: still not satisfied. The beach/waterline gave me trouble – I’ve hidden most of that with dark, interesting brush strokes.

It’s a little frustrating when  full sheet of paper gets filled and I’m not completely happy with the results. I don’t hate it, I just think it could be better.

The good news about fighting through a new composition/subject matter/painting style, is that progress will be made. The other night I took everything I had learned through the two full sheet paintings and threw it into a smaller, 10″ x 14″ landscape of the same scene. And, success!Peace River Corner | watercolour painting by Angela Fehr

Simple, serene and a true sense of place. Very happy!

“Peace River Corner” (bottom image) measures 10″ x 14″ and is available for purchase. Contact me!

Great Watercolor Books: A Peek Into My Shopping Cart

I thought you might like to peek inside my Amazon shopping cart and see the watercolor books I’ve been saving up for!

A good book on watercolour doesn’t just show you amazing art, and it doesn’t just demonstrate techniques. I find techniques are largely the same, the magic lies in how you use them. A really great watercolor book will inspire, not to copy the artist’s style, but to use the tools in the book to make your own work sing your song.

I compare all watercolor books to Jean Haines’ “Atmospheric Watercolors”. While her paintings are beautiful, it was the encouraging, gentle tone of the words of the book that helped me move ahead and be more confident in expressing myself in watercolour.

The next books I’d like to add to my collection are as follows:

Artful Watercolor: Learning to Use the Secrets of Light, by Lou Bonamarte:
The simple beauty of the landscape on the cover is a draw in itself, but I was ‘reeled in’ by the description that explains that beyond the techniques demonstrated, the artist explains the “why” and “when” for using them. This is something my students struggle with, and I could use help myself, even if just verbalizing the rationale of things I often do by experience and instinct.

Watercolor Without Boundaries: Exploring Ways to Have Fun With Watercolor, by Karlyn Holman:
I love the word “FUN” in this title! Learning watercolor can be frightening, paralyzing and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. While I love painting, when I’m actively learning to paint better (which is pretty much every time I paint), it can be very taxing. Taking time to “play” with watercolor is one of the best ways to learn and have fun doing so. I can’t wait to see what Holman’s suggestions for playing and experimenting are, and to try them out.

Watercolor Painting: A Comprehensive Approach to Mastering the Medium, by Tom Hoffman:
What is it about watercolor book titles that they always include a colon? This book has great reviews. I like that it includes art by many artists, including past masters such as John Singer Sargent. And because my focus these days is on the business of crafting a strong composition and mastering values, I think this book will hold just what I need.

Simplifying Design & Color for Artists: Positive Results Using Negative Painting Techniques, by Linda Kemp.
Not only is Linda Kemp a fellow Canadian (woot!), but she is also the artist whose work inspired me to be more authentic in my painting. I remember seeing her work and thinking “She paints exactly the way I thought I shouldn’t paint, because no one would understand it.” I own her other book, “Watercolor Painting Outside the Lines” and it’s another favourite.

Great watercolor books are treasures to me, and my watercolor students will tell you, I don’t loan out my favourites. I can’t wait to dive into these, and fill up my well with creative inspiration!