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.