I’ve been taking photographs almost all my life. As an artist I use many of my photos in my paintings as reference and I am always on the lookout for subjects that become my art, but even if I wasn’t an artist, I would still be a photographer.
I went for a walk out to Big Lake yesterday, a local environmentally protected area just on the edge of my city. I have been going there since 2013 and always find such peace. It has gotten a lot busier since the first few years I would spend my evenings taking sunset photos, but it’s still one of my favourite places to go to.
As I was on my walk, I ran into a couple friends, said hello to numerous people I passed by, one fellow asked me if I saw the two moose, I had not. He told me where he saw them, and I said I would check it out. I carried onto the lake, took some photos of geese, and turned around to head back to the parking lot where the moose were spotted, or so I thought. As I was on my way, I saw that my friends were headed towards my direction. They asked me if I saw the two moose, I had not. As they tried to explain to me where they were, they said “come on, we will show you”. So off we went to check out the moose.
We came upon them in some dense bush just off the trail. I could barely make them out, but sure enough there were two brown shapes in the bush. We stood there for a bit, I changed my lens on my camera and then took a few photos. The photos weren’t going to be great, because they were too far away and too much bush between them and me, but I thought I’d hang around for a bit. My friends said their goodbyes and off they went.
I was a very calm and felt at peace standing there with my camera, hoping I could get a clear shot of one of the moose. The calf started to move closer to my location as he was eating the branches and bark off the trees. I was starting to feel hopeful that I would get a better shot. I got the feeling from watching him that he didn’t really seem to mind me being there, he was pretty much ignoring me. As he inched closer, just then a lady and her dog came around the corner and the moose changed its demeanor. He stopped eating and looked towards their direction, after a bit, he continued to eat, but there was something different about him. I should have clued in!
I told the lady there were a couple moose and I think they could smell her dog, she kept her distance and started taking pictures or video. I continued to take photos, but soon realized this guy wasn’t happy any longer. He stomped on the ground as if digging up something, but it was aggressive, his ears were flattened back and the hair on his back was up. Just as I was thinking maybe I should go, he walked back and forth in the bushes, now just a few strands of bush and about 15 ft between us. He looked back and forth and then all of a sudden, he came out of the bush and charged right straight towards me.
I was taken off guard and just tried to move out of the way, which I did. He stopped, I started to walk backwards, I wasn’t sure if I should have run or what to do. The lady asked me if I was okay, I said I was, then he charged again. This time I made a shhhhhing sound, I don’t know why, I guess I was trying to calm him. Then he turned his head, and I could see his mama coming out of the bush. I thought to myself “I’m in trouble now”. The calf was big, taller than me, but the mama was huge. I think it was enough of a distraction seeing his mama that I was able to turn around and start quickly walking the opposite direction, I don’t know what the lady and her dog did. As I was walking away, trying not to run, because I wasn’t sure if I should, two young women started walking towards me down the path, I told them they didn’t want to come this way, they saw why and quickly turned around.
I caught up with them and we started to walk back to Big Lake. I noticed a family with small children and tried to wave them to go the other direction, but they didn’t see me. As the moose emerged from the path, they had two choices of where to go, after us, or the other way across Ray Gibbon’s Drive, a busy road, one that I’m sure they have crossed many times. They chose the road, cars stopped for them as they crossed, and all was well.
In our excitement the young women and I talked for a couple minutes, and the couple with the young children were excited to see two moose. After saying goodbye, I left the two young women and walked back the way I came. I did not see the lady with the dog, but there were a lot of people on the paths.
When I came home, I looked up some information on what behaviors a moose will give when they are agitated, he was giving me all of them. I think the dog scent was a big factor, but I also know I got too close and I was too complacent. We see moose all the time in our city, I’ve seen them out at the White Spruce Forest, and I think I just forgot how dangerous these wild animals can be, I have a new found respect for the amount of space a photographer needs to give them.
I must admit I was pretty shaken up, and I definitely have had my fill of moose photos for a while.
In 2019, I was offered a solo show at the Northern Alberta Jubilee in Edmonton. The theme was going to be polar bears, but I knew I didn't have enough reference material and had to figure out how I was going to get some.
I had planned on taking in one of the Polar Bear Tours in Churchill, Manitoba, but the show was to take place in November through January, and the trips were offered in October, so that wasn't enough time to paint. Instead, I talked my son into coming with me to Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg had the biggest polar bear enclosure I knew of and housed 8 rescued polar bears.
I booked our flights and hotel and got in touch with the conservation officers at the zoo. Everything was arranged for the 3 day visit, including meeting the officers and seeing their research facility. The zoo works closely with Polar Bear International and is involved in the conservation of the Churchill area, including rescuing orphaned cubs.
We spent 3 days watching and photographing the polar bears. The enclosure "Journey to Churchill", is huge and a lot of time was spent walking from one viewing area to the next. There are a number of pools for the polar bears to play and cool off in and one large pool with an under ground viewing area. It was breath taking.
I was able to capture many great shots of the polar bears and have been incorporating them into my paintings. Submerged is the first underwater painting in the series taken from my time at the Winnipeg Zoo. It was a labour intensive painting that I truly enjoyed doing. I used a number of difference reference photos for the painting, but the bubbles gave me a bit of grief. I wasn't able to get them to make sense at first, I had them all over the place. I needed to figure out how to make them work. I love to swim, so on one of my trips to the local pool I did some experimenting. While underwater I brought my hand down hard on the water and watched how the bubbles rise, I did this over and over. Okay I admit, I did feel a little bit silly, and I did get a few strange looks, but hey, it's all for art! And it was a successful experiment.
The large scale painting (48" x 48") was completed and framed, and took centre stage at the show opening. It was a lot of fun to see so many of the patrons who attended the opening get their photo taken in front of the painting, it was even more fun when it sold a few days later to someone who attended the opening.
As I continue with my series "The Polar Bear", I am drawn to the polar bear underwater. My first painting "Getting Closer" was also an underwater painting and has done very well winning awards in shows and getting notice. There is just something that speaks to me when it comes to these wonderful animals. Not all my paintings are underwater, but after painting "Submerged" you can expect to see a few more.
Submerged is part of the Federation of Canadian Artists Online Juried Show "Water". I was very happy to see that the Federation Gallery is using it in their ad campaign for the show.
Do you have someone famous in the your family? Someone who has been in the movies? I can tell you that I do! Her name was Brandy and she was a beautiful Golden Retriever who was owned and trained by Pat Strang, a family member who lives in BC.
Brandy was one of 3 golden retrievers who played "Buddy" in the 5th movie in the Disney franchise "Air Bud: Spikes Back". When we first found out about Brandy's stardom my daughter was around 9 or 10 at the time and I tell you, we were sure excited. Pat sent my daughter an autographed photo of "Buddy" from the movie and it became a prized possession.
A few months back when covid first became part of our lives, my friend and co-producer of Mural Mosaics, Phil Alain asked me if I would be interested in participating in a new mural about man's best friend. After all, in this crazy world we live in right now, these wonderful 4 legged family members have brought so much comfort to so many of us, what a great idea to celebrate them.
This mural was going to be a bit different than the Mural the team usually does, rather than each painting becoming one large mural that is displayed somewhere, it would instead be turned into a print mural and the original paintings would be auctioned off. Also, this mural would be an international mural because he was inviting artists from all over the world to participate. Of course I was game and started to think about which pup I would draw. Of course my own lovely little dog Stella was top of my list, but then my good friend and artist extraordinaire, Jori Warren came up with a brilliant idea of painting celebrity dogs. She had one in mind, one that she was following on social media "Crusoe the Celebrity Dachshund"; she just loved this little guy. I told her about Brandy being in the movie and she convinced me I should contact Pat. Luckily, Pat was game and sent me a bunch of photos. I couldn't use any that were actually from the movie since getting permission would have been difficult, but I was able to find one that spoke to me.
Painting Brandy was a joy and I spent many hours working on her. Part of the challenge with painting for the mural is that the painting has to fit into the mural in a particular way. We are first given a tile that has been painted with colours and values that we have to try to paint something that fits.
My tile (see right side) was shades of different colours but what was more important was the values, the dark mark along the right and the light along the side had to be there as they may represent lines in the mural. It's always a challenge and I enjoy to painting for Mural Mosaic.
Now that the painting is done and up for auction I invite everyone to have a look, check out the Mural Mosaic's website and also put a bid on the painting if you are interested.
I'm excited to be part of this, along with over 80 Canadian and international artists. What a joy to celebrate our best friends!
The Movie Star
8" x 8"
Oil on Metal
Starting Bid $150 US
Bid at: https://www.muralmosaic.com/product/130dog/
Auction closes on November 21, at 6:30 pm
If you follow my art you know that I love to paint flowers, sometimes the bigger the better, but also a variety of sizes.
Ever since I was young I have had a keen interest in gardening and flowers. When I was 3 I still remember picking butter cups in the mountains of BC where my family lived. I remember my mom sending me out the door telling me to fill the cup she gave me with butter cups, when I brought it back she would put it on the window sill so she could look at them all day. This remains such a special memory.
When I was grown and had my first and consecutive yards I filled them up with all sorts of flowers, perennials and annuals, always enjoying working in the yard and making it beautiful. As the growing season progresses I enjoy watching different flowers have their moment of glory and seeing how each flower changes the look of the yard.
Peonies are one of my favourite flowers and I look forward every spring as they start to grow and bloom, it also makes me a little sad that they don't last all summer long. There is nothing prettier than seeing a bunch of peonies blooming or having a bouquet of fresh cut ones in the house to enjoy (these I buy, I don't think I could bear cutting my own and taking them out of the garden). Flowers bring me happiness and give me such peace.
Peonies are also one of my favourite flowers to paint. I started painting this one in 2017 and got distracted with other painting I had to paint for various shows or commissions. I had put it aside, but knew it was special and wanted to take my time. I recently picked it up again and finally finished the piece. I hope you will like it as much as I do, it truly has been one of those special pieces to paint.
Me and My Bud
20" w x 24" h
Oil on Canvas - Unframed
The other night I decided to take a walk out at the Lois Hole Centennial Park, or better know as Big Lake. I had just purchased a new iphone and wanted to try out some techniques I learned from a class I have enrolled in. I like to take my little dog Stella out with me to get some fresh air and she is always happy to be there with all the new smells to explore. It was a beautiful night with a promise of a pretty sunset.
Lately, Big Lake has been really busy, I think everyone in St. Albert has wanted to get out of the house and enjoy some nature. Surprisingly, on this particular night it wasn't busy, which was great! As we were walking along the John E. Poole's boardwalk I saw some ducks in the water, I went down to a lower platform and stopped to take photos. As I was concentrating on various shots I heard a loud "Splash!", for a moment I didn't think much about it, I thought a fish must have jumped or perhaps there was a muskrat or beaver near by. I looked around to see what Stella was doing, but she was no where to be seen. Panic didn't set in because this really didn't make sense as she was attached to her retractable leash, so I followed the leash and looked down and there she was.....in the water! She was thrashing around, partly submerged and going under the boardwalk. I couldn't tell if her head was above water, but I knew I had to get her out fast. I dropped down on my knees, dropped the phone on the boardwalk and grabbed her halter. I couldn't get a good grip on her at first, by managed on the second try. I hauled her out of the water and back onto the boardwalk. She looked distressed and was coughing and snorting. After a few minutes she calmed down and seemed fine, a little bit of a green tint on her and a very wet dog. I wasn't sure to be upset or laugh, I was just grateful she was okay
At first I couldn't figure out what would have made her decide to jump into the water, she wasn't much of a water dog. I then realized that she must have thought the pond was a sold surface because of the amount of algae covering it. I'm sure when she saw those ducks she figured they were fair game. Needless to say, once home, a shower with a good scrubbing was called for.
At the end of it all, I did get some great photos, perhaps an inspiration for a new painting.
The Bleeding Heart: A deep and passionate love between two people, A connection that goes beyond life and death.
Valentine’s Day has always been one of my favourite days of the year, after all it was a day to celebrate love!
Before we had our kids my husband and I would celebrate like most, with a date, dinner, gifts maybe a movie. When the kids came along, we had so much more love to celebrate and it became a tradition for me to make it a special day for all of us. Usually, there was school and fun activities for the kids, I was usually volunteering somewhere in the schools. Supper time was the time for our family to be together and that was when I would make a nice meal and leave special gifts at each of their place settings. One of the things I enjoyed the most was making a heart shaped chocolate cake. One year I was able to find heart shaped plates, which was perfect for the day.
When my husband passed away, Valentine’s Day was the least thing on my mind, but when that first Valentine’s Day came along, it hit me like a brick. I remember standing in the laundry room doing laundry thinking about what the kids were up to that evening, knowing they were all busy, when it dawned on me that it really was Valentine’s Day and I was going to be alone. I remember being over come with emotion. Being alone, wasn’t something I would have gotten upset about, and even in the previous few years, Valentine’s Day had taken on a different look as the kids were growing up. I think it just hit me how much I missed my husband, even though I missed him everyday, this day knocked me to my knees with the enormity of my loss. It was right then and there that I decided I didn’t like Valentine’s Day any more.
When you are going through grief there is so much in your head, and sometimes, although you are incredibly sad, it not always just about the person who is gone, it’s about everything. It has taken 8 more Valentine’s Days for me to finally feel like it’s okay. This year, remembering the love wasn’t so sad and the feeling of loss seems to have lessened. I guess that is how grief changes over the years, it stops being centre of your being, but instead it subsides and allows the memories to become sweet instead of heart wrenchingly painful.
This year, maybe because my own grief isn’t as hard to bear, I have been thinking a lot about my family and friends who have lost their own Valentine this past year. The day before last year’s Valentine’s Day, my Dad lost his girlfriend unexpectedly, it’s hard to believe a year has past and I know he is still reeling from it. My friend lost his wife only 8 days after Valentine’s Day and my sister in law lost her husband, one of my dear friends who had been there for me at the worst of times, just a month later. Other friends have lost their spouses recently and my heart is breaking for all of them. I know there is no words of comfort that will actually bring comfort, and telling someone it will just take time doesn’t really help either. But time is what it takes.
Valentine’s Day may never be the same for many of us who have lost our Valentine, some will move forward and find a new Valentine to share their life with, others will move forward on their own in their own way. For me, Valentine’s Day is not so much about the love of my husband, that will always be there, it’s more about, plain and simple, love. The love of my kids, family and friends, just having people in my life makes a day of love worth celebrating.
I hope for those reeling from loss will find that in the not to distance future, that the love and memories become sweeter, and the loss lessens.
The Bleeding Heart: A deep and passionate love between two people, A connection that goes beyond life and death.
Ask any artist what is the hardest part about their job and I bet 95% of them will tell you its the promotion and marketing. It was super hard for me when I first started out; you need to promote, you need to market, you need to say "Hey, look at me, look at my art!", and hope they look at it and think it's great. Better yet, they think it's so great they buy it. Promotion and marketing were so far out of my comfort zone I really didn't know if I could do it, but I did, I learned and I grew as an artist and I am still learning.
Being an artist is a pretty solitary job, but I have always been a big believer in artists helping artists. We know what we need, and for those of us with experience or in a position to help, that's what I feel we should do. Over the years, I've been fortunate to have been able to help quite a few of my artists friends and even artists I didn't know very well. It's been fun and very rewarding. I truly hope I have made a difference in some of their lives, because I know people have helped me along the way, people I am so very grateful to.
Last year I decided to step out of my comfort zone and put some information about my St. Albert Series on a local Facebook Page. I was a little bit nervous because I was new to the page, and wasn't sure what you could post, what I wanted to post was basically an ad. I read the rules and decided it would be alright. I got it ready, clicked post and then let it go (sort of, you know how that goes with FB). Not too long after the post I got a message from Steven Barry, a local (St. Albert, AB) internet channel producer. He asked me if he could interview me about my St. Albert series and other art. After the interview we got to talking and he asked me if I would be interested in joining his team; he pitched me his idea about doing a segment interviewing local artists in our community; he asked me if I would produce the segment and interview the artists. Seriously, me? Okay, organize, contact, that sort of thing is right up my alley, but the interviewing part, I have no experience with that. Being interviewed, I can do, but being the one to ask the questions, keep the interview going, hmmm, actually it sounded like lots fun! Let's face it, what a way to help promote more artists! How hard could it be?
Okay, so the first set of interviews turned out to be a bit harder than I thought; a little more nerve wracking than I anticipated, at least it was the night before as I was trying to prepare things for the next day. I started to get nervous and have self doubts about what I had agreed to do, but something inside me kept reassuring me this was going to be fun and I knew this was going to be a good thing. No matter how many self doubts and second thoughts, I was doing this! After all, getting out of my comfort zone was something I was really getting used to and it has served me well so far.
I set up the first set of interviews at the Art Gallery of St. Albert, invited four guests, Steven helped me with the questions and gave me lots of guidance. The next day, when it came time for the interviews, I took a deep breath, and proceeded. Luckily, I had dream guests and they made it so much easier. It also helps to have a very kind and understanding producer. After the interviews were done I felt so much better, it was fun and I figured I could do it again.
When the first interview aired I was excited, but I worried a bit about how it would all turn out. I admit, it was a bit harder than I thought to watch myself, but I also realized this was were the biggest learning opportunity would take place. So far, I have learned not to move around, your personal space may get a bit smaller, every uh uh, or comment comes through the mic, nodding your head a lot looks strange, making mistakes is okay because it's going to be edited out, the beginning and endings are the hardest, and as Steven always says "you only get better by doing". My guests have been great, many of them super nervous, but they all did a great job, and Steven with his editing wizardry fixed anything that didn't quite work.
I really hope this makes a difference in artist's lives. I hope they get a bit more notice and this helps further their career even in the slightest degree. At the very least it's one more opportunity to be in front of a camera and get out of their comfort zone.
Thanks to Jenny, Carol, Lewis, Berni, Barry, Tim, Rick, Vicki, Doris, Deirdre, Miles, Jeff, Cheryl, Karen, Jori and Judy for being my guests and sharing in on this new adventure. Thanks especially to Steven for giving me this opportunity and having a good sense of humor.
Stay tuned, so much more to come!
To see the interviews please check out tv7.ca's website or Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/tv7.ca
I grew up in Red Deer and met my husband when we were both in High School. When he passed away seven years ago it was devastating for me and my kids, and it's been a long road to move through the grief. I don't actually know if the grief will ever be gone, it's just part of who I am, it doesn't define me, but it's part of my life. I think about my husband a lot, not constantly as I used to, but he's still a pinnacle part of who I am and will always be.
I remember talking about him a lot after he died, never really accepting the fact he was gone, and not wanting to let him go. I still talk about him, but he's not front and center in my conversations any longer, nor is my grief. But I still miss him terribly, I miss my best friend and I miss our life together, but I have learned to move forward.
Sometimes, I worry people will forget about him, but then I stop and realize that would be impossible, he was an amazing individual and touched so many lives, and truly made a difference for many people. I remember hearing stories from people about how he helped them, or inspired them, how kind he was, and how he would listen to them, and of course how much fun he was and how funny. Even after his death he continued to inspire people to change their lives for the better.
It warms my heart when people talk to me about him and remember him for being such a great human being that he was. Yesterday, my son shared with me a Spittin' Chiclet podcast that Ron MacLean was on, and that he mentioned Bernie in the pod cast. Bernie and Ron were friends growing up in Red Deer. This isn't the first time Ron has mentioned Bernie out in the public, and each time I hear about it I am truly grateful. You see, Bernie was the person who got Ron involved in broadcasting, and then into refereeing. I remember when Ron's book "Cornered" first came out we bought a copy; Bernie was surprised and happy that Ron gave him a mention. I also remember one of the times Bernie met Ron somewhere in Edmonton, this particular time Don Cherry was with him. Ron off the cuff mentioned to Don that Bernie was the guy that got him into all of this, I don't remember what Don Cherry said, something sarcastic I think.
Now that Bernie is gone it means even more to me when he is talked about or mentioned; I love to hear the stories about his practical joke antics and just hearing about him in general. It means a lot when Ron mentions him and gives him credit for getting him in the business.
I know Bernie was so proud of Ron and it was always fun for us to share how we knew Ron and to watch him on Hockey Night in Canada. Bernie might not be here any longer, but I still think he is influencing and changing lives for the better.
You can hear the pod cast by following the link, Ron mentions Bernie at the -1:22:47 minute mark.
I started a blog well before I had a website. It was suggested by a photographer that I start the blog and write something as often as I could and be sure to add pictures. Easy for him to say, being a photographer myself, I know you can take a photo and have something to talk about in hours, on the other hand I wanted to blog about being an artist, but my paintings take weeks and months. His advice was good, keep the viewer interested, so I started blogging about my progress and process. It kept me motivated and it was a lot of fun. A while back, the ability to publish it became more difficult and I quit blogging. Then tonight as I was updating my website with scans of new paintings, I came across this blog section...duh, you'd think I would have known about it before. Oh well, that's just the way it goes; probably did know about it, but since I had another blog on blogspot.com, I paid little attention.
Blogging seems to be the way to go these days, everyone and his dog seems to have one, seriously, I'm sure there are some dogs out there with their own blogs. Wish I would have thought about that sooner, that would have been way easier, and I'm sure my dog would have been game. (See photo of my best little buddy, she's fun and sweet and loves to bark).
I have to admit I don't read many blogs, I used to read my friends and family's, always wanting to be supportive, and a few of them I'm sure, read mine. Recently, I have found some new ones that are quite interesting, but finding the time seems to be the challenge.
Writing has been a therapy for me, especially when things are going south in my life. After my husband died, I wrote all the time, maybe I was writing to him, maybe just to myself, whatever the reason, it really helped me sort things out and work through my grief. I think I'm a better writer when I'm sad, which is kind of sad in itself. I actually think writing whether it's journaling, blogging, whatever, is good for everyone to do. It really does help put things into perspective. Sad or happy, I'll give it another try.
So this is entry one in my new blog on my existing website, so I'm not 100% I should consider it a new blog, or just an unutilized one. I'm also not sure if anyone will read this, not sure how to publish it, I guess if you read it that means I figured out how to published it....or did I? You could say this is just an experiment. I really should just be painting instead of writing a blog post and blogging. So experiment one, did you read this? Let me know, it's always good to know if there is anything to these things. Better yet! Let me ask this question: do you blog? and if so, what about? include your link and I'll have a read.