Annnnnd ... That's A Wrap!

What an unexpectedly crazy year it’s been! 2020 has been defined by so many trials and challenges! For some, there have been life-destroying trials and challenges … for others, not so much. It’s also been defined by lessons and blessings. For some, there have been life-affirming lessons and blessings … for others, not so much. I count myself as being incredibly fortunate to be on the “not so much” spectrum in both categories!

Experimenting with graphite powder. This abstract kinda defines 2020 for me! Emotions all over the place!

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That’s not to say that life hasn’t been quite challenging for me over these past 10 months! It’s been really tough not being able to babysit my grandkids, not being able to visit as frequently as I used to with my family, not being able to physically hug my loved ones and not being able to get together in person with friends. It’s been bittersweet to have to postpone my first major solo art exhibition in an art gallery, and to have to cancel so many other art-related activities I was looking forward to.

These Birch trees don’t know the meaning of social distancing!

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But, while dealing with these difficulties, I’ve also recognized that I’ve been extremely blessed, because I’ve not suffered from any serious health or financial issues, and neither have my loved ones. Not a day goes by that I don’t give thanks for that … and not a day goes by that my heart doesn’t break for everyone who has suffered as a direct result of this pandemic. 😟

A little calm in the midst of the storm.

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2020 has also blessed me with some valuable lessons. It’s given me some much needed time and space to be able to slow waaay down. Previous to the pandemic, my life was so full and on such a fast paced trajectory that, at times, I felt I was sure to crash! LOL While my life is still pretty full, I’ve been able to structure my time in such a way that I’m not left feeling so breathless all time, from rushing from one thing to another. I’ve learned the importance of really pacing myself and taking the time I need to take care of me.

Little Girl and her Bear arriving Nowhere.

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I’ve also learned this past year to let go of some things I’ve been hanging on to that were not exactly serving my best interest. 2020 sort of rammed home fact that life is truly precious and time is finite, and I’ve come to understand that some things … and some people … are not my responsibility and simply are not worth my time and should be released without feelings of guilt. That realization has given me a truly beautiful sense of freedom.

Sketch of the Ottawa River.

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So, while 2020 has been a year of pain and fear, lack and loss, adversity and negativity, for me it’s also been a year of deep gratitude and appreciation for the big things and the tiniest things and, most especially, for the things I’ve always taken for granted.

And so, the journey ends.

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The experiences of 2020 have also inspired me to really consider what’s most important to me, and has allowed me to strip away and purge that which no longer gives me joy or peace or fills a positive space in my life.

Drawing of a scene from Petrie Island

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In many ways, it’s been a year of exploration, of realizations, of clarification, of beauty and of renewal. For years I’ve believed that my thoughts create my life, but never has it been more apparent to me that life truly is what I think, and thereby make, of it … no matter what my outer circumstances may be.

A sketch of the hummingbird I later did a refined drawing of.

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And so, while I am glad to see this most memorable of years come to an end, and do not bid it an especially fond farewell, I do feel at peace with 2020 and am so grateful for the growth it helped me with.

Baby Hummer

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I am looking really forward to 2021 and to sharing my goals for the upcoming year with you soon! Wishing you all a most beautiful and blessed new year! ❀️

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Upcoming FallWorkshops

I’m so excited to announce that I have published my upcoming fall workshops schedule on my website!

Once again, I’ll be offering my Basics of Shading in Graphite workshop. It is the prerequisite for all my other workshops, as it really does teach the fundamentals of most of what you need to understand to work realistically in graphite. I will offer this course every other month or so over the coming year so that anyone interested in taking my workshops won’t have to wait too long to learn the basics they need to know before taking more advanced classes.

I’ve given a lot of consideration these past few months to what people who are relatively new to pencil might benefit most from learning, and have created two different types of workshops: techniques workshops and finished drawings workshops.

My techniques workshops will teach all the little tips, tricks and techniques that go into drawing specific objects realistically, such as different types of skies, hair/fur, rock/brick, wood grain/tree bark, skin, etc, etc. You won’t leave these workshops with a completed drawing, but you will leave with lots of practice and a very good understanding of what goes into making certain objects that you might commonly want to add into your drawings to make them look more realistic.

My drawing workshops won’t teach you draughtsmanship or drawing (you will trace a line drawing), but you will gain some understanding of how to use various techniques (some of which you may have learned in my techniques workshops) together to create a realistic looking, completed (or nearly so) drawing. I’ve got some really beautiful drawings planned for these classes that will each help teach several different textures and I can’t wait to share them with you!

The tricky part now is for me to make the time to get all these techniques samples and finished drawings done before my workshops start!! LOL

If you’re local to Ottawa, I do hope you’ll treat yourself to a day in my studio to learn the Magic of Pencil with me! πŸ˜ƒ

2019 Intentions

One of the most exciting things about our recent move is the fact that I now have a beautiful bright and very large dedicated studio space! Funnily enough, when I was working in my kitchen or dining room over the past four years, aside from the occasional frustration when I wanted to work on something big or when I couldn’t find something that was stored in the back of a closet, I never really missed having dedicated studio space … but now that I am fortunate enough to have it again, I really don’t know what I did without it?! It’s brought home just how important it is for an artist of any kind to have “a room of her own” so to speak! πŸ˜€

My tiny dining room work space prior to our move.

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What I’m most pleased about my new studio is that it is actually large enough that I will be able to hold classes in it! Not having the concern about finding and paying for outside venues to teach from has made me feel much more relaxed and really excited about creating new workshops. There are several different ones that I want to do and I will start to offer them next month! I’ll post more about the workshops I’ll be offering next week, but in the meantime, this post is supposed to be about my artistic goals and intentions for 2019!

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Offering classes and starting to teach regularly is probably my highest priority goal for what remains of 2019. I really love teaching and feel that I am good at it, so I truly feel so blessed and am very excited that I finally have the space and opportunity to do so conveniently and regularly.

The last place I taught at, while quaint and charming, was a bit of a tight squeeze.

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My second highest priority goal is that I want to start taking my art more seriously and begin to think of it as, and develop it into a (hopefully paying!) business this year. To that end, I intend to promote myself as an artist and teacher by being much more present and active here on my blog and on Instagram and Facebook … and I intend to start up my neglected Newsletter again! πŸ˜ƒ

You can sign up for my monthly newsletter by filling out the form at right and clicking the subscribe button.

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There are several local shows, both juried and unjuried, that I plan to enter later this summer and fall, and I have already been accepted to be part of a group show in November that runs through January, for which I hope to have some new work completed. I also plan to submit something to Strokes of Genius again. I’m SO excited for this year’s edition and can’t wait to see my White Breasted Nuthatch published in it! πŸ˜ƒ

This little guy was accepted for the 11th edition of Strokes of Genius, to be published this November.

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Now that I have the space to work comfortably, I am brimming over with ideas for drawings, and even series of drawings, that I hope to do. I would particularly like to do some landscape work and nature scenes, but also have some ideas for some fantasy and figurative work. I have waaaaay too many ideas and not nearly enough time! LOL

Part of something I am working on and hope to be done soon!

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Of course, my usual intentions of regularly attending Arteast Open Studios, Ottawa Plein Air Adventurer outings and Ottawa Urban Sketchers sketchcrawls and outings stand. I don’t always manage to make the OUS outings, but I rarely miss the other two.

One of my plein air outings last fall in beautiful Gatineau Park.

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Did you set intentions or goals for yourself as an artist this year? If you did, are you on track for meeting them?

Stay tuned next week to hear all about the workshops I will be teaching this fall.

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Better Late Than Never!

Well, once again I find myself in apology mode for having been absent here for so long. These past 6 months have been super full and have seen some major changes (for good) in my life! πŸ˜ƒ

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The greatest change is that we have moved. It was only four short years ago that we moved from the suburbs of Orleans to downtown Ottawa, and while we truly enjoyed living the urban lifestyle, with our daughter’s pregnancy we decided we’d like to live closer, and so we have moved back to Orleans and are now only a few blocks away from her. The entire process of the move, from searching for and finding the right place, to the packing, then unpacking and getting settled in our new home, has taken up the majority of my time and energy over the last several months and it’s taken me some time to recover from the exhaustion of it all.

Moving day!

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Another huge change in our lives is that we’ve adopted a dog from a rescue organization. Since we lost our beloved Flirt a year ago at the end of July, life has just seemed so dull and, because I am home alone during the day time, it’s been lonely for me … and so since last fall I have been diligently watching all the local rescues, and some that were not so local, in the hope of finding a toy poodle to adopt. I did see a few, but because I am really hoping to get into therapy work and perhaps agility, I wanted a very specific type of personality, and none of the few available poodles seemed to be suitable. Finally, right before we moved, a little two year old female popped up in my FB feed and she seemed perfect! The rescue was kind enough to let us try her out for a couple of days and that was all I needed to know that I had found the perfect little girl for us. And so, we welcomed Joy into our new home only a few days after we moved.

Joy – post and pre grooming!

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And, of course, we are thrilled that we now have a beautiful new grandchild to spoil! A boy … Carter James Devine … our first/only grandson. He is just too cute for words and we are really enjoying getting to know him! ❀️

Such a beloved, beautiful baby boy for my baby girl.

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So, my personal life has really taken priority and demanded my full attention since almost the beginning of the year, but now that things are starting to quiet down on that front, I intend to be much more active, both here and on Facebook and Instagram.

Joy and I enjoying our walk at sunrise.

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I never got around to writing about my art goals for this year as I usually do every new year, and as I promised to do in my last post … so, even though it’s no longer exactly the “New Year” and I’m definitely late to the “2019 Art Goals” party, I’ll post the intentions I have for my art for this year in my next post! Which will be soon, I promise! πŸ˜ƒ Til then, enjoy the beautiful summer weather … and remember, don’t feed the birds!

I’m pretty sure this cheeky fellow will find his way into a drawing at some point.

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2018 Reflections

Oh my! How is it already December?? It seems that the months have come and gone in a flash and it’s that time, once again, when I feel called to do a little reflecting on what the past year has given me before bidding it a fond farewell and laying it to rest in preparation for the brand new shiny year lying in wait right around the corner.

I must admit, it’s been a very full, productive and generally really good year full of growth and blessings for me, both professionally and personally.

It seems I am, at long last, recovered from my lonnng and ultra frustrating creative slump! YAHOO!!! I am so relieved and grateful to be feeling almost overwhelmed with not only ideas for drawings and other creative projects, but also with the desire to actually implement them. Now, if only time sees fit to cooperate…! LOL

I have several goals I am hoping to meet in the New Year, but I am saving that post for next time, because first I want to do my annual recap and bid a fond farewell to 2018!

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Professionally, the year got off to a bit of a slow start, but once the ball got rolling, it just seemed to gain momentum and had me going at a breathless pace for most of the year.

Hen Party was a fun mixed media piece (watercolour & coloured pencil) that I created for the Atomic Rooster’s annual “Cock Show”.

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I’ve always really enjoyed sharing my knowledge and have been told that I’m a good teacher, so I decided to try out teaching a few beginner’s workshops this year. I really enjoyed the experience and had wonderfully encouraging feedback from my students. Altogether, I taught six Basics of Shading in Graphite workshops and am looking really forward to offering more classes/workshops in the new year.

I had so much fun with my students.

I also had the opportunity to take a workshop with Mike Sibley, which really helped to boost my confidence in rendering fur.

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For the second year in a row, I organized and went out on six Plein Air outings with other local artists throughout the summer and early fall. What started on a whim last year has grown into a dedicated small group of local artists who enjoy meeting every couple of weeks throughout the summer to work in nature. I also attended open studios every second week with my local art society and also managed to sneak in a few urban sketching outings.

Enjoying lunch with my Plein Air group in a beautiful stone gazebo in one of our locations.

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I only had the time to complete 8 works this year … but was very pleased with them all and consider the drawings to be some of my best works. Altogether, I completed five graphite drawings, one mixed media piece and two “formal” sketches created specifically for donation to good causes.

Pine Lake is a little ink sketch I contributed to SAW gallery’s SKETCH fundraiser.
I completed this drawing of a white rhinoceros, based on the sketch I donated to the Sketch for Survival fundraiser. I feel so humbled and honoured to have been able to contribute to this worthy cause. Altogether, the entire collection of donated sketches sold for over Β£58,000!! … thus enabling Explorers Against Extinction to help fund a new anti-poaching canine unit for Garamba National Park in DRC, provide an essential kit for Sumatran Tiger Protection and Conservation Units and contribute to ongoing rehabilitation of orphaned elephants in the care of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

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And finally, after a couple of years of not participating in very many shows, I took part in ten exhibitions this year! I applied to and was accepted into three Juried Exhibitions and participated in three unjuried exhibitions, two solo shows and two fundraising shows.

Night’s Breath took Juror’s Choice in the Selections show.

And, most exciting of all, I won the Juror’s Choice / Best in Show for my raven drawing, Night’s Breath in Arts Network Ottawa’s Selections show! It’s so rare for pencil to take the first prize in a multi media juried show, so this was very unexpected and such an honour! πŸ˜²πŸ˜ƒ

I also took 2nd place in the Works on Paper category in the Arteast Juried Awards Exhibition with my gull drawing, The Lookout.

The Lookout won 2nd Place in the Works on Paper category in the Arteast Juried Awards Exhibition

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To end the year on a bang, I’ve also just been notified that my little nuthatch drawing has been accepted for publication in the 11th edition of Strokes of Genius: Best of Drawing book to be published next November! This is the first time my work will be published in a respected industry publication and, needless to say, I am just over the moon about it! 🀩

This little guy has been accepted for the 11th edition of Strokes of Genius, to be published in November 2019.

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On the personal front, it’s also been a very good year with the marriage of my only daughter in April, and her recent announcement that she’s pregnant with what will be our second grandchild! πŸ˜€

The only negative note to mar an otherwise very positive year, was the unexpected and devastating loss of our little Flirt to cancer at the end of June. We still feel the gaping hole she left in our hearts every day. πŸ’”

My sweet Flirt

So, all in all its been a very successful year and I’m really looking forward to what 2019 holds in store!

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I hope your year has been a memorable one with many blessings and I wish for you a New Year graced with perfect health and well-being, an abundance of creative adventures and, most especially, a wealth of joy, love and peace. Merry Christmas! β€οΈπŸ’•

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