Happy Spring!

I know we’re already well into March, but after the extraordinary year that was 2020, I don’t think it would ever be too late during 2021 to wish everyone a Happy New Year!! And, of course, Happy Spring!! It feels especially wonderful this time ’round to welcome a brand new year and season with all their brand new shiny opportunities to get things right! As difficult as 2020 was in so many ways, it was also a very eye-opening year for me, and really got me thinking about what I want from both my artistic life and just life in general.

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Garden Visitors

I’ve spent a lot of my time over the past year thinking about where I want to take my art over the coming year and it’s become clear to me that I want to focus on my art as a business in two main areas: teaching and creating work for exhibition.

Sketchy Saturday # 5

When we moved back to the suburbs a couple of years ago, it was so exciting as I finally had my own large studio space to accommodate students, but then 2020 came along and my plans for teaching dissolved before my eyes. I felt at an artistic loss for quite a while last year and, other than a very satisfying sketch practice that I started mid-year, didn’t get much drawing done and wasn’t sure where to go with my desire to teach … until I decided to start teaching online.

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Solitaire

That ended up being more than just a bit problematic to implement, as I not only didn’t have a powerful enough computer or a phone that had enough storage, but there was also quite a learning curve involved with all the technology required to present professional quality classes.

Sketchy Saturday # 7

And so, I spent our life savings on a new computer setup (not really … but almost! LOL) powerful enough to edit video, a new phone, some camera gear and started learning everything I could about teaching online. I still have loads to learn but it’s been a really interesting journey and I am very excited about what the future holds for me in this area.

In January this year, I started a free live stream “sketch-along class” on my Instagram channel, partly because I wanted to familiarize myself with how live-streaming works and also because I have really missed teaching and wanted to share my knowledge in that way, and partly because I have really wanted to help others during this most difficult time and I feel that encouraging self care in the form of creativity is one of the best ways I can give to others.

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Vantage Point

And so, I have lots of partially formed plans to teach online over the coming year.

The other area I will be focusing on is exhibitions and selling my work in the form of prints … soon!

Sketchy Saturday # 8

And speaking of exhibitions, I have some exciting news to share about that … but I will save it for next time.

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! 😃

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! 😀

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! 😃

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! 😃

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! 😃

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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! 😃 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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