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 £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! 😲😃

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! 😀

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. 💔

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! ❤️💕

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2018 Sketch for Survival

Explorers against Extinction is a wildlife conservation campaign whose primary aim is to raise awareness about the very real threats faced by some of the world’s most iconic wildlife species in Africa. Their goal this year is to raise the funds necessary to help establish a new anti-poaching canine unit in the UNESCO World Heritage Garamba National Park, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

More than 55 African elephants lose their lives to poachers every single day! Meaning that one of these magnificent animals dies every 26 minutes!!!

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Garamba National Park is one of Africa’s oldest and most biologically significant national parks, but it has been plagued over the past few decades by the challenging combination of strongly armed poachers and various militant groups, sadly resulting in Garamba’s elephants being killed at an alarming rate and experiencing a negative population growth.

To better equip Garamba’s teams to more effectively address these poaching threats, Explorer’s Against Extinction’s goal is to raise $50,000 USD thorough the auction of donated works of art by artists and celebrities,which will allow them to donate an anti-poaching canine unit to the park! The introduction of this anti-poaching dog unit will help protect the wildlife and will offer much needed support to the dedicated and courageous rangers who put their lives on the line every single day to protect Garamba’s wildlife.

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I am so incredibly pleased and proud to have been able to donate my sketch of a white rhino to this amazing project. The sad, almost hopeless expression on this resting white rhino’s face just seemed to personify for me the fearful, uncertain future faced by all animals who are so brutally killed for their body parts!

I hope that those of you who enjoy my art might consider placing a bid on my sketch or on one of the many other beautiful donated pieces of endangered species to help such a critical, worthwhile cause.

White Woe, Sketch For Survival auction lot 259

Besides being available for viewing and bidding online, the Sketches For Survival exhibition will be on tour in England and in New York City from Sept 29 until Nov 25.

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Winning Awards ...

… is never the reason I enter an art exhibition! The thought of winning an award is rarely even on my radar when I enter a show. Yet, that is precisely what I did this week. Twice, in fact!

I am delighted to announce that I took home the top Juror’s Choice Award at Arts Network Ottawa‘s Selections 2018 exhibition this past week … and I can verify the fact that, once the shock wore off, it most definitely gave me a pretty sweet tingly-good feeling to win that award! To say that I never saw it coming would be an understatement!

Accepting my award.

The show was, as usual, a very high quality one and the fact that my raven drawing, Night’s Breath, was the recipient of this first place award over so many outstanding works in oil, acrylic and watercolour — well — I felt extremely honoured and grateful to have my graphite work recognized in this way!

Selections 2018 Juror’s Choice Award – Night’s Breath

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The very same time and evening that the Selections show opened, the reception for Arteast‘s 37th Annual Juried Awards Exhibition was  taking place, so immediately after receiving my award at the Shenkman Centre, I rushed over to The St. Laurent Complex, where I was very pleased to accept the 2nd Place Award for my drawing, The Lookout in the Works On Paper category. While not quite as exhilarating as winning Juror’s Choice in an all-media juried show, this 2nd place award felt wonderful, as the competition in the Works On Paper category for this show was quite stiff.

2nd Place in Works On Paper category in 37th Annual Arteast Juried Awards Exhibition

Thanks so much to the hubby who supports me in doing what I love, and to the jurors for recognizing my work!

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Learning and Teaching

Two weekends ago, I had the most rare and wonderful opportunity to attend a Mike Sibley workshop — the last he intends to give in Canada! Mike’s workshops are designed to allow for loads of individual attention and, while I picked up a few little tidbits here and there, many of the attendees were quite new to drawing, so they really gleaned an overwhelming amount of information! If you ever have the chance to attend one of Mike’s workshops, I would highly recommend it! 😀

Mike taking us through his process for this drawing.

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While I love learning, I think I would have to admit that I am just as much, or maybe even more passionate about teaching! Though I’ve only taught four of my Basics workshop so far, those classes (along with my past experience teaching Paint Nites) have been enough to truly convince me that teaching art is not only my forté, but I might go so far as to say that it is perhaps my “calling”. As much as I enjoy making art, I absolutely love sharing my knowledge and watching my students gain understanding and confidence in their own ability to create art that they can be both pleased with and proud of.

Me and my students in one of my Basics of Shading workshops.

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I’ve been spending a lot of my time thinking about where I’d like to take my teaching in future and have quite a few ideas bouncing around inside my head that I’m hoping to implement next year. For now though, I’ve created a few new workshops that I’m excited to share as the season changes and takes us into some welcome cooler weather and holiday fun. I also recently had someone contact me about a circulism tutorial I used to have on my website eons ago which ended up disappearing into the ethers when I revamped my site several years ago … so that is something I am hoping to write about here sometime in the next couple of weeks.

This cheeky little fella was just begging me to take his picture on a recent outing to Mud Lake!

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In the meantime, if you’re in the Ottawa area and are interested in learning how to draw and shade in a realistic manner, you can check out the workshops I’ll be offering over the next three months at https://lissarachelle.com/workshops.html

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Ottawa Plein Air Adventures - August

Wow! August seems to have zipped by in a flash!

Unfortunately, I tend to really wilt in the heat and so, much of my time has been spent inside avoiding the horrendous heat and humidity that has marked this month. Admittedly, it’s also been a rather withdrawn month for me, with a lot of time spent remembering and mourning my little Flirt. Her loss has hit both hubby and I very hard. Actually much harder than we anticipated. The apartment just seems too quiet and empty and we’re feeling somewhat lost without her.  She’s left such a hole in our lives and it’s definitely an ongoing adjustment for us … though it gets a little easier every day.

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As it turned out, the Ottawa Plein Air Adventurers had only one outing during August, but it was to one of my very favourite places – Bate Island. And fortunately, the weather was beautiful! Of course, all the usual avian suspects were there: Canada Geese, ducks and gulls … along with several kayakers!

A couple of kayakers braving the rapids (click to enlarge).


Mama Duck with her sweet little babies (click to enlarge).


Ginette painting her view (click to enlarge).


Many of us sought the shade at the edge of the beach (click to enlarge).


Kate snapping photo references (click to enlarge).


Our results, just before we broke for lunch (click to enlarge).

I managed to get in two sketches, both in pencil. The top sketch is of a tree stump, done in graphite and the second is of a duck sunning himself lazily on a rock jutting out of the water near shore.

My sketches (click to enlarge).

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Our next outing will be a very special one — to Upper Canada Village in September. I’m keeping everything I have that is crossable, crossed, that we get good weather!

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