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

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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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Farewell Flirt

Despite the many wonderful and exciting things I have going on with my art, on the personal front it’s been a very depressing and difficult month. Our little toy poodle, Flirt,  was unexpectedly diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in her mouth in May. Other than the fleshy lump protruding slightly from under her upper lip, our girl was her usual spunky, energetic, happy, treat-loving self through May and June and into the beginning of July. But about three weeks ago or so, the tumour suddenly began to grow aggressively and really began making its presence felt until, finally, we had to make that decision every pet owner dreads.

We bid a reluctant, heartbroken goodbye to our precious little Flirtsum yesterday and held her as she crossed over the Rainbow Bridge.

Six months old and cute as a button!

I always thought of her as my very own personal joy angel, because she was so very gentle and sweet and always, always made us smile or laugh.

The cat never played with the mouse … but Flirt did!

She loved her treats, and even when there were none in sight (or smell), she would dance and spin in the hope that she could make one magically appear (she usually succeeded).


Just over a year old.

She loved to play hide and seek, “gruffing” and play-bowing at us to chase her when she found us.

Flirt with her friend, Flair.

She loved burrowing under blankets.

She completely appropriated the little Bratz chair we bought for our granddaughter and it became Flirt’s chair.

She was a true sun worshipper and would follow the sun around the house, often lying in the smallest patches of light, where she’d bask in the warmth.

Couldn’t find her one day, til I went upstairs and found her lying in a sun spot.

An elegant little lady she was not. She had bad hair days almost every day!

She loved laying under my chair because the heat vent is under there.

C’mon…chase me!

She loved having her belly rubbed, and would roll over and plead so eloquently when she decided she was overdue for one.

Tummy rub time!

Her very favourite thing in the world though was to fetch her ball. It was something that came naturally to her and we never had to teach her to release the ball. She wanted to chase it again so badly that she happily dropped it into our waiting hands.


Trying to entice me to throw her ball.

But these last several weeks the cancer growing in her upper jaw made picking up her ball impossible.

Look what I’ve got, Mom!

And during this past week, even the pure hamburger we were using to coax her appetite and the treats she loved so much became difficult for her to chew and swallow.

Best dishwasher we ever had!

And finally, in the last couple of days, when it seems she couldn’t see from the eye being pushed out of place by the ugly, fleshy, massive tumour disfiguring her intelligent, sweet little face, we knew it was time to set her free.

The face of pure love.

Our hearts are broken. We expected so many more than the short 11 years we had with her, but we’re so grateful for the time we did have. She will live on in our hearts and we’ll forever cherish all the beautiful memories we have of her.

Her ultra short cut helped us keep her clean and comfortable these past few weeks.

Our deepest appreciation to the staff at the Orleans Veterinary Hospital for their kindness and caring, especially Dr. Mary Kinch and Dr. Kurt Streib.

May there be someone with a never-tiring arm to throw balls for you on the other side of the bridge, Flirt. Thank you for everything you gave and taught us. We love you ❤

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July 16, 2007 – July 30, 2018

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Ottawa Plein Air Adventurers - July

With next to no rain and temperatures often in the high 30s-low 40s, July has been a scorching hot and extremely humid month here in Ottawa. Our first plein air date in July had to be postponed due to sweltering temperatures in the 40s, but fortunately it cooled off  a wee bit the following week, so on July 12, several of us met up in the morning at the Notre Dame cemetery.

Cindi preparing her sketch to paint (click to enlarge).

I have always really loved this old cemetery. It’s got a sort of neglected, lonely, haunted, yet extremely peaceful feel to it.

Kate sketching a beautiful stone statue (click to enlarge).

Because it’s a Catholic cemetery, there is an abundance of statues decorating most of the graves — statues of angels and cherubs, of Mary, of Jesus and of various saints.

One of the many statues of Mary to be found in the cemetery.


Sara working in watercolour (click to enlarge).

I spent my time at Notre Dame working on a pen and coloured pencil sketch of a statue of Mary.

My completed sketch (click to enlarge).

After our picnic lunch, most of us packed up and headed over to the Beechwood cemetery, which is directly behind Notre Dame, so wasn’t far to go at all.

A view of the large waterlily pond at Beechwood with some of our adventurers already sketching (click to enlarge).

Beechwood has a completely different feel to it, with its beautiful landscaped gardens, gazebo and other sitting areas and pretty water features. I always think of Notre Dame as a place for the dead and of Beechwood as a place for the living.

Kate working in ink.

The afternoon was starting to really heat up, so I wandered around and took photos rather than working on a second piece. A couple of our group had skipped Notre Dame, choosing to arrive earlier in the morning at Beechwood and had beautiful paintings already underway.

Min working on her ethereal painting of the pond (click to enlarge).


Johanne working on lilypads (click to enlarge).

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Our next plein air adventure took place the following week on July 19 at the Rockcliffe Park pavilion, which is a massive, gorgeous stone gazebo in Rockcliffe Park overlooking the Ottawa River and Point Gatineau.


Sara and Anne painting and sketching the pavilion (click to enlarge).

Despite the heat of the day, there was a nice breeze inside the pavilion, so most of us chose to sketch from inside its shade … though a couple of brave souls sat out in the heat under the canopy provided by a lovely old maple.

Clarisse preparing to sketch her view (click to enlarge).

Not only were we surrounded by an incredible natural view, but the pavilion’s architecture is also stunning.

Kate working on her sketch (click to enlarge).

We broke for lunch at about noon. I truly feel so blessed to have met all these lovely ladies and be able to take part in these outings with them every couple of weeks. I think of our get togethers as my mental health days! 🙂

I so enjoy getting together with these ladies every couple of weeks.  (click to enlarge).

I remembered to get a shot this time of what we were all working on.

Some of our incomplete sketches taken just after lunch (click to enlarge).

I ended up leaving just shortly after lunch as I had to take the dog in to the vet, so I completed my sketch later that evening at home.

My completed sketch of a beautiful old maple (click to enlarge).

Looking very forward to my next outing with the Ottawa Plein Air Adventurers!