Thursday, April 29, 2010

Curator for a Day

The Claresholm Artists & Artisans Club have a marriage made in heaven in their 2nd annual exhibition at the Claresholm Public Library. Today, I had the honour and horrendous task of determining what should go where. Given that there are 55 pieces by 16 participating members at every level of ability, painting all manner of subject manner in a wide range of media and style, installing a cohesive exhibition, was well, epic!

The Cabinet

I was not alone, thank goodness, or else I'd still be there. "The boys", Don, David and Jim, did all the physical work installing new track and chaining art to it.

The Main Wall

The Entry Panel

The show officially opens May 1st and continues for the entire month.

Bill's Birthday

Yesterday was Bill's birthday, the 41st I've spent with him. I overslept and got up to find him making morning coffee, not what I had intended! The day got better, the weather never did. Environment Canada issued a 48 hour Winter Storm Warning. Here that means rain, wet snow and high winds. Kari delivered a loot bag full of goodies from The Nanton Candy Store. And I know his heart was warmed by phone calls from our girls.

We had a buffet lunch at The Silver Grill (Chinese food) in Fort Mcleod. It's in an old building, very nondescript outside. But inside there is a high, tin ceiling and a most imposing, impressive bar (the original) which is reputed to have a bullet hole in it. We sat directly opposite the former, and I tried all through lunch, to no avail, to find the latter. I had to inquire. The waitress moved a bottle or two and there it is, in the massive mirror, complete with radiating cracks ... I wish I'd brought my camera!

Bill would rather have apple pie than birthday cake so once we got home I went to work. We had a late, delicious dinner by candle light, but were too full to eat pie! Ah, but the children are coming tomorrow and the pies will vanish!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


"What", I said? I always knew this type of thing as a porringer, an ancient vessel to sip your gruel from. But Denise explained that hers and Larry's wedding gift, from a Scottish friend, is intended as a whiskey drinking cup. "A Friendship Cup". Sounds like a lot more fun than porridge!

Quaich; Friendship Cup 6x6

Made by Edwin Blyde & Co., it's a very shiny pewter. I borrowed it because I love painting reflections. Now this is not the way it is supposed to be with these little guys, but the painting took me all day, Monday!

Yesterday, I ran off to Calgary, solo. To buy Bill a birthday gift (it's tomorrow) and to lay in groceries for the coming weekend. All the kids will be here to feast and celebrate. And, of course, I had to snatch a visit with Denise, Avery and Larry!

Painting will likely be on hold for the rest of the week. I'll be baking and making ready. Plus, on Thursday, I'm at the library installing The Claresholm Art Club's annual art show. And, I haven't yet determined what my submissions are! I'd best tear myself away from the computer!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Doing What I Want, Not What I Should

With Bring on the Blooms opening June 4th I should be working on my 4th painting for it. The Bird of Paradise one. But, I don't feel like it. What I want to do is make little still life paintings. Yesterday, I did these two:

Tomatoes in a Pepper Boat
5" x 7"

Stand By Me 6" x 6"

On January 13th, 2010, the very first day that I posted "daily paintings" on my website, three sold! Regular visitors (God love them ... I do) have found the gems, at the excellent price of $100. each, and have shopped heartily. So much so that of the 23 I've done thus far (I never promised to adhere to the every day part!) there are only 10 currently available. I haven't got the nerve to send out a mass email announcement (to my small, but loyal, list of collectors) inviting them to "come take a look" until there are several more to choose from.

And what's best of all? I'm loving painting them! And it's a good thing I work well under pressure!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

An Inspiring Evening

Yesterday, not only did I get to spend the 1.5 hour drive there (and back) talking art with my painter pals, David Hunt and Linda Mercer, we watched the sunset from this country home.

The Leighton Art Centre, Gallery and Museum is the former home of artists A.C. and Barbara Leighton. It's a magical place perched on the crest of a hill overlooking the front ranges of the Rockies. In The Great Room we enjoyed an excellent talk by Vancouver painter/writer, Robert Genn. hhtp://

Over wine and a fine array of food I visited with Robert and artists I hadn't seen in a long while. An added bonus was Karin Richter's delightful exhibition "How To Be An Artist".

At the Leighton Centre, back in June, 1998 I joined a group of artists and painted this oil (12" x 16"). I've always considered it unfinished, but this morning, I signed it anyway. So often I've thought about correcting it's glaring errors and refining it. Other artists may concur about how we could do that with any given piece. Change it, possibly improve it, maybe paint it forever! But since we can't go back to change the past, I sometimes ask "Why change a painting?" Be it yesterday's work, a painting from a decade ago, (or anytime) they are pieces of another you. I say, good or bad, respect them, let them be and move on.

Now, I'm going to do what Robert tells us to do "Go to your room!" (and make art).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

R-Pod Maiden Voyage

The weatherman forecasted a small window of heat and sunshine, so we seized it. Not wanting to venture too far from home, on this our first trip, we chose Pine Coulee Reservoir about 20 minutes away! There were two other RVs in the campground but none within our view. We felt as though we had the place to ourselves!

There is power but no water or sewer hook ups. Once we got the fridge up and running and when everything else, inside and outside, was in order, we enjoyed a glass of wine as the BBQ cooked dinner.

It was a bit too cool to eat outside plus we wanted to sit at our little dinette.

We were warm and cosy overnight under a deep, fluffy, down comforter but turned the furnace on once we got out of bed. There was a wild wind this morning so while Bill read I worked on my illustrated journal at this same table. When it warmed up sufficiently, we went for a walk about.

Found a lot of crocuses ...

Satisfied with our successful dry run, after lunch we packed it all up and went home!
For more photos, please click here;

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Crossing Calling

In 1973 we established Saltiel Originals to make reproductions of my art. Now isn't that an oxymoron? The first prints were in black and white of these pencil drawings ...

Over time we added colour images of landscapes and flowers and expanded our line to include cards, limited edition prints and recently mousepads.

Living right next to Banff National Park and it's guaranteed continuous flow of ever changing, international tourists saw us do exceptionally well wholesaling thousands of framing prints and cards. The downturn in tourism began with September 11th, 2001 and it's weak comeback has been dashed by the "new economy". As well, Internet communication and digital photography has changed the demand for cards causing this market to all but evaporate.

While we welcome retiring from the business, the excessive inventory we still have concerns me. So, when The Crossing Resort calls each spring we respond. They are a seasonal operation (April to October) and their gift shop (affectionately known as the gold mine) is the largest in the Canadian Rockies. Since 1992 I have had the honour of being exclusively their only print artist ...

During the high times we farmed out all the collating and packaging but these days, with primarily only The Crossing to outfit, we do that ourselves. Painting is on hold for a spell while I do "dungeon duty" assembling what merchandise we need in preparation for the road trip. Soon, we'll travel past Lake Louise up one of the most scenic of all drives on Alberta's #93 north, The Banff - Japser Highway, and my heart will sing.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Alice's Wonderland

I've got this really cute playhouse. It has no electricity and it isn't winterized, so over winter we store patio furniture in there. Today was a warm spring day, we managed a high of 19C! It inspired me to clean it out. I vacuumed the carpet and wiped down anything I thought might stay/go in there. Got carried away and took the larger patio table into the lane behind our yard and re-spray painted it thinking I'd keep it in there, but it is too big. So I messed around some more, arranging this and that. Then along came Bill and said "What about the love seat in the den? I thought it was going back out here?" And it likely will. But, I'd worn myself out so I settled down on the lounge (which can't stay) to read. This photo is taken through the open "take-out window" ...

In summer, sometimes "Wonderland" is a guest house, sometimes a studio, a fresh air alternative from The Anne Frank Room. By the time I thought to photograph the outside we'd had a thunderstorm. Fickle weather!

Here is the story of Wonderland ...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bird of Paradise

We entertain some and certainly what we serve must be top notch but how the table is dressed is equally important. I have a shameful (and growing) collection of linens, dishes, candles and whatever else you can name to trim a table. Decades ago a friend gave me a most precious little book on how to fold napkins. Now, since this is the only fold I know by heart, you might think that I may have painted a Bird of Paradise flower before now. But no, not until today!

I meant to photograph this panel before I began, but I can tell you that it was wildly coloured in acrylics over which I palette knifed excess, left over white and yellow oil paint. After yesterday's sedate viola painting I was ready to break out the wild colours. It's 12x16 inches and I got this far before lunch ...

Since I'm working from a photograph, there is no concern about buds opening further, of produce rotting, or anything else time sensitive to hold me at the easel. So, after lunch, I joined Bill in a reconnoiter drive into the hills. We are itching to take the R-Pod "camping". This photo was taken not far from home at Pine Coulee campground which has power. We may just use it for our "maiden voyage". But not tonight. We're not ready.

It is a lovely warm, spring day. When we got back we sipped wine and ate chocolate dipped strawberries (christening the geranium bistro set) on our front porch with David and Jenny. They are seasoned RVers and they told us things we needed to know ... which the dealership hadn't! Who knew we needed special RV toilet paper? But soon, soon we'll be ready to go RVing!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Saving the Best for Last

Our neighbour, Marge, called the other day asking if I'd like to paint this pretty basket of violas she had been given. I said I'd take a look. They were too cute to pass up and after the battle I did yesterday I had to get right back on the horse. But today, a bigger horse! Twelve inches square seems huge compared to the 6x6s I've been doing. This makes me smile when I think of the 4x6 foot canvases I've covered!

Basket of Violas

I've painted so many flowers in my life that they are second nature to me. I swear I could paint them in my sleep. Knowing that the basket would require some serious effort (and it did) I roughly blocked in the flowers and fully finished it first. And then, after a long day of standing at my easel, I took pleasure in finishing by fully developing the sweet violas. Sometimes it's a good idea to save the best for last.

Now that's three for the show!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Did I Say "A Delight"?

I finally bought a new spotlight. The hardware store variety meant to be used in an industrial workshop. All that matters to me is that it takes a 150 watt bulb. As per usual it was a production to get set up. My arrangement, at first, included five pieces of the Wacky Watermelons tea set. Trying to fit them all on the tiny 6x6 panel was painful so, I wiped off my start, removed two pieces and began again.

Getting a plate truly round is pretty much always headache material. I enjoyed the "idea" of painting these whimsical pieces, but as the day worn on, the painting became more and more frustrating. Had it all done, or so I thought, when I realised that the shadow side of the sugar dish was too light. So, I repainted that. Now I'm sitting here wondering if the shadow on the table top (on the right) would look better if it were darker? My paints and brushes are all cleaned up, my hands are washed, I've had dinner ... but I can't stand it. I'm going back down to deal with that shadow. Aaarrrrrgh ... where did the delight go?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Finding Treasures

You already know about our propensity for thrift stores. Every trip to Lethbridge, for any reason, means an opportunity to indulge ourselves in treasure hunting. Yesterday we soured a few shops before I scored this adorable collection at The Salvation Army, for $4.99.

I suspect these are just a part of the original set. The ridiculously small triangular plates I image to be only two of six which would make a complete round of watermelon. There had to have been more than the one cup and saucer, and where on earth is the tea pot? I'd be interested in more pieces should anyone ever find any! They are nothing precious just fun ceramic pieces made in China.

They will be a delight to paint and I know that Avery is going to love them. I took the photograph this morning on our front porch with a fill-in flash. Any one care to guess what all that white is behind the arrangement? It has me rolling my eyes.

Painting From Life

Monday, April 12th

For decades, photography has been a convenient tool for artists. There are purists who won't use it, but I have taken immeasurable advantage of it. My return to painting from life, for the daily painting project, has reminded me (yet again) of it's value and just how much more superior human vision is. Cameras simply aren't equipped to see nuances, of colour in particular, that our own eyes can.

Setting up still life arrangements and lighting is in itself epically time consuming. Needing assistance to see up close compounds my problem of placing the arrangement so as to see it (without glasses) and the painting panel clearly (with reading glasses) and not give myself a headache! And then there are my tight quarters. Moving from Canmore (where I left a perfectly wonderful, large studio) to Claresholm, and our dream home, meant adapting to my new painting space ... The Anne Frank Room. You'll find it's story and photos here:

Things that are multi purpose please me. Last week I bought this pot of tulips for the joy of having it on our breakfast room table, to paint it, and to put the bulbs in the garden when it is finished blooming. Today I painted Potted Gold oil on canvas panel 10" x 8" ... it's my second piece ready for the flower show.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Who Am I Kidding?

After only three posts on strictly painting I cave. I can't seem to separate my "normal" life and art, for me they have always been intertwined. And besides I'm bursting to tell you about how we reunited with our entire family on Friday (minus Adam, who is working in Libya right now) to enjoy a wonderful, dinner (thanks Larry) and evening of catching up. And then, on Saturday morning we all went to the orientation of how to operate our new R-Pod.

And of course Avery was there ... now how can I not share this little doll with you?

R-Pods are made by Forest River. We chose model 177, reputed to be the hottest lite-weight, aero-dynamic, eco-constructed trailer on the market. It features a kitchen (two burner stove, sink and fridge) in a slide out, a queen size bed in the rear, a dinette in the front, a wet bath (toilet and shower), A/C, HD LCD 9" (hilarious) TV and furnace. It's 18.8 feet long, 8 feet wide, 8.8 feet high and weighs 2285 pounds (empty) which means we can tow it with our Hyundai Santa Fe. Plus it comes with the R-Dome, an add on screened room!

Here we are all hitched up and ready to take it home. With or without the family we are the "Pod Squad" looking forward to jaunts locally and further a field ... just as soon as it warms up! This addition to our life fits in well with me being a Wandering Painter, don't you think?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Blushing Barletts

It's ridiculous. I walk into any produce section, thrift or regular store and my eyes immediately begin seeking out things for a still life. Where I live, during winter and for a lot of the year, there isn't much available that is grown locally, and what is on offer is often lack lustre. Imagine my delight when I found these Chilean pears with such a pretty blush. I wasn't able to paint them right away so I put them in the fridge to slow down the ripening process, knowing that once I put them in the "spotlight" to paint they'd surely do just that.

I had the entire thing painted and thought it looked terribly lame so I grabbed one of my fake cherries and positioned it into the arrangement and was satisfied with the result. Then, as much as I love alliterations, I simply couldn't call it Blushing Bartletts and so it is titled A Stranger Among Us oil on linen panel 6"x6". It joins the collection of Random Daily Paintings on my website and like the others it is available for $100. unframed.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sunflower Sunshine

Our friends, whom we affectionately call The Flower Children, have a farm in central Alberta where they grow flowers for commercial sale. During our visit last August we wandered their many acres, witnessed harvesting and were graciously sent home with this massive collection of assorted sunflowers.

In the centre of the bouquet you can see bloom I chose to paint. The oil was started in January and left at this stage:

To me it didn't yet have the coverage, particularly the yellows, or the vibrancy that I look for and want in my work. Today I finished it. What this photo can't show you is the juicy, thick paint! It's my first piece for a floral group show "BRING ON THE BLOOMS" with Annie Froese and Linda Mercer at Art and Soul Gallery in High River ... opening June 4th, 2010.

Sunflower Sunshine oil on masonite 8" x 10"

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Daily Painting Movement

Stem Dance

'A-Painting-a-Day' is an vital, international movement that has been going on for years. If you Google 'daily paintings' you'll find hundreds of artists posting blogs and paintings. I didn't catch the wave until January of this year and I won't ever pretend to even try to adhere to the 'daily' part but I sure enjoy the thrill of randomly creating these small gems!

Fancy Steps

Most of my little paintings are oil on linen panels, 6 inches square. They are priced, unframed, at $100. each.  I invite you visit my website to view what I have done.

Monday, April 5, 2010

First Day Home

Waking up in our own bed was a lovely start to this first day at home and it just kept getting better. A courier delivered a parcel from London, England. It was a beautiful food hamper, a thank you gift from my photographer friend and his wife.

A couple of hours later our buddies, the Simpson's, stopped in on their way home to Canmore from PSCA. They were a day behind us. My 'personal shopper', Janice, had brought a garment I requested she buy if she ever got to a certain store on their travels. Turns out she went into one just for me! We had tea and goodies from my gift hamper plus a lovely visit.

This afternoon, when I was outside setting up my sweet bistro set, Jenny drove by and stopped to welcome me home. I invited her in and we had another round of tea and treats along with a delightful visit.

And now that we are home, this won't be a trip blog anymore. Perhaps it's time to turn it into a painting blog?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Day Three and Home Sweet Home

It's only about a six hour drive from Helena to Claresholm so we had a gentler start to our last day on the road with a sit down breakfast and a departure time of 8:15am. At Shelby we decided to not cross the border at Coutts but rather at Carway. What a pleasant surprise the U.S. Highway 2 was! It took us west to right up under the Rockies and then it turns north to parallel the spectacular mountains that are Glacier National Park. The title "Crown of the Continent" was given for very good reason! Travelling this slow, winding, shoulder-less road is well worth it for the beauty!

Chief Mountain ...

At this time of year the U.S./Canadian Border crossings are jammed up with returning "Snowbirds" but any driving/hauling large RVs would never travel the road we had taken. And so, at 1:15pm (prime crossing time) in contrast to the 1.5 hour wait, in a long line up that we had last year at Coutts, there was only one car ahead of us, at Carway, and none behind us ... for miles! And then, being Easter Sunday might have had something to do with the lack of traffic.

Home, sweet home here we come! We were back in Claresholm at 3pm, excited to be in our lovely home again.

Day Two on the Road

Saturday, April 3rd

Cabela's, a little south of Salt Lake City, isn't far up the Interstate 15 from Nephi. We were there a few minutes before opening at 8am. Bill had lost his Cabela's hat and just had to get another one! We pressed on, driving another nine hour day. Out of Utah and into Idaho where there is this amazing Budweiser plant on the extensive flats where they grow hops and potatoes.

It took about 3.5 hours to cross Idaho and then we were in Montana. We spent the night at the state capitol of Helena after a wonderful dinner at a place called Romano's Macaroni Grill.

Heading Home

Friday, April 2nd

On the first day of the drive home we go west a bit to San Bernadino, turn north east and head right out of California, through Nevada, cut across the NW corner of Arizona where we travel through the magnificent Virgin River Gorge and then we were in Utah. After nine hours on the road we stopped in Nephi. Bill told me it would be a bit of an adventure staying at this retro motel there. I'm sure if they hadn't messed up our reservation and we were in the "new" wing as opposed to the old room next to the office it would have been a better night ... cest la vie!

Palm Canyon Hike

Thursday, April 1st

Bill asked me what I wanted to do on my last day in Palm Springs, I said "I'd like to hike among the giant palms". After our last lunch on the patio we went to the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation.

Our past experience lead us to return to Palm Canyon the most magnificent of the three canyons there. We walk a mile into it ...

... before heading up the Indian Potero Trail. If you follow the palms into the heart of this photo you will see where they turn back right around the slope with the yellow flowering scrubs, it's a very long canyon ...

We went just far and high enough to be able to look back and see Palm Springs in the distance ...

Up there we found some enormous, fiercely prickly cacti ...

With some very soft blooms ...