Sunday, May 30, 2010

Eight For The Show

Bird of Paradise
oil on panel 12" x 16"

Today I finished the last of the paintings for Bring on the Blooms. For exhibition details and to view my contributions to the Three Woman Exhibition and Sale please go to my website:

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Expect the Unexpected

Knowing the week could take on a life of it's own (something I accept, even encourage) I painted hard on Victoria Day (May 24th) and finished this ...

Pine Coulee Crocuses,
oil 12" x 8".

With Larry away on business we decided to go and stay with Denise and Avery for a couple of nights. Aways make time for family, I say. They are what matter most. And my gift this time? Being there when Avery said her own name for the first time ... Abrey!

Avery and Gramps ...

It also meant we were able to admire Denise's handiwork, ideally displayed on a rack she recently acquired ...

Check out her creations at:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

For Better or For Worse

Everyone, including me, thought that Lounging Tulip was somewhat limp. The flower lady painters suggested I place a border where the great expanse of foreground was. If you wish to know how it looked before please see my May 11th post.

Because I employed Annie's tulip stamp, it's gone from acrylic to mixed media. I got carried away with metallic copper paint in the border which made the rest of the painting look extra blueish, so I washed a thin glaze of copper over it. And then I simply couldn't help myself; I added the glass bead gel on top the border.

For better or for worse, it's now finished!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Holiday Weekend

Because we can play midweek, we don't go camping or anywhere the crowds are frequenting on a holiday weekend. Some time ago we arranged to spend part of this weekend with Don & Ann; to finally see their new (to them) home which they moved into last December. After the two-story, character house they left (Don's childhood home) they are now in a recently renovated bungalow with an enormous open concept ...

Minutes from their place is the ridge above the Bow River. We wandered the maze of trails there yesterday afternoon and again today.

It's remarkable how you can almost tune Calgary out when you are wandering in Bowmont Park.

They showed us the wee falls after which their community, Silver Springs, is named ...

I've had my share of social recently and it isn't about to stop anytime soon. On Tuesday I have a date with a very special gal and Wednesday we hope to go R-Podding for a couple of days. This points to a great need for me to go to The Anne Frank Room tomorrow and see about finishing some paintings!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Flower Ladies

Two weeks from today Bring on the Blooms opens at Art and Soul Gallery in High River. Today, we three flower ladies painted together, in Annie's studio behind the gallery. From a sumptuous garden, surrounding her studio, Annie picked the bouquet we all painted.

Linda placed the vase on the chair and we set to work. Here's mine at the start ...

Linda's ...

And one of Annie's ...

Are the paintings awesome? Nope, not yet. Will they make the cut? You'll have to come to the show to see!

When we'd tired of pushing oil paint around Annie encouraged us to "play" with watercolour on yuko paper; it's very shiny and slippery. The paint can be pushed, lifted and messed around with in a multitude of ways. And then Annie showed us how to take a mono print from it.

Did we have a grand time? Oh yes. There really is something to be said about the energy and joy of painting in the company other artists. It's rich.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Clothes Line Art Sale

Yesterday, the Claresholm Artists and Artisans Club held their first Clothes Line Art Sale at the Claresholm Public Library. This was a one day event in the middle of our annual, month long art show at the library. Strung up in disorderly confusion unframed paintings and prints gave the Bill Simpson Room a festive feeling.

Attendance was meagre, often there were more artists in the room than patrons! But, we are a persistent group and though doing events like these we hope the people of Claresholm will come to notice us!

Above are some of my "Daily Paintings". I'm thrilled to report that I sold three!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Mountain Day

Yesterday, was a big, long day, starting with a morning visit to my sacred place, Grassi Lakes. Because it's such a short hike it is often very busy. On a weekend, the trails around the shores can look like a shopping mall before Christmas. It's also a favoured sport climbing spot, but there were no climbers or hikers. Zelda and I couldn't believe our good fortune of having the beauty all to ourselves. Leaving the lakes we passed hikers in small clusters and huge gangs.

The Calypso Orchids are blooming at the trail head ...

And the momma owl is back in her hole in the wall above the upper lake ...

Morgan joined us for lunch. He looked so well it was difficult to fathom that just two months ago he'd had a brain tumour removed. May his remarkable healing continue at this accelerated rate!

I then drove to Banff, where Liz and I talked art at her place before parking at the golf course club house and hauling all our gear to the edge of the Bow River. With the idea is that the light is better at this hour, we began painting after 5pm. But sunlight was evasive and the sky a high grey. Still, it soothed me to be out there pushing paint around a small panel for four hours. Was I really having trouble with the painting, or did I simply not want to leave Liz and the scene?

Liz was painting this ...

The elk were an added bonus, pausing in the water to cool down.

I loved being able to look over at Liz, while she worked a few feet away from me, with Cascade Mountain as a magnificent back drop. And beyond the trees to my left loomed Mount Rundle.

Exhausted as I was when I got back to Canmore last night, my heart and soul were/are filled.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Playing With Fire

Saturday, May 15th, Bertine and her pottery students had their annual primitive firing event. Last year, as a spectator, I was awed. This year I had five pieces of my own to set fire to. Loading and unloading the kilns is the wicked job entrusted to Mike. This photo simply can't give you any sense of the hellish heat.

Nor can it give you the stench of burning hair. As the hot pots are placed on the wire grate the bits of paper ignite and create the smoky tint. The horse hair, when dropped on sizzling pots, curls and burns the random marks. My two pieces are in the foreground.

These pots have been glazed for raku ...

Directly from a kiln that has reached 1800F degrees they are raced to a sandy pit and ignite the paper there. When the can is placed over the inferno the fire is suffocated and it's the smoke which transforms the glazes to exotic metallic colours.

Pam and Bertine capping the fire ...

I was not thrilled with the pots I made and traditionally glazed over winter and was considering becoming a pottery class dropout. But when these pots came out of the ashes I couldn't contain my delight. This thrill is what will lure me back in the fall!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Wild Fire 10" x 8" is oil on an acrylic background. If you're wondering why the painting appears to be square it's because I'm only showing you the top half. (Yesterday, I did a split shift around going to Bertine's pottery studio to glaze three pots for the raku firing on Saturday.) I'm struggling with making the leaves look believable. I thought they looked a fright last night, but this morning they look even worse. Something will have to be done!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Return of Spring

Our weather has been anything but spring-like. A change from the cold and wet, yesterday, brought the promise of improvement. Playing in the dirt seemed such a perfect opportunity to procrastinate. It was finally nice enough to be outside, so I cut down last year's dead rubble and cleaned up the flower bed on the south side of the garage. This simple patch amazes me in that peonies will fill in and cover the dead tulips, then the holly hocks will grow and tower over the finished peonies. Not bad for a neglected garden.
Today, it's even nicer, there isn't a cloud in the sky and the mercury promises to hit 19C. This isn't going to help me to go to my room and make art!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lounging Tulip

Yesterday, I used acrylic to paint this 12" x 16" panel, thinking that when it was finished I'd be brave and put a coat of Golden Glass Bead Gel over it. I chickened out even before showing Bill what the product looks like (on a 5x7 sample panel). His words: "It looks hideous". You see, sometimes my died-in-the-wool, traditional painting style bores me.

I set up the cloth and shell and painted them first knowing that when I cut a fresh tulip from our backyard and put it under the light it would open, droop, change. Stepping back (which I ought to do more often) I observed that the entire cloth was much too blue, so I washed a white glaze over it. And still, at the end of a long day, I was not happy with it. To me it looks lack lustre.

All evening, and again when I woke today, I kept mulling over my options.
1. Leave it alone and move on or ...
2. Spend another day on it, repainting (over the acrylic) with oil in the hopes that it will have more life/sparkle.

Maybe all it needs is a coat of varnish?

Glass Bead Gel - A coarse textured medium with a Heavy Body viscosity that holds peaks. Made with genuine glass beads, its unique visual effect – like that of condensation on cold glass – is best seen in thin films that allow the mono-layer of glass beads to be illuminated on a light colored ground. Glass Bead Gel can appear very similar to Coarse Pumice Gel or Clear Granular Gel when mixed with enough paint to hide the appearance of the glass beads.Glass Bead Gel ...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

I'm in a very reflective mood today. Other mothers have sent sentimental messages that stir tears. First, I want to acknowledge my own Mother, Priscilla Marie (nee MacDonald 1926 - 2003) and thank her now for all I did not while she lived. This photo was taken in July 1950, when I was not quite two ...

For giving me Bill, I thank his Mother, Ann Kennedy (nee Lowe 1926 - 1977). She left us much too soon when she died of MS at 51. Always missed and lovingly remembered. This photo was taken in June 1974 ...

Next, I celebrate the fact that I am a Mother! Fortunate in having two great daughters; Denise (born March, 1975) and Laura (born January, 1978). This photo was taken Christmas Day 1979 ...

Here they are in the summer of 2005 ...

And now, I applaud Denise for being the wonderful Mother that she is. Through Denise and Larry having their precious daughter, Avery Lynn (born October 2008) I am now a Grandmother! This photo was taken this past February, 2010 ...

Both of my girls have phoned, but I won't be seeing them today. They were here last weekend and I'll be with them next weekend in Canmore. That's when I will have my own private Mother's Day time ... once the buffet/brunch crowds have died down!

Saturday, May 8, 2010


The best thing about going to The Crossing Resort is gawking, in awe, at the exceptional peaks lining either side of the Icefield Parkway (Alberta Highway 93 north). I love stopping just before Bow Summit to look back and see this, the finest bit of drive-by landscape in the Canadian Rockies ...

On May 5th, 2010, there was still plenty of snow at this elevation; 6000 feet. Beneath the sliver of horizontal white, where the road bends, is Bow Lake which won't thaw until mid June. Our destination is a little beyond where 93 crosses The North Saskatchewan River ...

Miles from nowhere, nestled beneath impressive peaks, the family owned and operated (since 1975 ... when I first had my black and white wildlife prints there for a season) complex is open from April to October.

Bill and I were there to set up my display of reproductions, for the 19th consecutive year! The enormous gift shop has been beautifully rearranged this spring and owner/general manager, Mike Fikowski, has given me this prominent display, the first one you see when you enter ...

Driving away, the following day, I let memories wash over me. Gazing at familiar peaks I thought of so many precious times spent on hikes and trips into them. Of the people who travelled with me and the moments shared amidst this raw, wild beauty. And of how very fortunate I am to mix business with all this pleasure.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Belated Easter Egg Hunt

As if celebrating Bill's birthday wasn't enough we added, walks to the park, tennis, boche, and an Easter Egg Hunt to our weekend. I woke early on May 2nd, went outside to hide the loot and was secretly glad there wasn't another soul out and about, on a Sunday morning, at that hour!

This photo is the calm after the storm, when all the goodies are gathered and in their bag. The video tells the story best ...

The Canmore kids, Laura and Adam left first. The Scammells departed, mid afternoon, from the tennis courts. I cycled home and had a two hour nap!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Family Time

This weekend all the big kids and our little one are here. It ought to be quiet for another hour. They're still fast asleep this morning, sacked out here and there around the house with a couple stowed in the R-Pod for good measure.

We've been teaching Avery about cupcakes. There's no better way than hands on! I'm sure that someday she'll learn how to use utensils.

Bill's birthday feasting table.

I try, really I do, to get a good group photo when we are all together like this but I tell you some of these people are simply nuts. I take no responsibility for them.

The birthday boy cuts into his birthday pie.