Home › Monthly Archives › September 2014

Camera Disaster


The sky really was this colour!  No filter needed.

The sky really was this colour!

Disaster hit last week when I placed my camera on a chair, turned around and heard a crash. My telephoto lens had partly broken away from the camera looking for all the world like a scene in a Bugs Bunny cartoon with springs and broken parts flying off. At that moment my camera became my priority so I dropped what I was doing and rushed over to Don’s Phone to have the damage assessed. The final verdict – Camera seems to be okay. Lens is toast. Yes, I can order a new one, yes at least the camera is fine, yes I was really upset. The real problem is what it costs to replace the lens and restore what I had before the accident.

It is now three days later and I am at our lake property enjoying a golden fall day.  The Black-capped Chickadees are everywhere, along with Red and White-Breasted Nuthatches and Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers.  Today the cost of a new lens doesn’t matters as much as not having a telephoto lens to capture those ethereal Chickadees. Why is that important to me? I have hundreds of photos of chickadees that are waiting to be painted. In many ways, taking photos engages me with my environment. It allows me to look closer, to feel the pulse of nature at a different level. It gives me a goal to strive for – the perfect reference photo. Yet as I gaze up through the yellow leaves and am awed by the colour of the sky, I realize there is value in engaging with the bigger picture, the entire view, not just what I can focus on with my telephoto lens. That’s why painting outside on a day like today brings a freshness to my painting practice that is hard to capture in the studio. We have good days and we have bad days. This is definitely a good day.

Painting Outdoors in September

It is a Saturday in September. I find myself at our lake property surrounded by golden leaves and frantic Black-capped Chickadee. The Chickadees are fighting for time at the feeder to gorge themselves on black oil sunflower seeds. They are arriving about every four seconds, calling and flitting in the aspen saplings and mature poplars that create the backdrop for the feeder.

It is hard for me to concentrate on what I am trying to do. I am getting ready to do a demonstration at a local cultural day event this coming weekend. I have been working in acrylics for the last six months but return to watercolour for this demo. Watercolour is my ‘comfort‘ medium, one in which I have some hard-earned skills. It is just plain easier for me. Still, with either a Chickadee or falling leaf vying for my attention, my concentration is constantly being interrupted. A Chickadee lands close by and I grab my camera.

Now back to my painting, I’m not exactly “plein air” painting although the tern means “painting in the outdoor daylight.” I’m just not painting a scene in front of me. I am working from a reference of a Black-capped Chickadee. I could be doing that in my studio yet, painting outdoors just feels so good. The sun shines on my back and warms me. The leaves flutter down on the table. Colours look more fresh and vibrant. I am surrounded by the colours I’m using in my painting. If only every painting day could be like this!

The To-Do List

Okay, so I have a million things on my to-do list both yesterday and today and I feel like I have been running non-stop for the last two days, well maybe the last five days.  This isn’t the way I like things to be.  I don’t thrive on busyness.  I don’t thrive on going from one activity to the next without a bit of down time to what?  Well, just to be!

One of the things I have been working on is actually slowing down in order to get more done.  This seems to be counterproductive but it actually works.  It’s really about focusing.  My default is to constantly be thinking ahead to the other things that have to be done and then trying to do more than one thing (often two or three) at a time.  Although this seems to work to get things accomplished, what it doesn’t do is leave me with a sense of accomplishment.  What I feel like is rushed and dissatisfied with the way things are.

However, if I make myself slow down and focus on the task at hand, I feel much happier and relaxed.  Is this a more efficient way?  I don’t really know but I do know that it is more important to me to “feel” good about what I do than to just tick off things on a to-do list.  Yes, it feels good to tick things off but that good feeling only lasts a nanosecond and the more pervasive feeling of being rushed and overwhelmed remains.

It is a dull, overcast day here in Edmonton.  A perfect day to take one activity at a time and focus on it.  A perfect day to move a little slower and breath more deeply.  A perfect day to focus on enjoying one task at a time and to know that all these things will get done at the right time.  Even this blog!

Nurture Your Creativity! Nurture Yourself!

To comment on “The To-Do List” click on title on the sidebar to the right!  Thanks for joining the conversation!


Your “In Your Dreams” Studio

Have you ever looked at an art magazines article on a well know artist’s studio and thought, boy would I love a studio like that!  Wow, so much space and places to store materials and supplies.  So much room to step back and actually look at your work from a distance.  My next thought is usually, ya, in your dreams!

In fairness to the artist, they probably started out in a small, less than ideal studio space and have really worked for and earned the space they now occupy.  Most emerging artists I know need to carve out a space in which to do their creative work from a limited available space in their home.  Others I know have rented studio space and may enjoy a few more creative square feet.

My creative space is my studio which is simply one small room in a three bedroom bungalow.  It doesn’t have a north facing window but actually faces directly south.  I question the idea of a north facing window in a studio in our northern city of Edmonton.  It may work for the summer months but there is little natural light coming in during the winter months when the sun hovers on the southern horizon.  So generally I like my south facing studio.

I didn’t start out with a specific space in my home unless you want to call the kitchen table a dedicated space.  We also have a home based business so when our four kids also lived at home, space was definitely at a premium.  Gradually as the kids moved out I have been able to find my creative space in this cozy room, complete with a hand painted sign “Mom’s Studio” made by my daughter and hanging on the door.

Take some time to look at your creative space.  Is it working for you?  Are your materials and supplies easily accessible?  Are you able to go directly to work every day or do you have to wade through a lot of stuff in order to get started?  Does your creative space reflect who you are and what you love?  What does your creative space mean to you personally?  What small (or large) thing can you do today to make your creative space just a bit better or more functional?  What will you create in your creative space today?

Nurture Your Creativity! Nurture Yourself! 

To comment please click on ‘Your ‘In Your Dreams’ Studio” under Recent Posts on the sidebar.

I’m Still A Girl Guide at Heart

I’m reading a book about Daisy Gorden Low, the woman who got Girl Scouts going in the US in 1911.  I was a Girl Guide in the 70’s and earned my Gold Cord, the highest level in Girl Guides at the time.  I lived in Red Deer then and traveled by bus with my mom to attend the ceremonies at the Alberta Legislative Building in Edmonton.  I was presented my Gold Cord by then Lieutenant Governor Grant MacEwan.

Guiding was a huge part of my life during my high school years.  I really acquired a love for the outdoors through that program.  I even joined forces with my friend Sandy and lead a Guide company for a year when we were both still in high school.  We couldn’t find an adult to take it on so Sandy and I managed to keep things going and certainly learned a lot in the process.

When I met my husband in high school (ya, I know we were really young) he was a Boy Scout so we had a common interest in the Scout/Guide Program.  Maybe that is why we used our wedding money to buy a canoe, paddles and life jackets.  Thirty nine years later we still have that canoe and continue to enjoy exploring Lake Isle in it.

Daisy Low loved camping, hunting, painting and sculpting.  She was married but when her marriage fell apart she needed to find something that she could devote her life to.  She was almost deaf due to repeated ear infections and some poor medical treatments, all that was available in the late 1800’s. Yet she gave the later years of her life to an organization and activities that she loved and believed would benefit young girls.

Little did I know that years ago, a program for girls that I invested my time and energies in would still be influencing my interests today, so many years later.  I attribute my interest in art, both music and visual art, and the outdoors to my years as a Girl Guide.

Nurture Your Creativity! Nurture Yourself!

To comment please click on “I’m still a Girls Guide at Heart” under Recent Posts on the sidebar.

Change Is Happening

Yesterday, when out in the canoe we saw a pair of Trumpeter Swans!  We have had them before on Lake Isle (and even thought they might have been breeding here last year) but these are the first we’ve seem this year.  They quickly flew off along with a large group of mallards.  The mallards came back but the swans didn’t.  Still, it was a thrill to catch a glimpse and take a few pictures of them both on the water and in flight.

Last year we had a huge group of Pelicans on the lake and many cormorants as well as at least four Trumpeter swans.  This year, we saw only a few of each.  I suspect this may reflect the population of fish in the lake which seems to be greatly affected by the winter and how deep the ice freezes.

Many other birds grace the sky and water here so I am never disappointed.  It does remind me however that change is always happening.  Change is happening right now.  Part of being resilient is being able to move with those changes and not get too uptight about them.  Change is sometimes good and sometimes not so good.  It is much harder to leave what is thought to be good behind and accept what seems not so good coming into our lives.

It’s hard to leave summer behind.  Summer seems so short in Edmonton.  It is short in Edmonton!  But fall has its own beauty and brings its own energy.  I’ll go with that!

Nurture Your Creativity! Nurture Yourself!

To comment please click on “Change Is Happening” under Recent Posts on the sidebar.

Giving Up is Not an Option

I wish I could say that I have painted up a storm this week out at the lake.  I haven’t.  The painting I am working on is complex and I have come to the place where I don’t know where to go next.  I made a mistake and used an eraser to take out pencil lines and it left a noticeable smudge on my perfectly painted blue sky.  Airbrushing in clouds should do the trick but I couldn’t bring myself to bring along our 80 lb full-sized compressor to run the airbrush!  And my skills in airbrushing are limited so I have to really take my time to get it right.  So I am a bit stalled on this piece.  Add to that limited lighting in the trailer and I find myself under motivated to proceed.

So what does this have to do with creativity and/or creativity coaching?  Everything!  It is at the heart of self-coaching.  And it is at the heart of what I have to work at every day.  Listening to my self-talk I hear, “How can you be a creativity coach when you aren’t even painting yourself?”  “How can you call yourself an artist when you haven’t painted regularly all summer”  “You should just give up!”

Okay, okay, SELF, this is harsh.  Give up?  Just because I haven’t painted much this summer?  Give up?  No, SELF, that would be too easy.  I respond to SELF by saying, “yes, I haven’t painted much this summer for many reasons.  But I won’t give up.  I won’t give up being creative.  I might pour my creative energies into other areas of my life, but I won’t give up.  Giving up is not an option!”

As for Creativity Coaching, well, the focus there is not on MY creativity and creative projects but on those of my client’s.  I am a coach because I love helping people.  I love encouraging artists.  And I love seeing people reach their own creative potential and goals.

Nurture Your Creativity! Nurture Yourself!

To comment please click on “Giving Up is Not an Option” under Recent Posts on the sidebar.

Summer Creativity

In 2006 my husband and I bought a one acre piece of property in the hamlet of Gainford from an artist friend, Helen Richards.  It is one block from Isle Lake, which is home to a large number of local and migrating birds, a Birder’s Heaven.  Which is great for me because I am a life long birder.

Over the last eight years we have had a dream of building a small, off-grid cottage on our property.  But money and time have prevented us from moving on our plans.  This year we decided, despite not having a lot of extra cash (our youngest daughter is getting married this year) that it is time to start.

May to July found me busy wading through the bureaucracy of applying for development and building permits.  We are now at the property for a week of holidays in order to get ready to start construction.  This is basically my husband’s project, which he calls his work equity and summer fitness project!

I find myself in a 28 ft trailer on a chilly September day thinking about creativity.  I’m glad I have an expanding view of creativity and how it works in my life.  I like to think that it includes being out in the canoe and taking in nature (since I am essentially a nature artist).  It includes  finishing the sweater I knit for my granddaughter as she starts kindergarten.  It includes finding creative ways to use the over abundance of vegetables now becoming available from my garden.  What else can I make with yellow beans and beets?  It means gathering wild chokecherries and turning them into chokecherry jam.  And dealing with the pounds and pounds of sour cherries produced by our Carine Jewel Cherry tree in our front yard.

It means helping out when I can with my daughter and her third baby boy born on August 4, especially when her hubby is away from home working.  It also includes occationally babysitting another granddaughter when her mom works at the Edmonton Public Library.  I could go on but it is starting to sound like I’m just coming up with excuses for not getting to my painting.  Well, they are excuses…or reasons.

For me, summer is a busy time and not often very productive for painting.  I always imagine it will be a “summer of painting” but it never seems to work out that way for me.  Maybe I haven’t painted as much as I wanted to this summer but instead I’m living a rich life that engages my creativity in many ways and on many levels. That for me is what it’s all about.

Hey, the sun just came out.  Time to get out of the trailer and take some fall reference photos.  I need some nice back-lite golden leaves for the painting I am planning of the Hairy Woodpecker I photographed this week.

Nurture Your Creativity! Nurture Yourself!

To comment please click on “Summer Creativity” under Recent Posts on the sidebar.


%d bloggers like this: