After Whistler we headed for Vancouver Island to one of the Northern Gulf Islands, Cortes. Cortes is part of the archipelago known as the Discovery Islands, and lies on the far side of Quadra Island from Campbell River. Our friends Colin and Desta have lived in this remote paradise for the past decade, and we had been looking forward to exploring it with them for just as long. Read More
It had been several years since we had last seen Lief and Kane, our little ‘nephews’, after they moved back to their home town of Whistler, British Columbia. Kids grow so quickly, I was worried a bit that they would’t love us or remember us like they used to. The family lived in Nova Scotia for a year and half, while Adam was flying for Provinical Air and Peta transferred to Lululemon in Halifax. They would come hang out with us almost every weekend back in Nova Scotia where we go to the skate park, to the beach, and have campfires in our yard. So yeah, we were really excited to hang out with them again! And of course as it always is with the best of friends, it was like no time had passed. Read More
On July 1st, Canada Day, we crossed the border from Montana north into Alberta, on our way to visit Stefan’s cousin Kenny and his family in Calgary. One of the best things about traveling (maybe one of the scariest for some) is not knowing what the next day will bring. My friend Emily, Kenny’s wife, asked us if we’d be interested in going to Canmore the following night to check out a house concert at her sister’s house. We always love to go with the flow, so of course we were up for it. We had no idea what an amazing treat it would be… Read More
Back in the late ’90s we had driven through the night, westward across the Canadian prairies, in a rush against time to deliver a drive-away car to Vancouver. We wanted to take our time through the prairies, this time in South Dakota, exploring the less traveled back roads. The awe-inspiring scenery South Dakota offers varies from bright green farmlands and pastures to chiseled spires, deep canyons, and jagged buttes of Badlands National Park, before reaching Black Hills National Forest where granite peaks and forested mountains dominate the skyline. Read More
There is nothing quite like the feeling of coming home. I don’t mean the place where you eventually choose to settle down; I mean that special magical place where you ran free as a child, where summers lasted years, and imaginations were as real as dandelion seeds floating in the warm breeze. My special place is way up in Northern Ontario. Kapuskasing, the Model Town of the North, where Queen Elizabeth once stayed in the Inn; where tree planters brave endlessly long hot days, where the air is black with swarms of blood-sucking bugs of all sorts, just for a few cents per tree. Read More
My largest project on the road so far was also the most unexpected and spontaneous. We were visiting my sister-in-law (Barb) and Stefan’s brother (Mike)’s family in Toronto, hanging out with our 3 nieces (Ellie, Jordyn, and Brooklyn), drinking in their busy fun lives. Time was flying by, and we had only a few days left when Barb and I became inspired into home decor mode. She had been thinking a long time about surfboard art for their dining room wall nook area. They’re both from Nova Scotia and miss home often. Mike’s an avid surfer, and they both love the ocean, so it was a fitting idea. But she wasn’t sure how to go about it. I threw some ideas out there, and one of them was that we make a wooden board and I paint it. It was an ambitious idea, but she jumped on it. By the end of the day, we had the thumb’s up and a new commission!
The next day Stefan and I called around to different lumber stores. We needed to find a sheet of 8′ Baltic Birch, a beautiful quality plywood with edging perfect for detail work. With lots of dead ends to 4′ sheets, we finally found what we were looking for. As serendipity would have it, one of Mike and Barb’s neighbours was a carpenter with a shed full of tools. He had a dream garage, well organized and stocked, albeit small, with a cool vintage car rebuild project on the go. Stefan got to work on his part of the project while I helped. We cut out 2 boards, to be ready for the next surprise commission.
Once the board was sanded, I took over. Barb and I had gone through several design ideas and settled on a strong blue left Indonesian wave. Over the next few days I painted layer upon layer until the wave was built up to the point that it seemed to come alive. Before I had primed and painted, I had taped off a 1″ edge. Stefan had stained it. After several coats of varnish it was ready to hang. Stefan had designed a cleat-style hanger for the back for a seamless “floating” look to finish it off. The result was gorgeous and Barb & Mike were super happy with how it turned out.
A couple days before we left home in Nova Scotia, my sister Cheryl sent me a text. I could almost hear her excitement through the words on the screen, “We’re going to have the best birthdays ever! I took your birthday off (May 23) and mine off (May 30)”. And so it was… For Cheryl’s birthday we biked into town, had the best poutine lunch at Claire’s favourite spot, and then settled in for a decadent coffee (hot chocolate for Claire). There wasn’t really a plan. Read More
By the second week I could feel the accumulated stress of the past 6 months begin to dissipate. It really helped that we were parked in a little wooded paradise.
One evening Cheryl, Claire, Stella, and I went for a walk up the “Red Trail”, the hiking trail behind the house. We could see a storm brewing in the distance. From the look-off the sky was spectacular, but the storm was moving quickly so we picked up the pace to a jog back down the trail. Suddenly the sky darkened and the wind picked up. Out of the woods we were startled by a loud trumpety-whistly sound that really scared Claire. I imagined it must be the wind blowing in a huge hollowed tree trunk. Cheryl imagined it was bull moose call. Just as we blew through the door, the sky opened up into a downpour.
Last night I had the BEST time hanging out with my sister, Cheryl, in her studio. She wood burned while I painted! Check out her Tumblr site @ohmyampersand to see what she’s been up to. She calls these beautiful little wooden pieces her “art therapy”.
We poured fresh glasses of wine and settled in to our creative zones. I flipped through an old StandUp Journal and came across a photo by Glenn Dubock I felt drawn to use as a reference to paint from. Cheryl turned on her wood burning tool.
We chose a chick flick from Netflix to watch (listen to) while we painted and crafted together, The Lucky One.
Big Sur Lookoff, 12″x9″ original oil painting on canvas panel. Now available Online in my Etsy Shop HERE.
I’ve been looking forward to setting up my portable studio from Judson’s Art Outfitters and painting again. I found the perfect corner in my sister’s new studio, surrounded by windows. Over a few days I worked on a small commission oil painting of a special cottage for a collector back home in Nova Scotia. Read More