Throwback Thursday – my first plein air painting excursion – the Bruce Trail – I was so keen I didn’t even notice it was winter!….do I even have boots on? Wow! – how times have changed – My cousin in Scotland told me this summer that the last time he took me to paint Manor Bridge, I was wearing a duvet….sounds like me!!
Throwback Thursday…so this was the moment I decided to become an artist. I skipped away from Honours Geography at U of T … had the most amazing journey overland through Morocco, Iran and Afghanistan etc and after descending the Khyber Pass into India… one of life’s amazing highlights…I embraced the wonders of India and life changed forever! In a land where art is interwoven into the fabric of everyday life… urban planning became nothing more than a distant memory as art became my focus! Particularly enamoured with textiles as I had grown up surrounded by them …I enjoyed quite a historical study of them there. Here I had just renewed my visa (not wearing a convict’s shirt!)…and with that committed to a new life centred on art … a game changer for me…do you look back at crossroads in your life and wonder about all the options…and in the end feel blessed!!
I had barely landed here in 1988 – was completely overwhelmed – but I guess my penchant for heritage preservation preceded me and I was called to
join the artists in an effort to save the historical Father Rondeault’s house. Beautifully situated near St Ann’s – a film was made of us walking up the hill and subsequently working.
Painting quickly on location I did this fun lighthearted version. Always enamoured with Mansard roofs… I painted the exterior of this architectural treasure … whereas some set up looking out of those wonderful windows. We were quite proud of ourselves that day – and having had some success with saving architecture before – I and others felt success was in the bag! We got a rotten surprise a short time later when this incredible building was taken down overnight. Lucky there are a few artistic versions of that splendid specimen around and boy would I love to get my hands on a copy of that film.
In the intervening three decades I have painted much of Cowichan’s heritage.
Fun times of a plein air painter – who knew we had a full on Austrian property here with 13 authentic buildings. This is an exact replica of a little Austrian barn that Sally built for her dad – (with every picket different according to traditional Austrian superstitions !) – which I painted some time ago – with her adorable Pokey and baby out front! Sally bought the property sight unseen from the interior of BC on her retirement – on the strength of the amazing stories of a fellow waitress who returned to the island – it was a pile of rocks when she started! She worked at Dinter’s Nursery and only took trees for payment. The fabulous thing about being a plein air painter is the wonderful people I meet on the job!
This was our house in Ingersoll with dad’s office on the right and my bedroom is the one with the little French doors that opened onto the roof of the office. When we arrived from England –we were so white I guess it was painful for our Canadian pals to look at – they taught us the long & painful process of getting a tan – and my balcony with the old tar roof was the perfect spot for it! I earned my sensitivity to the sun – with that roof and a great deal of travel – I had three people ask me the other day where my hat was – didn’t think that they had ever seen me without one! The year after we arrived our grandparents came over and we holidayed in Muskoka – by then I had discovered this peaked cap –and could hardly be parted from it – except when tanning was the order of the day! I was a redhead who tanned unfortunately – as it was only by way of burning first!
Our home became an office building soon after we left – Robin found these photos recently of some of the offices. Imagine my surprise when he showed me his former brother in law’s office installed in my childhood bedroom ! The best fea
I sold and delivered the other Rose Cottage painting yesterday – and I received this note: …it feels like ‘some kind of magic’ that you should show up on the eve of the Neissons leaving their beautiful property to capture the essence of their dream garden – just in time. When I found out it was you – I thought what a coincidence -I know that artist – I love her work – but really it was divine intervention… and later on she wrote… I just couldn’t let the day finish without saying how thrilled we both are with your incredible, touching interpretation/representation of the Rose Cottage. I can’t stop looking at it – right now it is on our piano music stand, filling the living room with happiness.
Let me also reaffirm that…the Christmas spirit started today with your personal arrival. I can’t thank you enough.
I almost kept this painting – probably because it harks back to the fairytale illustrations from which I learned my love of art. I think perhaps all my art – especially old houses & flowery gardens began as a yearning when young to get back to the lovely home and life we left in Yorkshire! And this little home was such a rare find in the middle of two lovely gardeners’ garden – after 50 yrs of their hard work!
Since we’d taken the ferry over, I dropped off an order at Butchart Gardens – looking as green and inviting as ever – here I am in their palms and cedars!
One day Amelia my great niece came to visit me while I was painting at the Rose Cottage. That day I was beginning a painting of this lovely bench nestled amongst the clematis in a remote corner of the garden. She was playing in one of four water features on this beautiful property.
I was thrilled to be Bermuda’s Artist in Residence in 2013. I loved the architecture there – and the people and the vegetation – and so enjoyed painting there. I had a great exhibit of all my work there at the Masterworks Museum in Hamilton Bermuda at the end of my stay.