Impromptu Plein Air

Judy and Carolyn went painting outside!  It was a lovely morning so we took the opportunity to gather a few supplies and set up in the wild lands of… the school grounds.  But, as you can see, there is an exceptional view from the school.  You may also notice that we didn’t exactly paint what we saw!

Here’s Judy’s:IMG_0666

Painting in glaring sun makes it difficult to see contrasts, and on a cloudless day, there aren’t many shadows to help.  Using isolated spots of bright colour and establishing a clear background, foreground, and mid ground can strengthen an outdoor landscape a lot.  Judy exaggerated the aerial perspective and checkerboard pattern, and she zoomed herself half a kilometer closer to the foreground trees.

The pain of outdoor painting is that things change so fast: the light, the clouds, the shadows.  The joy of it is that you still have the artists’ license to change what you see.  Call it capturing a mood or impression, or call it being smart and using tried and true techniques that give results in any conditions; outdoor painting is not like indoor painting!

Here’s Carolyn’s:


This painting is all about isolating the shapes.  Painting outdoors, the sun dries paint and paper very quickly.  You have to work on small spots, or mix a big puddle of one colour and fill in an area quickly.  Finding strong shapes helps to make each element clear to the artist’s mind and the viewer’s eye (because nature is messy) and it’s also a way to avoid getting heavy masses of colour, especially greens.  Simplicity equals serenity.

Below is another painting, done from a memory of the old railway snow fence as seen from the highway.  It’s all in this view, just far away.  Carolyn wanted to contrast the yellow canola with some purple – the low, dark cloud we’ve seen often this summer, just not on this particular day.


It was a successful couple of hours!  Maybe we’ll be on to a new site on another morning.


Woodland Wonders


Judy’s felted owl bag is one of the items on display in the Woodland Wonders show in the Centre for Creative Arts.  It is nicely displayed on a dressmakers’ dummy.  The wall hanging is by another artist.  It’s a great show!

Falling Behind on Posts

Hmm, you haven’t been seeing daily posts again…  Hey, it’s summer! I’d like to say we’re out painting, but, um… it’s summer.  I finished a book.  Not in time for book club, but I did it!

We are working on the art business, however.  In writing, here’s what we’ve been up to lately:

With brute strength, careful planning and crossed fingers we delivered the mosaic of alcohol ink tiles to the school, where it is now safely installed in the library.  The kids are delighted.  Grade threes had a rash of “I have to go to the bathroom” before the teacher took them on a special visit to see their work.

Judy and Carolyn took down their show, Things Great and Small, in Fairview.  It went over very well and we were happy to be the source of new visitors and some friendly competition regarding sales.

Judy, Carolyn and Joshua have entered the Dawson Creek Art Gallery’s Summer Members Show with several items each.  We visited on the weekend and it is a colourful, eclectic show.  Judy has some gift shop items as well.

Judy and Carolyn are in the Woodland Wonders show at the Centre for Creative Arts in Grande Prairie, opening today.  Our paintings, photos and miniature book are combined with the work of about 45 other artists, all exploring the forest theme.

Today we are working on a proposal for Peace Watercolour Society’s Fall Show and Sale next year.  The one in 2020 is already in the process of being booked.  It’s great that art is so sought after here that one must put in proposals years in advance!

Kleskun Hills


Judy’s plein air painting of Kleskun Hills was done from the top of a hill overlooking the park.  She hauled art supplies up the trail and sat out in the elements until she’d captured the view, like a dedicated painter should.

The Kleskun Hills, an unusual outcropping of badlands,  melds with the usual northern Alberta landscape.  The tiny ecosystem of sandy soil and desert-like plants survives despite visitors climbing all over the hills.  In days past, there were organized fossil hunting picnics for the locals, who would park at the base of the hills.  Now the site is better known for the campground, picnic site and museum.

Paint Out at Kleskun Hills

Our chosen destination for the first paint out of the year was the Kleskun Hills, a geological anomaly just north of Grande Prairie, Alberta.  It is the site of the northernmost badlands in Alberta (maybe in Canada, I’ll check).  The flora, fauna and soil is very different from the expected. Besides the hills, the place features vistas of farmland, distant hills and even the Rockies, a forested campground and a museum full of pioneer buildings and equipment.  There was plenty to photograph and paint.

Here are some of the sights at Kleskun Hills: