Sulphur Gates

This is an impressive location just North of Grande Cache, Alberta.  About 8km off the highway and a short hike to lookout platforms, the Sulphur (smaller) and Smoky Rivers merge between massive vertical rock layers.  The height and geology are more impressive from each successive platform.IMG_1923



Cutting it Down to Size

Sometimes a painting is much improved by a liberal cropping.  This one was a typical shape, 12 x 15 or so, and the point was the bright sky overhead.  Something looked a bit “pretty” about it though.  It wasn’t quite appealing.  When looking for something for a members’ show, Carolyn needed to frame something fast.  There was a small frame in a long rectangle… hmm!  Cutting out that bright sky changes the centre of interest.  The river still reflects the sky without having both actually showing.  The shape is lovely for accentuating the depth of the valley.  Success!  And just in time 🙂FullSizeRender (78).jpg

Watercolour Retreat – Judy’s Efforts

Judy and Carolyn spent a lovely, peaceful morning painting by the river at the Peace Valley Guest Ranch.  Rain threatened in the distance( mostly) and created beautiful misty/ hazy scenes and incredible clouds.  The shore is still covered with masses of dried Peace Country mud which is very hard to paint “prettily” but that’s OK.

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Peace Valley Guest Ranch

The Peace Country is beautiful all together, but some places have reserved a particular, timeless beauty that seeps into your pores.  Such a place is the Peace Valley Guest Ranch, a haven of peace, quiet and nature maintained by the Allen family of Grimshaw, Alberta.  I’m going to use big pictures and few words to show you we were excited to visit the Ranch for  a watercolour retreat:


The Ranch House (where guests enjoy superb meals made without electricity, dining by candlelight) is a 100 year old log structure that originally served as a post office.  Mail was delivered by steamboats via the Peace River.  In the evening, a fire is built in the yard and guests tuck in to hot biscuits and jam while taking in the moonlight, owls, bats, fireflies and northern lights.


The ranch decor is authentic: the washtubs, saws and buckets are original to Peace Country settlements.


Washstands and candlelight in the cabins recall simpler times, but the quilts, mattresses and pillows are luxurious for modern hips and heads.


Lovely objects and flowers offer plenty of photography and painting opportunity.


Friendly dogs greet guests and patrol the area for deer, cougars, bears… but mostly squirrels.


The Peace River is vast and offers more material for artists.  The changing fog, clouds, and colours are a lifelong study.


The river vista offers wonderful opportunity for wildlife viewing.  These young males had a splashing good time in the morning mist.


The hills are never ending.  Keep an eye out for birds, saskatoons, wildflowers and elk.


Two hours riding in the glorious hills, drinking in sweet warm air in vast, peaceful landscapes is simply incredible.  Imagine in this picture the soft thud of horses’ hooves, the squeak of leather, the gentle walk of a creature who knows its job well… on this ride we saw billowing clouds, distant lightning, and a rainbow.

Above Dunvegan

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Dunvegan Historic Site is nestled in the valley, on the banks of the Peace River.  Carry on northwards and there is a spectacular view of the river downstream.  Here is Carolyn’s go at the scene.  The mix of soft wet in wet and scruffy, dirty, strong foreground was great fun to create.

A Commission with a Spin

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Carolyn had the pleasure of being commissioned to paint a watercolour of this familiar local scene (the Dunvegan Bridge over the Peace River) to be presented to a famous Canadian.  The new owners brought great joy and excitement to our Peace Country, and hopefully some of that feeling went back with them in this painting.