Monday, 26 September 2011

Le vendemmia and more

My Italian heritage drew me to paint at this great little festival in Little Italy, Ottawa this past weekend. 17 plein air artists painted charming little restaurants, street scenes, or the actual grape stomping attraction. As a fund raiser for Cancer society of Canada, groups actually paid money to participate, by stomping grapes in large tubs for wine making. I have a new appreciation for all the businesses along Preston St., and plan to make it back to Biscotti, a mouth watering coffee place with to-die-for desserts. It was also a chance to discuss my trip next August to Tuscany to paint.

It was a gorgeous weekend to paint out. The whole month has been spectacular weather, important for painting outside. Today was a repeat. I'm kind of hoping for some bad weather so I can rest. This coming weekend is our time to paint fall colours in Wakefield, Quebec. I know its going to be great colour and painting everywhere.
The pastel above was my second painting from Sunday, just before I faded away. The oil painting I also included here of a line of trees in the middle of a field near me. I think they are poetic. If you scroll on over to Sept. 15nth, you'll see my pastel study, prior to painting the oil.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Upcoming fall events

Pastel Artists of Canada 20th Annual National juried show      My Piece-titled Ruths' Blossom, from our own Ruth Gordons' orchard
September 26-October 16 
Vernissage Thursday September 29nth
Neilson Park Creative Centre
56 Neilson Dr.
Etobicoke, Ontario    M9C 1V7
Pastel Society of Eastern Canada "Les Pastellistes" International Exhibition    My Piece titled "El Vestido Rojo", a flamenco dancer from my recent trip to France
Friday Nov. 4-Sunday Nov. 13th                                                                             (translation: The Red Dress)
Ogilvies-Tudor Hall
1307 West Ste. Catherine St. (5th floor)
Montreal, Quebec H3G 1P7
PSEC Events:    Unless noted in red, all these events are free!
Friday Nov. 4rth
Free demo portrait paint around 4-6 pm.        ( 3-4-or 5 artists will be painting a protrait in pastel at the same time)
Vernissage Friday Nov. 4rth, 6-9 pm.            (often local wineries promoting their products!)
Saturday Nov. 5th
Margaret will be Demonstrating  10 am-noon        (promise my demo will be VERY exciting and fun)
William Hosner demonstartion    2 pm.-4 pm    ** There is a cost of $15.00 for this portrait demonstration.  
Sunday Nov. 6th
Cafe Des Artistes    Sunday afternoon
Live Music, artists working within the exhibit, cookies, coffee, tea will be served

Saturday, 17 September 2011


It's a gorgeous September day. A little chilly, but sunny. But I am stuck at home. My house is being washed. Yes, that's right. It's been 18 years, and it has needed a wash for a long time. So I am cleaning inside, and preparing for my art classes to begin Monday, while the outside is washed by the pros.
More exciting things that happened this year is all the fix-ups and renovations I've done on my house. The painters who come here will be happy to know that I actually have a sink installed now. Believe it! Photos to prove it. We are moving up in the world.
Yesterday I drew from the model for the first time in a very long time. If I can advise anyone about developing their art, I would tell them to continue drawing at all times. You can't develop style wise or change when you are struggling with drawing. But it happens. It won't take me long to catch up though. Draw anything. People, landscapes, still life. Whatever is close and easy. I say that because I find it a good challenge to say I am preparing myself to be able to draw absolutely anything. But when you paint, paint from your passion, what you love, what excites you.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

an omen of cold

As beautiful weather continues, it is defintely colder, heading toward the fall, hints of colour change here and there. The cold is nothing for die hard plein air artists. In fact, I prefer it. As the days get colder, the sun keeps shining and I'm not complaining.
Today I'm going to talk about another amazing experience I had this summer. Meeting up with an old friend-the fabulous artist Andrea Ross. Andrea lives near Huntsville now, but for years she lived in Ottawa. I don't even recall how we met, but we did, years ago, over our love of outdoor painting. I always felt I had the better end of the stick, as we painted together many times. That would be because I learnt so much from painting with Andrea. We were a bit die hard-going out in any kind of weather, freezing our fingertips off. Plus Andrea knew Gatineau Park like the back of her hand-we went there often.
When we painted years ago, it was always in pastel and we shared that love of the medium, marvelling at each others work at the end of the day. Sometimes Shirley Black from Manotick joined us as well. It was all good fun, and I relished the oppurtunity to observe what others had to say, their style by which they said, the way they expressed what beauty meant to them. Beauty of the natural sort.
Andrea lives an exemplary life. I dont know any other artist who lives so true to who she is, as a person and artist. It's so wonderful as well, to witness the evolution of an artist over a long period of time. From those early days of plein air painting in pastel, to today, where Andrea is a very fine landscape oil painter. She's a perfect example of being one with her environment. Treat yourself to a view of her work at or My aplogies for the fuzzines of the example of Andreas' work that I have included, but you get the idea of what she does, and how well she does it.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011


September is my favorite month of the year. Today is a perfect example. It's been windy, rained a bit, fairly warm. I love weather, and this is my month to be outside, as much as possible. I've been painting on location, small studies in pastel, all within a kilometer of my home. That's my goal. To find, and create good composition. It's not necessary to go far. Inspiration can be just around the corner, if you now how to compose. As I develop as an artist, my work becomes less about colour that I love per se, and more about composing well, seeing each image in a whole way. 
Today, I painted a field of some crop, striping the land. I'm happy with it. Then I put the finishing touches on three others, and some work on a large oil. You can't ask for much more than this, painting every day in gorgeous weather.
The image of lemons is Stephanie Birdsalls' painting. It was my favorite piece in the IAPS show last June, and I finally figured out how to put it here. I love the simplicity and subtlety of the pallete.
Anyone seeing reds coming on?

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Pastel dreaming in New Mexico

2 days back from France, I took off for Albequerque New Mexico and the International Association of Pastel Societies bi-annual convention. This was my third time attending this convention. All pastel enthusiasts gather here. There's an exhibition of work, lots of oppurtunity to meet other artists, demonstrations, lectures, and workshops. It was great.
Seeing Fred Somers ( demonstrate his lovely technique was a real highlight for me. What's great about Fred is his blend of very fine and realistic drawing skills with abstraction, bound together by his lovely sense of colour. Meeting up with Margaret Dyer was also lovely, and watching her demo with such fluency in her use of colour is quite captivating.
One of the highlights for me was going to the accompanying exhibition and seeing a large quantity of excellent pastel work. My favorite piece in the exhibition was a still life piece (Lemons!) by Stephanie Birdsall, from Tucson, Arizona. check her out at
The soft edges and simple subtle pallete draw me in. Of course getting to meet all these wonderful artists is quite exciting.
My first IAPS convention was in 1997, and in 2011, I am reuniting with other pastellists from all over. I get to watch their work change and evolve over the years. Meeting all the other Canadian delegates was also so great. So many accomplished pastellists from the west.