Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Toronto Botanical Gardens -- Awesome!

     Last weekend I was teaching at the Toronto Botanical Gardens, through the Ontario Plein Air Society. What an awesome place to paint--and outstanding weather as well. To top it all off, we saw so many wedding parties! I guess this is a popular place to have your wedding photos done, as well as to get married. So there was this celebratory mood in the air as princess flower girls and well dressed attendees roamed around in buoyant moods.
     This is my time of year, to be outside as much as possible, painting whatever comes up. Of course the reds have just come out, so we must hightail it now, as they won't last long. At the gardens, there were some spectacular reds, including several varieties of Maple trees, -and the true-est red I have ever seen. I don't know how well it will come across, but check this out:

For those of you reading this in Toronto, this tree is just behind the main building, so go check it out-It won't last long and it is Beautiful!
       As a venue this place has so much to offer, There's lots of opportunity for good and easy composing with paths, and much contrast in colours. You can walk some of the many paths. If you go down into the valley, you are then connected to one park after another, that stretches a good long way across the city. This is what I love about Toronto. If you get into the Don or Humber river valleys, you wan walk or bike such long distances. How nice for city folks to have this option.
      Down in these valleys, there are never ending bridges, pathways and interesting flowers and other plant life. Willow trees! Waterfalls even, and a watermill. All in the middle of the city.
      Another thing I got a kick out of was the parking donation machines. So parking is free, but they have these machines that look just like the ones you pay into in any city for parking, except they say "donation station" on them. What a nice way to make people feel welcome.
Of course flowers galore for those inclines- me! We plein air painters value flowers for their pure colour and obvious contrast to all the greens.

This waterfall is bigger than it looks in this photo

Natural scenery, right in the middle of Toronto

An abundance of colour, flowers, growth,..now how to use this information in a painting? Hmmm...

Potted plants make drawing and definition easier.

The reds have begun!
Thanks to my students for making this an awesome experience. You can learn more about the Toronto botanical Gardens by going to their website: 
Cheers for now.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

COSTA RICA 2015 M & M, at it again

Artist Margaret Ferraro and Tour leader Martine Racette, dreaming up the most incredible experiences for my art students. Come paint Costa Rica with me!! What kind of a job is this?. I get to dream, plan and strategize with this great woman, and ambassador of Costa Rica. Then, I also get to escape in the worst part of the winter, to paradise.

with artist Margaret Ferraro and tour operator extraordinaire, Martine Racette, from RRescape.com

This Art Retreat will bring you in two distinct ecosystems where you will be inspired to paint, draw, photograph and more. You'll first start in the cool and majestic cloud forest of the Talamanca mountains, home to the rare and beautiful Quetzal bird. Next, you'll enjoy the warm and lush tropical rainforest of the Osa Peninsula, a place filled with abundant wildlife and breathtaking scenery. The Osa is home to over 350 species of birds, 4 species of monkeys and many more exotic animals. 

Here is the official invitation with all of the information to this winter's 

Dates are from Saturday, January 31st to Monday, February 9th, 2015.
We have included a day trip to Poas Volcano and we're offering anyone who signs up before October 1st a free boat tour on the Golfo Dulce to spot wild dolphins! Would be so great to have you with us!

We'll be holding an information session on Wed. Oct. 8th, at 7 pm. at the Fox and Feather, at 283 Elgin St., in downtown Ottawa. This is a free and very exciting presentation on Costa Rica, but you must rsvp me to reserve a spot. Please contact me at margferraro@xplornet.ca

Spaces are limited, so the sooner you can tell us if you're interested, the sooner we can hold your spot! 
Come sit a while,...
Pastel demo at Les Tumbo de Las Olas, OSA Peninsula, Costa Rica

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Teaching an advanced plein air class at McMichaels.

One of the great things about teaching workshops for as long as I have, is seeing new faces, delighted to see new work, and catching up with students who've been with you for years. What's really exciting is everyone comes with their own ideas. Even if you are painting the same scene. 
McMichaels really has it all as a teaching venue. The Pine cottage is full of light and is well equipped as out indoor studio. Our outdoor studio is the conservation area connected to the grounds, easily accessible from the gallery, or from Bindertwine Park. Then there's the best reference library one could ask for, the gallery and collection itself. As I've told many of my students, you can't beat giving a lecture on composition, then walking into the gallery and having so many examples to study and apply theory to. It's a fantastic learning environment. 

Here's Penny, a long time student, starting off a piece. 

This is a lovely landscape that is NOT just outside the door, done in studio on a rainy day. Lovely colours and grading in the mountains.  

Some people just come for the cookies,.....

Great atmosphere here, convincing water, fog, and rocks. Excellent work Annie!
Loretta hard at work, longing to put the finishing touches, so she can say "It's Done!"

This was stunning piece by Patricia, very nicely rendered, colours are just playing. The set up for this composition is what I would wish for anyone. Finding compelling compositions that are simple enough to draw, so you can spend more time pondering colours, and playing creatively.

Yes, we were underpainting.

Here's a piece I started and never got to finishing,....
This was such a nice group to teach. Paintings were interesting, and we had such a laugh together. I truly loved this week at McMichaels. Thanks to my students for making it so much fun.