Elaine Watts
Watercolourist and Printmaker


(posted on 1 Dec 2015)

December 1st already, and in Australia it's December 2 as I type away in my cozy studio with the wood fire going. I've just packed up for my last show of the year, in Coquitlam this weekend. And this will be my last public show for at least 6 months. Will tell you why soon.

All the artists are together in the same building in a corner of the usual complex, in case you're coming! I've been going to this sale for many years and have lots of repeat customers, but I'm a little nervous that I won't have so much space so I'm bringing less framed work this time.

If I'm a bit tight for room, well, that's when they say your creativity is stretched so I'm going to trust that I'll be creative when faced with change! Say, that's probably a good theme to be entering 2016 on. Maybe I'll work with that a little over the next month. I always like to have a bit of a rallying statement to keep in mind over the year and I haven't thought of one for the new year yet.

Right now it's time to start reflecting on this last year--successes and failures, highlights and blessings. I hope you are able to find some time to do that too, in the rush leading up to Christmas. We are so fortunate to live in a peaceful, wealthy and beautiful country (me doubly so as I consider my second home Australia). And for me to have the luxury of time to create art that is meaningful to me, and to others, as a reflection of that life, is another blessing.

People struggle and still go on in so many places in the world, and indeed some do in the first world as well. There are a few times this year that I have been touched by the passing of friends and family, mostly older but some well before what I thought would be "their time". As a wise friend said to me, as we get older we must deal with more grief and loss--the price to be paid for living on, I guess. I suspect I have some paintings to create about that yet. For the moment though I am still working from happy places--often rooted in the landscapes around me, or the beauty of the human form, or interesting shapes and meaningful symbols converted into collage or printmaking.

Ink and watercolour and printmaking continue to be favourites and as I review my sales this year I've been surprised to see how much figure work I've sold. When I started I really didn't expect there to be a market and yet just in the last month I've sold 3 pieces.

This simple but quite large ink sketch was one of them. It was the basis for a series of solar etchings I did (see below for one of them), and I had it at the "20 Minutes Max" show at the Summerland Art Gallery in October/November.

I'm not sure where people are displaying this art but I have been trading with my fellow life drawing artist friends as they are a very talented bunch and I've decided to start working on my own "collection" of art. (Another sign of our first-world wealth, I suppose, is that we can and do collect artworks that we love, and have space to display them!)

My birch paintings have been selling well too so I have painted a few more, and am toying with the idea of making another very large one as a showpiece. If I could only figure out how to frame a huge one cheaply and so that it travelled well!

Meanwhile here's a small autumn birch card I finished a few weeks ago--before winter arrived!

It'll be available at the Coquitlam sale, and is totally suitable for framing after it's been written in!

I was also delighted to finish this commission for an Ottawa woman who had been visiting the Okanagan and done the spectacular bike ride on the KVR Trail, to Little Tunnel at Naramata. I had another similar painting on hand and framed, but not so portable, so between us we decided I'd do another one that showed her husband and his brother riding towards the tunnel entrance. I'll be making cards of this one for next year's tourist season!

I have many happy memories of bike trips to this striking location, sun shining on the lake below.

Just one more thing before I close--the studio will be close until further notice as I have a big travel year planned ahead. As well as my usual Australia migration, we will be heading for southern Africa and having a long stopover in Europe--likely hiking in the Scottish Highlands, and spending some time in France. This blog may again become a bit of a travelogue rather than an art blog--painting time permitting! And my publishing schedule is likely to be...well...a little MORE erratic!

All the best to you and yours for a peaceful and light-filled Christmas season--filled with love and laughter. "Home for the Holidays"

(posted on 1 Nov 2015)

How did it get to be November already? (I'm sure you are asking the same question!) I'm busy getting ready for the last few showings of the year, having done well at both DeVine Arts and the 20 Minutes Max show at the Summerland Art Gallery (sold two pieces--and one of them someone else came back to buy but it was already gone!)

This piece is still available...if you're into figure work! I've been a little surprised at how many people are, to tell the truth. When I started doing the life drawing (as they call it) I wondered if it was actually saleable but having sold about a half dozen pieces in the 10 months I've had them available I was pleasantly surprised! And it is definitely challenging to capture the pose in the maximum 20 minutes available. As a bonus, the group of artists itself is very talented, and fun, and that makes it all worthwhile.

But, no time to rest on laurels, there are two shows this month (listed on my Events page) and the big Coquitlam Christmas sale in early December to prepare for, as well as a commission to complete and send to Ottawa in time for the new owner to wrap and gift, and a Christmas Card contest to paint for. I'm also working on a few more Birch Tree paintings--fall, winter, spring. And today I tried a new form of art--some pottery quail ornaments that will be available for customers of the Summerland Art Gallery's Seasons Sparkles sale, opening November 27, at the town's "Lightup Night". The potters group encouraged me to come back next week and do some 3D sculptural work...so I just might!

Between times, I have been working on behalf of the Summerland Community Arts Council on various events and forward-planning, including my first stint as a jury member for 2016 exhibitions at the Summerland Art Gallery. I was honoured to be asked, and the process itself was most interesting as well as educational. The caliber of submissions was excellent, as was the discussion around what type of shows would be best suited to the mission of the gallery-- Promoting and Facilitating Awareness and Appreciation of the Arts in Summerland, BC. This meant, to the panel, including a variety of work that could be edgy, could have local interest or participation, and stimulating discussion within the community. It made me think a lot more about what I do when I'm writing and submitting proposals for shows, and collecting a body (or bodies, given my variety of styles and subjects) of my own work to put forward.

This experience also has me looking at the shows and openings I attend with a new eye, and appreciation for both artists and curators who manage the presentations at public art galleries. Which leads to another experience I had, attending at long last a talk by "The Jealous Curator" who happens to be a local writer/blogger/artist named Danielle Krysa. Having found out a couple of years ago she is a local, I have missed several opportunities to meet her and hear about what she's up to (oh, that travel schedule I keep!) so was delighted that our paths aligned last week. She is a mover and shaker so I've signed up to keep track of what she's up to in the lead-up to her 3rd book, to be published next year. Very funky, straightforward passion for the art she likes, and a great speaker if you ever get the chance (she speaks internationally!). Her last book, "Creative Block" about getting unstuck, along with 50 artists, was sold out at the New York MOMA so that might tell you how good it was! You can check her out on-line at www.thejealouscurator.com/blog. A New Artist every day!

Just a reminder, my 2016 desk calendars are again available, a new piece of art for $1 each month. They are going fast so if you want me to set any aside for you let me know!

Now, that's about enough from me as I need to get back to work! Enjoy the last months of 2015!

(posted on 5 Sep 2015)

After a few months of travel and hosting, I'm happy to be back into the swing of my studio. Getting prepared for all the fall events is exciting and challenging, and I'm also getting into my studio a lot more than I have over the summer.

We had a few great trips in June and July, and came home to ongoing hospitality for all the wonderful friends and family who we hope will sometime move to the Okanagan so we can see more of them!

Next year this time we are hoping to make a very special trip to Mount Assiniboine, in the BC Rockies, but in the meanwhile I thought I'd show you the beauty of the back of Lake Louise. If you look very closely you can see Abbot Hut, perched on the top of the Continental Divide.

We walked as far up the Trail of the Plain of the 7 Glaciers where we could just see this alpine hut (not available to scale from this side, but from the BC side of the Rockies, in beautiful Lake O'Hara.

I still have a 5" X 7" card of this painting (that I did as a sample, before doing the larger version) as the large one sold to the first people who saw it.

We also had a great trip to Barkerville, a historic old gold rush town in central BC, and a couple of trips to Vancouver Island and Quadra Island, fishing, hiking and generally having fun in the sun, in the early summer.

Then I came home and started working on my 2016 calendars and some new cards for the fall shows. The calendars have arrived and will be $12 each. Same desktop style, suitable for mailing easily, and sitting by your computer or your mantle for a quick glimpse of the month at a glance and a different piece of art every month.

This is the cover page:

Let me know if you want one (or more!)

On to the shows.

First up is the DeVine Art Group show here in Summerland. Local wineries and over 10 local artists, as well as a local chocolatiere, team up to provide an exceptional event you won't want to miss if you're in the area! Details here.

And immediately on to the next show which opens at 7 pm October 1, at the Summerland Art Gallery. "20 Minutes Max", as it is called, reflecting the longest pose the model holds on our Wednesday night Life Drawing at Shatford Centre, will be a selection of works from about 10 artists who regularly attend the drop-in sessions. We are calling ourselves "The Group of 6 or 7" (a reference to the famous Canadian "Group of 7" artists--although we're certainly not that famous!)

You can expect to see a selection of work including some in colour (from me!) and others which are in charcoal or ink (black & white) or conte or pastel. It's a fabulous bunch of artists and I'm really looking forward to the response.

After that it will be knuckling down for Christmas shows and parties--although that seems a long way off now.

Hope to see you at one of my events, or in my studio, before the year ends!

(posted on 25 Mar 2015)

Only 4 more days in this year's Walkabout Down Under, before I resume my "normal" life in Canada. It's been a great trip, filled with art--both my own and visiting other artist studios and exhibitions. Not to mention regular swims, exploring some great new places, and catching up with all my friends and family in their various wonderful habitats!

One of the highlights was seeing American artist and printmaker Chuck Close's Sydney exhibition. After completing a few portrait-style prints myself, it was fabulous to see his huge (wall sized) prints using many of the same faces. The work that has gone into his pieces, over decades, was incredible.

Here's one of mine (above) that I was particularly happy with.

One of the other printmakers I visited was Elizabeth Atkins at her White Waratah studio in the Southern Highlands near Sydney. It was part of a very long weekend spent with another good friend at Bundanoon, who took me to see Max Miller at his wonderful studio (composed of a couple of buildings, one holding a large number of printing presses as well as hundreds of cancelled plates from editions he had done of his own work, as well as noted other Australian artists including some Boyds).

I might have to start searching for some presses of my own, after seeing these two studios!

A few more weeks of swimming and I was feeling a little like a mermaid--so I had to paint one on a day I was painting with the daughters of another good friend.

And I thought I'd show you how my Carousel theme is coming along. I made a few visits to historic carousels along the way and have one more in Melbourne to see before I leave. People have been really responsive to this idea--from recollections of their childhood experiences on the merry-go-rounds (as they are called here and in England, I believe), to suggesting books, movies (Mary Poppins where the ponies leave the carousel and enter into a real horse-race--reminiscent of this print I had already done!) to songs and other carousels I really need to see. Seattle's got a beautiful one, and there is apparently a double-decker carousel in Spain's San Sebastian that I will add to my bucket list. If you have any suggestions, memories or stories I'd love to hear them!

To close, I'll just add this simple tiny solar etching that I was very happy with. I did it in several other colours as well, this version is the most 'traditional" as far as etching goes--in a simple black ink.

Let me know what you think--it's title is "So Long".

That's all for now--I have a bit of sun to pack in before the long trip home. Next post will be from the sunny Okanagan where I hear it's spring already.

(posted on 28 Jan 2015)

Happy post-Australia Day to you all!

It's been great to be down under in the sunshine..well, and the warm rain! After spending July 1, 2014 in Ottawa for Canada Day, I've been enjoying the comparison with celebrating Australia Day in Australia. There's a lovely warmth, casual pride, and sense of fun with the Australians on the national day--first time since childhood that I've been in a 3-legged race as well as a egg and spoon race. And played badminton--all this after having a few glasses of nice bubbly with a snag (sausage) bbq accompanied by the most beautiful table full of various salads you've ever seen. I was very happy to note my 7th anniversary as an Australian citizen and consider myself privileged to be part of the two best countries on the planet.

But, on to the art! As I left off last year, I was working on a bit of a carousel/merry-go-round theme, as a metaphor for life. A friend reminded me of the Joni Mitchell song, "The Circle Game" and I thought I'd put in a few of the lyrics to help your memories, or in the case of younger readers, to let them know of this famous song of the 60s.

"And the seasons they go round and round

And the painted ponies go up and down

We're captives on the carousel of time.

We can't return we can only look

Behind from where we came

And go round and round and round in the circle game."

On my 1500 km drive from Melbourne (where I landed January 3) to Bellingen's Camp Creative where I was registered for my 4th printmaking session with Seraphina Martin, a brilliant teacher and artist in her own right, I stopped at two old carousels--one in Canberra and the other at The Entrance in New South Wales, to get some reference material and ideas about what kind of images to use in printmaking.

And this is one of the prints made from a little dry-point etching of this beautiful white prancer, from a restored carousel at the Burnaby Heritage Village Carousel. I have a few others but thought this would show off the simplicity of the design, with a minimum of colour (just the burgundy ink) as a more traditional style of printmaking.

This is another of the Burnaby Village Museum's carousel horses, an excited American-flag carrying Apaloosa horse that's definitely up to something!

A slightly more complex treatment of the etching, using a colour relief (blue) roll over the black etching ink.

And here is the same plate with a technique using a stencil and two viscosities of ink--a very exciting method that I hope to explore more when I get back to Canada.

Not forgetting my life drawing, I did this tiny solar plate from an ink sketch I made over a year ago. There are a few more carousel themed plates, but I'll save them for a future post, or you can look at some on my Elaine Watts, Trout Creek Studio facebook page.

After a very intensely creative week, it was time to relax and enjoy some summertime in the Coffs Harbour area.

This was a lovely swim spot at a beautiful village called Sawtell--and I took full advantage of it! I also found a gorgeous rock pool about 500 m to the left and filed it away in my plans for future visits.

Another day a friend and I drove 90 minutes south to another village called South West Rocks, which has an old ruined gaol (jail if you're North American) as well as a great beach (yes, another swim was called for!) and a little further south to a beautiful lighthouse at Smoky Cape.

You all know the fascination I have with lighthouses and this one is a beauty. Just as I finally and sweatily reached the landing (it was a long steep climb up to the base) a storm cloud came over and I caught a few dramatic photos.

Perhaps some will end up as a painting sometime soon--so I will tease you with the thought.

Time to go now, until next time, enjoy the shortest month of the year!

(posted on 30 Dec 2014)

As I write the sun is going down on the second-last day of the year. I can feel 2014 slipping into history almost before I can reflect on some of the highlights. The long-anticipated cross-Canada trip surpassed all our great expectations--we wouldn't have changed a thing on our itinerary.

Some of my favourite places and moments:

Whale-watching and iceberg viewing at sunset at the lighthouse just north of Twillingate, Newfoundland.

Could have stayed there for hours watching the whales, the people, the sea and the sun going down. And it was even warm!

Ottawa on Canada Day--the music, the fireworks, the crowds, the majesty of the Parliament and other buildings, and the Rideau Canal right there.

Coupled with being toured around by an old high school friend and her husband who live there now, and hosted us for a good night's sleep in basement air conditioning it was a spectacular day, and one that is a recommended experience for all Canadians--and visitors!

The Great Lakes, the beauty of the Great Plains, the lovely coastline villages (particularly Peggy's Cove and Lunenberg) of Nova Scotia, the Bay of Fundy, the Saint Lawrence River, Gaspe and Quebec City, the charm of Prince Edward Island and the Acadians and their music throughout the Maritimes--Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island--it was everywhere! Not to mention the lobster dinners! On New Year's Eve we are going to eat the last two lobsters we brought back in our freezer. I guess that's a fitting end to the year--maybe I should call it "The Year of the Lobster"!

As far as art goes, it seemed a year where I didn't actually get down and work hard at my chosen field. However on reflection I always find there are some important things that I have overlooked in that snap assessment. I was so pleased to have a print juried into an international show, I successfully completed a few commissions, sold my first painted figure piece (in previous years I had sold an etching of a figure), had my most successful sales weekend ever (along with my worst sale ever, funnily enough!), and have been diligently practising and improving at my life drawing group. The calendars are almost sold out, and I was pleased with the sales of art that I've had.

This set of giraffes (also featured in my 2015 calendar) went to Nanaimo.

And this smaller watercolour (also in my 2015 calendar) sold to some people who had seen the barn on a walk (as I had, several years ago) and were happy to take it home and get it framed.

For 2015, I have serveral events already on the calendar and some on the drawing board. More to come on that, but I am planning a local Studio Tour for late spring, will be represented in my absence at a local sale in February, will be joining the Summerland Art Walk with my studio open for most of August, plan to enter the Lake Country Art Walk (the biggest Okanagan art show with 200+ artists) in September, having several figurative works in a group show in the Summerland Art Gallery in October, along with the usual Christmas sales. Added to printmaking in Australia and getting a printmakers group going in the Penticton area it's shaping up to be a busy year already!

I have lots of art to create as well, so might as well start with some printmaking--although as usual I have a few more ideas in my head than ever!

Just after Christmas I was inspired by a visit to Burnaby Village Museum and their lovely restored carousel, so I am starting to sketch what some works based on those horses might look like. It's an interesting concept, the carousel, the charm, the ups and downs, and going around in circles, who's going to win, the child-like joy of life looking at all the beautiful versions of horses there are. A bit of a metaphor for life, it seems to me.

What do you think? I could add some giraffes and elephants and other animals too, although this carousel doesn't have anything exotic--I think it was from the earlier days of "carry us all" development.

The winter darkness is well upon me now so I will stop there. Next time I post I will be in Australia and I will be setting out my theme for 2015--what I think the year will bring, or maybe how I will approach it. Still a little bit of noodling around in my head to do on that one. I have some very prescient cousins who started me down that path several years ago and it's a great idea for me to encompass the many and varied things I get up to in my life. (Not to mention much less work than resolutions!) Maybe you'll come up with something inspiring yourself & let me know! Until the next time, I wish you and yours a very happy New Year and hope some of your dreams come true in 2015. Go on, ride the carousel!

Wes' Christmas baking is soon to arrive. I must work harder in the pool!

Well since the last blog I have been in a couple of shows, one which continues at the moment, at the Penticton Art Gallery until December 20. You can see a huge variety of works under $300, all by local artists, and browse their gift shop as well. I was down there today & it is an amazing show of local talent, at unreasonably low prices.

Tomorrow night I am delighted to be pouring hot mulled apple juice at Seasons Sparkles opening, from 5 pm, at the Summerland Art Gallery Christmas opening. The streets of Summerland will be packed with 6000 expected visitors for the annual "Light Up" Festival and fireworks. I've had a little preview of the gift shop and it has been transformed with works of art and crafts, great Christmas presents and ideas, and a lot of glamour. Come on down & check it out!

Right after that I head to Coquitlam for the Christmas Craft Sale at Poirier Centre

Here's the details on the right. Hope to see you there if you are in the Vancouver area--pick up your 2015 calendar before they sell out, and check out my new work just in time to get things framed for Christmas (or buy yourself something for a change!)

Speaking of new work, I've posted a few things in the "New Gallery" and will highlight a couple of things here.

I've been doing a lot of life drawing with a fabulous group down in Penticton. I think I'm the only one who works a lot in ink--others draw with pencils, coloured pencils, charcoal, conte and pastels.

Recently I've started exploring a bit with some dark Indian cotton rag paper that has a deckled (ie torn look) edge and a lot of texture. Besides working on dark (as opposed to the usual white paper) I've been seeing what inks and drawing materials suit this interesting paper.

Tell me what you think:

I've got a few more examples, but loving how the gold acrylic ink gives a glow, then the India ink with an old fashioned nib (dip) pen creates the line.

And lest you think I've forgotten watercolours and landscapes:

This is part of a series of local scenery I'm starting. Some places we love to take visitors--the Kettle Valley Railway trail system, part of a 100 year old railway bed that has now been converted mostly to biking/hiking trails is one of them. Come up & see it!

I've finished a couple of commissions and one of them was a little tough to do--not because of the "brief" (the subject requested, which was a bouquet of gerbera daisies) but because of the story behind it. A friend's sister was in a bad car accident where the vehicle went into the river and the husband and 12 year old daughter drowned, and the sister seriously injured. The community went all-out to help the sister, as they do, especially in smaller communities, and my friend wanted an original card of her niece's favourite flowers in bright colours, as a remembrance for her sister, and then to have 50 cards printed from the original, as thank-you notes to the people who helped her sister through her recovery (which needless to say is still on-going). I was so pleased to be asked, and to have some small part in helping people through this tragedy. And it reminded me of how personal art can be--and what a joy to share it with others.

This may stir an idea in you for commissioning a small piece of art, or looking through my portfolio to see if there's anything there you may like to have made into gift cards. I have two good suppliers of cards now, and can get them printed in quantities of 10 and more, delivered to your door, for very reasonable prices (3" X 4 1/2" less than $2.50, more for 5" X 7", envelopes included). Some people like the smaller ones so they don't have to write so much!

Well, that's about all for this blog as I've got email invitations to do for those who don't subscribe to the website! Hope your run-up to Christmas is most joyful and that you can stop and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells along the way!

Cheers until next time--by then it'll be the end of the year and time for a little reflection!

(posted on 20 Oct 2014)

I'm a little afraid that my monthly blog will be a bit of a bore after all the travelling excitement! The stimulation and daily changes of our cross-Canada trip are long gone although I am getting into my studio and doing a little painting from the images in my head and on film. There are literally hundreds of photos from this trip alone that I want to work into paintings and prints--the question for me is always "Where to Start?" (and finding studio time!) Sometimes I feel like I am doing less creative work and more documentation, marketing, networking, and showing preparation. The latter, while sometimes fun, is a little "ordinary", as they say in Australia (meaning, less than satisfactory. An example might be "the weather is very ordinary today"--as it is bucketting down outside my window as I type!)

Nonetheless, I have been enjoying reconnecting with my local friends and art community, showing at the Devine Art show in Summerland (picture)

Framing some smaller works

for the next 3 shows:

I have 2 pieces in the Miniature Art Show, will be taking 3 to the Penticton Art Gallery "Under $300" show which runs for November and part of December, and am busy getting ready for the big Penticton Christmas sale November 1 and 2 at the Trade and Convention Centre. It used to be called "Santa Presents" and is reborn under a new organizer (who runs the extremely huge and successful Penticton Farmer's Market) as "MakeIt Okanagan!"

Look on the internet for further details:



I'm really looking forward to seeing how this sale is going to be rejuvenated! And once that sale is over, I will be readying work for Summerland's Season Sparkles (in the Art Gallery Gift Shop) and Light Up Festival, the last Friday of November. Finally this year I can attend as my 7th year at the Coquitlam Christmas Craft Sale is the next weekend, December 5-7!

Meanwhile my street banner is available for auction (the latest bid is $65--phone the gallery if you want to bid higher, 250-494-4494).

All proceeds to the Summerland Gallery--there are about 100 banners you could bid on, totally great for putting outside as they've been hanging on poles all summer! This is a vibrant little community and the Street Banner program is one of the great public art programs that adds to the ambience.

Nice to come home to find sales from some of my outlets, and have sold a few pieces since then too. This group of giraffes went to a new home, someone who had been on safari in Africa just like me!

I've also found a new supplier and ordered some new 5" X 7" cards and envelopes, and will be doing some smaller cards in a future order (some people don't like to have to write TOO much on their cards, I'm told!) Here's one of the 5 new artworks--which was also one of the prints I submitted to the Granville Island and travelling show (BIMPE 8) in September.

Oh yes, I also have lots of work hanging at Good Omens Coffee House in Summerland until the end of November--a great little place on Kelly Avenue, across from the Middle School. If you're around Summerland do drop in & check it out!

And of course I still have a good number of 2015 calendars left--$1 less than last year at $11.50 as I got a great deal on the printing.Let me know soon if you want one, once the shows start they go fast!

Well, that was a fair bit of news and art photos for a change--hope you enjoyed this post. Now I can get back to my "painting away in the world" theme, and hold off on the "Practicing the Art of Globetrotting" (at least til January when I fly south to Melbourne!)

(posted on 22 Sep 2014)

Wow--that was something completely different! 25,000 km, 35+ national parks and historic sites, 9 UNESCO World Heritage sites, 95 days, 5 ferries, 4 tires and a set of trailer springs later. Many lobsters, scallops, croissants et fromages consumed--not to mention beer! Highlights too numerous to note all here. Music, whales, icebergs, more whales, lighthouses....suffice to say this is one big beautiful country--especially in summer!

When I left off we were just about finished our Newfoundland trip--one of the favourite spots! Music festivals, friendly folks, whales, beautiful coves, the character of St. Johns's--and great weather. After the long ferry ride back (17 hours) to Nova Scotia we sought out more music in Cape Breton (Ceiladhs, the Red Shoe pub), and amazing Louisbourg--another of the great National Parks. Could have done a whole other day there, and I think there's some paintings to be done of that great restored French walled village.

Then over to Prince Edward Island--the smallest and cutest province--only 132,000 people but I swear half of them could sing, dance and play some instrument--piano, guitar and fiddle being my favourites. We were at Charlottetown for the 150th anniversary of the meeting that set up Canada, as well as our 10th wedding anniversary. Lobster dinner, a great Tyne Valley music festival with my favourite band Blue Rodeo--although personally I thought Jimmy Rankin stole the show when he played with lots of passion earlier. So I bought all his CD's (just because I could!)

They thought it was a big crowd for the day--4000 people...maybe!

And there was the typical red soil and sand of PEI's famous Cavendish Beach, a few lovely galleries, and more seafood and touring before we drove off on Confederation bridge to New Brunswick.Very lovely and the Islanders are very passionate about their little province!

Next it was the north coast of New Brunswick (yet another Acadian enclave, lots of French spoken), great music, and past Shediac, the world's lobster capital (okay, let's get some more!) we stopped along the way near the dunes of Bouctouche. A lovely coastline, sandy shores all along, warm water, very quiet. But I tell you what, I was wanting to get back into Quebec territory--for the bread, the cheese, the language--and some adventures on the Gaspe Peninsula. Some people have never heard of it but I had an itch to see Rocher Perce--and the tip of the Gaspe (another National Park). First though a stop at another World Heritage site--an important fossil bed where they found fossils of fish that provided the link between swimming fish and fish developing legs (or limbs of a sort). You have to have some good learning to balance all the fun sights, and the eating!!

We pulled up to Perce in a storm so could hardly see the famous rock the first day, but the next day it cleared and we spent 2 glorious days looking at the amazing rock from many angles, near and far, and waiting for low tide so we could walk out the spit and stand underneath the towering cliffs with birds swooping and soaring 300 feet above, around their nesting spots. There was something

awesome about it from every angle. One day we took the traversier (ferry) across to Ile Bonaventure, as recommended by some fellow travellers. It was an amazing experience to see the nesting colony of 160,000 gannets--but you only want to do that once in your life! We had admired these graceful big albatross-like

birds from the sea--swooping, then stopping in mid-flight to plunge deep into the water for fish. Then they popped up like a cork, with a fish in their mouths, and took off...well, some of them took off. Some of them were too fat to lift off the water! Not sure how their babies got fed back on shore. Maybe that's part of the reason there were a lot of dead chicks (it seemed to me) in the colony.

There were so many birds on the cliffs and the ledges of this island that the ground was white with them, from sea and from land. The noise and the stench was unbelievable--I truly know what "cacaphony" means after that! And there were herds of people--families eating their picnic lunch (we had to move away to find a spot with a bit less smell, noise and fewer flies!) and researchers watching the ritualistic behaviours of the gannets as they greeted each other, and fed their young.

It was a lovely island to walk around, and a beautiful day with lots of favourite things--ocean, cliffs and dramatic scenery, interesting wildlife viewing, whales, boats and sunshine.

Could have spent more time there, Perce is and has always been an artist's haven with many famous artists spending time there. I can feel some prints of the rock wanting to be etched into a plate!

But we pushed on to the tip of the Gaspe--Forillon National Park, and did a hike out to the end of the peninsula before working our way back along towards the south shore of the Saint Laurence River and heading for Quebec City.

NOW you're taking civilization, after the wilds of the Gaspesie.

I hadn't been to Quebec City since I was a teenager, on a summer French exchange to Montreal. Even then it was only one beautiful day that I spent there--so this time I was determined to explore it much more thoroughly (and with a bit less partying!)

The old walled city is a UNESCO World Heritage site as it is the only remaining walled city in North America. Great National Parks interpretation of the walls, the archaeological diggings underneath Dufferin Terrasse, and the fortress of Quebec.

Lots of walking up and down ramparts, seeing how well-kept all the old buildings were, and enjoying all there is to enjoy. If you've never been here, put it on your bucket list--you won't regret it. And I'd go back again in a heartbeat!

The best croissants in Quebec (and we tried lots!) are found down one of the streets--Paillard's. Not cheap...but flaky & buttery & we took a few away for further snacking!

Oh they were yummy!!

Again regrettfully leaving a great spot, we headed north along the St Laurence, doing a quick circle tour of the Ile d'Orleans (picking fields of sweet strawberries in mid-August??) and stocking up on maple syrup and having a tour of a sugar shack. Quite a process from tapping the trees, running the tap lines through the forest, to boiling it down 100 times at very precise temperatures.

We headed on through the Charlevoix to our whale-watching destination at the mouth of the Saguenay. I have loved the beluga whales since seeing them at Vancouver Aquarium and this is one of the few places in the world to see them--from boat or near shore. And we saw lots! Sorry no pix, but we enjoyed their antics for 3 days--and one day we were lucky enough to see 4 kinds of whales (beluga, minke, fin and humpback) as well as so many dolphins on a lovely evening you couldn't count them. Another great spot (and National Park) on the north shore of the river, about 30 kilometres past Tadoussac. I was really hoping to see some blue whales, as this is one of the few places in the world you can see them from land, and they had spotted 6 of them the week before, but sadly might have to come back again!

So many places and photos, and we were only really starting to feel like we were heading for home. We drove straight west along the Saguenay, past Lac St. Jean (last stop for fromage et croissants!) and through "northern" Quebec (Chabougamou, Rouayn-Noranda, Val D'Or) and Ontario (Timmins, Wawa, Thunder Bay, Kenora) and back to Winnipeg. It took much longer to drive it than to write it all out for you to read! Just east of Winnipeg there is a sign posting the absolute centre of Canada and we were happy to be back in the West. We started to wander a little there, around the southern part of Saskatchewan we dropped down into Grassland National Park for a couple of days to see one of the newest national parks which is still under acquisition and development. Bison, endangered black-footed ferrets, burrowing owls, and black tailed prairie dog were highlights. Badlands and grasslands and very remote territory--we found it!

A few misadventures with the trailer had us leaving it in Medicine Hat for the Labour Day weekend and heading to Calgary & the Rockies. Oh we love our mountains--it was so great to see them come into view across the prairies! One diversion left--a stop at Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta--yet another World Heritage Site.Again we were stunned by the beauty of this extensive valley dropping down from the plains. All the dinosaur bones and digging that had been done here--we only had a few hours and once again, another spot to come back to and explore further!

How many photos of the Rockies can you bear? This one (above) is in the Kananaskis area near the Rae Glacier, not even a great day (in fact there was snow further up...and then in the foothills at lower elevations as we found out the next day!)

After retrieving the trailer we pushed on to our favourite Rocky spot--Lake Louise. You may not have seen this view of it before--from the Valley of the 7 Glaciers. Usually tourists are looking up the lake towards the great massif of Mount Victoria--well we were half way there (although not halfway up, vertically speaking, by a long stretch!)

We reluctantly got back on the last leg home after such a magnificent journey. How abruptly it came to an end--as everything does. It's a bit of a shock to have to re-organize many possessions and stay put in one place (well, actually we only had a few days before I had to head to Vancouver for the opening of the International Print Exhibition (BIMPE 8) that my work had been accepted into!) but we were happy to be in the beautiful Okanagan Valley again, to spread out into our home, to see many friends and family, and get prepared for the fall show season. And it's great for me, 2 1/2 weeks afterward, to put this blog together to remind me of what a fabulous time we had, what a great and beautiful country we live in, and how lucky we are. Thanks for allowing me to share it with you--I hope you're not bored already! Or possibly my next few blogs will be much less exciting!

A few events coming up--this weekend September 27 and 28 at the Summerland Waterfront Resort, 11-6 pm is the first Devine Art Show--featuring 12 selected local artists, wine tasting by the Summerland Bottleneck Drive wineries, and a chocolatier!I am immediately headed into my studio to prepare!

The next scheduled show is "Make It!" Penticton, November 1 and 2 at the Convention Centre, followed by the Coquitlam Christmas Craft Sale in early December (my 6th year there!) Further details next time--meanwhile I have to get set to take some paintings up to the Good Omens Coffee House in Summerland--for the next 2 months. Great place in town, if you're around drop in!

(posted on 19 Aug 2014)

Many kilometres (currently at 18,000 and counting) and photos have passed since I blogged (why is this sounding like a confession? I must be influenced by all the churches I am seeing in Quebec!). I have so many stories and amazing places to share with you that I think this blog will have to be split. Many National Parks and World Heritage Sites were visited--all of them very special in their own unique way, and it made me appreciate Canada even more when we saw how much there is to know about our history and special places. Another confession: I haven't been journalling since late June, nor have I been producing any art--only taking photos for future work!

So, to continue where I left off last time, in Quebec and heading for the Maritimes. Starting with the Bay of Fundy and its amazing tides--and lobster!

You may have already seen photos of the Flowerpots--I seem to have missed taking any! So here's a slightly less spectacular photo of the tidal bore at Moncton. We watched a couple of guys surfing on the crest of the tide as it pushed its way upriver. After a half-hour wait we could see why there weren't too many people watching--but it was fun to see how quickly the big tide filled up the channel.

Next on to Nova Scotia where we had our first introduction to the Acadien story--at many national sites including Fort Beausejour and Grande Pre (photo below).

The Acadian story, I hadn't realized, is a little bit of Canadiana that spilled over into the US ("Cajuns" in Louisiana is an off-shoot of the story).

The Acadians were descendents of French settlers that had been in Canada, around the Maritimes in very many places, for over a century before the British won one (or more) of the many disputs and when the Acadiens wouldn't swear allegiance to the British king, they were deported--to many areas including France, the Southern US, and other countries (where of course they weren't greeted with open arms!) Decades later many were allowed to return and resume residency amongst the English settlers (again there would have been much tension!). Very interesting group of people whose language and culture including music has influenced many areas of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.

Well, not much time for more as we were off to Halifax, enjoying the Citadel there, seeing the first of many cannon shots!

Other highlights of the area: Peggy's Cove and the Swissair crash site nearby--on a spectacular day. I can see why so many people want to paint there.

A mussel lunch was enjoyed sitting on the lovely granite slope, watching dolphins while everyone else was wandering around admiring the lighthouse.

I've kept my best photos of the area to myself, as reference material for future paintings. I saw a great lighthouse themed body of work in Newfoundland and it reminded me that I have that on my list too. We have seen some number of lighthouses and they never lose their appeal for me. I've done a few lighthouse paintings already (mostly sold) but have a few more in me, I think!

On to Cape Breton Island (also part of Nova Scotia, but a very distinct part) where we caught our first great music. Wanted to stop at the Red Shoe Pub (owned by a couple of the Rankin sisters, of Rankin Family music fame) but had to push on to Sydney to catch our ferry to Newfoundland--so we popped into a local hall in North Sydney to see some local music and found a Cape Breton Kareoke night--to our horror--until we saw that all these locals stood up to sing--very well indeed-- with a live and very great band! Even the 95 year old lady who had to be helped up on stage to sing was fantastic!

And on to Newfoundland where we REALLY fell in love--scaling Gros Morne in the National Park of the same name

Visiting the 1000 year old Norse settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows

Parks Canada has these great red chairs set out in all their parks for you to enjoy!

Seeing icebergs, and jumping whales playing, just about anywhere along the northern coastline!

Ok, that's about enough of the travelogue for now--and that's only taking you to St. John's, Canada's easternmost point. There's a great art gallery and museum there, "The Rooms" which I really enjoyed--especially the view of Signal Hill and the harbour but also the art including some printmaking. And of course more seafood, lobsters, cod, and whales and lighthouses at Cape Spear.

I sure hope I have lots of painting years left in me, as I have enough reference material from my travels to do for an extended period!

Now, I do want to extend you an invitation--during this summer I was delighted to get an email that some of my work has been accepted into a very important biennial international miniature print exhibition which opens in the Federation Gallery, Granville Island, on September 11, 6-9pm. Please come and enjoy the evening with me--the show will be there for about a month, then it moves to the Dunderave Printmaking Studio again in Vancouver for October, on to Edmonton and Kelowna (UBC Okanagan) in early 2015. Google BIMPE VIII for more details!

My next show will be in September, Devine Arts at Summerland Waterfront Resort, the weekend of September 27th, free entry and wine tasting along with fabulous artists. It will be great to be showing at home after all this time away! And I will be doing another local Penticton show November 1 and 2--but more about that later!

Hope you enjoyed this small portion of our big trip--and I will put some more photos up and continue the story in the next edition!

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