Elaine Watts
Watercolourist and Printmaker


(posted on 26 Jun 2013)

The Studio Tour kick-off went well and since then I've had a few more visitors in the studio...and there's been an unexpected bonus of the Shatford Centre in Penticton putting a show up for the next month including artists on the studio tours in the area. Tomorrow I'm going to take in a couple of paintings to hang there for July, as we are away for most of the month. If you can't see the paintings in person, here they are!

Genie's Dream--Watercolour, ink and Acrylic inks

And "Tello's Lotus", another of my signature pieces.

While these paintings are happily hanging in the Shatford, it's confirmed that the Calgary Stampede, the "Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth", is going ahead come hell or high water--which they have certainly had! What an amazing crowd those Calgarians are--2 weeks before the show starts they have the biggest floods ever seen, the Stampede Grounds were under water and the stadium too--up to Row 13--and they are working like dogs as I type, to make sure that they can be prepared to entertain about a million people. Meanwhile 75,000 people were evacuated and they are trying to get their own houses back into living order as well!

I'm hoping that they are able to put on the amazing art exhibition and auction that they hold annually, as well as some other favourite events. The parade takes over 2 hours, and runs through the downtown area,where there are still some buildings without power this week. We have tickets to the rodeo, chuckwagon races and my favourite band Blue Rodeo is playing in the Cowboy Tent (now that's an experience I've never had and have been forewarned about!)

After a few days in Calgary we're heading for some Rocky Mountain time, hiking around the beautiful Lake Louise area and camping with our trailer. Just a little practise trip for next year, when we plan to drive across this beautiful country with our home behind us all the way.

The other show this summer, for those of you in the Vancouver area, is a re-entry into the juried Minnekhada Art in the Park event in Port Coquitlam, Saturday & Sunday August 17 and 18. Minnekhada Park is a Greater Vancouver park which houses an old hunting lodge of BC's Lieutenant Governer in the 1920s. It's a beautiful building and grounds, with lots of hiking--and bears! Come on out and see it--it's the park where I surprised my husband by proposing to him, one Sadie Hawkins Day almost 10 years ago. I'm hoping to be inside the lodge as I was the other two years I exhibited there.

I've also been working away on a couple of commissions--a beautiful old Queenslander house from Bundaberg and a huge diptych "Winter Birch" which will be almost 6 feet long by the time it's framed up. And on the print-making front, I've started collecting supplies and materials to use an old printing press donated to the Penticton Art Gallery by one of my favourite BC artists, the late Toni Onley. Funnily enough, I have a connection through the Minnekhada Park with him too--on that fateful day I proposed to my husband, we saw him doing his last float-plane take-off and landing circuits on the Fraser River, just south-east of the park. Sadly while flying there that day, he had a fatal heart attack and the plane was found in the river. I have always loved his landscape watercolours, and it turns out he was a print-maker too. If there as one person who I'd like to meet, it would be him--along with Claude Monet. (By the way, another item on my bucket list is to paint in Monet's garden at Giverny, and a couple of weeks ago a new South African friend had a tea party at the Linden Gardens in Kaledon, just south of here. When I walked in I was stunned at how beautiful it was, and determined to do some warmup painting there!)

Meanwhile the Summerland Studio Tour artists are open year-round, so if you're in the area, find a brochure or check on-line (www.studiotour.wordpress.com), and head out to see some great art, along with great wineries, beautiful scenery, and fantastic beaches. I think I've died and gone to heaven, living here--come and see me, and check it out for yourself!

(posted on 20 May 2013)

It's only a few days until the 2013 Summerland and Trout Creek Studio Tour is on so I've been working hard to get the studio ready for lots of visitors. More paintings are framed and hung on new walls, and I've got lots of my etchings matted and framed as well. I've been helping out with the publicity, both for this event and for June 1 and 2 when my Sunmerland Art Club is having their annual show, in the hall under the library in downtown Summerland. The hours are the same for both events--10 am -4 pm both days. That makes it easy to remember!

For the studio tour, all the artists are onsite and demonstrating their "magic" for visitors, so I'm going to be starting on my six-foot commission of winter birch trees--at least the layout of it! I've managed to obtain a huge rolling pin-board so I can hang the paper up and look at it from a distance--although I won't be painting that way. Watercolour is too runny--unless you're one of the people who likes that effect! You can see more details and the map for all the artists at the studio tour website: http://www.studiotour.wordpress.com.

We've got a fabulous lineup:

You can see a forge where a blacksmith creates beautiful sculptures with red hot iron! How about a photographer's studio, or a clothing designer cutting patterns and printing fabric, making lovely clothing. There are potters and painters, quilting demonstrations, wood turning and painting with wax. Jewellery makers showing how they make stones into semi precious gems, and so much more! There will be draw prizes too!
Map/brochures are available at Visitor Info Centres, Libraries, Art Galleries, and participating artists.

For the June 1/2 event I'll only have a few paintings and some matted works and cards available, and I will be among the artists that you can meet there between 3 and 4 pm on Sunday. Refreshments are served and we're hoping for a good crowd.

Come on out--it would be great to see you. And if this weekend doesn't work, I'm available to show you my studio on other dates by chance or by arrangement!

By the way, I've added a few names to this emailed blog--usually people who have commented or posted about my work. Usually I'll post about once a month, or when I have events or courses coming up--to keep you advised. If you prefer not to receive the emails automatically when I've updated the blog, just let me know & I can remove your name very easily! And if you have friends who are interested, their name can be added to my mailing list on the website. Your information will not be shared with others or used for any other purposes. Thanks for reading!

(posted on 16 Apr 2013)

You're Invited!

This week the Summerland Community Arts Council did a great little postcard "competition" themed "The Future: What your world will look like after tomorrow".

Being stuck in my spring cleanup work and looking for an opportunity to get re-connected with my artistic vision, I took on the challenge after seeing a couple of the cool entries already in--one an abstracted collage in a box, another the paper was cut into bones of a skeleton and reassembled, hanging in a framework of glass shaped like a coffin! This got me thinking, what does my future look like--and I quickly realized that I am here, living into my future in the beautiful community of Summerland (how can you not like a place with a name like that?), and developing my art career in my brand new studio--working name "Trout Creek Studio".

So, I sat for a while with my 5" X 7" postcard and decided to use both sides--on the front a map, the rough approximation of Trout Creek, with more of a tree-shaped stream running through it and 3 trout in the water, and my studio placed approximately correctly, and on the back, well, a postcard "TO: Humans and other beingswho appreciate beauty" Address: 123 Anywhere Close (or far), Planet Earth (no postal code necessary).

I designed my own blue stamp "Heaven Can Wait" and in the cancellation circle wrote Trout Creek Studio.

Here's the text:

Hi All!

I can't beliweve I found this fabulous place! The natives are friendly, the wine and weather rival Australia (at least in summer the weather does!), the food is evenbetter, from orchards everywhere you look. Great Artists too!

I have to keep pinching myself when Irealize this is what my world will look like in the future! Picture this: A studio (my own!) surrounded by gardens and orchard. A winery around the corner (and a few further away up on the benches, as backup), a sandy beach with a lighthouse (one of myu favourite symbols) even closer! A spectacular lake that constantly changes colour, and stretches further than te eye can see. Vistas from the shore, the local hills, and mountains, andwalks and hiking trails that take full advantage.

You can even walk on a giant's head--how's that for discovering magic?!

There's paintings for me to do forever--come and see me soon. I can hardly wait to show you what I'm up to! (Or you can see it on the web--www.ElaineWatts.com (note to viewers--you are currently here!)--but I'd rather see your smiling face in Trout Creek, Summerland!")


Consider yourselves invited!! Would love to see you in my studio!

(posted on 23 Mar 2013)

Time to resume friendships that were starting to develop in the fall, prepare for the shows and sales I'm going to do this year (Summerland Studio Tour, Summerland Art Club Sale, looking at summer show options, and Christmas sales), analyze past and ongoing sales at the two gift shop galleries that carry my work (Comox Valley and Summerland), frame new work created in Australia, and carry on with the two commissions that are currently in progress. Painting away in the world. ( One is a view taken from the photo of the old Queenslander below)

I'm trying to stay out of my garden which is looking great. The original owners did a fabulous design job and there is interest for all seasons. Spring bulbs (unknown to us as we weren't here last spring) are coming up in many places. We didn't have time in the fall to do a thorough garden cleanup, (neither did two years' worth of renters!) so now is the time to get at clearing up some of the debris. I have to watch that the gardening doesn't distract me from all the artwork I want to do!

Inside my studio I'm still looking for some base cabinets, on the outside I need to develop some signage for the studio tour in late May. There may be another open studio in late April so my time frame is shrinking, not expanding!

If you know of anyone who's got some old kitchen cabinets to get rid of they could have a new life in my studio! You can see how barren my floors are and I do have a lot of material to store. And since doing the printmaking course again I've decided I'd like to do more of that and am looking for a hand-turned printing press. If you know of any that are available send me a note! I found out that the one at the Shatford Centre is a huge mechanical beast, from Kamloops Okanagan University, that was so large they had to take the frames off the double door to get it into the building. It's obviously not suitable for my little printmaking ideas! This little print below is about 2" X 4" and I've done a couple of versions.

Now that I've got my camera card and thumb drive de-bugged and virus-free (at some expense, I might add--a lesson to travellers!) I can get my website updated with photos again. Speaking of technology, I'm still working on basic competency on my new smart phone and laptop with Windows. Even the teckies are grumbling about that operating system, I see! Learning to edit photos all over again! As well as a new filing system and retrieval process.

However, life is good in the northern spring--there is a bit of energy in the air with warming days. Although I'm missing the Aussie warmth & sunshine on my skin (not to mention all my friends and family there!)

The first week I got back was about 15-17 degrees (Celsius) but then it dropped to only 3-4 with negative temperatures overnight. And snow and ice pellets int he air at times--which doesn't permit sandals, shorts, or bare arms! This is the earliest I've been back to Canada in years and.,..I might stay Down Under for longer in future! That said, the crocuses are lovely and will be finished soon. I made a stab at painting some the other day but gave up quickly. I'll have to re-jig my composition and try again--or more likely move onto something else. The lake nearby astounds me with its changing colours, and the scenery around, although still bleak in early spring, remains dramatic. How did we get so lucky as to live here!

Closing with a last image of a print I did, inspired by our African trip last year: Hope you like it! It's a kudu, a

very secretive animal with legendary powers of disappearance. In this version of the print I've used the "Chine Collee" technique to applique Chinese rice paper with rice glue onto the print, to highlight the stripes the kudu wears on its back. They are lovely graceful and quick animals. Until next time, when more artwork will be revealed!

(posted on 26 Feb 2013)

I've finally arrived in Melbourne for the last 10 days of my visit and must confess I haven't been doing much painting with the travel. However I do now have 258 books on my Kindle, and no time to read them either! I'm noticing that I really need time and space and silence to get into my painting, unless I have a structure (either a routine or a course registration) to keep me focused. Certainly I'm not one of those driven artists who get into the studio at 6 am, and work until late. Well, really I don't do ANYTHING that way! Probably the closest I would get would be travelling if there are long days to get somewhere.

However, there are more photos on my camera (which still needs to be de-bugged) and more ideas in my head, and I've been spending some time framing and showing works, selling some cards, and working on my business plan for the year. Looking forward to the studio tour dates, and mentally planning out my layout as I see other art studios in my travels.

Yesterday I had a look at a lovely setup a friend in Bundanoon, in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, is developing in her garage. I can hardly wait to visit her again next year & see how she's going. Her plans: a work area with computer station (her career is design and layout of books); a place for music with her piano; a place for sewing machines and materials, and an art area. She's a very talented woman, in many regards! The space is bright with windows on all sides, white open ceilings with beams, and a new concrete floor. Double doors will open out onto another landing, and she's got water and a laundry in a bump-out just to add to the convenience.

If you have any good studio ideas, suggestions, or recommendations of ones to visit, I'd love to check out some more studios. The places where people create, and are inspired to create, always inspire me too. Organization and logistics are important to me so I'm especially interested in tips in those areas. I saw a gorgeous potter's studio in Buderim Queensland that was very efficiently laid out, and had a great rolling table with shelves that fit exactly underneath the countertop.

Another task I've been thinking about is signage for the studio. There's an idea in my head about a hanging piece of curved driftwood representing a creek, with a swimming trout carved in it, and maybe some stones inset, as a visual for "Trout Creek Studio". Just the creation of that will be a piece of artwork, 3 dimensional, that I can play with for a while.

Meanwhile, it's time to start organizing my own possessions, getting my trusty little car ready for storage, and having last visits with cousins and my aunt and uncle here. You never know what's going to happen over the course of the year until I see them again--life is precious and so are the elder generation. Once the 80s hit you know the time is limited--and it's important to make the most of what there is.

On that note I'll leave you, until next time!

(posted on 16 Feb 2013)

As I write I am so thankful for all the great things I have in my life--friends and family who live in the most beautiful places, and the willingness they have to host me and share their lives with me. Currently I'm in a lovely beach town called Terrigal, just north of Sydney. After the events in Queensland I'm very happy to be back in New South Wales, where the weather is just a touch cooler, the air a little drier, the sea a little fresher. And all that flooding really impacted the water in Queensland, so I never set foot in it, or had the slightest desire to paint it!

It was great to stop in beautiful Byron Bay, Australia's most easterly point, on my way south. I took a break for lunch and spotted about 15 dolphins resting off the shoreline. The water beckoned but I made do with a couple of quick paddles and continued my drive south to Urunga, just south of Coffs Harbour, where I did get into the water and have several lovely walks beside the water, and to beaches. Urunga's lovely boardwalk and the V-Wall walk at Nambucca Heads are a couple of my favourite places--although then I headed further south to Old Bar for a beach walk there, and to Umina Beach for walk there, and ...well, I just can't make up my mind--these are all in the top 10 for sure!

I've got a few more days here to enjoy before I move on to Sydney (which must be the most beautiful city in the world) and have some plans to get a bit of painting in during this time. The old Queenslander house painting is still in progress, and I've been playing with the sketch a little more by adding some ink accents. I'm not sure if I'll get it finished in Australia or will be taking it home to Canada to work on yet. Sometimes it takes a while for me to get a result I'm happy enough with to share. I've also been working on my business plan and tasks for stepping up with my art when I do get back to Summerland. Lots to do to get ready for the studio tour starting in April.

Meanwhile I'm enjoying summertime down under--hope you're enjoying wherever you're at in your life too.ometimes I just have to pinch myself to check if this isn't a dream.

(posted on 30 Jan 2013)

Hi from Bundaberg, Queensland which over the last week has become a disaster area due to the aftereffects of a cyclone, which included tornado damage and major floods. I came to the library hoping to get some belated photos uploaded, but the internet isn't handling anything very well in town, apparently (which is what I discovered at my friend's place where I have been safe and dry throughout the whole affair--thus the library visit!) So, no photos, sorry, only commentary!

It has been another amazing week, after a non-eventful journey from Bellingen to Buderim, on Queensland's Sunshine Coast just north of Brisbane, and then in the rain north to Bundaberg. That was the start of the storm, which went on all last weekend. It dropped 500 mm (that's almost 2 feet) of rain in about 72 hours, and the winds were so high that at one point I'm sure we were at the edge of a tornado. That was Australia Day, when I was trying to celebrate 5 years as Australian. Needless to say all festivities were cancelled!

My hosts had water pouring in from a gutter that was blocked, and lost one big tree on their property as well as numerous branches. That was nothing compared to the tornados that hit the local beach town 15 km away, Bargara, and a couple of other coastal spots. And then came the floods--the local Burnett River peaked at 9.5 metres above its usual height and 7000 people were evacuated from homes--many airlifted from their roofs by the Australian Defence Forces who were called in on this state of emergency. Lots of that happened on my birthday so I hope that's not foreshadowing the year.

I've never been in a disaster area before and it was amazing to see all the damage, as well as how the Australians cope, chip in, band together to help out, and generally care so well for each other. The mopping up has just started here as the flood waters recede, and while roads are washed out, many businesses in Queensland are devastated as this is the 2nd big floods that have happened in 3 years, and lots of people couldn't get flood insurance after the first flood, you can just see that they are all survivors and will work hard to overcome adversity. Not to mention that lots of work will be created to fix things up again.

Meanwhile I have started work on a commissioned painting of a beautiful old Queenslander built in the late 1800s. When I get photo capability I'll upload some images of the house, and possibly of my first sketches. I still have lots of prints to show you too, when all systems are working again. Hope it won't be too long before that happens. I must say I am grateful to be alive and unscathed by this event, and again realize what good fortune and friends I have around me.

(posted on 19 Jan 2013)

Greetings from Urunga, near Bellingen in New South Wales. I had a fantastic week printmaking for the second year at Camp Creative with Seraphina Martin, a Sydney printmaking teacher. It was such a great week I'm thinking of coming back for the third year next year, with her. Then again, now I have a studio and some space, I've also been thinking of buying my own press and setting up in Canada. And then serendipity struck! I picked up my email and there was a note from an artist in the Okanagan telling me that Shatford Centre had a printmaking press that hadn't been assembled since its purchase last year. Looks like an opportunity to me!

Right now I'm discovering how technologically limited I am--or rather, how much I have to learn--as I'm struggling to upload my latest works to this website. Using a friend's Mac seemed like a good idea since I'm travelling without a computer, but I haven't quite got the knack on a Mac so have resorted to posting this quick update and will fill in some photos of the printmaking process and the resulting work a bit later.

We made 4 types of plates in the course, one of which was new to me. They were all non-toxic which means I'll be comfortable doing them back home, and will only have to source some of the plates (especially the solar etching plates) and supplies. I can see I'll be collecting more collage-like types of materials, including images, dried flat plant materials, interesting textures on paper, cloth and plastic items (also relatively flat) as well as wanting to obtain some old botanical, animal and insect plates for photo-copying onto acetate sheets. These items will feed very nicely into my attraction to collages and possibly to other work I'm contemplating as well!

All very exciting and I'm very happy to be spending some time in my favourite country this time of year. The weather has been much hotter than last year as you may have seen in the news, but I've been far from any of the terrible fires so far. Hopefully that continues as I work my way further north towards Bundaberg next week.

That's all for now, stay tuned for more work to be posted!

(posted on 21 Dec 2012)

In some ways I'm sorry to see the end of this year--it's been the best one ever. Full of travel, new experiences, lots of friends and family and time with my wonderful husband, all over the world--a very hard act to follow! I'm not sure I'll ever in my life have another year like this one has been...and yet...maybe I could start dreaming again and think up more spectacular plans for the future!

Meanwhile, I'm starting to work on next year's "theme", as I like to call my plan for the future. Mulling around something like "Creating inspiring artwork" which will focus me on expanding my art career, and really working at it, more than dabbling. Getting my studio established and drawing customers, improving my website by installing paypal, and networking and establishing myself in this lovely new community we are living in, will be key in developing my action plans. That said, I want to have lots of fun too, and explore BC a little with our travel trailer before 2014 when we're developing a plan to take it across Canada.

Meanwhile I'm getting prepared to head to Australia again for my annual retreat and will be refining my written ideas about 2013, as well as doing a followup printmaking course in Bellingen again. So stay tuned for more ideas to come!

Since my last post I've done more work on my studio and had neighbours and local friends in for a little preview opening. Here's what it looked like nearing the day:

As you can see there was snow on the ground and the wood stove made everything cozy. I got a few Christmas ornaments out, as well as some lights, and with hubby's Christmas baking it looked quite festive inside!

I was pleased to show it off and even happier to sell a few pieces!

Now, the decorations are packed away and we're packing up ourselves to head down to the coast for Christmas and New Year's, before I fly off south until it gets warmer here...

Ending this spectacular year, I feel so lucky and priviliged to live where I do, and have such prosperity around me everywhere I look: friends and family, the beautiful places I live, play and travel to, the society that is law-abiding, civilized, and progressive and educated. Once you have been to some third-world countries you have a much deeper appreciation for how we live. That there are such basic needs still unfulfilled in some countries, in this day and age, is shocking, and I'll have to put that thought into my plan and see what I can do to make a difference. Suggestions are welcome!

With that, I'll sign out for a few weeks by wishing you & yours a very happy holiday season--relax and feel the love for those around you and have a great start to 2013!

(posted on 6 Dec 2012)

Well, now I've finished my Christmas shows all I have to do is get my new studio/gallery ready for a private opening in 10 days. The first part of my hanging system was installed today, my paintings are back from all their travels (well, except for the ones that found new homes at the sales!) and the wood stove is working just fine. I still have to pinch myself every once in a while to believe that I have my own big studio, just a short walk from the front door! I'm really enjoying the time I spend in it, although I've hardly painted there, just done some matting and framing of pieces to get ready for my shows.

I was really happy to sell the larger canvas wrap of "Faerie Woods" (left) and got lots of admiration for the limited edition prints on paper. One of my little hand-done prints sold as well, and my new credit-card reader worked beautifully at the last sale, on my new smart phone (which is truly outsmarting me, I have to say!)

Both sales went well and I had to re-order business cards--the new ones have a little map on the back with my address and went over really well in the Vancouver area craft sale. I'm hoping to see lots of traffic next year, with the studio tours and my own customers from the Vancouver area. What a nice day it would make, touring in the beautiful Okanagan Valley--wineries, orchards and art studios! Put the studio tour dates in your calendar--May 25 & 26, and November 2 and 3, 2013. It would be great to see you in my studio!

As the weather gets colder I can hear Australia calling me, and look forward to my annual migration starting January 1. I'm also starting to get prepared for my print-making workshop in Bellingen--images are running through my mind and I'm dying to see what they look like as prints! This year being my 4th experience with print-making I'm starting to get better ideas of what will work well--stay tuned!

My smart phone and smart lap-top (on Windows 8) are giving me lots of challenges and I think I'm being dragged into the new decade! Hopefully I can adapt and make good use of the advanced technology they afford me. At some point in time I'll be more efficient, I hope!

This little print to the right is the one that got sold at the Coquitlam sale--it was nicely framed. I'm finding that good presentation (ie, framed or at least matted) makes all the difference to selling. My great framer, Lyn Thomas of Lynton Studio in Maple Ridge, is sorely missed here in my new location. I had to stop into her studio while in Vancouver to pick up a huge stockpile of mats for my upcoming work. She is a gem and I'm not sure I'll find someone so reasonably priced here in the Okanagan.

Well, that's about all to report for the day--I hope you're happily getting ready for the holidays and thinking about what you want to create for 2013. We've had such a fantastic year--I don't think there will be one to match 2012 in my lifetime. Big dreams came true, and I'm just enjoying living them. Maybe next year I'll set my sights on something else but right now, I think I have things just like I want them! Aren't I fortunate. The moon and the stars have aligned.

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