The Evening Sun

plein air sketch wc on Canson 140lb cp

Two hours went by so fast!

I could have worked on the details when I got home but then it would no longer be plein air.

So here it is, unfinished, my sketch for today. I didn’t realize it’s Poppy Balser’s sailboat, The Evening Sun, until someone told me after the session.
I thought it was the prettiest boat at the marina.

Sand Cherry 


Sand Cherry 1 – Still too tight until I added water.
Not my best work, but learning to paint plein-air is like learning to paint all over again. Add impressionism on top of that and the fact that I struggle with flowers and time constraints, and you can understand the need to let go of perfection. It is what it is.

I celebrated Victoria Day by participating in a Plein Air session with the Evangeline Artists Cooperative at  Jean Leung’s garden in Grande Pré.

The tiny cherry is in front of the yellow  chair. I was set up to the left of the Apple which in hindsight may have been the better subject to paint

I was determined to keep things loose and after two hours of chatting, butter tarts, rhubarb upside down cake, ice cream, and tea, I managed to knock-off a couple of light (for me) sketches of the delicate shrub.

It meant focussing  on only one or two small branches, ignoring a lot of detail and background, and limiting myself to four colours (French Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, and Alizarin Crimson) which was probably one colour too many.

2nd attempt – the group’s favourite of the two

Things were still too controlled and I wasn’t getting the delicate pink blossoms until Carolyn Mallory suggested I pour water over the painting and then add splashes of paint.  Lifting off in the pink wash worked to a degree to produce blossoms, though neither attempt is what I would call accomplished.

They’re impressionistic but I think they need to be categorized as a technique practice.  Less treats and more concentration next time!  😉

Plein Air at the Wolfville Reservoir

Cape Blomidon from the Wolfville Reservoir

Last Thursday I had the privilege of trying out my skills with the Plein Air Artists Annapolis Valley group. It’s a weekly event hosted by Ed and Anne Wedler where artists set up at different locations around the province for a weekly painting session.

My first unfinished attempt. Lots to learn
It was a rare, hot spring day with temperatures reaching +30 before the day ended. Our site of the day was the Wolfville Reservoir, which, despite having lived in the area for five and a half years now, I have never been to. A few ponds, a nice groomed path leading off into trails and lots of views made it an enjoyable morning.

What was especially valuable was the gentle and constructive feedback at the end of the session when we shared our efforts. As you can see from the pictures there are some very talented artists in the group.

Next week’s plein air is in Digby, which is about two hours from here by car. We’ll see if I can make it!!!

For more about the event check out the group’s Facebook Page ! And, another link to keep updated on the Annapolis Valley plein air paint-out locations is



Oils – Vinegars – Preserves:  The Tangled Garden in Wolfville

Oils-Vinegars-Preserves: The Tangled Garden Near Wolfville 7x11WC on 140 lb Canson cp

Still working on painting transparent things.

I took a picture of the window display of oils, vinegars and preserves in The Tangled Garden near Wolfville last summer.

The light made the collection of bottles, jars, wax seals and their contents glow.

I’ve been thinking about painting this for a year now. Finished it this weekend so checking that one off my list.

It was a good opportunity to play with hard and soft edges, and to allow the pigments to mix on the paper. Each container was like a miniature painting.  There’s room for improvement but I’m content with how it came together.

Hope you like it.

Spring Tide – Minas Basin

 Spring Tide – Minas Basin: 22×30 watercolour 300lb Fabriano cold pressed

I went to Blomidon Provincial Park a few weeks ago when the snow was finally leaving on a gray spring day, and snapped a shot of the Minas Basin from the hill at the beginning of the trail.  I decided it was worth an attempt in Watercolour.

I used about five different pigments. In places it became an exercise in line and wash. The line gives it a stark beauty that matches the bareness of the pre-spring landscape and the layers of sediment along the cliff. I also like the composition of the three cliffs and the lines of water as the tide recedes. It may be worth a second try with a looser style.

I would have missed this view completely if I hadn’t stopped and looked back. Sometimes, when I’m charging ahead, I forget to turn around and look at the beauty behind me–glad I did this time.




Tulips 7×11 wc on 140lb cp

I painted this while my parents visited yesterday and today. 

It was fun to talk about painting with them. Dad first taught me how to paint with oils when I was less than 10 years old. We agreed that water colour is much more difficult. 

Naturally, I want to add more intense colour but after struggling with flowers for ages, I’m pretty happy to leave this alone. It will be framed for Exhibit and Sale at The Landing in our village on Saturday. 

Our, hopefully last, winter blizzard is just getting started. Hope everyone in the northern hemisphere is looking forward to spring’s arrival next week.