Ode to peonies

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t’s peony season here on the west coast of Canada! These gorgeous, fragrant flowers decorated the reception tables at our June wedding in Saskatchewan back in 1981, so my love affair with them is lasting. They are also an irresistible magnet for my camera and paintbrush.

I was excited to see a peony in bloom in the back garden of our current property when we first saw it back in June of 2007. That magenta peony bloomed beautifully for a few years and then mysteriously stopped blooming, eventually shriveling away to nothing. I blame the encroaching roots of trees that line the walkway behind us and the gloomy shade their branches cast over the garden.

Since then I’ve had to get my fix of peony beauty elsewhere. One local garden where the peonies bloom in profusion is Sendall Gardens in Langley. We visited on Sunday and I was not disappointed. We went shortly after a rain shower and the blooms were heavy with raindrops making them all the lovelier.

One of my favorite peony poems is by Jane Kenyon.

Peonies at Dusk

White peonies blooming along the porch
send out light
while the rest of the yard grows dim.

Outrageous flowers as big as human
heads! They’re staggered
by their own luxuriance: I had
to prop them up with stakes and twine.

The moist air intensifies their scent,
and the moon moves around the barn
to find out what it’s coming from.

In the darkening June evening
I draw a blossom near, and bending close
search it as a woman searches
a loved one’s face.

  • Jane Kenyon

From Constance: Poems © Graywolf Press, 1993.

Peonies are quite a challenge to draw and paint. They have a multitude of petals with curved and pointy shapes that make for a complex drawing. I’ve tried a few over the years with varying success.

My first try …

My first try at painting peonies in June of 2017—a bush of them.

From instructions in a book…

This one was drawn and painted with instructions from Jenna Rainey’s book Everyday Watercolor Flowers.

Lately I’ve attempted a few on my own. Here are several from my sketchbook.

The peony painting I’m happiest with is a 7×7 inch watercolor, “Blushing Peony,” currently available for purchase in my Etsy and Pacific Arts Market shops.

I’m now working on a set of three watercolor cards featuring peonies. Two finished, one to go.

Many local artists do a fabulous job of painting peonies. Check out these:

Bev Robertson (Vancouver Island)

Kathleen Niebuhr (Delta B.C.)

If peonies bloom in June where you live, go outside and enjoy them while they last!

Selling online through a sweet local art market

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Finding places to sell art is a challenge. That’s why, a few months ago, Pacific Arts Market caught my attention when I saw that a few of the local artists I follow on Instagram had shopfronts there.

Pacific Arts Market is a physical marketplace in Vancouver. It operates out of the second floor of a building at 1448 West Broadway (near Granville). I have never visited it in person but it looks like a happening place!

As well, the market has an online store!

After giving it a lot of thought and prayer, I applied a few days ago and was accepted into the online store! My storefront is now live. The image below is what it looks like. You can find it HERE.

You can also get to it from the Online Store Home Page. Click on the “Painting” box, then scroll down, waaay down, to the bottom. I’m the last shop on the page. Click on my name and you’re in. More art will be added in the coming days.

At Pacific Arts Market, in-store and online, you can purchase a huge variety of arts and crafts including wood, pottery, photography, wearable art, jewellery as well as drawings, mixed media, prints, and paintings. These come at a variety of price points from $ to $$$$. Check out some of the many crafts and vendors from the Online Store Home Page.

HAPPY ART SHOPPING!!

Top Ten Sale

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The Top Ten Sale at my art shop continues—15% off 10 most-searched paintings and note cards. Most items are originals, only one available, like this “Fortress Mountain” painting, inspired by a drive along the beautiful Icefields Parkway in Alberta.

“Fortress Mountain” – original watercolor, on 140 lb. cold press Winsor & Newton watercolor paper, 9 x 12 inches.

Sale continues through tomorrow (Feb. 28, 2021).

Check it out: Violet Nesdoly Art

Only a month from Valentine’s Day!

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Can you believe we’re already almost halfway through January?

Have you done any dreaming or planning for the year ahead?

I finally got to setting down some intentions and goals last weekend. I know many pooh-pooh this new year tradition. Not I! Even the roughest road map helps me feel more purposeful and confident that I’m heading in a direction to which I’ve given at least a little thought.

One of my intentions this year is to be more regular with blogging. I’m going to try for one post a week, alternating posts about art and writing. We’ll start this week with art.

A month from today is Valentine’s Day! Since I’ve opened my shop, I’m very conscious about upcoming celebrations—all the more because orders need to be placed in good time to allow for shipping (and I’m not Amazon!). And so I’ve spent my art hours this week making valentines (with accompanying memories of elementary school).

A Valentine trend this year, according to Etsy, is for vintage designs. I had fun trying to figure out and duplicate that look. Here are some of the cards you’ll find at Violet Nesdoly Art. (Several of them can be personalized.) What do you think, did I capture the vintage vibe in some of them?

How have you spent these first weeks of January 2021?