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!!

15-Minute Watercolor Masterpieces – review

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If there was ever a great time to learn about art, this is it. Not only is the internet full of videos and online class possibilities, but books are easier than ever to purchase and use. For art instruction I love Kindle books. On my iPad they have a built-in stand (I don’t have to fight with stubborn pages to keep the book open while I’m using it) and the illustrations can be enlarged with a couple of finger swipes. One book I downloaded some months ago is Anna Koliadych’s 15-Minute Watercolor Masterpieces. It is full of simple and fun watercolor projects.

The book begins with a section on watercolor techniques and exercises, and then is divided into chapters that name various categories: “Beautiful Landscapes,” “Dreamy Galaxies,” “Elegant Plants and Foliage,” “Flowers,” “Fruits and Sweets,” “Adorable Animals,” and “Fashion.” There are six to nine projects (paintings) in each chapter so lots of possibilities.

The paintings are explained step-by-step and include a list of materials, swatches of the painting’s colors, how to mix them, and illustrations of the project as it progresses.

The book ends with a list of supplies and a few hacks from the author in chapters titled “Supplies” and “Tips and Advice.”

This is a colorful, fun book. The instructions and illustrations are easy to follow. Though I wouldn’t call my projects “masterpieces” or art I would want to frame, they introduced me to a variety of techniques and subjects. They usually took me longer than 15 minutes because drying time was needed. But they were quick and a wonderful way to squeeze in a bit of art every day, even when I didn’t have much time for it.

Here are some of the projects I completed from Anna’s book.

“Mysterious Forest” and “Autumn in a Circle”  are projects from the “Beautiful Landscapes” chapter. “Leafy Branches with Berries” is from the “Elegant Plants and Foliage” chapter. “Wreath of Flowers” is from the “Flowers” chapter.

Author Anna Koliadych also teaches watercolor online offering courses on her website. She is @dearannart on Instagram and her feed is full of short instructional videos.

Sketch a Bird in your Journal

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During this time of social isolation due to Covid-19, various art challenges are popping up around the internet. One I have signed onto is Matt Tommey’s #quarantinedcreatives challenge. Starting on April 14th, those who signed up got an email with a daily prompt and challenge.

Yesterday’s challenge was interesting and stretching: “Make a process video.” That would be a video showing one’s art process (often shot as time lapse and then sped up).

I’m allergic to cameras and don’t have a camera mount to make such a video in any case.  Instead of a video, I took still photos of the steps of my project, then combined them with instructions. Below is my project: “Sketch a Bird in your Journal.” I hope it makes sense!

February Roundup

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Even with its extra day, February is nearly history. It’s hard to believe we’re almost into the third month of 2020! My resolve to be better at updating the blog hasn’t resulted in much so far, but I’ve decided to, at least, write a monthly update post. Here is February’s…a list of things I did or tried to do

Art

I continued with my daily art practice through February. This month I had two sets of prompts to inspire the subjects of my paintings (Opus Daily Practice and Doodlewash). I also worked on proper water colour paper (instead of my sketch journal). That was a good learning experience. I found through that, that I really like working on hot press paper (as opposed to cold press). Here are some of my favourite February paintings.

In January a children’s pastor at my church (Laurel Archer) asked me to do the illustrations for a booklet to be used during missions month. Laurel wrote the text, I did the paintings (except for the boy and girl; they are hand puppets already in use), then our church’s media department assembled and printed the book. This was a gratifying project!

Writing

Though I haven’t spent as much time doing writing lately, it still occupies some of my time and offers rewards for past work.

Pockets (a children’s magazine put out by the Upper Room Group) reprinted an article I wrote for them some years ago on Jean Vanier. It found its way into the final issue (January / February 2020) of that lovely little magazine. I was sad to hear that it will no longer be published.

I gave a short presentation on writing book reviews at the last meeting of our writing group (South Surrey Writers Group) Thursday, February 27th.

I am continuing to edit my WIP manuscript (working title: Under the Cloud, a sequel to the biblical fiction, Destiny’s Hands that I published in 2012). I am getting dangerously close to being ready to send that baby off to a real editor. Under the Cloud should see the light of publication sometime this year. I’m not making any predictions as to when.

Personal

I’m finding that as I age, keeping the weight off is a never-ending challenge. Even though my husband and I walk for about an hour a day, and eat a pretty healthy diet, the numbers on the scale were creeping up.

There must be an app for that…

There is! I downloaded MyNetDiary and have been keeping track of daily intake, weight, and exercise much more consistently and the weight is slowly coming off.

Well, that was my February…a busy, healthy month. Here’s hoping and praying March is the same. Facing the threat of the Covid 19 virus, I have taken to praying and claiming as a promise of protection Psalm 91:9,10

“Because you have made the LORD,
who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling.”

I pray for protection for our land, and the survival of all who fall ill with this virus.

Stillness #BibleJournaling

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There is something about walking in moonlight that makes me feel reflective. Experiencing the mountains on a moonlit night is also a good place to feel the mystery of light and be awed by the beauty and bigness of creation.

Stillness, awe, and majesty were feelings I was trying to portray in this water color painting to go with Psalm 46:8 and 10: “Come, behold the works of the LORD, … Be still and know that I am God.”

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Bible Journal entry for Psalm 46:8,10 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

(I prepped this page with clear gesso before doing the water color painting and used a white GellyRoll pen to do the lettering and highlights.)