Chasing Away the Winter Blues

"Winter Blues" at ArtsPlace

“Winter Blues” at ArtsPlace

Today Larry and I attended 3 art openings in Annapolis Royal at ArtsPlace. The sun was shining and it was a great day for soaking in the work of other painters and talking to them about their paintings and their processes.

The theme in the main gallery is ‘Winter Blues’ All the paintings had to be blue and abstract.

I was stopped dead in my tracks by this painting from my friend Helen Opie who has taken me on many painting adventures. Helen usually paints from life so this work was a huge departure for her.

"Up from the Deep" ©Helen Opie, 2015

“Up from the Deep” ©Helen Opie, 2015  “24” x 36″

The painting moves and dances and is like a painted fabric, but also like water. It reminded me of some patterns I’ve photographed in our Bear River tidal river as it moves toward the Bay of Fundy.

Bear River patterns.

Abstract work demands that the viewer overlay her own interpretation. It’s like taking a Rorschach test. What do you see in Helen’s painting?


Charlott Zimmermann  had an opening of landscape paintings. I loved them all, but this one in particular.

Lake at Kejimkujik ©Charlott Zimmermann

Lake at Kejimkujik
©Charlott Zimmermann

Charlott paints local landscape and is influenced by Canada’s Group of Seven as well as German Expressionism. She is my kind of painter. ;)


The third show one at ArtsPlace is a retrospective of 50 years of paintings by Gene Samson. His landscapes often involve the ocean’s edge and he is a master of water crashing onto rocks.

©Gene Samson

©Gene Samson

Gene lived for many years in Bear River and was a big promoter of the village and of the artists.

I have a few more “Winter Blues” paintings to share with you.

One of my current favorite NS abstract artists, Donna Boyko, was at the opening and we talked about her large painting that has so much movement in it. The strokes dance.

Detail from  "Dark Diviners" ©Donna Boyko, 2015

Detail from “Dark Diviners”
©Donna Boyko, 2015

"Ode to Wayne Boucher" ©Maxine Marshall, 2015 "Dark Diviners" ©Donna Boyko, 2015 "Blues 11" ©Jeannie Allen, 2015

“Ode to Wayne Boucher” ©Maxine Marshall, 2015
“Dark Diviners” ©Donna Boyko, 2015
“Blues 11″ ©Jeannie Allen, 2015

Blue ©Ted Lind

©Ted Lind

"Weather Bomb" ©Sophie Paskins, 2015

“Weather Bomb”
©Sophie Paskins, 2015

"Thalo Blue" ©Maxine Marshall, 2015

“Thalo Blue”
©Maxine Marshall, 2015

Going to an opening is a chance to meet the artist and to hear the story behind the painting. What a beautiful way to spend an afternoon, especially after the weeks of snow storms that we’ve gone through.

Wherever you are, drop into a gallery or a museum. It is guaranteed to lift your spirits when you see the energy, love and passion that people paint into their work.

And if you are in Annapolis Royal, these paintings are on display until the end of the month..which means they will carry us to spring!

"Study in Blue" ©Micheline Gushue, 2015

“Study in Blue”
©Micheline Gushue, 2015

"Urban Series 5" ©Vicky Turner, 2015

“Urban Series 5″
©Vicky Turner, 2015

Sandwiched between a Snowstorm and a Nor’easter in Bear River

I have to laugh.

The studio awaits.

The studio awaits.

7 years ago our workmates in Toronto warned us about moving to Nova Scotia. We heard tales about terrific snowstorms and subzero temperatures. “You really should visit there in winter first to see if you can handle it”.

Pathway from car to house.

Pathway from car to house.

But like many people before us and after us who were considering the move, we were not dissuaded and obsessively checked daily Bear River weather reports. I looked at the webcam in nearby Annapolis Royal every single day. We looked up snow, temperature and rainfall stats from Environment Canada. It was an important part of shifting our point-of-view and imagining living here.

Drying spots for the oil paintings.

Drying spots for the oil paintings.

And the looking told us that the Bear River winter weather was milder than most of the rest of the country, except, of course, for Canada’s la-la land Vancouver and Victoria.

But this winter has been snowmageddon with most people saying they haven’t seen storms and snow depths like this in years..or ever.

The drifts have been awesome.

The drifts have been awesome.

If Mother Nature gives you lemons…..make lemonade. And making the most of this weather means getting out the snowshoes and tramping out pathways to the compost and to the bird feeders. It means filling the bathtub with water for when the power goes out and we can’t pull water from the well, It means having candles and flashlights at the ready. It means having friends like Gerry Chute who can come by in his nice shiny orange plow and clear the snow.

This weekend we are expecting a Nor’easter along with another 25cm dump. The snow-shovels are ready. We’ll all have well-developed biceps by the end of it all. (I was going to say ‘March’, but I don’t want to press my luck).

Shovels for all occasions.

Shovels for all occasions.

Meanwhile, there’s nowhere to go except the studio to paint.

©Flora Doehler, 2015 oil painting

©Flora Doehler, 2015
oil painting

And there’s nothing to do except to take part in the Annual Winter Carnival in Bear River where you can cross-country ski across 7 lakes for free. Myself, I think I’ll snowshoe over to the free yoga class.

path in the snow

Snowshoe path to the compost (or more correctly to the crow feeder).

But for tonight, before the next storm, we are going to join kindred spirits and hear our favorite local singer, David Chamberland.


See you on the other side of snow.

I opened the door to this 3 times last week. I guess it will be happening again this weekend!

I opened the door to this 3 times last week. I guess it will be happening again this weekend!

Living in Winter’s Postcard

Larry and I walked through the beauty outside our door today. “Larry, I have to take your picture RIGHT NOW. Do you realize that we are walking through a postcard? ”

Larry's postcard

Larry in his postcard

Seven winters living in rural Nova Scotia and the new snow is still a surprising miracle.

The Studio

The Studio

winter6 winter4

I want to paint this!

I want to paint this!

The Bear River Baptist Church

The Bear River Baptist Church

The weak winter sun

The weak winter sun

December Reflections – photo blogging

This month, I’m going to post a daily photo using ‘prompts’ from Susannah Conway.  Join me if you feel like it.

december reflections photo prompts Susannah is a writer and photographer who has some great ideas about journaling, blogging and planning. Last year I used her (free) workbook to help organize my thoughts about my own art path and last night I looked at it again and know that it has helped me this year. In January I blogged about her workbook and other year end intention strategies.

Autumn in my Garden

Every season here is visually stunning. This morning I took these photos walking around through our garden in Bear River, Nova Scotia. Everywhere I turned I saw a gorgeous palette of rusts and greens and yellows and magentas. It is almost too much to take in.The beauty here is unending.

“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”
― Lauren DeStefano, Wither

The Acadian House in Annapolis Royal

Not only do the Historic Gardens in Annapolis Royal recreate gardens from the past, they also give us a glimpse into the homelife of the Acadians who lived here before the British arrived.

Acadian HouseThe first occupiers in this part of the world were the French in the 1600’s. Their settlers were innovative farmers who reclaimed salt marshland and transformed it into fertile growing lands. Their relationships with First Nation groups was more harmonious than the British would be. Eventually the British – French wars meant that Acadians were thrown off their lands by the British and shipped to various outposts including Louisiana where ‘Acadian’ became ‘Cajun’.

Many families were hidden by the Mi’kmaq and refused to leave their Nova Scotian homeland. Today there are still small communities of Acadians in Nova Scotia who work hard to keep their language and culture alive.

Here in the gardens, the tiny thatched house with hand-made glass windows is a visual reminder of some of that history.

Acadian House2

La Maison acadienne features the only archeologically authenticated replica of a pre-deportation Acadian dwelling in the Maritime region. The potager is based on original diary notes from the Acadian era, while the orchard and willow hedge are heritage cultivars from the 17th Century. La Maison acadienne is based on a 1671 time period when Port-Royal (later Annapolis Royal) was the centre of Acadie.- from the website of the Historic Gardens.

Last week in the gardens I sat in front of the thatch-roofed cabin and sketched it, later adding watercolour paint at home.

Acadian House © Flora Doehler, 2014

Acadian House © Flora Doehler, 2014

Acadian House © Flora Doehler, 2014

Acadian House © Flora Doehler, 2014