Painting on Brier Island

Six years ago I spent a week painting on Brier Island. It looks like I’m going to have that chance again in August and I am so excited about it. Here is the post from that original trip:
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Paint the Town – Aug 20 & 21, 2016

I’m looking forward to my 7th year of participation at Paint the Town in Annapolis Royal on August 20 & 21, 2016. This annual weekend event brings 80 artists from all over Nova Scotia to join in an outdoor painting race that will raise thousands for the arts council and artists.

I say ‘race’ because artists have about 6 hours each day to paint as many auction-worthy pieces as possible. The pressure is on and it’s a great exercise, if exhausting. It’s a time for painters to see what each other is doing.  And it’s also quite a bargain for the collectors, with many paintings selling for less than $100.

I am posting some of my favorite paintings that I’ve painting at the event over the years.

I spend most of my time at the Historic Gardens. The flowers are gorgeous, there is shade and the park-like setting helps me to focus and remain calm. 😉

Throughout the day, ‘runners’ rush the work to the gallery at The Academy at 590 George Street. Silent bids last all day with the auction ending each day at 5pm. Buyers have the option of purchasing paintings at full price before the auction ends.

This is a fabulous opportunity to start or add to a collection of original art by artists at all levels of their careers.  It’s also fun to watch people creating on the spot. Check out the list of artists here and the links to their websites.

paint the town07

Here is my packing list for Paint the Town

    • small canvases
    • acrylic paints
    • acrylic markers
    • acrylic inks
    • gel medium
    • Charcoal
    • Inktense crayons
    • water bucket
    • rags
    • French easel
    • stool
    • sketch book
    • marker
    • spray bottle
    • latex gloves
    • colour shaper
    • lunch
    • water
    • sunblock
    • insect repellent
    • hat
    • business cards
    • camera

paint the town poster

Painting the Diamond in the Bay of Fundy

I’m excited to be heading back to this painter’s paradise tomorrow. It is an artist retreat on an island in Canada’s Bay of Fundy. You know. The place with the highest tides in the world.
The following post is from 2012 on my first trip to the island with a group of artists.

When we arrived at Long Island in the Bay of Fundy for our Artist Retreat,  it was an overcast and showery afternoon. The mist and fog shrouded this huge rock of an island that we could see from our cabin. It looked ancient and mysterious as it disappeared and reappeared in the mist and I was anxious to see it at sea level when the low tide allowed it.

Diamond Island, Five Islands, NS.

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More Brier Island

Last night lightening, thunder and rain knocked out the phone and internet connections here at the hostel. It was foggy, chilly and wet at 9 am this morning. Brier Island day 31But an hour later after the short ride down the dusty, bumpy, puddle-filled road to Pond Cove, the bad weather had blown away and the day was sunny and gorgeous.Brier Island day 33This is where I set up my painting table. I worked with acrylics fighting against the drying, strong winds.DSCN6952 Brier Island day 34

Brier Island day 39
I’ve got the main ingredients down and will finish this in the studio at home…without the wind, but with the memories. 😉

I have a blog post about painting on Brier Island coming up on my Art website. If you subscribe here, I’ll be able to share that experience with you.

My painting buddy Helen and I walked down to the shore at the end of our 7 hour painting session. Those 2 dots at the top of the hill are our cars. The whole day we saw just 3 other people in the distance on ATVs.

Brier Island day 35These have a leaf like a wild rose. I wonder what they are?Brier Island day 36Miniature wild iris are blooming all over the island.Brier Island day 37The beauty on Brier Island is so varied. All day long we listened to the laps of water on the rocks and the sound of birds and wind.Brier Island day 38

A New Gallery for Bear River, Nova Scotia

I’m over-the-moon excited to be a founding member of a new art venture in Bear River. We will call ourselves Bear River Artworks Gallery.

A group of 8 enthusiastic artists have come together to open a gallery/mini arts space in Bear River.

Found Object Cabinet ©Craig Dorsey
Found Object Cabinet
©Craig Dorsey

We’ve rented a bright, interesting space for a year. We plunked our money down and celebrated last week with slices of lemon meringue pie. The very next day crowbars and plaster of paris came out and now our beautiful space is being polished and made ready.

The Canadian ©Ken Flett
The Canadian
©Ken Flett

A website is on its way; so are gorgeous signs and, of course, works of art from the heart.

We are working towards a mid April opening.

The Celebration ©Flora Doehler, 2015
Kinetic Energy
©Flora Doehler, 2015

Little did Larry and I or any of the other members know a few months ago, that we would embark on such a venture together. But the timing is right, the enthusiasm is real and there is no time like the present for trying out something new. And there’s only one place we could possibly do this and that’s Bear River, Nova Scotia.

Stay tuned…details to come.

Arab Spring ©Joan Stanley
Arab Spring
©Joan Stanley

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

The Acadian Thatched 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 home lives of 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 archaeologically 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

Drawing and Painting Zinnias in the Victorian Garden in Annapolis

I love the Victorian Garden in the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens with the sunny, happy flowers such as the zinnias. This garden  Shangri-La  doesn’t know that the rest of us have experienced killing frost in our beds.

red zinnia

I can’t resist setting up my paints near the salvias and zinnias during Paint the Town in August. At first glance, zinnias look so uncomplicated, but the photos I took yesterday show a tiny garden of lily-looking florets sprouting out of the middle of the flower.


Each bloom is a universe of colour.

I was travelling light today and brought just a sketchbook and a fat marker. I had no chair or support for my sketchbook and stood while drawing. It was a bit awkward, but gave me a good vantage point for eye-level flowers.

Zinnia drawing © Flora Doehler, 2014
Zinnia drawing © Flora Doehler, 2014

Later, at home, I added watercolour to my drawings.

Painting or drawing a flower helps me to get to know its uniqueness better. I learn more about the shape, the veins in the leaves, the petal details, the way the flower leans.

Zinnia © Flora Doehler, 2014
Zinnia © Flora Doehler, 2014

I enjoy capturing the movement and the joy of these outrageously colourful and happy flowers. I painted these Zinnias a month ago during Paint the Town. All were auctioned and are blooming on walls somewhere.

gardens zinnia1
Zinnia paintings © Flora Doehler, 2014


The Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens Inspire me

If Zinnias were Blue © Flora Doehler, 2014

About 30 years ago some clever garden and community development innovators in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia had the brilliant idea to recreate the historical periods of the town with a 17 acre garden.

Historic Gardens, Annapolis Royal

This August, like the past 5 summers, I have painted in the Historic Gardens during Paint the Town. This fall I finally bought a membership…only cost me $35 a year…and I’ve been visiting my favorite flowers when I go to Annapolis. It’s a 25 minute scenic drive from my home in Bear River.


The gardens in Annapolis are exquisite…from wild and generous, to deliberate and precise. I love the Victorian Garden with its sunny, happy flowers and it’s outrageously oversized exotic-looking plants that look like they belong in an antique glassed-in greenhouse in England.


Incredibly, all the flowers are annuals and this is what the gardens look like before spring planting.

Historic Gardens, Annapolis Royal

What a difference 5 months makes!

IMG_0925In the days ahead, I’ll show you some drawings and paintings I’ve created lately at the Gardens.

I’m painting a series of florals for an upcoming show with fellow painter Susan Geddes…also in Annapolis Royal, so painting and drawing at the gardens is very inspiring right now and is my homework!

invitationsmallThis little painting of mine was auctioned at Paint the Town this summer.

If Zinnias were Blue © Flora Doehler, 2014
If Zinnias were Blue © Flora Doehler, 2014