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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Painterly Photographs

Sometimes I like to try to create a totally different look from a photograph. I might just be a frustrated painter, coming from a family of painters like I grandmother, father, brother and sister are all painters. But it's something I've never really pursued much until recently.

I do some painting now, mostly for backgrounds for photographs, which I then layer on in Photoshop. I guess you'd call this digital art but here's a question for you: What is digital art exactly? Is it when you create something totally on the computer? Can it encompass digital collages? (By the way, that's something else I like to do.)

I love playing around in Photoshop. I start with a photograph or a collage and layer one or more "textures" on. A texture can be anything from another photograph such as rusted metal or clouds, to something that's been painted either on the computer or traditionally, with paints and brushes.

I played around with the image of a bee flying towards lupins that's pictured above...I ended up doing so many things to it, I don't even remember everything! That's what happens when you're creating something like can lose yourself in the moment, totally absorbed with the effects.

I realize the end result isn't for everybody, but I really like the way this image ended up. To my eye it's colorful and fun and looks more like a painting than a photograph. And that's a look that I personally enjoy.
lupins art

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Spring Time Means Hummingbirds

The other day I discovered a patch of red flowering currant in the village where I live. It's a bush that grows wild in the springtime here. The hummingbirds love it...they have a thing for red tubular flowers, so it fits the bill (so to speak) perfectly for them.

The hummingbirds have been coming to our feeders regularly since mid-March. I had a little photo shoot with one the other day...he was quite brave and let me get close. In fact, I'm pretty sure this is the same bird that landed on the hummingbird feeder as I was about to hang it up after refilling it with nectar. He sat down and drank his fill as I held the feeder out at arm's-length. It was a thrill!

hummingbird and flowers art

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Butterfly On My Finger

I had an interesting time with this butterfly (which is called a Mourning Cloak, by the way). I went for a two-hour hike the other day and returned to my car to find this butterfly fluttering about in the sunshine. It soon landed on the rim of my tire and inched along with its probiscis down, seemingly licking salt from the tire. I watched it for awhile but had to get going so I picked it up, expecting it to fly away. But it stayed on my hand, inching along (which really tickles, by the way), looking as though it was maybe licking salt from my hand. At this point I became kind of enchanted!

Butterflies "drink" nutrients through their probiscis, which acts like a straw, and they're attracted to the sodium in salt and sweat. So I guess I was a little sweaty after my two-hour hike and the butterfly took advantage of that.

Eventually the butterfly flew away again but returned to my tire. And so it began...I picked it up and took its picture and after awhile it flew back to my tire. We did this routine a half-dozen times. I even shot a short video of the butterfly in my hand.

The Mourning Cloak butterfly (called a Camberwell Beauty in England) is often the first butterfly seen in the spring. Not only was this the first butterfly I saw this spring but it was definitely the friendliest too! 

The Mourning Cloak also landed on some "normal" things like plants and rocks. Here's another picture I took of it:

I thoroughly enjoyed my butterfly experience...I got kind of attached to the little beauty and hated to leave!

butterfly art

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spring Sale

To celebrate spring, I'm having a 25% off sale in my online gallery at Fine Art America for the month of April (this year only!) I have nature photographs, vintage collages, and digital art available that can be printed on paper, acrylic, or metal, or as a wrapped canvas. Artwork can be printed in any size you wish and you can easily view your choice online and match it up with the perfect mat and frame. The quality at Fine Art America is top-notch and your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed.

To receive your 25% off discount this April, please use the code GDXRTJ when you are checking out.

And happy spring to you!
sandhill cranes art

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Snow-Capped Mountains

Normally we only have two or three snowfalls during the winter here on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. But most days we can look up and see at least a dusting of snow on the mountains. At the foothills of the mountains are acres and acres of forest, so the whole effect can be quite spectacular. The above photograph is of the Caren range of mountains in the northern area of the Sunshine Coast, viewable in Pender Harbour. The mountains aren't high enough to be covered in snow year-round. You can see power lines running through the forested areas of the mountains...there are many miles of hiking available along these lines, with lots of wildlife viewing opportunities. Roosevelt elk are a common sight, as are black bears and coyotes, but I've also seen wolves and bobcats. I take my camera along on my hikes, but I also pack an air horn just in case I run into trouble.
snow capped mountains art

Friday, March 7, 2014

Mother Nature Rules Supreme

There's a graveyard for rusty old cars and trucks in the forest close to where I live. You have to walk a ways to get to the spot where about 15 vehicles came to their final resting spot, to be taken over by moss and ferns and mushrooms...all that the forest has to offer. I'm not sure what the story was, how they ended up there. But to me there's something fascinating about a sight like this. I guess it's because it shows that Mother Nature rules supreme, and sometimes I enjoy the feeling of surrendering to the force of nature.
rusty cars art

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Flowers in Snow

Like I said in my last post, winter finally hit us here on the west coast of British Columbia. While we've cruised through a mild winter, the rest of North America has suffered bitter cold and endless snowfalls. But I guess we got a little too smug here and bam! the snow started falling and didn't stop for three days. Lots of people had their electricity go out due to trees falling on power lines. Our electricity stayed on for a change.
We live at the bottom of a very steep hill so we couldn't drive for a few days. One day I hiked for half an hour or so to some woods where I'd seen snowdrops growing earlier. They were still thriving despite the snow. I guess they're built to do that! You have to admire a flower that can pull that off.
snowdrops art

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Snow, Snow, and More Snow

I love snow...I used to live back east and really enjoyed the winters there, although it sounds like they're really getting blasted this year. After a very mild winter here on the Sunshine Coast, it started snowing and didn't stop for two days. The whole area turned into a winter wonderland.The power went out several times but luckily it didn't stay off for long.There was no way we could drive up our hill so after walking the dogs, we walked past a couple of cars in the ditch and made our way to town to buy groceries. Then I went down to the water to take some pictures and also made a point of feeding some peanuts to the chickadees that eat from my hand...they find me no matter where I am, and fly in for a treat. 

It was a perfect couple of days for me but now I can hear the snow melting and crashing onto our roof. So I guess it's back to normal until next time when time slows down because of the weather. I'm happy to see that there's more snow in the forecast later this week!
snowy trees art

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

I don't know why, but this old Donovan song has been going through my head. It's such a cheerful little song and beautiful in its simplicity: Happiness Runs.

Whether you have a sweetie or not, I hope today is a good day for you!

squirrels art

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Foggy Forest Hikes

Another Foggy Morning on the Sunshine Coast

As I said in a recent post, I've been going for two- to three-hour hikes every other day, mostly along our fantastic Suncoaster Trail, which stretches for 37 kilometres here on the Sunshine Coast. I actually hike every day but every other day it's my turn to walk the dogs and we don't go as far as my hikes when I'm alone.

We've had it pretty good this winter, with mild temperatures (unlike the rest of Canada) and only one snowfall (also unlike the rest of Canada). One thing we do get a lot of here in the Pacific Northwest is fog. I love a good misty morning walk though...fog always makes things more mysterious and appealing, don't you think?
fog art

Friday, January 31, 2014

Will It Snow?

Our weather has been so mild lately that we actually have fruit flies in the house and can't seem to get rid of them. I've discovered that fruit flies don't just like fruit. They also like vegetables. They like water a lot too, so besides banning fruit and vegetables to outside the house, I've also taken to drying the kitchen sink all the time in an effort to get rid of the pesky little beggars.

There's a small chance it'll snow tomorrow. Bring it on, I say! Maybe that'll send the fruit flies packing, or flying, or whatever. And besides, when it snows I get to play outside and take pretty pictures. We've only had one snowfall this year and I think we deserve at least one more.
snow art

Monday, January 27, 2014

Roosevelt Elk

I saw four elk cows on my morning hike a couple of days ago. It was so good to see them again finally! Two dozen elk were trapped and relocated to another area of British Columbia earlier this month. I talked to the biologist who was involved with baiting and trapping the elk, and he told me they were trying to keep the herd here on the coast to 200 because they become "a problem" otherwise.

I hadn't seen hide nor hair of the elk since the two dozen were relocated. Actually, I haven't seen nearly as many elk overall in the past year as I used to see. They're like old friends that I like to stay in touch with. Anyway, when I spotted them as I came out of the wood, we stood and stared at each other for awhile and I took some pictures (not the one above), and then they calmly walked into the forest. I hope they stay in touch.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Forest Bathing aka Shinrin-yoku

I've always taken my two dogs for long walks through the forests. There are endless logging roads where I live, and it's also possible to walk along the power lines forever. 

But lately I've been going for two to three-hour walks on my own every other day. I read a few articles on Shinrin-yoku, Japanese for a practice called forest bathing, that kind of spurred me on. Studies show that walking or just enjoying time in the forest reduces stress and increases your immunity. Apparently walking in the forest increases the activity of our natural killer (NK) cells, which are components of our immune systems that fight cancer. It is speculated that breathing in air containing antimicrobial wood essential oils that protect trees from rot and insects could be responsible for the positive effect on our health.

No, I don't have cancer but like everybody else, I deal with stress. And all I know is, I feel amazing after a walk in the woods. Sometimes I'm lost in thought and come up with creative ideas, but other times I try to stay in the now and take everything in...the sounds, the smells, the way a tree feels (yes, I've been known to hug a few trees!) I've even made my peace with the almost constant rain we get here in the Pacific Northwest. Rain used to kind of depress me and I'd avoid walking in it when I could. Now I've embraced it because let's face it, it's almost always raining in the winter here! Now I find a walk in the rain refreshes me.

I recommend you give it a try and maybe even make forest bathing a regular practice. Here's an article about Shinrin-yoku and some of the studies that have been done.
breathing in air containing phytoncide (wood essential oils) like α-pinene and limonene, which are antimicrobial volatile organic compounds emitted from trees to protect them from rotting and insects. - See more at:
NK activity partly to breathing in air containing phytoncide (wood essential oils) like α-pinene and limonene, which are antimicrobial volatile organic compounds emitted from trees to protect them from rotting and insects. - See more at:
Dr Li attributes the increase in NK activity partly to breathing in air containing phytoncide (wood essential oils) like α-pinene and limonene, which are antimicrobial volatile organic compounds emitted from trees to protect them from rotting and insects. - See more at:
Dr Li attributes the increase in NK activity partly to breathing in air containing phytoncide (wood essential oils) like α-pinene and limonene, which are antimicrobial volatile organic compounds emitted from trees to protect them from rotting and insects. - See more at:

forest bathing art

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year from Me and Frosty

Happy New Year! I hope 2014 is everything you want it to be and more. 

I want to have more fun in the new year. I felt just like a kid when I was building the snowman you see pictured above, and I'd like to have more of that feeling in 2014 and in the years beyond. Getting old kinda sucks a lot of times but I really do believe that we don't have to feel old as we age. Attitude is everything.

So let me tell you about my adventure while building this snowman. I'd grabbed one of my scarves and borrowed one of my husband's hats (he's something of a collector) and headed down to a spot that overlooks the ocean and is surrounded by lovely big evergreen trees that were looking pretty spectacular with the new snow. This was just before Christmas.

The snow was perfect for building a snowman and I made him pretty quickly. To tell you the truth, I was maybe more concerned with getting a fun photo of a snowman than I was about making Frosty structurally sound. So I didn't build up his backside very well, thinking it didn't matter because you wouldn't be able to see that in the final photograph.

First I wrapped my scarf around the snowman, then I added my husband's funky hat, a colorful knitted one given to him by a female friend of ours. Next I tried to jam his carrot nose in, but for some reason it wasn't going in easily. I tried a couple of times, and then I really jammed it in, and that's when disaster struck: Frosty's head and torso tumbled off his bottom half and plummeted down the rocky cliff. I couldn't help but laugh at the same time I yelled, "Oh no!" I managed to catch my scarf before it slid down the cliff but my husband's hat was a goner. Some inaccessible bush or boulder is now wearing a very cool hat. Merry Christmas!

So this picture of Frosty is actually a picture of Frosty 2, with another hat (also borrowed from my husband, hee hee). But this time I was more careful and built my snowman carefully.

Anyway, it helps not to take these things too seriously (oh yeah, easy for me to say that, it wasn't my hat!) but in the end, things like your hat going off the side of a cliff are really small potatoes. I want to be in the moment, like a child playing, and not worry about the future and the not-fun things that can happen. If I have a new year's resolution, that's in the moment. Savor it. Today is the day!
snowman art