Tree Shapes & Shadows


The new year is definitely in full swing around here. The kids are back in a school, which means I am too, since we are a homeschooling family. Today I tried to do a bit of freezer meal cooking in anticipation of the beginning of my kids' classes which start next week. I will be teaching two drawing and painting courses for girls ages 8-12 and watercolour for adults once a week as well. I'm so enjoying having a dedicated space for these classes in my garage studio. It's cozy and mostly quiet (except when my hot rod husband starts working in his half downstairs!). Sometimes I feel a little panicked at the press of responsibilities. One male artist is infamously quoted as claiming women artists aren't any good since the ties of family prevent them from truly growing in their art, and there are days I feel so torn. I don't think I will ever get as much time in the studio as I would like, not as long as the children are home, and so I cling instead to the truth that the souls I am nurturing in my home are more important than a piece of paper with some paint on it. And I do get to paint, and I treasure the richness of a life that allows me to do both raise my children and pursue my art, even though that means I take fractions with my coffee instead of sketching painting ideas (oh, the joys of fifth grade mathematics!).

This week I shipped a painting to the Federation Gallery in Vancouver, BC. My "Peace River Corner" painting was chosen to show in the Federation of Canadian Artists' "Works on Paper" show, opening January 20-February 1st. Vancouver is a long way from here, but I am looking forward to seeing the selections online and will post the link when it is active.

I'm also packing up a number of paintings to hang in Spirit River, Alberta. This little town is just an hour away and my art will brighten the halls at the local hospital for several months. My grandma is nearly 95 and lives in Spirit River so I'm looking forward to visiting her as well. Plans in our area are always contingent on weather; earlier this week we were shivering under bitingly cold -35C weather (-31F) and today it was warmer, but snowing and with freezing rain warnings. I always travel with a shovel and tow rope in the back of the van, though it's been quite a few years since I've needed to use them. I would much rather cancel my plans and stay home when the roads are icy.

Sometimes I do crazy stuff like start a completely instinctive painting on a full sheet of watercolour paper. This rarely results in a finished painting, but I think painting instinctively like this can really awaken creative energies and spawn ideas that turn into great paintings down the road. It also gives me a chance to try new colours with no holds barred. So the painting below started from such a place. My goal had been to create interesting blue shapes beneath the horizon, but in the process I became more interested in what was happening above the ground, in the trees. I cropped out most of the lower half of the paper, and the result is this lively forest silhouette that I can't stop looking at, with deep blue depths and layers in the snow. So much more to enjoy in these inspired "go with the flow" compositions than a staid, over-planned realistic landscape. I love realism, but it's just not me as much as something like this is.

tree silhouettes study | Angela Fehr

"Tree Shapes and Shadows"