Resonance: musician inspired paintings by Flora Doehler and Wayne Boucher

I’m very excited to be 1/2 of a two-person show in Bear River at the new Sissiboo Coffee Bar and Gallery. The show opens this weekend on Sunday, May 22 at 2pm and displays until the end of June. My good friends Jon and Erin asked me if I would like to be the first artist to show in their beautiful space. I am touched to be asked and very happy to celebrate with them. I asked artist Wayne Boucher to join me and he agreed! His large paintings are gorgeous and luminous. I think our work will look great together. Yeah! Continue reading

Nurture and Nature Paintings – one more week only!

It is a wonderful feeling to see the fruits of my labour on display in a gorgeous gallery. Sharing the experience with a fellow painter is better still!
Susan Geddes and I hung our paintings and hoped that people would come out to see them. The place was hopping during our opening and it was wonderful for both of us to share our visual view of the world with old and new friends. Thank you for being part of it – in person at the gallery or right now, virtually.

You can still see the paintings daily in Annapolis Royal (closed Mondays)until November 23rd at ArtsPlace at 396 St. George Street. I’ll be there on Saturday Nov 15th from 1-3 pm.

The Colour of Longing ©Flora Doehler, 2014
The Colour of Longing ©Flora Doehler, 2014 Oil, 24″ x 24″

Tulips are a favorite flower (are they ALL my favorites??)  This oil painting went through quite a few versions until I arrived at this final one. You can see my progress here.

As attached as I am to that tulip painting, in this moment “Earthly Delights” (below) is my favorite of the show. I think it has an under-water quality and has a depth to it that I don’t usually use.

I started it in the spring using poured acrylic inks in the background. When the lilies bloomed in summer, I added them  and in the fall the last ‘poser’ was a brilliant orange Chinese lantern. So really, I painted all the flowers in the bouquet  as they bloomed. It represents, to me, the entire flowering cycle, hence the title.

Earthly Delights ©Flora Doehler, 2014
Earthly Delights ©Flora Doehler, 2014 Acrylic, 48″ x 36″

My next favorite paintings are these three and I described in this post about where my inspiration came from to abstract my Bee Balm garden flowers on the canvas.

I can’t help myself. I keep planting lilies and I keep painting them too. I was a little inventive with the colours “In a Field of Lilies”. I WISH there was a blue lily. This painting inspired me to plant a new, deep maroon lily this fall. I think they are one of the happiest flowers in the garden. With their heads in the air they are true optimists.

In a Field of Lilies ©Flora Doehler, 2014 Acrylic, 30″ x 30″

These are 8″ x 10″ paintings I started at the Historic Gardens in Annapolis and finished in my studio. I got to make full use of the sgraffito style that I like to play with.

I also painted lilies and other flowers using acrylic inks and paint on paper and then adhered it all to boards. These are 12″ x 12″ and are another reminder of summer. I enjoyed combining drawing and painting here.

My artist – friend Susan Geddes flew in from Victoria BC to share this show with me. I love her use of colour and texture. Her paintings have a dreamy, ethereal quality to them as well.

Stop in this week and see her work — and mine. Details about the show are at the bottom of this post.

painting by Susan Geddes
Jump for Joy! ©Susan Geddes
painting by Susan Geddes
Bubbling Up ©Susan Geddes
Acrylic, 16″ x 20″
Paintings ©Susan Geddes
Paintings ©Susan Geddes
Painting ©Susan Geddes
Painting ©Susan Geddes
©Susan Geddes  &  ©Flora Doehler, 2014
Painting ©Susan Geddes Painting  &  ©Flora Doehler, 2014


Is There Only One Painting on the Canvas?

Some paintings flow off the palette and out of the brushes and are finished in one or two intensive sittings. But others………well let’s just say that some paintings are a struggle.
They drag on, they shift, they change colours, they change themes and they resist.

I have been working on this oil painting of red tulips off and on for 6 weeks and it’s still not finished. I’ve learned a lot about oils on the way and I’ve gone through at least 6 bouquets of red tulips in the process.

It has been enjoyable to try a different colors, new brushstrokes and to morph from oil sticks to tubes and back again.

They say we learn the most from our challenges and this painting is an example of that.
I’m not finished.  I wanted to show you that some paintings have many other similar paintings underneath!

However, there can only be one finished painting, and I’d like it to reveal itself please.

Now I’m thinking of obliterating the china and even going back to a round table.

It’s not easy.

Homage to Montreal

Last week we spent some time in beautiful Montreal visiting our daughter. It was my first trip there in over 40 years (gulp) and we visited the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. I was so inspired by the oil paintings I saw from artists in Montreal who were contemporaries of English Canada’s Group of Seven, that I came home and pulled out my oil paints and got to work.

Flora Doehler
Homage to Montreal.
Oil Painting by Flora Doehler,  24″ x 24″, 2013

I chose a yellow and green acrylic ground for the painting because of the fresh ‘alive’ feel I wanted for the bouquet.

The background is acrylic.
The background is acrylic.

There are no flowers left blooming in my garden. The cold has taken care of that. The pickings are slim (pardon the pun) for buying flowers in rural Nova Scotia, but I was delighted to put together this bouquet from the  grocery store selection in Digby. If varieties of fresh flowers are important to you in winter, don’t even think about moving here.

Homage to Montreal6

By the time I finished blocking in the shapes, it was dark outside, so I called it a day. That night as I fell asleep I kept thinking about what should belong in the large yellow space. I loved the colour and I hated to cover it, but the painting needed more development.

Homage to Montreal2
I mostly worked with oil sticks which are super messy, but allow me to draw the image or use a paint brush.

And here’s the thing about painting. Sometimes the main part can happen in a spontaneous, inspired way and everything flows together. But there will always be an area of the painting that causes more grief than the rest of it put together. At least, that’s how it is for me.

I was happy with the gestural line and texture and tone of this painting and I think it reflects the feelings I had about the work I saw in Montreal. But that darned yellow canvas area…..that was a challenge to resolve.

When I woke up, I thought about the interiors I’d seen in paintings the previous week and I decided to place a chair from the 40’s to suggest a table and to give the painting a nostalgic feel.

Homage to Montreal3

But now the tabletop looked empty. I decided to include fruit. I brought out a plate of Nova Scotia Gravenstein apples and added them to the painting. I  defined the table edge on the left hand side of the painting.

Homage to Montreal4

The next day when I looked at the apples, I didn’t think they fit in the painting, so I got out my turpentine and scrubbed them out.
But in looking at the apples on my German pottery plate from the early 70’s, I’d fallen in love with the look of apples. I had to take a detour from the flower painting and begin a study of the apples. They really deserved their own canvas, wouldn’t you say?

Homage to Montreal5I went back to my flower painting and had gained another day of thinking about what to do in the big empty yellow space. I wanted something that wouldn’t overpower the bouquet.

I chose to break up the yellow of the table with a long shadow from the chair. The shadow points towards the vase to which pulls the viewer’s eye there. The shape of the shadow reinforces the style and age of the chair.

The painting will require at least a few weeks to dry. It is definitely my Homage to Montreal.

Flora Doehler
Homage to Montreal.
Oil Painting by Flora Doehler, “24” x 24″, 2013

And as for the apples. Well, they are perhaps an homage to the Homage to Montreal. 😉

oil painting by Flora Doehler
Gravensteins. oil painting by Flora Doehler, 2013.
12″ x 12″

Intentions for 2011 at Green Willow Studio

Our Green Willow tree,  Cordelia, has finally dropped her leaves. A Cherry tree stands to the right and produces tasty cherries that drip down your chin in the summertime.  Mostly the birds get the bounty as the limbs are too high for us to reach. Our studio is the red building. The other two ‘public sides’ are painted periwinkle blue. We heat it with a wood stove and a small space heater.

2010 was the ‘birthing’ year for our Green Willow Studio. We started with an uninsulated garage and transformed it into a warm, walled and electrified studio! It took us some time to get everything arranged so that a silversmith and a painter could work in the same space. Together, yet apart.

Most of the time it works. We listen to music or to podcasts. We break for tea or coffee and either talk about our work or we go for a walk around the garden to get a different perspective.

It is a thrill for us both to have the luxury of such a well lit room (there are windows on all four walls!) and to be surrounded by garden and a wild field where pheasants live.

As part of the Bear River working artists studio tour it was essential for us to have our studio ready for the beginning of the tourist season in May. We set up a display area in the studio where people can buy our work.  We have met some wonderful people that way and have sold some pieces.

Tulips. Acrylic on canvas by Flora Doehler. SOLD


My painting sales this year at the Flight of Fancy, at Paint the Town and in the studio were motivating and rewarding.  A series of one-on-one art coaching and tutoring in painting has helped me to share my painting techniques and to practice teaching. Attending the Bear River Artists and Farmers Market nudged me to develop affordable art as well as gave people a chance to see my work.



Larry received jewellery commissions and is showing sculptural pieces at Art and Jules Gallery in Halifax.


“Growth Spurt” hammered copper vessel by Larry Knox, 2010.
Now 2011 lies before us like a blank canvas or like a shiny sheet of copper waiting to be formed.
The possibilities are infinite; the ideas are many and there are decisions to be made about content, about intention, about the best way to express one’s creativity.
Blooming summer flowers were a constant inspiration.
 I will spend more time posting to this blog and sharing step-by-step, the creative discoveries and techniques that I am using in my work and that Larry is using in his work. Up until now my blogging focus has been on our day to day lives in our adopted village of Bear River. After three years there are over 100,000 hits on that Blog and it has even brought visitors to Bear River. It’s time for me to shift some of the energy spent in promoting Bear River into sharing our artistic life and promoting our work to the world!
Commissioned copper and silver bracelet by Larry Knox.
Copper pieces.


Larry and I are excited about these developments and we look forward to sharing our creative journey with you in this coming year.  Thanks for your virtual visit!
Happy New Year and may you experience many creative moments in 2011 and may some of them be inspired by our creative journey.
Painting outside in the summer.

A Lesson From Emily Carr (1871-1945)

I’m in Vancouver for a visit with my daughter and today I went to the Vancouver Art Gallery to see the Emily Carr paintings. She willed 157 of her paintings to the Art Gallery in 1945 but most of them are in storage or on loan. However about 20 of them were on display today and coupled with contemporary artists who are depicting similar themes such as the First Nation village life, the forest and the symbology that comes from West Coast First Nations cultures.

Emily Carr
Young Pines and Sky, circa 1935
oil on paper
Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Emily Carr Trust

I think that no one has captured the power, feeling and mood of the magnificent ancient British Columbia forest that was still evident when Emily Carr started painting it almost 100 years ago. Yet even Emily became discouraged about her work and almost stopped painting during the 1920’s. Instead, she earned her living renting out rooms, and making and selling the most god-awful looking pottery souvenirs.

I knew that she’d made pots, but hadn’t seen them until visiting the Vancouver Art Gallery today. Emily appropriated ‘indian motifs’ in her pots and ashtrays without really understanding the context.

The exhibition juxtaposes quilts made by BC author / artist Douglas Coupland who has stitched ‘souvenir’ First Nation motifs into his creations. Coupland has also imagined a dialogue between him and Emily about their work and it plays in the room where the pots and the quilts are displayed. I thought it was a clever way to talk about the appropriation of culture!

I wish I could show you photos of the exhibit, but photos are not allowed; the Vancouver Art Gallery does not have paper brochures about their exhibits; the website is also very sparse in terms of description and imagery of their exhibits.

Emily Carr, Loggers’ Culls, 1935
oil on canvas
69.0 cm x 112.2 cm
Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery.  Photo: Trevor Mills, Vancouver Art Gallery

I’ve been thinking all day about this wonderful artist who set aside her brushes to create ‘saleable’ ashtrays and dishes. Thankfully Lawren Harris (yes, the Group of Seven Lawren Harris) invited Emily to a show in 1927 that sent her back to her oil paints.

Emily Carr, Strangled by Growth, 1931
oil on canvas
64.0 cm x 48.6 cm
Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Photo: Trevor Mills, Vancouver Art Gallery

I’m thinking that Emily’s period of self doubt is a very good lesson for all of us.  Rather than abandoning the art that seems ‘non-commercial’ and trying to make saleable items, like Emily’s ashtrays, we need to follow our passions and stay on course. We must dismiss those doubts and follow our creative hearts even when (pardon the pun) we can’t see the forest for the trees.

Painting the Setting Sun

One night last August, Larry drove us home through the Annapolis Valley while this sky drama unfolded. That ribbon of orange light that contrasted with the purple-indigo sky was so captivating that I’d wished I could paint it. I snapped these photos with my digital camera. (I never even go to the grocery store without it.)

While I was painting the flower bouquet, I remembered these photos and how I’d always meant to paint the scene. Only at the time, I thought I’d use watercolours. Now that I’m experimenting with oil paints, I really wanted to interpret the scene with my oil paints and oil sticks. Continue reading

Oil Painting without Brushes

Painting detail.

I’ve been working in our studio on an oil painting and using the techniques that I learned this week at Wayne Boucher’s studio. So far, I’ve applied the paint by

  • using mostly oil sticks
  • squeezing paint out of tubes directly onto the canvas
  • moving it with rags
  • scraping it with the rubber end of a pencil
  • wiping it away with Q-tips and paper towels
  • blending it with my latex-glove covered hands Continue reading

Oil Painting on the Bay of Fundy

Before today, the last time I had any instruction in oil painting, I was an international student in Germany. That was 40 years ago in East Berlin.

Since then, I’ve been to lots of watercolour , mono-printing and acrylic painting workshops, but never oil painting. I often think of  oil painters as fairly traditional realists who use muted colours, whereas I prefer strong colours and an expressionistic approach to my subject matter.

Wayne Boucher's Studio is in a former classroom in Parker's Cove.

Last weekend at the Annapolis Region Community Arts Council (ARCAC) Annual General Meeting, I ran into Nova Scotia’s celebrated painter Wayne Boucher who breaks all of my stereotypes about oil painters. His work is bold, abstract and etherial. He loves colour and has a background in printmaking, which I think informs his choice of method and materials. Continue reading