The Healing Properties of Daffodils, Turtles and Goutweed

Something fairly profound happened for me this month.

I have felt quite sluggish this winter. Not actually depressed but just completely unmotivated, disinterested, lazy and believing that my strong desire to paint had completely abandoned me. This was quite distressing because there was absolutely no substitute interesting endeavour that came to mind. Nothing. Not writing. Not gardening. Not visiting. Not travelling. I wondered if this is how the end begins.

And then something surprising happened. The daffodils I planted last year started poking up all over the lawn, under trees, beside the studio. Ordinary daffodils. Well some were a touch more fancy than others, but they were certainly not roses, or rare orchids. Just bright yellow happy daffodils.

Daffodils are happy flowers.

And soon after that, masses of goutweed, the bane of my existence, started coming up. And although they are incurably invasive, I do like the smell of their leaves and they are greener than green. For the first time ever, instead of cursing them, I marvelled at their shape and persistence. I noticed the earth under them was loaded with beneficial earthworms who turned the maze of roots into rich soil.

The Goutweed will look dreamy at the end of June.

And then yellowish green buds appeared on the trees. And then, miracle of miracles, three adult painted turtles appeared in our little pond. I only saw them once, but there were followed by two and then three baby turtles that have been hanging out in the goldfish pond sunning themselves ever since.

And while Nature was doing her thing, I pressed forward with a show of paintings in May for the Lucky Rabbit House in Annapolis Royal. And guess what? It’s been an absolute thrill to show my paintings and to hang out with the creative artists at Lucky Rabbit and to talk to people about the paintings. I hadn’t realized how much I had missed interaction with others.

All of this has caused me to wake up and come alive again. I am feeling such gratitude for the Spring transformation of the earth. I have ordered another 50 daffodil bulbs as insurance for the future.

And guess what? I still want to paint! I am back in the studio with gusto. Which is great timing because I am creating a whole new grouping of paintings for Bear River Artworks Gallery. We open on May 28 and five of the gallery artists will be present.

Daffodil painting in progress.

The collection of 21 paintings at Lucky Rabbit House in Annapolis Royal continues until May 28. Ironically it is named “Courage My Love”.

Do you see the logistical problem here? Two overlapping-by-one-day shows? This means that if you have the inclination, you can see my paintings at Lucky Rabbit and at Bear River Artworks Gallery on the same day, May 28. Both locations are open that day from 10 am to 4 pm. I will be at Artworks Gallery.

I hope you’ve felt rejuvenation from the sunshine and the warmer weather too. Flowers help. Courage, indeed!

I finished updating my 8′ tall mural (left image) that is back on the side of Sissiboo Coffee where I heard this musician in 2012. I can keep an eye on it from the window of Bear River Artworks Gallery where I will be hosting visitors on Thursdays all summer.

Paintings Hopping in May at the Lucky Rabbit Art House

Today my month long solo show “Courage My Love” opened at Lucky Rabbit’s Artist House Gallery in Annapolis Royal where 21 of my paintings are on display until May 28, on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 10am till 4pm.

Paintings on display is an exciting opportunity for me to show you and others my paintings in a gallery setting. And it’s a thrill for me too because it is a time when I can go beyond the studio chaos and look up and see the efforts of my work. That saying of “she can’t see the forest for the trees” applies here. There is tremendous satisfaction and sometimes even relief when a painting is resolved, finished and done; sometimes after years of returning to it and struggling with it! And what a wonderful place to have a show. Lucky Rabbit is a true ‘art house’ with studio galleries of 4 exceptional artists working in various mediums.

I show my natural surroundings in my paintings – filled with old fashioned and wild flowers. And this idea of reflecting back the natural world is also very present in the works of Deb, Janel and Marianne. I’m in great company at Lucky Rabbit.

Yes, showing in this location is one of my many fulfilled dreams since coming to Nova Scotia 15 years ago. Let me tell you the back story!

If I could time travel to 2005 I would whisper to myself “Guess what? If you move here, one day in the future, 21 of your paintings will hang at Lucky Rabbit amongst the beauty of the pottery and vases overflowing with flowers.

I was still a tourist on my first visit to Lucky Rabbit in 2005. In those days Lucky Rabbit was principally a working pottery studio with a showroom in front. Potters Deb and Ray lived upstairs.

The moment I stepped into their pottery, I felt joy. The colours and creations that greeted me took my breath away. Deb and Ray, potters extraordinaire, displayed enormous, hand built and hand painted vases that overflowed with garden flowers. Each pot, cup, bowl and vase was a work of art on its own. Most were decorated with animals, birds, and flowers.  The colours on the walls matched the beautiful blues and magentas and greens of the pottery. 

Standing in that show room I wondered if it could be possible for Larry and me to move to Nova Scotia and realize a decades long dream of working fulltime as creatives. Could we finally transform our lives?

On that first visit, I was so overwhelmed with the pottery that I only brought home a small, beautifully painted tile of flowers. I took it back to my workplace in Toronto and placed it beside my keyboard. It held my endless cups of coffee along with THE DREAM. Nearby on the wall I pinned up the Bear River Artist Studio Tour map. For the next 2 years, I dreamed of moving to this wonderful part of the country where working as an artist was an actual thing.

And yes, we finally stepped through the looking glass into that dream in 2007 and we haven’t looked back.

Now, 15 years later, my big beautiful studio in Bear River Is filled with wonderful art supplies and many paintings in various stages of finish. My work is represented in the Bear River Artist Studio Tour brochure that Larry now designs. We are co-founders of Bear River Artworks Gallery that is entering its eighth season on May 28, and hundreds of my paintings are in collections of many people near and far.

The ability to paint full time these last 15 years has definitely improved my work and surprisingly, the process is still a challenge. Every painting is a puzzle that teaches me something new. There is still so much to learn. My process is intuitive and driven by an impulse to paint when a scene or flower presents itself. That urge is unpredictable. And when it’s there, it’s so exciting. Like a rush of endorphins. Like the feeling I had when I first visited Lucky Rabbit.

Today, Lucky Rabbit in Annapolis Royal has expanded to include jeweler Marianne Brown who combines silver, pearls, gems and woven silk to create her exquisite jewelry.

Janel Warmington’s strong sense of colour and design show up in her print making, collage, and painting. She often uses animal themes. She also sews beautiful one-of-a-kind purses and bags out of leather and gorgeous fabrics.

On my wall at home I treasure a linocut of a leaping deer by Janel. I wear silver earrings by Marianne and I drink coffee and tea out of cups made by Ray and decorated by Deb.

Aren’t I the Lucky Rabbit?

My paintings will hang at Lucky Rabbit throughout May and I will pop in on Saturdays to visit with them and with you.

For a virtual showing of all the paintings I have on display at Lucky Rabbit, including sizes and prices, please click on the image below.

Throughout the summer and fall, my work will be at Bear River Artworks Gallery. Six of us are set to open there on May 28, but more on that in another post!

My Grandmother’s Garden Planted Seeds of Love

The first months of the pandemic in 2020 activated a lot of distress and anxiety for me. It was hard to imagine that there had ever been calm and happiness in my world. Therefore, memories of those good periods took on a deeper significance. I reached back to memories of early times in my life when I felt happy and content. Like the times spent visiting my Scottish grandmother and her wild garden of flowers and vegetables and experiencing with her love and kindness. But that garden. What was it about that garden that brought me such joy?

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Inventing a Blue Flower While Breathing

If you love flowers, you’ll know that actual blue flowers are rare. Horticulturalists try to develop true blue blooms, and sometimes they come up with a purple and call it blue. And even though some flowers are blue, like a Cornflower, a Delphinium or a Forget-me-not, you can’t find a blue Zinnia or Daisy.

Except if you are a painter, and you can imagine it. You can paint the flowers any colour you want to.

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A Virtual Paint-In and Auction Happens this Weekend for Paint the Town, Aug 15, 16, 17, 2020

Paint the Town is THIS WEEKEND…. but with a Covid-19 twist.

Instead of hordes of artists and collectors congregating in Annapolis Royal for this annual arts festival, the event has been scaled down and will be online.

For me, this means I can paint at home in my studio and garden and post pictures of my progress online on Instagram and Facebook. So will a total of 25 artists. Continue reading

Reimagining the Garden – Painting with Ink

Usually, I paint from life. It is a thrill to study the subject in all its aliveness and life energy. But this time as I was looking for a scrap of drawing paper, I pulled open a drawer and my eyes landed on a sweet little crayon and watercolour sketch that I’d made a few years ago of Bee Balm in July.

I really liked the composition of it – that off-centred bloom and the undefined green in the background.

But can I translate it into an ink painting?

Yes and no. Continue reading

Last Minute Gift of Art?

Do you still need a little art for the holidays? I have 5 little acrylic paintings of flowers in my studio that will add a touch of summer to someone’s home. $150 each.


These original small watercolours of mine are made to fit in a standard sized frame. They will remind you of summer days at the water. image size is 5.5 x 7.
$25 each.

If you live out of town, and if it’s too late to arrive by Tuesday,  I can email you a digital copy and description to ‘gift’ and post you the original.
Let me know! flora@floradoehler.ca

And thank you for your feedback about posting. I have read your comments and am working on some new posts and videos for the new year.
It’s touching to hear how much you enjoy getting my posts.

Happy Holidays, and Merry Christmas to you and your friends, pets and family. xo