I live on the Canadian Prairies, and am a painter in watercolours, oils and egg tempera. I grew up in a small town in BC, which did not have much in the way of art during my school years. I did like to draw, and the one year (grade 9) we did have an art class – I loved it. I still have the paintings I did during that class. My mother saved them, and I found them when we were clearing out the house after she died. It was great fun to find and made me think that I might like to paint again some day. My education and work life was spent in the sciences. I have had a lifelong love of the arts and music.

There are a couple of stories that brought me back to art. In 2001, I was working at the University, and had found out that our extension division had painting workshops at Emma Lake, a site where artists have gathered since 1935. So I decided I would take one of their watercolour 5 day workshops. Off I went, not knowing much, other than the unsuccessful couple of attempts I had made over the years. Well, I had a great instructor, Christine Lynn, who showed us how to play. I came home in love. I took another couple of workshops over the next couple of years while I continued to work, and then took early retirement in the spring of 2004.

The second story goes back to 1992. I was in Vancouver during the fall of that year. I decided to just enjoy the time while my daughter was in school. I took a class at the university in landscape architecture (I love to garden, and have a good size one). Also, I visited the galleries in the city on a regular basis. One day I was visiting the Harrison Gallery, and saw a new show by an artist named Kiff Holland (search his name under the Artists list at the gallery – he still shows there. It was a watercolour show, and I had never seen anything like it – these wonderful glowing paintings of glass bottles. Later, when visiting my aunt and uncle, I mentioned this show. My uncle, George Bates (a well-known BC painter, since passed away) said – oh, Kiff is a friend and colleague. He does painting  workshops every year in France. Well, I tucked this bit of information in my memory bank. When I knew I was going to retire, I remembered about Kiff, and discovered that yes, he was still doing the workshop in France. So I signed up!
Our group met up in Paris, spent a few days in the galleries and the city, then off to our art school for nearly three wonderful weeks. I learned so much, Kiff being a very generous teacher and since coming back, have been painting continuously. I have been back to France one more time for another workshop, and have taken others in Vancouver through the Federation of Canadian Artists. I am really hoping to go to Europe again one of these days.

The other thing I did one I retired was to take up piano again after 45 years. I began in the fall of 2004 and surprised myself – I am really enjoying playing and have advanced a lot, so that now I can play at about grade 9 level. Love it! So it just goes to show, if you love it, do it! It is never too late.

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