North America

Pacific Coast

Alexander and I just returned from a trip along the Pacific Coast of beautiful Oregon. We started out in Victoria where his father picked us up and from there it was a ferry over to Port Angeles and then straight to Olympic National Park.

The idea was to camp and so, along came a borrowed pop up trailer. On the second night we tried to camp close to the beach but as it turned out it was actually a parking lot and so we had to take down the trailer which never opened up after that. It was motels all the way to Portland.

The weather couldn’t be better through the entire ten days; sun lighting up the foggy shores and rock stacks. Trailer or no trailer it turned out to be a good trip. Lots of water;  Pacific ocean, mist, crashing waves, tides coming in, tidal pools, hot springs, gushing waterfalls…. but no rain!

After the rainforest, waterfalls and hot springs of the Olympic National Park, US route 101 took us from one coastal town to the next. In between there were many stops, what seemed like every ten meters for scenic views and short hikes, wave crashing watching, and dodging the low tide waves along the rocky shores.

Of course wherever there was sand, and there was a lot, there was a castle waiting to be built.

Next was Siuslaw National Forest and then the Sand Dunes National Recreation Area. The beach there accessible through the sand dunes went on for hundreds of miles. One of the hikes we did was a grueling climb up and down dunes for about 3kms and then another 3km stroll along the beach to complete the circle back to the trailhead.

Just north of Florence we descended into a sea lion cave which seems to be the highlight of the trip for Alexander. He explains that “the sea lions stay outside on the rocks and only move into the caves to be safe, when the weather gets bad”.

In Willamette national Forest, the fall coloured  McKenzie Pass – Santiam Pass National Scenic Byway –  a windy loop that includes the highest concentration of snow-capped volcanoes in the lower 48 states, took us to a town called Sisters where despite promises of tonnes of motels we found one that was way over our budget and so continued on to Bend for the night. It was a well worth drive down the winding highway with the highest elevation reaching 5325ft, and a colourfull hike to the breathtaking 200ft tall Proxy Falls.

The pass was an unbelievable explosion of volcanic rock …literally.



Newfoundland 2012

Just returned from another amazing week leading up to the opening of my show titled Twig, in Pouch Cove, Newfoundland.

The first night’s view from our St. John’s hotel couldn’t be more “Newfoundland” than this sunset over Signal Hill.

And in Pouch Cove, the setting couldn’t be more fitting for my work, with the Newfoundland and Arctic inspired pieces facing the very view that gave them life. The opening day was a steady flow of friends and familiar faces with some new ones.

What makes this opening most memorable is the four hikers: two couples who emerged from the East Coast trail over towards the gallery. They had hiked four and half hours to my opening, and three of them just happen to be Polish, and one lived at the end of my street in Krakow.

My little assistant tried his hand at creating on The Rock, quickly learning about the importance of paper weights.

For me the highlight of this trip though was the fact that I could hike the trail with Alexander for the first time without carrying 30lbs on my back! To my great joy he took to the east coast hikes in his mother’s footsteps, like a fish to water: 6km, one day, 5 and 4 the others.

And for Alexander the definite highlight was the blueberry picking along the east coast trail.

The day before the opening was a foggy feast to the eyes. We stood for over an hour on the coast watching Pouch Cove be enveloped by whiteness and then reappear just as quickly.

On this trip Alexander tried his hand at photography and though started out a bit wonky was soon capturing what he actually set out to. And so, I got some pictures of myself finally…well, sort of.

And then there was the magical garden overlooking the ocean at Elke’s: The Points East B&B that we stayed at for a few nights. The goats if not in the fenced area were often tied to the picnic tables painted the colours of fishing  boats.




Ontario Parks

This year I found a great number of beautiful places close to home. I discovered provincial parks that I had previously disregarded in favour of portage trips in Algonquin and Killarney.

I got to absorb Ontario’s lakes and the Canadian shield in the Tobermory area, Pinery, Killbear, Presquile Provincial parks through my son’s eyes.

Kilbear Provincial Park surprised me with the pink colored granite of the Canadian Shield and the “Group of Seven”pines perched up on top, reminding me of Killarney. It has mixed hardwood and softwood forests and lots of wildlife. Every morning we were greeted by at least one deer on our campsite.

The park provides habitat for the threatened eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, Ontario’s only venomous snake. In fact there were many “Please Brake for Snakes” signs along the park’s roadways.

Bruce Peninsula Provincial park, in the heart of a World Biosphere Reserve, is a place of global significance. The rare limestone barrens and massive, rugged cliffs, inhabited by thousand year old cedar trees, overhang the crystal clear waters of Georgian Bay.

Pinary Provincial Park is home to the unique habitat of freshwater coastal dunes which we had to climb over to reach the shores of Lake Huron. The park also protects almost 50% of the remaining Oak Savanna in the world.

Presqu’ile Provincial Park or literally “almost island” was named by Samuel De Champlain on his second expedition. The park area, or tombolo, was formed when a limestone island was connected to the mainland by a sand spit.

The park’s location on Lake Ontario makes it a perfect stop over for migrating birds along the Michigan Flyway.

Arctic 2011

What a trip! I have to admit I hesitated when I got offered the opportunity to go to the Canadian Arctic with
Adventure Canada
this fall. I knew my two and half year old son travelled well, but I wasn’t sure how he would handle the closed quarters of a ship for almost two weeks. Then there was the question of how much I would get out of the trip; watching him while trying to absorb this new landscape and culture.

He did amazingly. I on the other hand found a lot of new inspiration in the new to me moody landscape of Baffin Island and Greenland, the many lectures on board of the Ocean Nova and encouters with various artists like
Andrew Qappik and Mattiusi Iyaituk, musician J P Hoe, as well as many local stone carvers, printmakers and tapestry artists, giving me new appreciation for Inuit art and the land that inspires its creation.

The trip started with a flight from Toronto to Kangerlussuaq in Greenland, down the beautiful 168 km long Söndre Strömfjord, which is one of the longest fjords in the world, Evighedsfjorden towards Kangaamiut and the world’s smallest capital Nuuk.

Leaving the coast of Greenland the 1400 mile journey continued across Davis Strait towards Nunavut and along Canada’s largest: Baffin Island’s south coast, crossing over to Douglas Harbour in Nunavik in Quebec and ending in Iqaluit

Throughout the journey I experienced many firsts;  the rolling waves sometimes swaying the ship quite violently, the northern lights, polar bears, caribou, hikes through the fall covered tundra brimming with blueberries, scrambles up and down the arctic coast with my son on my back, a birthday zodiac ride through Savage Islands amongst icebergs, colorful coastal towns of Pangnirtung, Kimmirut, misty sunrises, Inuksuk in Mallikjuaq Territorial Park and Inuit archeological site covered with bones and antlers in Kinngait (Cape Dorset).

Exploring Kinngait  and Mallikjuaq Territorial Park with John Houston

Newfoundland 2010

I have been coming to Newfoundland since 2001 when there was an artist residency in Pouch Cove, run by James Baird whom I was introduced to by artist friends Dan Hughes and Richard Stipl. There was a great studio space in an old restaurant building right on a rock overlooking crashing waves and the foggy coast. It is now James’ home. You could watch the thin band of light appear over the horizon at sunrise around 4:30, then go back to sleep, then wake up to whales spouting water a few hours later right in front of that same window.

When the residency closed down I continued to return to Pouch Cove, painting at an old schoolhouse which he had also converted to studios and later at a small cottage a few minutes away, which once used to be a cod liver oil factory, and now stands alone at the start of the Bruce Trail. The window view inspired me to do a number of live sketches of the ocean which later rturned into studio paintings

This year I had an opportunity to share my love for this province with my son and my father as well as exhibit a body of work titled Ode to the Sea in st.John’s, based on the bond I developed with the Atlantic Ocean.

Newfoundland continues to be an everlasting inspiration to me as a painter and despite so many beautiful places I have been which could easily rival it continues to be my favourite place to spend summer and fall months.







Yukon 2008

I spent most of the summer in northern BC and Yukon, going between Atlin, BC , Whitehorse for check ups, for this was the summer I was pregnant.

The landscape was breathtaking, especially of Kluane National Park in september with yellow ochre dominating the landscape. I painted a lot of plein air paintings under the influence of Domink Modlinski, which was a first for me, and so also quite challenging. I wanted to paint bigger and to produce studio paintings I set up a mosquito tent behind the cabin where I could have an outdoor fume free studio. It worked quite well and was the first that I was able to paint the subject matter of my immediate surroundings on a large scale. I subsequently brought back with me a whole body of work based on the expansive vistas of fall colors.

Alaska 2008

I explored the shore of Alaska in the summer of 2008; a two week trip on a motor boat, with two other artists. We started in Juneau and travelled to through various inlets and bays, eventually out along the south coast of Alaska stopping in small communities along the way, mostly to gas up and shower from time to time.

Being on a wildlife photographer’s boat we spent a lot of time seeking out various animals in the moody misty landscape. We  watched and listened to the unbelievably beautiful music of humpback whales while bubble feeding, off the bow of the boat at Couverdan Island. We followed them along their feeding path, at one point moving the boat just in time to witness their surfacing right in the wake of our boat, about 5 meters away. I could literally see the baleen in their open mouths.

In Taylor Bay I experienced a sea otter’s day from an inflatable boat. In Freshwater bay I spotted two grizzlies salmon fishing in the mouth of a river. Later on we got way too close for comfort to a grizzly with her cub and watched her weaning. In fact one spot we landed on was covered with bear footprints and bear scat, lots of it everywhere!



This fall I discovered four beautiful parks in Quebec: Jacques-Cartier National Parc, Grands-Jardins National Park, Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Riviere-Mallbaie National Park and Parc Marin du Saguenay, and the controlled ZEC territories during hunting season.

Each one quite different and stunning; Jacques-Cartier with its winding rivers,  Grands-Jardins with its colorful expanses of burnt forest, Hautes-Gorges vistas from high up elevations and winds that almost blew me off the mountain, Saquenay with its gorgeous fjord. I did a number of small vista paintings based on this trip, in preparation for a larger format, along with a whole body of fall paintings which I exhibited at Canada House Gallery in 2008.