Tag Archives: painting

Winter dormancy

Before the holidays (yes, I know they were two months ago already…), I finished a commissioned piece, a portrait of a cherished doggie, below:

Chevy. Watercolour on Paper. 15×22″. Artist Lianne Todd


Since then I have spent very little time in the studio, just doing a few practice pieces here and there to stay in touch with the skills.  I had thought this would be a very creative year.  I could ‘feel it in my bones’!  Perhaps I will be like the flowers, emerging in spring triumphantly.

I’ve been focused on other things this winter.  When not working at my new part-time job as an agricultural research assistant (which I  quite enjoy), I have been busy sorting through old things, completing items on my to-do list, cleaning up after two new kitties in the house we rescued from the outdoors, and researching and compiling the family genealogy and history.

That last one has become a bit of an obsession, to the detriment of many things.  I’ve discovered a rich and varied connection to past centuries that I never expected to find!  I was never much of a history student, but now it has new meaning.

I am finding creative ways to preserve and share with my family a visual record of what I’ve learned, for future generations to refer to.  Much of what I was originally able to put together was compiled by family members in previous generations who took the time to collect information and photos and document it.  I would like to thank them profusely but, of course, they are not here for me to do that.  Instead I will thank the current family members who were willing to share with me what they had!

The rest of the information has come from the many historical documents and records available at Library and Archives Canada, and sites like it in other nations.  And finally, some crucial connections came from other people who have been investigating their own family history, on platforms like Geni (which also has curators working hard to connect it all and keep everything as accurate and logical as possible, while also documenting historical genealogy) and MyHeritage.  I’ve also been able to verify some of the connections using a DNA test.

This afternoon though, I will go and paint.  😉



‘Discoveries in the Land of Discoverers’

I will eventually get back to telling you more about my painting travels in Portugal last November. I just want to mention this show as I hung it today (10 pieces are mine) and it’s ready for viewing!

I finished a new painting yesterday, just in time for the show.  It is inspired both by my trip to Quinta da Regaleira, in Sintra, Portugal, and by a book I am reading right now – it dwells a bit on the Grail Romances which I find particularly fascinating.  In fact, the Quinta da Regaleira property’s architecture and structures are partly inspired by alchemy, Masonry, the Knights Templar, the Rosicrucians, and the Tarot, and many of these have been related strongly to the Grail Romances at times, including in the aforementioned book.  More about Quinta da Regaleira later… (it really captured the imagination) … for now I want you to see the finished painting.

The Stuff of Grail Romances. Watercolour on Gessoed Paper. 15×22″. $500.00. Artist Lianne Todd

You can get a much better impression of it if you actually go to the show, of course!  All of the pieces are ones that have been inspired by Portugal.

It’s at Annandale House (N.H.S), in Tillsonburg, on the second floor, in the gallery there.  Go check it out!


Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Saturday (July and August only) 12:00 p.m to 4:00 p.m.
Sunday 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

(Holiday hours may be different)


Annandale National Historic Site & Museum
30 Tillson Avenue
Tillsonburg, Ontario
N4G 2Z8

Jeep Tours in the Algarve

The next day after my walk to Old Town Albufeira last November, was my first jeep tour.  I had booked two tours, one on the Monday and one on the Thursday of that week (telling them Tuesday would also be ok).  The first one I booked through Expedia, and the second one I found through My Guide Algarve, but both of them were run by Portitours, or MTS Globe.  I am not actually sure which is the owning company.  Anyway, as it turned out, since it was end of tour season, I had the second tour on Tuesday with the same driver!

The first tour was to the east of Albufeira.  Our driver, Jorge (I hope I am spelling his name right), picked me up at the end of the villa driveway in the morning – very convenient!  Then we proceeded to pick up the other 4 who were somewhere around Vilamoura, I think.  It was a very educational day, and I took tons of photos (259 on one camera).  I will include a few here but some are destined to be paintings.  In fact I have finished one!

Moorish Chimney #1. Watercolour on Paper. 22×30″. $950.00 Artist Lianne Todd

Portugal is full of these Moorish chimneys.  Some are very old, like this one, and others are very new.   Jorge pointed this one out to me for photographing first!  I find it really interesting the Moorish style of architecture has been embraced for so many centuries.  It gives a very harmonious feel to the country .  I’m sure these chimneys must be quite practical from the standpoint of preventing storks’ nests blocking them as well!

The dirt roads all over the countryside are private roads, but we were told anyone is allowed to use them if they want, for jeep travel, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and I think dirt biking.  They hold famous car rallies on some of these roads as well.  Jorge was very charming and entertaining, and so knowledgeable about all of the plant life, the animal life, the farming, the natural resources, and more! (Please click on photos if you would like to see a larger version of any of them).

One of the many dirt roads we traveled!

Thistles are used in the making of fresh goat cheese.

This Olive tree is 1500 years old!

We stopped for coffee at this little place.  They serve an excellent and inexpensive espresso, and the room has a lovely cork ceiling.

We were taken to a local distillery where Jorge gave us a great education about the production of Medronho brandy (firewater) and honey.  The firewater has a very distinctive flavour, and we were taught the particulars of how to first taste it.

These are medronho berries, which they make the spirits with.  They are edible, with a mild sweet flavour, though we were advised not to eat too many at once.  The plant is nicknamed a strawberry tree, but they don’t taste like strawberries.

Here is where we ate lunch. Delicious!

Complete with elusive garden cat.

Later we stopped in this little town for another break.  I bought some fresh local goat cheese, which I had to hunt for a little in a tiny market.

And at the end of the day, a rainbow.

Rainbow over the Algarve

The following day, the jeep tour went west, towards Portimão and Monchique.  On this day, there were 3 other tourists, a French couple and a lady who spoke many languages including French, Portuguese and English.  Jorge gave this tour in French (He asked me first if this was ok – I said yes.  I used to speak French fairly well, a long time ago.  A little rusty!  But I was able to understand most.) Again, I took many photos – 277 this time.  Obviously I am only selecting a few.

We started with a boat tour of the river at Portimão.  We didn’t travel up the river as far as I would have maybe liked, but it was a good tour.  Lots of birds!

View from the boat before we left the dock. Stork’s nest, baskets for harvesting shellfish (can’t remember, were they oysters?) – see next photo!

The shellfish (oysters?), attached to one of the pillars below the baskets.

Ponte Dona Maria, built by Gustave Eiffel, before he built the tower!

Bonelli’s Eagle. I know, it’s blurry. They’re fast, ok? And it’s hard to hold a zoom lens steady when you’re in a boat.

Cormorants and a stork.

I was told these people were digging for bait.

And this cool castle someone built to live in.

Then we stopped at Ferragudo (that’s a fun name to learn how to pronounce properly 🙂 for a break.  (Photo shoot for me – working now on one of the many scenes as a painting, which is how most of the photos will end up).

The walkway out to the harbour from Ferragudo.

Then we were off into the Monchique mountains and to a restaurant for lunch.

A grove of cork trees. Learned so much about cork! But I will let you learn about that on your own jeep tour 😉

wild cotton

And later, more education on medronho and honey!

Medronho berries in large tubs.

Honeycombs, centrifuge.

We saw some of the damage that had occurred because of recent forest fires too.

Guardrails are not a thing on these mountain roads!


A brief look at Silves (I came back here another day).

All in all, another good day, and a fine ending to it.

Obrigada Portitours!


Algarve Coastline

On my third full day in Albufeira, Portugal, I took a coastal cave and dolphin-watching tour, which I had booked before arriving.  This involved me finding my way to the marina on my own, as my villa-mates were still in Lisbon.  I could have taken a cab, but I wanted to try out the buses, as they were much cheaper!  I had already scoped out which bus routes I needed to take, but it remained to be seen how long it would take to get there. I was using Albufeira’s Giro bus system, which doesn’t exactly have a set schedule.  As my tour time was noon, I felt confident I could make it on time!  And I did, although it wasn’t without a few glitches.  For instance, I hadn’t taken into account the elevation change from one street to another on the map, and for a few moments wondered “how do I get down there?”  All became clear eventually, and I arrived a solid half hour before the tour.

(All images copyrighted as usual.  To see them larger, just click on them 🙂 )

I took a lot of photos that day, but this captures the essence of the tour quite well.
This one is very representative too.
Here is a cave, which appeared quite small from the boat. The ocean swells were quite large and it seemed like we might crash into the rocks at any moment…. but…
The expert boat drivers took us right inside the cave! I couldn’t believe it.

We spent the first hour going west along the coastline from Albufeira.  Then we went out to sea to find dolphins.  Alas!  None made themselves visible that day.  Pretty disappointing, BUT I had seen what must have been at least a hundred of them from the airplane as we came in for a landing at Faro airport.  It was amazing!

Also, as you come in to Faro, you can see some great examples of fractals (not sure what fractals are? see my fractal art here)  If you go to a satellite view of Faro and look just south of it – zoom in to that marshy area between Faro and the open ocean – you’ll see what I mean.  Self similar on smaller and smaller scales!

After about an hour of speeding around on the open ocean, we headed back to the marina.  During this entire tour I was keeping very close tabs on my new sunglasses – they were the kind that came with my prescription glasses and attached via magnets.  It was windy out there.  Well, in spite of my attention I got back to the marina, sat down to enjoy a cappuccino, and discovered they were gone!  I retraced my steps, and the tour hosts were very nice about letting me get back on the boat to look there, but they were nowhere to be found.  So, I was a little sad at the end, but it was a very enjoyable tour.  Thanks Dream Wave!

Arriving back at the marina, a.k.a. ‘Legoland’
Later the same day, a better sunset – a sky quite worthy of painting, but I didn’t. Maybe another day I will incorporate it into one!

The next day, I decided to walk to another one of the Albufeira beaches, also about a half hour away.  This was Praia Da Oura.  Another lovely walk!  Here are a few photos from there:

There is a large hotel you can see there which looks a bit like a cruise ship.

As you can see, it wasn’t exactly the best beach weather but it was nice enough.  You could hike up to the top of the cliffs, too, if you wanted.  I imagine there is a fair bit of erosion each year due to this.

There were some interesting arches and caves to explore…

And the sun did come out for about 15 minutes.  I took full advantage and did a little sunbathing!

The colours are so much nicer when the sun shines.

When the sun went under again, I went further down the beach and found some interesting rock textures and little tide pools.

Then, I settled myself down in a nice dry sheltered spot and began to paint.  Here is what I ended up with that day:

Praia Da Oura. Watercolour on Paper. 8×10″. Artist Lianne Todd

Oh, and guess what?  I am getting new matching sunglasses soon – the company who makes them is being very kind to me.  🙂

Praia de Santa Eulália

The villa where I stayed had featured, on its website, photos of beautiful beaches.  I love beaches.  So, naturally, I was anxious to determine exactly how close these beaches were, and curious about how warm the water might be at the beginning of November.  Not that I was going to be swimming.  I can’t do that for a while, until both arms are free of adhesive capsulitis, as I would most likely drown.  Maybe in 2020…

When I examined the satellite maps, the closest beach was Praia de Santa Eulália (Praia means beach, in Portuguese).  Upon close examination, it seemed like I could take a path shortcut through the green space directly south of me to the road running east-west and then continue down to the beach from there.  If I did that, it would cut my time walking in half compared to following the roads!  So, as I had passed a couple of the housekeeping staff on their break, I had asked them about said path.  They quickly assured me this was NOT the way to go.  In unison, they pointed the opposite direction and said “Quinta da Balaia”.  I was truly disappointed.  However, the computer algorithms said it was still just a 29 minute walk.  And you know what?  It was a beautiful walk through a nice quiet area, and I really enjoyed it.

Looking back at the villa from the end of the driveway.


On the walk via Quinta da Balaia and Rua da Praia.

Further along the walk via Quinta da Balaia and Rua da Praia.

While I was walking, and passing the green space, I tried to figure out where the shortcut would have come to.   I was glad I had taken the long way – it looked like there was a rather big gorge to get over, and also some private property, and at the bottom, a big fence with no opening and pretty big drop-off from the road to the path.

The beach was very beautiful.  As you can see, it was a nice warm, sunny day.  The water wasn’t even as cold as I expected – certainly no worse than a Northern Ontario lake in summertime ;).  I almost lost my sandals to a rogue wave that sneaked up on me while I was painting, discovered my backpack is quite water-resistant as it (containing my nice camera! yikes) was a victim also, and got rope burn trying to get on the other side of the boardwalk safe from waves.  Later on, I noticed rain coming from the north, but not quite in time to not get caught in it on my way home.  I sheltered under a tree, and it didn’t last too long.  And continuing home, I found some cats. 🙂

This is the little tiny watercolour I did that day.  I was much more pleased with it than I was with the one of the sunset the previous day.  It will be treasured in my smallest sketchbook journal.

Praia Santa Eulalia sketch. Watercolour on paper. 3.5×5″. Artist Lianne Todd

Stay tuned for more!


Painting to Spread Some Love Around the World — IWS Canada

Art has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. It brings people together and IWS Canada’s mission is to do just that – to unify those who live to create and also those who live to love art. ❤ Help us to spread some love around our world today ❤ I […]

via Painting to Spread Some Love Around the World — IWS Canada

The thing about being busy with lots of activities you could be blogging about is that you don’t have time to actually write about them on your own blog!   :).  Well, here is an easy one – I’m sharing this not just because I’m in the video but also because I do believe in the idea of spreading peace and love around the world as much as possible.  I hope you enjoy this lovely video that Ona Kingdon put together.

I will get to writing about some of my other recent activities soon…

Exhibit, demos, and more!

I am so looking forward to this Friday and Saturday!

Opening of ‘A Symphony in Watercolour’ International Art Exhibit:

Friday Sept. 28.  Boynton House, 1300 Elgin Mills Rd. E., Richmond Hill.

(see map on home page of IWS Canada)

Official Schedule:

Booths and exhibition will be open from noon until 5:00 pm within the garden area of Boynton House.
12:00 – 12:15 pm: Welcome speeches and official ribbon cutting ceremony by the Presidents of IWS Canada, IWS Globe & CSPWC/SCPA on the porch of Boynton House
The following events will then take place in booths in the fenced garden area of Boynton House or on the main porch of Boynton House:
12:15-12:45 pm Demos of products/talks by QoR and Da Vinci
1:00-1:30 pm Demos of products/talks by Winsor & Newton and RockWell

1:45-2:45 pm Demos by IWS Master watercolour artists Ze Ze Lai (vice president of IWS Globe)


and Rainbow Tse (youth juror for our show)


2:30-3:00 pm Live music by the Hill Chamber Players on the porchway of Boynton House
3:00 pm Award presentations and speeches on the porch of Boynton House
3:45-4:00 pm More live music by the Hill Chamber Players
4:00-4:30 pm Demos/talks by Daniel Smith and DeSerres
4:30-5:00 pm Chance to talk to people at booths and see exhibition at your leisure.

Burr House Craft Gallery & Tea Room, 530 Carville Road, Richmond Hill.

6:00-8:00 pm: An informal gathering of artists and art lovers; a time to relax, socialize and see the rest of the exhibition. Watch the Burr House spinners, weavers and potters at work. Tea and scones will also be available at a small charge.

Saturday, Sept. 29.

Richmond Hill Central Library, 1 Atkinson St., Richmond Hill, ON L4C 0H5

10:00- 3:00 pm 3rd floor of library: Try your hand at watercolour, an activity sponsored by DeSerres, where we can give back to the local community. Connect with people from Richmond Hill and experiment with simple techniques for painting in watercolour.
10:00-10:50 am Watercolour demo by Michael Solovyev, IWS Canada International Director. Watch him create a painting and ask questions.

10:55- 11:50 am Watercolour demo by Atanur Dogan, IWS Globe President and Founder. Watch a painting come to life before your eyes.





12:00-1:15 pm Take in David McEown’s presentation: ‘Water & Light, an Artist’s Journey from Antarctica to the North Pole”. David narrates an entertaining digital show that merges painting, video and photography inspired from travels in the Great Bear Rainforest, Africa, Antarctica and the North Pole. Stories of chance encounters with many creatures including polar bears and emperor penguins are woven together with reflections on the environment, and the inner creative process of painting with watercolour.
2:00- 3:00 pm Watercolour demo by Vera Bobson, CSPWC



As you can see, there is plenty to keep an artist interested. These watercolour artists that are demonstrating, are some of the best in the whole world.  Almost like attending a workshop only without the fee!  Both days are registered Canada-wide Culture Days events.

Those are just the first two days of the exhibition.  All information that you could possibly want, including maps, are on the home page of the website iwscanada.ca.

I will be there for sure.  Gather a friend or two and have a fun field trip!!  Say hi when you get here. 🙂

This post is pretty much copied from the iwscanada blog post but that’s okay because I wrote it too 🙂

The Cats of Italy, Number 3

On the Friday of our week at The Watermill at Posara, our hosts took us to the village of Monte dei Bianchi, the home of an old monastery.  We were surrounded by old stone buildings of every shape and age, flowers everywhere, and mountain vistas.  Every direction you looked, a beautiful scene you wanted to paint awaited you.  However, we didn’t spend a lot of time painting there, just long enough for a demo by Keiko Tanabe and a little watercolour sketch by me, in the yard by the monastery.

My tiny sketch. I made sure to include the ever-present swifts.  Not the best photo, but you get the idea!

Then we explored a little bit.

While the village seemed mostly devoid of people (or perhaps they were just indoors on the hot day!), we did find this independent seeming cat who led us around.  Here, in this latest of my series of The Cats of Italy, she seems to be beckoning to us from down the slope of this alley, to follow her out into the sunshine and see the part of the village that faces the valley below.  Which is exactly what we did.  This cat may be featured twice in my series!  More painting-worthy scenes awaited us there.

Cat of Monte Dei Bianchi. Watercolour on Paper. 15×22″. Artist Lianne Todd. $475.00

After we said our goodbyes to the cat, we walked down the road to the Ristorante Al Vecchio Tino for a gourmet lunch.  It was delicious, and way too much food!  It seemed like it would be a very pleasant and peaceful place to stay.

If you’d like to see this painting and the other Cats of Italy I’ve done so far, in person, put the weekend of May 5 & 6 on your calendar if you’re in Southwestern Ontario.  We have the Oxford Studio Tour happening that weekend and I’ll be welcoming everyone into my gallery/studio to view my paintings and my digital fractal art.  I am at Location #4.  Hope to see you – please let me know if you regularly read my blog!  Also I’m terrible at remembering names and faces, so if we’ve met before, please remind me.

Here I am with Cats of Lucca… photo credit for this one goes to Jeff Tribe.  Thanks Jeff!

Me, with Cats of Lucca

Oh, and one more thing – you still have until April 30 to vote for my paintings or any others you choose to vote for on Facebook in the People’s Choice Awards album for the entries into the Symphony of Watercolour Exhibition that is coming this fall to Richmond Hill, Ontario.  It is a joint exhibition of the International Watercolour Society of Canada (IWS Canada) and the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour (CSPWC).


Happy Holidays!

It is the time of year we reach out to friends, bring our families closer together if we can, and are extra nice to strangers.  Even if we are remiss in some areas the rest of the year, at least we do it the once!  And what a year it has been.

For me, it has been a good year.  I have painted a number of paintings I am happy with, I am happy to have sold several pieces of my art, I’ve been lucky enough to do some traveling to far away places, I’ve made new friends, and I’ve been able to spend time with several of the special people in my life.  I hope your year has been good too.  But if it hasn’t, remember:  a new year is coming, and when things are bad, they will get better.  They will.

Now I am going to share with you one of the pieces I painted as a result of my trip west.  This was a scene on one of our hikes.  It was in the Valley of the Five Lakes – the same hike I talked about in “A watercolour inspired by this summer’s trip to Jasper“.  This painting is called Fourth Lake, Jasper.  It is amazing how the scenes change along a single hike and depending on the direction you look.

If by any chance you are still gift shopping and you wish to browse my gallery (watercolours and fractal art available!), please know you are welcome – just contact me here or send me a facebook message, or phone me (519-879-9903) (be sure to leave a message if I don’t answer!).  Don’t hesitate to ask for an evening appointment.  If I don’t see you, I wish you all the best this holiday season.

Fourth Lake, Jasper. Watercolour on Paper. 11×15″. Artist Lianne Todd. $295.00

The Cats of Italy, number 1

Everywhere we went in Italy, we encountered cats who seemed to have a great deal of freedom.  Some obviously had someone who they answered to, and others were definitely feral.  At some point during the trip, I decided I had to do a series of paintings centered around the cats of Italy.

This first scene is appropriately named Cats of Lucca, as that is its location.  Lucca is a beautiful old walled city, (the walls are very thick, with tree-lined pathways you can walk or cycle on all the way around), with many sights to see.  There are towers to climb, beautiful churches to see the inside of, an oval plaza on the site of an ancient Roman amphitheater, the Piazza Napoleone (a Green Day concert was being prepared for later that day when we were there), and lots of shopping!

But this is an ordinary street scene in Lucca, with the warm Tuscan sunshine angling in and cats lounging and gazing into the distance.  I hope you like it.  If you’d like to see the painting in person, don’t forget our studio tour here in Otterville is next weekend, the 18 & 19 of November!

Cats on the streets of Lucca, watercolour painting

Cats of Lucca. Watercolour on paper. 15×22″. Artist Lianne Todd. $475.00