Art and Positive Thinking

Welcome to my Renee Loves Art blog!

My focus is exploring, creating and reflecting upon the positives of life and connecting them to my art whether it be photography, pen and ink drawings, watercolour paintings, mixed media, digital media or any other possible media I dive into!

I hope you join me on my art adventure!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Optimistically Waiting For The Positively Blue Moon

Hide and Seek
 I am currently sitting outside in the dark, optimistically waiting for the blue moon to show its stubborn and mischievous head from behind the August clouds.  I have  dragged my weary head off my pillow after crashing on the couch due to an absolutely delightful but tiring three days back to work.

I suddenly have caught a second wind.  I have armed myself with long sleeves and pants, and bug spray.  I have even set up my tripod, which I normally don't bother doing, and am sitting here on my rocking chair, on the front lawn with the lively crickets, mosquitoes and my cat Jacques Cartier, the curious explorer.  I am sure his is wondering what the heck I am doing outside when the moon literally is only peeking one eye at a time from behind the clouds once in a "blue moon".

Catch Me If You Can

For those of you who are wondering if the moon is blue, well not that I could really tell, but no.  This phenomena only occurs if there are a lot of dust particles in the air, such as from a volcano.  Even with all of the harvesting going on, there doesn't isn't enough dust in the air for the moon to appear blue.  A blue moon has become to be known as two full moons that occur in one month.  The next blue moon is expected in 2015.

I can't even see stars in the sky, so I am not sure how much of the moon I will actually get to see.  Even the crickets that were once chirping loudly next to me seem to be tiring of waiting for the moon.  My cat has been weaving himself between the feet of my tripod, and even he has settled down behind me with a tired, but watchful eye.

With a Wink, Say Good-bye
 It was asked that when we do glimpse the moon to give it a wink in memoriam to Neil Armstrong, the first man to step on the moon.  He died this week at the age of  82.

As I was taking my first steps as a one year old, he was taking his first steps on the moon at about the same age as I am now!  See, one can do great things even in his/her forties.

The little tiny insects are enjoying the light of my iPad and are beginning to test my patience.  Mother nature has thrown a thick black blanket over the moon and absolutely no light is escaping.  I bet the moon is reading bedtime stories under the blanket with his comet flashlight.  The story about the foolish girl sitting on a rocking chair, being bitten by bugs and fooled to believe she will be able to see the blue moon anytime soon, is entertaining him, I am sure.

It is fun sitting out here though.  My neighbours are sitting by a campfire with friends.  I can hear every word the say from across the highway, every bark, every chirp, every car.  I can even hear the hum of a combine harvesting in a field nearby and the sawing of logs on the other side of my bedroom window.

Reverse Blue Moon
My one dollar find at a garage sale, old coloured camera filters, were waiting patiently on the bench beside me.   I wanted to use play creative tricks with the moon and my camera.  Now they are feeling neglected and are thinking they should go in before the bugs do their business on them.

Ah, what was that?  A rain drop!  Really??! Ugh!......

Well, I've just taken all of my equipment of adventure,or of a sort of adventure into the house and I am not sure there are anymore rain drops.  Of, course. 

My dog gave me that puppy dog look and I gave in.  I joined her for an almost midnight stroll.  The moon thinks it was being smart with his "Hide and Go Seek" game that he's been playing, but it is still bright enough for us to walk through the corrals and see our two horses foraging in the mud by the irrigation canal, so I think I won this game.  Normally, I have to turn on the barn light!!

It is 11:43 and I had to drag my dog to come in.  The raindrops are still periodically and lightly playing.  And I have to admit, the night was not at all disappointing, because to be optimistically waiting for a playful blue moon to lighten the sky and fill my camera screen was positively great!

 My guess is in the middle of the morning, when I am trying to sleep, the moon will whip off his blanket and say, "Renee, tricked ya.  I'm here.  Come outside and play. "

I'll reply, " You had your chance. Maybe tomorrow." Then I'll get up and close the curtains...and hide me!  Or will I? (I have my camera still on the tripod, and my gear next to the door!"

Neil, may you find peace in the heavens and have plenty more walks with the moon. Take another small step for man, one giant leap for mankind!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Positively Different

I have been sharing a lot of vacation photos, so tonight I thought I would share something positively different for a little change.  I have been attending drawing classes this summer.  We visited different locations in the city and used different media each time. Last night we used pen and ink, and watercolour pencils.  We stayed in the studio/cafe because it was so hot outside.  All of us had returned to work, wwwwaaaaaahhhhh,  and were hot and tired, so we voted to stay indoors and draw things in the studio and cafe.  Here is my little drawing.

In the Cafe
My goal is to still improve on perspective when drawing elipses and proportions, but I thought I would share this anyways.  We were using viewer finders. They were made out of a picture mat, with a grid draw on acetate to help with proportions.  I was so tired after my first day back to work with meetings and putting the finishing touches on my classroom, that I was totally unsteady holding the with view finder and viewing using one eye made me dizzy, that I gave up and used my old fashioned eyeballs.  Oh, well.  It's about the growth and the journey.

I thought I would also shae with you some little crafty scupltures that I created using tin cans, branches from different trees in my yard, corrogated cardboard, handmade moss nests, raffia and store bought butterflies and birds.  I created them as centre pieces for the tables/pods in my classroom.  I  made little welcome signs and used little clothes' pins that I purchased at a dollar store.  I call them, "Complimentrees".  They are meant to clip little notes of appreciation.  My students are starting the year with the theme, "Imagine That!"and are studying trees....Imagine That in the prairie!



Hopefully, you positively enjoyed something different today! It was sure fun making them!
I am off to bed, I had such a great first day of school, the students are very likable and sweet, but I am exhausted!  Goodbye summer holidays, hello exhaustion. Yawn,  good night everyone!

The art is soul property of Renee Dowling. 
Contact her at
to learn more or to use her images.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cameron Waterfall is Positively Gorgeous

We spent our last day of a little adventure at the Cameron Falls is Waterton.  It is positively gorgeous!

Gorgeous Cameron Falls
Corn Chip Fan


Give Me an H

Feeling Brave

Pretty Rocks and Falls

X Marks the Spot

We made one last stop before loading up the trailer and heading home. 

What are you looking at?

At the Last Stop- Bison Paddock

Well, that wraps up our trip.  It was positively a beautiful southwestern Alberta vacation.  I hope you enjoyed the week long blog field trip!

Renee Dowling's photographs are her soul property.
To use or purchase her photos,
please contact her at

Monday, August 27, 2012

Positively Enormous

The debris that fell from Turtle Mountain is positively enormous!  My son agreed to help illustrate this! We hope you enjoy the photos!

The Big Climb

He Made It
Tiny Teenager, Enormous Rock Slide

Putting Things Into Perspective

I am sure you will agree that the debris of the Turtle Mountain rock slide is positively enormous!

Renee Dowling's photographs are her soul property.
To use or purchase her photos,
please contact her at

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Positively Mountainous

Crowsnest Lake
I found it appropriate that this mountain and its reflection looks like a bird at Crowsnest Lake.

Postcard Perfect

At the Beach
As usual, Waterton was cloudy, smoky, windy, and for a few moments, rainy!

Family Pause

Bald Eagle


The Wake

Spruced Up Rocks

Ribbons of Blue

This Way and That

Lake Trout

The International Captain's Seat
I always love being in the mountains.  They are tricky to photograph, but exciting to observe.
There is nothing greater than smelling the positively fresh mountain air!

Renee Dowling's photographs are her soul property.
To use or purchase her photos,
please contact her at

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Cottonwood Campground Is Positively Lovely!

Oh, deer.  It still has its spots!
For those of you who regularly follow my blog, you know that I am a big fan of Cottonwood trees, so I thought it was fitting for us to go camping at the Cottonwood Campground near Pincher Creek.  It was positively lovely there and in the area.  It is at the foot of the Old Man River Dam!  It is in the valley, were there is no Internet service.

We camped under this beauty!

The night sky with the mountains in the distance was stunning!


The farmers end the day's harvest under a beautiful night sky!
Camping in this area was especially lovely!

The photographs are soul property of Renee Dowling.
To use them, contact her at

Friday, August 24, 2012

Positively Encouraging

We're Never Alone When In Troubled Waters!
 For the first time, we went to Cowboy Church.  It was after the rodeo slack on Sunday morning.  When I was a kid, the only time I went to church is when I stayed with my grandparents on their farm.  They loaded us up and we went to Schuler for church.  The only thing I really remember about the church is that it felt nice to be there and I was really excited to put a dime in the collection basket that was passed around.  Sunday at Grandma and Grandpa's farm was quite special to me.  Grandpa was always a music fan, and I remember laying on the couch in my pajamas with the sun shining in the living room window and the old church hymns playing on the record player as the scent of farm fresh eggs and bacon frying  in the kitchen filled the air. 

Although I wouldn't consider my family very religious, Mom and Dad always have begun our meals with prayer. I have read the bible, front to back several times and have visited it on different occasions for different reasons, personally and educationally to figure out biblical references from literature, movies and history.  I try to understand different points of view.  I have attended vacation bible school, but my church background is limited. The only other times I have been to church have been when there are special reasons to be: weddings, funerals, baptisms, a few Christmas Eves, and homecomings.  As a child, I used to wake up early Sunday mornings and watch church on television after watching Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, The Lone Ranger, the Little Rascals, and Abbott and Costello (no not the originals, in re-runs, I am not that old).   So, I have a limited understanding of the bible.

When I heard that there was going to be Cowboy Church, I decided to take my family, just because...

Cowboy church was really casual and pleasant, and took place in the beer gardens, of all places, because there was a microphone, shade and picnic tables for people to sit at.  The pastor adorned in jeans, a cowboy shirt and cowboy hat, greeted each person with a handshake and a little conversation. 

The Devil

Song books were handed out and the service began with some great jokes and music.  As I was flipping through the song book, while sitting on the hill in the shade, I spotted some songs that Grandpa and Grandma played for us.  I secretly wished that we would be able to sing them,  guess what?  We did. "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" and "I'll Fly Away!"  It is a good thing I had my sun glasses on so nobody could see my tears.  I suddenly missed my grandparents and our Sunday mornings.

Sunday Musical Memories 

The message of the sermon, was that we will all go through turmoil and we all find shelter in different ways or different places, but to remember, that we do not have to face our problems alone.  If we want to, we can always call on God to be there for us.  The story of being in the troubled waters was told, and how one can almost go under, but by asking for God's help, one can be rescued.  This story was the inspiration for the art at the top of this post.  I used graphite of different hardnesses/softnesses, a white eraser, a blending tool and my traveling sketchbook.  I started the drawing while driving to Waterton but finished it at home because the roads were far too bumpy to create fine details like in the fingers.  I included the mountains because of our trip and the mountain is a common theme is biblical passages.  The person hidden in the water is me.  I created the water using curly-cues.  The streaks in the sky were created using a white eraser.

I also learned another lesson.  This Cowboy Church accepts all types of people, and even an old farm dog.  There were Mennonite people, Native Americans, cowboys and cowgirls, young and old, tourists, skeptics, believers and the curious.  No one was dressed in their "Sunday best" and no one minded.  It wasn't about appearances, it was about the messages!

Cowboy Church

Boots, Bare feet and Crocs, Welcome

He Listened Too!
With a Feather in His Hat

They Felt Comfortable! 

They listened intently!

Sunday's Cowboy Hat

Our Old Farm Dog Came Too!

The pastor said that he wasn't there to judge people, but to share the message and was glad that we all took the time in the fresh mountain air to come and participate in the service.  He even had free bibles for anyone who wanted one!

I hope you enjoy the photographs and the art inspired by the Cowboy Church.  I was positively encouraged to think, photograph and create art through the experience!

The photography and art is soul property
of Renee Dowling.
For permission to use them, please contact her at

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Positively Cool!

A while back, one of my young students asked me if I had ever been down in a coal mine.  I played it positively cool and stated, "No, I have never been underground."

He told me that it was,  "Soooooo cooool!", both literally and figuratively.  I didn't admit that I have always been scared stupid when the idea came up. What if the mountain collapses?  Look at what happened in 1903 at Turtle Mountain... The Frank Slide...people killed, houses destroyed!  An area one kilometre wide, 425 metres long, and 150 metres deep was covered in giant limestone boulders from the crest of the mountain!  No way, I wasn't going into a coal mine, ever!!!!!  

Well.... I changed my mind this summer.  I decided out of the blue, that I was ready to take the plunge and it became reality this Sunday, August 19th.  I had just been to Cowboy Church in Pincher Creek, and I guess I earned some courage.  The message was, "You are never alone, just ask for help."

So I said, "Okay, Lord, don't let me down!" and down I went!

The outside temperature was 32 degrees Celsius and I was ready for a break from the heat after two days of sitting in the heat with sweat running down my back at the rodeos.  What better way to cool off than going into a mine shaft where the entrance temperature was 2 degrees Celsius and 300 metres in O degrees Celsius?  Gulp!

I am actually going in there!

2 Degrees? Burrr!

They believe in safety first! Phew!

Okay, the beams look fairly strong!

I don't know, those beams look haphazardly placed?  Gulp!

Really?  That's holding the up mountain?

Will hard helmets and little headlights really be enough?

Why am I walking crooked?

What's that sound? Flood water!  Why is water dripping down the sides?
 The smell of sulphur, the fungus growing on the walls, and the water rotting the giant timbers suddenly didn't seem so scary.  This area of the mine has been open for about 90 years, I'll be fine!  Hey, this is kind of cool!  Oh boy, the interpreter wants us to turn off our headlights and wave our hands in front of our faces.  That's dark.  Where is my hand?  It sure is 0 degrees cool in here.

Hey, that rock is beautiful!

Okay, I have admit, it was cool being in the mine. We got a sense of what it would have been like to work in the cold, dark mine, how heavy the tools were to get the coal out and how much work and time it would have taken to take out tonnes of coal out of the mountain.  The tools made so much noise that the people in the houses above could hear the miners' tools below their floors!

I actually wasn't that creept out, I was slightly exaggerating!  I was also amazed that my camera could take such clear photos with a headlamp on my helmet and my flash!  I had a positively cool mining experience in the Bellevue Mine!  I am sure glad I wore my hoodie though!  My fingers were still cold fifteen minutes after in the gift shop!  I did feel absolutely refreshed once outside again! COOOOOOOOL!

 The photographs are soul property of Renee Dowling.
Please ask for permission to use them at