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!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Positively Fantasy Faces

I have taken a few days to refresh and to recover from staying up too late making faces over the past few weeks.  Although I did make 29 faces, I would like to end the challenge with some positively fantasical faces.  My fantasy art began by me photographing and exploring  an area by the river that most people simply walk by and not notice because it looks like any other forest.  But once inside, a fantasy world is entered.  My imagination started to grow once I discovered a giant pile of tree debris that was swept ashore seven years ago in a flood that rose several metres up the trees. 

Dragon Face

Dragon/Elephant Face

One tree had a mystical face that resembled a dragon.  Another seemed to be part dragon, part elephant. 

I found some really amazing fungus growing on a beaver attacked fallen tree next to the tree pile.  The scales of the dragon in my art were inspired by the patterns on the top of the fungus. 

Dragon Patterns and Scales

The background in the art is based on the underside of the fungus. 
Background Patterns

 The scales were also inspired by some really interesting paths carved into the trunk by insects. 

More Dragon Scales

One of my students found a really soft squishy piece of wood that had a porcupine quill poking into it.  This is the spear in my art. 

Old Tree Warrior's Eye

The Old Tree Warrior Gazed Across the River
The old tree warrior is the tree on the right side of the photograph and seemed to be holding all of the debris together.  The background is the South Saskatchewan River and Lion's Park forest across from where we were sitting.  A student named Mathieu was the model for the boy clinging to the dragon's back.  It was positively fun creating fantasy faces out of what I spotted in the forgotten forest!

 The Fantastical Faces and Photographs are soul property of Renee Dowling.
To use her images, please contact her at

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Positively Faces of Time

Overcast Sky
It was day three at Police Point Park today, and although the sky was overcast and the temperature was cooler than the first two days, we still had happy faces and an exceptionally great time!  

We once again caught glimpse of a variety of faces.  We spotted two white tailed deer, one sand hill crane, a garter snake, hawks, and of course, some interesting aged faces in the splendid Cottonwood trees! 

Follow the path with me to catch a glimpse of our discoveries.

Happy Face

We began the day exploring a forest by the South Saskatchewan River.  The tree branches bend and twist.  No two trees ever look the exact same.  How beautiful and inspiring! 

The river flows at the foot of the glorious sandy cliffs which are graced with silver sage and ancient erosion lines.   Their true beauty was in disguise today, but when the sun shines upon the elderly cliffs, one can spot faces in the cliffs and old tales of the past are revealed.

 This is what the cliffs look like on a nice clear sunny day. Many of us can see the faces of our First Nations people.  Legend has it that this is where the Legend Behind The Name Medicine Hat took place. A young Blood sacrificed his wife to the sea serpent to earn the medicine hat (the Saamis) and special abilities for hunting to save his entire village from starvation.  Just below these legendary cliffs is where the river never freezes and the sea serpent lives.

The Sea Serpent
 Stepping in some super gooey mud on the river bank looking for evidence that animals frequent the bank seemed to generate the biggest smiles.  We discovered beaver, raccoon, deer, and giant heron prints.  The students thanked me for allowing them to have some freedom to explore the river bank.  They were also excited to find clam shells and shells of crayfish and skip rocks!

Ancient Cottonwood Trunk
  GPS geocaching was a real challenge for us, however, we managed to spot other treasures along the way.

I read a quote today, with age we approach magnificence.  I have to agree. This park gets more beautiful as time passes. One visitor to the park today left a comment in the interpretive centre saying there is a lot of clean up to do.  I don't agree at all.  The dead and close to dead trees add character to the park and give hiding places for animals.  If they want perfect, they should go to the other city parks with there are closely cut lawns and human planted flower beds.  This park is a celebration of our past and a marvelous glimpse of how the faces of nature are ever changing over time!

This is a picture I drew last year showing the passage of the season and time.  I call it, "Listen to the Trees"!

Renee Dowling's images are her soul property.
If you would like to use her images in any way,
please ask for permission:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Positively Feathered Faces

Have a peek through the forest to see the positively feathered faces we spotted today!

Feathery Face
  Today at Police Point Park for my grade sixes' Community Classroom, we were privileged to witness some positively feathered faces.  I had just commented to the young explorers that if they were more quiet, they will be surprised to see some wildlife.  Two minutes hadn't yet passed when to our surprise,  two...yes two.... Great Horned owls lit from a branch above our heads, revealing their gigantic wing span to us.  We spent about ten minutes creeping closer and closer taking millions of pictures.

Are You Lookin' At Me?

Birds of a Feather Stick Together

Would You Please Be Quiet, I Am Trying To Eat?!

The positively feathered faces truly delighted our hearts.  One student declared,"We are the luckiest group in the whole world.  We keep seeing the best birds!"  I have to agree.  I also think I am the luckiest teacher in the whole  world for having such wonderful, enthusiastic students and a supportive principal, parent council, staff, community members, volunteers and school district leaders who all value education and "new" ways of learning. This is more than a field trip, it is an entire week where the students are outside in the community having real life experiences and adventures!  If only all people could be so lucky...!

Sorry, no art tonight. I am positively pooped!

The positively feathered faces photographs are soul property of 
Renee Dowling.
Please contact her to use her images at

Monday, September 24, 2012

More Positively Magnificent Tree Faces

This week is for nature lovers, because I am spending the whole week outdoors with the teacher I team teach with and two classes of grade sixes at a prairie forest in Police Point Park where there are many positively magnificent tree faces.  The best faces can be found in the Plains Cottonwood trees.  The trees that are near the river are around eighty years old, but the ones in the middle of the prairie are tree faces of survival where it is estimated they are close to three hundred years old.  This is magnificent because they need plenty of water, and when they don't get it, which is common on the prairie, part of the tree dies and it sends the nutrients to the rest of the tree so the rest can survive.  As a result, the trees twist and turn, bend and break, so many magnificent shapes result.  The woodpeckers and other birds, also assist in the formation of faces.  Other factors that effect the trees are fire, floods, diseases, humans, high winds, lightning and drought.  With all of the obstacles the Plains Cottonwood experience, it is amazing that they survive at all on the great Albertan prairie.  For the rest of the week, the photographs and experiences at Police Point will be the inspiration for my art. 


We had to follow the tour guide today, and stick with the large group, so the sunlight was not in the best position.  Tomorrow, we are on our own, so I expect better lit photographs.  For now, sit back and enjoy the positively magnificent tree faces!

Spooky Face
During the day, this tree face is somewhat spooky.  Imagine when the fall orangy and pinky sun begins to descend and fade what the face would look like!

Work It

This Plains Cottonwood tree is one of the most photographed trees in the park.  At this angle, it looks like a super model with wild and crazy hair posing with one arm up and the other on its hip.  The surrounding skirt of chokecherry bushes, silver sage and wild clematis compliments the super model in stunning autumn colours.  Do you recognize the tree in my art above?
Sacrificial Twists
How does the tree grow as it twists is totally amazing to me.  The flattened trunk is so different than the usual cylindrical trunk.  On the left hand side of this magnificent creature, I see a very wrinkled old man with a very large mouth.  Perhaps he is calling all of his old friends over for some sage tea and chokecherry jam with fresh cream and homemade bread made by the local farmers nearby?

Changing Faces
Up until August, this mighty Plains Cottonwood looked like a giant with a very scary face and arms reaching out, created by lightning strikes, bullying winds and about 300 years of challenges.  Now, sadly, although it is hollow in the heart, its arms have broken off and the face has disappeared, its soul is still alive, and it is sending energy to the younger parts of the tree and leaves are still growing.  Isn't that typical of grandparents?   They nurture and sacrifice for the good of the young!

This week we will be measuring the circumference of its trunk and examining it closely.  Behind it is the Enchanted Forest, and we are going to reenact the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel there!  Follow the crumbs and you will find this beauty!


We were treated to a rare delight of music on what sounded like bongo drums by a Pileated Woodpecker.  The speed at which this large fellow beat his beak against the hollow Cottonwood entertained our prairie hearts!  He stops and listens, after beating the trunk, for insects inside.  If you are quiet, you may hear this lively fellow's music in the distance and if you creep slowly, you may catch a glimpse of its black and white face and lovely red head!

Faces of Disease
 This tree is part of what makes the Enchanted Forest so special.  Although it has a disease, the tree is still growing strong and many faces adorn the tree like a totem pole.  If you are quiet, maybe the tree fairies will sing you a song and treat you to a dance around the tree base!

Oh, the more I look, the more I see magnificent faces in the divine Plains Cottonwood trees!

Work It, detail 1

Work It, detail 2

Work It, detail3

The magnificent tree faces are soul property of Renee Dowling!
If you would like to use her photographs in any way,
please contact her at

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Positively Mini Faces

 With all of the big changes in the air, large amounts of leaves turning yellow making a massive sea of yellow across the lawn and huge flocks of birds gathering and preparing for migration, I thought it might be interesting to focus on the miniature faces in life, from the tiny sage flowers, the lady bird bug beetle, the busy bee and the little yellow bug (that I have never seen before), all enjoying the pretty pink miniature seedum flowers.  I continue to draw one line faces in miniature in my little blue handcrafted drawing book.  Today's faces are positively mini.

The images are soul property of Renee Dowling.
Please contact her to use them in any way.