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, October 28, 2012

Positively A Splendid Snowy Sunny Sunday

My son declared it was time to ride the quad outside,
My husband questioned,  "Why? You'll get all wet and muddy!"
I responded," Isn't that what quads and riding gear are for?"
My husband surrendered," Yeh, I guess so??"

I  had the itch to get outside and photograph the afternoon,
with the magnificent sun shining for the first time in over a week!

A Splendid Sunny Snowy Sunday

The splendid sun shining
 this snowy Sunday,
Every eave filling
 with water drips,
Mud forming
 all around
 us as we slip.



The summer flowers drying
 glorious blue
 against the white shimmering
 snow.
Evidence that autumn
 is here
 and soon winter
I know.


A dragonfly lingering
still and dead,
in the blue spruce's
needles up
ahead.

My son suiting
 up
 for his wet
 muddy
 play,
and
me
collecting
 my camera,
for capturing
this splendid
 day.



Snow chunks flying,
Water soaking in,
He tests his luck,
The quad gets stuck.




Wheels spinning,
Droplets scattering,
The engine roaring
over the tiny birds' chattering.



What joy
 he is having,
getting muddy and wet.



Making art
of fall leaves
 dancing
and circling
round and round
the circles form,
it will still be beautiful
Monday morn.



The sunlight
 is perfect,
the sky
a mystical
 blue.



The summer flowers
resting
 their heads,
standing
 still
on this day,
dreaming
of becoming
new.



Remembering
this splendid
sunny
snowy
Sunday.

I have now
 shared
 it
 with you!



The images and text
 are soul property
of
Renee Dowling.
To use them in any way,
please contact her at

Monday, October 22, 2012

Positively Musical

Music
The other day I had mentioned the passing of a man who did his best to help others.  It was revealed at his memorial that he had chosen all of the quotes, scriptures, and music for the service.  Oh the music, it was absolutely beautiful.  An organist was flown in from New York.  I have never heard such glorious music, especially live on a pipe organ.  I am a sucker for music, I hear a note and I can weep like a baby. You can imagine the mess I was in when this extraordinary organist played music that Dr. Wilson had personally chosen and he played one of my favourite composers, Bach.  To be sitting in the historic St. Barnabas Church with its antiquated flags hanging from the World Wars, the spectacular pillars, chandeliers and arches and then to hear the heavenly music on the pipe organ was purely touching to this history lover and classical music fan.  I see Dr. Wilson and I had more in common than I knew.
He had selected some very inspirational quotes, which summarized who he was and what he stood for.
"The purpose of life is not to be happy.  It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Do you know that this usefulness paid off for me?  Dr. Wilson encouraged all of us student teachers to get involved with our community.  We volunteered for all kinds of things...intramurals, floor hockey tournaments, fundraising...it was because of his encouragement to join our Education Undergraduate Society, that I earned the privilege to fly on an airplane for the first time in my life and was able to stay at the historic and magnificent Empress Hotel in Victoria, Vancouver Island.  I organized a fashion show to fundraise and  lead a group of students to create art of Alphonse Mucha for the set design.  Because of my involvement, I was chosen with a few others to go to a conference for other student teachers from all across Western Canada.  It was the first time I had seen the ocean and had learned what life was really like first hand. That there really are classes in our society...I saw the haves and the have nots...the truly wealthy and the truly desparate... I had a man beg me on the waterfront for a job, because he thought my daddy was a rich man, because he saw me leaving the Empress Hotel.  Seeing people lounging around and having high tea, while knowing that outside men were pleading to find work, made the experience an eye opening, bitter sweet lesson!

Anyways, I have volunteered for other little things since then, but have never really thought of where and when the idea to help out started.  Now I know!

Another quote that he chose that I found particularly profound was the following:

Music detail

"Indeed, I would go out of my mind were it not for music.  That is truly heaven's greatest gift to mankind as it blunders about in the darkness.  Music alone brings light and calm, and reconciliation.  But it is not merely a straw to be grabbed at: it is a true friend, a protector, and comforter, and it alone makes life on this earth worth living ." 
-Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky 

Isn't this so true?  I wake up each day and turn on the music.  I arrive at work and turn on the music. I drive wherever I go to music. I turn on music when I reflect, when I create art, when I go to bed! Music always fills my soul.  I just can't believe how people can compose such beautiful pieces of music that convey their feelings, thoughts and experiences, especially the composers of classical music.  They tell such magnificent stories and open their hearts to us, without even a word... With  just eight notes, timing, the pressure of their fingers on their instruments, the loudness or softness of their playing, all portraying a mood, a story, a peace of history, a moment in time, a memory...How can something be so lasting?  So powerful?  So touching? So important ?  Positively, Music is truly my friend and is there no matter what!

 Let the music around you comfort you and fill your soul with warmth and understanding and peace and joy!
Music Spreads Light
Renee's art is her soul property.
Please contact her at
to seek permission to use her images.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Positively Reflective

He Caused Many Ripples
After someone dies, one becomes positively reflective.  A college professor of mine, Dr. Wilson, an active historian, author and school board member, passed away yesterday morning. 

He always seemed happy and always had a great big shiny smile which was followed by a greeting that made your name sing.  The sunshine poured out of him.

He was very influential in my teacher education and always made me want to be better.  He showed encouragement, and passion.  He taught us not only how to teach, but also how to think and be creative.  He exposed us to modern educational philosophies and made us question education.  Did the way we learned in our own schooling, best meet our needs?  Is there a better way?  He is part of the reason I teach and reflect the way I do.  He also taught us etiquette and how to act when in a formal situation... which fork to use, when to toast the Queen, when not to clink your glass.

However, the one thing that I will always be grateful for is how he inspired me to be a better reader.  In school, I was a nervous wreck when I had to read out loud.  I remember sitting in rows and just hoping and praying that my teacher would not make be read in front of everyone.  Of course she did, so I would count how many people were in my row, and then count the paragraphs, and then as the other students were reading, I would read and re-read my paragraph to myself, in horrible anticipation of when I would have to read.  When it was my turn, I would stumble through, stammering and repeating certain passages,so self-conscious and unsure. 

When I got to college, and was taking a beginning education course and was in a tutorial group, Dr. Wilson stressed with great passion, that as teachers we needed to be fantastic readers and needed to use so much eye contact and expression, that would make our students beg for more and want to read!  Of course we had to read in front of other student teachers, and that made me very nervous. 

I went home and I practised and practised and practised. I discovered that the reason I had so many troubles reading is I had terrible strategies of decoding words and basically had to teach myself how to read, by remembering patterns.  With new strategies, I began to stumble less.  Don't get me wrong I could read before this, but for some reason when I had to read orally, I fumbled so much, that I was embarrassed,and more mistakes and then just prefered to not read aloud.  So after practising and teaching myself how to decode, my confidence began to grow and I was able to read in front of the small tutorial group.  Dr. Wilson sung the praises and suddenly, I felt like I could read orally and that I could actually engage my students when the time came. 

I still like to pre-read what I am going to read to my students, but I can say that I am a confident reader who grabs the attention of her students with dramatic expression and plenty of eye contact, all  because of the wonderful instruction and positive encouragement from Dr. Wilson. 

Whenever I have a student teacher, I insist that she/he use eye contact and dramatic expression, because I never want a student to not love it when an adult reads to them, and who knows, that reading may motivate them to be readers and performers! 

It is because of Dr. Wilson that I have a passion for reading, exploring new ideas, creating innovative lessons and am a reflective person who asks...is there a better way?...will this engage students so they enjoy learning and will want to continue to learn? 

Unfortunately for his family and our community of learners, he is now no longer with us, but the impact he had on us will always remain.  I will always remember his happiness and smile and encouragement... 

Some happiness quotes that I have been collecting beckoned me today and found their way into my art...I became positively reflective. This is in memory of Dr. Wilson.  He will be missed, but the ripples of his influence will be forever felt!


He Emanated Happiness

He Inspired Happiness
Good-bye, Dr.Wilson.  You made a difference and will not be forgotten!
Thank you for everything!
It was an honour to know you and learn from you!

The art is soul property of Renee Dowling.
To use her images in anyway,
please contact her at

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Best Things in Life Are Positively Free!

Positively Free
 "Positively Free" is an acrylic multimedia painting composed of many diverse papers in the background.  I used a water and glue mixture to paste campsite registration slips from my summer trip to Cottonwood Campground near Pincher Creek, Canon in D sheet music that I am currently practising for my piano recital in November, and a brown paper bag with pictures of antiques and old advertisements from last year's summer trip to Fort Macleod.  The tree has branches that curl this way and that and were inspired by the magnificent Cottonwood trees at Police Point, my yard, and my one of my favourite Gustav Klimt paintings.  I added two tiny people looking up who reminded me of when my sons were little looking up to see if they should climb the tree and build a tree fort to play army in their camouflage,  and also of how small I feel and look next to the ancient trees. I entitled it "Positively Free" because the items used were entirely free and I felt free to paint the tree however I wanted and used whatever colours I wanted.  The colours were inspired by the many colours of the fall foliage and dramatic autumn skies. I also feel so free when I am outside toodling the day away in the forest, listening to the leaves crunch under foot! Isn't that what the saying says,"The best things in life are free!"?

Step 1 and 2

Step 3

detail

detail

detail

detail

detail
Look what my husband found, lurking near our garage amongst the cottonwood leaves!


Free To Explore

Born Free


Hope you all have a great week!
Your comments are appreciated!

"Positively Free"  and the frog photographs
are soul property of Renee Dowling.
For permission to use her images or to purchase them,
please contact her at

Monday, October 8, 2012

I Positively Followed My Own Advice

Yesterday's post was full of advice, and I absolutely followed it.  I cleaned my windows!  Look what I was treated to, two smart mouthed blue jays!


















She's staring at me!  Shucks, with those clean windows, there is no privacy around this joint!



Okay, we've flown off over a dozen times and this woman can't take a hint.  After an hour she is still watching us.  How would she like it if we stared at her while she was eating?


Well, since she can't take a hint, I might as well pose!



Seriously lady, you are starting to annoy me!


She's still watching us, isn't she?

That woman needs to get a life! First she washes her windows on a holiday, and then she sits at the window watching us!  Here's our plan...


The photographs are soul property of Renee Dowling.
Please contact her at
to use her photos in any way!

On Friday morning, the skies were very grey and we had snow.  Great big slow moving snowflakes!  By the end of the day, the sky was a magnificent blue and I was lucky to spot a downy woodpecker.  Here are a few pictures.  The fast moving fellow made it a challenge to catch a photo.  I have uploaded the photos twice, but both times Iwas distracted by the blue jays and then by pressure to move quickly to get to my parents' house for Thanksgiving supper, so tonight I finally remembered to post the photos.





Sunday, October 7, 2012

Positively, Just Look Out Your Window!

Just Look Outside Your Window
Even though my house isn't fancy or new,and many things are needing a good face lift or an all together replacement, there is absolutely one thing that I love about my kitchen and dining room. I have positively big windows that reveal a world of wonder.

With the rich yellows, greens,oranges, browns, reds and blues of autumn gracing us, I am eager to open my curtains in the morning to drink up all of the divine hues.


As I was making homemade waffles from a family recipe handed down to me by my mother-in-law, I glanced out my kitchen window and yelled joyfully, "Look, a blue jay. Derek and Bryan, there is a blue jay on the deck!!!" Now, many of you may say big deal, but I have never seen a blue jay on our acreage. After pleading with my son to watch the cooking waffles, I grabbed my camera, for once I had the right lens, and I snuck out my back door...and...it flew to the nearest Cottonwood. To my delight, there was another blue jay. Of course, once they detected my presence, they flew off into the great big blue grey sky. Ugh, right lens, wrong timing.


Positively Blue

I returned to my kitchen, and continued to make waffles. Then to my surprise, I caught sight of one blue jay. After several minutes had passed, I exclaimed, "Hey, it's back. It is on my blue bird bath." I knew the moment I would open the door, it would say, "See you later!", so I compromised and took photos through my huge picture window in my dining room.






The jay enjoyed jumping knee deep in the leafy water, and performed proudly and briefly.



Once it tired, it hopped into a nearby bush and hid. I returned to the waffles, then took a quick peek out the window again, and the blue jay returned to my deck, then leaped to the bird feeder filled with sunflower seeds. I snatched a few photos through my large sliding glass doors, darn those spiderwebs. I just cleaned them a week ago. Once the jay detected me excitedly examining it, it flew off again. Oh, well! Gesh, I really need to clean those windows again! My photos today aren't so much about being a great photographer, but being positive, being positively grateful for those fleeting moments out my window.












































As I was finishing up the waffle dishes, and gazing out my window, a song on my ipod, written and sung by a local musician and friend, Ron Mason, filled my ears with good advice, "Just look out the window, where does our precious time go? Some folks just let it slip away..." I reflected, "So true!" Then I looked out the window, saw how time had changed nature this week, grabbed my camera and headed outside to see if I could capture time. I never saw the blue jays again, but I did, for the very first time, pick up one of our scardy cat kittens, named Creamsicle, and petted her for as long as she could muster up the courage for! My friendly neighbourhood advice is:
1. Always have large windows in your kitchen and dining room.
2. Open the curtains each day.
3. Clean your windows, even if you say,"I don't do windows!"
4. Get outside.
5. Don't let time pass you by!
6. Positively, Just Look Out Your Window!

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

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Positively Spruced Up and Thankful


Spruce and Trembling Aspen
Cypress Hills Inter-Provincial Park is a glorious place and
 today it "spruced up" our study of trees. 

We knew a week ago that the chances of it snowing today were very likely.  All involved in our field trip were strongly encouraged to dress for snow!   Since we live in Canada, you would think that we would be well prepared for snow...toques, scarves, gloves, winter boots and jackets.  I heard many students declare, "Oh, we're from Canada, we're tough, we can take the cold!"

Yet, they were the same ones shivering and grumbling, "I can't feel my toes, my mom said not to wear boots or snow pants, she told me to wear runners and a hoodie!"  Really, I thought?  If so, mom didn't grow up in Canada nor did she experience our early winter temperatures and snow in the fall. Perhaps mom is a couch potato, or...
Actually, this is what I really think... the kids ignored mom when she said, "Wear your boots, snow pants, winter coat and gloves!"  Then once they realized that Mrs. Dowling was going to make them stay outside in the snow to examine and learn about coniferous and deciduous trees, they regretted not listening to their mom and teachers, and wouldn't admit they were wrong, so once again, blamed mom....  Poor moms out there.  I am on your side... You get blamed for everything! 

Some students thought that we should turn the bus around and head back to town so they could stay indoors and play games... you know the type of games... electronic games...

Fortunately, those of us wise enough to dress appropriately and who were ready for an adventure, didn't let those "Debbie Downers" trample our positive attitudes.  Since Thanksgiving is just around the corner, it is fitting to relay some thankfulness to those people who wanted to experience it all and not be penned up, as many of us like to do in the long 8 months of winter weather.  They were eager to learn, explore, create and reflect and made the best out of situation.  Yes, the wind was whipping the wet sticky snow into our still tanned faces and the snow dampened our jackets, socks and pants, and our cameras fogged up, but we had hand warmers, and we were lucky enough to catch glimpses of wild turkeys on two different occasions.  Glimpses only though, because as soon as the turkeys spotted us they ran for their lives.  Who could blame them, with Thanksgiving just around the corner?  We also noticed squirrels, and a few brave birds.  Some spotted deer.  Solving a mystery as forensics teams in the forest was fun.  We were able to take soil samples, measure the temperature of the soil and make inferences as to why Sammy the Spruce tree lay dead in the forest. 


Peaceful and Protected
While in the forest, keeping things on the positive side, we were able to stop and journal and make observational drawings for about 15 minutes before our pages  started to turn to mush.  In the forest, we felt well protected and it was very peaceful.

Now, the students have a memorable story to tell about being in the forest during the season's first snow fall.  If they were home in their houses playing electronic games, what memories would they have?  How long would the memories last?

 I always wonder, when they are old and grey sitting around the table at A&W having cheap coffee, what will they talk about?

Bob, "Oh, we used to play electronic games." 
Jo, "Yup, me too!"
Then silence.
 "Chirp, chirp, chirp..."
The crickets will start chirping because Bob and Jo can't remember any important stories to retell. 
Then they will turn and stare at the wall and pretend to have a good time.


Maybe

So why do we spend money and help the students to experience all kinds of things, well maybe, just maybe, after today's positively spruced up experience and last week's adventure at Police Point in the prairie forest, they will have stories to tell and the only reason the crickets will be heard is they have decided to take their grandchildren outside for a experience in nature and can retell the stories of the adventures in the forest they had as young whipper snappers.  And maybe, just maybe, they will be thankful for the crazy teachers they had in grade six who gave them new experiences both in the sunshine and in the snow and rain!
The photographs are soul property of Renee Dowling.
To use them in any way, please ask for permission at

P.S.  Thanks, Mom, for bringing extra mittens, jackets, and blankets for all of the children who didn't listen to their teachers or moms! 
I have never blamed you for not being warm! HEE HEE! 
I am sure there were a lot of thankful students because of your thoughtfulness! 
You're the best!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Faces Positively Collaged

Now that the 29 faces project is complete, I thought I would make a photo collage of a few of my faces.  I couldn't figure out how to add more photo boxes to the collage, so I had to select 20 faces.  I did figure out how to actually do a collage using Photoshop Elements, so I can say that I am continuing to learn new things, thus my faces have been positively collaged!

Hmmm, what challenge shall I pursue for October?

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