Inside Out – Why on Earth do I Paint?

Image of Alberta Prairie
Bold Prairie – 8″x10″ oil on canvas by Cheryl Peddie

‘Bold Prairie’
8″x10″ oil on canvas  • SOLD
by Cheryl Peddie

Am I an oddball? I’ve read a lot about other artists’ motivations lately. Comments about how their art depicts what’s in their heart and soul. Or, that a particular piece explores their beliefs about some particular issue. I notice stories like these because the story of my own motivation often seems to be missing. It’s not like I lost it. To lose something, you have to have owned it in the first place. Or at least, knew what the heck it looked like.

When I ask myself was in my heart when I painted this piece? Or what message I was trying to get across by painting the prairie in this way? Couldn’t tell you. Most of the time, I just go on auto-pilot when I’m painting. I’m not thinking ‘well if I put this stroke that way, it conveys this big idea I have or feel’.

When I’m painting, I just like that my brain chatter, worries and my TTD list shuts off. Things around me just still and my mind slips into peacefulness. I like the motion of reaching for paint, mixing it, laying it down on the canvas. The dance of stepping back to consider what’s there, what isn’t, what needs to still happen; and then moving back to make it happen.

But as to what I’m trying to represent of myself, of my subject matter? Most of the time, your guess is as good as mine. Now I realize, this is likely not what customers want to hear. I think that some folks want to hear about the inside story of a painting – the artists’ vision. Or some philosophical ‘why’ of a particular piece. But for most of my work, I just can’t articulate what my ‘why’ is. So I know I’m sticking myself out on a limb here.

What I do know is how I’ve heard my art being spoken of. I’ve heard folks comment on how a lot of my images have a short depth of field; about how some of my brush work is admired because it’s ‘unexpected’. About how clean my color is and of how it makes people feel happy to view.

So that makes me wonder: can you really always decide what part of your ‘insides’ will come ‘outside’ to live on your own canvas? So, yes, ones art can depict what’s in their heart and soul. But I think that although you can want this or that emotion, belief, viewpoint, or message to express itself, maybe it can’t be orchestrated or composed in such a predictable way.

Maybe it’s more of an unpredictable revealing of what’s in our hearts and souls. In an exquisitely vulnerable way, our paintings are an opening of ourselves. We do not know in advance what aspect of ourselves is going to be revealed. It is this that makes each piece of art so rare and beautiful. Each painting reveals a moment in time in the artists’ life and being, that is like no other.

Thanks for reading. All my best, Cheryl.

Evening at Bowness Park

Bench at Bowness Park by the river
Evening at Bowness Park – 8″x10″ oil on canvas

Evening at Bowness Park
8″x10″ oil on canvas
by Cheryl Peddie

Looking at this little painting today, I’m hoping this little gem of a resting stop is still there. I took the photo reference for this painting in Bowness Park on a fall evening a few years back. I fear that since the devastating floods Calgary & southern Alberta recently experienced, this spot has been washed away or ruined. What makes it particularly sad, is that I’m sure this was one of the memory-benches we so often see along pathways in the city. Folks can have a little plaque installed on a bench in memory of a loved one who has passed; I see I added the little plaque into this painting. I wish I would have taken a close-up photo to see who this one belonged to. If anyone knows this spot, and if the little bench has indeed been washed away, please give me a call or send me an email. I’d gladly give this painting to the family as a way to renew the memory of their loved one, and of this special place.

Here’s a the photo of the original spot.

Photo for painting of memory bench at Bowness Park
Original photo reference for ‘Evening at Bowness Park’


Image of sunset
SkyLights – 9″x12″ oil on extra-deep canvas by Cheryl Peddie

SkyLights – 9″x12″ oil on extra-deep canvas
by Cheryl Peddie

Sunset over Nose Hill Park, Calgary AB. I winged it a little with the foreground in this one. In my reference, the grasses were quite high. As a result there was unfortunately a lot of shadow. Shadow’s not always a bad thing, especially given that the tips of the grass were shining a lovely muted gold. However I found that my composition required less ground and more sky . . . so the grass got ‘mowed’.

Way Up High and Far Away

Prairie and Foothills painting in oil
Way Up High and Far Away

‘Way Up High and Far Away’
24″ x 36″ oil on canvas by Cheryl Peddie

This view is looking west of Calgary, heading towards the foothills. The sun was up high in mid-afternoon, so it posed some interesting challenges with the temperature of light and shadow. As with many landscapes, one of the key things I looked for before I let myself say ‘done’, was that the land and sky were harmonious. Ensuring the colors in the sky are reflected in the land, and vice-versa ties the elements together and creates a cohesive, lively image.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Cheryl.

Sweet Stuff

IMG_9488-web‘Sweet Stuff’
8″x10″ oil painting on cavas
by Cheryl Peddie

This was a demo painting I did for my art students last night at Atlantis Framing. Peppers are such fun to paint because of their bright colors. I guess that holds true for all fruit and vegetables. There are few other places in nature where we can find such bright, vivid color. They also make great ‘models’ for painting – they never complain or fuss about their likenesses.

Come join us at art class! Our next series runs Thursday nights from 6-9 pm; June 6-27. $125 plus GST (MC & Visa welcomed). We enjoy creating all kinds of art – landscape, still life, interiors, floral and even streetscapes. Specially set up for beginning and intermediate students, with lots of one-on-one, patient and encouraging instruction. (I even bring cookies!) Located at Atlantis Fine Framing Studios – 4515 Manhattan Rd. SE. Just north and east of Chinook Centre. To register, please call me at 403-201-6532 or Atlantis Fine Framing Studios at 403-258-0075.

Here’s a few pictures of some of my students enjoying creating art!

IMG_9483-webIMG_9484-web IMG_9485-web

Happy painting, and thanks for reading. Cheryl.

Over Southern Saskatchewan

‘Over Southern Saskatchewan’
8″x10″ unframed oil on canvas
by Cheryl Peddie


There are no other skies like the ones they have on the prairies in Saskatchewan. I completed this little piece during a workshop I took in April. I particularly like that I was venturing into adding texture into the foreground clouds, and allowing some of the quirkier, unexpected brush strokes and colors in the landscape to remain.

Hay Bales

HayBales-full_9437-webHay Bales – 11″ x 14″ oil on extra-deep gallery wrap canvas –
Southwest of Calgary, just off Highway 22 South –
by Cheryl Peddie.


This was one of those warm, late fall days in the foothills. The sun gets all glow-y, the mountain chill we usually get in the evening hasn’t settled yet, and it’s ultra-quiet. The kind of quiet you have to drag yourself away from, because you know the city noise must be faced in order to get home.

You Can See Forever Here – Revisited

IMG_9415-web‘You Can See Forever Here’
Southern Saskatchewan in Early Autumn
12″x24″ oil on canvas
by Cheryl Peddie

I will be donating 50% of this painting’s sale price to the Parkinson Alberta Society!

The paintings I create sometimes take a journey of their own. I started this prairie piece in March; my last canvas for my project in support of Parkinson Alberta. It felt a little lifeless to me though, after I’d had a chance to reflect on it.

In April I took a painting workshop given by Curtis Golumb, at Atlantis Framing. Curtis encouraged us all to consider shape, line and form in our compositions. I brought this piece and modified it as my final exercise in class. I found myself adding a variety of rich blues and purples to the foreground, plus cool reflected sky blues into the mid-ground. The result caught me by surprise. I feel a little unfamiliar with the result of this piece. It was, as Curtis  described some brush work in one of my other paintings, ‘unexpected’.

I often paint with a lot of blue in my shadows, but the blue in this piece might persuade the viewer that there is water in the foreground. There wasn’t and I’m not even sure that’s what I was trying to represent. I just wanted to convey the color of the sky, in the land some how. Maybe there’s a story there about the meeting of earth and sky.

But then, maybe not. Maybe it was just because I loved those blues and purples. And that’s ok. Sometimes the best reason to choose a particular color is just it’s really pretty. You don’t have to figure out if it’s the right shade for reflected light; sweat over whether it’s the right value or temperature. Sometimes it’s ok not to have to decide. Just let the painting tell you what seems right for it’s journey instead.

Thanks for reading, and happy painting to all you artists out there. Cheryl.

Day 28 – Painting for Parkinson’s – You Can See Forever Here


‘You Can See Forever Here’
Southern Saskatchewan in Early Autumn
12″x24″ unframed oil on canvas
by Cheryl Peddie

I will be donating 50% of this painting’s sale price to the Parkinson Alberta Society!

I thought a painting of southern Saskatchewan might be fitting for this day; the last day of my ‘Painting for Parkinson’s’ project. My Dad grew up in Moose Jaw – just east of where I took this photo. This is one of the most ethereal places in the prairies. From the elevated position along the highway, it feels like you can see forever. There’s such a vastness there, it’s hard not to feel the magnificence of our world. I defy anyone who’s ever made jokes about how dull the prairies are, to travel that highway on a clear day and stay of the same opinion. It’s simply breathtaking.

It’s a bittersweet day today. In some ways I feel like I’ve had my Dad right along side me again, along for this journey. And now in a way, I have to say goodbye to him yet again, as I wrap up this last day of my project. Still, I’d not have missed this opportunity for anything in the world. All I have to do is think about what good we’re doing – all of you who’ve reached out in support of me and this project. We’re making this world a better place and hopefully making a difference in the lives of those who need a hand. Dad would have been so grateful and amazed by the incredible circle of support and connection we’ve created. I’m so blessed to be sharing this time of my life with you all. Thank you.

Blowing a kiss to you in heaven Dad, as always. Love, Cheryl.

Please continue watching my website. I am working on continuing this project to include a line of greeting cards to further support the work of Parkinson Alberta. Thank you.

Please note that as I create my paintings in oil, they require about 3-4 weeks to properly
dry and cure before I can safely deliver them. Thanks so much for your understanding!

Day 26 – Painting for Parkinson’s – Looking into the Sky

LookingintotheSky_9303-web‘Looking into the Sky’ – $80 –
Evening over Nose Hill Park;
5″x7″ unframed oil on extra-deep canvas
– by Cheryl Peddie –

This Painting has SOLD!!!!

New! I can also now accept credit card over the phone.
Contact me directly at (403) 201-6532 or cheryl(at)emergecreative(dot)ca Thank you!

I will be donating 50% of this painting’s sale price to the Parkinson Alberta Society!

Growing up in Saskatchewan, I always wanted to paint really successful skyscapes. And even though I have lots of photo references of them, I’ve put them off for the most part. I LOVE skyscapes that seem to zoom off into the distance horizon of the painting. Skies that you feel like you can reach right into, they’re so deep and vast.

So why have I put off enhancing my ‘skyscape skills’ for so long? Because they can be SO deceptively difficult. I have two main considerations with them. First, there’s rarely as much color in the clouds and sky as our eyes perceive. Most of the colors are quite greyed. So, using technicolor vivid shades that can sometimes be in the sunsets of our imaginations, can made the scene look almost aggressive, and not ‘true’. I’ve always had a challenge with these ‘colorful greys’. The palette in most of my paintings tend to be quite bright and clear. Creating lovely greys requires a sensitive eye and careful hand. And, a confidence that we can express something softer and delicate that will still be attention-getting. Something I’m only just now (after 17 years of painting!) beginning to feel comfortable with.

Second, when we tackle a skyscape we have to remember that what we’re painting is air, and that clouds are really just water vapor. What can easily happen is that our clouds end up looking heavy, seemingly ready to drop from the sky! What is needed here again is a light, quick hand. Too much brush work and paint that is too thick can rapidly weight down the clouds. When they’re kept relatively transparent and delicate, the feeling of the air is kept intact.

Thanks so much for reading and for following my journey. It’s hard to believe we’re on Day 26, and I only have two paintings left. I will savor every moment of creating them; it’s been a truly rewarding experience for me. Thanks and hugs, Cheryl.

*Please note that as I create my paintings in oil, they require about 3-4 weeks to properly
dry and cure before I can safely deliver them. Thanks so much for your understanding!