Blue Heron Writes

Sharing to Inspire through Words and Pictures

May You Be Blessed Movie

“Sometimes our light goes out but is blown again into flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light.” This is a quote from Albert Schweitzer, but it captures the essence of what “May You Be Blessed” is all about.

via May You Be Blessed Movie.

How Do You Find the Story in a Painting?

Girl With A Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer

The Girl With A Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer

In my Artist’s Statement,  I use the quote, A picture is worth a thousand words. I’ve always believed this to be true. A photograph, drawing or painting can convey so many meanings depending on the interpretation of the viewer. For me, I paint to draw the viewer in, to tell my stories and share my experiences. I know why I created a particular painting, what my message or story is, so I’m intrigued by what others see in my work. After all, each of us views the world through our own life encounters which influence how we interpret what we see.

Author, Tracey Chevalier, talks about this in her TEDX presentation on finding the story in a painting. She reminds us about our pre-disposition to story-telling as a way to make sense of our crazy world. Tracy found herself doing this while visiting art galleries. When attracted to certain work, her imagination would create a story to explain the image. Her lifelong fascination with Johannes Vermeer’s, The Girl With A Pearl Earring, resulted in her best selling novel of the same name.

So, what’s the story behind my painting, The Red Canoe? I leave that to your imagination and invite your comments.

2015-2 The Red Canoe, Acrylic on Canvas, 12 x 24 inches, Copyright Wendie Donabie

The Red Canoe, Acrylic on Canvas, 12 x 24 inches, Copyright Wendie Donabie

If you would like to view Tracy’s fascinating TEDX presentation (14 minutes), please click on this link, How Do You Find the Story in a Painting.

About Tracy Chevalier

Novelist Tracy Chevalier is the author of Girl With a Pearl Earring. Chevalier pulls stories from paintings and historical episodes, finding the human thread behind opaque images. Her other books include The Lady and the Unicorn and Burning Bright, about two children who become neighbors of William Blake.

Please visit to view more of my paintings.

New Paintings – Getting It Done

Here’s what I’ve been up to since my post, The Creative Struggle, in which I explained my recent difficulty taking my art and writing ideas from inspiration to application. In writing that post I actually did experience a breakthrough in my art. For a few weeks, several painting ideas for a themed show, Betwixt & Between, competed for my attention.  This annual  Muskoka Arts & Crafts Members’ Show allows artists to interpret the theme in whatever way they choose.

Prompted by my spouse, I finally settled on one with a humorous feel. I couldn’t think of any better image than a fluffy puppy asleep between the feet of his two ‘peeps’. The idea made me chuckle. Here’s Puppy Love – The Only Love That Comes Between Us for your enjoyment.

2015-1 Puppy Love - The Only Love That Comes Between Us, 12 x 24 inches, Acrylic on Canvas, Copyright Wendie Donabie

2015-1 Puppy Love – The Only Love That Comes Between Us, 12 x 24 inches, Acrylic on Canvas, Copyright Wendie Donabie

With Puppy Love complete, I pulled out an unfinished landscape painting I’d had sitting in my studio for a couple of months. The Red Canoe is finally ready for sale and will be one of my entries in the Muskoka Arts & Crafts Spring Members’ Show.

2015-2 The Red Canoe, Acrylic on Canvas, 12 x 24 inches, Copyright Wendie Donabie

2015-2 The Red Canoe, Acrylic on Canvas, 12 x 24 inches, Copyright Wendie Donabie

With these two paintings under my belt, I’m feeling on track again. My next step – creating a realistic schedule to complete the paintings and writing needed for upcoming shows and events. Comments and any tips are welcome!

To View more of my paintings, please visit

Simple Strategies to Increase Writing Productivity

Wendie Donabie:

As someone who is constantly struggling to get back in touch with my writing Muse, I found this blog post refreshing and thought it might offer some ideas to other wordsmiths….

Originally posted on Conversations With Self:

Simple Strategies to Increase Writing Productivity
Everyone has tricks that help to keep their writing moving in a forward direction. I consider this to be an ongoing process of finding out what does and doesn’t work for me. So, here are just a few of the tools that are proving to be effective in my writing process right now:

View original 1,073 more words

The Creative Struggle

Joseph Chilton Pearce quoteIt’s really a lack of confidence and some basic insecurity on my part…I’m still a little afraid of being wrong in my technique or unoriginal in my thinking. This is my creative struggle . . .

Can I write something the engages a reader or paint a picture that captures the viewer’s eye and imagination? I’ve done that but can I do it again? Is there a limit to my creativity?

These are the things that fill my mind and plague me, that stifle me and cause me to procrastinate, rather than getting down and doing the work.

I’ve ideas for both writing and painting projects yet I’m having trouble moving to the next stage….the outpouring on computer, paper and canvas……I need a kick in the posterior!

We have a members’ art show coming up very quickly in February and I’ve yet to start the two paintings floating around in mind….and our writing group meets this week . . . and I’ve nothing new to read . . . YIKES!

Ideas do crowd my mind

  • a landscape
  • a poem
  • a short story
  • a character wanders from my mind into my living room, stretches his lanky, tall form and settles into the wicker chair across from me . . .

“Who are you?” I ask.

“John Franklin,” he replies.

OMG . . .  this is great . . . the creative juices begin to flow. This is fun.

I’ve got something here.  

I don’t know where John and I are heading but I’m going to enjoy the journey!

I’m off and running. Now, I only need to get back to the easel . . . With the muse awake, I feel confident I can move on.

* * * * * * * *

It’s really so simple, you know. When I’m struggling creatively, I only need to start anywhere with anything at all and I’ll end up somewhere
surprising with something special every time . . . Why is it that I forget how it all works? Maybe this time I’ll remember. Maybe!

©Wendie Donabie 2014

Painting Poppies – the Process

In December 2013, I wrote about the process of creating a painting for my step-daughter and her husband for their 25th Wedding Anniversary. They wanted picture of poppies blowing in the wind. To fit the space in their home, the work needed to 24 x 60 inches…at the time it would have been the largest canvas I had painted which made me very nervous. So I started with baby steps and created a number of smaller pieces first!

2013-38 Remember, Acrylic on Canvas, 6x6 ins, Copyright Wendie Donabie

2013-38 Remember, Acrylic on Canvas, 6×6 ins, Copyright Wendie Donabie

2013-37 Field of Poppies #1, Acrylic on Canvas, 5 x7, Copyright Wendie Donabie 2013

2013-37 Field of Poppies #1, Acrylic on Canvas, 5 x7, Copyright Wendie Donabie 2013

2013-39 Singular Poppy, 6x6 ins, Copyright Wendie Donabie 2013

2013-39 Singular Poppy, Acrylic paint & gel mediums on canvas, 6×6 ins, Copyright Wendie Donabie 2013

Finally I painted one I refer to as my Preparatory Poppy Painting (12 x 24 inches) as the composition for the larger work.  It was completed close to Remembrance Day (November 11, 2013) so I called it, Field of Remembrance.

2013-36 Field of Remembrance, Acrylic on Canvas, 12 x 24 Copyright Wendie Donabie

Field of Remembrance, Acrylic on Canvas, 12 x 24 inches, Framed ($450 Cdn). Copyright Wendie Donabie, 2013

It took me months to finally get around to starting and, at last, finishing Alicia’s Poppy Field in early December 2014. Due to the size of the canvas, I couldn’t use the easel in my studio space. So, our dining room table became my work space for the duration of the painting’s creation.

Here are a few shots of the steps along the way. I emailed Alicia as I made progress each day.


Setting up the dining room table to begin. Pencilled in the horizon line. Reference photos above the canvas on the left.


I started with the sky….


Next I painted the clouds….


Added the distant background, middle ground and foreground.


The canvas is ready for the addition of the poppies and poppy buds…

When I painted Field of Remembrance, I used Cadium Yellow over the Cadmium Red to add some glow to the poppies but I wasn’t happy with the result. An artist friend suggested putting the Cad Yellow under the Cad Red instead. I followed her advice.

Here is the final painting with the glow I was looking for.

Alicia's Poppy Field, Acrylic on Canvas, 24 x 60 inches, Copyright Wendie Donabie 2014

Alicia’s Poppy Field, Acrylic on Canvas, 24 x 60 inches,         Copyright Wendie Donabie 2014

I’d love your feedback! – Wendie

Copyright Wendie Donabie 2014

To view my portfolio, please visit

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. It’s clear I fell off the wagon the last 3 months. My plan is have fewer projects in 2015 and to dedicate more focussed time on those.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,100 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 52 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

‘4’ Painters Autumn Show & Sale

For the third year, artists, Janice Feist, Lynda Lynn,Pat Whittle and Wendie Donabie, present their ‘4’  Autumn Show and Sale on Saturday and Sunday, September 27 & 28 at the Bala Bay Inn on Hwy 169 in Bala.

'4' Painters - Wendie Donabie, Pat Whittle, Lynda Lynn, Janice Feist

‘4’ Painters – Wendie Donabie, Pat Whittle, Lynda Lynn, Janice Feist

Offering a variety of styles and mediums (including acrylic, oil, watercolour, encaustic, ink, pastel and mixed media), the 4 artists, welcome visitors to the Bala Bay Inn September 27 & 28 from 10 am to 6 pm.

No matter your taste, the diversity of the artists ensures you will find a painting you will love

For more information please visit or call 705-646-3663

NorthWords Literary Festival Comes to the Heart of Muskoka


Muskoka Magic, Chinese Ink on watercolour paper, 15 x 4.5 inches, Copyright Wendie Donabie 2014

Muskoka Magic, Chinese Ink on watercolour paper, 15 x 4.5 inches, Copyright Wendie Donabie 2014

There’s great news for lovers of the written word. On the weekend of October 3-5, the NorthWords Literary Festival will take place in the Bracebridge, Ontario.

Now in its fourth year, the festival is a celebration of Canadian literature, designed to promote a love of reading in children and adults. Other goals of the festival include providing a forum for inspiration and education in literature, and promoting Muskoka and surrounding areas.

Past festivals have provided an outstanding experience for authors, attendees and sponsors. Many of Canada’s most acclaimed authors have participated in readings, workshops, and book signings over the past years.

We are pleased to announce that this year’s festival will feature award-winning and acclaimed authors from across Canada including: Terry Fallis, Anthony De Sa, Richard Scrimger, Michael Wuitchik, Craig Davidson, Michelle Berry, Catherine Bush, Krista Foss, Ali Bryan, Janet Turpin-Myers, Anne Lazurko and M. G. Vassanji. In addition to readings and book signings, the festival will feature a one-day workshop with well-known authors discussing fiction writing.

The NorthWords Muskoka Literary Festival is an amazing community event which draws people from all over Ontario and brings together people from all walks of life, united in their love of a story. The organizing committee is currently seeking sponsors for the festival. If you are interested please contact Festival Organizer, Cindy Watson at 705-645-5595 to discuss sponsorship opportunities.

For more information on the festival and registration, please visit

You can register online for the Writers’ Workshop and all 7 authors events.

And Full Weekend passes available for discounted prices (NOTE: Writers’ Workshop not included in Pass price)!

(NOTE re Painting: Muskoka Magic was created as the promotional artwork for the 2014 NorthWords Muskoka Literary Festival. It will be auctioned during the Festival weekend)

Internet Art Scams – Artists, Don’t Get Caught!

My Story

Recently, I received an email from a stranger, out of the country, offering to purchase a number of my paintings. First Red Flag! Who buys one painting let alone five from an unknown artist, sight unseen, off a website. It seemed too good to be true and ultimately it was… The details of my experience are personal but I felt I needed to share my story to warn other artists.

I wrote back to the ‘buyer’ asking why they wanted my work and how they found me. It’s not as if I’m a world-famous artist! She said she found me through a tourism site in our area (plausible) and loved my work;  she connected with them. All creative types hope for this kind of feedback on their work. The woman (might have been a man – who knows?) had all the right words to ease my concerns.

When she wanted to use her own shipping company and not a well-known one like UPS or FEDEX, I questioned her. Second Red Flag! She explained that she had used them before and trusted them to handle the paintings for her.

I checked out the shipper’s website. It was not very sophisticated but appeared to have a legitimate address and contact information. I even Google mapped the shipper’s address, a row house in England – not a commercial building. Third Red Flag! The shipping company offered me what could have been a legitimate reason for their location. They were moving their warehouse and using the residential address to continue to conduct their business.

The shipper provided a quote for packaging, shipping and insurance and requested payment by wire transfer, not credit card, addressed to an individual, not a company. Fourth Red Flag!

Then the buyer wanted to add another 3 paintings to her order. Fifth Red Flag! I woke up and Googled her address. It was non-existent. When I questioned her, she offered the excuse that she lived in a remote area which was another reason for using her shipper. That was the nail in her coffin. The address she had provided was in the middle of a the capital city of a European country.

During the last few stages of this drama, I did an internet search for ART SCAMS and found a blog by Artist, Kathleen McMahon called Stop Art Scams. In the comments from other artists, I found, both the name of my buyer and the shipper. They had all received similar email correspondence. I recommend you take a look at the blog.

To make the initial purchase, the buyer used a credit card which I now believe to be stolen.

When I realized I had been the victim of a scam, I reported the incident to the local Ontario Provincial Police detachment and the RCMP Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre; they found the email address for the shipper in their files.

I’m left a little embarrassed for not trusting my gut instinct and all the red flags! I believed I had asked all the right questions and protected myself and never expected to fall for such a scheme. How wrong I was!

Scammers may actually be near or far, any gender, any nationality,  and relish the challenge of fooling a questioning, sophisticated, intelligent, selling artist.


What you can do

  • Please protect yourself and your work. Only sell to people you have met and who have seen your work.
  • Get full payment is advance of shipping (ensure all transactions have cleared your bank).
  • Arrange your own shipping with a well-known and reliable company.
  • If your buyer asks for any special concessions that seem odd, question them.
  • If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.

Stop Art Scams

The police confirmed my experience reflected a common pattern followed by scammers; the exact details may differ. Although these criminals are rarely tracked down and caught, let alone prosecuted for their crimes, we need to report all fraud incidents to the authorities. The more information they have, the better chance of reducing and stopping these crimes.

To report fraud:

In Canada: the provincial police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501



© Wendie Donabie






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