sun behind cloud and painting

Day 16: Form

Most of my artwork does not feature a strong form; I tend to paint abstract landscapes with a horizon. This painting actually hangs in our laundry room. I liked it more in one of its previous stages, when it featured several smaller circles in a row. For some reason, this form happened. Is it a sea creature? A planet? I don’t know. So to the laundry room it was banished.

The same morning as I was scouting a form to photograph, I noticed that the sky had an incredible radiance. It’s interesting how the sunburst echoes the form in the photo of the painting.

I have to say, for a rainy cool winter, we’re having our share of beautiful skies. I’m thankful for this, and thankful to be able to pause my day to notice things like this.



lone willow on plain

Day 15: Mood: Lonely tree

On our weekend family hike, we took an adventure in a new direction on the nearby trail. It was an overcast day, but kind of flat light. I loved the look of this lonely tree, above, which I think captures some sort of mood.

We were surprised to see this somewhat urban-looking tunnel full of street art, which was juxtaposed with the natural beauty of the plain and the forest where we usually hike. With the power lines and the discovery of the burned paper, below, with the charter of rights and freedoms, it was quite a dark mood.

moody graffiti and burned paper

Day 15: mood

The land, as we carried on, was also starting to show signs of spring. Where moss grows, it was rich and verdant green. It was mild enough for the kids to enjoy a little snack beside an enchanted brook. And we found some pussy willow to bring home. I would describe the mood of this set below as content: we are content as a family, enjoying everything these days. It is not always easy: life is very busy. But we love being together on our weekend walks or creative times. We are content where we are.

children eating by stream, pussy willows

Signs of spring


open book and symmetrical mugs

Day 10 – Symmetry

Symmetry is a calming, static element in composition. On day 10 of the artsy forager’s instagram challenge, #artsydefined, I was enjoying a relaxing Family Day holiday, so I enjoyed an easy start to the day with a good book and coffee (above). 

Later in the week, I took a better photo representing symmetry at work. Symmetry is a key element in First Nations art, as seen in the example below.

Kwantlen First Nations artwork outside Sxwimele gifts at Fort Langley National Historic Site

Symmetry: Kwantlen First Nations artwork outside Sxwimele gifts at Fort Langley National Historic Site



old and new books

Day 9: Juxtaposition

Juxtaposing things is a big deal in art and photography. I can’t imagine an artist talk that doesn’t at some point juxtapose incongruent things: an impoverished person seated in front of a sports or an elderly person holding a newborn infant. So I was surprised that I was having trouble thinking of things to juxtapose. I tried old and new books, and also a large and small spoon.

So the true artsy story today is probably more about what two girls, 30 years apart, were doing whittling spoons in 2014.

spoon carving party

My daughter and I carving spoons.

Here I have juxtaposed my six-year-old and I carving spoons at my friend–and old college room mate’s–party. I love that my friend brought together a bunch of people of all ages to make spoons and then eat a big pot of soup together. I love breaking bread with people and this was a great way to bring creativity into daily life.

This is a big part of what I value about a community: to live life together in a creative way with the people who live near you. My friend has been living this way for years, although not always easy, she is breaking down barriers and walls in her neighbourhood. Living as much as possible without a car. Bringing about life-giving change.

I hope that our family can also start inviting more people near us into our creative lifestyle. For me, that is integrated with enjoying nature together, and just maybe hosting a carving party (or not, I don’t think I’d like cleaning up after that, but maybe a painting party).

In conclusion, I offer up this modern blog chronicle in juxtaposition to the ancient nature of gathering with neighbours to carve spoons and eat from a communal cauldron.


child painting with ink brush

Painting with ink

Day 8: Contrast

Since it was our day off, and it was quite cold outside, we decided to do some painting. When thinking of contrast, what better medium to choose than ink? I quickly sketched a few windswept pines, and my four-year-old decided he wanted to try using the ink brush too. He had just tried using the willow charcoal and had drawn some sort of graph, so I expected his ink piece was going in the same direction. So I was quite surprised when it turned out he too was drawing trees.

ink paintings of trees.

Ink trees, contrast of mother and son’s interpretation of windswept trees.

We don’t do this too often, but the entire family was painting at the same time! I’m so glad we aren’t registered in any sports or programs at this time so that we have time to be creative and be together. This is an intentional choice that we make as parents. I expect we will have the kids do some sports or lessons, but we don’t want to be too busy to live.

kids painting

Kids painting in February



Angular shadow of soccer net and playground

Day 7: Angle, as measured at the schoolyard.

I love the way the soccer net and its shadow play with angle! And the way the two photos I took on Day 7 for the art element, angle, play together. The composition between the shadow and the chain in the other photo worked out well.


shadow of plants and blinds

Shadows at home.

Shadows: what an unusual sight in British Columbia in winter. Perhaps this daily photo challenge is a good way for me to notice how many sunny days we are actually having, to bolster me for the current forecast (rain until February 20). I liked the beautiful morning sunshine in our living room, and this untouched photo of the shadow of a few jugs and dried plants on our piano.

Noticing: that is what this series is all about for me. I have a very busy life right now. I work full time in a somewhat demanding job. I’m a mom to two young children and a wife. It is not always easy to find time for art and creativity, but it is one of my key values. I love being able to have this little key word to look for each day to “notice” life; to experience it.

If I was a high school art teacher, I think I’d make this one of the assignments.

Ice bridge – progress

mixed media painting in progress

Painting masked to work on sky

I cannot count how many times I have returned to this canvas. At first, I covered it in black gesso and tried to create something in the vein of a past painting I did that worked. But this time, it just didn’t work. I covered it many times with different ideas and layers. Seeing the black gesso peeking through layers of white reminded me of ice. I decided to try to paint an abstract winter scene. But again, it got shelved for possibly close to two years.

Painting studio

Working in daylight – unusual for me!

Recently, when working with the concept of contrast, I picked it up again. I looked at the two pieces of map that are collaged in, one being Russia and one part of Canada, and I got the idea of the two land masses with a gap in between, like the Bering Strait.

As usual, I had to let go of some elements I was holding onto: favourite scraps of paper or lines. I tried to improve the composition and repetition of certain elements.

mixed media painting ice

Ice Bridge: Bering Strait; almost finished. 2014 – Nancy Hildebrand


barrel staves leaning on Fort Langley palisade

Walking into work, this line of barrel staves caught my eye.

The challenge on Day 4 was to photograph the element of line. As I walked into work on a beautiful sunny morning, I noticed the line of barrel staves leaning against the palisade.

The palisade itself is such a symbolic line in the course of Fort Langley and BC’s history: it is a line of logs standing to mark a line, by definition, to communicate property between past cultures. Today, it stands and is maintained because of the significance of British Columbia’s proclamation which occurred within its enclosure in 1858.

Here is the railing of the Big House, where the event happened, as well as a bird’s eye view (at least from the office) of the palisade. Both of them create beautiful lines in stark winter sunshine.

Fort Langley railing and wall

Railings and palisade create lines at Fort Langley

Artist in residence program at Gwaii Haanas National Park

Have you always wanted to be like the Group of Seven? The Artists in Gwaii Haanas program is returning in 2014!

Janice’s inspiration in the forest

Repost from Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve website:

Artists can bring new meanings to Canada’s natural and cultural treasures. To help explore these creative understandings, Gwaii Haanas and the Haida Gwaii Museum have offered a unique opportunity to several artists.

Our residency program has immersed visual artists into the isolated land and seascapes of Gwaii Haanas during a 10-day period. Guided by Gwaii Haanas staff, the artists had the chance to witness the best of the remote islands and forests and were free to carry out their artistic research. When they returned to their home studios, they created artwork to be exhibited at the Haida Gwaii Museum and in venues across Canada.

Through this unique outreach opportunity, contemporary Canadian artists are helping new audiences gain a different understanding of special areas like Gwaii Haanas.

Call us for more information: 1-877-559-8818 or 250-559-8818.