Painting En Plein Air

June 21st, 2009

Wendy Wacko, the owner of Mountain Galleries in Jasper, Banff and Whistler, is a firm believer in painting outdoors. She invited me to come to Jasper and Banff to paint for her galleries so that I could develop some paintings ‘en plein air’. In contrast to painting from a photograph, when you are in nature the colours are so much more vibrant, the shadows have more depth, the shapes and contours of the land are easier to decipher, and the light is ever changing. Wendy told me that not every painting you do en plein air will be a master piece, but you will develop more expression in your style and a better sense of colour and light.

I have painted only a handful of paintings en plein air before this trip. It has been so exhilerating to be outside painting the Rockies. It is so different from painting indoors. Your paint dries much faster so you need to use more water, which in turn disolves more pigment filling my paint strokes with whooshes of intense colour. The paint dries so quickly that the painting takes on a different texture than in a studio painting. It has more hard edges, spontaneous brush strokes, broad gestures of suggested shapes. There isn’t time to get wrapped up in little details when you are painting outdoors so the paintings are more spontaneous, fresh and loose.

One of the tricks is trying to get a massive mountain onto an 11×15 sheet of paper. Often I would set out to paint an entire ridge and end up with a painting of one peak! When I tried to paint Lake Louise I even ran out of room for the water, the most important part!!

The landscape in front of you is gigantic and sometimes it is difficult to wrap your mind around the shapes. You look up trying to make out a crack in the rocks, you look back at your paper and you wonder ‘where is it supposed to connect?, which ridge meets up with which?’

Painting en plein air in Jasper and Banff was a fabulous experience and I will definitely be painting ‘en plein air’ again in the future.

Painting in Jasper

June 21st, 2009

June 5, 2009
I am soooo tired. It is after midnight and I am still at Wendy’s art studio where I have been painting as part of my week as artist in residence at Mountain Galleries in Jasper. I wasn’t going to stay late tonight but I couldn’t put my brush down. “Just one more painting”.

I am having so much fun.

This trip is so good for me because I am trying so many new things and releasing a lot of creative energy. It will be very refreshing to be in my art studio with so many new ideas floating around in my head.

Here is a painting I did from Wendy’s art studio tonight just as the sun was going down:

En Plein Air

June 21st, 2009

June 3rd, 2009:

I am in Jasper right now painting up a storm. I was invited by Mountain Galleries to be their artist in residence for a week in Jasper.

It is very beautiful here. I’m enjoying myself a lot. Yesterday I went on an awesome hike at the top of Whistlers Mountain with a full 360degree view – it was incredible.

My ‘en plein air’ paintings are so different from my studio work. I usually paint snow scenes so these spring mountain scapes are full of new colours. Each one has something different I like about it. I can really see what Wendy, the owner of Mountain Galleries in Jasper, Whistler and Banff, meant about colour outdoors as opposed to photos. In my camera the same mountains look grey but in real life they are red and orange, gold, blue and brown… and grey too in spots. ;)

We haven’t had any one-on-one time yet which I’m looking forward to since she is also a successful artist.

Yesterday I took pictures all day from 9am to 10pm. Today I got up at 5:30am!

Here are two ‘en plein air’ paintings I did of the Pyramid Mountain at different times of day from different locations:

Faith and Persistence

February 25th, 2009

The chapter on persistence in Napoleon Hill’s book “Think and Grow Rich” really strikes a cord with me. Hill defines persistence as “the sustained effort necessary to induce faith”.

In week two of my ten week action course we learned that the key to success is persistence. Hill writes that you must have a crystal clear picture of what you want and a plan to achieve it. Focus on creating a timeline and acting on your plan with persistence.

It is okay to have a plan that changes over time. Plans can be flexible and molded but they must be made. A plan without a timeline may never get done at all. Our instructor inspires us: “Do all that you can do, not as little as you can do. Create and follow a habit of persistence and you will win in ways you never dreamed possible!”

Hill aknowledges that most people are ready to “give up at the first sign of opposition or misfortune. A few carry on despite all opposition, until they attain their goal.” It’s so true. Where many have equal opportunity it is those who persevere who attain their desires.

We have all heard the expression “get back on the horse” but do we really understand and apply it in our own lives? My friend and fashion designer Kim Cathers says: “I think life is all about being torn down and broken down and then building it back up again. And what you have in the end will be bigger and stronger than what you ever had before.” That is huge.

Life can throw you down and sometimes it seems like it would be easier not to get up. It is hard to do anything when you are not feeling motivated. My uncle always said though that action comes first and then motivation. You see, motivation comes FROM action. Through analyzing thousands of people Hill “discovered that most ideas are stillborn, and need the breath of life injected into them through definite plans of immediate action.”

Aim High

February 24th, 2009

It is better to aim high than wide. If your goals are too broad and vague, then you are less likely to achieve success. Focus in on what you really want. Be specific. Famous motivational speaker Zig Ziglar says it best: “You cannot make it as a wandering generality. You must become a meaningful specific.”

In every book and course I have taken on success, the theme is consistent: Have a clear goal of what you want. Taking this further, when you write down your goal you will have a more powerful intention to complete it. There is even a book called “Write it Down, Make it Happen” by Henriette Anne Klauser. In her book, Klauser tells stories of unbelievable dreams coming true after they have been put down on paper.

People who write down their goals and focus in on what they want are more likely to succeed at what they do. In his book “Think & Grow Rich” Napoleon Hill explains that if you have a deep and burning desire and you write your goals down clearly and concisely then you can have anything you want. He writes that “Whatever the Mind of Man can CONCEIVE and BELIEVE it can ACHIEVE.”

When the movie “The Secret” came out in 2006 it explored the idea of attracting what you want in your life through your thoughts. Philosopher and Motivational Speaker Bob Proctor describes this theory in his book “You Were Born Rich”: “desire without expectation is nothing more than wishful thinking and as we have already pointed out, since the vast majority of people wish positive but expect negative, they seldom attain what they are after… In other words, your ideal, dream or goal — this wealth you wish to see materialize — can only become a desire once it has been properly planted in the subconscious mind.”

The law of attraction states that not only must you think positively of what you desire, but you must also feel as though you already have it. Being open and ready to receive your dreams is sometimes more important than the journey to get there. Be in a constant state of gratitude for what you already have in your life and know in your heart that your dreams are going to come true.

So follow your heart. Seek your dream. Chase your desire. Write down your goals. If you believe in yourself and follow your dreams then you can achieve anything you set out to do. Aim high; you don’t need luck, you just need faith.

Steps to Success

February 21st, 2009

I am taking a 10 week course right now on goal setting, action plans, positive thinking and building your business. Here are some of the steps to success that we have been focusing on in the training:

  • Where are you in life and how did you get there? Nothing happens by accident.
  • Focus on where you are going next. Have a crystal clear picture of what you want.
  • Put it in writing.
  • Read your mission statement every day.
  • Have a time line for your goals.
  • Develop a plan to achieve your goals.
  • Have no limits ~ Do not let limits stop you.
  • Don’t expect too little out of life.

Laying the Foundation for the Future

February 19th, 2009

For many artists, designers and art galleries, sales may be down this year. Even though the sales aren’t as high, many people are still looking and this is what we have to take heart in. Many of the orders that I got this November were from people who had been to one of my art shows from FIVE years ago! In these slow times we must remember that we are laying the foundation for our future.

When I lived in Fernie, BC I noticed that the whole town’s mood was dependant on the weather. When it was summer and sunny everyone was happy. When it was winter and snowing everyone was happy. Those were the busy times. Those were the days when people were making money. At all other times of the year and in bad weather, the whole town seemed to sink into a mini depression. It was a very interesting experience.

A phenomenol thing happened to me during these slow times: I would buckle down and get to work. Hooray! Finally some down time when I could paint and produce! Refill the shelves, stock the galleries, build up my inventory. For me it was a big relief to have the off season. I was never bored. It is such a blessing to have a passion and to live such a creative lifestyle.

So for those of you who are feeling these hard times, relish in the fact that these are the days for you to go to work. Creativity is good for the soul. Laying the foundation is good for your future.

New Whistler Painting

February 16th, 2009

Here is my latest watercolour painting of Whistler Ski Hill:
(22×30 original painted on 300lb Arches watercolour paper)
This painting will soon be available at Mountain Galleries in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. PS It sold.

Valentine’s Day Art Show

February 10th, 2009

My art show at Sun Peaks this year is on Valentine’s Day! It is my eighth annual art show at Tree Line Studios at Sun Peaks Ski Resort, just north of Kamloops, BC.

I am bringing 15 new original paintings for the show!

Visit Tree Line Studios.

New Paintings on the Way

January 20th, 2009

I love spending time in my art studio. It is away from home and I can paint without distractions. Sometimes I get into a zone and the time just goes by without me realising it. There are two huge windows in my art studio and we only get direct light in the early morning so it is perfect for painting.

I really find that the more I paint the more I get on a roll. If I only have a few hours to go to my studio I barely get set up. When I am able to paint for several days in a row then I can complete my paintings while I’m still on the same thread of creativity.

My favourite way to paint watercolours is three at a time. I paint the background of one painting and then set it aside to let it dry. I paint the sky of another painting and toss it on the floor while I start a third. By this time the first painting is dry and I can go back to work on it. Sometimes I work on three similar scenes but most often they are three different paintings all together.

Right now I am painting a landscape of snow ghosts (trees caked in white snow against a blue sky), a picture of a skier hiking and a painting of the mountain peaks in Whistler, BC. I can’t wait to have another studio day so that I can work on them some more.

Whistler Art in high Demand

January 3rd, 2009

I just received an email from Wendy Wacko, owner of Mountain Galleries at the Chateau Whistler. (She also owns a gallery in Banff and one in Jasper and she is a successful artist and film maker in her own right) She sold THREE of my watercolour paintings already and they have only been on display for a few days! Hooray!

UPDATE: When I talked to the gallery I found out I sold FOUR paintings in December – my first month at the Whistler Mountain Art gallery! :)

Budding Artists

December 10th, 2008

Dear Kendra,

I am a grade 3 teacher at Eileen Madson Primary school in Invermere. Over the past couple of years I have bought several cards of your watercolours. I have tried to teach your style for snowmen, flowers and winter forest scenes to my grade 3 students. I hope that this ok. Thank you so much for the inspiration.

Lorraine Holmes
Grade 3

Hi Lorraine,

Thanks for your email. I’m happy I could inspire you especially as you are passing along the inspiration to a new generation of budding artists. Teaching children to paint is so exciting because they are so imaginative. Children will push the boundaries and explore with the paint which is very rewarding when you are teaching them.

A few of my favourite tricks to show children are:

  • With a wet paint mixture lay down some green paint at the edge of the page letting it pool up. Then use a kitchen fork to quickly pull grass blades out of the pool of paint onto the page. It saves so much time and looks more natural than using a small brush to paint grass.
  • With watercolour paint you can create snow or stars by sprinkling salt on the paper as the paint begins to dry. You will get different results depending on how wet the paint still is.
  • Use a piece of masking tape to lay down the trees. Paint your background over top. Then remove the masking tape and add some details to the tree. Works especially well for a night scene with the moon and birch trees.
  • Use a white candle to draw secret invisible shapes and then bring them to life by painting bright colours over the wax drawings.

Have fun and happy painting!


Kendra Smith represented in Whistler, BC

November 25th, 2008

The gallery at the Chateau Whistler is going to represent my artwork. Ten of my original watercolours are at their Jasper gallery getting framed right now and then they are on their way to being displayed in the Whistler gallery.

Mountain Galleries
The Gallery at Chateau Whistler
Shopping Promenade • The Fairmont Chateau Whistler
4599 Chateau Boulevard
Whistler, British Columbia • V0N 1B4
Phone: 604-935-1862 Fax: 604-935-1896

View my Whistler art here:

Whistler Gallery

September 24th, 2008

Mountain Painting of Blackcomb at Whistler BC by KendraArt
My dream to be in a Whistler art gallery might come true this fall!

I drove to Whistler yesterday so that I could meet with the curator of The Gallery at the Chateau Whistler. The gallery is owned by Wendy Wacko who also owns a gallery in Banff and in Jasper and is a well known artist in her own right.

Eight years ago I sold some art cards to Wendy at her gallery in Jasper. When I came to see if she would like to reorder she said that I have a lot of potential but that I had some work to do as an artist and I needed to explore my artistic expression.

I approached her again this spring and showed her all the work I had done. I sent her an email with a photo of the paintings I sold her eight years ago and then another image of my more recent paintings.

Here are the art cards Wendy bought in 2002 for the Mountain Gallery at Jasper Park Lodge:
2001 watercolour paintings Kendra Smith Here is some of my work from this past year:
2008 paintings Kendra Smith
Wendy called me that evening and said she was very proud of me and that I had done a lot of hard work. She said she would like to take me under her wing and nurture me as an artist. I was thrilled when she invited me to her studio in the spring, but unfortunately she had to cancel since she was so busy. I was hoping to see her this fall; however, she is currently painting a commission for sixty original paintings!

I am happy that I was able to go to Whistler and show Mike Warren my paintings. He liked my bright paintings the best; the ones with punch. He took 10 originals and he is going to show them to Wendy for approval. If she accepts my work into her gallery you may see some of my watercolours hanging in the her Chateau Whistler gallery by the end of October.

Here is one of the originals that the gallery is taking for consideration:
Painting of Whistler ~ Black Tusk Tempest ~ by Kendra Smith
PS They took my biggest watercolour painting too!
(see photo next post)

My biggest watercolour painting

September 3rd, 2008

This is my first full sheet watercolour painting 22×30 inches.
Canadian artist Kendra Smith and her largest watercolour painting of Whistler Mountains. My biggest painting is of the mountain peaks in Whistler, BC.
KendraArt watercolour painting of Whistler Mountains by Canadian artist Kendra Smith
Below is another painting of Whistler mountains that I did this summer. It is a half sheet 15×22.
KendraArt watercolour painting of Whistler Mountains by Canadian artist Kendra Smith
I am really excited to be making the leap to painting larger paintings. It was my goal this summer to explore my art and to push myself out of my comfort zone. I am very happy with the results, and the best part is that I wasn’t at all uncomfortable. It was fun and I’m looking forward to painting more big watercolours.

Compute her dependence

August 22nd, 2008

I am totally dependent on my computer. I just realised how much I use my computer when it stopped working after a lightning storm. I have a power surge bar, but the lightning hit very close to my house and my computer wouldn’t turn back on. I was really worried about my data until my boyfriend reassured me that hard drives are usually not affected in a power surge. Whew! Then I was worried about when I’d be able to use my computer again. Especially when I realised how much I depend on it for my teaching job, my art business, emailing my friends, managing my hockey team, keeping track of my income taxes and business expenses, custom graphic design work, the websites I make, my banking, my entertainment, all my photographs, digital copies of my watercolour paintings, everything!

I am so happy because it turned out to just be the power source and it was on waranty. Hooray! It is strange but it feels wonderful to be at my computer. I was so happy to see all my data was safe and back in my hands.

Open Art Studio #5

July 25th, 2008

Open Studios Art Show
Art Studio #5, 375 Bernard Avenue, Kelowna, BC
August 8 – 10, 2008 10am-5pm

Open Studios is like a studio crawl and my studio partner Carrie Harper and I will be a part of it! We are opening our studio doors and everyone is welcome!

Canoe3 KendraArtOpen Studios promotes recognition that the arts are a significant component of our region and contribute to the public awareness about the quality and diversity of art created in our community.

It also provides an educational experience for all ages, which will help foster an interest in and a greater understanding of the artistic process. This program provides a rare opportunity of seeing artists in their own environment and to experience artists discussing and demonstrating their materials and art process.”

Art for your Lifestyle

June 10th, 2008

KendraArt Watercolour Paintings by Canadian Artist Kendra Smith
My KendraArt website has been updated. The design has a fresh new look and the links and titles are all html text rather than images. This should give my website a clean feel and improve search engine optimization.

You can check out my website at

Jersey Cream Kids

May 19th, 2008

Jersey Cream, watercolour painting of Whistler ski resort by artist Kendra Smith

Whistler on my easel

My next goal in my art career is to display my watercolour paintings in a Whistler art gallery. This summer I am going to be spending quality time in my studio painting pictures of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains and village. It is so great to be painting again. I didn’t have much time to paint the last three years since I moved to Kelowna to get a diploma in graphic and digital media design.

In the fall I hope to have a collection of original paintings to showcase.

Design for Crossfit Okanagan

April 18th, 2008

I customized a wordpress blog for a client and his new website is up and running at

To make the blog I downloaded wordpress from and I installed it on my server space. The advantage of doing this is that all the photos posted to the blog will be saved in a folder on the hosting space and not in no-man-blog-land. If my client ever wishes to move his hosting or get a new blog he will not have to re-upload all of his photos.
It was a lot of work getting the blog to run properly since there were some glitches with the new release of wordpress 2.5. After long hours of searching on help forums and blogs, I found out that a snippet of code needed to be added to an .htaccess file on my server so that the blog would use php5. Now everything is working great!