I work with a lot of writers and I have taught art classes, led writing workshops, and tutored both artists and writers.
Sometimes people ask me if they should take a class or a course, either online or locally, in person. Here is my answer:
It depends what your goal is.
Yes, you should take a class, or some kind of instruction if you want to improve your work. This can be done in a myriad of ways. When I began exploring watercolours my first step was to borrow books from my local library and study what different artists recommended.
I learned early on that there are many different approaches even in this one medium. Since my goal was to increase my skill level, i.e. become more professional, I enrolled in a studio class that I continued to attend for a couple of years. In that class I learned many techniques how to use the medium to produce work that reflected my own style.
(Coincidentally, in the studio next door, another class leader taught all the students to copy the style of the instructor.)
During that same period I also decided I wanted to develop my writing skills. I followed the same pattern. First, library books, and then writing classes. Both were beneficial.
All this took place before the advent of the Internet and online courses. Now, I’m a big fan of classes online. They are easy and quick to access and you can start almost immediately after you’ve made the decision. You can generally work at your own pace without leaving home.
Among the disadvantages of courses online is that you will likely be working alone and unless you’re self-motivated, you may find that life gets in the way of finishing what you started. However, a well-done course or leaders will usually also offer follow up, a forum, or Facebook group so you stay engaged and motivated until the end.
A local class or course offers the benefit of social contact but requires you to show up at a specific time. It is fun to get together with others who share your interest and to learn as a group. The downside can be heading out on a dark and stormy night may put you off getting to the class.
So, here is my question:
If you wanted to pursue either a writing course, or an art course, which would you prefer: online or in person?
Please leave your answer as a comment below as your choice will help me to develop some programs that I have in mind. Thanks.
Eat Chocolate for Breakfast
Several years ago while travelling in France, staying at hole-in-the-wall hotels and eating at small cafes, I had breakfast at a tiny bakery with a few wooden tables. The morning sunlight streamed through the windowpanes onto the tiled floor as a round woman with smiling eyes served miniature cups of espresso and pain chocolat (pronounced pan shocolah). Similar to a croissant but with layers of rich dark chocolate rolled in swirls of buttery warm bread, eating a pain chocolat for breakfast is like starting the day with a little bit of heaven.
The French are famous for their joie de vivre, but you don’t have to live in France to indulge in wonderful treats for breakfast or anytime. Living with lusciousness means choosing to include sensual delights as often as you can and not settling for less than the best of what you want.
Try this: Go to a chocolate boutique and buy yourself some fabulous truffles, one or two for each day of the week. If you can make them last all week, good for you. If you can’t, just buy enough to give yourself a happy, sensuous moment of bliss. Then go back another day and do it again. It won’t be enough to blow your diet, just enough to give you a treat. Even if you do not live near a great chocolate boutique, you can buy really fine chocolate at your grocery store.
The main point here is, take the time to include those small things that make your life more pleasant. If it is harmless, painless, and won’t break your budget then go ahead and add to your life those experiences that make it better, more fun or just more luscious.
You can apply this delicious concept to anything that gives you a morsel of delight in your day. Take time to give yourself luscious little treats. Don’t postpone living. Try taking a bubble bath in the afternoon or have your morning coffee before anyone else in the house is up so you can savour the silence. Use your favourite coffee cup. Buy yourself flowers.
We must treat ourselves kindly and well and we must also treat ourselves to luscious moments, morsels and delights. These self-loving gifts are the materials of everyday sweetness.
If you haven't already done so, be sure to subscribe to my email list to be notified of the rest of the Luscious Living Lessons in this series, and much more. You will also receive my fabulous, free, illustrated e-book, Guide to Freeing your Creativity.
A perfect day for a ride on the ferry to Vancouver Island.
The scenery in the passage is incomparable.
The doors were open so we ventured into this beautiful church near downtown Victoria.
What would a trip to Victoria be without a stop at Munroe's Books? Incomplete, of course.
British Columbia's provincial legislature building at Victoria harbour.
The historic and beautiful Empress Hotel where they serve high tea. (We didn't stop for it this time.)
A flower-decked downtown Swan's Hotel. Everything is within easy walking distance in downtown Victoria.
We discovered this little mossy pocket garden with a waterfall off a narrow alley.
One of the city's beaches. Surprisingly empty for such a beautiful day but then, it was Tuesday afternoon.
This little watercolour is one that I painted from a photograph I took when I lived in the South of France several years ago.
As you know, I am a writer and an artist. I also love to travel and am interested in people, how they live, what they love, and what makes them choose what they do in life. One day soon, I will share how I came to live at a beautiful estate in Provence.
Creative people are everywhere, sometimes disguised as something else, like news reporters, builders, drivers, teachers, office workers, or doctors. Many have relegated their dreams and heart's desires to "someday" while "never finding the time" now to do the things they really want to.
My friend, Harry, was like that. He decided that he would wait until he retired to do some travelling, yet soon after he stopped working at his job, he fell ill. The disease cleared up temporarily but then he was no longer eligible for travel health insurance and didn't want to risk getting sick again in a foreign country. Before long, the disease returned and within a year he passed away, never having fulfilled his travel dreams. From his sick bed, he admitted that he had made a mistake by postponing living until later. It turned out to be too late.
I am in the process of launching a new program to help you make sure than nothing like what happened to Harry happens to you. It's called The Wish Plan. If you would like to hear more about it, please subscribe to my newsletter on the home page and I will let you know. Don't worry, you can unsubscribe any time, no questions asked.
Isn't it time you started going places? Yes, me too.
I joined the Canada Day festivities today, including answering a quiz about Canada, and I won! Here I am being presented with my prize, a Canada beach towel. It seems like everyone knows I love the beach.
Celebrating the day with the Canada Day cake. I didn't have any and I don't think it would qualify as health food but plenty of people lined up for their piece.
Lots of kids, sunshine, and fun. The firefighters had their water cannons out and the children had a blast running through the spray.
At almost any Canadian celebration, the kilts and the bagpipes appear. Here a local group has just finished their parade, which I missed, and is seeking some shade. Those wool socks have to be hot in 35°C temperatures.
A tiny market had set up with handmade quilts, baby hats and sweater, jams and cookies, pickles and chicken and more. I bought a sweet bonnet for the new baby who is about to appear in our family.
Another installment in the West Coast adventure. The Point Wilson lighthouse at Port Townsend.
Boats and more boats in a tiny bay near Port Hadlock. I love being places with names that include words like port, bay, beach, cove, and harbour. They all mean that there is an ocean or sea nearby.
I turned around and there were these seaside cottages for students at the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building at Port Hadlock. Peering through the window of the school, I saw some beautiful boats taking shape. And no, I'm not going to build my own boat any time soon. I wrote about a couple of boats in my novel, Picking up the Pieces.
I had to run to capture this shot of the sailboat passing by the ferry dock in Port Townsend. Unfortunately, it had clouded over by late afternoon. Soon the ferry from Whidbey Island sailed up, we drove on, and off we went to Oak Harbor.
It's no secret that I love the ocean and get close to it, either on a boat or ship, or with my toes in the sand at a beach, at every opportunity.
Last week I went on a little trip with my husband and we took the ferry from Coupeville, WA, to Port Townsend. The sky cleared and the sea breezes were fresh.
Since I'm usually the family photographer, I've begun to realize that there are very few photos of me in the family archives. When I think of it, I am now trying to get someone to snap a few shots of me for posterity. In this one, I'm on the top deck of the ferry crossing Admiralty Inlet in Washington state. And no, I'm not the admiral.
I took a little trip to the seaside last week, stopping in Coupeville, WA, where I snapped the photo of these sail boats bobbing at anchor in the afternoon sun.
After a little shopping, I even had time to make a small watercolour sketch to add to my collection for an upcoming book project I'm working on.
My next novel in Jill Moss Adventures series is called Indigo Beach. I came across this photo while searching the internet and thought this is perfect for what I have in mind for the setting for scenes from the book. The location of Indigo Beach is still a mystery (to me, too) so we'll all have to wait to find out where it is. Meanwhile, I'm still in the process of working out the plot, and am hoping to have the book out before the end of summer.
If you would like to leave a comment, I'd love to know what you liked best about Picking up the Pieces, or The Glass Dolphin, or both.
Our lives are full of choices and opportunities. Every day we must make choices, some small and fairly insignificant, some monumental and life-changing.
Too often we make choices without thought or preparation. After all, we are busy. Our minds are occupied elsewhere so we choose without stopping to think where this path might take us.
It doesn't have to be that way. We can live our lives with a greater sense of purpose.
One simple guide that I have used over and over with success when faced with a decision on how I will spend my time is to ask myself, "Will this go toward or away from the direction I want my life to take?"
Will volunteering for the parent council at your child's school lead you closer to your goal of being on the town council, for example? Will saying "yes" to a home product party take up time that is best used working on your novel?
If I am asked to take part in a fund-raiser that I deem worthwhile but for which I have no great passion, and it cuts into the time I could spend reading or furthering my business, which are important goals for me, is this the right thing to do?
Keep your destination in mind and make choices that move you continually in the direction of that destination.
I thought I would share a few photos from the 100th Anniversary celebration at my family's farm. There are more here if you are interested.
Gathering for our program on Saturday afternoon. Perfect, hot weather with a breeze.
Words of congratulation from local municipal representative, David Bond. (We were in the same class at school.)
My mom did a great job of telling the history of the farm. Anyone who wanted to was invited to come and share his or her experiences relating to the farm.
Lots of great stories were shared.
Followed by good food, good company and good conversation. There is nothing in the world like a loving family. We are blessed.
Picking up the Pieces, Wendy Dewar Hughes Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Jill Moss is surprised when she receives her Uncle Neil Bryant’s Bible and discovers that it has certain, odd passages marked. Then she learns that her uncle has discovered an artifact in Mexico that consists of sixteen separate pieces that have been sent to people he knows and trusts. He needs her to travel all over the world to collect all sixteen pieces. Jill prays about it and listens when God tells her to help her uncle out. Thus begins a high speed adventure as Jill meets Marco Jimenez, a handsome Spaniard who helps her out as she is chased and stalked while traveling to collect the pieces of the artifact. The pieces are written in three different and distinct languages: Olmec, Mayan and Hebrew. How is this possible when these three cultures did not exist together and what is the significance of it all?
The adventures Wendy Hughes puts her heroine through are both thrilling and exhilarating, as are her captivating descriptions of the terrain and beauty of the countries that are visited. It is amazing how beautifully she marries such diverse points of view, taking passages from the bible and scientific knowledge and creating a story that makes a believer out of the reader. The fast paced adventures and love interest keeps the reader eager and unable to put this story down!
Rose Mary Espinoza, InDTale Magazine
My novel, Picking up the Pieces, is in a contest and I need your votes to move to the next level up. The voting is a little complicated but it won't take more than a couple of minutes.
1. Go to this link: http://www.indtale.com/2012-rone-awards
2. Click on where is says "register" and fill in your details.
3. You will receive a confirmation email. Click on the link in the email.
4. If it is not readily apparent where to vote, click on Fun Stuff, then Week 5, Suspense and Thrillers. My book is the last one on the list.
5. Click on the button on the left of the title and hit the "Vote" button
You're done! Thank-you for your support.
To see more about the book, go HERE.
Picking up the Pieces opens with a short prologue so well done that we are anchored in its stellar writing and professional style. Immediately, readers pass through a portal, created with written words, transported into the living world of the story. Feeling a part of Jill Moss, we long to discover “how, who, what, where, when and why” as we begin chapter one, bracing for an emotional ride filled with suspense.
Jill Moss loves and respects her eccentric Uncle Neil, an expert and fearless archaeologist. He has discovered ancient artifacts in Mexico. Recognizing the danger if the artifacts fall into the wrong hands, he hides away. He deflects attention and involves his beloved niece, Jill—protecting her by telling her nothing, but trusting her to do as he asks. She suspects he is once again in danger and believes she has no choice. Uprooting her life, she embarks on Uncle Neil’s quest, one clue at a time.
Readers walk in the foreign streets, sit in the cafés, sleep in the dwellings, sweat in the heat, smell the food, and drop exhausted with Jill, when she is overcome. Our hearts thump as we run with her to keep up. We can’t wait to get to the next page, but the words are so compelling, we cannot skip. Pulling for her, we try to solve the mystery and decide what she should do to stay safe.
We are comforted when Jill’s trust in God along with her spiritual connection, guides her, allowing narrow escapes in a few of the many precarious situations. Biblical quotes augment the story, giving clues, as the reader slowly grasps the reason behind the intense desire of others who hunt the artifacts—at any cost. The plot keeps the story flowing, but jars us with surprises. Do we believe this story could happen? Absolutely.
The main characters are well drawn and feel like family or people we know or have met. We don’t want to say goodbye when finished with the last page. In many scenes, we wonder whether the players are friend or foe. Even the sweet romantic element keeps us guessing until near the end.
This reviewer looks forward to being captivated again by this author and will watch for a sequel to Picking up the Pieces, or to the next entertaining page-turner by Wendy Dewar Hughes.
This is my pretty, red Ford Escape before yesterday afternoon; before we were rear-ended at a red light by a great big suburban and pushed into the back end of an equally big pick-up truck.
Now my little red car is crunched at both ends and is in the auto hospital to be repaired. Since we've only owned this vehicle a few months, it comes as quite a disappointment to have it banged up so soon. However, I expect that in a couple of weeks it will look as good as new again.
Fortunately, no one was hurt in the accident. Even though it happened in another town, everyone involved in the accident lives in my town. All of us were heading home after attending church. In spite of the frustrating event, everyone was patient and cooperative. We even gave a ride home to a couple of the young people who were passengers in the vehicle that crashed into us.
Meet my friend, Raye, who read my novel, Picking up the Pieces, and loved it so much that he wanted to meet me.
So in July, when I was in Saskatchewan visiting family, Raye arranged to come by to say "hello" and have our photo taken together.
Thank-you, Raye, for your kind words and support. The sequel, called, The Glass Dolphin, is currently in the creation stage.
See if you can name this location. Leave a comment and tell me if you know where this bridge is and what river it crosses.
This is to remind everyone who is suffering through the winter weather that somewhere out there the sun is shining. Wait a minute. Whose feet are those? They're not mine.
Three of my very favourite women in the whole world. My mom and my daughters, Olivia and Merrilee. The photo was taken outside the Co-op store in Hoosier, Saskatchewan this past July.
Few days are so perfect. My husband and I were on a short vacation, the pace unhurried, the weather divine. I took this photo of the marina at Hadlock Bay, WA around noon.
This might look like somebody's house with lots of parking but it's not. This is a little restaurant my husband and I discovered a couple of weeks ago while staying in Port Townsend, WA. It's called Scampi's and Halibut's and it's in the little town of Port Hadlock, WA.
I just love it when you find a gem in an out-of-the-way place and this restaurant is one of those. I promised that I would blog about it because the food was so fantastic. The building itself is a double-wide mobile home converted into a restaurant. The interior decor is cozy and tasteful. However, it's the menu that is so astounding. An amazing variety of seafood is offered and salads with ingredients that only a food artist could think up, with paragraph-long descriptions. I had the salad with huge fresh shrimp, goat cheese, candied pecans, dried cranberries and I can't remember what else. It was so good!
So, if you're ever in Port Hadlock (Google map it) be sure to eat here. You're going to love it.
My husband and I decided to take a couple of day away and drove to Port Townsend, Washington. This is the view from our hotel room.
Our hotel was right on the water (30 ft. away!) and had a wall of windows and its own deck.
We woke in the morning, pulled back the drapes and found four dainty deer directly in front of our room, picking their way along the water's edge. I watched them from my pillow.
I found some pink friends while on vacation in July and thought I should have my picture taken with them. Notice how the flowers also coordinate with my poodle pals and my top and shoes.
Wondering where this is? Near Vernon, B.C. on Highway 97 there is a goat farm, complete with a clever goat feeding station, some cute shops, picnic areas and lots of flowers.
I don't know about the rest of you but I love going to foreign countries. Different scenes, people, languages, customs and smells all contribute to the excitement of travel. While this foreign country is on of the least foreign to Canadians, the United States still qualifies.
In spite of our obvious likenesses, I still enjoy crossing the border just to be in a different country. I'm fortunate to be only about a half hour drive away from the nearest border crossing (though the line-ups to actually cross can easily take that long or longer). So today I popped into the nearest foreign country for a little look around. I had lunch at Starbucks in Barnes & Noble Book Store (which we don't have here in Canada). I did a few other things on my list then headed home. Because it turned out to be a sunny day, I felt almost like I was on holiday (that's Canada-speak for vacation).
Where I share creative ideas, uplifting thoughts, and spread sweetness to make life pretty.