Flower cafe #1 — Niagara-on-the-lake

Acrylic on canvas
24×24

Over the past year or so I delved into painting cityscapes or street scenes. That place where nature and civilization intersect. In most cases sharing space, at times one becoming more dominant. I find the best way to acquire photographs to work from is to walk around an area and take it in. Take the time to examine different angles, nuances missed when whizzing by in a car.

Not sure why, but I find myself drawn to outdoor cafes or restaurants who have some outdoor seating. (Particularly if they have umbrellas.) I’ve never been to Europe to see squares filled with such places. But I’ve found spots locally and in my travels that appeal to me. Maybe it’s the access to people watching, or the intentionality sitting and enjoying the meal and the time spent in fellowship.

As I’ve painted more I find myself asking why? Why does it appeal to me, touch me, have an emotional response? Not sure I have the answer fully for outdoor cafes. They are a reminder to slow down and enjoy. Invest in the moment. How one can survive on very little, yet it’s beauty around us, in us, in others that help us to thrive.

So expect to see more outdoor cafes from me in the future. This one is from The Epicurean restaurant in Niagara-on-the-lake. Loved the small area and of course the lavish flowers. (Took photos of several other eateries nearby that I will explore in upcoming works.)

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Market Street Cafe

30×40

Acrylic on Canvas

This Valentine’s Day we tried something a little different. My husband had the day off so we drove over to Celebration. There were a few specific shots I wanted to get, and I thought it would be fun to bike around. The Bohemian hotel has bike rentals. So we got two and started off along a path. It was a beautiful day. We saw the backs of a few large homes that had waterslides, and some tree-lined streets with great dappled lighting. (If only leaves changed colors down here, this is the season for raking leaves, as new growth causes leaves to fall. I’ll admit, I also figured the bikes would be a nice prop to any photos I took. It was a nice adventure riding and exploring.

I’d been waiting to feature the Market Street Cafe in a painting more prominently. I was pleased to see the renovations were finished and chairs back out awaiting customers. This is looking up Market Street with Lake Rianhard right behind me.

Umbrellas along Bloom Street

Celebration 5

Acrylic on Canvas

24×30

Eating outside, a picnic, around a campfire, at an outdoor cafe. For some reason getting out of the kitchen, or the dining room holds a special appeal. Maybe it’s the novelty, the change from the everyday. Perhaps it’s feeling the breeze blowing, sun on your face. Or the ability to people watch. Maybe it’s engaging more of the senses while enjoying the taste of the food before you.

One thing Celebration has is a number of outdoor seating options. Restaurants, benches along the water, even some rocking chairs at the edge of the lake. This scene is outside the Avocado Mexican Grill restaurant, along Bloom Street. I love the brightness of the umbrellas and the shadows from the tables. I arrived later in the morning, workers were getting ready for the lunch crowd that would arrive.

Palms on Market Street

Celebration (4)

Acrylic on canvas

24×30

Market Street is only a block long. It’s the heart of Celebration with a handful of brightly colored buildings that have different shops and restaurants. In December the street is closed to traffic and an “ice rink” is set up. (Closer to Christmas they have nightly snowfall, it’s actually soap foam.) Lights are strung across the street, palms line the street and tables are set outside restaurants. It’s quaint, and a nice place for slowing down.

It was a challenge to get photos to work from. Our first visit the ice rink was up. The second visit there was a small art fair/farmers market filing the street with tents, and it was overcast, no shadows. The third visit, cars lined the street, but otherwise, it was quiet, restaurants hadn’t opened yet.

The lesson to remember, reality rarely lines up with expectations. Sometimes you need to try something a few times or look for a different way of doing it. Look around, take the set back as an opportunity to try something new. After my third visit, I actually have photos from several angles of the street. Perhaps I will attempt another view in the near future.