Prince of Wales Hotel — Niagara-on-the-Lake

A picture might be worth a thousand words, but some places, some events, you need far more than one picture to capture the spirit of the place. Knowing I’d be visiting Niagara-on-the-lake I did some research. Looked on Pinterest for what places to make sure you visit while there, and I took a virtual stroll down the street with the help of google street view. I found the Prince of Wales hotel and knew I wanted to paint it. When I was there I took many photos, enjoying the flowers and architecture. Getting different viewpoints from near and farther away. I looked through the photos I’d taken trying to find that one that would completely capture the hotel and the surrounding beauty. Like past landscapes and city scenes I’d done, I realized sometimes you can’t capture all something has to offer, but you can give a glimpse. You portray a moment. And really it’s not a bad thing to be left wanting more. Perhaps prompting the viewer to go and explore it for themselves. The beauty snags you, draws you in, invites you to more.

As I write a story I’ve read many times comes to mind. About a man who had a big request. He asked for something so amazing he wouldn’t be able to take it in or fully grasp or appreciate it.

The man was Moses, he wanted to see God in all his glory. And God, knowing what Moses could and couldn’t handle responded;

“And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.” Exodus 33:21-23 ESV

Moses caught a glimpse, not the whole. That glimpse gave him what he needed at the time. And yet it wasn’t over, Moses went up the mountain to talk with God many times. Heard his voice, saw him work, and grew in intimacy. In this age of information and got to have it now, sometimes appreciation comes from seeing new aspects over time. Appreciating each piece as it comes. So here is one small view of the beautiful Prince of Wales hotel in Niagara-on-the-lake.

detail of painting
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Missed Opportunities – Niagara-on-the- lake No. 5

At times past I’ve sought to find a way to portray a thought, an abstract concept visually. These days painting landscapes, I go out and take photos, go through the photos and pick what I want to paint, and when finished will reflect on what I’ve learned, or the impressions I had as I painted.

Casual observers and art critics alike can theorize what an artist was thinking, or the meaning behind a painting. I have no problem with others finding their own emotional connection with a piece. I do try and take the time to think about and share what my pieces mean to me. Whether it was the experience that came when taking photos of the place or something I learned as or after painting it. My blog is sharing my art and the stories behind them.

Several months ago a photo of Shaw Cafe showed up on a friend’s Facebook feed. It was beyond gorgeous. I was so excited as I knew our trip to visit family would allow me to take a short trip over to Niagara-on-the-Lake and see it for myself. I looked forward to it for months. I wished we had been able to spend more time there, we had a few hours to walk around and take photos, before returning to our families home. I took several photos around this cafe. Flowers line the outside seating area, hang from the second level, from nearby lampposts and line the other side of the sidewalk. Variety, color, and of course as a bonus there are the umbrellas!

As I look at the painting a phrase, a verse from the Bible comes to my mind; “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” Psalms 34:8

While walking one might glimpse into a window and see yummy pastries in their case. They could stop and press their face to the window, breath in deep. They can even take a step into the store, yet their experience is limited. They haven’t tasted. It remains an intellectual knowing rather than a full experiential knowledge. So close, yet they miss out. (Now at times we wish to avoid experiential knowledge, and would gladly settle for reading about it second hand.) Because of time constraints, I feel like that day in Niagara-on-the-Lake, I saw much, yet missed really experiencing, tasting. You can see the beauty of Shaw Cafe painting, but it’s from a distance. You’re not sitting in the cafe surrounded by the beauty, enjoying a meal and the company you are with. After finishing I thought, it’s beautiful, but it doesn’t capture the feeling of being surrounded or immersed in that time and place.

I can be too busy, too distracted to be fully present in a moment of time. I don’t think I’m alone. In this age, it’s easier to scroll through my Facebook or Instagram feed getting a tiny glimpse of a friend’s day instead of making a phone call or sitting down to talk. We can be so intent on capturing those perfect images for our feed that we miss just being in the moment.

I think too often I settle in my life with God of knowing things about him, without tasting, sitting down and really soaking in His goodness. Read a few verses, send a quick prayer, move onto the next thing on my list. Yet really I don’t want to be an observer, I want to be a participant! To sit, to abide and to taste.

What do you think? Where do you need to slow down?

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The Patio at Hotel Dallavalle Niagara-on-the-lake 4

24×30

I struggle with not enough. I don’t think I’m alone. Wondering if I have talent enough to make it as an artist. Being jealous and feeling in competition with other artists, that there is limited room for art and beauty in the world. Before that was a fear that we wouldn’t be about to find enough support to continue our work with an amazing non-profit. Not feeling like I have enough wisdom and grace to parent my tween children well as they pull away and struggle into adulthood. The list could go on. I’m guessing you could add your own items, times where your chest gets tight and you wonder how will this work out.

I can be dense, needing to relearn lessons over and over. And I’m coming to terms with that is OK. Learning and relearning over a lifetime is OK. And one lesson I appear to be getting schooled in is God is enough. More than enough. As I referenced when I started the Niagara-on-the-Lake painting, he is gloriously wasteful. And He wants to share his resources with me. He isn’t stingy with his grace, his forgiveness, his love or wisdom. He put reminders everywhere that he is a wellspring of life, always with more to give, not a cistern with a limited quantity. Daily sunsets, flowers, the variety of plants, bugs, animals. How many bay species do we really need?

So if you’ve read until now you might be scratching your head saying what does that have to do with a cafe scene? Everything God made reflects his nature, including humans, and what we make also reflects him.  I think the reason I’m drawn to these scenes is they’re lavish, in their beauty. Far beyond a functional meal to scarf down and run out the door. The message is sit down, fellowship, enjoy your surroundings. My reminder to myself is when overwhelmed, don’t focus on if you are enough, but that God is enough.

Have you tasted this His goodness?

This painting is the patio of Hotel Dallavalle on the corner off Gate street and Queen street in Niagara on the lake. Overhead flower baskets hand from a pergola. Crisp white tables and chairs welcome, interspersing with red umbrellas. A number of tall trees provide shade for the area.

Niagara-on-the-lake #2 & #3

Wellington and Picton- Niagara-on-the-lake Cafe #2

wIMG-6999Acrylic on canvas
24×24

This cafe is located at the corner of Wellington St and Picton street in Niagara-on-the-lake. Loved the flowers hugging the white picket fence and the different colored umbrellas. We roamed the streets in the morning before lunch, so most of the cafes were just getting set up.

I do work from photographs, but the advantage of being a painter means I can take artistic liberties. As I’ve been working on street scenes and landscapes for the last few years I’ve gotten more comfortable with trees. Knowing how much detail to go for, using different shades of green, letting sky peek through. So I modified the trees slightly. There was a lamp post in the scene, but you couldn’t see the light so I took it out. All the tables and chairs at this cafe were a black metal, with mesh tops, backs, and seats. I decided to add seat cushions and make the tables solid. It’s still a confusing mess of legs but it makes the scene a little more understandable.

One thing I enjoy about these cafe Street side scenes is even though the scene is a busy one, it invites one to slow down and relax, savor the moment. There will always be more on my to-do list than I can get to in a day. Hard work is good, honorable and necessary. However work needs to be balanced with rest, literal rest

as well as the taking the time for a leisurely treat. It’s no surprise that we are better able to handle all the demands of life when we call regular timeouts.

The Patio at the Charles Inn -Niagara-on-the-lake Cafe #3

wIMG_9514

Acrylic on canvas
24×24

Umbrellas the color of sunshine, this outdoor cafe is part of The Charles Inn at Niagara-on-the-lake In Ontario, Canada. It’s a few blocks down from all the gift stores and doesn’t get nearly as much tourist’s traffic. The greenery surrounds the patio and looks so pretty next to the windows and white trim of the Inn. It’s quiet, shaded and invites one in for a nice lingering breakfast.

What do you do to rest? To recharge the batteries and remember what important versus what’s urgent? To remind yourself that it’s OK to hit pause?

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.)

Clock on Queen

20×20, Acrylic on Canvas

I was visiting with a dear friend over vacation, we had done some hiking together in the woods, seen a few waterfalls and were talking about beauty. She shared how she was reading about how gloriously wasteful God was. That caught my attention. She elaborated that there is so much variety, complexity, detail on our earth, the galaxy, the universe. So much not beheld by human eyes, unappreciated, unnoticed. God is one of plenty, not scarcity. His creativity, his love, and grace towards us is unlimited. (See the link below) How different this than how we act, feeling we never have enough, struggling to make it through a day.

A few days after this conversation I got to spend the morning in the small town of Niagara-on-the-lake. We wandered around a few block area and everywhere were gorgeous flowers. Hanging from window boxes and light posts, on medians and curbside. So much color and beauty. We wondered how it’s afforded and who takes care of all these reminders of gloriously wastefulness. As we wandered down the street, taking a ton of photos my heartfelt encouraged, rejuvenated, thankful for the reminder that there is more than the needed and practical.

This is the first of what I’m guessing will be many paintings to follow. It is on Queen street with the memorial clock tower in the background.

Where have you seen the gloriously wastefulness of God?

https://tellingthetruth1993.com/2015/03/09/gloriously-wasteful/