A Work in Progress

In reality, most of us are a work in progress.
The arts have long wrestled with perfection persona.

Visual art rose as a form of communication. Skilled artists were often respected as Shaman. This divinity persona weighed on artists thru history. Michelangelo burned his working sketches. Ideas formed from devotion to work and practice, not from pure ‘ divine enlightenment’ would have been deeply frowned upon.

Yet, the most famous, celebrated painting in history is not without flaws. Leonardo Da Vinci’s portrait of “Lisa”, Titled “Mona Lisa” (meaning My Lisa) a brilliant work of art, has hints of overworking, mismatched horizon and hands, among other little ‘flaws’.
The portrait took 4 years to complete, and he didn’t feel it was his finest work.
4 years. Think of how much Lisa’s looks would have changed.*
Perhaps the artist, with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and improvement may have been evolving too?

In an era of perfection pursuit, its comforting that with flaws, great achievements may illumine and perhaps, imitate life.

Conductor and Co- author of “The Art of Possibility” Ben Zander suggests one slightly off musical note played with sincere emotion is more powerful than a technically emotionally absent performance.
“If we include mistakes in our definition of performance, we are likely to glide through them and appreciate the beauty of the longer run.” Benjamin Zander

A well known artist told me as soon as a painting goes ‘south’ it must be discarded, urging my agreement. I rarely completely trash work. I like to see what may be possible, put it aside, ponder what may lie yet undiscovered. Not ‘rework’ it but resurrect it. Morphing the work may far exceed expectations, built on ‘flaws’.

I learned this lesson early in my career. Working on my last canvas for a group exhibit, it all ‘went south.’
Dismayed, my budget didn’t allow for purchase of more supplies.
The stress of failing to meet the show requirement haunted me for days. One evening after work, I decided to see if the canvas could be salvaged, maybe, just maybe if I combine mediums, acrylic and oil, maybe if I sand it down.. maybe…

The piece was a turning point in my career.
Because I was restricted from overworking it, it felt light and bold. It had spark. In effect, the flawed work beneath gave it life.

The day after the opening, a collector reserved the gallery to wander at his private leisure.
Of all the work in the show, unknown to him, he purchased a painting initially designated for the trash.

Revisiting work, or contemplating work that didn’t pan out isn’t a mark of perfectionism. It’s optimism born from personal non judgement.
We take the seat of self criticism seriously, with great respect of the process. Remove pride from the equation, and you embody energy and power of possibility.

~“I settled on a game called I am a contribution. Unlike success and failure, contribution has no other side. It is not arrived at by comparison.” Benjamin Zander.

* Reference: Robert Genn “The Letters” page 542

~ All new work is available for purchase.  I have been revisiting, and breathing new life into pieces I am so excited to share with you today!  please email me at dawn@dawnbanning.com

One side note, I have not taken a break from posting, or painting for nearly a decade. If you have not received these letters on a regular basis, the system on occasion may stop sending letters to those it believes are spam. I apologize for this inconvenience. If ever in doubt, please  go to my website, click on “NEWSBLOG” to see all new work & posts.

I am still technically restricted, without access to my computer, files & contacts or from using my camera for the photos. These were taken with an iPhone.

Journey to Improvement

Optimism can add 7.5 years to your life.
Silver lining attitude can go a long, long way.

In sport and art, the path to improvement involves physical, mental & emotional elements.
The spark of belief limits can be surpassed fuels the fire.

For some, that means bumping up training, nutrition, seeking coaches, new materials, new environment, genres or sport, moving or taking up a new hobby to unlock ultimate potential. Change can spur growth, even if it’s not directly related.

For others, the search is internal, reflecting inward, seeking a different kind of mentor.
Ironman triathlete Mark Allen’s compelling story “Fit Body, Fit Soul” credits his success to recognizing the power of spiritual and emotional health. Shaman Brant Secunda helped him tap into his internal power, enormously impacting Allen’s career and life.

Artist Emily Carr’s work dramatically changed at the age of 58. Until then, historians dubbed her work mediocre at best. What happened? Most of the credit goes to her meeting Lismer, Harris and members of the famous Group of Seven. Her letters corresponding with Harris still exist.

A little sleuthing uncovered a unique series of events that I think also fueled this change.

Feeling frustrated with her own work, nearly penniless, giving up painting for over a decade, Carr took up pottery and opened a rooming house for funds. A call from the National Gallery had her traveling east, but before she took her long train ride, she was sent a book, on the new ‘modern’ painting. It included work the Group were doing. She had heard stories about modern painting, and was CURIOUS.

Key: Frustration and curiosity can fuel passion. It exhibits wanting to improve and open mindedness to learn.

Carr’s curiosity peaked after reading on the long train ride east.
Away from her rainforest and experiencing new places,( change of environment) meeting peers,( sense of community) like the Group,( mentors) and being asked to exhibit in the National gallery,( confidence).
I personally believe all fed her fire to return to the easel with hope, knowledge and inspiration, and perhaps happenstance meetings had a dramatic impact on how she worked and her style.
It’s in this same period that happened to meet Georgia O’Keefe, saw and exhibit by Arthur Dove, and another artist who’s bold style caught her interest.

O’Keefe apparently did large sketches with inexpensive supplies. It’s possible, O’Keefe shared her process with Carr. Some believe, this sparked Carr to creating brilliant sketches known today.

This is a critical point in artistic freedom & creativity. Carr was low on funds. The fear of ruining good supplies strikes most professional artists. This fear can override taking creative risks, and stall progress.
Carr writes about her sudden joyful freedom to ’sketch’ with cheap housepaint, mixed with gasoline on inexpensive newsprint. Her creative fire no longer stamped out by fear of not having supplies to explore, her brushstrokes and style evolved. Coupled with encouragement from the Group of Seven, corresponding with them, exploring exhibits of other artists and the internal drive to evolve her work, at the age of 58, she did just that.

Some say artistic vision dropped out of the sky and into her lap. I say, she was a spunky, knowledge seeking, forest loving, thou perhaps at times cranky ( who wouldn’t be breathing in gasoline in confined spaces?) individual.

Advice in art can be contradictory. Loosen up your stroke, tighten up areas, bold colour, less colour, more value, be free with stroke and composition, be a careful with your brushstrokes & make them count.
So it goes.

Perhaps the solution in any journey to improvement & success, is to find balance. Change spurs improvement, courage feeds confidence, open mindedness offers room for growth. Community can bolster mood, collectors encourage, peers may inspire.Mentor, spiritual guide, or coach, may help with your brushstroke, run splits, or personal evolvement.

Listen externally with an open mind, internally with an open heart. Know when to quiet the noise,retreat to your sanctuary and instincts. Remain steadfast in your pursuit, dwell in possibility and reach for the stars. You might just surprise yourself, and add years to your life.

I am writing you from a borrowed laptop after experiencing a complete crash of my own.
In midst of completing several months of work in an art presentation, my tech world went black.
I have hopefully, temporarily lost your contact info/ research photos/ and my entire presentation, along with the name of an artist that happened along in Carr’s career.
The silver lining, I chose this week away from tech stuff to be uninhibited with my creative exploration, continuing to reach for what lies shimmering beneath the surface. Hope you enjoy the new work. I still have access to update Instagram, Linked IN, and email. I would love to hear from you.

Inspirational Song on repeat this week in the studio: “Storm Comin”  by the Wailing Jenny’s.

New Work: Windswept Tree – 60×40 Oil on canvas
Morning shore 11×14 oil on canvas
Prairie Skies 1&2 – both 16×20 acrylic ( #1 shown on left in double photo-# 2 – shows progress to final pic with tools. possibly still in progress. :0)

Joyful Beginnings

What was fun when you were 8?

Experts say children naturally do what they love and pursue it with gusto. Personality can shine like a bright new penny in youth.

We may lose a little of that shine from life demands, expectations and inhibitions that weigh on us as adults. If you are searching for your fun groove, think about what you enjoyed when you were 8.

Personality is a big deal in art, some would say, in artists too.

Artists need to entice buyers and establish their personality or ‘brand’ solidly among a massive sea of available art.

With demands to create prolifically, post often on social media, exhibit process and who is behind the brush, without compromising style or boundaries…

How to stand out?

Answers can be found creating art authentically unique in personality, with an unquenchable thirst to improve and evolve. Historical research can help pave the way, with consistent locked in studio time. Lastly, experiment fearlessly knowing failure is a huge component of growth. Thou staying on course isn’t easy, it’s worth the effort.

These are some of my continuing goals. What’s new for you in 2018? What’s happily the same?

Whatever your dreams, may you find your groove and the fun factor. May you thrive in the face of challenge and excel. May you be well, peaceful & happy.~

2018 projects include:

ART: So excited to share this new work with you!

New : Sunset Lake 14×18 oil on canvas. ( Thanks Tim M. for sharing your photo)

           Wood Door24×36 oil on canvas.

PRESENTATION: “Connect to nature in the way of an artist”. . without picking up a brush. Showing in spring at the Hockley Valley Studio of Al Pace, as part of their lecture series. Other locations yet to be determined.

EXHIBITS: Exhibiting in the fall at the Shurniak Gallery in Assiniboia Saskatchewan! After communicating with Bill Shurniak for 3 years, it’s an absolute dream to be showing at his beautiful legendary venue. To read about Bill’s incredible personal collection and vision behind his gallery, click here. And here.

With the workload ahead & to focus on what I do best.. paint, I will post on professional social media where my collectors are most active, Linked IN and my newsblog. Fairly new to Instagram, for now, you can find the art  @dawnartworks.

You are welcome to share the news/ social media links and web with friends. To purchase art, (2017 pricing applies presently) please email me at dawn@dawnbanning.com or my representatives at the Hambleton gallery, Kelowna BC. info@hambletongalleries.com

Visiting my newsblog for the first time? Welcome! 6 of the most popular posts among readers, click below links.







Winds of Change

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? How is training going?

Canadian resolutioners will be pursuing a goal, or kicking a bad habit in one of the coldest, darkest months of the year. Training early might be a good plan.

Some Canadians believe we go into a form of hibernation during our chilly winters. That doesn’t exactly set the foundation for motivation.

Experts say it takes 90 days to establish a habit. October would be a good time to start prepping for next year’s goals.

Before you remind me it’s December, don’t dismay. You can still set the stage for success.

What advice can an Artist offer who has never made a New Year’s resolution?

1. Research. Gather documentation and set a game plan.Wish to expand your creative reach? What tools/training do you need? What gym will you join? Which programs will you sign up for? Looking for a job or location change? Is your your resume current?

2. Establish routine. How will this change affect your routine? Visualizing life goals in detail sows the seed for change.

3. Test run. Wean off an unhealthy snack. Try a free trial at the gym, an afternoon workshop of your desired instructional course. Can you see yourself attending on a regular basis?

4. Consult experts. Nutritionist, creative coach, volunteer coordinator, book editor, personal trainer, Doctor, etc. What do they suggest to make your goal possible? Can they be an active part of your plan? Ex: a creative coach may help with one aspect of your business you wish to grow: a Doctor may order a physical before suggesting fitness/weight loss ideas.

Equipped with a researched plan, expert advice, and testing the waters, you set a path to success for the winds of change.

You may even avoid hibernation all together. :0)


Wonder why I have never made a New Year’s resolution? I believe Opportunity for growth (change) exists daily. Read here http://www.dawnbanning.com/newsblog/renewal/

One of my most popular posts ever among readers is on the topic of New Year’s resolutions. Read here. http://www.dawnbanning.com/newsblog/intention/

P.S on a poetic note: Robert Genn relays a reader passage in “Letters” on the topic of Resolutions (pg 317)

“I will follow the internal river that roars in my ears and flows, sometimes not noticed, past my psyche of what I “should” paint for sales. I’ll step into the river. I’ll trust that the weight of what I have to say will remain buoyant and that the river will take me where I need to go.”

Wind of change- music

New Work:

“Sunrise Reflection” 11×14 oil on canvas ( now complete)

“Sky & Clouds” 11×14 oil on canvas (now complete)

“Mist” ( island) 11×14 oil on canvas

Heart’s Journey

“Note the distinct difference of pine and spruce. Now draw them,” Dad instructed as we wandered northern boreal forest. Happy to be with my Dad in the park, surrounded by the scent of pine, I dutifully turned to my paper.

I don’t remember the detailed lessons of pine & spruce he taught that day when I was a child. But I do recall the spread of his wide shoulders under his kaki shirt swooping down to scoop a pine cone in his calloused hand. I remember the timber of his gentle voice and the easy manner of which he walked. I remember that moment so clearly, my love for him shining in my heart as it does today. Sharing shyness and a love of wilderness, we walked to the sound of chickadees in the bright summer sun.

You may not remember if the tree branches reached skyward or dipped toward the lake, as you paddled the shoreline that day. If you were lucky, you weren’t wearing a watch. Maybe it was 6 am or closer 7:30.

You do likely remember colour blossoming as dawn illuminated the forest.

The welcome heat on your face, with light bursting from behind scattered clouds.

You may remember the sound of a distant loon and waves lapping the rocky shore. Lake or river gently rocked your craft, lulling your heartbeat to a peaceful rhythm.

Remember how you felt in peaceful stillness immersed in the warmth of day’s awakening. This is what art does.


Note: If I have done my job, art can simultaneously spark internal reflection, memories and beckon you outdoors. It can illuminate the emotion of nature engagement. It’s this wonderful balance of internal, and external, all the while considering why lies beyond the edges.

~All new work is available for purchase. Email dawn@dawnbanning.com

Sky over Lake 12×24 ( now complete) oil on canvas

Northern Shore 24×36 oil on canvas

Clouds – 11×14 oil on canvas

Red shore 11×14 in progress oil on canvas.


A thought struck after studio visitors voiced familiar questions. I had a few of my own.

Are you curious about inspired subject matter, or why I create?

Thou I struggle with these kind of self involved posts, I will take a reprieve from my usual story telling post narrative & answer your pressing questions and share factors that may make my work unique.

Subject matter: People, wildlife, dogs, houses and children’s murals have been explored by my pencil and brush, thou I am utterly compelled to paint the natural world.

It’s human connection to nature I seek. When asked why I don’t put people in the paintings, my answer remains,

”I do. I put you there.”

I feel very fortunate to have lived or traveled beautiful locations in this country and beyond. Growing up, Dad’s work as a conservation officer led us to residing in several Provincial Parks, offering a wonderful opportunity to experience diverse wilderness.

This leads to three key strengths to paint location variety.

One: Adaptability.

Two: Appreciation of diverse regions.

Three: Creativity is not my top strength. It’s 4th.(discovered thru testing) First is Emotional Intelligence, next Empathy.

I can emotionally connect, and have varied wilderness experience.

Where are the paintings from? Sometimes, but not always site specific, I paint from photos, or plein air when available. The focus is to infuse the work with emotional connection, rather than illustrate.

Why Impressionism? Because my work is emotionally driven, impressionism suits it well. Every style has its challenges. I have dabbled in technically difficult realism. Impressionism is challenging in thought process. Compare impressionism to sharing a story in 5 words or less. Word choice needs to be important, well thought out and impactful.

My goal in the work is to develop highly emotional content that’s masterful in brushstroke & palette, and ultimately connects with you.


Note: An example of how the work isn’t necessarily site representative, is the SOLD Algonquin painting below with Kyra’s photo.

p.s Another common question “Is art your job?”: Yes. I make my living entirely on the sale of my artwork. No sponsorships, grants, etc.

It’s been an incredible journey that finally led to self employment. I thank you for helping make art possible by collecting and sharing the work.

Please feel free to make an appointment to visit the studio, or pop into the Hambleton Gallery in Kelowna, we would love to see you! Thank you for your collection of the work, and informative, supportive, inquisitive letters! J

New work available for purchase: Shown above in varied light. 

Sunset Moon 14×18 Oil on canvas

Forest  Nook 14×18 Oil on canvas

Sky over lake 12×24 oil on canvas ~ on the easel, it will rest before I decide if it’s done. Posting it is a way to not overwork the piece.

Special thanks for photo references to David Fitch and Julia Hargreaves.

A Good Day

Paint each as thou it were your first ever and last.

Every day one can hold the brush with this approach and a loving heart, is a good day.

“My wish is that we might progressively lose confidence in what we believe and the things we consider stable and secure, in order to remind ourselves of the infinite number of things still waiting to be discovered.” A. Tapies

Please feel free to share the news posts & work online and in social media, include Artist acknowledgement & weblink  www.dawnbanning.com. I appreciate the shares, likes, your feedback and collection of the original work. Thank you!

New Work ~ shown in various light & detail.

“Rising sun, pond” 24×36 oil on canvas is available for purchase.

Bold Prairie (figure) 18×24 oil on canvas,  the first in my body of work for a 2018 Saskatchewan exhibit. This piece is dedicated to inspiring, brave women who embody grace & love.

Snow Friend

One blustery winter, my little neighbors treated me to a creative surprise. On their way home from school Ben & Tyler built a happy snowman in front of my studio window. In the midst of working on a challenging painting, it was delighted to witness this gift crafted with such fun & care.

I can still hear their giggles.

I walked over to say Hello to Tyler’s Mom after thanking them.

“He wondered if you would be inspired to paint it?” She said. Tabling my project, plein air style thru my studio window, my first ever snowman emerged on canvas.

A flurry of inquires filled my inbox when it was published online, and sold immediately. It seems, many find this happy little subject endearing.

A collector called with a request soon after. “Would you be able to paint a snow angel?” I went to little neighborhood friends for their assistance. Upon the next big snowfall, after school they agreed to create snow angels my yard.


The snow angel project quickly became a flock of angels spreading from yard to yard. It was a stunning exhibit of creative enthusiasm! The sparkle of magic reflected in snowdust and cheery red cheeks.

Recently a long time collector inquired, if I could paint another snowman. Revisiting the boy’s masterpiece, I infused their personalities in the little painting. Each boy has adorable dimples, which can be seen in the snow cheeks of this creation.

The commission is a gift from friend to friend, so I incorporated a little wave with the arm, and a mitten size heart shape on the chest.

It’s all about the love. ~

Note: Continuing with the theme, “Lily and the Snowman” is one of my favourite short animated films of all time.( 2 minutes long) If you haven’t seen the movie, click below and turn on your speakers, the soundtrack is brilliant.

Lily & the Snowman  https://youtu.be/qehqv13PJwI

An added bonus, see the making of the film in the next link provided below. Both films are only 2 minutes, they offer absolute delight and a glimpse of the creative insight that fueled the project.


Making of Lily & the Snowman https://youtu.be/bqBFodeflpM

Morning Sun

Wandering the quiet wooded park I wondered how many around the world are welcoming the sun. Observing day’s early light in nature, you see the hint of beginnings in its whisper. As a nature artist, rather than illustrate, the goal is to feel its breath of life.

A title of creative interpreter suggests directing your experience, which is a little misleading.

On a grassy knoll in the park a woman practiced tai chi with the motion of a master. Her fluid movements danced, limbs enveloping energy, poetically dispersing it back. I pondered our similarities, absorbing energy, offering it back to the world.

Continuing my wander as the forest awakened in birdsong, morning held possibility and promise. “Let the mystery in.” C. Bucaro~

~News: New work available for purchase. Email dawn@dawnbanning.com

Morning Horizon 12 x36 oil on canvas( shown above , two photos, different light)

Autumn Park 20×24 oil on canvas ( shown above, two photos, different light)

~This week a client requested I take part in a creative challenge. “Rules: Publish your b&w photo collection of ‘a day in your life’. 7 days. No people, or explanation.”  There are many things to love about this kind of project. The subject can be deeply personal, and like many forms of art, without explanation the viewer is left to create their own story. To see my photos, view my FB or Instagram link. Day One & Two photos below.

Expanding Horizons

One of the biggest myths states art process is very linear, suggesting the act of art, is simply: Application of natural talent & observation.

In other words, we simply create what we see.

Basing artistic ability on genetics and visual capability is, well, a bit of  baloney.

Science states natural genius is rare. In fact, the act of creating is evolved proficiency. Similar to an athlete, artists practice dexterity and coordination. Observation skills grow with cognitive training. These skills develop over time. We become familiar with our tools and mediums, learning their limits while pushing our own.

Emotional connection fuels inspiration’s spark and choice of subject matter.

The source of connection may surprise you. It may be a strong desire to communicate world issues, or a love of turtles. While there is a lifetime of study in a single woodland violet, those driven by actual technique will paint any subject “I love to push paint.” Others state, “I am most connected to the north shore and paint only this region.”

Influences can change an artist’s style dramatically. Tom Thomson’s work blossomed to iconic brilliance when he met and began painting with mentors in the Group of Seven.

Each artist is unique how they process information and what motivates them. How their personal history & environment influence their work can vary enormously.It’s fascinating to hear these stories of inspiration and challenge, of struggle and growth, woven with mysterious thread of what keeps them on course.

That’s the gift, the rich diverse beauty of those who walk the path of a life in art.


Shown above: New “Blue Skies” 18×24 oil on birch board and Sunrise in progress – 12 x36 oil on canvas. All work is available for purchase – email dawn@dawnbanning.com

Note: Growth can occur assisting others to connect with their personal creative spark. I am offering private lessons for the first time! Beginners landscape painting will give you a foundation to venture in either direction of realism or impressionism. Hosted in my private studio, in choice of acrylic or oil. Email me for details. dawn@dawnbanning.com