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Entry Date | March 7, 2010

We just spent an inspiring number of days in Vancouver, British Columbia. It wasn't for the Olympics (although those were great fun to watch on TV). In fact, we arrived just as 39,000 visitors left the city on Monday, March 1. We were there for a few days off.

It never ceases to amaze me what a vibrant cultural city Vancouver is. We spent a fair bit of time hanging out with the artisans on Granville Island. One of my favorite places is an artists' cooperative of about 21 printmakers (doing block prints, etchings, etc.) who show at a place called the Dundarave Print Workshop (http://www.dundaraveprintworkshop.ca). It's an amazing collection of small and large works of art, and I love the different styles and creative pieces all under one roof.

You can also find inspiration a million other places on Granville, from the fun and funky Kid's Marketplace (where I have purchased a number of marionette puppets in the past), to the plethora of food vendors (fruit! fish! meat! soup stock! tea leaves!), jewelry makers, ceramic artists, and painters galore.

Another incredible shop for eye candy is Maiwa Handprints (http://www.maiwa.com). They specialize in "traditional craft through an ethical business model", supporting the production of embroidered, blockprinted, handwoven, and naturally dyed textiles from a number of countries. The beauty and vibrancy of colors astounds you, and everywhere in the store is a reminder of how artisans (mostly women) can do incredible things with a few tools and an outlet to sell their works of art. I found several hand-carved wood blocks used for printing fabrics, but they were a thing of beauty all in themselves. I also purchased a couple of hand-created goat bells to use for hiking in the mountains. Their tune seems more gentle than the mass-produced bear bells for sale here.

There was also an amazing outdoor space where Haida artist Clarence Mills carves full-sized totems from cedar trees, called White Raven Studio. You can see some of his incredible work-in-progress on my Facebook studio page: www.facebook.com/pages/Linda-Cote-Studio/143721352852. The beauty and sheer size of these elegant carvings is awe-inspiring.

The other thing I love about Vancouver is finding unexpected things in an out-of-the-way district you go to for coffee. An up-and-coming district called "Commercial Drive" is a great collection of natural fibre shops, ethnic food stores, and used bookstores. One shop, the Bibliophile Bookshop (at 2010 Commercial Drive) is a great used book store that is also full of the owner's collected wood carvings -- everything from small fisherman to cats and dogs, duck decoys and flying mermaids. Some are for sale, but lots are "part of the owner's collection" and just on display for the sheer fun of it. Every nook and cranny is filled with these little treasures. It was, without a doubt, the largest collection I have seen to date of wooden carvings -- a true inspiration!

Travelling to a different city was just the expansion I needed to get those creative juices flowing. I went for a get-away and a breather, but what I found was a renewed sense of being part of a very large artist community that spans the globe. A lovely feeling!

Entry Date | February 22, 2010

It's been a while since the last post. I have been busy updating my website to roll out a freshly designed site. Watch for it in the near future!

For now, the most up-to-date postings on my new carvings (check out my garden gnomes for spring!) and other artwork will continue to be posted on my Linda Cote Studio Facebook Fan Page. Just follow this link: www.facebook.com/pages/Linda-Cote-Studio/143721352852.

Entry Date | December 22, 2009

It's getting close to Christmas day, and I have the last of my artwork deliveries to do in Calgary tomorrow! It's been a great season with lots of my family, friends and clients supporting my art journey. Thanks to you all (you know who you are!). I can now say my artwork has reached Europe and Asia. Pretty cool!

We're getting ready for Christmas in the mountains. Not a lot of snow, but just enough to toboggan, and the one blessing of that extremely cold weather in the early part of December (for those of you in warmer climates, we're talking -25-degrees Celsius!) is that the local outdoor rink has frozen over nicely, so we've been skating as well.

I am looking forward to connecting with friends and family over the holidays. After all, that is the most important thing about the holidays!

Have a great Christmas season, and we'll talk to you all in the new year. It's a whole new decade, and a full moon on New Year's Eve. What an entrance for 2010!

Find my newest creations on my Linda Cote Studio Facebook Fan Page. Just follow this link: www.facebook.com/pages/Linda-Cote-Studio/143721352852.

Entry Date | December 3, 2009

Thanks to everyone who visited me at the Rosedale Community Christmas Arts & Crafts Fair this past weekend! It was so wonderful to see some of my friends and neighbors again!

It was also great to be part of a group of such talented artists displaying their creations. Such variety of color, jewels, fabrics, paint and more! It makes me happy to be an artist to spread all this beauty around.

I am still busy working in my "Santa's workshop" creating a few more commissioned carvings for people. I just completed a beautiful little group of snow-people for a wonderful family we had the pleasure of knowing for the last three years. They have finished their work contract in Calgary, and are sadly moving back to Norway -- they will be missed, but nice to know a small part of Canada will go back with them!

I also have some funny requests for an "Asian Santa" and a "Snowman with Attitude" ... it's a hoot carving my favorite themes with a twist.

Until this site is updated, you can find any new creations I have done on my Linda Cote Studio Facebook Fan Page. Just follow this link for the newest Christmas creations: www.facebook.com/pages/Linda-Cote-Studio/143721352852. (You don't have to join Facebook to see this page!)

Hope the holiday season isn't too frantic for everyone out there, and that we will be able to gather with friends and loved ones soon! Cheers, Linda

Entry Date | November 27, 2009

I have been in furious production mode, creating works of art for my only show this year at the Rosedale Community Christmas Arts & Crafts Fair that takes place tomorrow (Nov. 28). See my events page...click on events section for more information.

I will be selling my hand-carved Santas and Snowpeople again this year, and a new crop of Christmas cards and tree ornaments. I will also have a number of block prints for sale, plus a small selection of acrylic paintings, too.

There are many other artists there as well, so if you need some early Christmas shopping, come check it out! Or, just come by to say "hi" -- it would be lovely to see some of my Calgary friends again after a few months in our new mountain home!

I am still in the ongoing process of updating this website. For now, I will be posting my new paintings and carvings on my Linda Cote Studio Facebook Fan Page. Just follow this link for the newest Christmas creations: www.facebook.com/pages/Linda-Cote-Studio/143721352852. (You don't have to join Facebook to see this page!)

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Entry Date | October 28, 2009

It's been some time since my last post. I have an excuse -- I moved my studio (and the house that came with it) October 1 and the whirlwind of change is just starting to settle down.

I am now up and running in my new studio (again attached to our house!) here in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Canmore, Alberta. Most of my art supplies have found a home, starting with my carving tools and wood (which I am actively working on now) and my first thought is: "Ahh, it feels great to create again." My second thought is: "Holy cats (as my neice so delightedly puts it!) do I ever have a lot of art supplies!!"

Probably my funniest moment in the move was when I was carefully packing with tissue paper tiny little pieces of the birch tree that adorned the front of our (now, old) house because they make perfect walking sticks for my old-world Santa carvings. About halfway through, I stop, and wonder: "What the..? There are no TREES in Canmore??" But, I have to say, I continued, and brought the delicately packaged tree sticks with me. Because, you see, every little scrap of everything can be turned into art. And this is why we not only now have a home and studiio in Canmore, but also a storage locker with my art supplies in it (I call them treasures!). Sigh...

I am also in the process of updating this website. For now, I will be posting my new paintings and carvings on my Linda Cote Studio Facebook Fan Page. Just follow this link: www.facebook.com/pages/Linda-Cote-Studio/143721352852. (For those of you who have not been bitten by the social networking bug, you don't have to join Facebook to see this page!)


Entry Date | August 30, 2009

I picked up my carving tools for the first time in a long time this summer to complete a special carving for my neice who was getting married. She wanted me to carve the bride and groom for the cake topper, and sent me reference photos in advance to help with the whole process.

It was a challenge (how can I make it look like them?), scary (what if I cut off "her" nose?), and a whole ton of fun (the little red veil we added that was made of the same material as the bride's veil was the crowning touch!). You can have a look at this carving (and a little walk through the process of carving it) at my "temporary posting site" on Facebook.

You see, my neice who got married is the same as the one who designed my beautiful website. And, since she's on a month's honeymoon, I needed a place to post some of my new work. So, I've added a "Fan Page" to Facebook, and you can view not only the carving, but some of the new paintings I have created over the summer (among other things).

All you need to do is click on this link: www.facebook.com/pages/Linda-Cote-Studio/143721352852. And, for those of you who have not been bitten by the social networking bug (yet!), you don't have to join Facebook to see this page!


Entry Date | July 18, 2009

My son (7 years old) has taught me a lesson in "detachment" this week. I had an acquaintance look at my website, and she phoned me to say that she LOVED my painting of the two boys walking in the forest. As it is marked "sold", she asked who bought it.

"Actually," I had to confess, "It's really 'collection of the artist'. I thought of selling it, but my husband stepped in," I explained to her. I remember at the time, he exclaimed, "You CAN'T sell that one!! Those are our two sons!!" I laugh now because I know he is right. Not only is this a treasure for me because of what it represents, some day my sons will probably enjoy seeing this painting of an idyllic day in their own life, too.

I was laughing while relaying this conversation again with my husband after the phone call, and my 7-year-old overheard and said in all seriousness: "Why wouldn't you sell it?? You sell everything else! Mom...we could make MONEY on that if someone likes it! Really, you have to just get used to it... Now...how much do you think it's worth??"

Underneath his cute attempt at being grown up, I realized he's right. Detachment serves us when we need to let things go into the Universe, and I need to practise this A LOT. I have spent decades attaching meaning to everything in my life, but now, it's time to lighten up and let go. In fact, I have been getting quite good at this as an artist, selling most of my pieces without pause.

But, somehow, this is one painting I am afraid, I do have an attachment to. Sorry son. Some day you will thank me!

Entry Date | June 20, 2009

I have been working on several paintings in the past few weeks. My themes run along my favorite things: elevators set against the prairie landscape, cows, and a new one of a black bear in the deep woods near Jasper.

I seem to have a love of black animals, being most drawn to the darker of the species! Not sure if that reflects my own "dark side" or really if it's just about the lovely contrast of black set against a bright green or yellow or blue. I love the juxtaposition of colors as they play off black.

The same can be said about my love of crows and magpies. Beyond their (to me) engaging spirit of resourcefulness and cheekiness, I love their deep, rich color that almost tends to blue in the right light.

I have been finding lots of single crow and magpie feathers this past week -- my Japanese Zen Garden in my artroom has 4 nestled in among my sacred rocks and praying Buddha, and I am reminded every time I look at them how beautiful even a single feather can be. The magpie feather all curls in the same direction with a startlingly perfect white circle near the top of the wing. Seeing one piece of the whole like this reminds me to stop and notice all the little things that make up the tapestry of the gorgeous world outside.

So, back I go to try and capture some of the same grace and lusciousness of the world around us. A large task, perhaps, but this is the one I'd rather be doing than almost anything else.

Entry Date | May 12, 2009

We spent Mother's Day in beautiful southern Alberta driving the highway with five of us all squished into our trusty Honda Fit, and loving the views outside the window. The fields were turning from gold to green and the sky was threatening to rain, or even snow, near the mountains.

This is one of my favorite times of year in this area of the province. From here, the skies are massive, but you can still see the white-capped mountains, and the light shifts to shine a beam on the farm buildings and plowed fields. It was so stunning and inspiring. I took a bazillion photos -- much fodder for future paintings. I'm like a kid in a candy store ... I don't know which one to start first!

For those of you in Calgary, there are only a few weeks left to go see one of my favorite Canadian artists, Joe Fafard, who does whimsical tiny clay sculptures of animals and people (www.joefafard.com). Go feed your spirit by looking at some art at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, and check out Joe Fafard until May 31, 2009!

Entry Date | April 14, 2009

Early spring is so inspiring. A drive along Highway 1 towards Canmore yesterday was stunning for the artist in me. The fallowed fields of last fall were transformed into gold when the bright sunlight burst through the heavy clouds. The grey-blue-and-white skies were angry and brilliant at the some time -- a contrast I absolutely love to catch on canvas. This time of year has an amazing quality of light. Not the high, harsh light of summer, but a subtler, buttery, filtered light that effortlessly turns the dreary just-out-of-winter fields into something incredible.

It's a time full of promise: of new growth, shimmering beauty and that wet, earthy smell that reminds us that winter will soon be a memory while we relish in the warmth and green heaven of spring and summer in the West. What a breath-taking day!

Entry Date | February 25, 2009

The path of an artist and nature lover starts young!

I'm been doing some spring cleaning with the hopes that it will bring on spring! Going through family photos and papers, dating back to the late 1800's. A couple things have struck me: 1) Wow, my family likes to keep a lot of stuff! 2) Boy, I'm glad someone gave this to me if the alternative was having it lost; and 3) Seeing my past connections to family and ancestors is a powerful reminder of the best things I have going on today.

I found a small packet of letters and paper napkins from before my ninth year. The letters were as amusing as you'd expect when reading the words of your pre-teen self. What struck me, though, was that every letter and envelope was covered in little drawings for decoration or illustration of the text. The napkins were kept by my mom (my first patron!) who "commissioned" me to make beautiful hand-decorated napkins for her bridge club. I am so grateful for her encouragement. I'm on this path today in large part due to her. So, all you moms and dads out there, keep giving those art supplies (even paper napkins!) to your kids and watch their creativity surface!

The other thing that struck me was how connected I am to this part of the world. I was delighted to uncover in an old box of STUFF I have finally sorted through a number of photos taken in the 30s and 40s of my young dad and his family hiking, skiing, fishing and picnicing in the Rocky Mountains near Banff and Lake Louise. It was like looking at my own childhood picnics by the same rivers, mountains and forests. It even reminded me of why we love taking our own kids to the mountains so much. It's in our blood. Dating WAY back to a time when my grandparents shared their love of nature with their kids. And on it goes...

Entry Date | January 6, 2009

Happy New Year to all!

We've been in a bit of a deep freeze here in Western Canada, although it has warmed up a little over the past few days. Lots of amazing light with the blue and pink skies and the brilliant white sparkly snow. An artist's dream every time I go outside.

My carving season of Santas and Snowmen is winding down, and the painting is gearing up. I had a funny moment with my son when we were in the mountains for a winter hayride at Rafter 6 Ranch. Inside their ranch-house we saw an amazing carving out of a burl of wood: about six wild horses twining around the 5-foot piece of wood. It was stunning. We were all admiring it, when my six-year-old son said to me, "That's way better than yours!" I guess an artist always needs humbling! (He's also the first one to tell everyone I am an artist, and when he was little he thought I "painted" every billboard in town, so I can't complain.)

Starting work on a number of commissions: a couple of watercolors for our local playschool silent auction, a western painting for a friend' mother and a portrait of a pet for another friend -- that's a first for me! I love that this path I have chosen is ever-changing. It's never boring!

Entry Date | December 18, 2008

Thanks to everyone who came to my two Christmas shows -- it was so great to see everyone. I have now finished the last of my carvings, and it was a terrific year with several new creations...the RCMP Santas and the pencil-nosed Snowman!

Winter has settled in here just east of the Rocky Mountains, and although it is gorgeous to look at, the wind is a little nippy for getting my little boys to school in -20 or -30-degrees C weather! Feeling slightly housebound, but keeping busy with setting up our tree and making scores of gingerbread men!

I have several commission paintings for the new year, so I am looking forward to picking up my brushes and mucking about once again with some paint.

I'd like to wish everyone a healthy, happy and blessed holiday season! Talk to you in the new year!

Entry Date | December 1, 2008

The count down to my last show of 2008 is on...click on my events section for more information on the Rosedale Community Craft Fair where I will be selling my hand-carved Santas and a new crop of Christmas cards and tree ornaments.

The wooden Santas continue to sell fast! I've sold five between my shows, so I am carving more and have also created a couple of cute little snowmen for the season. It will be fun to see everyone this weekend!

I will also be bringing a selection of my paintings, and I am itching to get back to canvas and paint. I have a number of paintings in my head, and a few commissions for the new year, so I will be back at it after the Christmas holidays! Cheers!

Entry Date | November 17, 2008

Had a ball at the Fort Calgary Artisan Fair -- be sure to check out my final show before Christmas! Click on my events section for information on the Rosedale Community sale where I will be selling Christmas Cards, ornaments and -- if I have any left -- my hand-carved Santas.

It was so much fun hanging out with other artisans at the Fort Calgary Sale. There is so much creativity out there! The other awesome thing to come out of the show was that I was approached by The Galleria to sell my Santas in their Inglewood store! They have moved from their long-time Kensington location to a new building right next door to Fairs Fair Bookstore on the corner of 9th Avenue and 8 Street SE. You can find out more about the Galleria at: www.calgarycraftedgifts.com

Love the stunning light and contrast of winter now that it's here...thankfully we've only had our first major snowfalls in mid-November. Not too bad for this area of the world!

Stay warm and hope to see you at my final show of the year!

Entry Date | October 15, 2008

Building up my army of Santas for the two shows coming up this fall. Click on my events section for more information on where I will be selling the unique hand-carved Santas and a new crop of Christmas cards. If you're planning to attend, make sure you come early, as I only have a limited number of Santas to sell.

The last few months, I have also been busy with a couple of get-aways to the mountains, where I always find inspiration. We're so lucky to live within an hour's drive of the heavenly Rockies. I'm always reminded of this when I talk to people from Germany, Japan, Australia and the United States who are vacationing in Banff or Jasper. They travel a long distance to see the spectacular views that we take for granted on our own doorstep.

I took lots of mountain photographs for painting references with stunning deep blue October skies contrasted with the orange and yellow trees. These are among some of the beautiful images that will inspire me while painting in the dead of winter. But, before I travel too far into the future, hopefully I will see many of my friends before then at my Christmas shows!

Entry Date | August 22, 2008

The carving continues with more Santas, more sizes (I just finished a 12" Santa for a friend), and lots more to come. Check out what's new on the carving section of this online gallery.

Working on getting lots of Santas done for the Artisan Craft Fair at Fort Calgary in November (see my events section). I will also be getting a new crop of Christmas cards together for sale closer to Christmas, too. And, a new venture this year is a variety of Christmas tree ornaments. Hard to believe there's all this activity about Christmas! But, then again, one of our local stores has Halloween costumes out (yikes!) and the kids aren't even back to school yet. Is it just me, or is everyone pushing time forward in this crazy "can't wait for the next thing" culture?

Speaking of the next thing, remember to celebrate Alberta Arts Day on September 6 this year. Check out local activities and have fun! You can find out more at: www.culture.alberta.ca/artsday/

Enjoy -- really enjoy -- the rest of the summer. The nights are starting to shorten!

Entry Date | July 25, 2008

'Tis the season to be carving! My Cowboy Santa won a second place ribbon at the Calgary Stampede! And, I have just completed an RCMP Santa, with a full Mountie uniform. Check out new photos of both these guys on the carving section of this online gallery.

I am starting to get requests for customized Santas to be carved for this coming Christmas. Between that and the Christmas craft fair at Fort Calgary in November (see my events section), it's time to start production on a new family of Santas -- even though it seems strange to be thinking about Christmas in July!

I've also recently recharged my battery with an awe-inspiring trip to Jasper National Park in the Rocky Mountains. The scenery was stunning -- and it brought lots of inspiration for paintings to come. It's great to get fired up again about the scenes around me, and there is nothing quite like a sunny day at the top of a glacial peak to do it. The hikes, fresh air and forest smells were heavenly. An incredible break from summer in the city.

Watch for new works of art coming from the heart of the mountains!

Entry Date | June 19, 2008

Spring is definitely a time to bring new creations into the world. I have just completed carving a small Santa, down on his knees, wearing a cowboy hat. This Santa has little bare feet, and he is asking for cowboy boots for Christmas. He's a special western Santa to celebrate the coming of the Calgary Stampede. You can view this little fellow in person at the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede's Western Showcase from July 4-13, 2008.

The Western Showcase is a wonderful place to see local artists show their talents -- from paintings and drawings to handmade cards and luscious quilts. Find details at the Calgary Stampede's website: www.westernshowcase.com, or simply check it out when you're at the grounds by visiting the Roundup Centre. I will also have a painting in the show, so come have a look.

I've picked up a brush again and have started a new painting featuring our beautiful foothills, and more cows! I don't know what it is that draws me to these animals, but I find them lovely. This painting has a mother cow and lots of baby calves, based on a photo taken this spring on a road trip to the mountains.

Think of me when you're out enjoying this beautiful weather ... when I am not out in our western landscape also getting inspiration, I will be painting and carving up a storm in my studio. Cheers, or should I say: "yahoo!"?