I know orchid folks will know all the Latin names for the different orchids but most of my customers refer to them by colour. I did take Latin in high school and actually did quite well in that regard . . . but that was a long time ago. Back in those days of yore, we girls all dreamed of a dance corsage with blooms like these. Great bragging rights if a fella’ forked over enough cash for orchids like these. These beauties were not from someone’s corsage but rather growing in a pot. Dave and I enjoy going to shows like the annual March Orchid Show at Western Fair sponsored by the London Orchid Growers. What a feast for the eyes. Hundreds of orchids from around the world, rare local ones too, are to be found here in abundance. This is a great place to get close and personal with exotic blooms that would otherwise be found in tropical rainforests or remote, barely accessible areas. I came away from that show on an ultimate high . . .almost a sensory overload. It is a great way to chase away the winter blahs. Hope you too appreciate their beauty. These blooms never wilt or fade. - Jenny
Sunflowers & Monarch
Artist Vincent van Gogh was famous for his missing ear and his colourful paintings of rural life. I would never compare my work to that of van Gogh, but we both had a love of sunflowers and the rural landscape. I tried for a van Gogh feel to the sunflowers but did the butterfly in great detail for a contrast . . . my style versus van Gogh’s. I was lucky enough a number of years ago to see the original “Starry Night” at the ROM in Toronto. It was a Toulouse Lautrec and Vincent van Gogh joint exhibit. I went because the show was a once in a life time opportunity. I came home a fan of both artists’ genius. I stood mesmerized by the twinkling stars. At that time artists had to grind their own pigments and blend their own paints. How did Vincent achieve those vibrant luminous colours? His madness in later years came from exposure to toxins in those homemade paints . . . something I don’t need to worry about with all the new restrictions and regulations for the production of art supplies. That doesn’t mean I’ll be exempt from madness . . . just that I won’t be able to blame it on the paint. Hope you appreciate my sunflowers and the butterfly. I love all things bright and beautiful. What a sight to see a large field of sunflowers . . .or giant Russians leaning against the side of a weathered barn. Keep your eye out for more sunflower paintings. - Jenny
Burgundy Lady Slipper
Dave and I attended the London Orchid Society Show in March of 2008 at the Western Fair Complex. That’s where we saw this big, bold beauty. I couldn’t wait to get back to the studio to see how our photos turned out. They were awesome. I couldn’t wait to begin painting them, but alas, I had commissions to do first. I have a warped sense of humour, the cartoonist in me I guess. When I look at this bold orchid I see a well-to-do man in a burgundy smoking jacket welcoming his guests to his home. This type of orchid consumes flies and other flying insects for the protein. The insects are trapped in the nectar and can’t get out. After a struggle to survive, they die. Like all things in life, there are two sides . . . the beauty and the ugliness . . .everything in balance. I like to look at the beauty and the humour. What about you? - Jenny Original - 9 3/4" x 10 3/4" Print size - 9" x 10"
Roseanne, my neighbour here on Dutton’s main street, had a huge hibiscus potted plant in her window. Every time I went by I looked for the changes in the many buds. I saw this particular one bloom. My, the colours were great. Raspberry and peach. This appealed to my senses. I took photos of many of the buds at various stages. They were all gorgeous. This is one I did in water colours. The petals remind me of a diaphanous dancer’s dress. Love it!!
Ladyslipper & Ferns
From the early days when Mrs. Jamieson traveled through the wilderness writing letters back home, along with her sister who sketched the botanicals, folks have been interested in unusual flowers. They gathered species to take back to England. They sketched and painted these various orchid beauties in their natural setting. Today because of development, pollution and the loss of bogs and ideal growing conditions, many like this tropical orchid of the lady slipper family, no longer grow in the wild. We are fortunate Ontario still has natural patches of the yellow, pink and some of the showy lady slippers. There may be others unknown to me. We, as citizens of Ontario, need to protect key areas like our wetlands and bogs, our woodlots and our water sources. We have much here, in this province, but without change, in the blink of an eye, species could disappear. Dave and I were at an orchid show in London (2008) and I didn't get the name of this orchid but I liked its style. I would encourage each and every Ontarian to turn off the television and take a quiet walk on the wild side in a nearby conservation area, bush lot or park. Discover nature and rediscover yourself. - Jenny
Ollie Ollie Oxen Free
Most of you may know that besides being a serious artist I have my lighter moments. At one time I was cartoonist for “Farming Today” a sister publication to the St. Thomas Times-Journal. I often see humour in everyday life. When Dave and I go for drives in the country we always have our cameras at hand and as soon as the forest floors start greening and the wild flowers start blooming our shutters are snapping shots for consideration as paintings. I gather material in the nice weather and then after Labour Day I sort through those images and begin to paint. This shot of the two trilliums peeking around the old tree stump reminded me of two young kids out in the woods playing hide and seek with their siblings. When you hear the cry “Ollie, Ollie Oxen Free!” you race to the home base. Last one there is the loser. I remember when we played after supper at my cousins’ place. We often played till well after dark with only the porch and drive shed light to keep us from stumbling and then it was time to go home. We were so worn out we could hardly stay awake as we put on our nighties and pajamas. Those were great times. These mischievous trilliums brought back so many good memories. What about you? Did you play games like I did? - Jenny
Garnet Solitaire - Red Trillium
Jenny writes: “When Dave popped THE question in 1966 the diamond of choice was a solitaire . . .one diamond perched on top of a gold pedestal. Alas my fingers were too short and heavy (arthritis) that the style didn’t suit. Instead I chose an old fashioned setting that was exactly what made my hand look good and my heart sing. Years later we were out walking in the beautiful Carolinian forest and ravines near Backus-Page House and John Pearce Park. We were taking photographs of flora and fauna so when the cold winter winds blew, I could sit in my cozy studio and paint delicate woodland blooms while remembering our wonderful day in the woods. This lovely single red trillium, so alone amongst the other white flowers, reminded me of those solitaire rings and the deep red hue was akin to a garnet . . .ergo the title . .”Garnet Solitaire – Woodland Setting”. When the sun shines and the birds are singing and the floor of the forest turns green dotted with blooming wild flowers, why not take a stroll on the many trails around Backus-Page and discover for yourself the beauty of nature and the woodland setting.” TA! TA! For now. - Jenny
The Casey Estate is the first limited Edition print in artist, Jenny Phillips’, “Elgin County Heritage Collection” and her first major work in watercolours. In January of 1993 for health and environmental concerns, as well as a desire to meet new challenges, Jenny made the change from painting in oils to watercolours. Her attention to detail and the vibrancy of each new painting won the approval from old and new clients alike. This gorgeous Italianate Georgian mansion is coveted by almost every Elgin woman, but not all would relish the upkeep of such a place. Lisa, our youngest daughter, lived around the corner on John Wise Line at one point, and I know she too loves this house. - Jenny
Old Barn & Buildings
I enjoy painting country scenes that show the rural lifestyles in Elgin. Some will say “Why did she paint that ramshackled old place? She could have painted my farm. It is a showcase.” Well, I see beauty in many different forms. I like the play of sunlight and shadows, of wild vegetation, of architectural features or the lack of them. This was a place I noticed whenever Dave and I went to visit my sister-in-law Cindy who lives just around the corner on Dunborough Line. The buildings are no longer there but it was interesting no matter what the seasons. Can you see the beauty too? - Jenny
McIntyre Feed Lot
Many years ago I used to attend the Aylmer Market with my paintings, Barbie doll clothes and little wooden toys that David made. I had my table beside my Mom and Dad’s hot tub booth. I got to know all the regular vendors over the eight years I attended the market. One of those vendors was the Cookie King from Appin. My kids were all small then and they consumed cookies faster than I could bake them. One day I needed a box of cookies and I didn’t want to wait till market on Tuesday, so I drove up Currie Road to Appin. I always carried my camera with me so I didn’t miss any great shots. Was I ever glad I did that day. How many of these old feed lots like this are left? Not too many. I love the abandon look of the place with the weeds sprouting up everywhere. Notice the old-fashioned gas pump, a real collector’s item today. I know the feedlot had a colourful history but this was about the old style rambling buildings and fences. This is just another part of our agricultural scenery that’s disappearing.
Old Tobacco Barns - Pioneer Line
I was running late as I pushed our old Econoline van down Pioneer Line west to Rodney for a swim meet. I had a van full of swim competition gear as well as the entire Dutton swim team. I noticed a particular scene that I had been eyeing for some time. The sun gilded everything with a magical golden hue so I quickly pulled the van over to the shoulder and parked. I grabbed my camera and started shooting scenes of the old tobacco barns. Tobacco was first farmed in the western end of Elgin around the turn of the century. That was so long ago but the memories live on. The barns are now torn down but I can see them still in my mind every time I drive west on Pioneer Line. Life is so fleeting we have to capture the now, because who knows what tomorrow holds. While I was lost in the wonder of the scene before me, my frustrated daughters and the other swim team members were changing into their swim suits behind make-shift beach towel privacy screens. The girls kept calling “Mo-th-er, how could you? Now? We’ll miss the meet and lose by default!!!” I took the shots I wanted and scampered back to the driver’s seat and fired up the van. The team members and their towels flew into the van and we arrived with minutes to spare. By the way, the team won their races. I like to think it was because I had them all pumped up and ready to go. Great memories.
3 Tobacco Kilns
Father & Son
Dave and I enjoy outings that celebrate Elgin County’s heritage. We enjoy visiting Sparta in any season and this time we were off to Sparta’s Harvest Fest. The main street was blocked off and folks were strolling around in period costumes and attire. We marveled at Wade Davies strength as the local blacksmith as he hammered a hot piece of metal on an old anvil secured to a wood stump. He glowed with perspiration and his forearms bulged with each downward stroke. Further down the street was a lady sitting behind an old spinning wheel. Her foot tapped a beat with the spinning of the wheel and twisting of the carded wool. She was suitably attired in an old-fashioned gown and dust mop cap. My attention turned to a small boy sporting black watch tartan trews, black suspenders and black silk bowtie starkly contrasting his snow white shirt. The young lad was making shadows with his hands in the afternoon sunlight, donkeys, rabbits and birds. He was amusing himself like children have for ages past. Suddenly, along came his sister in a charming print dress trimmed in handmade lace. A large old-fashioned poke bonnet all but obscured her features. I wanted to paint the two of them. I found their father Rick Enright and asked if I could photograph them in front of the Victorian garden. Rick was very gracious after I told him I was an artist from Dutton. I posed the children in front of the flowerbed, took several shots including this one. Big sister didn’t want little brother to get too close and wreck the flowers. Typical of big sisters. I could relate because I was the eldest of eight kids and did that countless times to my younger siblings. Later that afternoon I noticed that the kids were winding down. It had been a long day. I wanted to catch Rick and get his contact information. I always let the family see the finished painting and have first dibs at purchasing. Rick squatted down and I gave him a piece of paper from my purse. While he put down his phone number and address his son came up and rested his head on Dad’s knee. Weary to the bone. Time to head home. Dave and I did too. What a great day of memories. I loved this painting of Rick and his son. How often do you see images of a strong bond of affection and nurturing between Father & Son.
Girl in Eyelet Dress
Dave had an Ontario Town Crier’s Competition in Amherstburg to coincide with a special anniversary at Fort Malden. The Black Museum was also celebrating and the park was full of people in various period outfits. I asked this young girl’s father if I could photograph his children with a view to doing a painting of either or all. Every time the children saw me they stood at attention and looked their perfect best but that was not what I was after. The day was long and the sun was hot. As the event wound down we all became weary. Then I spotted the girl in the white eyelet dress. She was tired and bored and her feet were sore from walking around bare foot. She settled down on a chair and I took several shots as the sun reflected off of her wayward, kinky, curly hair. What a sweet heart. It is moments like this we remember . . .the imperfections of being a child rather than the stiff posed model. I loved painting the frothy feminine eyelet lace and the young girl’s puckered brow and pursed lips. A glimpse of another era . . . an idyllic time . . . a carefree childhood of simple pleasures. What every child deserves. TA! TA! For now. – Jenny
Are You Really a Prince?
One of the joys of having a business on the main street of Dutton in the summer time is to sit on a bench in the shade in front of the gallery and watch the people and traffic pass by. Sometimes it is just a nod of the head, other times great conversations evolve. One of my pleasures is to chat with the young people in the strollers or those in wagons, on trikes or even in these new battery operated tractors and jeeps. Our first encounters are often brief with little or no eye contact but subsequent visits and familiarity soon reveals the developing personalities. Year by year I watch their growth and progress and marvel at their intelligence. Karen (Pickering) Timmerman walked by with young Amy in the stroller. I was immediately attracted to this chubby cheeked cherub. One day when Karen and Amy were strolling by, Amy was wearing an old-fashioned dress that Grandma Timmerman had made. Her little legs were clad in navy blue ribbed stockings and with little black leather Mary Janes on her dainty feet. She wore a floppy brimmed denim hat to protect her fair skin from the harsh summer sunlight’s damaging rays. What a doll! I asked Karen if she would allow David to photograph Amy some sunny afternoon in Centennial Park, so I could do a painting of her. Karen said yes. The weather turned damp and weeks passed. One day Karen showed up and said it’s now or never. Young Amy soon wouldn’t fit the charming little dress. So after a discussion of what I had in mind, Dave, Karen and Amy were off to the park for their photo shoot. Dave’s photos were great. In the one shot Amy’s hand was extended as if she were reaching for something. I thought at first I would put a butterfly there but one morning I woke up and had a great idea. Amy to me was like a little fairy tale princess and what better than a frog-prince for her focus. However Amy, despite her old-fashioned attire, is a modern day child. She doesn’t give her kisses to just any old frog . . . . “Are you really a prince?”
Dave and I enjoy outings that celebrate Elgin County’s heritage. We enjoy visiting Sparta in any season and this time we were off to Sparta’s Harvest Fest. The main street was blocked off and folks were strolling around in period costumes and attire. We marveled at Wade Davies’ strength as the local blacksmith, as he hammered a red- hot piece of metal on an old anvil secured to a wood stump. Wade glowed with perspiration and his forearms bulged with each downward stroke. He made the metal bend to his will. With the popularity of hand wrought iron accent pieces in the home and garden we are seeing more men and some determined women take up this age old skill and actually making a living with it. More power to them. Further down the street was a lady sitting behind an old spinning wheel. Her foot tapped a beat with the spinning of the wheel and the twisting of the carded wool. She was suitably attired in an old-fashioned gown and lace edged dust mop cap. I saw so much I itched to paint. Watch for other Sparta Harvest Fest Paintings. - Jenny
Corn Crib on Marsh Line - Dunwich
Dave and I often travel Marsh Line on the way to his sisters or when we go to West Lorne. I like country roads because there is so much to see. We spot Red-tailed Hawks, pheasants, wild turkeys, geese and ducks not to mention families of white tailed deer. The fields, the swampy areas and the bush are different every time we motor down the road. I loved the look of the old corn crib and the little sheds, the trees and the field. Because we live with these images every day we tend to take them for granted. I hope scenes like this will be here for my children and their children to enjoy as much as Dave and I do. Our rural landscaping is changing and I want to record what we have here and now. - Jenny
Rodney Fair Raceway
Small town and country fairs are the backbone of the horse racing industry in North America. Some of the greatest races have been run here at home at Rodney and Wallacetown Fairs. I love the sights the sounds and the flavours of the fair. To hear the cadence of the hoofs as they hit the track and to see the excitement of the crowd is a real adrenalin rush. The nice thing about the fair from the point of view of a parent was that you could be a big shot and let the kids enjoy all the rides, have a drink, fries from the Optimist or Lion’s Club booth and still have money left over for a little wager on the horses. The silks, the rides, all add to the overload of the senses. Hope you too can enjoy the Rodney Fair Races. Ta!Ta! for now. - Jenny
Donald Graham & Marianne
Wallacetown Fair wouldn’t be the same without Don Graham and his Percheron horses. Don once delivered milk in Dutton. He has given hay rides for years at Christmas time throughout the village and can always be see showing at the fair. The truck in the background is just as familiar as the horses, as McDonald Trucking has been here forever. What would we ever do without them? Mary Anne is braiding the mane and adding the fancy ribbon pieces. I fondly remember my father’s father sitting down on a kitchen chair with me standing between his knees while he braided my hair. He would ask what kind of braids and how many I wanted. Did I also want ribbons and where? He was accustom to grooming horses and told me a little filly like me wasn’t much different with two exceptions. I didn’t bite him nor did I kick and stomp my feet on his shins and toes. After I was done I received a linseed lozenge or a scotch mint. Yum! Yum! Those were the days.
Sheep Judging - Wallacetown Fair
One of my favourite places to find potential painting subjects is Wallacetown Fair. This wonderful historic country fair is full of colour, history, people and excitement. When my kids were teenagers they would argue about the excitement because they thought it was hokey. However, as adults they love to come back and connect with their roots, meet old friends and talk over old times. The children all love the fair because Mom and Dad can afford to treat them to all of the rides. There aren’t that many and the kids also love to see all the animals up close. This painting came about because there was a handy parking spot right near the sheep judging area and I have mobility problems. That year I didn’t get to see the heavy horses or a whole lot. Sometimes the weather was threatening and there was a chill in the air but you could smell the fried onions from the Lions booth and now and then, a whiff of horse manure. Don’t laugh. I like all those scents because they trigger memories. I like the shape and texture of the sheeps’ fleece and the way the shepherds control their sheep to show the best lines. What do you like about the fair? Do you have special childhood memories of Wallacetown Fair? I do.