Diane MacDonald


(posted on 15 Sep 2019)

Here we go.  Will we fit on the ferry???

Off to Vancouver Island for a short vacation starting in Nanaimo.  The weather hasn't been "ideal"
except for cameras, this image caught between rain showers and rainbows.  

We loved Neck Point Park, a walker's paradise.

Heading to Denman and Hornby Islands tomorrow, and later in the week further north for adventure.


(posted on 23 Aug 2019)

As summer rolls to its inevitable conclusion, warmth, flowers and fun continue to anchor August days. With summer still in mind, even though the show isn't until October, I am delighted to have had one of my images selected for the SE Center for Photography's show, Flora.  If you happen to be in Greenville, South Carolina for the show I'd love to hear how it looks on the walls!


The beautiful image above is NOT mine - Lightfall, a dahlia illuminated by gentle light falling through textured glass, was selected.


(posted on 15 Jul 2019)

It looks as if the summer weather is about to settle in - just in time for the 23rd annual Art off the Fence, a premier outdoor art/music/food extravaganza on South Pender Island.  



...And there's a surprise in store - each year participating artists create a theme piece - this year the theme is ........ (drum roll) ........ underwear.  Come to view and bid on a variety of artistic interpretations - you never know what you might find.  


(posted on 17 Jun 2019)

I am delighted to have had one of my photographs accepted into the 2019 Sooke Fine Art Show.  
Go to http://sookefinearts.com for information about venue and show times.

Currently I am showing at Talisman Books and Gallery on Pender Island - show runs until 
July 2nd.

And a gentle reminder to put Art off the Fence on your July calendars...

Almost summer!  Enjoy.


(posted on 3 Jun 2019)


Art off the Fence - 23rd edition.  Mark your calendars!


(posted on 16 Apr 2019)

Easter Art Show: Homage

Friday, April 19 - Sunday, April 28

Open Daily 10 - 5, Mahon Hall

Ganges, Salt Spring Island


Homage is an ambitious show of the work of southern Gulf Island artists opening on Salt Spring Island this Friday, April 19th. The show is dedicated to the gift of inspiration: invited artists were asked to create a 2 or 3-dimensional tribute to a painter, sculptor, composer, musician, poet, writer or choreographer - someone who inspires their creative vision and informs their work. 

The premise of paying tribute was immediately compelling and turned out to be enormously challenging to put into practice, and ultimately a wonderfully rewarding assignment. I chose to pay tribute to Canadian artist Mary Pratt whose luminous oil paintings will always stop me in my tracks. I hope you are able to visit the show - to see how diverse artists 'interpret' those who inspire them - and come away as galvanized by the challenge as I was.

Happy Easter


(posted on 15 Apr 2019)

We camped near Rapid City, South Dakota, beneath this dramatic sky.  The national weather
forecast was daunting, compelling us to make haste toward home to outrun high wind and
blizzard conditions.  

Fortunately we had two sunny days in South Dakota before we headed west across Montana 
and Idaho and over the mountains into Washington State.  But I'm ahead of myself.  After leaving 
Washington, DC and Virginia, it wasn't long until we were in Lexington Kentucky, considered by some
to be the "horse capital of the world". Certainly the farms are beautiful. The structure below is not a 
house but a stable, typical of barns in the area housing the award winning race horses for which 
the region is famous.

In addition to equine fame, Kentucky is noteworthy for its variety of wonderfully lubricating
Bourbon distilleries - the barrels below full of Woodford Reserve.

Crossing the Missouri River to get into Iowa into Nebraska was challenging - Nebraska 
suffered enormous flood damage this spring and most of the bridges across the river near
Omaha were impassable.  Below: a screen shot of road closures necessitating detours.


Then - prairie landscapes where frequently the most compelling view is the sky above.  

The Black Hills rise from the desert in southwestern South Dakota - home of Mt. Rushmore.
The surrounding country roads are a joy to drive in the off-season - narrow hairpin turns lead
to tunnels designed to frame unique views of the monument.

And then there is the Pinnacles Highway in Custer State Park,
once again affording wonderful views of remarkable rock formations,
and making driving an adventure and welcome change from
interstate madness.

Then road, road, road.


I amused myself with my camera, trying to "capture" reflections of semis - we passed them 
going up; they passed us going down.

Prairie towns often offer a special brand of humour.  Broadus Montana characterizes itself as
"The Wavingest Town in the West".

With that we were waved right home - and delighted to return full to the brim with 
adventure and be back to the comfort of home once again.  Thank you to those who
"came along for the ride".


(posted on 1 Apr 2019)

Still engaged in what one of our guidebooks terms "the pleasantly impractical endeavour of sightseeing". Finally heading west and slowly northwards with an eye on the weather hoping to wend our way past water, wind and snow.  

Backtracking to Charleston, South Carolina to begin this chapter.  Charleston lives up to its reputation as a charming city, its graceful mansions lining brick and cobblestone streets in the historic seaside quarter.  

Visitors to the Information Centre in Charleston are greeted in spring by the glorious blooms of a Peppermint Peach Tree.  Hot pink and white blossoms bloom in unison on a single tree - the colours occasionally sharing even the same blossom. Budding trees and glimpses into courtyard gardens in the city provide further evidence of spring. 


We toured two of the city's historic homes - one had been restored to its pristine former beauty
while the other was preserved as it was, virtually untouched since the 1850's.


Life in southern mansions relied entirely on the labour of enslaved servants. Slave quarters
in the preserved mansion were featured on the tour, and showed clearly the stark contrast
between the living conditions of masters and slaves. The staircases in the photos below mark 
this contrast, as does the image of the slave quarter's corridor, also below.


From Charleston we headed north to Richmond, Virginia, the state capital, visiting Civil
War battlefields along the way.  Richmond is the home of another of America's exceptional
art galleries - the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Jaume Plensa's outdoor sculpture coaxing
us to stop and contemplate, even in the rain. (jaumeplensa.com)

Then - Washington!  We are fortunate to have friends who welcomed us to their home and 
filled our two days to the brim with the best the city has to offer - and it offers wonders.


We visited the White House before walking the monuments - a 10k loop that took us from the
Washington Monument to - in order I think - World War II, Vietnam, Lincoln, Korea, Martin Luther
King, Roosevelt, Jefferson.  Monuments of Washington, then Lincoln show below, followed by
Roosevelt and the Korean War Memorial.


Roosevelt's words (above) read "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the
abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little".

From the monuments, we went on to tour the Capitol building - stately, imposing, beautiful.


Washington's seventeen Smithsonian museums offer free entry at all times.  We visited the 
newest, the African American Museum - its magnificent grill work shown below.  It is a 
sobering showcase of the history and lives of black Americans from their arrival from Africa
to today in America.

Steeped in American history, we left Washington to travel to Jefferson's Monticello - the home 
he designed for himself and to which he ultimately retired. From his hilltop home, Jefferson viewed 
the Blue Ridge Mountains, at the time considered to be the "edge of civilization".  The man himself -
what a complex, conflicted and enigmatic character - brilliant, knowledgeable, articulate, caring
("We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
 ) - 
yet in spite
of promising to free his slaves he never did grant their freedom, neither during his life nor in his will. 


Satiated, we head west and home, hoping to cross that border a couple of weeks from now.


Beautiful beaches, glorious gardens, wonderful wildlife, magnificent art and architecture - an 
eclectic and engaging mix of miles from Naples on the Gulf Coast of Florida to Savannah on
the Atlantic Coast of Georgia. Naples feels laid-back and relaxed compared to other cities in
Florida - its beach lined with stately homes not locked in gated communities.  The perfectly
manicured historic homes and tree-lined streets shaded by majestic Royal Palms are inviting
and welcoming and jaw-droppingly beautiful.

and, the back gate...

Within an hour the landscape changes dramatically to miles and miles of Everglades with 
bird and wildlife abundant in the natural habitat -alligators and a few crocodiles, great
blue herons and white egrets. The anhingas, similar in some ways to "our " cormorants,
caught the attention of my lens.


A sign announcing a three foot summit tickled our funny bones.

From the Everglades to the Keys - on the map a tempting string of islands dividing the Gulf of
Mexico from the Atlantic Ocean. We found the islands to be overly popular, overly populated,
and overly commercial and didn't make it out to Key West. Even the previously cute pelicans
became a nuisance!

North to Miami where the Art Museums pulled us to the centre of the city. The architect who
designed the Miami Pérez Art Museum (firm: Herzog & de Meuron) will be designing the new
Vancouver Art Gallery.  The Pérez is spectacular and extremely difficult to photograph 
given its size and location.  Shown below - one of the museum statues with Miami skyscrapers
in the background.

The opulent Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, also in Miami and formerly the private residence of James
Deering, is lavishly furnished and beautifully landscaped.  Below: the interior foyer and sumptuously
decorated living room, one of many stained glass windows, and a view of the garden fountain.



North of Miami, the Kennedy Space Centre where we were a week late for the SpaceX launch
to the International Space Station.  Seeing the enormity of the space shuttle Atlantis was
impressive enough.   


Off to Jekyll Island just across the border in Georgia, a glorious world away from the boisterous
commotion of urban Florida. The island, once a private estate, became a State Park in 1947
guaranteeing its preservation as a natural wildlife sanctuary with strict limitations on development.
The former historic "cottages" of the likes of Rockefeller, Morgan, Vanderbilt, and Pulitzer have been
transformed into idyllic guest accommodations.  Miles of bicycle trails beneath moss-draped
oak trees, some hundreds of years old, lead through the historic area to the beaches.


An hour or so north another gem - Savannah, with its graceful mansion-lined squares and
dozens of magnificent old oak trees.  Every bit the blueprint of a glorious bygone era, the city 
retains its magnetic charm to this day. 


Leading up to St. Patrick's Day, Savannah colours its fountains green.  To me, more interesting 
is the history of the Victorian fountain below - residing in Forsyth Park, its ornamental cast-iron work 
dates back to 1858 when it was built - after being ordered from a catalogue!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


(posted on 26 Feb 2019)

St. Petersburg, Florida where the locals boast of 361 days of sunshine a year: 

Breaking the weather rules, it is teeming rain, so a good day to update "Musings", beginning by
backtracking to New Orleans.

NOLA - how to characterize this complex city given that we barely skimmed the surface?  Leading
up to Mardi Gras there is electricity in the air and colour everywhere.  The French Quarter is 
simultaneously stately and elegant, boisterous and boozy.  


In the elegant residential areas we explored outside the French Quarter, graceful old oak trees overlook
sprawling mansions.  The homes may appear small but often stretch backwards and upwards 
to reach 2 or 3 or - some many more - thousand square feet.


Pastel colours reign adding a festive atmosphere not limited to Mardi Gras.

"Old" is cherished here and new homes are constructed to conform to the late 1800s look.  
Many homes feature elaborate wrought iron clad "galleries" (balconies). 

Winter storms unleashed on the mid-to-upper US dampened the Gulf Coast with dense fog
and rain as we drove through Alabama and Mississippi.  Arriving at Mexico Beach on the 
Florida Panhandle left us in no doubt about the destruction "real" storms can wreak in this 
part of the world.  Hurricane Michael devastated this pristine white-sugar sand beach 
community on October 10th last year.


White sugar beach...

From Texas to Florida the beach colours in favour are pastel - and there is no doubt they
epitomize the vacation vibe.

One of the reasons people flock to Florida (home to 30 million in the winter) is the birdlife.
Pelicans are abundant (collectively they congregate as 'pods') and captivating.

Until next time I'll sign off with a flock of ibis marching past our campsite this morning ...


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