Fall Forest Creations

Fall is definitely a favourite time of year for many of us. I just can’t get enough of the kaleidoscope of colours, the breathtaking views, the smells, and the crisp cool air. 

A walk through the forest is filled with delights, and I find myself wanting to drink it all in, and savour it. 

Autumn in Northern Alberta is so fleeting. Its glory is only with us for about a month. I want to capture it, and hold it for longer, and it invites me to visually preserve some of its beauty.

The forest is filled with such colourful treasures, and I want to gather them up, and put them all in one place. That’s when I decided to create some fall inspired botanical artwork. 

I had so much fun creating these. I brought the studio to the forest, and created the images right outdoors, on the trail. I felt the joy of a child, as I gathered and foraged for all the elements in each image, carefully choosing mushrooms, moss, cranberries, rose hips, bunchberries, and collecting a variety of shapes and colours of leaves. 

My only concern on that sunlight autumn afternoon was that a bear might happen by to eat some of the cranberries. I could tell the squirrels have been happily munching on the mushrooms, so I was glad to get some for my images that hadn’t been chewed yet. 

In my final creation I wasn’t sure if I wanted to add the botanical names of each element, as I’ve done in some of my other botanical images, or should I leave it as it is? For one thing, I know little about mushrooms, so I have some learning and discovering to do if I want to label the mushrooms. 

For now, I believe I’ll leave the pieces as they are. 

If anyone wants to share their thoughts, I’d love to hear from you! Especially if you’re a mushroom expert. 

I’ll have these available soon, as greeting cards for purchase. They will also be available to order as Gallery Wrapped Canvases on my website. 

Dear readers, thank you for all of your support. I hope wherever you are, you’ll get to spend plenty of time enjoying our autumn, taking in all the colours and wonders. 

Fall inspired botanical art
autumn botanical

One Response to “Fall Forest Creations”

  1. Jolene

    Wow how fun Rachel! Those are amazing!!!!

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July Birth Flower-Larkspur

As my favourite summer month is almost over, I wanted to share my latest creation, The Delphinium Bouquet. 

The Larkspur, the plant’s common name, refers to many flowers of the genus Consolida, which are annuals, as well as to the flowers of the genus Delphinium, which tend to be perennials. The Larkspur is a member of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) and is native to parts of the Mediterranean, Africa, and Europe. Larkspurs grow wild in North America, and in Europe, and have become a favourite flower in gardens all over the world. 

The name Larkspur is thought to have come from their resemblance to the claw of the meadowlark. It has also been referred to as the Lark’s Claw, Knight’s Spur, and Lark’s Heel. 

You can see the spur like flower bud. I love the iridescent purple.

The Larkspur has long symbolized positivity, loving bonds, dedication and sincerity. Each Larkspur color holds different meaning. Blue, as in these flowers (also a more rare color in the world of flowers) is said to mean dignity and grace. 

Delphiniums in my Mother in Law’s Garden

My inspiration for this creation began back at my flower garden in Millarville. I had the most sun-baked flower bed on the West facing wall, with poor soil to boot, but these Delphiniums were so tough, and lovely, each year, growing over 6 feet tall. I added some Ladies Mantle, and Lavender to this bouquet, things that had been shared, and replanted to grow each year, and bring me a smile. 

My old sun-baked flower bed.

As with all my Botanical creations, I love how the images and enjoyment of flowers touches each of us in so many ways. From the reward of growing something beautiful in one’s own garden, to the memories of loved ones who have grown it and shared it with us before. A vase on the kitchen table, family sharing a summer day and a glass of lemonade, to digging up, and planting new roots to grow in a new garden, it’s all part of the beauty and bonding gardening can give to us. 

If you had your Birthday this July, I hope you had a wonderful day. 

Source: https://www.almanac.com/content/july-birth-flowers

One Response to “July Birth Flower-Larkspur”

  1. Jolene

    I love how you captured the delphiniums beauty!!! One of my favorites for sure!!!

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On the Eve of Winter

I’d been keeping an eye on the forecast all week. Despite the impending winter weather about to set in, Friday was a surprisingly mild day, without a hint of icy breath of the whiteout to come. 

But the signs were there. Hundreds of clamorous geese were meeting up in the skies overhead, finally full from feasting on fall grains, and leaving the farmer’s fields for more welcoming climates. 

It was a good day for a walk. A day to collect pine and spruce cones, before they disappeared until spring. 

The fading afternoon light with its gloomy quality, was comforting to me, the moody light enhancing the trees still adorned with berries, and causing me to take notice of every pop of colour before the harsh white bleached the world colourless. The berries cried “Look at us. Study our bold colour and chaotic lines.”

The icy brook held leaves in its grip. Beneath the mysterious bubble patterns lurked dark and ugly things, just below the surface. Trash, an old tire, and more trash. But if you can look past all of that, around it, see the beauty despite all the mess, well, I guess that can be a metaphor for life, can’t it?

The beavers bit off more than they could chew. Another life metaphor, perhaps?

The last bits of colour from the longest and most lovely fall I can remember asked for remembrance as they faded in the dusk, awaiting their fate. Will anyone remember this season once the dead of winter holds us in its icy grip?

And as my own season changes, what will I pause to take note of and remember? Will I pause to reflect on all the bittersweet moments, the good, the bad, and the ugly, or does it hurt a bit too much to reflect, just yet? Memories to pause and cherish, or will they be scattered like the leaves? 

One Response to “On the Eve of Winter”

  1. Jolene T.

    Rachel! Beautiful words and photos!!! Makes me miss you even more♥️

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Holding Onto Hope-January Reflections

The first month of the year has slipped away, and it’s time to turn the Calendar page again.

Myself, like many I’m sure, looked forward to the start of 2021 with a cautiously optimistic attitude. One month into the new year and it is hard to hold on to that optimism. I was so hoping that we might start to return to normal life, or at least see a light at the end of the tunnel. 

But with vaccines slow to be administered, and in short supply, governments seem more than happy to continue to restrict our rights and freedoms, while making excuses, and tying up forward process with bureaucratic red tape. Meanwhile, people continue to lose their jobs and livelihoods, and strife is everywhere.

The whole situation leaves me in a state of anxiety about the future, and uncertainty to make any plans. 

But through it all God keeps reminding me that He is faithful and He is good. He loves us! He is still in control! That we are called to trust Him, and live one day at a time. And that I still have so much to be thankful for. 

Although we miss sports and activities that we no longer are permitted to enjoy, our family has grown closer creating activities of our own. Many afternoons and evenings have been spent at our homemade rink which Josh so diligently tends for us. This is been a wonderful way to connect as a family and get some much-needed outdoor time and exercise. Although our future is uncertain, and I often wonder what kind of adulthood our boys will inherit, I hope we can all grow stronger as families, loving each other, Lifting each other up, connecting and bonding, as we will need strong families to weather whatever storms life will bring us in the future.

Family Skating

Although I have lost work myself, due to lockdowns and cancelled events,  I’m reminded that God still provides and cares for me, and that I can bring my worries to him.

“ Look at the birds of the air. They do not sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?  And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life” Matthew 6: 26-27

His grace and mercy are new each morning and He is a very present help in trouble. He is good even through all of these trials. And even on the coldest and darkest of days His lovingkindness is everlasting.

Frosty Trees Frosty trees

My heart hurts for the many around me who are struggling, but it’s a reminder to keep on praying and keep on hoping. 

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

MoonsetFrosty poplarsThanks fo reading! I hope you have found some encouragement here.



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The MCS Memory Keepers {Millarville, AB}

These past few years I’ve had the pleasure of working on the Millarville Community School yearbook. It’s one of the ways that I love to give back to my community, and it’s a perfect fit, a way to use my talents, skill set, and energy to give back something to our families.

It’s been really rewarding for me to to spend time with our kids and the school staff, capturing and preserving our every day moments, memories, and capture the big events that we work hard to make a reality.

Our yearbook team consists of myself, Shannon McClinchy and Wendy Gregson. All year long we’re committed to ensuring each event, big or small, is captured by someone, either ourselves, or staff or students with cameras. We work hard on the mammoth task of combing through the hundreds of photos to select what will be in the yearbook. Each of us brings valuable input, ideas, and storytelling design to encapsulate the year for MCS students from Kindergarten to Grade 8. And while everyone has rushed headlong into summer vacation, we’ve been working hard to put all the finishing touches on the yearbook.

Designing, selecting, and putting it all together can be a challenging task. It can be frustrating because we can’t use all of the photos, and there are so many good ones we want to include. It can be hard to narrow it down. But it is rewarding to see that even though not every image makes it into the yearbook, they often resurface in slideshows, and in other memories. It is such an honour to be a part of that.

The best part has been to be included. To be able to capture so many of the every day moments and school memories of not only my own children, but many others. To be a part of celebrating our kids as they grow, learn, achieve, and have fun.

It’s so neat to see our kids running their hearts out and working hard at their sports. From the athletes that are breaking records, to the not so athletic children, who still work very hard, I love to share your events with you and capture you in the moment.

I love how the kids cheer each other on, and show such good sportsmanship among themselves.

The behind the scenes moments at sports events make me giggle too, such as the boys who were doing chest bumps, or kids giving piggybacks or horseback rides to each other.

Running Club

Good Sportsmanship, and pre-race encouragement.

Track and Field

Track and Field

When you run so fast, your feet don’t even touch the ground.

Track and Field

Track and Field

Mr. C -running his heart out.

I love capturing our kids during Pumpkin Palooza, as they parade in their Halloween Costumes, and the older kids co-ordinate the games and activities for the younger grades, at the Christmas concert as they sing their hearts out, at the Round Up as they danced, won cakes, and played games, and at our Winter Carnival, as they folk danced, played the spoons, and had sledding relay races through the halls.

Les Boucherons, helping us celebrate Winter Carnaval

Relay race sledding in the Halls. It was frigidly cold, so our Winter Carnaval was held indoors.

I got to share in the adventure of downhill skiing with the older students, and spend the day helping one student, a beginner to skiing, practice her new skill.

I’ve shared in field trips, watching the pure delight of students on an outing. I especially enjoyed when we ate lunch in the high-rise walkway of the Glenbow Museum, our country students taking in the big city.

Telus Spark

Overcoming ingrained inhibitions at Telus Spark.

Telus Spark

Taking some time to explore at Telus Spark

Autism Awareness

Coloring on a car, with Mrs. Lipiski, for Autism Awareness.

I shared the epic field trip with the Grade 3’s to the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller, holding hands with one student as we explored the museum (I’m a mother of two boys who never want to hold hands anymore, so it’s cute when the girl students want to hold hands). We excavated dinosaur bones, laughed as Miss Olver looked a bit like a Picasso painting in the graph sketch, and then helped students come up with the last bit of change they needed at the gift shop.

Royal Tyrell Museum Drumheller

Dinosaur Dig

Royal Tyrell Museum Drumheller

Miss Olver as grid sketched by the Grade 3’s. It’s pretty accurate, isn’t it-? lol.

One of the most meaningful memories I captured, was the beaming smile of a normally shy boy, as he graduated from D.A.R.E. He shared with me how his participation in the class helped him encourage his dad to stop smoking. I know we had many important conversations at our house, as my son participated in D.A.R.E., and he worked very hard on his graduation project.

So proud of his D.A.R.E project, and graduation from the program

It is truly a rewarding experience to share all of this with my sons, their fellow classmates, and students of their school. And it brings me great joy to be part of the team putting it all together for students and their families, so that next fall when we start fresh, you can look back on all these wonderful memories, always remember how special it is to be part of this community, how you’ve grown, and the experiences you’ve shared.

Good buddies, having a laugh


*Some of the images I’ve mentioned do not appear in this blog, but watch for them in the yearbook when you receive it this Fall.

One Response to “The MCS Memory Keepers {Millarville, AB}”

  1. Shannon McClinchey

    Thank you Rachel, very well said. “Its been really rewarding for me to spend time with our kids and school staff, capturing and preserving our everyday moments, memories, and to capture the big events we work really hard on to make a reality.” Couldn’t have said it any better
    I have been a volunteer with the yearbook at MCS for many years, and it is bittersweet as my last kids now moves on to high school .
    It has been a great opportunity to combine my love of photography, and popping in to be part of each little thing that make MCS such a great school. Little school with BIG heart.
    Thank you to all the teachers, parents, and fundraising committee that makes the events an amazing reality. Outdoor pursuits camping trips, rock climbing, scuba diving lessons, many sporting events, all take time and energy, but what amazing opportunities and memories to treasure for a lifetime. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of these last 9 years of adventure, enjoy the memories we have captured,and included in this past school years yearbook. Remember….”Once a Wildcat, Always a Wildcat!!”

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Botanical Wildflower Fine Art {Kananaskis, AB}

For a long while now, I’ve been in love with Vintage Botanical Flower Prints. These were originally presented as illustrations, with a very artful, and scientific feel. I wanted to create something that replicated this look, using Photography, to create Fine Art Prints. So last summer I created flat lay images of some of our lovely and prolific mid-summer wildflowers.

I created an arrangement with purple and pink hues which includes Harebell, Wild Bergamot, Aster, Smooth Fleabane, Vetch, and Paintbrush.

Purple Wildflower Botanicals


I then created an arrangement with sunny yellow hues which includes Goldenrod, Blanketflower, Cinquefoil, Red Paintbrush, Yellow Sweet Clover, Northern Bedstraw, and Aster.

Vintage Wildflower Botanical Print

All of the flowers are local to the Foothills and Kananaskis areas of Alberta. Many of them can be found Province wide. Wildflowers have captured my interest and imagination since I was a child. I am still fascinated by the intricate details of each species. I often pour over books, learning about each one, appreciating their science and beauty.

I was careful to not pick rare wildflowers, which destroy the plant from picking, like the Wood Lily.

So I’m pleased to offer these Gallery Wrapped Canvas Prints I’ve created of local Botanical Wildflowers that you can enjoy all year long.

Wildflower Botanical Prints on Display

These are available in my Fine Art Gallery, or you can contact me for details.


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Leighton Centre Summer Art Camps {Millarville-Okotoks, AB}

Last summer I was asked to spend some time capturing the fun, creativity, and action at the Leighton Centre Children’s Summer Art Camps. In addition to working on this very enjoyable project, my own two sons were invited to spend a week at Art Camp. It was a creative, and wonderful way to spend a week, for all of us. 

Commercial and Promotional Photography is becoming a notable new focus of my business, and it is always fascinating and rewarding to help another business or organization with their promotional material and marketing.

Every summer the Leighton Centre offers week long Summer Art Camps for children aged 6-14. Led by a team of talented artists, children are given wide variety of mediums to work with, and a unique variety of projects to work on throughout the week. 

The Historic 1919 Ballyhamage red one-room schoolhouse, converted to a Art Studio, serves as the heart of the Children’s Art Camps, with a weaving studio and a pottery studio serving as studio-classrooms as well. 

Historic one-room schoolhouse Leighton Centre


The week kicks off with a tour of the Leighton Centre Museum, where the kids learn about the founders of the Centre, Mr. Alfred Crocker (A.C.) Leighton and Mrs. Barbara Leighton, who were both extremely talented artists. Some of the techniques employed by Mrs. Leighton, such as vinyl cut block-stencil are explored by the students during the week. 


Kids at Leighton Museum


Kids at Leighton Museum


The kids then make tie dye t-shirts for themselves, that they wear during the week, when working on messy projects. 

Tie dye at Leighton Summer Camp


During their week at Camp, kids get to work with clay, weave, learn needle felting, make string art, make hand-made paper, and learn sketching and painting techniques. Kids also spend time outdoors, playing games, and exploring the beautiful grounds of the Leighton Centre. 

Art Camp at the Leighton Centre


Paper making at the Leighton Centre


Art Camp at the Leighton Centre


Art Camp at the Leighton Centre


Art Camp at the Leighton Centre


Art Camp at the Leighton Centre

With all the forest fires happening last summer, we weren’t sure the kids would get to do as many hikes, or do their outdoor sketching, but we were fortunate when mid-week the wind took the smoke away, and we were able to see the breathtaking view, and the kids were able to make sketches and paintings of what they saw. 


Art & Nature Summer Camp at the Leighton Centre


Art & Nature Summer Camp at the Leighton Centre


After a week of creating, the Summer Art Camp wraps up with an Art Show for parents and families to view the work of their budding artists. The kids along with their instructors put on a very professional show. 


Kids Art Show, Leighton Centre


Kids Art Show, Leighton Centre


Summer Camps at the Leighton Centre are a very rich and rewarding experience for kids. Be sure to check out their calendar, as this Summer’s Camps are already filling up. Get your budding Artist a spot at Camp today. 

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Mice and Mailboxes {Small Business Start-Up, Shared Spaces-Okotoks}

I recently had the opportunity to do some whimsical product photography of miniature proportions.

Helping small business owners promote their products and services with photography has become a new area of focus for my business. Our world is increasingly visual, so great photography can really help a small business propel their image further, and is it great part of any marketing plan. It has been my honour to help several small business owners these past few months, and I look forward to helping many more to come.

Patty’s Business is just getting started. Her idea is very unique, and a great, interactive way to promote positive values in children.

Paddy fashions small houses, fit for a mouse, which are in fact mailboxes for children. Parents can deliver small note cards and encouragement through the mailbox slot in the roof, to their child. Parents can also leave small parcels-gifts to reward a child’s good behaviour and positive efforts. (Paddy sells the small note cards and small gift boxes to go with the mailbox delivery)

House for a mouse

Children's mailboxes


Children then have their own key, for accessing their mailbox and finding their encouragement or reward, and promoting responsibility (to not lose their key).


House mail special delivery

children's special delivery



The felted mice that Paddy sells are the perfect addition to go with the mailboxes.

These cute and whimsical little creatures bring the child’s imagination to life, really adding to the fun and story that can be created around the mailboxes.

I had a great time creating scenes and stories for the mice, and my kids really enjoyed them, and made up stories of their own for each mouse.

felted mouse fishing in pond

farmer felted mouse

seaside felted mouse

happy birthday felted mouse


Paddy’s collection of “House Mail, Special Delivery”, mice and mailboxes can be found in Okotoks, at the newest collaborative space for crafters and artisans, Shared Spaces.

Shared Spaces opened last weekend, and looks to be a great new boutique located at 8 McRae Street in Okotoks.

If you have a chance this weekend, I highly recommend checking them out.

Best of luck to you Paddy, and I wish you great success with ‘House Mail, Special Delivery”.

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Marc & Jaimee’s Wedding {The Norland Historic Estate, Lethbridge, AB}

This weekend Marc and Jaimee tied the knot, and I was honoured to be there to capture their beautiful day.

The morning was wet and cold, with snow flurries, and I was not sure how their day was going to turn out. But Jaimee, and many from her family, and Wedding Party, are hearty stock, many of them having lived, or still reside in Yellowknife. So they were determined not to let al little bit of cold and snow mess with their day.

As luck would have it, the clouds began to clear in the afternoon, and although very chilly, their outdoor wedding turned out beautifully.

The Norland Historic Estate is a very elegant, and lovely venue. For Jaimee and Marc, having their wedding at the Norland was all the more special and meaningful, as Jaimee’s Grandpa (recently passed away) had done a lot of work with restorations and renovations on The Norland. So honouring his memory was very important as they celebrated their wedding.

It was made clear during the reception and toasts just how fun loving the two of them are, devoted to each other, and how well loved and supported they both are by their friends and family.

Congratulations to you both!

Getting ready, at The Norland


Father of the Bride-walk down the isle


Ring bearer, and Flower Girls


The Norland Historic Estate


Wedding Party Portrait at The Norland


Bridal Portrait at The Norland

Bride and Groom at The Norland


Bride and Groom Portrait at The Norland


Wedding Reception at The Norland


First Dance at The Norland

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Spring in the North {Nature Photography, High Prairie, AB}

Spring has always brought mixed feelings for me. It’s such an exciting time of growth, renewal, and promise, as one looks forward to warmer, brighter days ahead. The snow melts and the first greens begin. And the sounds of spring are welcoming to the ears, after the cold silence of winter.

Mixed with the excitement and energy of spring, I often have felt an impatience and frustration, as springtime in Alberta takes a very long time to really get underway.

When I was a young person growing up in High Prairie, Alberta, and learning about photography, I really disliked early spring from a photographic viewpoint. Everything was brown, mud was everywhere, and the drab landscape failed to inspire me photographically. It was difficult to match the excitement I felt with spring in the air, to the seemingly colourless landscape around me, when my eyes thirsted to see green and spring colours.

It seemed to me that spring was much more exciting somewhere else, and the photos that others were capturing of spring were far more interesting than my own.

Fields of daffodils, tulips, streets lined with cherry trees in full bloom, none of this was the spring of my young adulthood, or is my experience, even now.

And yet there are many things that I enjoy about spring. I love to hear the frogs singing, filling the air with their musical chorus. I love the return of all the birds, their singing, the geese, ducks, and swans flying through the air, swimming in ponds, and making their brief stop, before travelling further North.

Since moving to Southern Alberta I’ve missed this mass migration of birds, and the sights and sounds of the Northern wetlands in the spring. We have some waterfowl that stay here, but nothing compared to what we used to see in the North. While I love my gorgeous mountain views and rolling foothills, there’s something about marshes, ponds, and wetlands, and their sights and sounds, that I have missed.

This Easter our family had the opportunity to stay and visit in our home town of High Prairie, Alberta, for a few days. I was really looking forward to capturing images of spring in the North as I remembered it from my younger days. But with a fresh perspective, as I am slowly letting go of all my preconceived notions and doubts about my own artistic abilities. And my belief that everyone else’s  images are better than my own. Being content with my own life-not constantly comparing myself, my surroundings, or my experiences, to those of others.

As things would have it, it snowed most of our trip. Nearly every day it snowed while we were visiting. The drab colourless sky, and white ground reminded me of how I used to feel about spring.

Fortunately the day before we decided to come home, the sun came out, and the day turned lovely.

That evening I was able to capture some of the magic of spring that I remember, yet had been unable to capture visually when I was younger.

The big, wide open skies, and lovely evening light were everything I wanted it to be on my last evening at my in-laws.

As I stopped wishing for things I’d like to see, and truly appreciated what was around me, I enjoyed a beautiful evening walk.

Ponds with reflections, pussy willows, a hawk that flew over.



pussy willows

Some swans flew over, and I missed the shot, and felt momentarily disappointed. Their call is a lot different than that of geese, so I kept my ears alert, and hoped I would hear, and see another group of swans. As luck would have it, I did, and was able to capture a few images of swans in the sky.

Birds in spring

The music of the water running through the ditches as it journeyed to the Iroquois Lakes, was a peaceful and lovely sound.

wetlands in spring

pussy willows in spring

These last images captured as the light was fading, and my lens grew heavy, perhaps did not turn out perfectly, but I love the painterly, soft quality of the colours, and the light.

artistic spring photos


It’s taken me a lot of years to finally start to see things as they are, appreciating their true beauty, and to not be wishing and hoping for things that aren’t there. I’m excited for where this journey will take me.

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