April 25, 2012
D Day for me is May 1st. That is when Lynda Jones and I are teaming up to be The Featured Artists at The Old Courthouse Gallery here in Kamloops. Lynda is a rare and amazing potter who specializes in highly burnished smoke-fired pieces and counts among her collectors the former U. S. President Clinton.
Here is the fantastic poster she has designed:
The Local Cliffs subject I’ve been doing studies of has finally been completed as a work I’m satisfied enough to allow to be matted and framed.
One thing I’ve learned through doing it, is that this small size of 7.5″ x 9″ is very pleasing for me. It is large enough to include a good amount of detailing, and small enough to get finished in a timely way.
And now it is on to getting painting #2 for the show done before our May 1st opening. Thank you for your previous comments which helped me in producing the final result!
April 15, 2012
About ten minutes from our house is ’Cinnamon Ridge’. These are cliffs with very distinctive geologic caves and ‘hoodoos’ caused by wind erosion. Though not around at the time (I was but a gleam in my parents’ eye) 50 million years ago, the Kamloops region of British Columbia (from the Native word Tk’emlups–’where rivers meet’) was the source of great volcanic activity, and formed the seafloor of the ancestral Pacific Ocean.
Not far from Cinnamon Ridge is a loose shale shelf where my friends go to collect fossils. These fossils indeed prove this area which is so very dry, was once water-covered.
I’ve now done two studies of Cinnamon Ridge (so named because of its rich colour). The first is a small watercolour sketch about 4″ x 8″
The second is a more detailed and focused piece around 8.5″ x 12″. It has some issues as far as values go (it’s a bit too light and lacking in contrast), as well as a composition issue having to do with the train signal being much too far to the left.
And here is the photo both studies are based on:
The final painting must be ready for hanging on May 1st. So I am now about to do Study III, which will hopefully end up graduating from being a study to being worthy of mat and frame.
Painting is much like cooking. Too little salt is as much a turn-off as too much. Getting things just right wasn’t just a problem for Goldilocks.
March 28, 2012
[I apologize to my blogging friends for falling behind in viewing your many entries. There have been a number of deadlines I've been facing, and now I feel somewhat negligent in posting and commenting.]
In continuing to try and improve on my initial study of a pair of horses, I have placed them in a more complex setting.
I am somewhat more satisfied with this result, and have been learning a great deal in the process. This is Arches Hot Press Paper which is has a very smooth surface and is slightly creamy in tone. It has the qualities of illustration board. The demand on the painter with Hot Press is the need to lay the initial wash down with the hope of not going back into it, or back over it. Because there’s no ‘tooth’ to the paper, the paint floats on the surface before finally being absorbed.
Although the flaws of this scream out at me, the reason watercolour is considered the most demanding of painting mediums is simply because trying to correct the flaws will result in outright catastrophe.
All I can hope for is renewed confidence and another attempt. However, I remain pleased with the composition, if not some of the particulars.
My painting mentor taught me to adhere to the “20 to 1 principle”–’for every painting you keep, throw out 19′.
March 18, 2012
I have been endeavouring to paint a fondly-loved pair of horses for a friend of mine. Were I to choose my own equine subject matter, I would likely have preferred more than two, or where they weren’t quite so front and centre. I have painted horses before, but lack confidence due to not being raised around them. I lack fundamental knowledge of what they are like, i.e. horse sense (groan).
The horses aren’t too bad, but the sky is too blue, and the field too green. I am also not thrilled I added the stone wall, as it cuts a swath right through the middle. So . . . back to the proverbial drawing board. I will keep you posted, and provide the next instalment.
February 26, 2012
The landscape of Kamloops, British Columbia, (native word meaning ‘dividing of waters’–the Thompson River divides mid-city to create the North and South Thompson), varies remarkably.
Think of a city at 1132 ft. elevation with homes built in terraced-layers down one mountainside and up another, all finding bottom along the broad Thompson River which attracted the attention of The Hudson Bay Company in 1811. Since then Kamloops has become a train hub, a location for gold prospectors seeking their fortunes, and more recently a centre for the forest industry.
It is arid here. Summers are hot and dry, and rain is an event. Winters are cold, windy, with average amounts of snow, and a major spot for skiers and snowboarders at the highest elevations. When I walk the dog at 5 a.m., I always hear owls and sometimes coyotes, and occasionally spot a few deer searching for something in the yards below the mountain ridge we hug up against. I’ve also come across black bear in the car port, and seen the evidence of moose.
This painting is of what’s locally referred to as The Silt Bluffs. They feature hoodoos, free-standing rock formations caused by wind erosion.
The most prevalent raptors in our area are the Red-Tailed Hawk, Golden and Bald Eagles, Osprey, and Turkey Vultures.
February 21, 2012
Last night we had freezing rain. Today it is to be a mixture of rain, then snow, then back to rain, then sleet. Did I say I was a ‘Winter person’? I am. I am until around and about February 21st.
My pride and joy, sweeping across the bank at the front of our yard is my perennial garden. When we moved in, there was nothing there except dirt, and I had the pleasure of putting in whatever the heck I pleased. The conventional wisdom is that one should select several favourites and then plant them in ‘drifts’ of five or more to create the greatest visual impact.
That’s fine for those who have several favourites. My problem is that I LOVE THEM ALLLLLLLL. When I’m at a garden centre there’s no stopping me. So forget the idea of planting in ‘drifts’–I have one each of everything that grows on earth. And inbetween are clouds of Baby’s Breath and my favourite annual, Shirley Poppies.
They are as much fun to paint as they are to grow. This little watercolour was admitted into one of The Federation of Canadian Artists’ Autumn Shows and titled, “Lest We Forget”. In Canada, as in Great Britain and other countries of The Commonwealth, the Poppy is a symbol of Remembrance. It was bought during the show by a Canadian U. N. Peacekeeper.
February 3, 2012
Driving near Canmore, Alberta, which is a few hours to the South and East of us–near the southeast boundary of Banff National Park–I had to stop because I was beginning to nod-off. I was in the Bow Valley within Alberta’s Rockies, and surrounded by the majesty of those enormous peaks.
After taking a rest, and before resuming my journey, I took time to pencil a bit of the scene before me. I have no idea what the name of this particular mountain is, or even if it has been named, but in drawing it I became that much more familiar and acquainted with its uniquely craggy beauty.
January 28, 2012
Gettysburg. The very name sends all manner of emotion through my heart and out the other side.
I began studying this famous American Civil War Battle (July 1,2,3, 1863) some twenty years ago and then in 2001 I simply bought a plane ticket and up and went there to see the place for myself. My sister and brother-in-law met me in Syracuse, New York, and drove me down to Southern Pennsylvania to spend five days absorbing the importance of those hallowed forests and fields.
I’m no fan of war, believe me. But having been born an American yet having now lived more than half my life as a Canadian, I study the differences between the two countries. Both British Colonies, the one revolted over taxes and the other still has The British Monarch as its Head of State. One couldn’t find the means to end slavery peacefully, while the other saw it dissolved once and for all under Britain’s 1834 Slavery Abolition Act.
Having studied in detail The Battle of Gettysburg, and while there in June of 2001, I brought along my paints and did on-the-spot watercolour sketches of the most poignantly-historic locations among those now-peaceful fields.
On July 3rd, 1863, on a stiflingly-hot afternoon, after two entire hours of constant cannon bombardment of the Yankee position on Cemetery Ridge, General Robert E. Lee ordered a massive charge across a mile-wide expanse of field. This was the concluding, and most desperate action of the horrific three days as tens of thousands Southern troops marched shoulder-to-shoulder into the deadly cannonading of Northern forces.
They were instructed to aim for an inconspicuous, yet noticeable ‘copse of trees’, dead centre in the Union Line. Only one hundred or so made that destination, the more than 20,000 others suffering an indescribable onslaught of cannon and massed rifle fire.
After painting this little painting, I solemnly walked the distance to those trees. It was a sobering, awful, respectfully-difficult-yet-important mile-long journey through the wind-blown grasses of a place now very hushed and calm. I’ve never been quite the same before, or since.
What an enormous difference between two neighbouring countries, all due to differing attitudes to being deemed ‘Colonists’.
January 26, 2012
Actually, I’m joking. I’m a winter person through and through! This is the Season when I thrill at the photos of my favourite bloggers on ‘WordPress’, whose will is such that they are out there when the pale sun is orangey and the naked trees throw indigo and mauve stripes on the lapis snow. The lone leaf clinging yet to the branch moves me. The icicle tear surrounding a burnt-sienna rosehip speaks of life still sparking inside that crystal casing. Winter is the freezing of time–everything locked in icy suspension while we stand dazzled on chilled mornings over what happened as we slept.
A week ago it was -37C (with the wind chill factored in). Our pipes froze and plumbers had to repair them. The bird feeders were so busy, I had to tend them twice a day. And yet. And yet. And yet I knew even as we risked frostbite to walk our little Bichon dog, Elmo, that under all that concrete ground there were bulbs not only surviving, but actually thriving. The red maple in our yard is busy plumping up its buds. Things are happening, though for humans, an hour out there with little protection is a cruel fate.
But here’s to Summer, in the midst of Winter. Here’s to what I can’t wait to tend to when my favourite Season ends and the growing Season begins.
January 24, 2012
Locarno Beach in Vancouver, British Columbia, is named after a Peace Conference held in Locarno, Switzerland in 1925. It is one of several lining English Bay facing West Vancouver, and usually looks like this . . .
The particular day I chose to paint the Bay started off nicely enough, but gradually went from blue skies to dark clouds, to high winds and pelting rain. Once I had my materials spread out over one of the conveniently situated beached logs, I didn’t want to give in to a bit of ‘weather’. Yet, the rain came in gusty sheets and finally forced me to give in or lose what little picture I’d managed to throw together up till then . . . .
If you live in a particularly arid part of the planet and need some precipitation, just invite me to come and start a watercolour.
January 23, 2012
Golden Ears Provincial Park is one of the largest in British Columbia (over 62,500 hectares;1 hectare=2.47 acres) and features the pristine Alouette Lake. It also has three campgrounds and hiking trails through extremely rugged terrain. Vegetation is typical of the coastal western Hemlock forest of BC and the mountainous backcountry is not only rugged but has–almost annually–proven fatal to the unprepared. Those who go off are cautioned to understand what they’re getting themselves into.
Normally, Alouette Lake looks just like this . . .
But the day I attempted to paint this scene, it started out very foggy, then changed to drizzle, then showed some promise of clearing-up. I was in the camping area that was the most primitive, and of course only when I decided to begin painting did it actually start to full-out pour. By then I was so into it that I had to keep going, even though drops were falling directly onto my work-in-progress (though I did have a make-shift tarp). But to this day, this is one of my most favourite paintings because even though it has its distortions, I didn’t give in and stayed until I finished it . . .
I can still smell the coleman stove coffee and feel the warmth of the mug against my numb fingers as I celebrated by putting my brushes away–and swearing I’d never paint another #%$#!@# watercolour again in my life.
January 22, 2012
The natural rock formation known as Arch Cape is located along the Pacific coast and is 3.8 miles south of Cannon Beach, Oregon–in the extreme southwestern part of Clatsop County. For a few summers at the turn of the century ( ! ) I took my old Volkswagen camper van to various locations along the Oregon Coast, which is simply a watercolourist’s dream come true.
This painting has a story because I was so near the water that I began realising the tide was coming in. Not wanting to abandon things, I just kept at it . . . . until finally a big wave swept over my feet and dragged everything out into the surf! I was scrambling to rescue all my stuff. For that reason, this particular piece had to be done in the studio relying on my ruined attempt and the useful guidance of fellow painter E. J. Fitzgerald who helped me with composition and the treatment of the waves.
January 21, 2012
My mother taught one room school in Rosetown, Saskatchewan, in the ’30s. There was such an age difference between herself and her sister that my Aunt ended up being her student. When my mother had no choice but to keep her after school for talking back, that was the beginning of a lifelong distance between them. They got along–don’t get me wrong–but they weren’t ever the best of friends.
The notion of a one room school has always been appealing to me, personally. I would have bloomed in such a setting, and benefited from having both older and younger learning their lessons in the same room at the same time–(though probably not if the teacher had been my mother).
This painting, entitled ‘Schoolhouse Memories’ is based on a dream I had not long ago, of heading towards a building like this, in a setting like this, on a warm day at dawn, yet never reaching the front door.
It was in the Federation of Canadian Artists’ Open Show in April of 2010.
January 19, 2012
Ten percent larger than New York’s Central Park, is Vancouver’s Stanley Park–1001 acres of enormous cedars, Totems, hidden pathways, creeks, ponds, ocean views, as well an amphitheatre and The Vancouver Aquarium. It was named after Lord Stanley, the Governor General of Canada in 1888 (and also the person who donated the famous Stanley Cup for the emerging hockey teams of the day to compete for). Lord Stanley became the first Governor General to visit British Columbia when the Park was being dedicated.
This painting was done on location within the Park while sitting on one of the many available sand-encased logs. The spot is known simply as Third Beach, and looks out towards a very distant (not always visible–and not in this painting) Vancouver Island.
It took most of the day, and while there a baby seal washed up on shore. Being tied down to all my spread-out gear, I called out to those closest. Mobile phones weren’t as prevalent then as now, and it took the gathering crowd quite a while before attendants from The Vancouver Aquarium came to rescue the little guy. They have an adoption program which results in a release later on after the animals have matured.
January 16, 2012
One of my great nephews, at three years old, was particularly creative. You didn’t want to be assuming anything past 5:00 a.m., when a peaceful house usually meant he was in the scrap-booking room or the pantry; and there were things going on involving lipstick and cats, or crayons and clothes dryers. This particular watercolour was done on Arches 140 lb Hot Press paper. It is intentionally given a light treatment because the day was such that the sun was near to dazzlingly intense.
Here’s a random moment between takes when he’s on the loose at his brother’s birthday party. His sapphire eyes are looking around at what might next need destroying before it’s even been unwrapped.
He’s one of the most delightful children I’ve ever known–but I was very happy to have been only the Great Uncle (and not the parent) when he was three.
January 14, 2012
From ‘wikipedia’: ”One of the many reasons for the failure of the attempted Japanese pacification of the Philippines during their 1941-1945 occupation was their indifference to the basics of the Filipino economy. The carabaos provided the necessary labor that allowed Filipino farmers to grow rice and other staples. Japanese army patrols would not only confiscate the rice but would also slaughter the carabaos for meat, thereby preventing the farmers from growing enough rice to feed the large population. Before World War II, there were an estimated three million carabaos in the Philippines. By the end of the War it is estimated that nearly 70% of them had been lost. . . .”
There is no beauty like the beauty of a rice field. There is no green like the green of ripening rice. And there’s no more engaging activity than watching the many daily phases involved in managing a rice field throughout the growing season.
January 12, 2012
When we moved to Kamloops from Vancouver, we weren’t really prepared for the heat. Being a coastal city, Vancouver rarely sees temperatures over the high 20′s. Kamloops on the other hand, is in the South West Interior and is arid and hot — very hot. Summer temperatures can crest 45C, which is hot for Canada.
There’s sagebrush and Ponderosa Pines and cacti and lots of barren, weather-worn rock. The painting below was done in a location called Silt Bluffs which are full of character and stand above the North Thompson River. This scene is only about ten minutes away from downtown.
January 12, 2012
In 2003 I visited The Philippines after meeting the person online who would turn out to be my partner and husband. This part of the country is just outside Manila in the Province of Bulacan (the word ‘bulak’ means cotton, which there was quite a bit of when King Philip of Spain took over the islands in the 16th century). The little barangay (community) of San Jose is part of the larger municipality called Plaridel.
In the yard of the family I was staying with in San Jose were all kinds of trees and plants. This was to be the first of three visits I made over three years until I brought my partner to Canada in 2007. He is now an LPN in a geriatric facility here in Kamloops, and a Canadian citizen, and has come to love our -20C winters and +40C summers. We were married by my Pastor sister in 2008 in Clearwater, B. C., at a beautiful resort there.
This painting was done while sitting on the porch, and reminds me of that first, personally-momentous visit over eight years ago . . .
January 11, 2012
Taking the 40 minute ferry from Vancouver one reaches Gibson’s Landing, the beginning of the 85 km. stretch known by British Columbians as The Sunshine Coast. The road leads North towards Alaska, but ends at Powell River–the furthest major city on the coast–and visitors simply have to either turn around and come back, or decide to permanently stay.
This watercolour was painted on location on a section of the Sunshine Coast near the town of Sechelt. The wind was blowing across the Pacific, creating large breakers and bringing in a bank of fog which made it difficult to dry my paper enough to keep going.
January 9, 2012
Within the Kamloops city limits lies The Lac du Bois Grasslands Protected Area, dedicated to preserving native grasslands and the sweeping vistas of this special region. Old time ranching and a culture of horses and cattle survives.
This is a region of British Columbia with wide open spaces, with sagebrush and cactus and Ponderosa Pines. It’s a land of Eagles, Hawks, Owls and Ospreys. Through it winds the North and South Thompson Rivers and above their winding, watery ribbons is high country.
January 9, 2012
The official website of the newly-created (2007) District of Clearwater reads: ” . . . Located in the heart of British Columbia and Wells Gray Country, Clearwater, B.C., is the gateway to Wells Gray Provincial Park and is surrounded by the Trophy Mountains, Raft Peak, Grizzly Peak and Dunn Peak. This rural community is truly a place for all seasons. . . “
They aren’t bragging. I encourage you to go to ‘www.districtofclearwater.com’ and see the gorgeous photos for yourself.
Kamloops–where I live–is about an hour’s drive South of Clearwater. The Interior of British Columbia is highly mountainous and sudden storms and weather systems are normal when living in higher elevations. One half of the sky can be as blue as sapphire, but just behind me things will be ominous and threatening.
This painting–now in a private collection–attempts to capture the spirit ‘North of Clearwater’ . . .