Spring Thaw

March 21, 2021

Around here in British Columbia’s Southern Interior, while the mountains boast of a more than normal snow pack (which ultimately brings water to our homes), our city of Kamloops has experienced a warmer and drier Winter than usual. While there’s still a little snow in the higher portions of the city, where we live it has been a very gentle and lamb-like entry into the first day of Spring.

‘March’, watercolour on treated art board, 10″ x 12″
by Lance Weisser

While painting this portrait of Juno in honour of Kathie’s birthday, our little Bichon, ‘Elmo’, was in the final days of his thirteen-year-old life. Stoically dealing with a heart twice its normal size, an enlarged liver and kidney malfunction, our beloved ‘Elmo’ passed away in his bed just after I’d checked on him on January 24th. For his two daddies, this was a sorrowful occasion and one very difficult to get over.

As the weeks passed, however, we realised we needed to at least try to fill the emotional hole of losing our lovely pet and began searching far and wide for a new puppy. At the same time, I was close to finishing the portrait of Juno and finally did, a couple of weeks before Kathie’s big day:

‘Juno’, watercolour on treated art board, 12″ x 10″, by Lance Weisser

Kathie and Ken were very pleased and the Juno portrait now hangs in their dining room.

And we–Raul and I–have a new addition to our family, a tiny toy Maltipoo puppy named ‘Ashton’, who can never replace ‘Elmo’ and yet has won us completely over by his beautiful perky cuteness and charming personality:

Juno was the sister and wife (hmmm) of Jupiter, and the mother of Mars and Vulcan. The patron goddess of Rome and protector of women and marriage, Juno’s name is heard in Virgil’s Aeneid, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and Sean O’Casey’s 1924 play Juno and the Paycock.” [source: https://nameberry.com/babyname/Juno%5D

Although I’m posting these progressive treatments over a few days, this painting actually took me several weeks. That’s because I just wasn’t sure how to go about it. Painting complicated hair/fur isn’t my forte. And watercolour isn’t a terribly forgiving medium. So I ultimately chose to use Daniel Smith’s Watercolour Ground applied over white art board. The lovely quality of this product is how easily one can lift mistakes off it–it lifts previously applied, and dried paint, like a dream. What it therefore doesn’t allow is a number of washes or glazes on top of each other, because once a fresh wash is placed over a dried wash, that old one will lift and mix with the new wet one. So my experience has been to use one put-down of wash and let that be the one, and if it doesn’t look good, just put water all over it and lift it right off and wait till the surface has dried and start again.

Because Labradoodles are created by mating a Labrador with a Poodle, any number of colour combinations are possible, including black, dark brown, reddish brown, blonde-brown and who knows how many others. Each puppy can be more like the father, or take after the mother, with different fur/hair qualities as a result. Juno’s hair is a delicious golden colour and not as tightly curled as a Poodle, but not as straight as a Labrador, and so very curly and yet wavy.

Here is the way the painting progressed from the initial sketch and wash:

Personally, I have a need to establish the eyes and nose before progressing further. If they don’t happen correctly, forget about it. I was satisfied that my attempts looked true enough to the image I was given to work from to keep on working.

To help celebrate the birthday of a recently retired Occupational Therapist and good friend–Kathie–her spouse, Ken, the Dean of our local Anglican Cathedral, provided me with photographs of their very charming one year old Labradoodle dog, Juno. My hope was to present Kathie with a watercolour portrait of Juno to mark her upcoming, significant ‘0’ birthday,

Dog portraiture is not something I have experience with/in. And Juno being from a breed known for its gorgeous curls and wavy hair/fur, presented challenges I wasn’t convinced my experience with watercolour could overcome. Fortunately, this painting was one I offered to do, and so if it was beyond my abilities I simply had to say so and produce a watercolour of another subject I knew Kathie would enjoy receiving.

I started with a detailed drawing:

Because Juno’s place to be is anywhere outdoors, I decided to provide a rosebush background.

when micro = macro

January 12, 2021

Dark-eyed Junco and Stellar Jay, 2″ x 2″, Black-Capped Chickadee 1″ x .5″, watercolour miniatures on Arches Hot Press Paper, by Lance Weisser

The largest bird on earth is–no surprise here–the Ostrich. Only the Emu comes anywhere close, and in N. America, our experience of the bird world (aside from some water birds and raptors) is most often an encounter with a species that is generally quite small. (Of course, after writing such a declarative sentence my mind’s eye gets filled with Ravens, Magpies, Embden Geese, Roosters and Pileated Woodpeckers, lol.)

Songbirds in particular are relatively tiny, thus lending themselves well to tiny portraits, which, when I was still a member of a Gallery, sold quite steadily and well.

Try A Little Tenderness

January 1, 2021

Daring to re-write Otis Reading’s hit song for this brand spanking New Year:

“A word soft and gentle makes life easier to bear,

You won’t regret it, people won’t forget it–for love is our whole happiness

And it is all so easy. Try a little tenderness.”

January, Lac du Bois’, watercolour on treated art board, 9″ x 12″,
by Lance Weisser

Wishing you a more tender, gentle, and forgiving 2021.

All Hallow’s Eve

October 31, 2020

A reposting of a watercolour with an All Hallow’s Eve feel and flavour . . .

‘The Rookery’, watercolour on treated art board, 12″ x 14″, by Lance Weisser.
[available for purchase]

As evening grows deeper, they gather together to stand watch through the autumn night.

“Love In The Shadows”, watercolour on Arches #140 Hot Press Paper, 10″ x 14″,
by Lance Weisser
[sold]

Summer’s Zenith

August 5, 2020

We’ve been sizzling here in British Columbia’s Southern Interior. For the past two weeks, it has been very hot and very dry. This is when all the dirt bikes get loaded on the back of country music-blaring pickups, heading for the hills, bypassing all the slower, fishing boat-toting pickups. And even those pickups bypass the even slower camper trailer-toting pickups, with everyone and their dog all heading out of Dodge.

What’s left behind are solitary scenes of empty pasture, sun-weathered farms, the occasional horse. And not a lick of shade.

‘Sky Country’, watercolour, 10″ x 12″, Arches 140# Hot Press Paper, by Lance Weisser

We’re at the apex of Summer–the zenith–with a high today of 35C (95F). And tomorrow? Well, tomorrow marks the slow slide into September, with showers and a high of only 23C (73F).

So today we pretend we’re Texans, and tomorrow that old familiar tinge of an early Fall brings us all back to where we really are and love to be.

Lately here in Kamloops, British Columbia, we’ve been treated to cloud Cirque du Soleil. Each time I step out on our deck, there’s another stunning performance in progress:

As a student of watercolour, the challenge of painting skies on location doesn’t come from the medium itself because all it amounts to is sloshing water-tinted pigment over paper.

It doesn’t get more immediate than that.

Clouds are suspended water vapours being moved about by the atmosphere and wind. So a marriage made in heaven–immediate subject matter matched with an immediate medium, yes?

Um, well, maybe for some…. It takes a lot of confidence, deftness and elan to nail a quickly changing sky, and those aren’t exactly my gifts.

What helps move my senior’s ass is panic-induced adrenaline, like the time I brought all my equipment down to Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver. Perched in my umbrella-shaded lawn chair, sipping iced tea, leisurely sketching the Vancouver skyline, I noticed the sky dramatically changing from a fluffy blue to an angry charcoal.

After lugging everything from the parking lot to the shore, I wasn’t about to give up my precious spot for a little weather. Prudence did step in, however, and whisper in my aging ear that I had only minutes to accomplish what I’d been taking hours dallying over.

And then the rains came down, bruising the top of my umbrella, the beach crowd scattering, wind whipping the waves. As the saying goes, ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’, I finally found my spine and went for it, drops pelting my paper, gusts throwing up sand.

‘Summer Storm Study’, Vancouver, watercolour on Bockingford, 5″ x 7″, by Lance Weisser

I live with my husband, Raul, on a residential street that backs onto a mountain ridge which eventually meets up with the Lac du Bois Grasslands protected area . About half of our backyard is the sage and tumble weeded rise itself, and below it a manmade terraced section for growing our vegetables. Coyotes yip erratic bark-like shrieking at 2am, while morning Mule Deer come down to nosh on Raul’s tomatoes. Families of Chukar Partridges venture down as well, their clucking and chukking exploding into a fearful feathery cloud when surprised.

But the deer? If their brunching is interrupted, they continue sampling tomatoes, dropping one to nibble another and dropping it for then another, slightly raising their heads as though eyeing the intrusive buffet busboy, checking to see if I’m there to replenish the salads. And only when physically confronted by threatening rudenesses will they disdainfully bound up the slope, staring down just beyond reach, waiting for the vulgar help to leave so they can have a little chat with the maitre d’.

Kamloops, British Columbia, (“Kamloops” is the anglicized version of the Shuswap word “Tk’əmlúps“, meaning “meeting of the waters”–the North and South Thompson join to become the Thompson River) officially has the hottest and driest summers in Canada, with the hottest recorded temperature of 41.7C (107F), with the coldest being -38.3C (-37F). The humidity is almost always between 20-40%, and so is designated as part of the desert region extending up through the interiors of Oregon and Washington States.

‘Kamloops Ponderosa Pine Hills’, watercolour, 8″ x 16″, Arches #140 Cold Press Paper, by Lance Weisser [sold]

This week promises to be our first of the season hot weather, with temperatures in the mid to high 30s (93 – 97F). Up until now, we’ve had unseasonably wet and moderate days, with almost zero instances of wildfire, our greatest seasonal hazzard.

Aerosols

June 19, 2020

‘. . . in meteorology, a cloud is an aerosol consisting of a visible mass of minute liquid droplets suspended in a planet’s atmosphere . . . ‘ [wikipedia]

Watercolour is absolutely the perfect artistic medium for tackling the effervescent quality of–ahem–aerosols.

‘Raven Sky’ watercolour on Arches Cold Press #140 paper, 5.5″ x 5.5″ by Lance Weisser $100 framed, $75 matted — contact weisserlance@gmail.com

It being a rather challenging subject, more paintings featuring clouds are about to be attempted, and the results posted here in days to come.

Yay! Aerosols!

butterfly bouquet

May 10, 2020

A very Happy Mother’s Day, whether your little ones are the human variety, now fully grown, or the canine or feline variety, or whether your cared for charges are swimming in aquarium or pond, or preening their feathers, know you are loved, and enjoy your day in the sun.

‘Butterfly Buffet’
watercolour, 5″ x 7″, Arches 140# Hot Press Paper
by Lance Weisser
SOLD

Seriously Shirley

April 23, 2020

‘Shirley Poppies’
watercolour 5″ x 7″ on Bockingford Paper
by Lance Weisser
SOLD

“Surely you can’t be serious.”

“I am serious — and don’t call me Shirley.”  [movie: ‘Airplane’ with Leslie Nielsen]

Seriously, here’s where the Shirley Poppy gets its name:

“. . . Shirley Poppies are actually not a distinct species, but rather a strain, or even more correctly, multiple strains of the species P. rhoeas which have been selected for a colour break from the wild species. Rather than completely red, the first strains were carefully selected for their pastel colors so stylish in the late 1800’s. The name Shirley Poppies comes from where the first strain was developed, in the village of Shirley, in the United Kingdom where the vicar of a parish in the village made the very first selections, thus, isolating the first strains from wild poppies. Since then, all Shirley Poppy selections have originated from that first selection, and many are still grown today. . . ”

[source: http://www.growingwithplants.com/2012/07/shirley-poppies-step-by-step.html]

Peace

April 12, 2020

A bouquet of Peace roses on Easter Sunday, offering up peace of heart and mind during these uncertain times of isolation ….

“Peace”
watercolour, 7.5″ x 10″, Arches #140 Cold Press Paper
by Lance Weisser
SOLD

The Peace Rose was developed/cultivated from a seed the size of a pinhead in Lyon in 1935 by the French commercial rose-growing family, the Meilland’s, and introduced simply as ‘3-35-40’. Attracting much attention for its beauty at a rose convention in 1939, France was invaded by Hitler and the Meilland properties seized and used for food production.

In desperation, the Meilland’s smuggled ‘3-35-40’ out of France in a diplomatic satchel to The United States, where, in 1940, it was submitted to The All-America Rose Selections (AARS) for a three year testing. Based on the success of this testing, a launch date of April 29, 1945, was chosen to coincide with the Pacific Rose Society Annual Exhibition in Pasadena, California.

‘3-35-40’ still did not have a real name. Then, April 29th, 1945, its official launch date, coincided with the fall of Berlin and the declaration of a Europe-wide truce.

At The Pacific Rose Society Annual Exhibition, two doves were released and ‘3-35-40’ was christened by The AARS via this statement:
We are persuaded that this greatest new rose of our time should be named for the world’s greatest desire: ‘PEACE’.

The new rose ‘PEACE’ was officially awarded the AARS award on the day that the war in Japan ended, and on May 8, 1945, with the formal surrender of Germany, each of the 49 delegates to the newly created United Nations were presented with a bloom of “Peace”.

As for the Meillands, whose rose farms and family assets were destroyed by World War II, the commercial success of “Peace” enable the family business to recover and subsequently continue to develop new, beautiful roses. In what might be a moral to a parable Francis Meilland, who died in 1958, wrote in his diary:
‘How strange to think that all these millions of rose bushes sprang from one tiny seed no bigger than the head of a pin, a seed which we might so easily have overlooked, or neglected in a moment of inattention’ . . . “

[source: http://www.b-srs.org/cgi-bin/popuptextA.cgi?t=../BSRS/BSRS-SSI/storyofpeace.txt&n=The%20Story%20of%20Peace]

visual metaphor

March 28, 2020

When I look through past work for one which visually sums up how things feel internally during these protectively distant and very strange strange days, this is the one….

‘Distant Light’
watercolour, arches #140 cold press paper, 14″ x 11″
by Lance Weisser
SOLD

Here in the Southern Interior of British Columbia, Canada, our Interior Health Authority’s policy is to refrain from revealing the precise location of any pandemic cases. This causes a certain incongruity in our city of 97,000, where there remain no official instances of anyone at all having contracted the virus.

Interior Health will only generalize by revealing ‘x’ number of cases in the whole of the Interior as new ones come to light. So citizens speculate as to which of our cities, towns, and rural situations are being most affected, or, possibly being affected at all. No one really knows.

This has created a two-meter-apart sharing of rumoured cases: ‘did you know ________ isn’t well?’; ‘they say __________ senior’s residence is under lockdown’. Yet when I stand looking out our front window, all I see are neighbours doing uncharacteristic, and very fastidious yard cleanup–and couples and dogs I never knew existed strolling in isolated threesomes, as though on holiday.

For all our apparent imperturbation, there’s a newly-felt internal jolt when hearing an ambulance making its way towards our nearby nursing home–something not unusual, something not out of the ordinary–but now, in these times, a jolt nonetheless; an unexpected, yet telling one.

Our dog groomer phoned to say she’ll still do our bichon, but to call first and then put him outside the door. I put $50 in a note of thanks, inside an envelope. Punching two holes and stringing yarn through and then around Elmo’s neck, I pushed him at her. She waved to me with surgical gloves through the screen–and it came to me how even if I put $50 in an envelope and tie it around my own neck, no one in our city is allowed to groom me.

I learned the art of denial in early childhood. While I labour away at mastering watercolour, when it comes to denial, I soar: that was mastered long ago. Slowly, the onion-skinned layers of pretending and pretension are exposing important vulnerabilities within: that social distancing demands creating innovative intimacies–reaching towards those who have no picture windows, impassionately observing couples walking dogs and neighbours trimming hedges–searching for ways to help others mitigate what is becoming a knot of fear over detecting a problem breathing; wondering if their lost job will be forever lost; literally unable to remain at all calm.

In other words, I either rise to the occasion or I don’t. And I don’t think I am. It’s made a little more difficult when, as citizens, we don’t even know what the occasion actually is. But at least I can donate online to the Food Bank. At least I can consciously stop myself from denying that this is a time to mobilize and discover where help is required and try to fill it.

The above painting is entitled ‘Distant Light’. It could just as easily be named ‘Present Darkness’.

The challenge is for me to help stop the one from becoming the other.

'Serenity now'

March 23, 2020

…..remember this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow_9MglZrhs

So now we’ve all been plunged into Seinfeld rerunland.

“Serenity”
watercolour, Arches 140# Hot Press Paper, 16″ x 14″
by Lance Weisser

$150.00 (in 3″ mat)
$200.00 (matted and framed)
shipping not incl.
inquiries: weisserlance@gmail.com

Although centrally located–and well within the city limits of Kamloops (pop: 97,000), British Columbia, Canada–we nonetheless hear cows bellowing distantly from the mountain range across the way from our house. This is cow country–beef cows–Herefords–grass-fed, and let out to pasture once Winter is past. Sitting out on our deck, I can just make out these tiny dots–Herefords most certainly–moving slowly across the great expanse of what is locally known as Strawberry Hill.

‘Back Country’
watercolour (detail of larger work), Arches Cold Press 140# Paper, 7.5″ x 14″
by Lance Weisser

During these unusual and routine-disrupted days, when everyone seems mildly ajar, pretending all is still fine, yet wondering what the heck to do with themselves, I find it reassuring to watch cows do nothing all day but search out grass on Strawberry Hill.

(And I’m sure many of you reading this have become even more thankful you have pursued painting or photography or writing as a mainstay in your life. These solitary-type endeavours are certainly now helping to anchor us amidst days of remarkable change and confinement.)

A number of years ago I was commissioned to paint a bird watercolour by two sons for their mother for Christmas. Not that familiar with birds, nor familiar with what their mother preferred, they only said, ‘she really likes them’, and so left it to me to choose.

Even now I somewhat cringe inside for having chosen what I did. And I still can’t quite explain why I did–I just did–though I think it is because baby birds are so vulnerable and almost the epitome of innocence.

However, a baby N. American Robin….

‘Juvenile N. American Robin’
watercolour on Arches 140# Cold Press Paper, 7″ x 5″
by Lance Weisser
SOLD

……is one very ugly little bird, lol.

I never did hear back whether their mother liked it or not, which kind of spoke for itself. But, ugly or not, these little Robins don’t stay that way long as they go about discovering along with us, the joys of new life, renewed warmth, and gardens full of delightful tastes, smells, and colour.

True Lovebirds

February 14, 2020

It is only the adolescent Ravens who gang together in raucous, food-finding frat parties. Once they find their true love, Ravens are almost always seen in pairs, and stay paired with their one-and-only for life.

“Together Forever”
watercolour, 7″ x 10″, Arches 140# Hot Press Paper
by Lance Weisser

Maybe no box of chocolates for his soulmate, but one of those shrivelled crab apples would be at least a stab at making a Valentine’s Day gift.

Lovers of a Good Fire

February 6, 2020

Pinus contorta latifolia (Lodgepole Pines), are everywhere in British Columbia and Western N. America. They provide the forest industry with most of the logs used in sustainable logging operations. And their natural regeneration is brought about by periodic, seasonal fire.

[USDA Forest Service]

“. . . some forest plants lay dormant under typical or ‘normal’ forest conditions; lying in wait to germinate or disperse after a fire provides an open canopy and abundant light. Seed banks stored in the soil (snowbrush) or forest canopy (lodgepole pine) provide ample seed for regeneration. . . ” [Dr. Dan Binkley, professor in Colorado State University’s Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability]

Small tree growing in a very lithic soil at Inspiration Point, Yellowstone Natl. Park [C.J. Earle, 2002.08.03].

It’s all about the cones. Under normal conditions the Lodgepole Pine’s pine cones are sealed shut, but fire melts the natural sealant and opens the cones, releasing the seeds.

“Mountain Mists”
watercolour, 12″ x 14″, Arches Hot Press 140# Paper
by Lance Weisser
[sold]

Bird-feeder royalty

January 23, 2020

Pushing and shoving, dive-bombing, squabbling, jockeying and butting-in, the bird-feeder etiquette of our variety of finches is the birdy equivalent of an episode of ‘Survivor’.  There’s also gender bias going on.  Early morning, when the very first flock gingerly descends from the upper branches, nervously eyeing the freshly-filled feeders, the males timid over whether it’s safe to go for it or not, hold back.  Waking up as finches, the males suddenly decide they’d rather be chicken. So, it’s up to their female partners to make the first attempt.  Only then, do the males feel emboldened.

And then, there’s the the Dark-eyed Junco: royalty of bird-feeder land.   Shy, yet able to hold their own, Juncos forego the unseemly behaviour going on above, and instead head for the ground underneath. Gathering in polite groups, they snatch up the morsels the more greedy finch riff-raff above them can’t quite manage to gorge fast enough.

“Dark-Eyed Junco”
watercolour, 3″ x 5″, Arches Hot Press #140 Paper
by Lance Weisser

The Long Wait

January 17, 2020

Two days ago I left the house at 9am.  Between then and returning at noon, our pipes had frozen.  It was -23C (-9.5F).  On the coldest day so far in 2020–with pipes freezing all across Kamloops, B. C.–the search for an available plumber was on.  Four tries later, I snagged one just finishing up in our neighbourhood, and an hour-and-a-half –and $165– later, we heard that lovely sound of water bursting out of multiple taps.

Waiting for Spring, 10 x 8, January 2019

“The Long Wait”, 10″ x 8″, watercolour on art board

by Lance Weisser

Seeing our rescuing plumber to the door, I saw we’d gotten some mail.  It was our first-of-many, colourful Spring Seed Catalogs.

Small Works Show 2019

January 10, 2020

Our Kamloops Arts Centre in Kamloops, B. C., does our city of 100,000 proud by hosting and promoting many art events throughout the year.  The 2019 Small Works Show is a fundraising event whereby half of all art purchases go to the KAC, and the remaining half goes to the artists.

unnamed

“Venetian Memories” is one of my entries featured in a local store window.  Below, the rest of my contribution is on a wall in the hallway of The Old Courthouse.

Small Works Show Nov 24 to Dec 24 2019 a

 

 

Murtle Lake November

December 30, 2019

Murtle Lake–housed within the gorgeous Wells Grey Provincial Park–about an hour’s drive from our home in Kamloops, B. C.–“is world-famous as the largest canoe-only lake in North America. Set in a pristine mountain valley, the north and west arms are approximately 20 km long, and the lake averages three kilometres wide. . . ” [http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/wg_murt/]

wells gray November no signature
“Wells Grey November”
watercolour by Lance Weisser
140# Arches Cold Press Paper [sold]

On the Wells Grey Provincial Park website comes this advice to those who wish to access Murtle Lake for overnight canoe/kayaking trips:

“The outlet of Murtle Lake is the swift-flowing and dangerous Murtle River, noted for its many waterfalls. Visitors wishing to hike to McDougall Falls must use caution in Diamond Lagoon.”

“Murtle Lake is a large lake and subject to gusts of strong wind. The lake often becomes choppy in the afternoon. If moving camp it is best to do so in the forenoon. Never try to out-run a storm; beach at the first available opportunity and wait out bad weather. The Park Operator has emergency communication and a satellite phone link located in the Ranger Cabin on the south shore of Murtle Lake.”

Murtle-Lake-hs-870
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