Cloudscape 1

March 22, 2022

There’s a compositional rule advising painters that if the sky is the main element in a painting, then what lies below it ought to be kept simple and less important; and, conversely, if it’s the landscape which is the focus, then the sky should be suggested and there merely as a compliment to the rest of the painting. Of course, there are plenty of excellent paintings where this rule has been ignored. I think of Van Gogh whose complexities and intricacies fill every inch, and cause one’s eyes to dance around and be rewarded with a richness of technique.

Personally speaking, it seems better to go by that rule’s wisdom than pretend to be of the calibre and passion of a virtuoso like Van Gogh. Those who, like him, are driven body and soul to express their inner selves via their art aren’t likely to be ones who go by sensibility and convention in life as well as art. Those who, like me, have to screw up their courage in order to even put brush to paper, are appreciative of sound advice and guidance. And so, with this painting, I followed that compositional rule:

“Peace At Eve”
watercolour on Arches 140# Hot Press Paper, by Lance Weisser
[sold]

Winter Watercolours IV

January 17, 2022

This snowscape was commissioned by Ellen for her newly-acquired home some years ago. Some commissions can be challenging simply because the painting the person who does the commissioning visualizes in his/her head may or may not mesh with the painting the artist ends up producing. At that moment when ‘the big reveal’ happens, one can always tell in an instant whether it’s elation or disappointment.

It is always less stressful to have one’s available work displayed online or on gallery walls, and the viewer can either choose one, enjoy seeing them but decline doing any purchasing–or, in some rare cases, enter into negotiation over the price. Personally speaking, if we’re allowed to negotiate over big ticket items like houses and cars, why not artwork? After all, few of us have the ability to waltz into a gallery and say, ‘I’ll take that one…..and hmmmm, yes, that one, also…..and, can you hurry, please? I have my driver waiting.’

Untitled winter landscape, watercolour by Lance Weisser, Collection of Ellen Schaffer

And yes, Ellen loved it.

Winter Watercolours III

January 14, 2022

It seems to be just a very human thing to anthropomorphize whatever we come across–give everything from fish to insects to birds to apes to dinosaurs to pets a human personality. We even do it with cars and ships. Growing up, I was read the Thornton Burgess stories, like “The Adventures of Grandfather Frog” and the adventures of “Sammy Jay”. You may, rather, have been read “Winnie The Pooh” or “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”. Every animal in them was cast in human likeness.

And then came along the biggest anthropomorphiser of all time, Walt Disney:

“. . . This photostat model sheet titled ‘Sleeping Beauty Raven’ was made at the Disney Studios during production of Sleeping Beauty, and it was issued to animators for their use in drawing the black bird that is the companion of the evil fairy Maleficent. . . “

There’s a downside to creating animals in our own image–they don’t get to be entities on their own terms, self-definers of their unique life force and world and surroundings. One filmmaker who decided to take it to extremes was Alfred Hitchcock, whose film ‘The Birds‘ cast them as human haters who couldn’t wait to swoop down and become feathered masters over anyone walking around on two legs. Seeing all those crows on telephone wires, silently waiting for the signal to begin wreaking destruction was the very definition of creepy.

All these ravens want in this painting is whatever can be gleaned from a long-before harvested crop of corn:

“Morning Scavenge”, watercolour by Lance Weisser, framed and matted 19″ x 23″, unframed 9″ x 12″
[still available for purchase, contact weisserlance@gmail.com]

Winter Watercolours

January 5, 2022

One of Kamloops’ older homes, the Fort House at the corner of Fortune Drive and Fort Avenue, is so named because it is on land formerly part of The Hudson Bay Company’s fur-trading post.

“. . . According to a listing of heritage buildings published by the Kamloops Museum and Archives years ago, the fur-trading post was located there from 1843 to 1862, at which point the Hudson’s Bay Company moved its post to Mission Flats.

Mr. and Mrs. Archie Davis. (Kamloops Museum & Archives)

However, the company continued to use the land for agriculture until B.C. Fruitlands bought it in 1906 and subdivided it into lots of five or so acres.

The Fort House was built about 1907 for Archie Davis, a railway employee. ‘The house, a foursquare design with a cottage roof common for that period, was originally located on extensive acreage’. . . ” [source: https://armchairmayor.ca/2014/05/24/answer-man-reader-wants-to-know-the-story-behind-the-old-fort-house-on-fortune-drive/#prettyPhoto%5D

‘Moon Over Old Fort House’, watercolour by Lance Weisser [SOLD]

….waiting it out

December 28, 2021

Don’t you just love this little seasonal week-long swale coming between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, when that over-filled helium balloon of a holiday finally bursts and we’re left sitting in our bathrobes and pajamas, watching anything other than ‘Home Alone 2’ and Alastair Sim doing ‘Scrooge’, and don’t have to dress for dinner or anything else?

However, at -27C (-17F) and winds carrying blasts of drifting snow against the windows, this is exactly how it looks out there:

‘Old Schoolhouse’, watercolour by Lance Weisser

I have to dress our little dog ‘Ashton’ in his insulated jacket, carry him to his chosen spot near the shed in order to do his duty, and, as soon as he’s finished, snatch him back up in my arms and carry him back inside. Even then, he’s shivering in my arms.

Wishing you and yours a very Happy New Year!

With all the pop-up Christmas cards sent, a different hand-painted option was chosen for the remaining and final card to be mailed off:

‘Solstice Moonrise’ watercolour by Lance Weisser

Thank you for following my blog, and I wish you and those you love and care for a lovely yearend, whether having celebrated Hanukkah, about to celebrate Christmas, or dancing under the full moon, Yule log blazing in the fireplace, quaffing something hot and spiced, celebrating over another Solstice!

Happy Thanksgiving

November 25, 2021

Here in Canada, our Thanksgiving is a rather lowkey meal held mid-October–lowkey, that is, in comparison with the American extravaganza on the fourth Thursday of November. Ours takes the form of a harvest celebration–a fitting end to Summer’s seasonal bounty. And while there is usually a turkey dinner–and yes, it is often family celebrated–no one is going to insist on anyone flying in from any of our three coasts in order to eat it. Nor will there be parades featuring gigantic floating Pillsbury Dough Boys or any loud, beer-laden watching of football. In fact, many in my circle have a modest restaurant version along with a friend or two: a glass of wine, the roasted bird entre, pumpkin pie, coffee and conversation–and then home again to peace and quiet and a spotless kitchen.

That said, having been born and raised in the good ol’ USA, I know exactly how to produce a Thanksgiving card imbued with the Yankee spirit of throwing Kraft Miniature Marshmallows and pineapple chunks into an already sweet, sweet potato dish, as well as cramming oysters and chestnuts (and anything else) into turkey stuffing.

5.5″ x 8.5″, the cover is an autumn leaf from our front yard Red Maple

…..wait for it…..

BAM!

The 8.5″ x 11″ inside is a watercolour paper chain of maple leaves which bounce forward along with dried/pressed chrysanthemums and a hand-painted pop-up turkey against a backdrop of watercolour-rendered maple leaves

It’s my pop-up card version of a Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (without a helium-filled Bullwinkle).

A Very Happy American Thanksgiving to all!

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.)

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