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!

! חג אורים שמח

November 29, 2021

Chag Urim Samaech!’ translates as ‘Happy Festival of Lights’ and proclaims with Jews everywhere the eight day remembrance of a miracle, when, in 165 BCE, in a period of dark unrest, at the rededication of the 2nd Temple, “. . . though there was only enough untainted olive oil to keep the Temple menorah’s candles burning for a single day, the flames continued flickering for eight nights, leaving them time to find a fresh supply. This wondrous event inspired the Jewish sages to proclaim a yearly eight-day festival. . . “

It is worth noting that Hanukkah is considered one of the lesser celebrations in the Jewish year with Passover (Pasach), The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and Rosh Hashanah far greater in significance. But likely due to the overwhelming global attention lavished on Christmas, Jewish children have come to expect their own share of holiday fun and presents, especially when both celebrations (usually) happen in December. And so many Jewish households enjoy parties with latkes and jelly donuts, games like dreidel and the giving of presents on each of the eight days during which a new candle is lit on the menorah and prayers and songs are sung. Because December is the darkest of months, lighting these candles in a darkened room takes on a mystical quality, bringing warmth and glowing wonder to a cold and dismal time of year, while also joining celebrants with their ancestors from long ago.

In honour of Hanukkah, and because here in Kamloops, B.C., there isn’t a Hanukkah card anywhere to be found, I’ve designed and made a pop-up card for my former mother-in-law:

4″ x 5.5″ front cover
The Pop-up set of Menorah candles open against a watercolour-rendered Tree of Life motif with the Hebrew blessing for the kindling of the Hanukkah candles printed below

A Happy and Blessed Hanukkah to our Jewish friends, colleagues and neighbours here and around the world!

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!

Just waiting for something tasty to fall out of a small goblin’s pillowcase….

‘Moonstruck’, watercolour by Lance Weisser, Arches140# Hot Press Paper, 10″ x 12″
[sold]

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

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]

Autumn Wood

October 18, 2020

Painted thirteen years ago, this little watercolour conveys my personal appreciation for the moodiness every Canadian Autumn brings….

‘Autumn Wood‘, watercolour, Arches #140 Cold Press Paper, 8″ x 10″, 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.

Cloud Studies

July 21, 2020

Sometimes there’s a need to trample on whole bunches of internal dos and don’ts, accumulated over years of anal retentive watercolour practices.

‘Don’t premix washes–glaze one pigment over another right on the paper’; ‘Don’t soak the paper in the bathtub and then stretch it on a stretcher–it removes the lovely sizing’; ‘Don’t get obsessed with detail–be expressive’; ‘Don’t use opaque white’; ‘Don’t use so much masking fluid’; ‘Don’t be so timid’; ‘Don’t paint today–you aren’t centred’.

Lordy. I went to the sink, grabbed a kitchen sponge and some dollar store poster board.

“Approaching Storm”, 8″ x 10″, watercolour, by Lance Weisser, white poster board

For all who might be equally plagued by a mental build-up of watercolour dos and don’ts, have a look at this example of watercolour exploration and artistic daring:

Cloud study

June 21, 2020

The problem is, clouds can look terribly dark, yet the prevailing wisdom by learned painters is the caution that regardless of how dark the sky might appear, it is the lightest component of any landscape painting–except in rare cases like snowscapes, or some seascapes.

Cloud Study on Arches Cold Press 140 lb. paper, watercolour by Lance Weisser

The temptation, at least for me, is to go about trying to recreate that memorable sky full of drama by mixing up a bucket of what might best be described as ‘peat bog grey’ or ‘burned frying pan umber’ and sloshing it onto the top of the picture.

The end result is a landscape where anyone deigning to walk would be greatly at risk–paintings where interspersed throughout should be little yellow triangular signs reading: WATCH FOR FALLING CLOUDS :

“In Search of Hikers: Killer Clouds on the Prowl”

The other prevailing wisdom by a great many worthy painters, is that if one’s painting is featuring clouds, then whatever else is depicted ought to be kept rather simple and relatively free of detail. Conversely, if the focus is on whatever is happening below the sky, then the sky itself should be left unassuming and merely supportive. The above painting is a good case proving that point.

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!

Trying to fit a very rectangularly-wide picture inside the borders of a wordpress blogpost forces one to shrink it to fit. So here is the completed painting, divided in half in order to provide more up-close detail:

[detail from ‘Sibelius Park November’]
[detail from ‘Sibelius Park November’]
‘Sibelius Park November’ watercolour on treated art board by Lance Weisser — commissioned by Douglas Todd and Ingrid Sochting, June/2020

Your many comments through this painting progression series are such a tonic and encouragement. Your blogs are a daily boost to my spirits, and certainly to all who read them.

The Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius ” . . . is widely recognized as his country’s greatest composer and, through his music, is often credited with having helped Finland to develop a national identity during its struggle for independence from Russia. . . “

Quite probably, his most recognizable contribution and gift to us was ‘Finlandia’, the tune from which many of us have come to know as the melody for the well known hymn, ‘Be Still My Soul’:

Arranged & recorded by 3b4joy

Music is, for me, like a beautiful mosaic which God has put together. He takes all the pieces in his hand, throws them into the world, and we have to recreate the picture from the pieces.
~ Jean Sibelius 

The visual objective in this commissioned project, was to infuse the painting with the mood and the tenor of those 1970s years when I and my dear friend, Doug Todd, were living near The Jean Sibelius Square Park in The Annex of Toronto.

Those were challenging years, when we were actors in the ensemble known as Creation II, living communally in a large Victorian red brick Annex house. The experience permanently altered our lives, as what began as an altruistic experiment in communal living and performing, gradually descended into becoming a cult.

Therefore, this painting is meant to embrace the feelings of those times, and bring back the memory of a one acre oasis in the midst of spiritual confusion and personal ambivalence.

The completed work depicting a drizzly November morning, includes the emblematic red brick Victorian homes which surround the square, and a pair of Toronto’s ever-present pigeons to help bring animation to the solid silence of the memorable and remembered Jean Sibelius:

‘Sibelius Park November’

watercolour on treated art board

commissioned by Douglas Todd

by Lance Weisser June, 2020

[note: the rectangular size of this painting, 7″ x 13″, is preventing it being inserted here without undergoing distortion.]

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