butterfly morning

June 18, 2015

Many butterflies have developed interesting ways of defending themselves from predators. One method is disguise, or “cryptic coloration”, where the butterfly has the ability to look like a leaf or blend into the bark of a tree to hide from predators.  Another method is chemical defense, where the butterfly has evolved to have toxic chemicals in its body. These species of butterfly are often brightly colored, and predators have learned over time to associate their bright color with the bad taste of the chemicals. (source:http://www.defenders.org/butterflies/basic-facts)


butterflies a

As children, we chased them  with homemade cheesecloth and coathanger nets, paying frequent visits to our neighbour’s butterfly bush which truly was just that.  Of course, today they are no longer so abundant and butterflies are–I grew to know–best viewed while alive and gracing the perennials in the front yard.

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shirley poppies

June 14, 2015

The Shirley poppy was ‘created’ circa 1880 by the Reverend William Wilks, vicar of the parish of Shirley in England.  Rector Wilks found in a corner of his garden where it adjoined arable fields, a variant of the field poppy that had a narrow white border around the petals.

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By careful selection and hybridization over many years The Rev. Wilks obtained a strain of poppies ranging in colour from white and pale lilac to pink and red, and unlike the wild poppies these had no dark blotches at the base of the petals. (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirley_Poppy, photo credit: http://pantip.com/topic/30827995)

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‘Shirley Poppies’, watercolour, Bockingford Cold Press 140# Paper, 15cm x 20cm (6″ x 8″), sold

THEY HAVE BECOME SYNONYMOUS with the Remembrance Day poppy, worn in lapels all over Canada and the U. K. in the early days of November onwards through to the 11th, post-memorial cenotaph services, where, in Canada’s capital, people place their poppy on The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before departing.

eggs as canvas ….

May 5, 2015

DUCK EGGS ARE THE BEST for receiving watercolour pigment.  They have a satiny shell surface.  Chicken eggs are better if one is using the ancient Ukrainian Orthodox, bees wax, kitska stylus, and dye method.

Chicken eggs have a kind of chalky, calcium-like surface which, yes, can be painted, but feels like the cheaper version of a duck egg.  [Oh my, that probably tops your abstruse observation quota for today]  Ahem….plowing-on into the arcane . . .  a duck egg is more forgiving a surface because removing mistakes is easily accomplished using a Q-tip.

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(above) Chicken Egg Christmas ornament using bees wax, Ukrainian kistka stylus and traditional dyes

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Watercolour Painted Eggs, (four duck eggs, one goose egg)

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Hand-painted Christmas Egg Ornaments, watercolour, with multiple, clear fixative layers applied for protection.

The impetus for exploring eggs as a painting surface came from my having seen, as a child, hand-painted blown eggs with Spring flowers on them, gathered and hung by streams of ribbon for an Easter breakfast within our German church.  Their beauty gave me new eyes and I viewed my grade school wax crayon attempts with a certain childish contempt.  And it perplexes me still, that such a long ago vision remained an artistic impulse to do for myself what I saw modelled back then.

What has put my egg art enjoyment on (permanent?) hold is my having received two Peacock eggs that I delayed blowing-out….only to have them explode all over the walls and ceiling just as I was finally drifting off to sleep one night, months after they were given to me.

You seriously do not want to know the level of grossness — the vile, rank, and utter foulness — of having to clean up an entire living room punctuated, peppered, with rotten Peacock egg at one o’clock in the morning.

My childhood vision of hand-painted Easter eggs has been forever cataracted by the Peacock eggs from hell.

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“Logged-In”, 25.5 cm x 35.5 cm (10″ x 14″),  Watercolour on Arches 140 lb Hot Press paper, (donated to Kamloops Art Gallery Annual Art Auction)

New Painting

May 23, 2012

One more post before another Tylenol 3!

This painting is based on another photograph from the Irish Photographer Joseph Hogan (used for reference with permission).  I have previously used his photography for the painting ‘Winter Barn’ (posted below).  It is the second painting of it, as the first crashed and burned at the last minute when applying the wash of burnt umber for the shadow.

Like most watercolours, it had to be thoroughly thought out before beginning.  It was deceptively difficult even though it looks rather a simple and straightforward subject.

Here is a preliminary look at it while in progress . . .

 

Initial wash of diluted Burnt Umber . . .

 

more detail added . . .

 

nearing completion . . .

 

 

The finished painting . . .

 

“Poppa’s Chair”
7.5″ x 10.5″ watercolour on 140 lb. Arches Cold Press Paper

 

It is a painting with a Father’s Day theme, now hanging in The Old Courthouse Gallery here in Kamloops, British Columbia.

Tylenol 3 here I come. . . .

[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.

Icelandic Horses "Odur" and "Lettir"

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’.

To hell with Winter . . .

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.

 

 

"Peace"

 

 

 

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