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.

Conjuring Up Wales

May 5, 2020

How does it go again? Oh yes….
I never saw a Moor —
I never saw the Sea —
Yet know I how the Heather looks
And what a Billow be.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

I’ve not travelled a great deal. My idea of an exceptional journey would be choosing some smallish city or large village, renting an apartment over a shop for a month, then spending each day walking with my portable watercolour kit and folding chair to a different, yet close spot and becoming very familiar with it through drawing and painting and observing and experiencing–everyday a new, yet local viewpoint–getting to know one place well.

Not for me, these cruises or bus/rail excursions, trying to glimpse way too much, too quickly, itinerary-driven and herded about. It’s the visual equivalent of wanting everything at an all-you-can eat buffet–determined to defy the limitations of one’s plate by having it all.

Re-reading this paragraph, it comes off as pious and rather haughty. Truly many would find my notion of travelling more than just a little boring, and yes, possibly a recipe for loneliness. In any case, for all my grand proposing, I’ve never actually done it!

I do most of my travelling via imagination. So, here’s how I conjure up Wales:

“Conjuring Wales”
watercolour, 7″ x 12″, Arches #140 Hot Press Paper
by Lance Weisser
($150/matted, email: weisserlance@gmail.com)

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]

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.)

Midnight snack

December 21, 2019

 

My first real encounter with an owl took place in the middle of Toronto in the 1970s.  It was a normal mid-summer night and I was at an inner city, tree-lined neighbourhood intersection, when suddenly I heard this unworldly screech above my head, a tremendous rush of sound–like wind in a leafy tree–as though something unknown above me had collided with another object.  Then, right in front of me fell from the sky and onto the road a rolling, jumbled ball of feathers, violently jumping and heaving about, me not knowing what on earth was happening, nor able to visually make out anything other than this great confusion of feathers and screeching.

And then I saw an owl’s head very swiftly rise up from the feathery pile, stare at me for a split second before shifting its body and letting me see how it had a struggling pigeon in its grasping talons.  A few more jabs with its beak and the owl lifted off the pavement, its wings widespread and powerful, the pigeon weighing it down, as it climbed upward and out into the urban night to search for a place to finish its meal of squab.

The whole business only lasted but a minute, if that.  So violent and sudden was it, that I’ve always understood since that day why songbirds and doves always appear wary when at our feeders, and rarely do anything if not in a protective grouping.  Woodpeckers seem unaffected by much of anything going on around them, so I presume owls don’t consider woodpecker a delicacy.

barn owl, november 2017 a

‘Barnie’

watercolour on Arches 140# hot press paper

Rock and Sky

May 1, 2018

We live in a very rocky place.  Our house is situated just below a mountain ridge that is home to native varieties of cactus, sagebrush, tumbleweed, and the domain of Chukar Partridges, mule deer, black bear, a variety of hawks and owls, and the occasional Cougar.

Painting rocky scenes is something particularly satisfying due to the artistically-geometric shapes which become something of a foil for the full-blown and free-flowing movement of cloud and sky.

This was simply an experiment–discovering where shapes and natural design and configuration would lead–a painting begun without knowing where it might end.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

‘The Home Place’, watercolour by Lance Weisser, 14″ x 16″, Arches Hot Press Paper

 

 

hot

August 24, 2015

This has been one. hot. summer.  Right now smoke from fires burning on the Washington State/Canada border is blowing up our way due to Southwest winds.  It’s an acrid, doused campfire smell and hazy even when just looking across the street.

Weisser,Lance,SiltBluffsII,7.5x9.5,Watercolour,$185a

‘The Silt Bluffs, Kamloops’, watercolour on Hot Press #140 Arches, 19cm x 24cm, (7.5″ x 9.5″) sold

Oh yeah.  I’m done.  Bring me a nice serving of September.

it’s not easy being….

August 18, 2015

The beauty of people is that though 99.9% the same, we all know it only takes going to, say, The Iowa State Fair, to discover we’re probably not.  All you have to do is stand aside (wondering what on earth you bought that hot dog and sauerkraut for) and watch everyone passing by.

This is just a convoluted way of confessing that not everyone is a great fan of Summer.  Painters (some painters who write certain blogs about watercolour) in particular who like landscapes can (on occasion) find Summer just too, um, well, green.

There are ways of uncomplicating all the greens.  When I lived in The Adirondacks of New York, not far from our town, in another small town, the famous Grandma Moses, who began painting at the age of 78 had only recently died at the age of 101 .

AAEAAQAAAAAAAALIAAAAJGFkN2M5ZmNiLWEwZGItNDU0ZC04MDNhLTE3OTNkYzAwN2JlMQ   not_detected_251609

She was once found in her studio with masonite panels at her feet and a roller with blue paint.  Looking up from coating a panel and filling the roller with more blue from the tray, she informed her visitor, “On Thursdays I do skies.”

In 2006 one of her pieces sold for $1.6 million.

Greens can be as simply applied to a landscape as opening up a tube of something and rolling it on. In representational forms of art, trying to authenticate the many greens of a summer scene can be a complex challenge, if for no other reason than that there are just so many variations.  Leaves on the very same tree play on different greens, without even mentioning the grasses, shrubs, bushes, ferns below it.

Because it is a colour derived from mixing blues and yellows, greens straight from the tube nearly always have a garishness when, for example, painted against a very blue sky.  That’s because the blue of the sky likely isn’t the same blue used to create that particular green. If the sky is cerulean, mixing a green from cerulean and a yellow used in another part of the painting will harmonize. So finding ways to harmonize greens through using their primary parents elsewhere in the painting is a way forward–a way of conquering ‘the greens’.

A worthwhile exercise from a contributor named ‘CharM’ on the site http://www.wetcanvas.com, posted in 2011, is provided by this chart:

20514-GreenChart

‘CharM’ takes a similar exercise to completion here:

20514-JDGreenChart

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=925152

While one is actually in the process of painting a landscape with a variety of greens, it is entirely possible to include in the painting all of the above blues, through washes, cloud shadows, sky and/or water, and generally just finding ways to get them all in there.  Likewise, the full range of yellows can also find their way into the painting.  Doing this then puts all the blues in the scene, as well as all the yellows, and sets the stage for being able to harmoniously use every single green (and more) shown on ‘CharM’s very helpful chart(s).

I still prefer doing fog, mist, moonlight, winter and early dawns (before green has a glimmer of a chance of making an appearance).  And that’s fine, because we all know I am .001% different — or lived a past life on a Scotland isle, where being able to see beyond the front step meant it was a lovely day.

tranquille creek gorge

June 3, 2015

ANCIENT FLOWS OF LAVA have left our regional landscape (Kamloops, B. C.) with dramatic canyons, a single lane dirt road skirting the edges.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

‘Tranquille Creek Gorge’, watercolour 23cm x 41cm (9″x16″) Arches Hot Press 140 lb. Paper, sold

MY PAINTING FRIEND MAX drove me through this arid landscape, only 10 minutes outside a city of nearly 100,000.  Every so often she’d tell me of cars which had not been successful at executing a snowy, icy, tricky piece of road only to careen down the sides.  At one place, the car was still there, making me both dizzy and almost nauseous, leaning over to see its rusting bulk caught between broken pines and rock.

‘MY GOD, WHERE WERE THEY HEADED?’ I’d asked.  ‘Home, of course’, Max pointed ahead.  And there was a small grouping of houses not far from the road, some fencing in horses or livestock–one had alpacas–and looking semi-deserted, though that was far from the case. Dogs barked at Max’s pickup as we threaded through and headed into yet more wilderness. ‘They take this road to Kamloops and back?’ — it seemed to my chicken, urban-minded guardedness a scary place to build one’s home.  ‘Only for shopping, or a night on the town’, Max said.  ‘Which is why someone sometimes doesn’t make it home–especially in the Winter.’

wee glimpses

May 26, 2015

PAINTING OUTDOORS has a way of getting a person to make judgment calls quickly, and in our area it is quite simply the heat of the day.

KAMLOOPS, B.C., IS UNIQUE IN THAT its mountainous hillsides are grass-covered with considerable sagebrush but little tree growth to the 900m level, creating what is known as an inverted tree line.

IN MOST PLACES TREES WON’T GROW above a certain level due to the lack of precipitation, but in Kamloops, they won’t grow below a certain level due to the lack of precipitation.  We are known as The Sunshine Capitol of Canada, receiving over 2,000 hours of sun annually.

IOW, IT IS HOT.  And since sun and heat are our landscape’s signature features, painting a local watercolour outdoors demands sitting right the heck out there.

THAT IS WHY IT MAKES GREAT SENSE to me to choose to do this by way of painting miniatures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

‘A Kamloops August’, watercolour, 6.35cm x 8.90cm (2.5″ x 3.5″), Arches Hot Press 140 lb. paper

MINIATURES demand quick thinking and choosing the elemental–the scene’s compositional essences–getting them down efficiently and thoughtfully, though, at the same time, quickly.

A GOOD MINIATURE can serve as the template for a much larger, studio piece.  And good miniatures stand up very well all by themselves.  This particular one has been accepted into two different juried Federation of Canadian Artists Shows, including the annual ‘Small, Smaller, Smallest’.  It was, in that show, the very smallest of the lot.  And that made me very happy!

ARTIST TRADING CARDS aka ART CARD EDITIONS AND ORIGINALS are popularly known as ACEOs. ACEOs are the size of baseball cards–65mm x 89mm (2.5″ x 3.5″) and are purchased and then traded and sold the way sports cards are.  The ACEO movement originated in Switzerland in the 90s but grew in popularity through eBay, where art cards are now sold and bought on a 24hr basis.

They require precision and are very enjoyable to do.  But then, who wouldn’t be fascinated by the challenge of painting tiny things (smile).  The subject matter can be chosen by the purchaser, and the painting done accordingly.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“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)

THESE ARE BEEF COWS, Herefords, the breed most favoured by ranchers in our region.  Their origins descend from small red cattle introduced by The Romans in ancient Britain, along with breeds from old Wales, their subsequent nurtured evolution taking place in Herefordshire where the Hereford is king.  Today more than five million pedigree Hereford cattle exist in over 50 countries.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

BECAUSE THE LARGE FALLEN CEDAR is indicated with only a minimum of brushwork it is necessary to help give it size, weight and substance through the simple use of shadow.

THE SUBJECT MATTER  comes from this photo, very quickly taken when we’d stopped the car on the dirt road running through The Dewdrop Valley (just outside the city limits of Kamloops) after I’d yelled, ‘Cows!’

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This grouping was described to me by my friend Max as a perfect example of a bull and his harem–and the ‘harem’ got nervous and didn’t remain in place very long once I began snapping pictures.  The bull couldn’t have cared less what I was up to, and just lay there chewing.

The very prominent tree in the painting is placed to provide focus.  Rather than leave in the barbed wire fence (in front of them), a natural enclosure is placed behind to sneak a storyline into the scene (the best grass lies out of reach)—that, and taking out the wire fence gives a more natural feel to the setting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 IN THIS GRASS RICH region, cattle roam all over boulder-strewn and mountainous terrain throughout the Spring and Summer.  They are finally rounded up on horseback in classic cowboy style in the Autumn.  Because of this, the beef from Kamloops is renowned for its organic, grass fed superior flavour and quality.

THE PAPER IN USE HERE  is a very smooth-surfaced one called Hot Press (140 lb.) by the French Company, Arches (a very old watercolour paper maker).  Hot Press paper has virtually no surface texture at all and is slightly cream-toned.  When papers are this smooth, the paint initially floats on top before being absorbed.  This floating quality creates effects a rough surfaced paper can’t deliver.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

So Hot Press paper looks and feels pretty much like dollar store poster paper–smooth, shiny, and about the same thickness.  And because it is not a heavy paper, and because it is so smooth, Hot Press watercolour paper cannot take a lot of scrubbing out if mistakes are made.  The painter needs to be rather confident about the strength and amount of pigment to use before putting brush to paper.  So because I am always a bit tentative when beginning to paint something as challenging as an animal, I gain confidence by always having a scrap piece of watercolour paper handy to try things out on first.  Once I see how to do it on a scrap piece of paper, then I have confidence to do the same thing on the painting itself. 

It needs to be stressed that Arches paper is superb and bears absolutely no comparison to poster paper when paint is applied to it.  The weight (140 lb) is how thick the paper is.  300 lb. paper is very thick and therefore can take a lot more scrubbing and multiple washes, without losing luminosity.  The downside is that 300 lb. watercolour paper is quite a bit more expensive.  And when I work on very expensive paper, I am too aware of its cost.  That makes me somewhat nervous about possibly ruining the painting.  So I usually choose 140 lb. paper because if it gets ruined, I am not that concerned, and so therefore approach the painting with more boldness which gives a better result.

 

THE DEWDROP VALLEY is a local site and part of a much larger area near Tranquille River and the Tranquille River Gorge.  In essence, the Dewdrop is really rocky, hilly, grass-and-tree- covered pasture for cows and cattle during the Spring and Summer months.  The Kamloops Thompson Nicola Shuswap Region is no-nonsense cowboy rancher country, complete with serious Rodeos and horse and rider cattle round-ups in the Autumn.

This is the first of recording daily progress towards completing a watercolour depicting a typical scene in The Dewdrop Valley . . . . 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

ON DISPLAY are a fine collection of tortured brushes.  Some are from dollar stores or second hand bargain stores, and as soon as they get into the spare bedroom cum studio they’re cut up with scissors.  None of them cost more than $2, and who knows what they’re made of–Moose? Sasquatch hair, perhaps.  Each, however, is priceless.

 

 

Miniatures: Chipmunk

April 10, 2015

 

 

 

 

AS CHILDREN we always gravitated towards Chipmunks, squatting in total stillness with extended hands, hoping one would overcome its natural wariness and take the peanut being offered.  The sprightly flicks of tail and peppy darts forward to snatch the gift–so quickly and deftly we didn’t see or feel it leave our palm–only added more charm to their compact, large-eyed, tiny bodied allure.  On the other hand, the Grey Squirrel was just a nuisance.  I guess size and colour made all the difference in our juvenile minds between one rodent’s mystique and another’s ho-hum plainness.  We didn’t entice Squirrels.  We threw sticks at them.  Their raiding our bird feeders didn’t win them any points, either, I must say….

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

watercolour, 10cm x 10cm (4″ x 4″),  art board

Why The Moon Glows011a

Moral:  don’t mess with Mother Nature (or the Ocean Man).

~~~~~

Aneleise (Ane) at her Grandparents’, age 8. . .

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

Why The Moon Glows010a

Why The Moon Glows009

Why The Moon Glows008

Why The Moon Glows007a

Why The Moon Glows006a

Why The Moon Glows005a

Why The Moon Glows004a

%d bloggers like this: