[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’.

Horse study . . .

March 18, 2012

I have been endeavouring to paint a fondly-loved pair of horses for a friend of mine.  Were I to choose my own equine subject matter, I would likely have preferred more than two, or where they weren’t quite so front and centre.  I have painted horses before, but lack confidence due to not being raised around them.  I lack fundamental knowledge of what they are like, i.e. horse sense (groan).

A beginning (from the rear)

"Charging ahead from behind"

Starting from behind . . .

"Odur" nears completion . . .

"Lettir" joins "Odur"

"Lettir" joins "Odur"

Sky is dropped in with a few strokes

wash of sky is dropped in with a few strokes . . .

"Odur" and "Lettir"

"Odur" and "Lettir"

The horses aren’t too bad, but the sky is too blue, and the field too green.  I am also not thrilled I added the stone wall, as it cuts a swath right through the middle.  So . . . back to the proverbial drawing board.   I will keep you posted, and provide the next instalment.

‘The Silt Bluffs II’

February 26, 2012

The landscape of Kamloops, British Columbia, (native word meaning ‘dividing of waters’–the Thompson River divides mid-city to create the North and South Thompson), varies remarkably.

Think of a city at 1132 ft. elevation with homes built in terraced-layers down one mountainside and up another, all finding bottom along the broad Thompson River which attracted the attention of The Hudson Bay Company in 1811.  Since then Kamloops has become a train hub, a location for gold prospectors seeking their fortunes, and more recently a centre for the forest industry.

It is arid here.  Summers are hot and dry, and rain is an event.  Winters are cold, windy, with average amounts of snow, and a major spot for skiers and snowboarders at the highest elevations.  When I walk the dog at 5 a.m., I always hear owls and sometimes coyotes, and occasionally spot a few deer searching for something in the yards below the mountain ridge we hug up against.  I’ve also come across black bear in the car port, and seen the evidence of moose.

This painting is of what’s locally referred to as The Silt Bluffs.  They feature hoodoos, free-standing rock formations caused by wind erosion.

 

'The Silt Bluffs', 5" x 7" Original and signed Watercolour on Arches Hot Press 140 lb. Paper, $100.00 black-matted & framed in gold

 

 

The most prevalent raptors in our area are the Red-Tailed Hawk, Golden and Bald Eagles, Osprey, and Turkey Vultures.

 

 

Gettysburg

January 28, 2012

Gettysburg.  The very name sends all manner of emotion through my heart and out the other side.

I began studying this famous American Civil War Battle (July 1,2,3, 1863) some twenty years ago and then in 2001 I simply bought a plane ticket and up and went there to see the place for myself.  My sister and brother-in-law met me in Syracuse, New York, and drove me down to Southern Pennsylvania to spend five days absorbing the importance of those hallowed forests and fields.

I’m no fan of war, believe me.  But having been born an American yet having now lived more than half my life as a Canadian, I study the differences between the two countries.  Both British Colonies, the one revolted over taxes and the other still has The British Monarch as its Head of State.  One couldn’t find the means to end slavery peacefully, while the other saw it dissolved once and for all under Britain’s 1834 Slavery Abolition Act.

Having studied in detail The Battle of Gettysburg, and while there in June of 2001, I brought along my paints and did on-the-spot watercolour sketches of the most poignantly-historic locations among those now-peaceful fields.

 

 

'The Copse Of Trees -- Gettysburg'

 

 

On July 3rd, 1863, on a stiflingly-hot afternoon, after two entire hours of constant cannon bombardment of the Yankee position on Cemetery Ridge, General Robert E. Lee ordered a massive charge across a mile-wide expanse of field.  This was the concluding, and most desperate action of the horrific three days as tens of thousands Southern troops marched shoulder-to-shoulder into the deadly cannonading of Northern forces.

They were instructed to aim for an inconspicuous, yet noticeable ‘copse of trees’, dead centre in the Union Line.  Only one hundred or so made that destination, the more than 20,000 others suffering an indescribable onslaught of cannon and massed rifle fire.

After painting this little painting, I solemnly walked the distance to those trees.  It was a sobering, awful, respectfully-difficult-yet-important mile-long journey through the wind-blown grasses of a place now very hushed and calm.  I’ve never been quite the same before, or since.

What an enormous difference between two neighbouring countries, all due to differing attitudes to being deemed ‘Colonists’.

 

 

 

 

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"

 

 

 

Rainy Day Study I

January 23, 2012

Golden Ears Provincial Park is one of the largest in British Columbia (over 62,500 hectares;1 hectare=2.47 acres) and features the pristine Alouette Lake. It also has three campgrounds and hiking trails through extremely rugged terrain.  Vegetation is typical of the coastal western Hemlock forest of BC and the mountainous backcountry is not only rugged but has–almost annually–proven fatal to the unprepared.  Those who go off are cautioned to understand what they’re getting themselves into.

Normally, Alouette Lake looks just like this . . .

Alouette Lake, Golden Ears Provincial Park (courtesy of Parks B. C.)

But the day I attempted to paint this scene, it started out very foggy, then changed to drizzle, then showed some promise of clearing-up.  I was in the camping area that was the most primitive, and of course only when I decided to begin painting did it actually start to full-out pour.  By then I was so into it that I had to keep going, even though drops were falling directly onto my work-in-progress (though I did have a make-shift tarp).  But to this day, this is one of my most favourite paintings because even though it has its distortions, I didn’t give in and stayed until I finished it . . .

'Alouette Lake Study'

I can still smell the coleman stove coffee and feel the warmth of the mug against my numb fingers as I celebrated by putting my brushes away–and swearing I’d never paint another #%$#!@# watercolour again in my life.

Schoolhouse Dreams

January 21, 2012

My mother taught one room school in Rosetown, Saskatchewan, in the ’30s.  There was such an age difference between herself and her sister that my Aunt ended up being her student.  When my mother had no choice but to keep her after school for talking back, that was the beginning of a lifelong distance between them.  They got along–don’t get me wrong–but they weren’t ever the best of friends.

The notion of a one room school has always been appealing to me, personally.  I would have bloomed in such a setting, and benefited from having both older and younger learning their lessons in the same room at the same time–(though probably not if the teacher had been my mother).

This painting, entitled ‘Schoolhouse Memories’ is based on a dream I had not long ago, of heading towards a building like this, in a setting like this, on a warm day at dawn, yet never reaching the front door.

'Schoolhouse Memories'

It was in the Federation of Canadian Artists’ Open Show in April of 2010.

Third Beach

January 19, 2012

Ten percent larger than New York’s Central Park, is Vancouver’s Stanley Park–1001 acres of enormous cedars, Totems, hidden pathways, creeks, ponds, ocean views, as well an amphitheatre and The Vancouver Aquarium.  It was named after Lord Stanley, the Governor General of Canada in 1888 (and also the person who donated the famous Stanley Cup for the emerging hockey teams of the day to compete for).  Lord Stanley became the first Governor General to visit British Columbia when the Park was being dedicated.

This painting was done on location within the Park while sitting on one of the many available sand-encased logs.  The spot is known simply as Third Beach, and looks out towards a very distant (not always visible–and not in this painting) Vancouver Island.

'Third Beach, Vancouver'

It took most of the day, and while there a baby seal washed up on shore.  Being tied down to all my spread-out gear, I called out to those closest.  Mobile phones weren’t as prevalent then as now, and it took the gathering crowd quite a while before attendants from The Vancouver Aquarium came to rescue the little guy. They have an adoption program which results in a release later on after the animals have matured.

Great Nephew

January 16, 2012

One of my great nephews, at three years old, was particularly creative.  You didn’t want to be assuming anything past 5:00 a.m., when a peaceful house usually meant he was in the scrap-booking room or the pantry; and there were things going on involving lipstick and cats, or crayons and clothes dryers.  This particular watercolour was done on Arches 140 lb Hot Press paper.  It is intentionally given a light treatment because the day was such that the sun was near to dazzlingly intense.

Here’s a random moment between takes when he’s on the loose at his brother’s birthday party. His sapphire eyes are looking around at what might next need destroying before it’s even been unwrapped.

He’s one of the most delightful children I’ve ever known–but I was very happy to have been only the Great Uncle (and not the parent) when he was three.

"After the Cake"

Hot

January 12, 2012

When we moved to Kamloops from Vancouver, we weren’t really prepared for the heat.  Being a coastal city, Vancouver rarely sees temperatures over the high 20’s.  Kamloops on the other hand, is in the South West Interior and is arid and hot — very hot.  Summer temperatures can crest 45C, which is hot for Canada.

There’s sagebrush and Ponderosa Pines and cacti and lots of barren, weather-worn rock.  The painting below was done in a location called Silt Bluffs which are full of character and stand above  the North Thompson River.  This scene is only about ten minutes away from downtown.

'Silt Bluffs on Shuswap Road'

Bulacan Backyard

January 12, 2012

In 2003 I visited The Philippines after meeting the person online who would turn out to be my partner and husband.  This part of the country is just outside Manila in the Province of Bulacan (the word ‘bulak’ means cotton, which there was quite a bit of when King Philip of Spain took over the islands in the 16th century).  The little barangay (community) of San Jose is part of the larger municipality called Plaridel.

In the yard of the family I was staying with in San Jose were all kinds of trees and plants.  This was to be the first of three visits I made over three years until I brought  my partner to Canada in 2007.  He is now an LPN in a geriatric facility here in Kamloops, and a Canadian citizen, and has come to love our -20C winters and +40C summers.  We were married by my Pastor sister in 2008 in Clearwater, B. C., at a beautiful resort there.

This painting was done while sitting on the porch, and reminds me of that first, personally-momentous visit over eight years ago . . .

'Bulacan Backyard'

Sunshine Coast

January 11, 2012

Taking the 40 minute ferry from Vancouver one reaches Gibson’s Landing, the beginning of the 85 km. stretch known by British Columbians as The Sunshine Coast.  The road leads North towards Alaska, but ends at Powell River–the furthest major city on the coast–and visitors simply have to either turn around and come back, or decide to permanently stay.

This watercolour was painted on location on a section of the Sunshine Coast near the town of Sechelt.  The wind was blowing across the Pacific, creating large breakers and bringing in a bank of fog which made it difficult to dry my paper enough to keep going.

"Breakers"

High Country

January 9, 2012

Within the Kamloops city limits lies The Lac du Bois Grasslands Protected Area,  dedicated to preserving native grasslands and the sweeping vistas of this special region.  Old time ranching and a culture of horses and cattle survives.

This is a region of British Columbia with wide open spaces, with sagebrush and cactus and Ponderosa Pines.  It’s a land of Eagles, Hawks, Owls and Ospreys.  Through it winds the North and South Thompson Rivers and above their winding, watery ribbons is high country.

'High Country"

North of Clearwater

January 9, 2012

The official website of the newly-created (2007) District of Clearwater reads:  ” . . . Located in the heart of British Columbia and Wells Gray Country, Clearwater, B.C.,  is the gateway to Wells Gray Provincial Park and is surrounded by the Trophy Mountains, Raft Peak, Grizzly Peak and Dunn Peak.  This rural community is truly a place for all seasons. . . ”

They aren’t bragging.  I encourage you to go to ‘www.districtofclearwater.com’ and see the gorgeous photos for yourself.

Kamloops–where I live–is about an hour’s drive South of Clearwater.  The Interior of British Columbia is highly mountainous and sudden storms and weather systems are normal when living in higher elevations.  One half of the sky can be as blue as sapphire, but just behind me things will be ominous and threatening.

This painting–now in a private collection–attempts to capture the spirit ‘North of Clearwater’ . . .

'North of Clearwater'

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