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

Just as choosing to place one’s subject matter in front of bright sky produces remarkable effects as in the work of Joseph Zbukvic, so also can equally-remarkable effects be achieved when making the sky itself the subject.

An almost unparalleled master is a lesser known watercolourist than the celebrated J. Zbukvic, but a truly exquisite painter of both sea and sky, the Russian Sergey Temerev:

‘The Salty Wind, the Flowing Light’, Sergey Temerev
Sea and Sky watercolour by Sergey Temerev
‘Under the Vault of Shining Heavens’ by Sergey Temerev

Here is a video of him at work:

A Sergey Temerev workshop

Now, those are clouds.

Murtle Lake November

December 30, 2019

Murtle Lake–housed within the gorgeous Wells Grey Provincial Park–about an hour’s drive from our home in Kamloops, B. C.–“is world-famous as the largest canoe-only lake in North America. Set in a pristine mountain valley, the north and west arms are approximately 20 km long, and the lake averages three kilometres wide. . . ” [http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/wg_murt/]

wells gray November no signature
“Wells Grey November”
watercolour by Lance Weisser
140# Arches Cold Press Paper [sold]

On the Wells Grey Provincial Park website comes this advice to those who wish to access Murtle Lake for overnight canoe/kayaking trips:

“The outlet of Murtle Lake is the swift-flowing and dangerous Murtle River, noted for its many waterfalls. Visitors wishing to hike to McDougall Falls must use caution in Diamond Lagoon.”

“Murtle Lake is a large lake and subject to gusts of strong wind. The lake often becomes choppy in the afternoon. If moving camp it is best to do so in the forenoon. Never try to out-run a storm; beach at the first available opportunity and wait out bad weather. The Park Operator has emergency communication and a satellite phone link located in the Ranger Cabin on the south shore of Murtle Lake.”

Murtle-Lake-hs-870

Forest Eve

December 13, 2019

Growing up, our house fronted a very large and treed city park in Rochester, New York, a city which has always received a great deal more of its share of snow than most due to what is known as lake-effect snow, when moist air over Lake Ontario contributes to great snowstorms, and, to our delight as children, ‘snowdays’ and their resulting school closures.

We’d head to Seneca Park with our Flexible Flyer sleds in tow for entire days of weaving down between the pines and firs, avoiding known rocks, stopping just before plunging down into Seneca Park pond.

The admonition from our mother was, ‘just head home when the snow turns blue’.  Blue snow happened around 4 pm, and we’d make it just in time to change out of frozen snow suits and hit the dinner table, our cheeks bright red, our legs and fingers still tingling.

 

Stillness Broken, 8 x 10, January 2019

‘Silence Broken’

8″ x 10″, watercolour on art board by Lance Weisser

part of ‘The Small Works Show’, Kamloops Arts Centre, Kamloops, B. C., Canada

 

 

The Gathering

December 7, 2019

Ravens differ from Crows socially.  Whereas Crows are given to form large groupings and congregate together socially–whether roosting for the night or for protection–Ravens are more solitary.  Adult Ravens, once successfully mated, remain paired-up and together for life.

It is known that teenage Ravens, prior to mating, do in fact form in groups in order to be more effective in their newly-developed hunting skills.  So when one teen Raven buddy discovers food, they all pile on, everyone benefiting from the find.

[source: ‘Ravens In Winter’ by Dr. Bernd Heinrich]

 

Rooks on the Rocks, 8 x 11, February, 2019

‘The Gathering’

watercolour by Lance Weisser, 8″ x 11″ on art board

for The Small Works Show, Kamloops Arts Council, November 24 to December 24

Old Courthouse, Kamloops, British Columbia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…. Tranquille Creek Gorge

January 21, 2016

The watercolour video demonstrations of David Dunlop are challenging and yet simple.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lgtg-Adql1Y&index=6&list=PLtEJwQmsB7SvVg8C4J2c4LDijerH7SSKF (I tried to embed the video itself in this post, but WordPress thought otherwise).  But here is the blurb describing it….”Emmy Award winning David Dunlop takes you to his Connecticut studio to demonstrate a two minute watercolor, used as preparation for an oil sketch or to explore ideas“.

Mr. Dunlop is an artist/teacher from Connecticut, whose manner when teaching is inspiring and animated.  He is a great follower of descriptive, energetic Masters like J.M.W. Turner and Winslow Homer, and seeks to employ their methods, while demonstrating their techniques.

The video cited above challenges painters to do two to three minute painting sketches, which convey the movement and mood and spirit of the subject, without stopping to think and rework.  In an effort to ‘do’ and not think, the subject chosen here is a favourite–a place about 20 minutes from our house–called Tranquille Creek Gorge.

 

 

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Mr. Dunlop’s videos are quite dynamic and aimed more at oil painters a bit more than watercolourists, but full of very encouraging lessons because of the force of his optimistic personality and sense of fun.  They are well worth watching, for those who enjoy painting as a means of expression.

 

….November

November 14, 2015

It is the most blessed of months heralding the muted pallet–the toned-down greens, beefed-up greys, complex browns, accents of burnt orange, titian–trees simply/complexly themselves, displaying their line, frost-kissed leaves flashing their last colour, refusing dismissal.

Wonderous November--leaf-whipping, mini-cyclones, clouds suddenly letting forth face-lashing first flakes on towards frost-spongy earth–days framed by late mornings and early evenings, one’s home truly one’s castle, warming against the elements.

wells gray November a

Showboats gone, one paddles purposefully, keeping warm, the lapping sounds musical, deep-throated rooks ricocheting their call round rocky bends echoing, bouncing off glassy surfaces, wood-smoky mists rising.

Banished is the garish, overly-festooned–any and all too-muchness falling away to let be what simply is…..

November

Winter’s cusp

Summer’s compliment

Spring’s concealer

venice challenge

September 6, 2015

We’ve reached the finish line, limping all the way.  This was somewhat beyond my abilities as a painter. Whether a success or not, every endeavour provides a great learning experience.  All the watercolourists looked up to for advice offer the same counsel:  when it comes to watercolour as a medium, suggesting detail far surpasses actually getting bogged-down in it.  The pitfalls begin when the painter keeps trying to improve on what’s there.

Despite the overworked areas, enough aspects work to allow this to maybe escape the scrap heap — but probably not.  It would, however, be useful to begin it again and learn from the errors.

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