Tuesday, 18 December 2012

RBG Sycamore again.

Four of us met at the RBG and I made another attempt to paint the old sycamore tree down by the marsh.  It was a very damp and drab day but the sections of the sycamore where the bark is peeled off glowed as usual.  I have some problems with this version but it is much better than the first try.  I may try to soften the hard edges at the top of the treeline and at the top of the grass behind the tree.  They don't look quite so sharp in real life so I may just leave them.

I couldn't shake the impression of the Group of Seven show at the Mcmichael Gallery so I enrolled in a beginners oil painting class at the Dundas Valley School of art.  Maybe a change will be as good as a rest.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

RBG Willow

John and I met at the RBG again today.  When we got there it was just above freezing but the sun was warm and by the time we hiked down to the shore and found good painting spots we were toasty warm.  By the time we left it was up to 8 degrees C and very warm in the sun.

The sun was causing this willow and the reeds to just glow but I lost it.  I need to rethink my palette.  Burnt Sienna and Cobalt blue make wonderful mud colour but are too muddy for the background.  This is another painting that I am not overjoyed with but there are some parts that I like and it was another glorious day to be outside painting.

The bay were the willow is was all mud with a few puddles but straight out from shore there was water with a thin crust of ice on it.  Two paddlers in two canoes were taking advantage of the low water levels to attempt to herd some Koi to chase them out of Coote's Paradise.  They had to break through the ice for about 50 feet to get to open water.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Centre Lake in the Studio

I painted this same scene en plein air in the summer while at A Brush with the Highlands in Wilberforce Ontario.  I took a photo of the same scene in the fall while we were staying at my parents home on Paudash Lake and I painted this from that photo.

I am not sure whether I am happy with the painting or not but Debbie likes it so I will hold off judgement for a while.  It is an 11" X 15" watercolour.

Debbie and I went to the McMichael Gallery to see the "Painting Canada: Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven" exhibition.  The gallery has a fantastic Group of Seven collection however this show was put together with paintings from their collection, the National Gallery, the Art Gallery of Ontario and some private collections never before shown in public. It was shown in Britain and Europe and this is the only Canadian showing. In many cases the plein air sketch was hanging beside the studio painting.  It was brilliant and very worth the trip.

I am very tempted to take up oils.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Scotsdale Farm

I went painting yesterday with four other Ontario Plein Air Society artists at Scotsdale Farm.  It was a struggle and I didn't paint anything that I am willing to post.  It was -3 degrees C so I put some glycerin in my water.  I don't know why but it didn't work and my water froze almost as soon as I put it on my palette. I decided to switch and paint my first ever pastel landscape but I only have portrait colours in pastels so that didn't go well either.

I did learn a lot so I am looking forward to getting out again.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

RBG Sycamore

I met with John at the RBG again today.  It was about 2C so I could still use watercolour.  My fingers were getting really cold after a couple of hours but at least my paint didn't freeze.  There were beautiful billowing grey snow clouds but I elected to ignore them and paint one of the glorious sycamores that I have had my eye on.

I didn't go dark enough and overworked it a bit but I am okay with it.  I will probably paint this scene again only starting off with more pigment and darker.  We are coming back here on Friday so maybe then.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

It was another great day to be painting.  I was back in the cedars again only this time I decided to step outside my comfort zone.  This painting had a lot of small twigs and branches scratched in and much to my dismay they pretty much vanished when I brought the painting out of the forest and into the light.

Having said that I have been told by artists that I trust and admire that this may be my best painting ever.  I feel like I have made a huge leap in my art in the last few weeks and I find that exciting.  I can't wait to see where this road leads.

Cootes Mud

Today I met up with three other Ontario Plein Air Society artists for a "paint out" at the RBG Arboretum near Dundas Ontario.  It was a chilly day with wonderful rolling clouds and I was with good company so it was a good time.

There is an OPAS challenge to do a painting using only two colours so I decided a grey autumn day was the perfect time to attempt it.  This painting was done using only Quinacridone Sienna and French Ultramarine Blue.  We had chickadees landing on us and our easels the whole time that we were painting.  I must remember to carry seed with me

The water levels are so low that Cootes Paradise is a huge mud flat.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

It was another fantastic day to paint.  It was about 5 C when we started but it was close to 15C when we called it quits at noon.  John Mullenger and I met in the RBG parking lot of Rock Chapel Sanctuary.  There are many wonderful views of Cootes Paradise and Hamilton at this time of year.  In the summer the leaves on trees block most of the views.

John elected to paint the sugar shack and I turned and painted the view of the "High Level Bridge" and Hamilton behind it.  The view was very hazy and it stayed that way even as the sun rose higher and the day heated up.  It was very challenging because of the branches in the way and the distance but I am happy with how this one turned out.  I need to cool down the mid ground.

This afternoon I reworked my Mount Nemo painting a little.  Catherine Gibon suggested that I darken the sky a bit to accentuate the stream of clouds wafting up behind the point.  I think that it helps a lot.

I need to keep this pace up.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Foggy RBG Morning

It was very foggy at the RBG Arboretum at 9:00 this morning but visually very interesting as subject matter for a painting.  I love painting scenes like this but it takes a long time for my paper to dry enough to get a hard edge when the humidity is 100%.  If I didn't like challenges I wouldn't use watercolours.

Tomorrow is supposed to be another great day so I hope to get out again.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Fletcher Creek Conservation Area

It was a fantastic day to paint at the Fletcher Creek Conservation Area in Puslinch.  It was overcast but bright, about 8 C and relatively low humidity.  There was lots to motivate me and I found myself in a cedar grove with some very old cedars.  These trees were massive and close enough together that it was easy to lose my bearings.

This is 11" by 15".  It was a struggle because the trees were so dense and the twigs so thick that they looked like lace.  I wanted to capture that wildness without being over fussy and too busy.

I am still not sure how I feel about it.  I received some very positive feedback from other artists but I still feel that it needs something.

I would like more contrast but the grove was so thick that is was very dull with little in the way of shadows.  I think that I will call this finished and head back in there next week.  Off to the RGB tomorrow.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Mount Nemo Scout Camp at it's most Glorious

I went out to the Scout Camp to help with some maintenance work but I wasn't needed and fortunately I had my paints with me.  It was another perfect day for painting so I managed two painting this afternoon and I am happy with both of them.

The first one is of Mount Nemo as seen from the edge of the camp property.  I have been struggling for ages trying to go bolder quicker and I came to the realization that I am using far too much water.  I could have bold colours but the thin washes meant they faded to almost nothing when they dried.  Now instead of adding layers of colour and often overworking a painting I am sometimes having to remove some paint.  It is way more fun this way.

This second painting of the day was from the exact same spot but a slightly different angle.This barn was across a couple of bright green fields and nestled up against the maples on the side of the escarpment.  I could have done at least five different paintings from this location and every one a different subject matter.  What a great location.

Valleyview Farm Retouched

I went back in and reworked this painting a little.  Can you tell the difference between this and the earlier posting of this painting?

I darkened the top of the sky and lightened the background hills to give it more depth and I worked on the forground tree to give it a better shape.

On Fallsview Rd East

I will continue to post blogs here as well as my site.

It was another fantastic day to paint today.  Warm and sunny but there was one challenge. Gusts of wind kept trying to blow my easel over.  It only actually went over once but it was after I had finished so no harm was done.

The wind is blowing a lot of the leaves off the trees however there are still areas of absolutely brilliant colour.  I actually saw this view from two concessions over because it was glowing so brightly.

I had another first, for me, as a plein air artist.  I finished my painting, packed up and headed to Tews Falls.  A white pickup truck followed me all the way from Fallsview Rd to the parking lot at Tew's.  The driver  said that he saw my car parked with the trunk open and now there is a pile of garbage by the side of the road.  He accused me of dumping it.  I explained that I would be more likely to pick garbage up than to dump it and showed him my painting.  He seemed to accept that.

This view was far more exciting and brilliant than this photo makes it appear. That is the advantage that an artist has over a photographer.  We can paint a scene the way we see it and not necessarily the way it is.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Redesigned Website

I have been working hard redesigning my website.  It is done now and anyone wishing to view my artwork can find it at www.johnchristie.ca.

I have been painting although nowhere near as much as I should be.  This was painted Tuesday afternoon at Valleyview Farm just west of Dundas.  It was a perfect day to paint, cool and dry.  I will probably do a little more on this one however I need to look at it for a while so that I have a better feel for what it needs.

Seing it here I realize that the foreground needs some work and the sky needs to be a little darker at the top and graduated to give the painting more depth.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Canterbury Light

DVSA fall classes started this week and we had a perfect afternoon to paint in Catherine Gibon's landscape class yesterday.  We met in the parking lot of the Canterbury Hills Conference Centre which is the centre of a huge conservation area.  It is still too early for strong fall colour but there were some nice bright yellows here and there.  I found a wonderful spot in some old growth forest.  It was very shady and dark where I was painting but the sun was shining brilliantly on some yellow leaves in the background.  I love painting back lit trees and especially if there is some good colour behind them.  I think that I am getting closer to what I am striving for with every attempt.  I spent an hour and a half painting a disaster and then about 15 minutes painting this one.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Ontario Plein Air Society show and sale

It was another fantastic OPAS weekend.  Fifteen artists all had some wall space in J E H MacDonald House in Thornhill.  There was a painting challenge where we were given two and a half hours to paint a painting somewhere within the festival area.  We headed out at 9:30 AM and had to be back by noon to frame our paintings and set them up on our easels for judging.  I stayed on the gallery grounds and painted the house which means I have now painted Tom Thomson's shack and J E H MacDonald's house this summer. The judges were local councillors so probably not the best art critics but I ended up with a third place so I am not complaining.

The calibre of art both in the gallery and in the challenge was amazing.  This is a wonderful group of very talented artists, all with a love of painting outdoors, and I am proud to be able to say that I am one of them.  They have dragged me across the line from hobbyist to serious painter.  There was only one painting sold (not one of mine) but I painted lots and received a lot of very positive feedback from many of the roughly four hundred people who went through the gallery.

Here is my painting from Saturday morning. 11" X 15" watercolour.  It placed third in the challenge.

Here are my watercolour and ink sketches from today.  These are in my small 5" X 8" Journal.  I must apologize to Judi because she is nowhere near as short and wide as I painted her.  Figures definitely aren't my strength.

Friday, 14 September 2012

OPAS show

The Ontario Plein Air society is having a three day show in J E H MacDonald house to coincide with the Thornhill festival so Debbie and I went there last night to hang seven of my paintings.  Tomorrow and Sunday I will be painting on the grounds where J E H MacDonald painted "The Tangled Garden".  Many of the Group of Seven visited MacDonald and stayed in this house so maybe I will be able to absorb some of the creative energy here.  If not from the spirits of the group of seven then certainly from looking at the great artwork of the other OPAS members. This is one of my new paintings hanging in the show?

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Paradise Lost

Debbie and I spent a wonderful week, with my father, at my parent's house on Paudash Lake.  I used to love the lake with all the small cottages tucked in the birches and pines but oh how that has changed over the last few years.  More and more of those cottages are being replaced by huge summer homes with massive lawns spreading down to the lake.  Stone walls and concrete docks are replacing the trees and the lilies.  So many people think that they are escaping the city when in fact many of them are just bringing suburbia with them.

Now when we look down the shore from my parent's beach all you can see is very expensive toys.  This view used to me one of my favourites anywhere.  This painting will never be for sale because I wasn't in a happy place when I painted it.  We tossed around names such as "The Joneses" and "Conspicuous Consumers"  These boats are rarely away from the docks and they are far too big for our lake with all its small bays.  The sole purpose of the boats and other toys that I left out is to impress.

Monday, 3 September 2012

McMichael Canadian Art Collection

On Sunday August 26th a large number of the members of the Ontario Plein Air Society (OPAS) met at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection to paint, socialize and have a one day show in the gallery complete with juried awards.  I didn't win any awards or sell any paintings but again I didn't expect to.  It was hot and sunny but the humidity was low so it was a perfect day for watercolours.  A number of us produced paintings of Tom Thomson's shack. I would like to go back some day and attempt it again.  I have it looking much larger than it really is.  The shack should be smaller and the trees a bit larger.

Friday, 10 August 2012

The Original Centre Lake Retouched

I have started reworking old paintings that I don't like.  My past disasters.  The improvement in the first one was so dramatic and exciting that Debbie suggested that I go back into the original Centre Lake painting.  I was hesitant because although not a great painting it was a great souvenir from "A Brush with the Highlands".  I broke down and decided to take another shot at it and again the improvement was rather dramatic.  It still isn't a great painting and not where I want to be but it is a huge improvement over the low key original.  I am excited about where my work is taking me.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Centre Lake revisited

My goal is to get much bolder and looser.  In the past I have been painting but always with the intent of producing a finished painting.  I am now starting to work/play just for the sake of learning.  Yesterday, with that in mind, I pulled out a cheap watercolour pad and tried Centre Lake again painting from my original painting.  It isn't a good painting but it was never intended to be.  There are some things that I like about it and it is overall better than the bland original so in my mind it was a success.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

A Brush with the Highlands

What an amazing weekend!  Over 40 great artists gathered at Wilberforce Ontario for two days of plein air painting at ten locations followed by a show and sale of their art in the community centre. I painted for two days solid in a very hot sun and then I was upset because it was raining and too wet to paint on the day of the show.  The upside of the rain was that I spent the time mixing and chatting with some of my favourite outdoor artists who treated me as an artist and most cases an equal.

I was inspired.  I am now seeing myself as an artist and not just as a retired guy who likes to paint.  It is now a job that I intend to work at.  Seeing my work hanging with the work of other great artists has put it in context for me.  I now know I have the required technical skills so it is time to pay more attention to composition, especially colour.  I need to be bold and take chances.

This painting was painted on Friday at Centre Lake which is only minutes from Paudash Lake.  It should have had more contrast and more intense colour but I am happy with the sky.

This next one was painted at Magnificent Hill Farm which is on Magnificent Rd in Highland Grove, Ontario.  The couple that run it are doing a fantastic job of homesteading and selling pies, preserves and produce.  I was standing in front of the chicken coop trying to focus with the aroma of fresh baked pies wafting by and the sound of baby goats bleating right behind me.  It was awesome!

I am inspired.  Now I have to keep the momentum going. I will definitely attend "A Brush with the Highlands" again next year.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Ontario Plein Air Society paint out at Scotsdale Farm

What an amazing day.  16 degrees celsius and not a cloud in the sky.  I met 5 other OPAS artists for the first time today at Scotsdale Farm which is just north of Georgetown.  The weather was perfect, I was with some fellow artists and there was lots to paint.  I stood in a field and painted some open space in the morning.  I am not excited about this painting but I am okay with it.  It looks much better matted and framed than it did in the bright sun.

In the afternoon I retreated into the shade of some cedars. I kind of like this one.

It was a great day to be painting.  

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Rachael's Farm

What a great day to paint.  It is so nice to be painting outside without a coat.  I forgot my hat and my non darkening glasses so I had to remember to take my glasses off every once in a while to check the colours that I was using. This isn't one of my best paintings but I am okay with it.  Everyone but me seems to think that it is finished so I will look at if for a while and decide.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Spring is here.

It is so good to be painting outside in comfort again.  Not that it was a very tough winter.  I absolutely love and prefer to be painting outside but it is not without its challenges.  For me the comfort level isn't an issue.  The real challenge is dealing with the ever changing humidity.  While painting "Spring Creek" the warm spring sun and good breeze were drying my paper much faster than I would have liked.  I was very unhappy with this when I got home but after a half hour in my studio making a few compositional changes I am okay with it.  I certainly enjoyed the process even if it was challenging.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Where has the time gone?

Obviously I haven't been painting much however getting out painting in the good weather the last couple of Tuesdays, joining the Ontario Plein Air Society and a brief chat with Ian Thomas after his concert Saturday night have me motivated again.  I have been struggling the last few times out but I am posting the last painting that I feel is at least reasonable. 

This watercolour is 11" X 15" and was painted "en plein air" I did some research and originally titled this "Cold Springs Grist Mill" however after a chat with the property owner I learned that it was actually a woolen mill.  Oops.