Sunday, 24 December 2017

Merry Christmas

It is a busy time of year and sadly both my painting and posting have been neglected again.  These three paintings were all done on Monday afternoons with the Monday painters.

This first one was painted in a rush because there was a cold wind and a storm headed our way.  We were very exposed on the radial trail on the face of the escarpment looking across towards Dundas and Clara's Climb.

This second one was painted on a very windy day at Dyment's Market at the top of Sydenham Hill in Dundas.  The wind was so strong that I was hunkered down beside my Subaru with my easel tied to the mirror.  It was another day with a threatening storm.

There is no better place to paint the week before Christmas than downtown Dundas and I cannot think of a better subject on an extremely cold day than Detour Cafe.  It was chosen mainly because it enabled me to hunker down in an alley between The Horn of Plenty and Cumbrea's. It forgot gloves and my fingers became too stiff to hold a paintbrush so this one isn't quite finished.

 I would like to wish all those who celebrate it a very Merry Christmas and everyone a Happy New Year.  May next year be filled with love and laughter.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Paddling in Killarney

We spent five days paddling in Killarney Provincial Park in October.  OSA Lake has been on my bucket list for a number of years now and with the help of our son and his friends I finally made it.  Thank you Nathan, Kristian, Read et al. We hiked and climbed to the top of "The Crack" as a side trip to a tough portage but it was well worth it.  The views out to Georgian Bay and over to OSA Lake are as fantastic as any that I have seen.

I produced eleven paintings in five days.  It was very humid and drizzled off and on.  I had a tube of yellow paint that didn't like the dampness and didn't dry properly so I ended up with some smeared greens on most of my paintings.

These first two paintings were painted on Kakakise Lake. This brilliant red maple was on our campsite and difficult to ignore.

All but one of the other paddlers went on a day trip during our layover on OSA Lake so I had a quiet day with no distractions on an incredibly beautiful lake. I produced seven painting here.The rock is a gorgeous white quartz and I had trouble making it look like rock and not snow.  It isn't hard to understand why some of the Group of Seven were attracted to this area.

OSA Lake may no longer be on my bucket list but it is certainly a place that I would dearly love to go back to.

Our last night was spent on Killarney Lake.  I managed one painting before it was decided to rush one of our members out of the park and to a hospital.  Three of us were left behind to pack up the next morning and paddle gear out so chores kept me from painting.

Bob is fine and we are all looking forward to next year.  They are talking about White Otter Lake and Jimmy McOuat's log castle which would be another item off my bucket list. Let the planning begin.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Change of Plans

I had planned on posting canoe trip images however I have been taking Laurie Wonfor Nolan's "Painting Outside the Frame" class at the Dundas Valley School of Art" and today was the last class.  The semester was a blast and I learned a lot from Laurie's sometimes totally off the wall exercises.

For this first painting she gave us a choice from a number of black and white images and we had to paint the image using a limited palette.  I used Payne's grey, yellow ochre and titanium white with just a little red to do the roofs. We were forced to pay attention to values.

In another class she suggested we bring an image of a favourite painting by a well known artist and either copy it or do our version of it.  I chose Tom Thomson's "Summer Sky".  When I brought this home and placed it beside my paintings most of them disappeared. The ones that held their own are in fact my favourites so I need to be more daring.

For this third painting we were asked to bring in three things that represented us to create a still life.  The canoe is a porcelain spoon holder that sits on our kitchen counter and I hope that the other two items are obvious.  These are a form of self portrait.

This last exercise was today.  We had to paint the words to a song in a Marc Chagallish style. I don't get many points for copying his style but I had a lot of fun doing this.  It reminded me of the shear joy of painting as a young artist and I may do more of these just to reinforce with myself why I paint.  Can anyone guess the singer/songwriter and song.

If I were to create a short list of the people who have most inspired me in my art Ian Thomas would have been added years ago and Laurie would definitely now be on it. Thank You for pushing me.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

I am still here.

My apologies to my very good friend, Mary, who I promised, a month ago, that I would post more often.  I work on my blog when I have some quiet time and I have been very busy building a bathroom, painting and dancing.  All of which leave me feeling drained.

I will start to catch back up by posting two paintings from September.  Our son Alex was racing in the Corduroy endurance race in Gooderham so I went to watch and we spent some cherished time together at my parents home on Paudash Lake.  I hadn't been there for a few years and had almost forgotten how much I loved it there.

Paudash Lake, Ruthven Road
This first painting is the view from the front of the house.  I could hear Alex tinkering with his motorcycle behind me, feel the warm breeze on my neck and see these wonderful billowing clouds rolling down the lake.  All of that coupled with a paint brush in my hand and I was definitely in a very happy place.  I am also very happy with this painting although it doesn't show well in the image.

Paudash Lake, Ruthven RoadThis second painting is the view from the back of the house.  It is a much smaller bay with a more intimate feel to it.  Whenever the stresses of the city were getting to me I would head to the lake and sit out here for hours questioning why I keep going back south.  This is another that I am happy with.

Coming soon: Killarney in October.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Three weeks of Cod

Debbie and I just returned from three weeks on the road with Catherine Gibbon.  We spent three nights in PEI, three in Cape Breton and nine in Newfoundland.  In Newfoundland we spent most of the time in Winter House Brook which was five minutes from the Tablelands but Debbie and I spent three of those days in Francois which is an outport on the south coast and accessible only by boat.  It was an artists dream vacation.  We painted every minute of the day and discussed locations in the evenings.  I am only posting a few of my paintings.

Painting of the harbour at Francois in NewfoundlandA painting of the Friar a rock face in Francois, NewfoundlandFrancois (pronounced Fransway by the 43 residents) is surrounded by either massive cliffs or water.  Our very warm and caring hosts were Doris and George Fudge who invited us into their home and treated us like family.  We ate with them at their table and spent evenings sitting in their living room chatting with them.  A truly remarkable experience.  These first two paintings are of the cliffs with a few of the homes tucked up against them.

The Tablelands, Gros Morne Provincial Park, Newfoundland
The Tablelands is an area of flat topped cliffs where very little grows.  They are predominantly made up of peridotite which is a rock that lacks the usual nutrients required to sustain most modern plant life. The cliffs are 700 metres high and stained orange from the iron in the rock.  I wanted to climb to the top but became so inspired to paint them that I didn't find the time.  Next time.

The Tablelands, Gros Morne Provincial Park, Newfoundland
 I am now excited by acrylic paint and I think that this very intense week has improved both my work and my attitude towards myself as an artist.  I am excited about where this is heading.  More of my Newfoundland paintings can be found at

Monday, 21 August 2017

My Best Yet?

I have been struggling to get that nice thick textured look that I had with oils.  I read that Tri Art makes the heaviest body acrylic paint so I bought one tube of Payne's Grey and headed to Manorun Organic Farm to try them out.  I painted this using the Payne's Grey for the dark greens and concluded that it not only makes a fantastic dark green when mixed with Hansa Yellow but it does indeed seem nice and juicy.  You can't tell from the photo but there is lots of texture in this painting.

To top it off Tri Art paints are high quality paints that are made in Canada and cheaper than all others except student grade. Hi quality, Canadian and cheap. Yahoo!  I purchased a bunch of tubes and can't wait to try them out.  I have a week to play and decide before I head to Newfoundland.

I think that this is my best acrylic painting yet.  Any thoughts?

Saturday, 19 August 2017

I Am Having Fun again

I haven't been posting but I have been traveling and painting.  We spent some time on a friend's property near Port Loring, two weeks on Manitoulin Island and a week at Agawa Bay Campground and I painted everywhere.  Most were disasters but I produced quite a few acrylic paintings that I am quite happy with.

This first painting was on my bucket list.  I climbed to the top of Willisville Mountain with my paints on my back.  Willisville is in the middle of the La Cloche mountain range and was a favourite haunt of many Group of Seven artists.  It was pushing thirty degrees and mostly sunny so the the hour climb had me hot and tired but the view had me inspired.  The lake in the distance is Grace Lake,

This second painting is the same place but looking south towards Little Current.  This view doesn't have the white quartz rock of the other views but it went on forever.  I plan to make this climb again because it was definitely worth the effort.  Now that acrylic paints are my new best friends locations like this are doable.

This third painting is of Spirit Island on Seagull Lake.  It is the always inspiring view from a dear friends property near Port Loring.  Debbie and I love camping here.

This last painting was painted while sitting on my brother in law's patio on Manitoulin Island. I will never tire of coming here.

Debbie and I are headed to Newfoundland in a week with my mentor (Catherine Gibbon). I can't wait to see what I produce there.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

My New Friends

Okay the jury isn't quite in but acrylic paints may become my new best friends.  I am still struggling and there is a lot more to learn than with oils.  Oil paint was more consistent.  On really hot days it softened up and on really cold days it stiffened up but not annoyingly.  Acrylic paint on the other hand is very humidity sensitive.  Some days it doesn't dry at all and I can blend as with oils and on others it seems to dry before I get it to my panel.  I can spritz water and/or retarder but the question is how much on any given day.

These three paintings were all painted with acrylic paint on three different days.  The paintings don't excite me but my progress does.  Once I learn to work with their idiosyncrasies I think I may love them.  They allow me to work back to front instead of dark to light or light to dark and that has many advantages.

 The first painting was painted at Cedar Haven farm.  An inspiring location that is very artist friendly.  The clouds aren't perfect but maybe my best so far.  The other two were painted at the farm of a friend.  I told Deb that I could paint on her property once a week for a year and I would still want to come back which reminds me that I do need to get back up to visit my friends at LongLane Bed and Breakfast again.  There are still lots of paintings to be done there too.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Painting Darkness

I have only ever attempted a nocturne once before and I failed miserably so I was both excited and nervous to be standing on top of the escarpment watching the sunlight fading and city lights slowly blinking on.

When painting outside, at night, we try to limit the time spent looking at our dimly lit board and palette so that we can maintain our night vision.  This also means that when we look at our painting with a flashlight our pupils are wide open and the painting looks nice and bright.  When I actually saw this painting in daylight I was surprised to see how dark it was.  All in all it was an amazing experience and I am very excited about the result.

Onward and outward.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

This is Fun

I have been struggling.  I was fighting with oils so I switched back to my trusty watercolours and struggled even more.  I want to develop some skill with acrylics so that I can use them on canoe trips and when travelling so I decided to play with them for a while.  In the past I used them thick out of the tube just as I would oils and that didn't work very well for me.  I couldn't deal with how fast they dried. Monday I misted my palette with water and a little retarder and voila.  I had a blast.  The paint stayed wet long enough to use my oil painting skills and yet dried fast enough that I could paint over sections that I didn't like.  Did I just find my medium?  Maybe.

Painting is fun again.

This was painted on a very grey day at the end of Ferrie Street in Hamilton.  It was cool and very damp.  It had rained all morning and the solid grey sky started to break up into rolling cloud masses just as we started to paint.

Sunday I will be painting Coote's Paradise from the "High Level Bridge" as part of the "Day on the Bridge" festivities.  There will be beer and wine tents, food trucks, live music and one of the best views anywhere.  It should be the perfect storm for me.  I can't wait now.

Monday, 8 May 2017


I have been struggling lately and have been very unhappy with everything that I have been doing.  Debbie and I went to a "Lunch at Allen's" concert.  The group is made up of four singer/songwriter Icons in the Canadian music industry and they played some of their oldies and played them with a wonderful intensity. I was inspired to go back to my roots.  I pulled out my watercolours and headed to Courtcliff Park on a gloriously sunny and warm day.

This scene is normally a meandering creek but with the record rainfalls that we have been having it was a lake.  This big old willow is reminiscent of a painting that I did some time ago both in oils and watercolours so I was in my comfort zone and having fun.  It is a little overworked here and there but all in all I am very happy with it.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

It Feels Good

I am not doing my best work but it feels so good to be able to make some time to paint again.

This first painting is an 11" X 14" oil and was done on a return trip to the Rail Trail in Ancaster.  It was a dismal grey sort of day where nothing much was inspiring until I saw the light reflecting on the very wet and muddy path.  I decided, given the dreariness, that I would try a Paynes Grey underpainting without wiping the lights off.  Never again.   It was however good for the soul to be out painting again and I am happy with much of this.

This second painting is a watercolour done in the sketch group at the AGB. It isn't perfectly drawn but it was a blast to do and I am for the most part very happy with it.  It was Dave's first time as a model and we will definitely have him back.  I am discovering how much I  have forgotten about watercolour portraits but it is so much fun to be doing them again.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Meet Bluesy Wayne

Today started off well.  Our sketch group model was a Burlington blues guitarist named Wayne.  He sat and played absolutely perfect blues while we sketched him.  It was difficult tapping my foot, dancing and painting at the same time but he really was amazing and a pleasure to paint.  I couldn't strive for a perfect likeness because of all the movement but it was a fantastic morning all the same.

And then tonight I heard that Stuart McLean died.  Debbie and I have been listening to his stories for years and have seen him live a few times.  Rest in Peace Stuart.  We will miss you.

Monday, 13 February 2017

How Long Has It Been?

Wow!  It has been almost four months since I have posted.  Between renovations and selling our house it has been a very busy four months.  I was determined to get out today and I am glad that I did.  It wasn't a fantastic day as far as painting goes but it felt really good to be outside with a brush in my hand again.

There was lots of wonderful snow on the ground however it was a very dull grey day so there was no colour anywhere.  I was looking around for something exciting in all the greyness without much luck but I looked up just as the clouds thinned just enough to warm the sky behind some trees.  I made it even warmer and fiddled a bit too much with this but I am happy with it.

Overworked or not it felt great to be out there.