Spring comes in waves, slowly adjusting to the new warm. Despite the snow and the storms, nature knows its approach. The trees are already pumping their sap from their roots to the buds, soon to burst. The birds are already staking their territories. The geese are back which is a wonderful sound of spring. This scene is from a much used, well worn remnant of woods, mostly gone, hanging on at the edge of the escarpment. The blue sky and the carpet of orange/red pine needles from last year made a gorgeous contrast.
Please check it our in Featured Pieces or the Spring Portfolio.
The sun is getting higher in the sky and although there is still a chill in the air, spring is definitely on its way. The day was glorious. It was a joy to stop and take deep breaths and savour the fresh air. Larose forest was a perfect, peaceful place for a walk. The brilliant sun made for stunning, graphic shadows which also highlighted the undisturbed drifts.The copper/gold of last year’s leaves made a beautiful contrast with the cooler blues.
Please checkout my interpretation of Larose Copper in Featured Pieces or the Winter collection.
Beautiful day out at Mer Bleue. Waded down an embankment thru the snow. Followed some snowshoe tracks, good when they held but up to the knee when I went thru. Brilliant sun reflected by the snow made for great contrast and shadow patterns. Spring is in the air, so the chickadees say so.
Came away with good photos for reference and relived the experience in the studio.
For a look at the finished piece, please see Featured Pieces or the Winter pages.
The maple woods are busy this time of year, ready for the rising sap. Warm days and cold nights wake up the sugar maples after their winter rest. The brilliant sunny days and milder temps are glorious. Nothing better than tromping thru the corn snow to taste some of that sweet nectar on pancakes or simply rolled up like a lollipop on a bed of snow.
Thank You to Johanne Turgeon for her beautiful Sepia image of the sugar shack on pixabay, that I used as reference.
Checkout Spring Harvest on my Featured Pieces page.
Now part of a Zen temple complex in Kyoto, the Silver Pavilion, Ginkaku-ji, has had a long and turbulent history, with current restoration completed in 1615. The beautiful gardens are particularly peaceful with a blanket of snow.
Thank you to Yurara Sarara for permission to use of his video “Kyoto Snow 2023” as a reference. Checkout it out on his Youtube channel @YuyayaSara, it’s well worth the virtual visit.
Have driven by this spot on St. Joseph Blvd in Orleans, many times. Taylor Creek cuts its way thru the upper layers of limestone rock from the paleozoic era and plunges 20 meters to the foot of the escarpment on its way to the Ottawa river. Hard to imagine that the rock is some 130 million years old. The snow is like icing on the layers of the escarpment.
For 2023, I will be focusing on showing my work at the Foyer Gallery. This is a group run gallery located in the Nepean Sportsplex (Gate 1), 1701 Woodroffe Ave.
This coming week we will hang our Big and Small show, which will run from January 31 to February 19. My painting “On the way” will be included in this show.
I’ve also spent some time revisiting a piece that kept bugging me – just didn’t seem right. Previously called Meech Lake Fall, I’ve lightened the mood, reflecting the sunlight breaking thru after the storm. It is much more positive now and is now called, more appropriately, After the storm.
Have started to paint a number of smalls and am trying to loosen up my style. This week’s piece is “First Snow Gatineau” (Acrylic, 12×12 on gallery wrap canvas)
I am also exploring Acrylic Ink as a medium and this will also be smaller format. The first in this series is called “The other pasture” (Acrylic Ink, 12×12 on 140 lb cold press watercolour paper).
It will be mounted on 1.5 inch deep cradled wood panel. It will be sealed with fixative and wax medium.
A beautiful waterfall in the mountains (some close to 3,000 feet) near Itatori, Seki, Gifu, Japan. The steep, twisting and slippery trail leads to this hidden spot. A small shrine nearby sheltered by a large cedar, is a place of homage to the wild spiritual quality of this place.
Thanks to Norm Makamura (@tokyo_one) for his permission to use his video as reference.
For a vicarious adventure in this beautiful place, check out his YouTube video (@TokyoLensExplore): “Hiking to Japan’s Hidden Forest Shrine”.
For a closer look, please check out my Featured Pieces page.
Quiet spot near a beaver pond in Gatineau Park. Gone are the summer crowds and there is a brief peaceful respite before the winter activities start. The graphic quality of these striking trees made this simple scene all the more compelling.
Used a more abstract approach to convey the feel of the scene, avoiding too much distracting detail that would make the image overly busy.
Walking among these magnificent Japanese cedar, a pilgrim makes his way to the Takio shrine one of many Shinto forest shrines in Nikko, Japan. Passing under the Torri (gate), the pilgrim makes his way thru the sacred grove that is believed to shelter and protect this forest shrine. A central tenet of Shinto is reverence for nature, which is something that resonates with my beliefs.
I love trees, which feature in many of my pieces, and I was struck by the beauty of this scene.
Special thanks to Naoki Takada, for use of his photo as reference. Naoki is a mountain artist. Check out his beautiful work on Instagram at yamaclay.
For a closer look, please check out my Featured Pieces page.
Got out for a breath of fresh air (quite fresh). Have been watching this barn slowly being reclaimed by nature. Had to try to capture its sunset. I was privileged to have hundreds of Canada geese do a flyby. They wanted to land in the fields beyond. I’m sorry but I think my standing there scared them … guess I looked too much like a hunter.
The brilliant colours and warm temps are well and truly behind us for another year. Still catching up on a number of pieces I had in mind to celebrate that season. This composition is inspired by a walk in a local green space. There still is natural beauty in our urban green spaces if you look for it.
Gatineau Park does not disappoint. Another peaceful day. The summer crowd gone, the beach was deserted except for the occasional visitor. Everyone kept a respectful quiet. Then unannounced a beautiful loon flew in and watched the watchers … perhaps I’m being presumptuous, he was probably occupied with what was below the surface.
Just a quick note to let you know about the updates I’ve made to the website.
The Feature Pieces page will now show only the last couple of pieces as I complete them. (Realized, with 50 pieces and counting, “featured” was not exactly accurate.)
The Portfolio page groups the pieces into collections: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Florals and Larger Format. There are links from the Portfolio page or you can access them from the Menu drop down at the top. (As I was doing this, I realized that I like some seasons more than others … very little winter stuff …hmm. Guess I’ll have to try harder. Still can’t understand why the Impressionists liked winter so much. LOL).
Thoughts of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem of the same name. Glorious setting day, the darkness soon to follow. The “lights of the village” are not far away, but this still seems like a wild beautiful place where the geese settle down for the night.
Hope you enjoy. Check it out on the Featured Pieces page.
Had a wonderful time painting this iconic scene from Provence, France, in a zoom class by Danielle Beaulieu. Danielle creates a relaxed, encouraging atmosphere. Gives easy to follow instructions and is very informative. Easy enjoyable learning. Recommend it. Check out her site http://daniellebeaulieuwatercolours.com .
Watercolour, 12×16 on Fabriano 140lb Cold Press paper
Memories of they way things might have been in the days before TV, internet and video games. Long summer days when child’s play depended on imagination, when time was marked by meal times and the sun and when days stretched out for endless play. I imagine this little guy waiting for the neighbour’s son to come over to play, to haul stuff in his cart or to race out back down to the creek.
Please have a look at this latest piece on the Featured Pieces page.
The luminous canopy of this lane in late summer is particularly beautiful and the cool, quiet has a spiritual quality. It’s a bittersweet time of year with summer on the ebb, like the last drop of wine in the glass, you have to savour before it is gone.
Beautiful young maple in a sunny spot, sheltered by other trees. I love everything about landscapes, sometimes the vistas and, as in this case, the details. Have to stop and stare and appreciate.
It’s dangerous living near humans. It’s unlikely these young stems will ever reach their full potential in a hundred years. Am sure there will be many reasons these will fall prey to clearing, pruning or felling.
For a better look, check out the Featured Pieces page..
Another beautiful day in June, down by the river. Lots of windfalls about. New homes, shade and shelter for the river population. Decomposing starts. Not in a hurry, the fallen trees will return to the soil in about a hundred years but will be a source of food energy for a lot of wildlife along the way.
There were lots of Canada geese and mallard ducks about. Signs warning people not to feed but the birds don’t know that. Best image was a mother duck shepherding a couple of ducklings to join the crowd of moochers. Just had to be wary of the heavyweights in the crowd, the geese.
(If you were expecting to see some of the water foul, they are camera shy and a little downstream to the left, LOL)
For a better look, check out my Featured Pieces page
Warm in the sun, not quite the hot of summer but still nicer to be under the shade of the now mostly leafed trees.
I heard her before I saw her, a beautiful pileated woodpecker. A flash of red among the young green ground cover. A surprise on the ground like that. I stood a while watching as she bobbed her head up and down.
I have to remind myself to enjoy the moment instead of trying to catch that perfect shot. Patience is still something I have to work on. Predictably as I tried to switch to a telephoto lens, she flew off and called out with a mocking cry somewhere up in the trees, out of sight.
It only seemed fit, I paint her into the picture. It is her wood more than mine.
PS. I really can’t tell the difference whether it was a male or female, but I liked to think it was a female foraging for ants, beetle larvae and termites for her young.
For a better look, check out my Featured Pieces page.
From as early as the fourteenth century BCE, purple was only for the rich and powerful. (Read all about it and more in “The World According to Color” by Dr. James Fox – excellent book! Recommend it.)
Nowadays we take it for granted, as we often do for many other colours. Like many painters, its easy to invest in the local art supplies store and buy a tube of the stuff or its component colours and then of course struggle to make it seem as brilliant and alluring as Mother Nature’s display.
Tried to do it justice on these gorgeous irises in our back garden.
For a look at how I did, please go to the Featured Pieces page.
A long awaited harbinger of spring, the cherry blossoms finally bloom in late May. We are lucky to have a tree in our backyard. It has gone through some rough times but is still hanging on and again put out a magnificent display this year. An unexpected hot spell forced the buds open almost all at once and then heavy rains about a week later brought the curtain down too soon on the wonderful show. The burst of colour and the sweet smell brought in a few bees, a welcome site.
Check out my latest spring offering on the Featured Pieces page. Memory of a gorgeous walk in the woods at Mer Bleue.
Passion in life is often driven by contrast. A beautiful spring day versus the cold just days before is glorious because of the contrast. Add more days like this and it is soon taken for granted again. Birches are outstanding and beautiful in much the same way. Striking white lines against the darker backdrop of the wood, intrigue the eye. In turn they will blend in more as the new reds turns into the greens of summer.
Looking forward to showing my Piece “Lac Mulhivill” from Gatineau Park at the upcoming Arteast Exhibition. There will be a Vernissage on June 7, 6-8pm, so if you are in the area, please drop in and have a look at all the beautiful pieces from the group.
Latest in Featured Pieces… another from Gatineau Park
Based on a reference taken in October, a gorgeous fall day in Gatineau Park. The quiet and calm of this spot was captivating. Near a trail, it nevertheless felt untouched by people. In fact, probably few would have paused … these woods remind me of Robert Frosts’ famous poem. The snow not yet arrived here but soon it would and would be quieter still.
Based on a couple of photos in Gatineau Park, near Lac Carman this October, this is a study in colours (warm vs cool, complementaries, and values).
The inspiration is Tom Thomson’s sketch on panel: “Red Leaves” (1914) and his painting: “The Pool” (1915-16). Both are part of the National Gallery’s collection and are worth a close up look. Get really close to see the complexity of the images, Tom’s extrordinary skill, strength and mastering in capturing the feel of the Canadian bush. The commercial images on calendars, postcards and mugs just don’t do justice to his work.
… I didn’t come remotely close of course but it was fun and sobering. I’ll definitely go back again to look some more and maybe a little more will sink in.
This piece has found a new home. If you would like a look, please check it out on the Private Collections page.
I invite you to have a look at my latest in Featured Pieces. I admit, I have a thing for tress and this one was special. I visited and photographed this tree in the fall with the plan to paint it. It was fun to paint and kept thinking how in our busy lives (yes even retired people have busy lives), we mindlessly skip by things we should take more note of. Our beautiful and increasingly scare long lived trees and what they do for us is one that particularly affects me.
This beautiful Bebb’s Oak is about 120 years young. In our great great grandparents time it was transplanted to become part of the Dominion Arboretum which was established in 1898. This rare natural hybrid of white and bur oak is a member of a family of ancient trees. In 2017 a violent storm downed two of its large branches and tore away a third of its trunk. Despite this, it is a survivor and expected to recover and continue growing. Unless we destroy it willfully or thru neglect, it could live for another 1000 years into the early 2300’s.
Both for its impressive physical proportions and the timescale of its life, it commands our awe and respect and for its contribution to the air we breath, our gratitude.
Was a chill afternoon on Petrie Island. The lagoon has a thin coating of ice. It is the season of shapes and light, but not as much colour. November has the freshest breath, not to cold and still with the fall scents. Sunset comes early now.
120 years young this beautiful Bebb’s oak, which is a natural hybrid of white oak and bur oak, will have many more centuries despite suffering significant damage in a violent storm in 2017. Over 5 feet across at it’s base with a span of nearly 19 feet, it is majestic. It is a member of a family of ancient trees that if left alone can live up into the multiples of 300 years.
In a society immersed in the “now” rushing headlong into the “next”, it takes effort to grasp the historical timescale of the life of a tree like this.
I hope it is cared for, preserved and appreciated for generations to come.
I’ve been really remiss in not posting. It has been a hectic time. Here’s a few pics of the fall colours, some of which will make it into upcoming paintings. Hope you were able to get out and enjoy the last of the warm weather.
Have been remiss posting pics, mainly due to the stay at home order. Got a few of the sour cherry blooming in the back yard. Waited in anticipation and soon after begun, it was over. All the more beautiful as it is brief. Ventured as far as the bike path near Green’s creek and was happy to get a picture of the trillium and fed quite a few mosquitoes in the process. …ahhh the joys of spring.
Another walk in the neighbourhood. Temperature was 15C. Great! Lots of people about getting out on Easter Sunday. Perhaps one positive in the otherwise tragic COVID pandemic, is that the lockdowns have got people out in the fresh air and perhaps appreciating the beauty in their own neighbourhood. Warm spring day, but looks more like last fall. The green will come. Hoping not to miss it at its freshest.
Brilliant spring day today. The run off is in full strength. Everything is waking up. Glimpsed a mink crossing the road. Wish I was fast enough to capture a pic. Was completely unexpected. Nice surprise.
A beautiful couple of hours at Petrie this morning. The air was pure spring, refreshing but warm. The sun was brilliant and spring was definitely in the air. The soundscape was just the gentle rustling of the ice moving downstream as it touched the edge of the still frozen bits along the shore.
And then there was the honking of the Canada geese returning from their trip down south. Can’t help feeling glad when I hear that. I know we don’t get along very well as the summer goes on. I am still sad when they leave in the fall and still in awe of them and the other migrants that travel huge distances for their winter survival.
Just to see them all arrive and honking, seems like they are delighted to arrive, glad the trip is over again and excited… all V-discipline evaporated, especially among what I assume the juvenile delinquents.
Successive cold fronts, dustings of snow and bouts of freezing rain, it’s clear winter is here to stay for the next many months. Still a little in denial, it’s nice to look back at the fall days of quiet, temperate weather and beautiful colour. This one was on a walk along the escarpment, a moment to stand and stare. … hope you enjoy Featured Pieces
The cold days are more frequent than the warm now. But when the wind abates, there’s still warmth from the sun this early in the season. The snow will melt again before the holidays. Everything is quiet now.
Revisited a plein air spot for a couple of pics with the snow on the ground and completed this piece thinking of the fresh crisp air and the feel of the place. I like the spot and revisit it from time to time to see how it looks in the different light and conditions.
Between times, I like to go for a walk with camera or iPhone in hand to take reference photos for my paintings and but most often to see the extraordinary in the ordinary and the beauty in the mundane. Sometimes almost wabi sabi.
It was one of those beautiful, bittersweet days – sun, brilliant blue sky with cotton ball clouds scudding by. Warm when the sun was out but chilled when a cloud cast a shadow tracing over the landscape. It was a day to wake up and appreciate the brief remaining days before winter moves in. Nature put on its best show of gold, bronze and rust. Ref. Featured Pieces
I love the countryside around Cumberland, Ontario. This summer, I stopped on Willhaven Drive to take a few reference photos of these beautiful cows. Almost the entire herd, came over to the fence. These 2 girls were particularly delightful. Clearly besties they nudged close to each other. One is scratching an itch on the barbed wire, while the other is licking the angle iron fence post. These beauties belong to Braedale Holsteins and are possibly offspring of Breadale Goldwyn, a bull named top sire at the World Dairy Expo, 10 times.
Painting outside is one of the joys of summer. In the past, it was perhaps the only way to get the real feel of a scene. Other than that, the choice was to paint from memory and sketches. Nowadays, painting on location has morphed into plein air, which has come to mean painting small format pieces as works in themselves or to capture the colours and light to be used for larger in studio pieces.
Whatever the motivation, the challenges in doing work outside on site make it inhibiting for many. Equipment (weight and portability), access, weather, bugs and curious onlookers need consideration and trial and error to find out what works. Then there is the actual challenges of getting composition right, getting colours and values right, changing light conditions and the necessity for speed. Starting out, the results are underwhelming or outright failures. That said, what makes this a joy is the feeling of being immersed in the scene, all senses firing. The experience regardless of outcome is well worth the effort. In any case, you can always fix or repaint that great piece, back in studio.
My last effort, “Late Summer”, was such an experience. Sketched one morning using Procreate on an iPad, painted on another day and then finished off in the studio a few days later. The smell of the fields, the fresh air and even the couple of passersby that stopped to say hi, were all a pleasure.
It has been a really hot July this year making plein air painting all the more challenging. Sunflowers have certainly epitomized the broiling summer. Nevertheless, getting out into the fields with bees and butterflies tending to the flowers was really fine. Carrying portable shade made the morning fun. Packed it in at lunch when the heat was reaching the peak and stomach singnalled it was time to go. Finished off the piece in the comforts of home.
It has been a scorcher July this year. This was a fun piece to do, plein air, under an umbrella under the crab apple tree. Amazing how much UV energy the tree absorbs. With that and the sum bock coating in the umbrella, it was quite bearable. An iced fruit pop didn’t hurt either. Have to enjoy the simple stuff in these difficult times. Hope you all stay safe.
Seems like it’s been a little slow in coming but its perhaps, maybe definitely here (no snow in the forecast for the coming week). Have to celebrate it! This was based on a photo from last May when we were allowed out. As it went on, the piece took over control and a stream happened and 2 young deer appeared.