Thursday, July 2, 2015


Started Sunday August 3rd, 2008.
It was 4 pm on the balcony at "The Executive" condo in Brockville. We were all enjoying the weather on a beautiful August afternoon.
A cumulus on the American shore shot up to a massive towering cumulus (TCU) in a matter of minutes and I grabbed a canvas and paints to have fun with it. With convective cloud, the shapes, patterns and colours change by the minute and I had to rush before the TCU started to shower out. This was only the first in a series of TCU's that produced showers for the rest of the day. Only one or two way to the east over New York State, ever made it to the cumulonimbus stage.
The "ICU" in the title could be one of two things. It was initially meant to be "I see you" but at times during the process of the painting, it could have meant "intensive care unit" as the survival of the sketch was in some doubt.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

1306 Rain Clouds

Started 4 pm Monday June 10th, 2013.
Rain was certainly on the way. The shelf of clouds on the horizon was there because rain was falling just to the west. The rush of air downward with the rain was lifting the convectively unstable mass of air upward to saturation causing the shelf to develop. The knuckles on the edge of the cloud shelf are indicative of the strength of the air movement and in this case, the instability. I figured I had over an hour to lay in the shapes and colours. Would it be enough time? A raven flew by so I sketched it in. I admire the "Einsteins" of the bird world.
It started to rain fairly hard at 5:15 pm. I retreated to the studio.
It rained all night and most of the following day. The upper jets used to blow strongly from west to east and usher lows eastward on their way. With a warmer Arctic the upper flow is weaker and now meanders like the twisted flow in a flood plain - "ox-bow lake lows". Slow moving systems will become more common and linger for days.

Monday, June 29, 2015

1441 Just 'n Time

Started 6:30 am Friday August 22nd, 2014. Painting Place N44.50136 W81.37268 Near 11 South Rankin St. Southampton, Ontario.
I was set up on Scubby's Bluff by 6:30 am on Friday August 22nd (my Mother's birthday). The fog was quite thick. The street lights were still on and bright. I decided to paint the two fishing boats on the opposite shore as an illustration for the participants who would arrive around 9 am. The crew started to arrive for the one boat so I made that part of the painting a big priority! They were gone by 7:00 am so I had to finish the other boat and the details after that. The fishing boat that remained never moved during the entire workshop. It was aptly named "Just 'n Time" which was always true since it never moved.
I was using my palette from the Kawarthas' plein Air Trip and it was getting tacky and time to start anew. The oil paint had been on the palette for a couple of weeks and almost none of it was wasted. The paint was sticky and proved to be a trap for the small night-time bugs that still flew in the early morning hours.
I watched what were most likely salmon and rainbow trout snatch morsels from the surface. I even saw the large dark shapes in the shallow water with their huge tail fins breaking the surface like sharks. I never saw one of these trophies caught.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

1422 Developing Showers

Started 2 pm on Tuesday August 5th, 2014 - Tom Thomson's birthday (1877).
The cumulus clouds were developing into towering cumulus and it was only a matter of time before showers started to reach the ground. An approaching cold front would help to organize them as well. The analyzed position on the cold front on the accompanying map was a bit too fast - too far to the southeast. The front has yet to sweep across Singleton Lake. The main band of showers were still west of Kingston at 4:30 pm local and I suspect that was the front.

Friday, June 26, 2015

1419 Multicell Thunderstorms

Noon on Wednesday July 30th, 2014.
The names for the paintings normally come to me while I am painting. My mind may wander/wonder and the reason for the painting and the name fuse. That was certainly the case with "Multicell Thunderstorms".
I often hear people complain that "they" were forecasting thunderstorms today but "they" were wrong again - I never got a drop of rain. "They" are those typically incompetent weather forecasters who can never get it right, even when "they" do. Showers and thunderstorms do not cover every square inch of a forecast region and this was why "POP" or probability of precipitation was invented. A meteorologist needs a thick skin and a smile at all times.
If people could read the sky they might realize that those clouds on the northwest horizon were indeed multicell thunderstorms. There was sufficient wind shear in the atmosphere to cycle multiple updrafts through the flanking line and into the main event where they become the dominant updraft. After their twenty minutes of glory, each of these updrafts weaken and flow downstream into the anvil. Such was the case this afternoon. I half expected to see warnings issued when I went in to check the radar. At 2 pm the line of thunderstorms looked to be developing a line echo wave pattern which can be the signature for damaging winds.
The streets of cumulus ahead of the line of thunderstorms are typically aligned parallel to the boundary layer winds. This was true in this example although it was not a classic case as viewed on the visible satellite imagery.
I did not hear thunder as I painted so the thunderstorms had to be more than 20 kilometres away. Radar confirmed that they were actually about 40 kilometres distant.

Monday, June 22, 2015

1598 Shell

2:00 pm Thursday June 4th, 2015. Standing on the western edge of Saw Dust Island at N44.678818 W76.393301.
This was the first day of the First Westport Plein Air Painting Festival.
Apparently this Shell Station was the last gas on the Upper Rideau. With the sale of the property, the Shell Station was closed. Apparently the locals are not too pleased about it. Perhaps a new gas station will be opened by an enterprising soul.
My very special thanks to a kind Wesport resident for taking the pictures while I painted.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

1332 Before the People

The early morning light is always the best. There were almost no people on the Southampton Beach so the gulls kept me company while I painted. I wanted to get the colours right and had to revert to phthalo blue to do so. The literature says "Phthalo Blue: Warm blue first made for printmaking ink (cyan) to replace Prussian Blue in the 1920's. With clean, pure masstone and transparency, Phthalo Blue, like all modern colors, has high tinting strength." Some artist call it a "stain" but I needed it today. There is always something to learn!
The ridge of high pressure was still dominating the weather but there was a hint of cloud on the western horizon emerging through the pollution contained within the marine inversion.
The community was originally known as Saugeen by the early inhabitants, the Canadian Post Office and Custom House Departments. However, the Crown Land Departments labelled the village as Southampton and the name stuck as the town was incorporated, named after Southampton, the English sea port. The first European settlers of the area were Captain John Spence and William Kennedy, who wanted to establish a fishing company. While it proved unfruitful, Spence became a sailor and Kennedy joined a search for the Arctic explorer, Sir John Franklin. Nevertheless, in 1851 there were at least a dozen families living in the community. In the same year, the Post Office was established, the first and only in Bruce County for several years. Three years later, a Bank of Upper Canada was built.
The pioneers of Southampton wanted the village to become the county town or county seat, as the village held the only Crown Land Department and Post Office in the county. However, the town of Kincardine had a larger population and seemed the strongest rival. Furthermore, Southampton did not have enough population to meet the requirements for incorporation. The town petitioned the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and the elective officials passed an exceptional Act of Incorporation on July 24, 1858 to allow the community to be considered for the county seat. Despite their efforts, Walkerton eventually won the battle.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

1337 Twin Maples

Started 11 am Wednesday August 28th, 2013.
I wanted to try to capture something that wouldn't move. Clouds had occupied too many of my canvases recently and I wanted to slow down the pace just a bit. The majestic, old maples at the entry to the Singleton Studio had character. I liked the rough texture of the bark and the old scar on the one tree. Both trees had sustained some damage from the 1998 Ice Storm but most of those twisted branches were higher and outside the view of the painting. There were a few mosquitoes buzzing around but it was still a pleasant painting experience.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

1324 Front Range Light

Started 9 am Sunday August 18th, 2013. Painting the pier north of Pioneer Park looking northwest from N44.50027 W81.37401.
The south shore of the mouth of the Saugeen River was another favourite painting place of my friend Jane Champagne. This location also is perfect for a plein air painter. It has views of the harbour, Chantry Light, the Range Light and the fishing fleet. It also has benches and bathrooms. Ideal!
Safe marine navigation was vital to avoid the rocks and shoals around Southampton. The Imperial Tower on Chantry Island warned ships of the surrounding dangers, while four smaller Range Lights guided mariners safely into the harbour. Built in 1903, the front and back range lights on the Saugeen River were lined up by sailors entering the harbour, helping to stay on course up the river channel. The other two range lights guided mariners through the ‘gap’ in the Long Dock and into the Harbour of Refuge.
In the 1800s, the Front Range Light at the river’s mouth was simply a lantern attached to a mast, fastened to a crib about 50′ from the outer deck of the pier. The square tapered wooden building, painted white with a red top came in 1903. At one time, the automated fog horn came on whenever fog rolled in from the lake. Today, it is operated by boaters with a signal from their marine radios.
It is challenging to paint the range light in the correct dimensions. I have painted it too tall, too squat and too whatever. Jane pointed out to me one day as we talked about my improper drawing of the range light that few artists got it right. Even this attempt is not perfect but Jane would be happy that I tried. There are other imperfections but I won’t point them out.