Thursday, April 10, 2014

Singleton Cold Front

I was headed back to the studio carrying #1414 "Rapid Water" when I had a good look at the sky. I had to paint it. I was tired and it was "happy hour" but the clouds were too inviting. I didn't have much time before the sun would be hidden behind the clouds so I quickly grabbed another small canvas. Maybe the secret to art is to not worry. Paint for yourself - something I try to do anyway but it is nice when others like your work. Do not overwork the brush strokes. Take a jab at the canvas with the right colour and leave it there. Get the shapes and colour right and leave it. Do not try to chase the light - it changes every few seconds anyway. These clouds are back lit and there were also some crepuscular rays that came and went. I put a few of them in. That is old ice in the western basin of Singleton Lake - I matched the colour really well but it may not be obvious what the surface was.
There is definitely rain on the way but the painting was done like dinner before it came close. I had fun!

Rapid Water

It was really windy and really warm and I could not resist the urge to get out and paint. It has been a few days since I painted last and I was feeling rusty. I went to my stand-by subject matter and stood by Jim Day Rapids. The flood water were racing through the channel and they were the highest that we had ever recorded.
A single otter came by and poked his head high out of the water out of curiosity I guess. He ducked his head and got out of Dodge - I had my camera ready but I never saw him surface again. The sounds of spring were in the air along with the spring like weather.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Four Isobars off the Gulf

If you can count to four, you too can be a weather forecaster. Sorry for the humour! Meteorology and weather is never this simple except in this particular exception.
A time tested "rule of thumb" is to count the isobars originating from the warmth and moisture of the Gulf of Mexico. If you should count four isobars directed from this huge energy source then you predict precipitation in Toronto in 24 hours.
There was a tendency during my meteorological career to shun these techniques as cook book meteorology in favour of numerical modelling of the atmosphere. My response was that even the best chefs refer to a reference guide especially if these are based on solid science and knowledge. My illustrations for this are computer generated atmospheres produced by my friends in Boulder, Colorado. A hand drawn analysis from this morning would have sufficed but alas, I am retired and the rain has yet to fall anyway. I count a solid five isobars coming off the Gulf on the forecast chart for 2 pm this afternoon. This is going to be a wet event for Southern Ontario! The first observation of rain at Pearson International Airport should be at 2 pm EST on Monday afternoon - 24 hours later - plus or minus.
The ruler of thumb is based on the Conveyor Belt Conceptual Model. One of my modules on this topic was recently published by COMET and can be accessed at the following link.
COMET only requires a valid email address and then you have access to the most current environmental training and research found anywhere in the world - completely free. The conveyor belt conceptual model is summarized in three dimensions below with the isobars coming off the Gulf represented by the red conveyor belt of heat and moisture. This red arrow has the label "WCB" which fittingly stands for "Warm Conveyor Belt". Something that those in southern Ontario will appreciate after a long and cold winter.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spring Gray

These are the large maple trees on the very edge of Jim Day Rapids looking northward. The sky and snow were gray. The trees were gray. The squirrels were gray. They were all different shades of gray though so I had fun.
I set my palette down on the snow and it was soon covered by springtail fleas (Hypogastrura nivicola). These tiny fleas are quite harmless and appear every spring. Quite a few of these fleas are entombed in the painting to give the oil even more texture. They are smaller than the head of a pin in size. The painting started out well and then I floundered. I will try another canvas to get back into the groove.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring Shadows

The great blue herons had arrived along with the red winged black birds and an increasingly larger number of ducks and geese. The sounds of spring were certainly in the air. The temperatures were above freezing and it was time to get back into plein air painting. This is my first plein air painting of the year. The winter was abnormally cold and snowy compared to our recent history. Most people would find it hard to believe that this winter is actually a result of global warming and a weaker jet stream. The jet stream has weakened by about 15% in the last 15 years as a result of the warming Arctic.
As the morning warmed, the icy snow was no longer stronger enough to support me and I would suddenly drop a foot or two to the harder ground underneath. The shadows from the trees behind me played across the scene. I can and will do better with the next plein air painting as I get my plein air legs back after a winter of studio work.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Philip Levine's Art Stuff Newsletter
My friend Philip Levine included my Blog in his April Newsletter. I have been reading Phil's Newsletters for years and always find them entertaining and informative. I thought that was really nice! April 1st and spring is arriving to eastern Ontario along with the red winged black birds, blue herons and other colourful birds. It is strangely paradoxical that the brutally cold and snowy winter in eastern Ontario has been a direct result of global warming. I had better get out and paint and soak in the sounds of spring. Maybe the feeling will get into the canvas. We can only hope!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Chickanishing Creek - An Update

After a few days of painting, I have made progress on the larger canvas. Cliches keep going through my mind as I paint. "Less is more"; "Don't overwork it"; "Relax and the let the paint flow" and even "May the force be with you" from Star Wars. Anyway, it has been fun with the tunes on and the wind howling outside while I have the wood stove cracking inside. I am not done yet but ... maybe I should be... There is glare in the photo but you get the idea. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Chickanishing Creek

I guess the two 4x6 footers that I painted for the 50th Anniversary of the Canadian Flag burnt me out. It was a huge job and only fellow artists who have walked those paths will understand. That's OK. Since then my studio works have all been tiny hunks of canvas and wood as small as 4x4 inches. I have had lots of fun during this very long and very cold winter - which is a direct result of Global Warming by the way. My plein air work is always 11x14 plus or minus with the plus getting to 16x20 inches.
In any event I picked up a 3x4 footer, gallery mount canvas today determined to breath more life into #0843 "Chickanishing Creek Meets Georgian Bay". That was a special day in 2006 and I think the painting deserves a larger format if I can pull it off. There are still some studio days to come with the wind, cold, snow and rain. The first day on this canvas went well. By the way, Singleton Phil was right about the long range forecast :>))

Monday, March 24, 2014

In the Footsteps of the Group of Seven at Charlton Lake Camp

My friends Jim and Sue Waddington, the authors of "In the Footsteps of the Group of Seven" will be at the Charlton Lake Camp September 19, 20 and 21, 2014. I will be there as well participating in the planned events and presenting "Tom Thomson Was A Weatherman" and maybe more. As a coincidence, my friends Keith and Helen of the Wilson Street Studio will also be at Charlton September 12 to 17 with an Art Retreat. It will be a busy place in the best time of the year. For more information contact Mark and Lori at Charlton Lake Camp, P.O. Box 118, Whitefish Falls, Ontario P0P 2H0, +1 877-587-3474,
I am currently taking one of my Killarney sketches and turning it into a 3x4 footer - let's hope it doesn't loose anything in the translation.