Monday, December 22, 2014

610 Wild Life

One of my  very favourite memories... Actually, this painting is a contradiction. My life is anything but wild. On a sunny but bitterly cold Sunday afternoon, I borrowed a few hours to park myself again at the neighbour's fence line trying to get some inspiration. This was my birthday present to myself. The ever faithful family Chesapeake was once again with me and she didn't seem to mind the -13 Celsius temperatures at all. It was cold enough that I left my gloves on and even that was not enough to stave off the frost bite. The Chesapeake pretty much amused herself while I worked with the frozen paint.
The wild life part of the painting is the multitude of fresh tracks that crossed the scene on the north side of the old fence line. There are lots of bunny tracks, some coyotes and probably some opossum tracks left by freezing opossums with frozen tails. I feel sorry for the poor little critters. The rest of the tracks certainly belong to the dog. This fence line must be hopping at night! This is the third of the fence line trilogy. I had better branch off into something else soon.
After a couple of hours of painting, my hands were on the verge of freezing. The painting was virtually done and I bailed to the warm fire of the art room to sign my name. My fingers hurt so! It took about a half hour before the pain left my fingers and an hour before I could even sign my name. That's why it might appear a bit clumsy on the canvas.

Merry Christmas... signing off until the New Year :>))

Thursday, December 18, 2014

605 Light and Fluffy

A series of Alberta Clippers streaking across Southern Ontario in a strong and cold northwesterly flow (the Arctic Pipeline), were responsible for the snow evident in "Light and Fluffy". The countryside was white and the trees were fully laden with their snow load. The snow to water ratio with these events is fairly high so that one can think that the snow is actually "dry". The snow to water ratio with this event was probably close to 20 to 1 which means you get 20 parts of snow for each part of water. You can blow it off the lane way. Thus this snow is light and fluffy as well as very deep.
As I was painting, the radio traffic reporters made the daily commute sound like a "war zone". Thus the pure, "light and fluffy" snow also has a dark side for travelers. Especially those that don't drive for the conditions, which is practically everyone around Toronto.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

615 Bough-zer

This scene is along the path leading directly south from the garage through the open gate. The family Chesapeake and I went to examine the snow laden white spruce. There were some interesting bunny tracks in the snow leading between the white spruce so I set up my easel. However, the Chessy soon destroyed those tracks and added some of her own. The snow was still heavy on the boughs from the snow storm of the week before and a fresh 2 to 5 centimeters had fallen the previous night so that everything was white.
The conditions were quite reasonable to start with. The winds were light from the northwest and the temperature was around minus 4 Celsius. By the time I was finishing up in the mid afternoon, the wind was out of the northwest at 30 to 40 km/h and the temperature had dropped to minus 14 Celsius. The wind chill was brutal and the paint all froze. I had to retreat. Can you spell "cold front"?
The title is after the slang word used on "Inspector Gadget" that the kids used when it was a popular cartoon. Would you believe.. the voice of Inspector Gadget was Don Adams, Agent 86 from "Get Smart".

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

539 The 12th Concession

Another blast from the past... Looking due north along the 12th Concession of King Township. It had been a snowier winter than normal and the snow banks were high even though there had already been considerable melting. This painting tells the complete history of the 12th Concession.

The previous post was long - so this one is short :>))

Monday, December 15, 2014

December 15th 1964 - A Flag is Born - A History Lesson...

It all began before Canada in 1834 when the Societe Saint – Jean- Baptiste proposed the “ single maple leaf” as an emblem of the new world.
In 1860 the “single maple leaf” was worn on the lapel of people to identify themselves as truly Canadian along the parade route of the Prince of Wales in Toronto - Austin Chadwick had a hand in those celebratory designs.
It was suggested in 1896 by a prominent lawyer Edward M. Chadwick (Austin's nephew) that Canada have its own national flag with a “single maple leaf”.
 In 1919, the Government of Canada solicited the expert opinion of Sir Eugene Fiset on the design of a National Flag for Canada. He suggested the “single red maple leaf” to match the image worn by Canadian Olympic teams since 1904. The Government did not act on this suggestion.
In 1925 the Government of Canada called on Canadians to send suggestions for the design of a National Flag. The “maple leaf” was the most common suggestion. The Government did not act on these suggestions.
In 1946 the issue of a National Flag for Canada came to the Government for discussion. The Government called on all Canadians to submit their suggested designs for the flag. Over 2,100 had the “maple leaf” as part of their design. The Government of Canada did not act on these suggestions.
In 1958 the Government of Canada surveyed hundreds of thousands of Canadians and asked if they wanted a National Flag of Canada. A full 80% answered yes to the survey and 60% said they would prefer a “maple leaf” design.
In 1960, the Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada Lester B. Pearson made it party policy to have a National Flag of Canada. He promised to bring the Flag to fruition if elected to Government.

Here is where it gets interesting... In May 1961 Brockville resident John Ross Matheson was elected as the Liberal Member of Parliament for Leeds County. In July 1961 Mr. Matheson met with Mr. Pearson on Parliament Hill. At this meeting Mr. Pearson explained to Mr. Matheson his dream and commitment to bring a Canadian National Flag to fruition if and when they formed a Government. He requested his newly elected “flag expert” to begin the research on how to bring a national flag to fruition.
John Ross Matheson accepted this challenge with his promise to work diligently behind the scenes researching and enlisting the advice of experts in the fields of history, heraldry, colours, art,  ensigns and design to bring all of this information  back to Mr. Pearson.
In 1963 the Liberal Party of Canada formed the Government, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson informed Canadians his Government would produce a National Flag of Canada within 2 years. Mr. Matheson continued to work diligently gathering expert opinions from highly regarding experts :
Sir Eugene Fiset, Fortesque Dugid, Sir Anthony Wagner, Alan Beddoe, George Stanley, Sir Conrad Swan and others. It was George Stanley who suggested the single red maple leaf on a white background with 2 red borders (based on the RMC flag). In May of 1964 Prime Minister Pearson was handed a design by Alan Beddoe which was 3 co-joined maple leafs on a white background with 2 blue borders (Pearson’s Pennant). Pearson publicly presented this design as his choice as the new Canadian Flag.
On June 15th 1964 the “Great Flag Debate” began in earnest in Parliament with both sides showing no signs of backing down from their  stance. Leader of the Opposition John Diefenbaker was determined to keep the Canadian Red Ensign.
On September 10th 1964 Prime Minister Pearson announced that a Parliamentary Flag Committee would be formed and made up of all parties (14 members and a chairperson), this committee would make the final decision on the Flag design and bring their recommendation back to Parliament to be voted on. There were 7 Liberals, 5 PC, 2 Social Credit and one NDP on this committee.
The Flag committee called on all Canadians again to submit their suggestions for a National Flag Design. More than 5,900 flag design submissions were reviewed by the committee with over 2,600 including a “Maple Leaf Design’.
Finally after 41 meetings in 6 weeks, the flag committee voted on 3 finalists. These finalists were based mostly on the maneuvering of John Ross Matheson to ensure the input from all of the experts was taken into account in the final selection. Mr. Matheson had quietly slipped the “single red maple leaf” design he had sketched in his Brockville study onto the selection wall as a "Flag Committee suggestion". John had quietly created alliances within the committee to ensure the “perfect” design would be unanimously ( 14-0) chosen. The five PC members had all believed that the Liberals would vote for their Leader's Choice of the "Pearson Pendant". The only mathematical way to beat seven Liberal "pendant" votes was for the PC members to reach agreement with the other three members to achieve a tally of eight and thus trump the Liberal majority. John had no intention of promoting a flag that broke so many rules of heraldry and history - blue wasn't even an official colour of Canada.
This design recommendation was sent to Parliament and the debate continued as a full blown filibuster. I imagine that the talk was full of sound and fury but not much substance. Meanwhile during the ongoing tumult John Matheson took the time to bring in the team of experts he had assembled to refine the design.

  • Patrick Reid and Ken Donovan from the Department of Expositions to coordinate, 
  • Jacques Saint Cyr to finalize the stylized maple leaf to 11 points versus 13, 
  • George Bist finalized the exact proportions 2:1 length x width, 2:1 white centre pale to be 2 times the size of the red borders so the maple leaf could be sized just right, 
  • Dr. Gunter Wyszcki to ensure the colours were a perfect match to the official colours presented to Canada by King George V in 1921, and 
  • Joan O. Malley to sew the prototypes. 

John Matheson also had discussion with members of the opposition parties to build quiet support for the final design. In particular he spoke with Conservative Member of Parliament Leon Balcer and Creditist Member Real Caoutte asking for support of the committee’s recommendation. On December 9th 1964 these two Parliamentarians presented a motion requesting the Government enact  closure of the Flag debate. Prime Minister Pearson used the act of closure to bring forth a vote on the Flag issue. It took another six days. John was waiting for the right moment when he felt that the flag would pass. He had arranged to signal Lucien Lamourex, the alternate Speaker of the House when the time was ripe. I recall John said it was a "touch to his temple" but I can't be certain of that. A subtle signal was passed to the supportive Lucien Lamourex and on December 15th at 2:13 AM the vote was concluded 163-78 in favour . The Canadian Maple Leaf flag and one of the most recognized emblems around the world, was born.

It was not until January 28th 1965 that Queen Elizabeth signed the official Flag Proclamation and the first Canadian Maple Leaf flag was flown on Parliament hill on February 15th 1965 our official “National Flag Day”.

Try Googling "most responsible for the Canadian Flag" or something similar ... John was the first person to share the success and rather shy in accepting the honour. This is the way Pearson introduced John Matheson when John came into the celebrations after the historic event. Without John's quiet and patient negotiations and team building, 1964 would have been another example of "the Government not acting on these suggestions".

Sunday, December 14, 2014

485 The Grazed-Ungrazed-With Snow

Another memory -
Looking west around 4 p.m. on the afternoon of January 19th. The nimbostratus and light snow associated with an approaching low-pressure area had already arrived making the scene, which I had depicted during the morning look altogether different. The sun was completely blocked by the nimbostratus and I was working against time before the light ran out on me. Once again, I relaxed and let the brushes and paint fly.
The title is from the way snow looks when it falls in fields with grasses of different heights. This is what attracted me to the scene in the first place. The closest hill is grazed short by the horses that like to hang out in the breezes that blow across the exposed hill. Even a small amount of snow covers the closely cropped grasses. The distant hills are grazed but much less so by the Holsteins that come for summer vacation. The taller grasses of various types "absorb" the snow except along the trails and some of the mysterious circular patches where the vegetation is not as tall.
I thought about putting some snowflakes that were really coming down right at dusk but I decided against it, as I was pleased with how the painting caught the mood of the moment. I didn't want to risk losing it.
This is the second painting done from Linda's window seat and it was great. It was rather cold outside so that this was the best vantage point looking west.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

521 Off to See the Blizzard

I cruised the side roads south of Highway 9 looking for something to catch my eye. Nothing really jumped out at me until I was along the service road to King City radar. This view is looking south from the service road about halfway between Jane Street and the Doppler radar. It was bitterly cold with a strong southwest wind. Snow devils were being spun up by the wind whipping around the edge of the distant forest.
I tried painting with my gloves on but I couldn't really feel the brushes. I tried painting with my gloves off but I couldn't feel my fingers. I did most of this painting without gloves. The paint started to freeze and that's when you have to resort to kerosene.
The title is a play on either the "Wizard of Oz" movie where everyone was off to see the wizard or the Jimmy Buffett song "Off to See the Lizard" which is also a play on the name of the movie. Technically, this was not a blizzard but it sure felt like one.

Friday, December 12, 2014

550 Swamp Tree

This is the characteristic tree on the north fence of the 12th Concession Watershed Farm looking toward the northwest. The tree has a very odd lean to it over the shallow pond.
It was a rare October afternoon. The skies cleared nicely after thick morning fog, drizzle and then some heavy rain. The weather was meant to be enjoyed so the family pets and I headed out. The Japanese beetles were out in force and many flew into the paint. I let them crawl onto the wood tip of my brush and then I winged them off. There are probably very few oil-painted ladybugs out there but I know where there are some. A few of the little devils bit me and there were even a couple who crawled down my back ... and then bit me!
The Chesapeake forgot to bring a ball this time so she broke off a stick and got me to toss that for her. The Maine Coon cat prowled the woods pictured in the painting but after an hour or so of that, she was content to bask in the sun on the hillside behind me and watch me paint.Life is good.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

548 Funky Chicken

Another blast from the past - instead of painting, I have been getting ready for Christmas...
This is one of my brother's rescued hens strutting in the shadows of his outdoor pen. He bought a dozen or so of these hens for a buck a bird. They were supposed to go into the pot but my brother gave them a home, plenty of food and lots of water. The girls responded beautifully and started to lay eggs like never before. Their feet had been all curled up and now in their new surroundings, they healed and they could strut again. This is a good news story!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Paint the Town

The Kingston School of Art participated in the International Plein Air Painters Worldwide Paintout on September 12, 13 and 14th. The weather was a bit iffy but Barriefield was inspirational.

The Paint the Town Exhibition is at the Window Art Gallery. Here is a short video from Station 14 that will give you a taste. Many thanks to Marsha Gormley and David Carr for making this happen at the Window Art Gallery

Apparently I had a good day as one of my works won an award. There is no down side to painting outside with friends surrounded by inspiration.

PHIL CHADWICK: “B And B Flip Side” - oil
A compositionally engaging work, with its dramatic perspective creating a convincing sense of depth. Your confident, decisive brushwork produces a pleasing visual organization that is intuitive, when it could easily have become mechanical or predictable. The rich, cool colour range and deep darks add an interesting atmosphere of mystery.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

452 Gray Hound Express

I am digging deep into my treasure chest... this is a studio painting before I found the light of plein air. I think it still has merit though.

Monday, December 8, 2014

566 The Farm across the Road

This is another memory from  January 2002 ...
In the early afternoon, I headed across the road to due a sweeping painting of the overgrown lane that led up to the long- abandoned farmhouse. The barn was already down and I bet the house will follow in twenty years. It has already been vandalized and is no longer safe to enter.
It was a beautiful January afternoon but it got cool enough in the lengthening and cold shadows. There were deer tracks all through the field where I was standing.
As it turned out, a very large and beautiful home now stands on this wonderful hunk of land.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

560 January Twilight

This is another memory from  January 8th, 2002 ... While hiking up the hill from getting through most of "The Pond Rink", I was stopped by the colours of the sky and the clouds to the east. Although it was going to make me late, putting supper into the oven, I stopped and let the paint fly until it got too dark. It was already too cold! I was true to the colours although it was a trick in the failing light and the changing clouds.
I needed time to really concentrate so I tossed the tennis ball for the family Chesapeake so she would have a hard time finding it. She discovered it on the other side of the fence just as I was finishing laying in the colours.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

562 January Afternoon

Although I typically include paintings on this blog as soon as they come off the easel, I have also been blogging art that has been drying for a decade or two. I think they are fully dry now.
This is another memory from Thursday, January 17th, 2002...  It was a brutally windy day. Although it wasn't cold, the wind blew me off the hill. I painted this toward the northwest. There were strong snow squalls both to the northeast and to the southwest. At times, these squalls crossed the farm and I could barely make out the hills.
The painting is the average type conditions between the squalls. I tried a dry brush technique on the rough canvas. The canvas had been primed with a dark coat of raw sienna.

Friday, December 5, 2014

573 Rolling Hills

Although I typically include paintings on this blog as soon as they come off the easel, I have also been blogging art that has been drying for a decade or two. I think they are fully dry now.

Every painting brings back a memory... Publishing these older works on Fine Art America and this Blog is like visiting old friends. Very few people have actually seen these paintings. The pigments bring back fine memories of time well spent - and even time well wasted! This is why I paint and my only goal is to try to get better. I feel that everyday should be filled with making memories... life is very good!

"Saturday afternoon, February 23rd, 2002.... I returned to the second hill behind (west of) the house on the very crest of the Oak Ridges Moraine  west of Schomberg, Ontario. I had a fine lunch and was rested for another go at the landscape. I was eager to paint without traveling very much further than I had to. My attention was attracted to the series of hills to the northwest. It was getting fairly late in the afternoon and the sky was changing to the green-blue on the horizon. The cedar trees in the foreground were almost orange and had reached their late winter colours, which I like so much. The stand of birch to the right were also quite striking. I laid in the colours and idea of the sketch as fast as I could before things changed too much.
I painted until 4 pm and then had to bail to do my chores."

Thursday, December 4, 2014

572 Tractor Track Horizon

Early on Saturday morning, I packed up my canvas bag and headed to the second hill behind(west of) the house. This painting is looking west at the distant escarpment and some gray stratocumulus on the horizon. I was on the very top of the hill and the Oak Ridges Moraine. Although it was sunny, the wind chill grabbed my attention and I worked for a time with my gloves on.
Of special note to me, are the tractor tracks through the grass from a tree-planting trip I made in the fall. The tall grasses were pushed down and the snow was trapped in the tracks. The shadows were very long and multicoloured and I guess that is what caught my eye. The pond in the right foreground drains to the lower left and ultimately the Humber River and eventually, Lake Ontario.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

571 In the Forest

This is the white pine forest immediately to the south of the barn. It was Sunday morning around 10.30 am. My wife let me go outside to play while she did her part of the house cleaning. I didn't have to go far and it was a good thing. The temperature was minus 7 Celsius and the wind was out of the north at 30 km/h or so. That combination of temperature and wind made it feel more like minus 15. It was cold. The paint froze quickly but I refrained from using the kerosene, as the thick paint effect was pleasant.
There is a line of poplars in this pine forest and that is what is casting the dark shadows that fanned out in front of me. The play of light on the snow and through the trees beyond the top of the hill was what caught my eye. As I painted, the shadows of the trees moved like a sundial so I had to work fairly fast.

Monday, December 1, 2014

565 The Snow Plow

This is the plow that I hook up to my tractor. It has been snowed in on its palette support in the corner of the yard by the fence. The snow had ended and I was warmed up again after lunch so I decided to make the most of the day.
When I headed across the yard, the sun was shining and the light was really good on the plow and the fence line. The shadows were colorful as well. Within a half hour, after I had the sketch laid in, we were back in blizzard conditions. I settled for something in between for lighting.
The wind was really strong from the west. I had to fill a pail with snow and use that as an anchor for the tie down rope from the easel. It worked so well that I think I will include a pail with my plein air kit.

564 Farm in the Snow

This is the farm on the north side of the 19th Sideroad of King Township. It is actually on the Caledon side of the town line on the northeast corner of the King-Caledon Town line and the 19th Sideroad of King.
I had blocked off Monday morning to paint this scene. The forecast was for a mix of sun and cloud and the chance of a flurry. Well, it snowed pretty hard all of the time. Snowflakes mixed in with the paint and covered me with white. The paint froze and that combined with the wind made the plein air painting a bit of a challenge. At the time of the heaviest flurries, it was like painting with oatmeal. I liked the way the paint was going on the canvas though so I persevered. I actually like the way it turned out.
My favourite part of this painting is the few subtle strokes that make up the snow-covered car looking out of the carport. I was done by noon - both me and the painting!