Thursday, October 6, 2016

Aquatarium Tuesday November 1st, 2016

What a great venue! Please come to the Aquatarium on Tuesday November 1st. I will be doing a little bit of Tom Thomson but also talking about the weather for this coming winter - maybe some climate change - bring your questions ... it will be fun!

Here is some very recent art as well from the IPAP Paint-Out in Portsmouth Harbour.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tom Thomson Was A Weatherman at Bon Echo Provincial Park
I will be doing this presentation at the Bon Echo PP Amphitheater on Saturday August 13th... in the Amphitheatre at 7 pm... It will be fun. Come and support the park...

The above is a study of one of Tom's records that he observed. There is a lot of meteorology in this one! The paint just flowed as I painted. On close examination Tom's brush strokes were really fast and furious. It would have been dark as well and tough to see if by lantern light or the light of the full moon. His brush picked up paint from either side of his stroke and blended them together. There were really not many double strokes so the colours still remained unmixed. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

1761 Long Outlet

I didn't even notice that I had left my glasses at home... until after I had gotten home after completing two paintings en plein air. That is the way it should be but I normally have my glasses with me just in case.

There was still a trickle of water flowing over the beaver dam that I painted at the same location in #1751 "Dam Beavers". The spring flood was over at the outlet of Long Lake. The grasses had also grown a bit in the twenty-three days since I was there last.

Those are painted turtles on the log. It is neither feasible or appropriate that one includes small detail in a plein air painting - detail smaller than the mid to large brush that you should be using. The best that one can do is a stab of the right colour in the right place and hope that the viewer can fill in the blanks and the correct interpretation. If you look closely you can even imagine that I painted the eye of the turtle.

I accidentally disturbed a rather large northern water snake twice. It just wanted a place in the sun as well. I meant no harm but it was still very frightened of me.

I picked up 80 cents in beer bottles plus a lot of rubbish... Who says there is no money in art?

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

1751 Dam Beavers

I am sure that some property owners think the word in the title should be "damn". It fits according to both the dictionary and the landowners wanting the industrious beaver condemned by God to suffer eternal punishment in hell.

I like beavers. We all need a place to live. I used the word to mean a barrier constructed to hold back water and raise its level. The resulting reservoir is used in the generation of of a beaver's family and not electricity. The beaver lodge is clearly evident in the Google Earth image. I painted the beaver lodge in #1734 "Long Lake Outlet" a month previously.

There were indications that someone was trapping the beavers. I am no trapper but I could read the signs. Someone had breached the dam and the spring flood was pouring over the top. There were also some steel posts embedded nearby probably securing underwater traps. I do know that this particular dam had let go in the past and flooded out Black Rapids Road at its lowest point.

The reflected colours of the spring forest in the beaver reservoir attracted me to this scene. The colours of the overflow were also distinctly different. This is were the Prussian and phthalo blues really come into play to achieve those special blends of pigment. I remember the drumming of ruffed grouse and the gobbling of a harem of turkeys bit I did not see any sign of beavers.

I would visit the same location twenty-three days later in #1761 "Long Outlet".

Sunday, May 29, 2016

1749 Long Lake Marsh

The morning radar showed that I had a couple of hours to paint en plein air before the snow started. I headed to the outlet of Long Lake. Overcast altostratus certainly limited the warming effects of the April sun but it was still pleasant enough when the wind died down. Conditions were rather chilly when the easterly cold conveyor belt feeding the approaching storm, frequently interrupted the calm. The temperature may have been zero Celsius (Canada started Celsius roughly forty years before on April 1st, 1976) but the wind chill on my bare hands was brutal. The weather certainly does not encourage the over-working of a plein air painting and that may be one of the strengths of the open air approach to art.

The sound of the spring melt running over the brim of the beaver dam provided the backdrop of sound. There was a thin skin of ice along the shore and this affected the colour of the surface and the reflections. I painted imagining that I was a bit elevated for a better look at Long Lake past the beaver dam.
A pair of Canada geese kept a close eye on me. Some turkey vultures also swooped by but I kept moving and they decided I was not quite ready to eat yet.

Monday, May 9, 2016

1714 White Pine Island

I paint a lot of sunrises and sunset. The light is best then. The shadows are long and the lighting unusual. It is the time to paint. But I needed to have a unique title for this painting and ol' Neil Diamond was playing at the time. September Morn was easily adjusted to December Morn which is only appropriate given climate change.

It was a rare December day to be kayaking but that is what I was doing. The cloud was spilling over the upper ridge in heavy sheets of cirrostratus. A system was on the way and the kayaking weather could not last. The cliffs of the south shore of Singleton Lake were impressive, even at this distance. The white pines on the point were very exposed to the winds which kept the gaps in the branches large enough to paint through.

I turned the 8x10 inch #1713 "December Morn" into the 3x4 foot #1714 "White Pine Island".

Sunday, May 8, 2016

1719 White Pine Reflections

This is new work from a period of high wind chills this past winter. It is a loose re-interpretation of #1683 "Autumn Shore". I like white pines and paint them a lot as they reach above the forest canopy. White pines are almost always silhouetted against the sky.

There are lots of hidden creatures in this painting - almost all were unintentional. Making a large painting out of a smaller plein air work is not always easy. You can kill the life out of any painting with a thousand strokes.  Every artist needs someone with a sledge hammer behind them, to let them know when it is done...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

818 Making Waves in Oil

From Friday, June 9th, 2006 - This is the fourth demonstration piece for the second week of teaching at the Southampton Art School. I asked the group what they wanted to have demonstrated. They all said waves. It was most appropriate given the title of the course. As a result I headed down the road to overlook Lake Huron to the northwest. This put me and the group right in the blast of the cold air advection. One girl darn near froze. The twelve participants were huddled up behind me. I let all of the enthusiasm for plein painting out and this is what resulted. It was an experience that I won't forget.

Unconsciously I painted the surface of the lake curved as though the earth was a smaller sphere. You can see the curvature on the horizon. That is what I saw. The streets of stratocumulus were aligned with the wind direction in the unstable boundary layer. There is a lot of meteorology in this painting. It is interesting how the combination of wind and current even shapes the shoreline.

The view is northwesterly with streets of turbulent stratocumulus and lots of waves. A huge cedar log was up on the beach in 2006. That very same log was still there in 2014.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

806 Saugeen Sailboats

From Wednesday, May 31st, 2006 - This is day three of the three "W's" - "Wind Waves and Weather". The group set up on the north shore of the Saugeen River in Southampton. Everyone picked a different subject matter. My view is slightly upstream at a group of sail boats tied to a floating dock. This was going to be a "waves" demonstration! It is difficult to talk as you paint, explaining what you are doing and why you are doing it. The exercise forces one to be very deliberate on your actions and words and sometimes what you do doesn't match what you are saying and vice versa.

The upper cold front had gone through but the surface cold front was still to the west when we started to paint. This was a classic example of a split front. A few of the elevated altocumulus castellanus dropped some small evaporating drops but not enough to spoil our plein air painting. The surface cold front arrived at 11:45 am and we had to bail then. It was quitting time in any event so some went home and some retreated with me to the classroom. Among the many weather features to discuss, I explained how to observe a precipitating cloud from one that is not - from a distance.

Note that the Ojibway term for confluence of the waters is "Saugeen".

Thursday, April 14, 2016

804 Short Dock

This is the second demo that I ever did in front of a class from Tuesday, May 30th, 2006  ... it was fun although I was always bouncing in and out of the zone. Verbal explanation takes over the left side of your brain while the visual creating half of your brain hangs out in the right side of your brain. I think I was able to connect though. There were some exceptional artists in this class.

This is looking west from the "Long Dock" Beach which is also the home of Gerry's Fries which is a local landmark. It was another sunny and hazy day. I discussed the land breeze transition to the lake breeze and how we could confirm that by watching for a line of cumulus forming near noon, parallel to but inland from the coast. I also described what I was doing and why during this demonstration painting. It was even a better day than the first one. They all seemed to have fun.

The "Short Dock" is parallel to but south of the "Long Dock". It was also shorter. Trains used to drive out on it to load and off load cargo. Today, the remaining structure of both the "Short Dock" and "Long Dock" are about a foot under the water.

The cold frontal cloud was not even visible on the western horizon. It was really quite hot and muggy and we were all sweating.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

803 Miramachi Contrails

From Monday, May 29th, 2006... this was my first ever demo piece in front of students. They didn't know that and my friend Jane told me not to tell... I had done a lot of teaching before but never art. It went well. I have been posting older art in the order it was created. My goal is to eventually get it all on It will take years, one image at a time.

This is looking west from the south end of Miramachi Bay. This is the first day of classes at the Southampton Art School. I talked about the weather and the sky as I did this presentation piece. I also talked about what I was doing and why. I think it went very well indeed. There were eight "students" and some of them were already very accomplished. They all seemed to have fun and told the directors that they certainly did. It was an excellent beginning to the week of art and teaching.

The warm front was already well to the north and another strong westerly flow was rippling gravity waves into the jet contrails. There is quite a bit of jet traffic over Southampton on the great circle route. It was really quite hot and muggy and we were all sweating.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

975 Spring Stratocumulus

From 1:30 pm April 29, 2008... Standing on the deck of the Tolton's Boathouse... looking east toward the American shore. It was about 1:30 pm and I had just returned from a paddle to Jones Creek. The temperature had warmed up to plus 11 Celsius but the brisk northwesterly winds were still chilly.

The layers of nimbostratus were still visible on the eastern horizon as warm, creamy white cloud illuminated by the sun in the western sky. A couple of bands of cirrus were also apparent along the jet stream that wrapped around the large upper low. The streets of stratocumulus were wider apart as the boundary layer had risen with the surface temperature. These streets of spring stratocumulus were on the relative warm side of the upper jet stream. Daytime heating was contributing a cumulus component to the cloud. The individual stratocumulus streets cannot be discerned due to my oblique viewing angle.

The large and relatively old cloud droplets were not efficient Mie scatterers of sunlight back to my eye in the direction that the light came from. The stratocumulus was thus rather dark compared to the smaller and more numerous cloud droplets associated with the departing nimbostratus.

The far American shore was mainly in shadow when I started to paint. There was a lot more sun by the time I was done.

The point behind this entire painting was the colours of the various elements. It was fun!

Friday, April 8, 2016

962 Spring at the Jones

From Monday April 14, 2008...
I was standing on the edge of the limestone cliff overlooking Jones Creek. I went looking for the last remnants of snow to paint but found none. This view is looking northwestward across Jones Creek with some strong, dark trees in the foreground. The chilly northeasterly winds made me feel as though I was painting a snow scene.

The geese and red winged black birds were making their mating calls for spring. American mergansers were busy in the creek while ravens croaked in the distance. This is what spring is like at the Jones.

The shadow across the foreground is my easel and panel. It could have just as easily been a tree but it was me. This is in parody of Tom Thomson's painting "Algonquin Afternoon" where the art critics argue that Tom painted his shadow into the work. He may have. In my case, I am around to admit to this bit of self indulgence - the closet thing to a portrait that I am likely to do.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

961 Entrance to the Jonses

From Friday April 4th, 2008...
This is the view from "Tub" Tolton's boathouse on the St Lawrence. Tub was my Grade 10 science teacher who gave me 100% as a final year-end mark. We have remained friends ever since...

I was standing under the sheltered overhang out of the rain. The wind was calm and the rain was falling straight down so my canvas and palette stayed quite dry. The temperature was plus 3 or 4 Celsius but started to drop as the rain intensified. The precipitation was mixing with snow by the time I was done. The wind also picked up out of the east with the approach of the low pressure area. As a result, the wind and the rain started to penetrate under the overhang and I got very wet and very chilled. It took me a couple of hours under the cat and the comforter at the condo to get warm again.

The ice floats were headed down river when I started to paint but were headed back upriver with the wind by the time I was done. Flocks of waterfowl kept me entertained and I turned frequently from my canvas to watch them fly by. It was great to have them so near.

The entrance to Jones Creek is just to the right of the ice. The area is beautiful and I was thinking how nice it would be to live there and to "keep up with the Jones' ". This explains the title for the painting. The "the" was added as though it was an after thought in order to make the point of the double meaning in the title. The boat house that looks like it was tipping into the river was doing just that. It has since disappeared.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

959 Jones Creek Morning

From Thursday April 3rd, 2008.
I hiked to the northern section of the Brown's Bay Camp Ground and stood overlooking Jones Creek. There were lots of trees between me and the water but that was the way I wanted it. The geese were honking and I think I heard a single ruffed grouse drumming. It was a beautiful morning with the sun rising behind me. The temperature was around zero Celsius but without the wind, it was really quite pleasant.

I had to break through the think crust of snow in order to get a place to stick my brushes. A chocolate and yellow lab came by to check on my painting. The dogs were not critics.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

956 Spring Island

From March 2008...
I headed to the "Back Pond" and the Mac Johnson Wildlife Area. I knew I didn't have much time before the cold frontal rain showers would arrive and I didn't feel like getting soaked to the skin. This snow covered hammock (a local and well-defined elevation of the land) on the south shore was close to the car park and attracted my attention. The park on the northwest shore of the "Back Pond" was visible through the trees. The snow on the hammock was "ripe" and pot marked with age - very ready to melt.

Migrating Canada Geese, grackles and red winged blackbirds supplied the sounds of spring as a musical backdrop to the island.

I was almost done when the rain arrived. I got wet but not too bad. It was a fun morning.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

954 Midday Outlet

From March 2008...
Another bit of well spent time at the Outlet of Charleston Lake. I arrived just before noon and set up on the hill leading down into the basin on the Charleston Lake side of the dam. It was a bit steep but was a good view of the boat houses and the far shoreline. The geese were active here as well and a pair of hooded mergansers played along the shore line.

I had lost the bottom plastic cap to one of the legs of the easel on Wednesday... and found it in the location where I had parked. Although I didn't find my palette at least I found the 10 cent piece of black plastic.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

951 Outlet Morning

From the spring of 2008...
Just after 9 am, I set up my easel just east of the dam at the Outlet of Charleston Lake. There were some Canada geese in the shallows on the far shore and they hung around for a while. They were waiting for spring too. The winter birds were busy in the spruce and pine trees at my back. 
The ice had twisted the boat docks into barely recognizable lengths of decking and supports. The pieces were all over the place. The docks would require some major reconstruction before tourist season. 
The temperature started off at minus 6 Celsius and although the temperature did rise, so did the wind and it got really cold by the time I finished!

Friday, March 25, 2016

953 Spring Migration

From March 27th, 2008.
I set up at Mallorytown Landing on the ice just east of the "Bateaux Museum". The ice was still solid. This kept me out of the chilly wind but still gave me a great view to the northeast down the mighty St Lawrence River. The air was full of the sounds of spring. Robins and red winged blackbirds were singing but the chanting honks of migrating Canada geese really set the tone. I had no intention of painting in a flock of geese but a flock flew right into the painting. I also had no intention of putting in the multiple jet contrails but the jets just kept on flying through the scene. The billow type cloud on the south side of the one contrail suggested a strong zonal jet in excess of 125 knots. This supported the diagnosis of an approaching low pressure area. The contrails to the right (south) were casting a shadow on some lower and very thin cirrostratus which was another clue to the approaching system.

The tips of the willows turn a bright yellowish orange when the sap starts to flow. After a winter of storms, the ice was far from white and has developed odd circular patterns with the thicker drifts of snow. The colours are the subject of this piece.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

945 Looking Down River

This River Rat view is from 11:15 am Monday February 4th, 2008. I took some time to paint.
I set up on the ice just off Mallorytown Landing. A couple of snowmobiles didn’t go through so I felt more than safe. This is looking northeastward down the river toward Bridge Island. The sun sparkled off the snow on the island and the red channel markers in the distance.

Bands of cirrus behind the upper level deformation zone, pushed northeastward while I painted. The cirrus thickened up and occasionally blocked the sun which in turn cooled me considerably. By the time I was done, the northeasterly inflow to the approaching low had set up and it was feeling cooler with the wind chill although the temperature was still plus 2 Celsius.

I liked the cool colours of the American shore that contrasted with the warm shades of the trees along the Thousand Island’s Parkway.

Monday, March 21, 2016

1720 Shoreline Roots

This is the last of the tree motif plein air pieces painted this past winter. I have been working on six 3x4 footers in the studio when the weather was too wintry for my bare outs to be out doing plein air work. These paintings are still way to wet to handle and the sixth is still under construction... and the fifth may still see some major changes too. I will post these major canvases when I can. For now, is here a plein air piece from February 4th, 2016.

I have painted this shoreline of trees before but every day is different. The red cedars and white pines are prominent and always draw me to this scene. This time I focussed on the tree roots that have been exposed through erosion. There are still lots of tree roots binding the soil to the shore but sadly, some soil has been lost. This erosion is an inevitable result of the changing water levels and strong current.

The ice formed when the water levels were very high. Oddly, this is the best of circumstances to avoid spring ice jams and flooding. The cakes of ice are hinged higher on the shoreline as I have painted them. The spring floods have to get to at least this height again before the ice cakes could possibly be unhinged from the shore.

I used a lot of paint on this canvas. From across the room, the stabs and swirls of paint merge into something very much more realistic. Although the sun was out occasionally between the streets of turbulent stratocumulus, the wind chill was still enough to affect my hands.

Friday, March 18, 2016

1721 Twin Maples

My approach to plein air painting has evolved over the years. I keep it simple but also have a system that makes it easy to do so. I can share those.
Here is a plein air memory from February 2016 - just over a month ago.
After I named this painting I started to wonder if I had actually used the same name for these same two trees. I had! #1337 "Twin Maples" This time I painted them in the middle of the winter even though there was a total lack of snow due to the Super El Nino event. The blue birds even stayed around all winter. They kept me company while I painted. This view is different from the previous painting by about twenty feet. It was a very pleasant day for early February. There is no shortage of interesting things to do, even if it means outstanding in your field - that's a good thing, right?
I used a lot of paint and some bold strokes of colour on this little canvas. Fun.  This link takes you to the other "Twin Maples" first... funny!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

En Plein Air with Chadwick and Karstad

The flyer says it all... come and have some fun :-))

Monday, March 14, 2016

1728 Scrub Red Cedar

The sun was getting low in the sky but I love the late afternoon light. It was also a chance to test out my brand new snow shoes. After 50 centimetres of snow in one day, snow shoes were a necessity. Red cedars take a long time to grow and are much older than one might think. These scrub cedars are a lifeline to so many creatures. The blue birds that really should fly south, seem to survive by clustering together for warmth in my Peterson Blue Bird Houses and eating the red cedar berries. The deer are always browsing the lower branches of the red cedars. I have even seen the beavers swimming away with some lower branches.

This red cedar has been well used. The browsing has pushed growth up from around the base. These branches and twigs and low sun angles produced some interesting colours and shadows. The oil paints were surprisingly stiff for it not being overly cold at minus 9 Celsius.

After all, I just wanted to have some fun. I found it difficult to walk backward with the snow shoes on but walking in circles worked just as well. The easel should have had snow shoes as well. It sunk deep into the 50 centimetres of snow while I was perched more on top of the snow pack.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

1726 Snow Squalls

The 240 degree winds that are also cold enough off Lake Ontario are quite rare. These are the conditions required to deliver Snow squalls to Singleton Lake. More typically, the winds are 250 to 260 degrees during cold outbreaks and this delivers the snow along a swath just south of Singleton Lake. However, the eye does not lie. I saw these clouds crossing the lake and knew that white out conditions would soon follow. I sketched the patterns very quickly and then went inside the studio to discover that a snow squall watch had just been issued minutes before. The following warnings for snow squalls and extreme cold were more than appropriate.

Notice the gravity wave clouds at the capping inversion of the snow squalls. These bands are perpendicular to the wind at cloud level. The snow squall bands are to the mean wind through the boundary layer adjacent to the ground. Note how the wind veers just a bit with height. That is real meteorology.