Sunday, December 11, 2011

Going Green

Ladner Harbour Boats
11 x 14
oil on canvas

My paintings reflect my life in some ways - constantly moving between the desert and the coast.  So here we are back on the coast in the little fishing village of Ladner.  I ventured out in my car on a cool winter morning, parked in the marina parking lot facing these boats and set up my paint box (pictured below) right on my lap never leaving the warmth and privacy of the vehicle.  It was so lovely and relaxing, listening to music and painting away - almost a timeless feel.   I used my plein air paper sketch as a guide for this larger canvas piece along with some photo reference, my usual process these days.

And this is my paint box, a summer project starting with a basic box, adding a hinged palette lined with glass and two hinged side pieces for holding brushes or medium and a piece of paper towel for wiping excess paint.  Paint tubes and brushes store underneath and two panels can store in the lid.  I can paint with the box on my lap or attach it to a tripod.  I'm 'going green' by using a glass palette which can be scraped with a blade and excess paint piled in a corner to use as an undercoat for the next painting and by pinning down a small square of paper towel which can hold an astounding amount more paint than a crumpled up piece in one's hand.  I  usually work with one brush rubbing off excess paint when changing colors and making sure I load up enough new paint on the brush to gently drop in the color without the old color seeping through.  This means no solvents necessary and again fewer paper towels.  Of course this works for now while painting small, we'll see when I start painting big outside!   

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Out on the trails

Lone Tree in progress
40 x 30
oil on canvas

The last fews months have been busy with numerous trail runs and races both on the wet west coast and the dry desert in the interior.  The above painting would be a familiar sight out on the trails and often when I'm out there I'm wishing I could stop and paint.   I've been focussing on plein air painting studies, the last few from the comfort of the front seat of my car but now that the temperatures are dropping it's back to the studio to go big again and a little stylized.  

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Strange Days

Storm on the way
18 x 24
oil on canvas

A couple of months ago I was driving up this road to a little bakery where I buy my rice bread and I saw a huge storm moving in from the south so back down I went to get my camera so I could get some resource photos.  This painting above was my attempt to capture the mood with the sun still shining in the foreground but far down the valley was a totally different scenario.   Today on the coast it was much like that.  We had ferocious winds, torrential rain and brilliant sunshine under deep blue skies.  Yesterday and the day before it felt like Hawaii.  Strange days... 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Steveston Grand Prix Plein Air Competition

3 hour plein air challenge
11 x 14
oil on canvas board

  Not much different than an Ironman Triathlon and I'm still wiped out physically and mentally 2 days later!  The weeks leading up involved not enough training plein air trips and those times that I did get out I usually forgot something important like canvas or brushes.  A list would be needed.  Some sessions were just like transition training where I went out just to see how easily I could pack my gear, setup and take down.  Carrying wet canvases has always been a challenge.  Nutrition, hydration, clothing for all types of weather have to be thought of  but finally all my gear was carefully laid out and the process gone thru in my mind and I was ready to go. 
   The Steveston Grand Prix is organized by Mark Glavina of the Phoenix Gallery in Steveston and he and the many volunteers put on a fabulous event!  It is similar to a Quickdraw where there is a time limit to produce a painting, in this case 3 hours, but the difference is that the location is done by draw and when you are assigned a flag you have to stay within a few feet.   Below was my spot which offered a nice arrangement of buildings.

One must attempt to transfer what you see in front of you to the canvas as the light and weather changes, the clock ticks away,  and people meander by having been encouraged to ask questions sometimes wanting a little mini lesson in painting.   I found I thoroughly enjoyed the process, met lots of great people and learned quite a bit along the way.  Would I do it again?  Absolutely and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to push themselves out of their comfort zone and into the exciting world of creating that painting right in the moment.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Desert full of vineyards

Oliver Ranch Road
16 x 20
oil on canvas

This particular spot is my favourite in the whole Okanagan.  A winding road, vineyards on each side, surrounded by mountains and leading down to one of numerous lakes in this very long valley.  Irrigation keeps the fields green in what would otherwise be a desert.  

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Beak

Okanagan Park
9 x 9
oil on doorskin

Well I had to paint this scene though the composition falls under the 'beak' category that Stapleton Kearns has warned about.  Check out his blog here to learn much about the faux pas of the amateur painter.  I had to do this one anyway as it is quite a remarkable landmark especially if one is coming into Peachland or Kelowna from the west.  Dropping out of the mountains all of a sudden Okanagan Lake is below you and across the lake is the rocky and burned out Okanagan Park, victim of a huge forest fire in 2003.  Very stark and devoid of life it is only now starting to show signs of new growth.  It's beautiful and still takes my breath away when I see it.  This particular day I had taken my little Yorkie and my new paintbox and started the piece plein air finishing in my 'kitchen' studio.  

Friday, July 8, 2011

Birds on the Brain

Osprey in progress
20 x 16
oil on canvas

Bird photography has slowed right down for me.  The trees are so thick with foliage that although I can hear them by the hundreds they are rarely seen.   So I'm going through my resource pics to find ones that I'd like to paint.  This osprey with it's mate lives just a couple of blocks from me and I was lucky to catch several shots of it moving around on the nest.  I'm trying to find a balance between realism and abstract keeping the essence without labouring over detail, minimizing brushstrokes but staying true to the image, pushing saturation of hues as always...

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Shatford Show

Early Morning Calm
10 x 8
in progress

This painting does not reflect my life at the moment but rather how each day begins.  I try to start the morning with either a plein air outing or some cycling but before long manage to get swamped with technology and administration, yesterday being a new cell phone and taxes, today exploring website options and postcard designs.   Later I will visit our local art show at the Shatford Centre where I had my first success at being juried in.  In my excitement I forgot on my last post to thank Peggy Stel,  Picture This custom Framing in Penticton, who also had work juried in and did a great job framing my piece.  Hopefully the show will be online soon but in the meantime check out the winner of best in show, Shannon ford whose wonderful work can be seen at her website here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Triptych Opening Night and an Award

8 x 10
oil on canvas board

What a week it has been!  A daughter graduating from university and an award for my triptych (currently posing as the banner for my blog).  My gratitude and thanks to Linda Lovisa of New Moon Gallery  for presenting me with an award of distinction at the Triptych Opening Night in Penticton.  Go check out Linda's wonderful gallery in Westbank and drop in to the Shatford Centre in Penticton for the show which is on till the the 27th of July.  It features the work of many great artists of the Okanagan Valley from Osoyoos to Vernon and beyond.   I am back to the plein air painting again and though the above piece is one that I started last summer I have just recently finished it in the studio.  It's a jewel of a lake and fortunately has some of the little remaining desert to the east of it with much of the rest of the valley covered in vineyards. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bike to Work Week

City That Cycles

It's Bike to Work Week here and so I decided to include this photo in the few that I have hanging in Hooked On Books.  I couldn't believe the photo op whilst walking the side streets in Paris.  The street was deserted and empty but for the lineup of rental bikes parked for the day.  Not sure whether they were brought into the downtown from the burbs by workers or whether they were sitting there waiting for tourists to use.  The bikes are locked into meters all over the city and one only has to pay a fee, use the bike and then leave in any available meter.  A very bike friendly city! 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I'm in!

Rainy Day Reds  SOLD
12 x 12
oil on canvas

This painting was done on a day like today, drizzling with rain and dark and gloomy.  I liked the moody setting though, at eye level on a window sill, and my challenge was to catch the light coming through the grapes as well as bouncing off the highly reflective bowl.  Had a lot of fun with this one and it was juried into a Federation of Canadian Artists show - a first for me.  Yeah!

Skaha Bluffs
8 x 10
oil on canvas board

This piece was started on a plein air outing and finished in the studio.  It was a cool misty morning and the colors were muted but the reflections had me mesmerized.  This painting along with a few others are now hanging in a gallery in Oliver, another first for me.  These days have been busy with many new adventures.  Soon I will have a photography exhibit hanging as well in a local book shop.  What amazes me is the amount of administration that goes along with the creative part.  I can now see why artists often need someone to help manage the business.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Local heritage sites

Haynes Ranch
18 x 24
oil on canvas

With spring here and some exciting opportunities on the horizon for getting some paintings into galleries I've decided I need to ramp it up a bit, paint more and get back to the landscapes.   Last weekend I headed south for some bird photography and ended up at this old ranch, built in 1907 I believe.  It sits on a corner that I have cycled by many times but I have never before really noticed the old barns.  On this particular day I was walking around the perimeter and got some photos to bring back to paint from.  Still too cool for me to sit outside for any length of time but I'll head back when it warms up for some plein air.   There are many other beautiful old buildings in the valley that I'd like to paint before they collapse so that it will a project that should keep me going all summer.   

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Birthday flowers

Pinks and Greens
12 x 12
oil on canvas

The weather has turned cold again so I stayed inside today and painted this birthday bouquet.  I'm starting to enjoy painting this subject!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Plumbers and bluebirds

West Coast Trail
12 x 16
oil on canvas
Odd sounds drive me crazy and fortunately I chased down the latest one and discovered a failing hot water tank which led to the discovery of a failing water pressure valve leading into the house, a disaster in the making! Fortunately for good friends become neighbors, and the other way around of course and a great plumber all is well now. But whilst the work was being done I had my dogs tied to my chair and sat for several hours painting this west coast scene. This trail follows 75 kilometer of the west coast of Vancouver Island and it took us 7 days to hike it. On day 2 of the hike we climbed down the steep cliffs to the tidal flats which were much easier to hike along than the forest above, but had to be timed perfectly with the tides or one could get caught with no way back up as there were only a couple of spots where ropes had been left dangling down. It was many years ago that I was on this trail back when there were few others out there. Now one has to reserve a spot in order to access the park so that the numbers can be kept down.

Another highlight of the week happened during a hike out to a favourite nature reserve. I was climbing a hillside with my camera looking for meadowlarks and all of a sudden was surrounded by dozens of bluebirds swooping around and landing next to me. There were mostly Western Bluebirds but a few Mountain Bluebirds appeared in my photographs. I met a wonderful couple from a nearby town on the way down the hill and as we were standing there talking the bluebirds showed themselves again. The whole experience was magical!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Studio landscapes

Forest Walk
12 x 16
oil on canvas board
We are still in winter here with the days still too cool and windy for me to head out to paint plein air so I pulled out a photo taken last fall on a drive up through the hills to the west of here.   I started to have fun with the colors and design and before long the scene had taken a whole different direction and is not at all like the original.  I think this is one of the problems with painting from a photograph.  There is not really enough information sometimes to be able to paint from without embellishing somewhat.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Venturing into triptychs

portion of Valleyview
12 x 12
oil on canvas

 I was out for a drive last fall and was coming around a bend looking for good views when all of a sudden there was the scene that I'd been wanting to paint.  Rather than using a wide angle lens I took three shots and stitched the photos together so that the painting would appear as if one was standing in one spot and gazing across the scene from south to north and back.  One of the challenges of painting this beautiful valley is getting the entire vista all onto one canvas so when our local art group announced a new show called Triptych I decided to give a three panel panorama a go.  My goal here was to try to maintain flow across all three as well as trying to give each piece a stand alone strength.   The background of my title shows all three pieces together.  12 x 36

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Painting from a sketch

The Dory
18 x 24
oil on canvas
I usually like to plunge right into a painting hoping it will be a keeper but this was done from a sketch and photo from December and I can say that it was crucial to have the sketch to refer to knowing that the mood and composition will work for me. I do love painting boats and buildings but am starting back to Okanagan landscapes as spring is coming and I'm itching to get back to plein air painting. In the meantime I'm totally obsessed with the bird photography and am up to 70 species on my list. It has opened up a whole world of life I was oblivious to before and in fact walked or ran by each day without knowing it existed. Below is a little Golden-crowned Kinglet that hovers like a hummingbird looking for bugs in the bark, too small for me to have noticed before but living right out my front door.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Oiling Out

Reifel Reserve
8 x 10
oil on canvas board
I've been spending quite a bit of time birding, photographing and cataloging images lately but am also doing some maintenance on some recent paintings.  This involves checking the surfaces for dull areas and bringing back the luster with a little walnut oil.  It is as far as I'm concerned the only way to even out the surface properly and the bonus is that it shows up the brush strokes of paint instead of varnish brush strokes which can be distracting.  The oil when dry creates a tough protective surface but one has to watch for drips and it may require more than one oiling out to get a good finish.  
The painting above is of a Green-winged Teal that I spotted at the Reifel bird Reserve.  I loved the reflections and the limited palette needed to paint this.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Apex Guest Ranch

the  Ranch
12 x 16
oil on canvas board

Winter is the time to head up to the mountains for some skiing or snowshoeing and we pass this guest ranch on the way up.  In the summer we ride up here on our road bikes as a 20 k time trial or as part of a circle route around the Okanagan Valley.  It's a great landmark but unfortunately won't last forever.  This painting was done from an older photo and I believe part of the roof has now come down and the horses are a different breed so I will have to take some new reference photos and give it a go again next year.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

More birding

Female Hooded Merganser
8 x 10
oil on canvas board
So far this year I've photographed over thirty varieties of birds, not bad for January and all walking distance from home.  I've seen some pretty funny antics and even caught a beaver in action bringing home his dinner.  I think the bird watching is going to be a great new hobby once I figure out how to cope with a Yorkie and a Spitz on leashes and my camera all at once.  I fear one of the dogs will take off with the camera some day.  I couldn't resist painting this little merganser with all the colorful reflections on the water.  I won't post my photos here but they can be found on my Flickr page for anyone who is interested in bird photography.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A favorite restaurant and a bird

Hooded Mergansers in progress
14 x 18
oil on canvas
For several years now we've enjoyed dining at a local restaurant that sits out on the lake and calls itself the Hooded Merganser.  I never really knew what this bird was supposed to look like until I was able to see one little better with my zoom lense.  This pair was floating near the restaurant last week and I couldn't wait to paint them.  Although the female to the naked eye looks a little drab and basically brownish I think the beauty is there but very subtle.  I took some artistic license and pushed the colors a bit.  Funny enough one year we were at another local restaurant called The Lost Moose and upon driving away after lunch I had no sooner remarked on why they would call themselves that when a moose came out of the bush and walked across the road in front of us!  Weird experience and I haven't seen one since though I'm told they are around sometimes.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bird Watching

Wood Ducks in progress or maybe not
12 x 16
oil on canvas board

Christmas arrived and so did a zoom lens for my camera enabling me to get up close and personal with the huge bird population frequenting the marshes along the Fraser River or for that matter anywhere!  This pair live on a slough just behind our home along with Hooded Mergansers, Herons and numerous other species.  I could zoom in so close to these birds that I was able to see the reflections on their eyes and felt that I could see so much personality in their facial expressions.  Hearing that there was a rare Northern Hawk Owl in the area I joined throngs of photographers and bird watchers and was able to get a some really nice shots of it.  I'm now hooked on bird watching!