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