The best known tourist attraction on our small Gulf Island is called Malaspina Galleries. This natural sandstone formation dramatically creates an arched room open on the ocean side. You can see there are trees growing on the “roof” above. Some late season fine weather meant I was able to go out painting one afternoon in November with a friend. She had painted here many times before but it was a first for me. It was quite challenging to catch this quirky spot in a painting but I was quite pleased in the end.
It was too nice to just head home after that first painting so we went to another spot nearby. Here, I really wanted to capture the sparkles in the water even though it was pretty blinding! I had to take a peek and then paint for a while then peek again. I was delighted when a family of three paddled into view and stayed around for long enough that I was able to add them to the piece. The canoe and people give a sense of scale and add movement to the scene.
I like to paint (with oils) on paper sometimes. With an inexpensive substrate, it feels like there is less pressure to produce something saleable. Here, I was just feeling an autumn mood with dried grasses under foot and birds overhead heading off to somewhere warmer. The sun peers through hazy clouds since we did have some late in the season forest fires in the area. The brushwork is quite loose and you can see that I have also scratched into the paint – often just with the end of the brush.
Another plein air painting that I did just before the weather changed to “real fall” and started raining most days. It was a hazy day though and I tried to capture both the aerial perspective of the further shore as well as the reflections, shadows and transparency of the water. The white structure is the ferry dock which locals would recognize. Feeling deeply grateful to be able to spend time in this beautiful place trying to capture some of that beauty in paint.
Catching the late afternoon light while out plein air painting recently. The weather was unseasonably sunny and the lovely slanting light and warm autumn colours made for a pleasant scene. Painting outdoors is one of the most enjoyable things to do – for me anyway – and on a day like this even more so.
We’re now nearing the end of summer but Indian Summer still won’t be for quite a while. In Canada, we expect some cold fall weather first and then a feeling of the return of summer before it’s true Indian Summer. This painting was a commission to celebrate autumn in the Niagara region of Ontario and I was really happy with how it came together. I hope you can hear the rustling of the corn stalks and smell the hazy atmosphere of the last real warmth before winter sets in.
To close out 2021 a larger piece that I worked on over a couple of months and finished recently. Inspired by the local juncos who are so quick flitting about. Often, they are only recognized by the flash of white in their tails. There is a feeling of Autumn in this piece as well, with arbutus berries and leaves and also signs of new rain in puddles. Realistic elements and other more abstracted passages balance each other.
This was a demo painting I did during a workshop earlier this fall for a lovely group of women. Market flowers seemed the perfect subject – almost the last fresh local flowers of the season. Despite wandering around during my own painting process to check the students’ progress, I ended up with a piece I was pretty pleased with. It’s fresh and loose.
This piece started life as a study for a large commission and then became a painting that I liked in its own right. The feeling of this imagined landscape is of Ontario lake country in the fall. The leaves of the birches have turned gold while the occasional maple splashes red. A barred owl gazes out and the moon is full in the early evening sky.
I painted this one from a photo I took at my parents’ a couple of years ago. They have a few fruit trees and that particular year, the pear trees were obligingly full of fruit – plump and hanging low on the branches.
Perhaps I should change the title to “A Study in Green” from Tom’s playful poem.
A Study in Green
“It is a mystery!” said Holmes
examining a pear
and recollecting weighty tomes
to learn what might be there.
“You see, through looking-glass I see
these fruit so ripe upon their tree
yet when I gaze with mine own eye
I do see nothing! Just blue sky!”
“You have the glass most angled, Holmes,”
good Watson did reply.
They both were lying on the ground
beneath the summer sky
amidst the greenly ripening pears
ignoring all the farmer’s stares
who had hired them to discover
where his wife would meet her lover.
“Oh, I see!” said Holmes at last
and bounced up to his feet
inspecting carefully the grass
still green in summer heat.
“This is the place! I do declare
where the lovers made their lair!
Just look how olive drab the shade
has turned the turf where they have laid!”
“How could you know?” the farmer asked,
and Holmes gave his reply:
“The lover was myself, of course!
And now it’s time to fly!”
Tom added: “The greens of this piece made me immediately think, “A study in green”,
which jumped me to “A Study in Scarlett”, which was the first Sherlock
Holmes novel. :-)”
Everything at the market is so inspiring at this time of year! I deliberately chose the apples that still had some leaves attached – partly because then I can tell that the apples are really fresh …but mostly because I like to paint the leaves. The wooden bowl I put the apples in has an oval shape – the view is pretty much looking straight down. I painted this alla prima and had lots of fun playing with colour as usual.
Tom wrote a nostalgic feeling poem for this one.
Early mornings on the way to school
in crisp September under shifting skies
I’d pick an apple, hard and tart and cool:
a burst of flavour telling me no lies,
just flooding all my senses with its taste
and texture, scent, and colour, then the crack
of every bite in autumn silence. Haste
devoured it to the core. No looking back
upon a lonely childhood would be fair
without those moments pure and full, delight
in what the world might be, what’s waiting there
for anyone who reaches for a height.
Apples gave us knowledge, so it’s told
Apples gave me beauty, bright and bold.