I hadn’t painted a mini in a while and for some reason a banana slug seemed like a good idea! They are a distinctive creature that we have here on the West coast and while some may just find them slimey, I think they’re rather …well, actually beautiful with their varying shades of yellow, dark spots etc. This one is nicely contrasted with some soft green mosses.
A last plein air from this past summer. As you can see, another gorgeous day, sunny and a bit breezy out in the bay. This view takes in Entrance Island and the mainland to the east. In the foreground some of the curious and fascinating limestone formations that are a common sight here.
Here’s my setup with the under-painting layer already done. In the photograph it’s harder to see the island and distant mountains than was actually the case. You can get a good idea of the rolling limestone “dunes” with embedded limestone rocks though. I’ve been a bit intimidated about trying to capture these formations but I think it turned out quite well!
A sunny day back in the spring. I was perched rather precariously on a large rock with my setup. It doesn’t look too bad in the photo, you’ll just have to trust me on that! 😉
The sea looks different every time …and the scudding clouds and the distant mountains too. Looking at a plein air painting always takes me back to the feeling of being in that place at that time, with the feel of the breeze and the smell of the ocean. Looking at this I just remembered I was visited by sea lions while I was painting this one. If they had come much closer, I would have packed up but they stayed down on the rocks off to the right of the frame of this painting. It was pretty magical.
A pleasant day in late March. The local buffleheads were out – that’s a kind of black and white duck. Plein air painting can be such a wonderful way to connect with the world. Looking at a painting I have done in nature always takes me right back to that moment.
Tom wrote a haiku for this painting celebrating spring …and buffleheads!
bufflehead breezes wander down island narrows ruffling spring waters
Another plein air piece from July. There is a wonderful park along the ocean that I hope to paint many more times. The mood of the sky and water is different every time. This day, the tide was somewhat low showing shallow rocks extending out from shore. A leaning tree, some wave action and a calm sky complete the scene.
Tom wrote another haiku for this one encapsulating in words my memory of painting that afternoon.
somewhere to the south beyond warm summer mists passage to the sea
Wow – what a long beautiful summer evening that was! I painted this en plein air from the deck of our sailboat just a couple of days off the solstice. I thought I would get some wonderful sunset colours but I would have had to wait longer than I felt like. Anyway, the subtle tones are lovely too, I think.
Tom wrote a haiku with an appropriately Zen feeling for this one!
ten thousand years hence
this long summer evening light
will still be here now
We went for a walk on New Year’s Day in a park by the ocean. There were a number of others out taking advantage of the pleasant day on a holiday as well with lots of shared smiles and well-wishes for the New Year.
This was a bit of an experiment. I knew that I wanted to paint the scene and took several photos but I wasn’t sure if any were quite right. Half way through painting it, I thought – that’s not working! The composition had looked interesting in a small photo but in the painting instead of drawing me in, I was just aware of the vast expanse of boring foreground. Adding more detail and texture to the grass, rocks and logs seems to have been enough to solve that problem and I like it now. Having some small figures in the scene gives a sense of scale and reminds me of traditional Chinese landscape paintings where there is almost always a figure going about their life in the distance.
Tom’s poem expresses how well he knows the coasts and seasons here.
These are the crooked roads we walk
wet, muddy, by the shore
where trees are bent by slow incessant summer winds
and empty winter gales.
Their cousins lie in serried ranks
along the rocky shore
tossed by tides and angry waves from distant isles
come to rest at last.
We walk on in silence strong
secure upon this shore
while beneath the winter scudding clouds the sea
lies calm in patient peace.
While I find these tidal pool creatures fascinating and beautiful, there is also something strange and improbable about them. Technically, I was trying to get the sense of the sunlight using glints of bright colours. Definitely fun to paint!
Tom’s poetic take on the subject is a playful spin on a childhood rhyme.
When you wish upon a star
be careful of your wish’s aim:
a ball of gas, quite hot and far,
or something else that shares its name?
For an echinoderm will not
grant the wish that you have got
nor will it listen to appeals
from a human. All your feels
are as nothing to a fish
of the starry ocean kind
which may leave you in a bind
if to it you entrust your wish!
So when you wish, wish on a sun
beneath whose light strange creatures run.
Since visiting and then moving to the west coast of Canada, I have had the opportunity to explore nature of kinds that are vastly different from what I grew up with in Ontario. One thing that is especially different and fascinating are tidal pools. Sometimes, a casual glance is rewarded with the view of colourful creatures but even if not, the longer you look, the more you see. Tiny fish, or crabs scuttling along – sometimes wearing someone else’s shell, barnacles using their little feet to kick food into their mouths and it goes on – I couldn’t make this up! Anyway, anemones are one of the more obvious and beautiful creatures to see.
Here is Tom’s playful poem!
An enemy of anemone is my friend
for what do lurking colours oft portend?
A fish ensnared within the lair
of tentacles: entrapped unto its end!
A reticent young innocent defends
the fish whose tail now flailingly extends
from the grip of poisoned nips
of tentacles: a saving hand descends!
A true ally I’ll be, shall I transcend
our different species? For I apprehend
a soul at risk, and so I whisk
off tentacles: the fish no more condemned!