I just had a three day open studio as part of the Gabriola Thanksgiving Studio Tour. It was a wonderful experience slightly tempered by the necessity of keeping strict COVID protocols. Welcoming people into our space after being quite solitary for the past year and a half was heart-warming. People were so thrilled to be able to take part in this activity and visit many artists studios throughout the long weekend. This painting was shown at the central gallery where each artist displays one piece of work.
The idea for “skyflowers” – or clouds that taken on the aspect of various flowers – drifted into my mind and just had to be painted. The seascape part is very much inspired by the local waters here amongst the Gulf Islands off Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada.
Here are irises cascading into the ocean behind an island at sunset.
I built up and scratched away layers to enhance the evening glow in this part of the sky.
One more piece of sky clearing showing the shape of the iris clouds.
This painting is definitely not the last of this series. 🙂
About a week after my first visit to Nola’s pond, I had the chance to go back and focus on the now blooming waterlilies. What a treat. There is something about painting waterlilies …I guess Monet was onto something!
Another lovely day in late June spent painting a garden. I was so pleased to be able to create this piece which ended up having quite a personal resonance for the owner.
And here is the setup in the strong sunshine we had that day.
Have I mentioned how much I enjoy my plein air set up? It’s a Coulter Easel, and I have been using it for a couple of years now both for plein air and often (at least for smaller paintings) in the studio too. It is compact and very ergonomic with the palette and painting held at the perfect heights for working …and in cases like this with sloped ground, it is very easy to adjust a leg of the tripod to compensate for the terrain.
My next exploration with a big sky. This one was starting to get closer to what was in my head. I had a vision of clouds as flowers and thought “why not?” As artists we do not have any constraints expect those we put on ourselves. Kandinsky said, “There is no must in art, because art is free.” Whatever I imagine, I can paint! So freeing!
This one was an imagined view. I was thinking about clouds and this colours, shapes and patterns they make. It has more of a feeling of the landscapes where I grew up in Southern Ontario than where I live now on the West Coast of Canada. Fairly flat farm land with trees between the fields and dreamy puffy clouds.
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
Early in September I went out with my gear and found another local beauty spot. It was really hot that day! I was glad to find a bit of shade to set up in. The challenge as usual with plein air painting was to catch the light quickly – as well as the colour of the water and the shapes and locations of the clouds before everything changes. The result is less detailed but fresher and more dynamic than working from a photo.
Here is Tom’s poem which at first seems to be for another scene but wait for it – the final couplet tells the tale.
In summer gales these waters roil as wind and tide and waves contend for who shall make the sailor’s toil the worst. And who shall best unmend the flapping canvas, spliced up rope, a bimini not made to cope with gusts that come from angles all around the compass. Masts might fall as waves come in from every point. The bow is bounced, the stern is slewed, the sky with clouds ascudding’s strewed as the sea tests every joint. But in the calm it lies serene as if those storms were never seen!
This is a plein air painting from August. The sun was high and warm reflecting back all kinds of glorious colours in the water. I captured a couple of sailboats at anchor as well as a few floating markers. The mountains of the mainland are in the distance. I have a lovely memory of the day when I look at this.
Tom wrote a thoughtful poem that speaks of times long gone the results of which still impact us today.
Upon a time a Spaniard passed this way anchoring and sending out a brace of boats to sound the waters all around the quiet bay where otter, seals, and cod could still be found. The shore was all alive with other eyes that watched the strange great ships and wondered where they had first tasted of sea. What skies had witnessed their emergence from their lair? Dark ravens cocked and turned upon the wind Dark rhymes were brewing in the human heart Dark beneath the summer sky the sins of darkness drove the worlds apart. The ships sailed on, left chaos in their wake and broken words that promises forsake.
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