Sometimes it’s possible to fit a lot of landscape in a 4″ x 4″ mini painting! When I first started doing minis, I painted a lot of close in details with one bird or bee or other small creature at close to life sized. That’s a lot of fun and I still do those …but compressing a large vista onto such a small surface while still keeping the painting loose is fun too. Check out all the texture you can see in the paint like where I scratched back into the wet paint with the end of my brush.
I have been working on this larger piece for a while. The colours are more muted than I often use but fit with my mood and the season – late autumn with its short and gloomy days. Ever-present ravens still flap overhead though animating the sky. To my thinking, this painting just shows three or four ravens as they move through time and across space. Details below.
Layering oil paint then scraping to reveal colours below results in a sky that glows like an opal.
Ravens do like to perch on the very top of the tree!
This is an imagined landscape but very much inspired by my experiences of exploring the west coast of Canada. Sometimes there are lots of people around, lots of boats but at other times the stillness and feelings of peace and solitude and deep and pervasive. Some details below to give a better idea of the textures and colours.
Painting a larger piece with the theme of birds in flight seemed natural after creating the smaller ones. The scale of this one allowed much more in terms of setting. The whole thing evolved intuitively as the layers built up. One of the final elements was the bridge crossing a narrow chasm in the foreground. I suddenly realized there was a path to look out over the ridge. That must be some spectacular view! I enjoyed the idea of that other view which here is just hinted at but the main feature is the sky full of birds darting and skimming through the air – the feeling of exultation.
Another lovely few hours spent in someone’s garden painting a lovely view. Back in June when this was painted, everything was fresh and blooming. All that crazy summer heat we experienced was yet to come.
I have in the past been used to keeping pretty much up to the minute on this blog but actually, I find I have really been enjoying looking back from the distance of a few months and dare I say feeling a sense of accomplishment for everything I did in this (still) rather strange period of history. From the perspective of a bit of time, I no longer see the breaks and gaps but just the work. Interesting.
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.
The world has changed a lot in a few short weeks …weeks that have felt very, very long. I want to continue posting images that reflect joy and beauty as I see it, but there are obvious challenges given the situation.
After the lockdown started where we are, it took a week or so for me to get into a headspace where I could start painting again. What came out was not a specific view, but reflected both the landscape here and my feeling of how surreal the unchanged local beauty seems in this context as well as the feeling of connectedness within separation of this time. This painting was not an alla prima piece. I kept coming back over several days layering paint until I achieved something close to the vision I had.
Tom as usual responded to the painting with a deeply beautiful poem.
Trees at Twilight
Behind the trees a secret lies
that whispers on the evening light
that speaks of other times and skies
before the day becomes the night…
as brightness falls the air is still
behind the forest, where the will
of Nature rules the tides and time
to make of this a place sublime
where the truth that can’t be spoken
drifts across the twilight sea
dipping deep to set us free
of all our yesterdays unbroken.
These silent sentinels behold
more beauty than is known or told.
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.
Things have been very busy lately – in the best possible way. I had an open studio as part of the Gabriola Island (Canadian) Thanksgiving Studio Tour. So many lovely people came and several bought pieces. After working away on my own for about two years, it was wonderful to have such a positive experience when I let “outsiders” in to see my work!
The style in this painting evolved into something quite like some of the impressionists as I searched for a way to create a shimmer of light on the water. This is not any particular view but it’s very rooted here in the Gulf Islands of the West Coast – the mossy foreground, the light coming through the evergreens and distant mountains reminding us that there’s another world out there.
I love Tom’s poem for this one!
Shadows beckon, light awaits
around the distant point of land
where the evening gently scrapes
against the rocks where cedars stand
upon these timeless island shores
where in winter gale-winds roar
tearing at the ancient trees
that still stand tall in summer breeze
as the evening, warm and long,
breathes in life’s diversity:
mosses, flowers, trees, the sea
that sings the oldest of the songs.
Far beyond these coves and bays
The Ocean sings of elder days.
An exploration of the ocean and mountains at Desolation Sound. I mentioned in a previous post about the amazing beauty there and I will no doubt continue trying to capture it. So far, I feel Tom’s lovely poem is much more evocative of this magical place.
There are no mountains, nor a sea,
nor any forests, green and deep,
but these that beckon, calling me
to pause within their sheltered keep
like a knight on olden fields
who wanders, fighting, never yields,
but battered on he travels still
seeking peace beside a rill
or stream where might a hart bound by
leaving stillness in its wake,
where the knight may bend and slake
his thirst for beauty where the sky
glows in beauty over trees
below the mountains, by the sea.