I spent several days on this one layering up the paint and carving out the shapes …exploring until I felt I had achieved the feeling I was looking for …tranquility. This was done as a commission but with complete free rein in terms of subject and execution. I feel both grateful and humbled to be given this kind of freedom in a commission. The location where it will hang has a spa-like calm feeling so I wanted to build on that with this painting. The yellow waterlilies (or spadderdocks) are reminders for them of canoeing on the Ontario lakes they love.
I have painted plein air at this location a few times now and every time it’s so different. The level of the water and the direction of flow of the tide …the colour of the water …and the sky, the quality of the light – so much can change by season and by time of day. Of course things are changing even during the time it takes to create a small painting. On this day, the tide was coming in quite quickly but I mostly kept the original water level. I loved the colours in the shallows and on the wet sand.
A new mini. A damselfly perched on a yellow waterlily also called “spadderdock” and a lot of other names. These flowers are not as classically lovely as the white waterlilies that I also grew up with, but there’s something fascinating about these intensely yellow blooms. I also enjoyed a relatively simple colour palette for a change!
This one was painted en plein air out on our deck on this lovely sunny Victoria Day long weekend. It took two afternoon sessions because of the larger than usual canvas and the quickly changing light. Luckily, it was sunny both Saturday and Sunday so I was able to continue in very similar conditions. I decided to really abstract the background elements – both the slatted table the vase was sitting on and the forest and sky beyond are represented by playing around in value tones. With the bouquet itself, I had a lot fun deciding which elements to pull out in some detail and which to make more suggestive. A very pleasant way to spend some time with the scent of lilacs wafting by…
This sweet bumble bee and apple blossoms painting is another mini. The spring this year has been unusually cold and damp with sightings of pollinators being few and far between. Then recently we had a warmer, sunnier day and there they were – all different sizes and types of bees in the garden. It made me feel so good that I wanted to paint a celebratory bee painting. Hope you enjoy!
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.
Back in April, Elsa Bluethner and I gave a workshop on plein air painting at a local festival. It took the form of information sharing especially about approach and equipment and then we each did a demo. Mine looked towards the south showing a pretty gate to a community garden. This spring has been very cool and things are taking a long time to bloom. The small fruit tree in the foreground was just trying to start opening its buds.
Despite the cool grey day, everyone seemed to enjoy the event. I think we may be starting up a plein air club soon …as soon as it finally warms up!
I went out plein air painting with an artist friend early in April to a protected bay on our coast. Lucky us that’s only about a 15 minute drive. There were a few boats moored here but I decided to focus on the fleeting sky and cloud structure and the effect of that on the water. Especially happy with the sky!
I didn’t want to start another 8×10 but my friend was still painting and had a 6×8 linen panel she was willing to give me to try. So here’s the second painting of the afternoon looking another direction. We were getting rather chilled so I ended up tweaking this one back in the studio.
Once again, I decided to focus on the natural aspects of the scene – the lengthening shadows and new green of the spring trees while mostly ignoring any man made structures.
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.