Malaspina Galleries and Descano Bay – November

Malaspina Galleries (8″ x 10″ oil on panel)

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.

Descano Bay – November (8″ x 10″ oil on panel)

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.

(C) 2022 Hilary Farmer


Former Glory

“Former Glory” (8″ x 10″ oil on panel)

This is an enormous large leaf maple tree with just a matter of time before the limbs that are left fall. In the meantime however, it’s a wonderful subject to paint en plein air. The stark pale grey of the dead tree contrast with autumn colours even on this rather dull day. I also enjoyed the interplay between the shapes of the branches and the movement of the clouds. The hydro poles remind us that there are people around even if the setting looks remote.

(C) 2022 Hilary Farmer


“Sheep!” (8″ x 10″ oil on panel)

I’ve been wanting to paint sheep (or cows or horses) from life for a while and this was my first try. The day did not exactly cooperate and neither did the sheep! The dots you can see in the oil paint are because it started raining …and of course the lovely initially curious sheep wandered away – no doubt being more sensible that the human they found somewhere out of the weather. Anyway, I had actually anticipated that might happen so I took a couple of snaps of one of the sheep before she wandered off so I was still able to have a couple featured in the foreground and not just distant blobs. As I was going to pack up, the sun came out with some lovely slanting light across the field which I added and really brought this one to life. I touched up the foreground sheep in the studio but left the rest quite sketchy and suggestive. It really captures the afternoon.

(C) 2022 Hilary Farmer


“Persistence” (9″ x 12″ oil on panel)

This glorious, enormous large leaf maple is clearly the star of the painting. Although it had some dead limbs, there was still a lot of life and colour to be seen. One of the challenges with this painting was distinguishing the tones of yellows and greens of the tree from both the foreground grasses and distant tree line. But the tree’s leaves had a warmth of tone and were much closer to a pure chroma making it reasonably easy for it to stand out.

(C) 2022 Hilary Farmer

Red Tree

Red Tree (8″ x 10″ oil on raised panel)

A recent opportunity to paint in a friend’s garden …this view captured the light starting to come through the gap in the tree and make the red tree glow. We set up ahead since my friend knew exactly when the sun would make an appearance. Awareness of time and light is so important to success in plein air painting! I was pleased with this one. I got the main shapes and values in place quite quickly but I did need to finish up a bit in the studio. Once the light dipped too far, everything looked completely different!

Here’s a detail of the red tree that inspired the painting.

Red Tree (detail)

The pops of pure colour (cadmium red light) in the tree as well as some “sky holes” were the details needed to make this one sing.

(C) 2022 Hilary Farmer

Descano Bay, Fall

Descano Bay, Fall (8″ x 8″ oil on raised panel)

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.

(C) 2022 Hilary Farmer

Degnen Bay – October Sun

Degnen Bay – October Sun (6″ x 8″ oil on panel)

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.

(C) 2022 Hilary Farmer

Plein Air Painting at Drumbeg

September Haze (8″ x 10″ oil on panel)

A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to get out plein air painting with our local group. We have so many great options of where to go and this time we went to Drumbeg Park. There was quite a lot of haze in the air partly from humidity and partly because there are often wildfires at this time of year. Creating that atmosphere was the challenge I took on for this one.

Elsa Paints (8″ x 8″ oil on raised panel)

It really was a lovely day that after I did the first one, I decided to do another quick painting! For a change I painted another artist as she worked. That was fun. 🙂

(C) 2022 Hilary Farmer

Plein Air at Clarke’s Bay

Clarke’s Bay View (8″ x 10″ oil on raised panel)

Recently, I went out painting with a group my friend Elsa Bluethner and I started up – “Gabriola Plein Air Painters”. I did two paintings that day. This was the first, then we went for a quick swim, then another painting. What a lovely late summer afternoon!

Clarke’s Bay Sparkles (6″ x 8″ oil on panel)

This was the second painting looking towards the left of the first one and into the almost blinding sparkles on the water. I was pretty pleased with how I captured the feeling of the light in this one.

(C) 2022 Hilary Farmer

Summer Pond and Summer Haze

Summer Pond (8″ x 10″ oil on panel)

There are some wonderful gardens around and it is always delightful to be able to paint plein air at someone else’s place! The gorgeous pink waterlilies were still blooming while orange lilies bent at the edge of the pond. I wanted to capture the brightness of the sun on the leaves and the shadowy depths of the pond. There were all kinds of creatures around enjoying the space like hummingbirds and bees. I took the chance to quickly sketch in a dragonfly when one lit in front of me. It really completes the summer vibe.

Summer Haze (6″ x 8″ oil on panel)

The same afternoon, I did another view focusing in on the waterlilies from the other side. Again, my goal was to capture the bright sun on the lilies and lily pads and the contrast of the dark water. The quality of light had a hot hazy summer feeling hence the title.

(C) 2022 Hilary Farmer