I was out walking near a pond recently. There were dragonflies darting and weaving over the surface of the water and a little bit along the path was a Red Admiral butterfly just sunning its wings. I was immediately inspired to paint one for my next mini. There’s a lot of dark velvety wing as well as its soft dark body so it was challenging to paint one but I’m happy with how it turned out.
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.
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.
I just got back a few days ago from being away for a couple of weeks. I was feeling a bit rusty and maybe even a little resistant to getting my oils out when a friend invited me to her place to plein air paint together. She has a lovely garden with a great variety of textures and colours so it was a lot of fun. I definitely feel back in the groove now! I did two little paintings. This first (above) was really loose and abstract inspired by the California lilacs and other shrubs.
This second one was looking in another direction towards the orange door to her studio and the pots of flowers on the small deck in front. While I left the first one as it was, this one I tweaked in the studio slightly to enhance the dark/light contrast.
This mini was based on a photo I took visiting my parent’s home last summer. The flowers were blooming and everything was alive with pollinators of all kinds. I kind of felt that this butterfly was looking a bit askance at me but I decided it was just shy. 🙂
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!
This is the next in my “Skyflowers” series inspired by the southern Ontario farmland I grew up around and the late summer wildflower Queen Anne’s Lace. Here the clouds are both puffy cumulus and wildflowers. Have you ever noticed that most Queen Anne’s Lace have one tiny flower in the middle that’s red or purple? Of course they are mostly clusters of tiny white flowers so they work well as clouds, I think.
This is another of my plein air from this past summer. It was August and although the “heat dome” had passed, it was still very warm that day. So the title reflects the time of year and the heat as well as the wonderful red-orange of the cascading crocosmia. This view could only be painted while I was standing in the direct sunshine so I had to take breaks in the shade every 15 or 20 minutes. Well worth the experience …and I can still feel the heat when I look at this one.
I painted this one for a specific local show which isn’t until January but I wanted to make sure it would be dry in lots of time for varnishing. All the paintings in the show will be the same format (12″ x 12″) and the same price but all different styles and subjects. I really hope mine appeals to someone …who doesn’t like waterlilies, right?!
Tom wrote a poem for this one about the power of illusions.
Some days I think that I could walk across the mirror-surface of this lily-pond stepping on the stones of green and gloss all my weight supported by the fronds of floating pads. Their vines are columns, stone could not provide as much support or strength as their living sinews, summer-grown from roots and stems, prodigious in length. Could I not walk on water, dance on air? Could I not just this once defy the laws? Could I not touch the face of one so fair? Could I not have effect without a cause? Some days there are illusions that have power But none so great as one strong lily’s flower.
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
This is the next in my abstract explorations. There is play with depth and texture as well as colour (of course). It makes me think of a hot end-of-summer day …but it’s cool in the woods.
Tom’s poem takes a different and perhaps darker path with references to: [Proverbs, 4:16-17 “For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.”
When in the middle of my life I found myself within a darkened wood though lit by faerie lights that floated up and over trees mysterious. Their shapes were strange and unfamiliar, hung with vines that grow the grapes from whence a famous vintage will be pressed yclept the wine of violence in the Book. I do not taste them as I softly pass along the shadowed paths that wend their way between the gnarled trunks. I do not eat, nor drink from rills that run between the roots as deeper down I go. The woods are silent, dark, and deep… You know the rest, I think, but I pass by, upon the other side.