Friday, December 6, 2013
October 14 found us again in the Frontenac Arch, making another traverse of Fishing Lake Road. We stopped at this granite outcrop with Juniper to look for Skinks. The sun was warm and the Juniper's shadow was long. The season is too late for Skinks, however and the weather is cool. Fishing Lake Road runs at first through forests of Maple, Oak, and pine, and then rises to follow the crest of ridges cleared for a huge hydro power line - grassland with outcrops of
Monday, November 18, 2013
18 October finds me painting from the canoe, as whirligig beetles cavort on the mirror-dark water of the south end of Elbow Lake, 5.5 km northwest of Battersea, Ontario. The canoe is tied to a repeatedly-sprouting Beaver-felled Red Maple in a lee from the wind. The wind is still flexing the regrown brush-like tops of the White Pine across the water. The bay is covered with patches of Nuphar - Yellow Waterlily, with all the flowerheads nipped off and their stems protruding from the water. I am barely able to
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
5 November finds me painting on the south shore of the Ottawa River, at the end of a path from Francois du Pont Park, just west of Petrie Island. The thin curved leaves of Burr Reed draw calligraphic reflections on the water in a language unknown to me, but obvious to the river edge. As I sit painting, the meaning soaks in, elegant and clear. If the invasive European Reed, Phragmites australis were growing here, not only would it crowd out the native Burr reed, but the river would be entirely hidden from view except from higher up and farther back.
As Fred and Owen have been surveying these Ottawa River marshes for Unionids, they've been impressed by the dominance of Burreed (Sparganium). The haven't seen any Phragmites, invasive or native, and only a few patches of Cattails, usually the probably-alien Typha angustifolia. Nothing could be more superficially different than a Burreed's spherical fruit-head of protruding spikes, and a Cattail's stalk of compacted fluff. They both have buried rhizomes
Sunday, November 10, 2013
17 October finds me painting just below the high granite crest of of Hawkridge, north of Morton, Ontario. The trees are part of the sky here, and I am part of the leaves and the mossy, lichen rocks. The pastoral landscape below, seen through the thin tray tree trunks and what's left of their autumn leaves, is soft and blurry like a smudged pastel drawing. Blue Jays echo their voices back and forth across the crest of this high granite ridge, and a White Breasted Nuthatch honks a few times.
I am painting the wall of the top of the ridge, where stands the straight trunk of a Maple that is all gnarled and twisted from eight to twelve feet above the cliff edge. When Fred and I stood at the edge of the cliff, just above where I sit now, I photographed the mid section of the tree, considering it as the subject of a painting - a rather macabre portrait of a tree twisted and tortured by some mysterious influence, some effect of growing up past the edge of the cliff, and exposed to the weather atop Hawkridge.
Sunday, October 27, 2013
14 October finds me painting a lichened rock face in the woods along the Fishing Lake Road in the Frontenac Axis north of Battersea, Ontario.
"Don't say That's a nice view to paint," I tell myself. "Say, This is compelling! Should it be 11 x 14 horizontal to show the ferns and rock tripe below the forest - or portrait shape? The mosses and lichens are flowing down the face of the rock, following the crevice like a waterfall, so it must be a narrow vertical. THAT is compelling!"
The touselled patch of Rock Tripe curls like hand-size scraps of wet canvas painted dull olive green, showing their black velvet undersides where the edges turn up. Some kind of woodsy Goldenrod leans toward the left from a patch of Polypody near the centre of the scene, and I decide to include it for its energy - though it is just a thread of stem with narrow leaves, punctuated toward its tip by a strung out constellation of fluffy spent flowers.
Compared with the strong contrasts of the rock face, the woods above the ledge are soft and pale, trees glowing in autumn sunshine and showing a bit of pale blue sky. Large Red Oak leaves poise like hands making gestures among the stems of Honeysuckle at the crest of the rock face, and fallen Sugar Maple leaves make vermillion accents where they lodge among the Dryopteris ferns near the top.
Friday, October 4, 2013
29 September finds me painting a scene of rapid, man-made transition north of Kemptville, Ontario. This is a shallowly ditched sand flat, bulldozed from the previous habitat within the past calendar year, near a remnant patch of Red Maple/White Birch woods. Underfoot is flat sand, missing its layer of topsoil and forest. Beyond a shallow ditch looms a pile of tree roots from last year's clearing, and beyond that, the straight edge of natural vegetation and the tall trunks of old, flood-killed trees that marks a large wetland complex that is being transitioned to a major housing development. There's a whispy stand of the Native Reed, Phragmites australis (americanus subspecies), its lower stem nodes red & smooth, on a ridge of clayey sand at intersection of grid of bulldozed roadways.
The sand is whiskered with little early-disturbance annuals, and a pronounced grey-horizon podzol soil profile is exposed at the edge of the bulldozed area. A Great Blue Heron
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Sunday, September 15, 2013
Perched cross-legged atop one of the angular chunks of granite that jumbled from the
Monday, September 9, 2013
on the rocks below camp,
Saturday, September 7, 2013
Everywhere I looked there were different textures - nothing was like anything else, and the slower I walked,
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
27 August finds me looking into the woods from the side of Frontier Rd, southeast of Carlsbad Springs, in eastern Ontario. Each time Fred and I drove past this tree today I've admired it - must be making a statement, to the artist in me at least, and perhaps of something deeper that does not come to me in words.
The Aspen rises from waves of Frangulous Buckthorn foliage which is in the process of engulfing the native willow bushes and Red Osier Dogwood, and the shadowed trunks of other Aspens make blue-grey lines in the background as the sunset twinkles through their branches. The space that makes for distance in my painting is an opening cleared by bulldozers, perhaps last summer. It enters at an angle from the road and then turns and runs straight, deep into the property, but that's not obvious from the road. For now I'll stay by the road to paint the scarred Aspen.
Today we are participating in a "Bio-blitz" - an all-taxon biological survey of a place we are not
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Fred and I are happy to present this series of 10 oil paintings for auction by e-mail, to support our Landscape Art and Science expeditions in partnership with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. The NCC have full use of the images of these paintings.
View the paintings throughout the 10 posts below. The starting price for each painting is indicated at the bottom of the journal text in its blog post. Simply E-mail me with your bid and I'll keep you privately informed of counter bids.
The auction closes on Wednesday, 21 August, 2013.
I find the internal yellow glow and the external rosy blush of these berries fascinating - and yes, the druplets are shaped like little valentines. I wasn't making it up!
As the bog opens out from the forest, it looks the same as most other bogs, hummocky and bushy, with scattered stunted Tamaracks and Spruces - rather bowl-shaped, with the shortest trees towards a the centre, and with islands of taller vegetation. Cotton Grass bobs and
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
7 July found me photographing shaggy Birches along the Five Fathom Hole Trail near Prince of Wales, New Brunswick, returning from the spot where I'd painted "High Lookout From the Trail", and before my view of the tributary to Butler's Creek. It was the evening of a very hot day. Mosquitoes were rising as the light was mellowing, with splashes of sunlight here and there through the forest. The air was calm. The lilting fronds of ferns were motionless, and so were the sheets of bright needles flung out into the
Friday, July 26, 2013
This lovely brook collects rain water that has been steeped in the forest - dripped from leaves, trickled down bark, soaked through
Thursday, July 25, 2013
There is not much White Cedar hereabouts, and this grove of mature wet-loving trees may indicate the pond we'd hoped to find. We weren't out of the van and into the woods for very long before we were drawn by a splash of evening sun
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Saturday, July 20, 2013
7 July finds me painting from a lookout on the Five Fathom Hole Trail, south of Prince of Wales, New Brunswick. Coming down from the forest trail through a solid patch of Bunchberry with tiny green fruit, i pushed through a tangle of Blueberry and Sheep Laurel, with little Balsam Fir trying themselves out as replacements for their relations that were cut a few years ago to open this high view of the estuary.
Now I'm perched on a slope of prickly dry lichens and roots beside a hoary-twigged spruce stump at the brink of the cliff, looking across a forested granite headland toward a distant island in the
Friday, July 19, 2013
7 July finds me teaching a plein air painting workshop on the fishing wharf at Five Fathom Hole, near Prince of Wales, New Brunswick. This is my demonstration piece, painted on a ground or underpainting of dark brown. Six people turned out in spite of the scorching sun and record high temperatures, and here we are, beamed down on by the noonday sun, the weathered boards of the wharf becoming hotter by the minute. The end of the wharf, large and square so that vehicles can drive out and turn around, works well as an outdoor classroom. There is a diversity of subject matter for painting in every direction and we are all within speaking distance of each other.