Friday, May 10, 2013
The call of a Fowlers Toad is similar to the call of the larger American Toad, but lower pitched and of shorter duration. The American Toad makes a long, high trill that goes on and on for over ten seconds, but the Fowlers Toad's call, though also a trill, is rather like a bray. Some say it sounds like the cry of a baby.
All of the tracks head east toward the sound of the breeding chorus, and several Fowlers Toads hop along the wet sand within reach of the calmly
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
1 May finds me sitting close to the base of a huge Red Oak, painting Dutchman's Breeches as it blooms among moss and fallen branches on a low rocky bluff by the side of the one-lane track named Fishing Lake Road, north of Battersea in eastern Ontario's Frontenac Arch. It is a hot and sunny spring day, and we stopped here to investigate the "Hartrick Tract", a property recently purchased by the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
Sunday, May 5, 2013
30 April finds me painting at the head of an embayment on a small lake on a Nature Conservancy property in Ontario's Frontenac Arch. The narrow bay is embraced by high granite outcrops, like a miniature Norwegian fjord - with Pines on a cliff to my left (south) and mixed forest on a high ridge to my right. I'm sitting on the ground to paint, amidst tiny pale blue violets, delicate spears of spring grass, and the nodding yellow bells of Twisted Stalk.
A pair of Turkey Vultures soar and circle, etching a thick-and-thin caligraphic ballet on robin's egg blue above the White Pines. The clouds are reaching and gesturing across the sky in unison with the sweeping branches of the Pines, and the black silouettes of dead stumps in the reflection of the sky echo the weathered stump infront of me.
I spent a long while studying the scene before I began to paint, not wanting to
Thursday, April 18, 2013
The crest of granite is about 50 metres long and about 5 metres high, padded on its ledges by soft green moss alternating with banks of Polypody ferns, flowing with sprays of Marginal Wood Fern, and ruffled in patches with large floppy Rock Tripe, Umbilicaria mammulata, tan on upper sides and velvety black beneath. When we first arrived we noticed the Rock Tripe on the lower shoulder at the south end, and there I took photos and searched for interesting compositions to paint.
While Fred walks farther along the road to the
Saturday, April 13, 2013
13 April finds me deciding that this painting is finished. It is always chancy to reconstruct a scene, especially when photographic reference is hard to come by. People who commission paintings often have no idea how much reference is needed! I often keep wondering for weeks after a
Thursday, April 11, 2013
11 April finds me lining up my six watercolours of female Lampsilis fasicola, the Wavyrayed Lampmussel, showing their stuff - six different styles of lures for attracting and parasitizing their host fishes. This is highly unusual, having a diversity of lures in one species of mussel, and the reason why is not well understood! These are the original Bass-fishing lures, as the main host of this species of mussel is the Large-mouth Bass.
Sunday, March 31, 2013
To help these paintings find their patrons, I've decided to hold a spring sale.
If you purchase one painting, you get a 10% discount.
If you purchase two paintings, you get a 20% discount.
If you purchase three paintings, you get a 30% discount.
Have a look at the paintings for sale, (make sure to click on "older posts" at the bottom, to see the rest of them) and e-mail me your choices! karstad ("at") pinicola.ca The sale ends midnight, Tuesday, April 10, 2013
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
We try to let Bentley out only when there's minimal chance of his acting as a subsidized predator, and Fred was sure this was proof that he should never be let out of the house
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Monday, February 4, 2013
I enjoy doing commissions of pets. It is thrilling when people recognize their four-footed friends in my paintings.
This one was done on a dark brown underpainting, and I decided to retain the rich darkness for the background, even though the original photo was taken of the dog against a white kitchen floor. The lighting came from two sides - bright and warm from the left and cooler and a little more subdued from the right - couldn't have posed her better in a studio!
Friday, January 18, 2013
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Sunday, December 30, 2012
Calm as a farm pond at the top, Golden Creek's black water reflects rocks and snow, approaching the falls on either side of an old Ash tree. Slipping past rocks and beneath their thin collars of ice, the freezing water sculpts wax-like mini-falls in its lacy drop over the first step and then rushes, churning below my snowy perch on the second ledge, to its next fall, and then straight like a misty scarf into the plunge pool 5 metres below. A Hemlock leans from the vertical rock wall which turns the creek to the west, threading among snow-covered boulders out of sight among the trees.
Golden Creek originates about 10 km NNW of Brockville and flows southward for about 15 km through wetland habitats, over limestone bedrock, and for 1.5 km, after it falls here, through the Lyn Valley, before joining Lyn Creek. There are as yet no Zebra Mussels in either Lyn or Golden Creeks, and below the falls there's a rich mussel fauna, including the endangered Ligumia nasuta a slim, elegantly angled clam with a honey-brown outer skin (periostracum) and a pale purplish pearly interior. I painted the lower creek on 18 Sept 2011 as Fred "tossed the quadrat" for mussels. Neither stream has a rich mussel
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
13 December finds us discovering Rideau Falls, Ottawa's best kept secret! This is the mouth of the Rideau River, named in French as "curtain." I moved to Ottawa in 1971 and Fred and I have lived within an hour's drive of Ottawa ever since, without ever having seen the defining feature of this river as it joins the Ottawa River, as well as the strategic reason for the initial location of Canada's capital.
We've come to attend an evening meeting in nearby Rockliffe Park, but I wanted to paint the Ottawa River before sunset. Leaving the van at a small park, the closest we can get to the mouth of the Rideau River according to our city map, I grab my coat and camera and hurry on foot along a chain link fence which dead-ends behind a building which turns out to be the "Canada and the World Pavillion". A path leads me around the front entrance and then to a balcony-like sidewalk above the grey expanse of the Ottawa River, and there were the falls, much larger than I'd imagined, curtaining over a cliff of massive natural limestone slabs.
Friday, November 30, 2012
26 November finds me painting the view across a snow-patched meadow that used to be the north half of Silver Lake in Port Dover, Ontario. The Misner Dam was lowered for safety reasons two years ago and since then the river has returned to its old channel along the east side of this exuberant meadow of Goldenrod, Asters, Purple Loosestrife, Nettles, and Vervain, with thickets of Willows and Honey Locust. I can only see the river channel as a dark shadow between the tall herbs on its banks from where I stand on a picnic table to start my painting.
A Cattail marsh with patches of invasive Phragmites is beyond this scene to my left, and in the foreground you can see dishevelled, autumn-redded bunches of Nodding Smartweed (Persicaria lapathifolia). When I turn to my right and look downstream across the paths and park benches behind me I can see the open water of the existing millpond and the bridge at its southeast end with the Misner dam below it. This river used to be called Patterson Creek all the way to Lake Erie, but
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
24 November finds me sheltering from the wind between a low sand dune and a cement retaining wall at Crystal Beach, Lake Erie, Ontario. The wind is blowing half a gale out along the beach. This Rose bush was glorious with yellow leaves only the day before yesterday but the wind that began last night has blown them almost all away. The rose hips are still here though, glowing like rubies in the autumn sun.
The little sand coloured Toads who share this beach with the citizens of Crystal Beach are all burrowed down for the winter. No one knows exactly where they have gone, but I imagine that a number of Fowlers Toads may be sleeping in the damp sand directly below me as I sit leaning against this wall to paint the Rose bush. A wooden stairway leads up from the beach beside a vacant snack bar to a lawn, public washrooms, and a fenced parking lot. Beyond the stairway lie the sand-filled concrete ruins of the foundations of another beachside building, and that may be an even better hibernation site for Toads. We are
Saturday, November 24, 2012
The last time we were here was 1976, on the "Mayes Expedition" when Frank and Fred "did"
Monday, October 29, 2012
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
"Precious Wild Rivers" is a collection of my oil paintings en plein air of rivers, rapids, and waterfalls in Ontario. This autumn Fred and I traveled to precious wild rivers that still run free with rapids and waterfalls, to paint and explore for little-known native mussels and crayfish, documenting these vulnerable wild communities in art and science. I've gathered all of these paintings as well as a few earlier ones, into a new calendar where the image of each painting is accompanied by journal of our adventures in discovering the special nature of that place, as well as the nature of the threats to its integrity, leading us to enquire whether new hydroelectric projects on our wild rivers are desirable or necessary. The calendar finishes with January 2014 and a full page essay by Fred.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
The morning started sunny and calm, but now is