Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Snowy north light

On 18 December 2007 I found my "north light" almost entirely blocked by a wall of snow. All night long it had snowed, drifting off the main roof onto the garage roof just below the north-facing Gallery windows. The Gallery was in gloom, as if curtains were drawn. Before I resumed my Sparrow watercolours, which I'd set up on the glass counter just under the best north light window in the building, I had to remove some snow.


After poking at it with a sponge mop until about half the window's view was cleared, I noticed that the remaining snow bank reflected more light into my "studio" than I was getting from the heavily overcast sky, so I left it like that and resumed painting.


Purple Finch compared with House Finch, for the online bird identification quiz on The Green Bird Network

Note the study skins on the left of the tray - borrowed from the research collection of the Canadian Museum of Nature. I prefer to paint from a fresh bird, but such cannot be found on demand, so I am referring to study skins and photos on the web, and drawing from my experience of having birds in the hand to paint, both dead and alive.

Comic relief:

Fred realises that after shutting his computer down for the night and letting the dog out for her pre-bedtime tour of duty, that he'd forgotten to record this evening's Mudpuppy observations. He says "What's freedom from worry for, anyway, if not to work yourself down to a state of total exhaustion!"


  1. and here's what was written in the total exhaustion:

    As each week passes, we get better and better lights. Tonight
    (20h08-20h38, -8C, clear, force 4 wind) we tried out a variable-
    intensity 3 million candle-power light, which Aleta had bought yesterday
    in the Canadian Tire in Kemptville, but which didn't seem any brighter
    than Matt Keevil's 1 million candle-power unit, which is the same model
    as the one we've been using all fall, and which runs out of charge
    before we're done with a Mudpuppy Night. But without much to see,
    tonight the lights both held out until we were done.

    The water was still high and surging, with 35 cm over the Vantage Point
    ledge, and an irony-green fine turbidity evident in the deep turbulence
    below the bridge. There's no ice cover below the dam, but fringes of
    icicles followed the falling water level around some trees, the sod on
    the west shore was knobby with forming ice as the waves surged into it,
    and there were some small schools of pans in a couple of backwaters.
    Backwaters were quite small, however, as both the east-side, and
    especially west-side eddies were very strong. I gathered a net-full of
    Helisoma campanulatum and Gyraulus shells from a twiggy raft that was
    sloshing back and forth in narrow backwater below the dam on the west
    side -- the shells were on the surface and were frozen together above
    many of the twigs -- this is a method of concentrating shells that I
    don't believe I've previously exploited.

    Matt waded as deeply as his boots would allow, and saw a single Mudpuppy in the east eddy.


What do you think of this painting, and what do you know about the subject that I have painted?