Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Visit to a Hemlock (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.)


5 January finds me on a snowy forest road, walking toward a Sugar bush I was told about, just off Gravel Hill Road north of Monkland, Ontario.  I've stopped to paint less than a kilometre in from the red gate, because the sun will set soon. My painting gear and my cushion, blanket, and ground sheet are all piled into a plastic recycling box to pull it behind me like a sled. Deer tracks precede me, the toes punched deeply into the snow and the dew claws making two pointed marks behind each print. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Spruce With Winterberry Holly (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.)

2 January 2012 finds me at the Long Swamp Fen on County Road 15 north of Brockville, Ontario, painting through the window of the van. It is raining. The little Spruce at the edge of the Long Swamp Fen is bright yellow-green, haloed by crimson Holly berries. It stands in a group of Cedars, so close that it's hard to tell which trunk is whose. The Cedar's leaves are like flat hands gesturing every which way, all a rich ochre colour with barely a hint of green. In this painting, the masses and movements are expressed in colour rather than tone or line. I could so easily be overwhelmed by the fine detail in this scene, as the whole view is filled with twigs and branches, like threads in a tapestry. But threads are not what I want to show - so I  unfocus my eyes, searching for masses of colour and direction of movement, and try to keep my fine strokes at a minimum.  In the foreground, pale, touselled winter Cattails poke from the snow of the roadside ditch. As I paint from the front seat of the van, Fred surveys the roadside vegetation, especially the clones of Narrowleaf Cattail that we've noticed spreading into the open part of the fen.