Friday, March 30, 2012

Deep River Spring Melt (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.) Sold

22 March finds me at a boat launch in the town of Deep River, Ontario, painting the Ottawa River with its pelt of velvety gray melting ice. Ringbill Gulls cry, swooping whitely across the dark hills of the Quebec side. I don't use Paynes Gray as a pigment, but that's the colour I've recreated for my underpainting - the blackish blue-green of the darker areas of river ice, rough and translucent as it softens to a blanket of slush. Evening approaches and the sky is constantly changing. I paint quickly using only one brush, a 1/2 inch angled flat, determined to finish this one onsite. Done - and I select a tiny round brush for the signature.

Fred has been walking the shore while I paint, finding Alder with open catkins, clam shells (Elliptio complanata and Lampsilis radiata), and returning with hands full of Watercress to plant at home. Now we must depart for our evening of listening for Chorus Frogs. It is 17C, so it should be a good night for the little "creakers" to be singing in full chorus.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

White Lake Spring Melt (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.)

21 March finds me an hour after sunrise on the shore of White Lake, near Renfrew, Ontario. Mist lies over the frozen part of the lake, sometimes receding to reveal the darkness and detail of the trees on the little point - overhanging Cedar, Pine, and Spruce - and sometimes moving in to white them out entirely. Vehicle tracks crisscross the ice, melting it in interesting patterns. Two pairs of Common Mergansers swish down for a landing on the open water, and after

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Limerick Scotch Pines (oil on canvas 16 x 20 in) Sold

11 March finds me being filmed as I paint the stand of Scots Pines in Limerick Forest. John Barclay of Triune Arts is adding another sequence to his video documentary on what we do, and this time it's plein air painting. He filmed Fred and me carrying my paint box and easel along the snowy track to the spot I'd decided upon as the best view of some of the towering pines that I painted in 19== in my journal. Since then, Buckthorn and young pines have filled the spaces among the tall trunks - invasive aliens invading the invasive aliens.

I begin with a rich yellow ochre underpainting, tinted with burnt sienna, the glow of Scots Pine underbark, which the sun highlights to gold near the tops of the trees. This stand was planted early in the history of the county forest, and it was managed as a seed orchard for Scots Pine, which at that time wasn't regarded as an invasive alien to be avoided at all costs.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Cedar Matriarch (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.) Sold

7 March finds me in the high country near Russell, Ontario, sitting in the snow in a forest near the spring-fed lake which fills the famous old red shale quarry. The fabric of the air under the bright blue sky is woven with calls of low flocks of Canada Geese and several Crows, through the warp of trunks and leafless branches of Maple, Black Cherry, Yellow Birch and Aspens.  Distant dogs bark, and I hear the faint, ocean-like rushing of tires on roads - sounds washing against these forested hills from far across the flat agricultural landscape. This is the highest point of land in the South Nation drainage. Its spring-fed ponds, creeks, and forests are threatened by plans for a mega-landfill which local residents point out are on a major fault line and the headwaters of several subwatersheds. We noticed "Dump the Dump NOW" signs in yards and on fences all through the area.

As I scrub the red ochre underpainting into the surface of my canvas, somewhere down the road a dump truck works, snoring and beeping, reminding