Friday, March 22, 2019

#0418 "Sheena's Sky"

This dramatic sky was looking out the west window of the family room of Watershed Farm on the 12th Concession of King Township. It was late afternoon and crepuscular rays were beginning to play in the light. The convective clouds were beginning to fizzle. Sheena was about 30 years old and starting to look the part. This is really a skyscape with a horse.

Sheena was one of the three geriatric horses that came with the farm. Barbie Gal with the white blaze and white socks; Sheena with the sway back as painted against the afternoon sky; and Royal Barb, the mother of Barbie Gal. The kids and I would brush them and spoil them with extra sweet grain. My only problem was that they were hard on the fencing. Sometimes we boarded others horses as long as they fit into the group of three. They were entertaining to watch like big outside cats.

The thin forest on the King-Caledon Town Line in the lower right was a favourite subject of mine. Caledon was developed while King Township still preserved the agricultural land. The smallest lot size was 25 acres which was too large for the developers to make a lot of money back then. The remains of the once expansive deciduous forest were on the King side of the Township line.

I really like this little painting. Sometimes the paint just flows.

#0418 "Sheena's Sky"
#0467 "Royal Barb"
#0475 "Barbie Gal"

For this and much more art, click on Pixels. Thank you.
 For this and much more art, click on Pixels. Thank you.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

#0467 "Royal Barb"

This is a miniature portrait of "Royal Barb" who died in the early spring of 1999. Royal Barb was posed outside the southwest corner of the barn waiting to go in for sweet grain and some fresh hay. The afternoon sun of late winter makes for a fiery moment of intense light. She was a nice old horse.

This is one of the three geriatric horses that came with the farm - Barbie Gal with the white blaze and white socks; Sheena with the sway back; and Royal Barb, the mother of Barbie Gal. The kids and I would brush them and spoil them with extra sweet grain. My only problem was that they were hard on the fencing. Sometimes we boarded others horses as long as they fit into the group of three. They were entertaining to watch like big outside cats.

#0418 "Sheena's Sky"
#0467 "Royal Barb"
#0475 "Barbie Gal"

For this and much more art, click on Pixels. Thank you.
 For this and much more art, click on Pixels. Thank you.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

#0430 "Distant Pastures"

This group is just part of the O'Hara herd of Holstein heifers that come to the Watershed Farm for summer holidays before they enter the milk production work force. They were looking over the fence immediately west of the house. I think they were watching me to see if I was going to head over to the feed trough and give them some grain. It was almost time for their treat.

The title is because an unattainable pasture always looks better than what they have and that might have been going through their bovine brains as well. I always thought that the cows were much smarter than we give them credit for.

Supposedly this distant pasture looks pretty good although the horses do a fair job of keeping it trimmed. I did not put the horses in the painting...

The heifers would go painting with me. I carried my plein aire gear in the bucket of the 1969 Massey Tractor.

For this and much more art, click on Pixels. Thank you.
 For this and much more art, click on Pixels. Thank you.
Be happy with what you have... it is all you really need. 


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

#0433 "Hill Side Blues"

This is another look out the double glazed west window of the new family room of Watershed Farm on the 12th Concession of King Township just a kilometre north of Hammertown. I guess we lived in a suburb of Hammertown. Those hills were great for tobogganing.

It was a cold and very windy day and this was the closest that I could comfortably get to something which I wanted to paint. Streets of turbulent stratocumulus off Georgian Bay hurried along with the northwesterly winds. The sun and the wind sculpted the snow and the ice on the hills of the Oak Ridges Moraine. The southward facing slopes were warm and starting to melt their snow cover. The northward facing slopes would hold on to the snow and ice for another week or so.

It took six years of effort to get the farm house from the way we found it in 1993 (#0431 "The Homestead"). It was worth all of the effort. I did not paint much in those years but I sure did a lot of carpentry and earth moving.

The title is a bit of a play on the title of a popular cop show which I never had time to watch - "Hill Street Blues". It also sounds like a work of music. The play on the title works for me because I used most of my palette of various shades of blue to get the effect I was hoping for. I have lots and lots of blue hues available for my palette. An artist friend of mine will not touch a pigment with "phalo" in the name and calls them stains. I see them as another tool to be carefully used.

I was very pleased with the piece in spite of the speed I had to work at. It really captured the colours and the sky.

For this and much more art, click on Pixels. Thank you.
 For this and much more art, click on Pixels. Thank you.

Monday, March 18, 2019

#0431 "The Homestead"

This picture was taken at the exact moment that Linda decided she wanted to buy the farm. It was early January 1993 and the owner was giving my wife Linda and I a closer look at the place. We had always wanted land ... and a barn ... and the kids wanted pets ... a cat and a dog and maybe some barn cats as well. Three horses came with the deal for as long as they should live - which was turning out to be a ripe old age.

The place had been vacant for a while. The house was very, very rough with a stream running across the mud floor basement with dead mice and frogs and toads as well. I watched a garter snake crawl through a crack in the foundation. The furnace ran almost all of the time except when if conked out and needed to be primed to be restarted at which time it belched black, sooty smoke. The heat exchanger in that furnace was cracked. The water pump was in the basement and was rather noisy after the lone toilet was flushed. There was no insulation in the walls and many things did not work - if they ever did. The chimneys were unsafe and needed to be removed or replaced. We would need to put another lane into the property but I knew a local genius for that kind of work - George Craib. Linda loved it and by the middle of March, it was home.

A raccoon also lived in the barn and had a routine of coming up the path behind the house at sunset to go to bed in the loft. I would not have minded too much except he ate the cats food and shit all over the place. I evicted buddy raccoon by boarding up his entrance and he moved on although we saw a raccoon at least a couple of times each year, sleeping in the huge black willow tree.

The picture used as a basis for the painting was taken from the south side of the ramp to the barn. This ramp has since been removed since it was pushing in the wall of the barn with each frost ... not good.

I would paint this home several times. Here is perhaps one of my favourite paintings of the home before it was completely fixed. I called this one "The West Wind".

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 For this and much more art, click on Pixels. Thank you.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

#0434 "Sunset on My Hill"

This is the view from the middle of the pond looking south toward the completed house and the paddocks. It was sunset and the colours were very vivid - maybe I didn't even do them enough justice. I was very pleased the way it turned out on this small piece of panel left over from the construction. I used the remaining construction pieces to built bird houses.
I built hundred of Peterson Blue Bird houses as well as many wood duck houses - a few owl boxes as well. The birds which had been absent were soon everywhere. Everything needs a place to live.

I liked the different colours of the snow and the ice and how those contrasted with the sunset on the winter grasses. The hockey ice I was standing on was almost done for the season.

A very unusual size but I had already made a frame to fit that size using the scrap trim left over from the construction. I made new corner blocks at Jack Brydon's shop and used biscuits to glue and put the pieces together. The frame probably took more time than the painting.

For this and much more art, click on Pixels. Thank you!
 For this and much more art, click on Pixels. Thank you!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

#0388 "Home TO BE!"

This was our farm as it appeared in the spring of 1989. At the time I had no idea that we would actually be living there and what life was going to be like starting in 1993 - wonderful is the answer. We were simply assisting a friend by taking her black Labrador for a walk in the fields.

The fields and the forests of the Oak Ridges Moraine are special beyond belief. My son and I walked for hours with that big, black dog named "Clay". This hilly land was just west of Schomberg on the 12th Concession of King Township and a kilometer north of Hammertown and the 17th Sideroad. There was always something interesting to see.

We bought the farm (so to speak as we did not die) in March 1993. What an adventure. The farm house had been empty for a few years. Vandals had broken windows and doors. Frogs and snakes lived in the mud-floored basement and crawled through cracks in the stone foundation. The heat exchanger on the furnace was cracked. Cluster flies swarmed everywhere. The balloon framing of wood-house used long, vertical 2" x 4"s for the exterior walls. These long "studs" extended uninterrupted from the sill on top of the foundation, all the way up to the roof. There was no insulation in those walls. The home needed some attention. We loved it.
Looking east at Watershed Farm from a couple of hills back..

The front yard drained to Lake Simcoe and this pond drained to Lake Ontario. I named this special place Watershed Farm and started keeping bees and looking after the land and planting forests. I put up a few hundred bird houses. Nature returned to those rolling hills.

For this and much more art, click on Pixels. Thank you!
 For this and much more art, click on Pixels. Thank you!

#0418 "Sheena's Sky"

This dramatic sky was looking out the west window of the family room of Watershed Farm on the 12th Concession of King Township. It was la...