Wednesday, January 31, 2018

#2056 "Singleton Sunset Shades"

Sunsets never get dull or uninteresting at Singleton Lake. They offer 365 different paintings each and every year. The very rough panel ensures that I do not try to get too detailed. This was the view across Singleton Lake at 5:00 pm November 28th, 2017.

The elongated bands of cirrus were being stretched along deformation zones just east of the crest of the upper ridge. You can even imagine the swirls or vorticity centres required to construct these patterns.

You only need your right hand and fingers to understand the atmosphere. The so-called right hand rule instructs that you direct your right thumb in the direction of the flow and your fingers point the same way as the swirl or rotation. If the flow is going upward the flow is counter-clockwise if viewed downward from space. Look at the tip of your thumb to confirm this fact. Meteorologists call this cyclonic rotation and refer to the sense of rotation as a vorticity maximum. Air is going up.

If you point your right thumb down so that the air is descending, the rotation as viewed from space is clockwise. Look at the baby finger of your right hand to confirm this. Meteorologists call this anticyclonic rotation and refer to the sense of rotation as a vorticity minimum. Air is going down.

The graphic illustrates those circulations in my painting. The green lines are deformation zones (DZ's). Swirls shape the clouds in the sky and every swirl creates at least two deformation zones. The shapes of the deformation zones are determined by the (four) associated swirls. I have only included the strongest swirls in the graphic. The deformation zone drawn with a thick line is a bowed DZ. The deformation zone drawn with the thinner line is a double cyclonic DZ.

If you can read the DZ shape then you can deduce all you need to know about the sense and strength (angular momentum) of each swirl. The science also works in reverse. If you know the swirls then you know the shape of the associated deformation zone. Some people see the swirls first and some see the lines in the atmosphere. It does not matter.

One last thing... you only have one right hand so how can it create two different swirls? The truth is simple. There is only one swirl and I have described that in the "Unified Swirl Theory". Let your right thumb hand follow an imagery smoke ring in front of you. On the left side your thumb will point upward and on the right side the same thumb will point down. The cloud patterns and the meteorological jargon are just horizontal cross-sections through this larger three dimensional swirl. There is no need to make the weather and meteorology complicated. It really is quite simple and fun.

The yellow tinted sky on the west side of the upper ridge was certainly the next warm conveyor belt and autumn weather system. The red clouds at night are the harbinger of this next storm and not fair weather as the poem would suggest. Red skies at night may indeed indicate a sailor's delight as long as there are no red clouds in that skyscape.

I have written about this and much more so if you are curious... here you go...http://tomthomson.homestead.com/88013.html  If you actually read all of this, give yourself a gold star!!
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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

#2055 "Cirrocumulus Afternoon Paddle"

From Thursday January 11th, 2018.... based on a late October paddle...
There is nothing quite like a late season paddle. Singleton Lake was very quiet except for the ducks and the solitary loon - the offspring from the Singleton loons. The parents had left for warmer climes back in mid September leaving the two juveniles to fend for themselves. Apparently the lake can only support a limited number of feeding loons and this early departure of the parents is their way of making it easier for the kids. In a few weeks the migrating mergansers would arrive and stay for weeks until freeze-up. The mergansers seem to have no problem finding a food supply. When the lake ices over the otters move in and seem to have no difficulty at all in finding fresh fish for their six meals a day.


The cirrocumulus sky was the harbinger of the warm conveyor belt and an autumn storm. The speed of the approach of this storm nearly matched the winds in the cold conveyor belt being drawn into it. The net winds at the surface were near zero. The calm waters of Singleton Lake always seduces me away from whatever chores I feel that I should be doing. I rarely turn down opportunities like these.


The cirrocumulus cloud elements were lumpy and nearly opaque. There was another layer of higher cirrus associated with the warm conveyor belt and it was nearly invisible unless you were looking for it.
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Monday, January 29, 2018

#0629 "Summer Fence"

From Wednesday July 16th, 2003.

This is another look at the fence line to the south of Watershed Farm on the very crest of the Oak Ridges Moraine. The steep slope of the land was more effective than the rickety posts at keeping the cattle on the south side of the fence. The family Chesapeake and I headed out around 10 am looking for something to catch my eye. I have always liked the swoop of the terrain along this portion of the fence. It was an overcast day with turbulent stratocumulus streets aligned with the northerly winds. The bugs weren't too bad which was a treat.

A lot of old fences have granite rocks placed on top as caps. The granite rock on this post was rather small. I suppose there are at least a couple of reasons to put rocks on the top of fence posts. One reason is to remove the rock from the land so you won't hit it with the tractor or mower. Another might be to protect the wood from the elements and perhaps rot. The third would be to perhaps frighten away any creature rubbing up against the post - the rock would be knocked off and startled the animal. The rock could be used at a later date to help straighten a leaning post. In Boy Scouts they teach how to make a trail marker like that. A rock placed a certain ways carries a special meaning. The final reason would be to encourage people like me to wonder why someone else put a rock on a fence post to start with. It is important to remember that a rock on a fence is not the same as a post turtle.

Blue birds used to like nesting in the rotted top of cedar posts. I have replaced those nesting sites with hundreds of Peterson Blue Bird Houses which are much better for nesting. The blue birds love them. If you see a Peterson Blue Bird House anywhere around the 12th Concession of King Township, it probably came from my workshop.


This is a special place on the crest of the Oak Ridges Moraine. It is land that is worth preserving.

Other paintings along this part of the fence line: #0608, #0610, #0618 #0879
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Sunday, January 28, 2018

#0618 "One More Drift"

From Tuesday, March 25th, 2003.

This was one of the last times of the winter season that I headed south to the neighbour's fence line to catch the last pockets of deep snow. This view is looking south-southeast and some of the fencing has already been painted in previous works. The colours of the basswood trees in the sunlight as well as the colours in the grass and the distant cedars caught my eye.

Once again my honey bees were flying and landing on my palette and my clothing. It was nice to hear them buzzing around me. I'm certain that it would have made some people very nervous but these were my employees and friends. The family Chesapeake was with me and proceeded to tear the lower, dead branches off the pine trees and chew them down to size so that I could throw them. She spent a lot of time roaming in farmer's fields across the fence line.

This is a special place on the crest of the Oak Ridges Moraine. It is land that is worth preserving.
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Friday, January 26, 2018

#0633 "Angry Stratus"

From Friday August 8th, 2003...
I am a morning person so I get to see scary clouds like this. Away from the ocean and advection fog, radiational fog like this tends to be an overnight phenomenon. A night time of cooling and moisture from the late summer drying crops is all you really need. This case is special because of the winds aloft. Stratus is just fog lifted off the surface. Early morning stratus can look a bit ominous especially if the winds at the top of the boundary layer are strong as this. Blustery northerly winds were really stirring the stratus which was quite thick and dark. The morning sun was trying hard to penetrate the thick layer. The sun angles were also very low so this makes the clouds look all the darker. It looked angry but really this cloud is not going to do anything bad. It was actually very pleasant without the sun blistering down on me.

I set up on my front lawn of Watershed Farm and looked eastward starting at 9 am. I was interested by the many colours of gray and the swirling of the clouds. The steep nocturnal inversion was still holding and there was no wind at the surface in spite of the gale blowing aloft. The subject matter might be unusual but it was all about having fun and being outside.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

#0632 "Morning Light - Piney Woods"

From Tuesday July 29th, 2003...

I spent the morning in the Christmas tree plantation that had gotten a bit out of control. The Christmas trees were now thirty feet tall and even too big for Chevy Chase and Christmas Vacation. The wild life loved it though. This forest was immediately south of Watershed Farm on the 12th Concession of King Township. We had planted a lot of trees on our property as well but they were manly slow growing hard woods more suitable for the Oak Ridges Moraine.


I really struggled with this one. I liked it better about an hour before I last touched it with a brush. Trees were moved and added to fill in the forest. The colours were really there in the morning sunlight at one time or another. This painting took me all morning and tired me out!

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

#0638 "Cirrus Horizon"

From Tuesday October 7th, 2003...
Standing on the back hill of Watershed Farm looking west during the morning of Tuesday October 7th. The ponds in the valleys in front of me drained via the Humber to Lake Ontario. The field to my back drained across the road to Kinnifick Lake and via the Holland Marsh to Lake Simcoe. The Main Coon house cat and the family Chesapeake were accompanying me.

There was considerable cirrus on the horizon and the air was warm and dry with the approaching period of summer-like weather after several night of killing frost. It is meant to be a rough sketch using the little scrap of Gator foam that the supplier sent me to look at. He didn't expect me to paint on it. Waste not, want not.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

#0639 "Splash of Fall"

From Tuesday October 7th, 2003.

Another wonderful day of painting at Watershed Farm on the very crest of the Oak Ridges Moraine. We had built a nature paradise on the 12th Concession of King Township and I was taking the time to record it.

This was sketched immediately after 0638 "Cirrus Horizon". The family pets stayed with me for the long-haul. They were best buddies but liked to tussle as well. The cat thought she might be a dog and the dog thought a lot like a cat.

By early afternoon, it was warm and dry and dusty. I focused on the colours and highlighted some of the oranges and red that were peaking from among the coniferous trees. The water colour was actually that "deep" depending on the sun and at times the red splashed across the surface reflection. The strokes are fairly bold and I fought the temptation to go back at it to try to make it better.

The canvas had been primed with a medium dark coat of raw sienna.
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Monday, January 22, 2018

#0637 "Sunset on Isabel"

Hurricane Isabel followed the same track as Hurricane Hazel (October 14-15, 1954). We received 30 mm of rain at the Watershed Farm. A few small branches were knocked down but generally, it was just a good soaking.

The media had blown Isabel up as the "daughter of Hazel" and the public were expecting lots of flooding and perhaps 81 or so Canadian deaths. The memory of Raymore Drive where 1201 feet of road was washed away and 35 people died, was still fairly fresh in the memory of the public. The floodwaters slowly rose in the Holland Marsh and around Schomberg allowing people to escape the waters. Highway 400 in the Holland Marsh was under as much as 10 feet in some places. The Holland Marsh crops were lost.

Hurricane Hazel was the most significant hurricane of 1954. At least 400 people died in Haiti before the Category 4 Hazel reached the Carolinas. Another 95 people died in the US before Hazel crossed Lake Ontario as an extratropical storm. The name "Hazel" was retired from use for North Atlantic hurricanes. The conservation authorities were one good thing that emerged from the memories and conversations of Hazel.




I remembered the impacts of Hazel on Point Pleasant Park in the west end of Kingston. I was really young but my Dad and the neighbour (Cep Drinka) from across the street were on the front step to witness the wind and the rain. Some things like that you never forget... Maybe that is why I became a meteorologist?

Before the event, the media was saying that "Isabel was one ugly bitch". The weather centre downplayed it appropriately but no one was listening. After the rain ended, headlines called the storm "Fizzabel". My painting puts the storm to bed along with the turbulent northerly winds and shredded stratocumulus.

This is the plein air view looking west out the family room window in the last moments of daylight.

I was trying out a sample of Gator foam Plein Air Painting Panels.
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Thursday, January 18, 2018

#0636 "Hear the Thunder"

From Thursday August 21st, 2003...
This is the enlarged and interpreted version of #0635 "Flash Flood". I took a lot of liberties and tried to have fun with a lot more paint. A plein air artist friend of mine on a kibbutz in Israel, gave me the inspiration for the title after he saw "Flash Flood".
I removed the wet microburst that was included in #0635 "Flash Flood".
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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

#0635 "Flash Flood"

From Thursday August 7th, 2003 in plein air ...

This is a pair of severe thunderstorms that were on the west side of a huge cold-low trough that was parked over Southern Ontario for the last week of July and most of the first couple of weeks of August, 2003. The low was part of a "Rex" upper block which is the King of all blocks. The cell motion for the storm on the right was slowly from the north following along the extension of the lake breeze from the southeastern shore of Georgian Bay. It was just one of several thunderstorms along this line. The cell to the left was along the Lake Ontario lake breeze and was moving slowly toward the west. They were on a collision course over Mississauga. They were focused by and energized by the lake breezes. This also made them very slow moving and though the precipitable water in the air mass was only about 35 mm, this was enough to make them severe. The outflows from these two thunderstorms collided and caused the new cell to explode in between them.

These storms were heavy rain producers that dropped 100 to 125 mm of rain on Mississauga and neighbouring areas. The result of this amount of rain falling on the paved over landscape was a flash flood. I use the "flash" term loosely to also describe the thunderous nature of these storms which had enough energy to produce almost continuous thunder. They were not predicted.. but the Weather Centre gets really busy with summer convection and it is a huge province with maybe 15 radars in both conventional and Doppler formats. The workload on the severe weather desk gets crazy and that is also when equipment and software gets overloaded and fails. I have seen this first hand...

I viewed these thunderstorms from the paddock behind the barn of Watershed Farm. I had my easel set up and was looking southwest across Brampton to Mississauga at around 6 pm. The anvil of the northern thunderstorm is over the right side of the image while the updraft of the leading Lake Ontario thunderstorm is on the left side. I included a wet microburst for good measure on the thunderstorm to the east. The oils flowed just like the heavy rain. I had fun!.

I had to transform this into a larger format... #636 "Hear the Thunder". I tired very hard to keep the high energy level in the 3x4 foot canvas!
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Monday, January 15, 2018

#0602 "Shimmer"

From Tuesday, November 19, 2002...
This is the view looking southeast from The Executive Condominium on Water Street in Brockville, Ontario. The mighty St Lawrence rolls along just in front of the building. The sun had just come up and we can barely identify two of the three sister islands that identify the St Lawrence and the main shipping channel. The water was shimmering under the early morning light.

There was supposed to be a bridge connecting Brockville to the United States across the river at this point. The islands certainly would have made the construction easier and safer. Apparently someone with power and money nixed the idea. I must admit that I love the view without the bridge...
This sketch was painted on a smooth and slippery panel that had been tinted with a medium-dark coat of raw sienna.
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Saturday, January 13, 2018

#0597 "Sunset Embers"

This is from Monday, November 11, 2002... this is the best picture I have of this painting which found a home somewhere... don't know where.

This is the view looking out to the west from the farmhouse
of Watershed Farm on the 12th Concession of King Township. The die-ing embers of daylight are what attracted me to this sky. There are a couple of deformation zones in this sky as well. The dominant deformation zone was marked by the remnants of the altocumulus deck accompanying the exiting low pressure area. The winds were light northwesterly as one would expect. This deformation zone was pretty obvious. The second deformation zone was much more subtle on the western horizon. There was a line of cirrus and cirrostratus still catching the sun and this marked the leading edge of the warm conveyor belt and the next system on the way. "Cirrostratus coming at us" is a pretty good predictor for the next low pressure area. I removed the fence line from this work… it didn't help the composition. The remains of the snow banks on the hills were spectacular and cold under the setting sun.
This is the same location as #0614 "The Sunset Before" but just on a different day with another sky full of weather.
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Friday, January 12, 2018

#0614 "The Sunset Before"

From Wednesday, February 26th, 2003... This scene is looking west out across the hill behind the Watershed Farm home looking at a brilliant sunset. The hill was dark in sharp contrast to the blazing altocumulus. The vivid colours are what caught my eye. The familiar saying is about red skies at night for a sailor's delight - not about red clouds. Red clouds at night, sailors should take fright! I did not exaggerate the colours. I never do... honestly.

The sun peaking through the diminishing forest cover of Caledon is apparent on the northwestern horizon. When we bought the farm (so to speak) in 1993, the forest was dense enough not to allow even the setting sun to peak through it. The smoke from one of those new homes was drifting in the southerly winds and I painted that in along with the fence of the paddocks that the horses are always breaking over.

The next day we received a severe snowstorm which is the reason for the "before" in the title of this painting. At Watershed Farm, we got about 25 centimeters of snow which blew into drifts that were at least four feet deep. Linda and I canceled going to the theater in Orangeville. It might have been possible to go but quite impossible to get home again. I had to go to work the next day so I got up at 5 am. I spent almost 2 hours getting halfway down the lane with the blower on the 1969 Massey Ferguson tractor before getting tangled in a four foot drift where I could neither go backward or forward. I was stuck - really stuck. If it had not been for having to get to work, the storm would have been a beautiful thing. We had the fires going and it was toasty in the family room.

My neighbour came down with his four wheel drive tractor and two stage snow blower and by 6 pm, the lane was open. That machine did not care how deep the snow was.
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Thursday, January 11, 2018

#0606 "Lines"

Sketched Friday, January 10, 2003... This is a tangled cedar rail fence overgrown in a maple forest. It could be anywhere - even at Singleton Lake - but it is not. I think it is in the forests on top of the Oak Ridges Moraine but I honestly forget.

The wire fencing had long ago rusted away with only pieces hanging to the maple in the foreground. The leading lines are everywhere in the woods. Strong diagonal and even disjointed horizontal lines break up the equally strong vertical lines. The title came to me and I was thinking of the "5 Man Electrical Band" song "Signs".

Lines, lines everywhere a line,

Breaking up the scenery, breaking my mind,

Do this - don't do that! Can't you read the line ...

The song works for me in a twisted way. I was planning on painting outside but the windchill was enough to freeze one to the bone. This is from a series of photos I took in the backfields. Walking through these woods is tough with prickly ash always there to tangle and trip. The canvas had been primed with a medium-dark coat of raw sienna.
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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

#0719 "Snowstorm"

From December 11th, 2004... a look at a happy memory...

This is looking south across yard toward the spruce forest when we lived at Watershed Farm on the 12th Concession of King Township. It had snowed quite hard for a day. With the temperature just hovering below freezing, this made for a very sticky snow which clung to the branched and weighed them down. I painted until it was too dark to see.. and I forced myself not to touch it again. I have a tendency to do just a few (hundred) more strokes to try to make it better and sometimes, the spirit of the moment gets messed up. I just signed my name on the inside studio easel and then "Bob's your uncle".

I use this catchy phrase a fair bit. It dates back to 1887 when British Prime Minister Robert Cecil (a.k.a. Lord Salisbury) decided to appoint his nephew Arthur Balfour to the prestigious and sensitive post of Chief Secretary for Ireland. It was a blatant example of nepotism and a guarrantee of success. I use the phrase more loosely to indicate that the project is done or has reached it's happy conclusion.

The family Chesapeake was with me while I worked.
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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

#0725 "Sun of Winter Shadows"

This is from 2005... but remains one of my favourites. Here is the story...
I wanted to enlarge one of my favourite sketches. This scene is from the slopes of MacKenzie Mountain in King Township west of Schomberg and north of Toronto. We were hiking early one afternoon while on in Christmas vacation. We hiked to the real Mackenzie Mountain west of the 12th Concession of King Township. There was a tremendous amount of wildlife around the mountain. Coyote, deer, raccoon and possum tracks were everywhere. We punched through the middle of the swamp on the way to the mountain but found the real path for the way back. The deer preferred the path as well.

It was sunny and mild winter afternoon and the shadows of the trees across the snow caught my eye. I would not have been able to paint this from life as the sun would have blinded me before I could have finished it. The grays and browns of the trees were also intriguing. There were still a few beech leaves hanging on in defiance of the wind. There were also some very bright colours in the tops of the spruce trees where the sunlight filtered through. I also liked the way the multiple lines of the field, the tractor tracks, the shadows and the trees take the eye into and across the scene.

Even though it is a large piece with lots of canvas, I tired to stay loose and use the same size brush all of the time. The title is a bit of a pun as this is the son of "Winter Shadows" (#651) but the focus is the play of the sunlight on and through the trees and on the snow.
This painting brings backs a lot of great memories. Our Maine Coon Cat like to paint with me and I had her set up on a cushion in front of the wood stove. A throne good enough for the Queen that she was.... The smaller sketch that I painted from, #0651 "Winter Shadows" went to a client of the Algonquin Art Centre in 2008.
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Monday, January 8, 2018

#2054 "The Opinicon"

I strolled the grounds of the Opinicon Resort after my meeting with new owner. I enjoyed a complete tour of the facility and the setting at Chaffey's Lock is always beautiful. They have ambitious plans to return the property to and beyond its former glory. It is a big job to achieve while carefully preserving the ambiance of the old while complying with the building codes of the present. The Opinicon will become a destination and hopefully more patrons will come to realize the uniqueness, history and the beauty of the area.

There is a lot of painting material at the Opinicon. This view is through the pine and oak forest up the main entrance to the Resort. This is the path you would follow to enjoy ice cream from the store at the end of the lane. The long red seat is the Liar's Bench. This long seat was the place where fishermen swapped stories - some of which might have been true but most were greatly exaggerated. Tthe tall trees cast very long shadows across the scene.

I painted this on a very rough surface not wishing to include too many details while hopefully capturing the nostalgic charm of the place.

I paddled to the Opinicon when I became a teenager for the first time to get ice cream from the store beside the Liar's Bench. . I paddled there many times again on dates with my future bride... and then again with our kids. I taught the kids how not to rub the paddle along the side of canoe and to stroke silently. You saw more nature that way. Something of quality need not change with the times. I have known this place for a lifetime.
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Sunday, January 7, 2018

#2053 "Opinicon Cottages in Autumn"

I strolled the grounds of the Opinicon Resort after my meeting with new owner. I enjoyed a complete tour of the facility and the setting at Chaffey's Lock is always beautiful. They have ambitious plans to return the property to and beyond its former glory. It is a big job to achieve while carefully preserving the ambiance of the old while complying with the building codes of the present. The Opinicon will become a destination and hopefully more patrons will come to realize the uniqueness, history and the beauty of the area.

There is a lot of painting material at the Opinicon. This view is through the pine and oak forest at a few of the restored Opinicon cabins. The sun was on my back and the tall trees cast long shadows.

I paddled to the Opinicon when I became a teenager for the first time to get ice cream from the store beside the Liar's Bench. . I paddled there many times again on dates with my future bride... and then again with our kids. I taught the kids how not to rub the paddle along the side of canoe and to stroke silently. You saw more nature that way. Something of quality need not change with the times. I have known this place for a lifetime.

I painted this on a very rough surface not wishing to include too many details while hopefully capturing the nostalgic charm of the place.
 Click to go to Chadwick Art... Thank you!

#0176 "A Misty Morning at Paul's Tree"

Another memory from 1987 The fog was lifting during the early morning hours at our campsite on the "small" island on Bass Lak...