Friday, August 31, 2018

#2104 "Group of Seven"

There were initially four cows in my composition. They were moving around a lot as they grazed and not keeping a pose for more than a few seconds. An even number of subjects is not good so these same cows morphed into seven as they struck different poses. This group of seven cows were very much like the Group of Seven artists with their unique personalities. Frank or Franz Johnston was on the edge of the group and looking at me from the fence line. Franz left the group in 1926 just like this cow looking in from the outer edge. Frank grazed away to more distant pastures.

Technically, a cow is a bovine female that has borne offspring while cattle is the term for any number of bovines, regardless of sex. Cattle is a general term used for cows and bulls altogether.

Charley the cow came by and posed later. He became the subject of the very next painting #2105 "Curious Steer".

This was on the Port Elmsley Road just east of the Rideau Ferry Road intersection.
The original Group of Seven included Franklin Carmichael, Lawren Harris, A.Y. Jackson, Franz Johnston, Arthur Lismer, J.E.H. MacDonald and F.H. Varley. Tom Thomson, another commercial artist, was included in this circle of friends, but since he died in 1917, he never became a member of the Group. In 1926, after Franz Johnston's resignation, A.J. Casson was appointed a member. The Group realized they could hardly call themselves a national school of painters as long as they all lived in Toronto, so they admitted Edwin Holgate from Montréal in 1930 and L.L. FitzGerald from Winnipeg in 1932 to give the organization a wider geographic base.
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Thursday, August 30, 2018

#2103 "Gore Street Bridge"

From  Friday May 18th, 2018.
My painting partner Vic Dohar selected this beautiful little scene along a canal that fed into the Tay River. The Tay runs through the middle of Perth. This view was just north of Colbourne Street. A lot of people wandered by and wondered what we were doing. The Parking Authority was busy handing out tickets. Welcome to Perth but read the fine print first. I do not wear my glasses when I paint en plein air. One does not want to see the stifling details to clearly.
For a plein air composition the subject was quite complex with a lot of angles and even more subject matter. I liked the colours of the water and the reflections. I had removed all of the people in my first composition and Vic wondered why. He had a point so I put in a guy walking his white dog. People only take a few strokes of the brush. Dogs take a few more strokes. The blue car was parked on the bridge the entire time that we painted. They probably had a parking ticket too.
 For this and much more...

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

#2102 "Wilson Meets Herriott"

From 9:00 am Friday May 18th, 2018
I simply turned the easel around after painting #2101 "Big Ben Pond" to look northeastward along Herriott Street. I did not want to paint all of the building so I moved the flowering crab apple tree over to add interest to the composition. I liked the different colours of the pavement and concrete in the strong morning sun. There were some people and cars moving around but not many as it was still quite early on the Friday morning. The tourists had not yet arrived for the long weekend. I had removed all of the people in my first composition and Vic wondered why. He had a point so I put a bunch of people plus a lady walking her dog at the intersection of Herriot and Gore. The main road in the painting was Wilson Street East. People only take a few strokes of the brush. I thought that the title was funny. That one character could after all, be Tom Hanks.
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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

#2101 "Big Ben Pond"

Friday May 18th, 2018...
The memorial statue dedicated to Big Ben was on the northern side of this pond on Wilson Street in Perth, Ontario. Stewart Park was on the south side of the pond.

My artist friend Vic Dohar arrived and we decided to paint looking southwest across the pond and bridge to the little rapid on the stream that fed into the pond. The leaves on the willows were just emerging. There were no biting bugs but maybe that was because it was only 7 Celsius in the cold outflow from the high pressure area.

Several people walked by to see what we were doing. One lady said she really liked Big Ben...
 For this and much more art...

Monday, August 27, 2018

#2100 "Singleton Islands"

This is the paired painting with #2099 "Singleton Cold Front Showers". The subject, palette and paint surface were all the same.
I like overcast skies. The clouds protect me from the sun. The heavy rain was becoming more showery in nature and I suspected that the cold front was near. A wood duck house at the far end of our property needed some repair so I headed out with the parts to fix it. The waters of the eastern basin of Singleton Lake were calm but I could see the wind developing over the western basin beyond Point Paradise. This was the fine line between the warm sector of the storm and the cold front.

This is the view from our protected shoreline across an island that had been used as the prime and only nesting site by the Singleton loons. We have since constructed and deployed the S.S. Loon, a floating platform that has been used each year since around 2005 by the loons. The S.S. designation really does not apply to the loon nesting platform. The S.S. was used most frequently more than a century ago to distinguish a steam ship ship from sailing vessels and paddle steamers which were typically slower and more at the whim of mother nature. SS actually stands for Steam Screw which were used on Steam powered Ships.

Pine Island which I have painted several times before is on the western edge of this painting with the tall trees poking into the skyline. The bay in the distance to the east of Pine Island has a shore that is further away and more muted in colour due to Mie scattering. The white pine tree holding the osprey nest is on the eastern edge of this large bay. The turbulent stratocumulus were full of life and wind.

I had a lot of fun on this very rough panel. The coarse panel is very hard on the brushes but that is the price to pay for this art.
 For this and much more art...

Sunday, August 26, 2018

#2099 "Singleton Cold Front Showers"

May 15th, 2018... This is the paired painting with #2100 "Singleton Islands". The subject, palette and paint surface were all the same.
I like overcast skies. The clouds protect me from the sun. The heavy rain was becoming more showery in nature and I suspected that the cold front was near. A wood duck house at the far end of our property needed some repair so I headed out with the parts to fix it. The waters of Singleton Lake were initially calm but by the time I reached Point Paradise a brisk northwesterly wind had developed behind the cold front. The last kilometre of the paddle to the duck house was all against a steady wind.
This is the view from the northern marsh looking southwest along the length of Singleton Lake. The trailers and cottages can be seen on the western shore as jabs of colour. The natural shore line we keep for the wildlife is the complete eastern shore of Singleton Lake. Pine Island which I have painted several times is almost in the middle with the tall trees poking into the skyline. Both bays to the east and west of Pine Island have shores that are further away and more muted in colour due to Mie scattering. The turbulent stratocumulus were full of life and wind. Every line has a story to tell. The white line of glint was even evident on the far shore.

I had a lot of fun on this very rough panel. The coarse panel is very hard on the brushes but that is the price to pay for this art.
 For this and much more art...

Saturday, August 25, 2018

#2098 "Singleton Sunday Sunrise"

From May 13th, 2018.
Gravity wave bands of cirrostratus may have filled the sky but it was going to a beautiful Sunday. The quasistationary front was sprawled west to east just south of the Great Lakes. The cold outflow from a large high pressure centre over northern Ontario was going to keep this front and the rain associated with it to the south. I was up early to enjoy the day. I was even up before the sun which rose at 5:39 am.
It might have been the thirteenth day of May but I felt lucky. The number 13 may be synonymous with bad luck but I feel we can choose how any day turns out. I picked that it was going to be a great day.

Why pick on 13? As history has it recorded October 13, 1307 was a bad day for the Knights Templar. The Pope of the Roman Catholic church and the King of France sentenced the monastic military order known to death and ordered the torture and crucifixion of their leader. Religion and politics can be a bad mix. Even further, priests of religions based on control by men vilified 13 because they felt it represented femininity. Apparently thirteen corresponded to the number of lunar (menstrual) cycles in a year and the number was revered in prehistoric goddess-worshipping cultures. Further it is considered unlucky to have 13 guests at a dinner party or have buildings with a 13th floor. Many people avoid the 13th day of any month. Most people avoid getting married or buying a house on a day marked by this dreaded number.

As Stevie Wonder wrote in 1972:

Very superstitious, writings on the wall,
Very superstitious, ladders bout' to fall,
Thirteen month old baby, broke the lookin' glass
Seven years of bad luck, the good things in your past
When you believe in things that you don't understand, Then you suffer, Superstition ain't the way.

I am with Stevie on this... We saw him play that song and others at Queens University in the fall of 1972. Stevie and his band were remarkable and very professional.

Now back to painting...
 For this and much more art...

Friday, August 24, 2018

#2097 "Mallorytown Landing Willow Roots"

From May 9th, 2018.
I needed to get out of the sun and paint where some of the other artists had located in the shade of the huge willow trees that dominated Mallorytown Landing. This particular willow was actually leaning upwind toward the southwest. It had survived the wind storm of May 4th, 2018 that brought 120 km/h winds to parts of southern Ontario. Another willow just to the northwest had been leaning toward the northeast and those winds pushed it right over. A crew of men spent all day cleaning up just the one tree.

The bark of these ancient willows was thick and twisted. It was fun to try to capture the character of this tree on a very smooth and very slippery surface. The artists had pretty much retired for the day by the time I was done this painting. I was all alone. Painting can be strenuous work when you are out in the elements.

There was covered shelter for nesting barn swallows and they were using it as well. It was great to see. The numbers of swallows and all insect eating birds have plummeted due to pesticides and genetically modified crops. Barn swallows used to be common just a few years ago but now they are very rare indeed.

The black flies and midges were out but nothing was biting. It was a beautiful day and thank you to the Thousand Islands Fine Art Association for believing the forecast and moving the planned outing one day ahead in order to avoid the cold front, rain and winds of Thursday. That forecast verified very well.
 For this and much more art...

Thursday, August 23, 2018

#2096 "Mallorytown Landing Towering Cumulus"

Started 2:30 pm Wednesday May 9th, 2018
The cumulus clouds continued to develop along the east to west line well to the south of the St Lawrence. The southwesterly winds were intensifying and the cumulus streets were becoming aligned with that direction. This view is only about ten minutes after #2095 "Mallorytown Landing Cumulus" and looking more toward the southwest and Grenadier Island Island. One of the participants wanted more guidance on painting those elusive clouds. We tried positive drawing of the clouds with a thin light white wash. We also experimented drawing clouds in a negative way with a thin blue wash. Either way one had to protect the bright white highlights of the cumulus tops where the small, new water droplets are terrific Mie scatterers of solar energy. It just takes a subtle convergence line in the lower atmosphere to focus all of this cumulus development. The clouds were quite vigourous in the warm and moist unstable air mass. It was actually a very hot day for early May.
This was a smooth and slippery surface and a lot of fun demonstrating how one might try to capture the quickly changing clouds. The other goal was to convince them that you could mix the correct value or colour, lay it in and leave it. There is really no need to polish the brush stroke. Leave the stroke alone and let it breath vitality into the art. I try every approach that can be imagined to find the one that might connect with the attendees.

The black flies and midges were out but nothing was biting. Several midges landed on the wet paint and very few managed to escape. A few flies were added to the pigment but one landed and looked like a turkey vulture soaring in the same thermals that supported the clouds. That tiny fly is still there in the paint.

It was a beautiful day and thank you to the Thousand Islands Artists Association for believing the forecast and moving the planned outing one day ahead in order to avoid the cold front, rain and winds of Thursday. That forecast verified very well.
 For this and much more art...

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

#2095 "Mallorytown Landing Cumulus"

Started 1:45 pm Wednesday May 9th, 2018.
Someone wanted a demonstration on how to handle the clouds. The cumulus clouds continued to develop along the east to west line well to the south of the St Lawrence. A subtle convergence line in the lower atmosphere is all that it takes to focus such activity. The clouds were quite vigourous in the warm and moist unstable air mass. It was actually a very hot day for early May.

This was a smooth and slippery surface and a lot of fun demonstrating how one might try to capture the quickly changing clouds. The other goal was to convince them that you could mix the correct value or colour, lay it in and leave it. There is really no need to polish the brush stroke. Leave the stroke alone and let it breath vitality into the art. I try every approach that can be imagined to find the one that might connect with the attendees.
The black flies and midges were out but nothing was biting. It was a beautiful day and thank you to the Thousand Islands Fine Art Association for believing the forecast and moving the planned outing one day ahead in order to avoid the cold front, rain and winds of Thursday. That forecast verified very well.
 For this and much more art...

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

#2094 "Mallorytown Landing Reach"

Started 12:15 pm Wednesday May 9th, 2018.

The skies were almost clear. Some cumulus were developing along the extension of the Lake Ontario lake breeze that was pushed southeastward into New York State. A large area of cirrostratus was invading at the same time from the west. There were no cumulus clouds under this cirrus and west of the associated deformation zone. This phenomenon happens frequently because the slight reduction in daytime heating due to the thin cirrostratus is all that it takes to shut down the generation of cumulus. The high level water vapour imagery reveals the thin cirrostratus much better than the mid level water vapour imagery. The absence of cumulus cloud within the area shaded by the cirrostratus was revealed by the visible satellite imagery for the same time.
I wanted to do another demonstration. I had be circulating all morning among the TIFFA participants offering suggestions and encouragement. I thought they might enjoy their lunches while I painted. I set up in the large gazebo in the shade from the midday sun. The light was not great to see the colours but I did my best looking out the open archway. A vacationing couple from Kelowna listened in... I think they wanted to also visit the Singleton Gallery.

This view is looking southward through the arch at some trees which were just starting to leaf out. Grenadier Island was well to the south.

The black flies and midges were out but nothing was biting. It was a beautiful day and thank you to the Thousand Islands Fine Art Association for believing the forecast and moving the planned outing one day ahead in order to avoid the cold front, rain and winds of Thursday. That forecast verified very well.
 For this and much more art...

Monday, August 20, 2018

#2093 "Mallorytown Landing Beach"

Started 9:15 am Wednesday May 9th, 2018.
My history at Mallorytown Landing goes back to 1960 when I was seven. Our family camped there on weekends and sometimes for a couple of weeks in the summer. We cooked on the old stone and steel fireplaces, swam, hiked and really enjoyed the experience. Back then the fishing was still great. The opening of the St Lawrence Seaway had not yet impacted on the fish populations. The swing set was terrific. Tinkerbell our cat once decided she wanted to stay. We spent hours late on a Sunday afternoon before we could find her to take her home.
I set up my easel on what used to be the sand beach in front of the artists from the Thousand Islands Artists Association. Nature has reclaimed the waterfront and that was fine. It had been a perfect swimming area right out to this rocky point. We used goggles and swim fins and played for hours in that sand and water. The shallows and shoals on the other side of the point were great for pike and bass. We trolled during the summer and ice fished during the winter. Mallorytown Landing was and is a very special place.

I had a large group of artists attending this plein air workshop. I wanted to explain the difference between painting into the sun and focussing on tonal values versus painting with the sun on your back and painting colour. I was looking southeastward directly toward the morning sun. This vantage is especially hard on your eyes but I do not do it often. This demo lasted less than an hour and I was in and out of the artistic zone as I explained what I was doing and why. Sometimes it is easier to see things being done rather than listening to an explanation. The other goal was to convince them that you could mix the correct value or colour, lay it in and leave it. Be bold. There is really no need to polish the brush stroke. Leave the stroke alone and let it breath vitality into the art. I try every approach that can be imagined to find the one that might connect with the attendees.

The spring greens were evident in the budding leaves and the grass. I was careful to match that colour. The black flies and midges were out but nothing was biting. It was a beautiful day. I had a big thank you to the Thousand Islands Artists Association for believing the forecast and moving the planned outing one day ahead in order to avoid the cold front, rain and winds of Thursday. That forecast verified very well.
 For this and much more art...

Sunday, August 19, 2018

#2092 "1000 Islands Village"

From May 7th, 2018...
I had promised the owners Dennis and Margaret Bank that I would paint en plein air when I delivered another large painting to the large and growing gallery at the 1000 Islands Village - the largest in eastern Ontario. This painting is the result of that effort.

1000 Islands Village is certainly a hive of activity. The glory of the old stone building was being reconstructed and the Banks have a fine vision of the future. 1000 Islands Village is also the home of the River West Company - A Lifestyle Boutique for Mind, Body and Home. The Riverbank Gallery is developing as well. 1000 ISLANDS VILLAGE 1120 County Road 2 East Brockville, ON K6V 5T1.
The midday sun was strong and stark. The air was full of tiny midges that were very intent on their own life cycle. Pairs of midges were bonded and those that landed on the wet oils could not be saved. They became one with the painting. These midges did not bite and were an important food source for the tree swallows that also flew around me. I tried very hard not to interfere with the birds and the bees - so to speak.
 For this and much more art...

Saturday, August 18, 2018

#2091 "Sunday Sunrise Cumulus Floccus"

There was an easterly breeze not due to an approaching low pressure area but because of an outflow from a large high pressure area to the north. The associated large low pressure area was being deflected well to the south of Singleton as it moved toward the coast. It did not rain at the lake at all on Sunday.
I quite enjoy the sunrise light and these floccus clouds were an added bonus. Floccus are small cumulus looking clouds appearing as a fibrous tuft. The bottoms of floccus are quite ragged and often accompanied by virga. The bases of these clouds are certainly not uniform. The text book says that floccus can only be applied to cirrus, cirrocumulus, altocumulus and stratocumulus. These clouds were not in a large enough sheet to make me think of stratocumulus so I simply called them cumulus floccus which really could be an unnecessary duplication of the term like calling them cumulus cumulus. Floccus are typically 1000 to 3000 feet tall although I find it challenging to really estimate these cloud dimensions from the ground. Some tufts have been recorded to 10000 feet tall turning them into altocumulus castellannus.

A look at the radar from the same time revealed that some of the floccus virga was actually being observed. Art gives me a chance to learn more science. They really are the same thing.
 For this and much more art... and science...

Friday, August 17, 2018

#2090 "Singleton Cirrus Sunset Fingers"

Every sunset offers another opportunity for a painting. The winds had backed to westerly during the day as revealed by the gravity waves in the cirrostratus. I believe that the parallel bands of cirrus fingers aligned with the upper jet actually form through the same process as Langmuir streaks and streets of turbulent stratocumulus. This formation is extremely common.

The air mass was still unstable but it required the day time heating from a spring day to set it off. According to radar some of that convection was passing just to the south of Singleton but it was not obvious that it was there looking at the sunset sky.
I have been signing the paintings with a very subtle scratch in the wet paint with a tooth pick. Sometimes the signature is so subtle that it is difficult to see. It is typically in the lower right. I dot the "i" with a dab of quinacridome red and sometimes that dot of paint is all you can really make out of my signature. The art is not about me but about the colours and tones.
 For this and much more art... and science...

Thursday, August 16, 2018

#2089 "Singleton Sunset Convection"

Every sunset offers another opportunity for a painting and a lesson in meteorology. The weakening convection as witnessed at 7 pm on Wednesday May 2nd, 2018 was certainly no exception. The northwesterly winds aloft were guiding the low level anvil with them. The air mass was certainly unstable but it required the day time heating from a spring day to set it off. These particular cells was also located along the warm front. The col in the deformation zone was far to the northwest. More convection and thunderstorms would develop overnight due to wind shear and the fabled low topped supercells. This type of convection is what prompts early season watches and warnings from large hail and even tornadoes.
Note the gravity waves in the bands of cirrostratus that also reveal the wind direction at the level of the deaying anvil. The dark cloud on the western horizon was the next thunderstorm.
 For this painting and much more...

#2292 "Canine Cove Sumacs"

The hummingbird kept me company as I studied the patterns in the sumac leaves. The tiny bird would buzz in like a little jet and take a f...