Tuesday, April 30, 2019

#2229 "Late Winter Gneiss Ridge"

I had some time to paint with my chores all done. The sun was shining. A spring storm had just left and certainly another was on the way in the Polar Vortex flow. But spring was in the air. I saw a wood duck drake whistle overhead. The trumpeter swans were especially vocal as were the crows. The sounds were a symphony for spring which had not quite arrived.
The turkeys were curious to see what I was up to. An unidentified bird almost landed on me. I just felt the flutter of wings on my shoulder and then it was gone. Maybe it was an angel? It was warm enough that I wore my summer painting hat instead of a toque. The sun felt really nice on my back.

There was not much time so I focussed on the snow shadows that trailed across the crystalline snow pack. The ridge is a finger of gneiss that runs northeast-southwest. Similar and parallel ridges from an ancient continental plate collision defines the landscape of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere. There is still not much soil on these ridges but the deciduous trees still find a way to flourish. Gneiss when pronounced sounds a lot like "nice" so that is my subtle pun.

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

Monday, April 29, 2019

#2228 "Jellyfish Virga"

These are parallel streets of backlit stratocumulus embedded along the northwesterly winds behind a spring cold front. The March sun was powerful enough to create late afternoon instability within those lines of clouds. Snow virga was wafting down from the convective bubbles like the tentacles of jellyfish. In fact jellyfish movement as they move around the ocean closely resembles cumulus convection. Gravity waves in the thin cloud streets reveal the direction of the wind and probably result from the stabilization that was occurring with the setting sun. The bands of stratocumulus further to the west were looking more like heavy snowsqualls and not just light flurries. Every cloud has a story to tell. Singleton Lake was still frozen solid.

I enjoy virga sunsets. The chilly polar vortex was still strong and had delayed any spring like temperatures for another week or so.

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

Saturday, April 27, 2019

#2227 "Wind Blown"

There are many trees in Canada but this one is possibly "The Tree". This highly flagged Tree is quite possibly the most photographed individual tree in Canada if not the world. I had already painted "The Tree" in painting number 2049 looking northwestward. Outside it was a windy and cold day under the polar vortex so I decided to revisit the tree in the Singleton Studio. This time I would be viewing the tree from the north looking southeastward.

The Tree was anchored with almost no soil in a crack chiseled in the granite. The prevailing onshore winds had flagged it over time so that it grew more horizontally than vertically. I was just one of many people who took pictures of that tree. This view looking toward the light and the southeast in the early afternoon is not one I would have selected while en plein air. The tree was shadowed and dark and maybe a bit haloed by the sun to the south. Cumulus were developing vigorously where the onshore winds reached the land.

It is much better to be a flagged tree than a broken one. One needs to grow with the elements rather to be constantly at war with the forces that shape nature.

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Friday, April 26, 2019

#2226 "Winter Wetland"

The provincially significant wetland north of our home is about 5 acres in extent. It may be small but it is still a special place full of wildlife. I have placed nesting boxes and platforms all around and within the wetland and maintain a thick forest between us and the swamp. I have place branches in the shallow water to give minnows some cover and shelter as well. The Canada geese enjoy the platform even though the bald eagles continue to predate their nest every few years. Wood ducks use most of the duck boxes but flying squirrels like them too. Blue birds and tree swallows compete for the Peterson Blue Bird houses. Trees that fall into the wetland roughly perpendicular to the shore are great for everything from the turtles to the several varieties of frogs that live there. Everything needs a place to live. Interlaced piles of brush place on top of wood palettes placed on the wetland perimeter provide shelter opportunities for all kinds of critters. A piece of metal roofing on top of the palette gives those critters a dry place to survive as well.

Everything is quiet in the middle of winter - or at least it would seem so from the surface observation. Turtles are certainly embedded in the mud. Spring peepers might be getting ready to sing. I could only guess at the activity in the wetland. I could only paint the shadows across the snow and the deciduous forest in the morning light.

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Thursday, April 25, 2019

#2225 "Rookery Triplex"

I like to take Summers Road when I head north from Singleton. It is the shortest path from Lyndhurst to Elgin by a country mile but the road is not maintained for a long stretch in the middle where low land drains to even lower Lower Beverly Lake.

The road is not plowed during the winter. On this particular day I was on my way back from hanging paintings at the Opinicon and there was no rush. I was hunting for winter subject matter when the wind chill would push me inside the studio. This rookery on the east side of Summers Road caught my eye. One tree in particular supported three heron nests. A current in the beaver pond had kept an open channel in the ice. The reflective properties of ice, snow and water are very different.

The increase in beavers has resulted in swamps where trees have died, creating ideal habitat for nesting great blue herons. Great blue herons nest communally in "rookeries" or "heronries" containing up to 50 pair. Herons typically use the same rookery every year until eventually the trees collapse.

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

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

#2224 "Mid Winter Singleton Sunset"

I needed to loosen up so I went back to the weather after painting on the covey of cows. I had long wanted to play with some bright and cheery colours and this sunset view across Singleton Lake filled the bill.

It was overcast outside with a very chilly cold easterly inflow to the next approaching winter storm. I had a cheery fire on in the wood stove. There would be no solar energy today.

Oils on dark burnt sienna oil tinted rough masonite panel with two or three coats of white primer, a thick coat of Golden Artists Colors-GAC-100 followed by one or two coats of gesso. The number, title and story are written on the back in pencil and then sealed with a coat of Kamar artist varnish - 8 X 12 (inches). Saturday March 2nd, 2019 in the studio. Overcast with a chilly cold easterly inflow to the next approaching winter storm. I had a cheery fire on in the wood stove. No solar energy today. The image was from 5:15 pm on Tuesday January 16th, 2018 from in front of the Great Room at Singleton looking west from very near N44.522848 W76.104791.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

#2223 "Covey of Cattle"

These cattle belong to the Covey Family which has farmed the area since 1905 or so. Most people think of a covey as a flock of birds but the dictionary clearly describes the term as suitable for describing a small group of people or things. This covey of cows were happily munching away on a couple of 1100 pound round bales of hay. Each of these round bales would cost $50 if you wanted your own. The round bales are the bovine version of the human water-cooler. I can only imagine the conversations between these cows as they watched the traffic go by on Red Horse Lake Road. There were nine cows at this non-baleful bovine meeting. They were simply having a good chin wag as the virga wafted above them. The Holsteins on the right may look like twins. It is actually the same cow duplicated with a few subtle modifications.

I was on my way back home but stopped to visit with these bovines. They were always friendly and curious and I thought I could create something special out of the overcast nimbostratus day. The ground was snow-packed and the virga in the sky meant that more snow was on the way.

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

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

#2222 "Winter Outlet Boat Houses"

I was looking for something other than sunset clouds over Singleton Lake to paint. I have been painting a lot of sunsets lately. It was chilly outside in the cold conveyor belt of the next winter storm. Plein air was out of the question so there was a need to find some other inspiration.

It had been an overcast day with some light snow falling when I wandered around the Outlet of Charleston Lake in November of 2018. I was interested in the reflections of my favourite boat houses in the choppy waters of the Outlet. Motion and rhythm is important in what I am trying to say with my art. I hope you can feel the pulse in the nimbostratus, the trees, the water and even the siding of the boat houses. I have painted these before: #1636 "Outlet Reflections" #1637 "Charleston Boat Houses" #1762 "Outlet Row of Boat Houses" and maybe a few more times. I forget. (#1591 Outlet Boat Houses, #952 Outlet Afternoon, #954 Midday Outlet )

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Sunday, April 14, 2019

#2221 "Singleton Squally Snow"

This was a day after a major winter storm crossed Ontario. A series of cold fronts would usher fresh and clean Arctic air over eastern Ontario.
The winds were gusting to 45 knots and perhaps stronger. I do not own an anemometer but things tend to break with wind gusts of 50 knots. The Arctic air over the Great Lakes was cold enough to create classic lake effect snowsqualls. What was very unusual was that the squalls reaching Singleton were actually originating from Lake Michigan with a bit of a boost from Lake Huron too. I strongly suspect that there was possibly a cold frontal component to this particular snowsquall as well. The dark looking cloud low on the horizon was producing a heavy snow flurry. The snow would be much closer in just 15 more minutes. The weather is never dull.

I liked the way that the convective squalls look at 6:00 pm. I would also paint how they looked just 15 minutes later in #2220 "Windy Singleton Snow Squalls".

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

Friday, April 12, 2019

#2220 "Windy Singleton Snow Squalls"

This was a day after a major winter storm crossed Ontario. A series of cold fronts would usher fresh and clean Arctic air over eastern Ontario. The winds were gusting to 45 knots and perhaps stronger.

The Arctic air over the Great Lakes was cold enough to create classic lake effect snowsqualls. What was very unusual was that the squalls reaching Singleton were actually originating from Lake Michigan with a bit of a boost from Lake Huron too. I strongly suspect that there was possibly a cold frontal component to this particular snowsquall as well.

Note the shaft of heavy snow beyond the west shore of Singleton Lake. The cumulus tower was strongly bent over with the stronger winds aloft. Cumulus tufts were being shredded and torn apart in the strong winds like cotton candy. The weather is never dull.

I liked the way that the convective squalls look at 6:15 pm. I would also paint how they looked just 15 minutes earlier at 6 pm in #2221 "Singleton Squally Snow".

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

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

#2219 "November Sunset Stratocumulus"

The sunset is very yellow but the clouds have a strong red and pink colour to them. Hmm. Why? These cloud droplets may have been young and smaller than average but that cannot be the entire story. Both Rayleigh and Mie scattering painted my sunset view. This sunset view was from 4:40 pm on Wednesday November 21st, 2018. The dissipating stratocumulus were in the northwesterly flow behind a cold front. Art gives me a chance to practise science as well.

Rayleigh scattering is strongly dependent upon the size of the particle and the wavelengths. The intensity of the Rayleigh scattered radiation increases rapidly as the ratio of particle size to wavelength increases - the scatterers get bigger. The intensity of Rayleigh scattered radiation is also identical in the forward and reverse directions.

At sunset short wavelength blue light is scattered out of the direct beam by the long path of the light through the atmospheric molecules which are really the Rayleigh scatters. By the time the direct beam from the sun got over Singleton Lake after the long trek through the atmosphere, only long red wavelengths remained. However I needed something to scatter the remaining direct beam red light to my eye.

The Mie scattering model takes over from Rayleigh when the particle size becomes larger than around 10% of the wavelength of the radiation. Mie scattering is roughly independent of wavelength and it is larger in the forward direction than in the reverse direction. The greater the particle size, the more of the light is scattered in the forward direction - in this case toward my eye.

To finish the construction of my scene I needed the turbulent stratocumulus clouds. Some of the cloud particles might have been small enough by Rayleigh but really (humour intended) all I needed was Mie scattering to forward the some of the remaining red light in the direct beam from the sun to my waiting eyes. Note that the edges of the backlit cloud are much more red than the centers. Only a few scattering interaction are possible on the thin edges of the cloud where there are relatively few droplets to do the scattering. More Mie scatters in the bulk of the cloud jumble all of the remaining direct beam together so that the artist sees a mixture of the remaining wavelengths and simply a darker colour of cloud.

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

Monday, April 8, 2019

#2218 "Sunset Concert in AC and CI"

A winter storm was on the way and this is the way it looked early on the evening of Wednesday December 19th, 2018. Company was just about to arrive in time for Christmas and this winter storm would make certain that it would be a white one. I have always compared the forces that construct the lines and shapes in the atmosphere as more of a ballet than a battle. One can also compare it to a musical where each line and shape have a tune to play. If you put all of the notes together you can achieve a concert or maybe even a symphony. The chords in this piece are composed of altocumulus and cirrus and of course the rays from the setting sun. Whether it be music or art, they are still sciences and branches of the same tree of learning.

Understanding the weather simplifies into a few very important conceptual models of specific weather patterns. The Conveyor Belt Conceptual Model (CBCM) of a storm system is the most important of these. The important step is to find your specific location within the CBCM of the storm and thus understand the weather that will cross your path. Large conceptual models are typically composed of smaller dynamic meteorological features which can also be represented by conceptual models. All of the weather estimates are in a relative sense compared to the current conditions. Quantitative weather requires actual measurement and not just visual observations.

This pattern is actually a favourite of mine and it dates back to the 1980's after a lecture from Roger Weldon. Roger had opened the wonder of the deformation zone to me. What I wanted to know was "why" the line was shaped the way it was. If one knew why then how and when and understanding the weather had to follow. I made a long and happy career out of those questions.

This was a nearly a straight deformation zone gently bowed in the direction of the warm conveyor belt (WCB). The col in the deformation zone was further to the north and I was looking at the anticyclonic quadrant of the WCB deformation zone.
The partner cyclonic quadrant of that deformation zone was overhead Singleton Lake and still had some lift to generate the altocumulus. The lines in the sky can all be understood and explained. A picture is worth a lot of words. Several pictures can be worth many more.

Of course one does not need to know any of this to enjoy the sunset.

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

Saturday, April 6, 2019

#2217 "Ontario Snowsquall Sunset"

Southwesterly squalls off Lake Ontario are a very rare event for Singleton Lake. The fetch over the relatively warm waters of Lake Ontario is not very long from 210 degrees. Seldom is the air originating from the southwest cold enough to achieve the crucial 13 Celsius degree temperature difference between the water and the air at about 5000 feet above the surface. Shore line convergence is also not very beneficial with that wind direction. Southwesterly snowsqualls seldom develop.

I believe that a secondary cold front and the associated convergence played a big roll in generating this particular bit of weather. The wind howled and the snow blew and drifted deep. It was a wild day outside. It was also the second day of "Skate the Lake" on the Big Rideau. Only the hardiest souls skated. Making progress against the wind was a challenge on skates but going with the wind was a breeze.

This sunset was after all of the action had died down. Daytime instability over the land even given the meagre input from the late January sun, causes snowsqualls to penetrate much further inland from the lake shore. These snowsqualls were going to fizzle over Singleton Lake and it was going to be a clear and cold wintery night.

There are many shapes in these dissipating and wind torn fragments of cumulus. A dragon, armadillo and several other creatures can be found. There is even the blue bird of happiness flapping its wings.

I included the neighbour's porch light on the dark western shore of Singleton where the sun sets early. My friend Dale was apparently not yet retired and he would have been out working hard to keep the township roads passable. He does a terrific job and will be missed when he does retire.

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

Friday, April 5, 2019

#2216 "Singleton Winter Contrails Cirrus and Deformation"

Every line in the sky has a history to reveal that tells the future as well. The cirrostratus level deformation zone leading the way for the warm conveyor belt was already well to the east of Singleton. Several jets were also on their way to a new day in Europe. A winter storm was on the way for Friday across eastern Ontario and Singleton Lake. The skyscape on Thursday January 17th, 2019 at 5 pm revealed all of the meteorological processes and much more. I knew this was going to be my next painting.

The falling snow from the winter storm was enough to keep me in the studio where I recorded this tale of moisture and weather then next day. My paintings come to me. No need to go looking for inspiration. The cirrus on the warm conveyor belt was being divided into bands paralleling the upper winds by a process I feel is identical to that for Langmuir Streaks on water surfaces. There were also subtle gravity waves embedded in the cirrus layers revealing winds from another direction in the storm relative flow. Seven jets were laying down their contrails as they streaked to tomorrow in Europe. The contrails were persistent in the moist air mass. We used to forecast the probability of persistent contrails for 22 NORAD but I suspect we did that poorly even though we had supporting nomograms and some upper air soundings. The contrails splayed out in time. The helical patterns reminded me of the structure of DNA.

The dominant line in the sky was the mid level deformation zone leading the way for the approaching precipitation. It was the major star of the composition and stretched across the horizon. I made my meteorological career out of learning what these lines were all about. The upper vorticity maxmium and the heaviest precipitation were further to the north and to the left of the col in the deformation field.

The colours of the sky also played out on the surface of Singleton Lake. The snow, ice and open water all behaved differently to the light show above.

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

Thursday, April 4, 2019

#2215 "Snowy Singleton Sunset"

I had already started work on #2214 "Shades of Singleton Sunset". A combination of the excitement of Christmas and a very persistent and bad cold had kept me from painting since Sunday December 16th, 2018. I felt rusty. I decided to grab another panel to see how the colours would mix and to loosen up the brushes. I still had a few of these rough panels in my canoe plein air packs and thought they would be perfect to test a few techniques.

The scene is identical to that for #2214 "Shades of Singleton Sunset" but the surface and the techniques were a bit different. I did both of these paintings at roughly the same time. The painting was all about the colours of the setting sun across the frozen snow surface of Singleton Lake and the contrast with the reflection of the fading light in the open water of Jim Day Rapids. Every colour of the rainbow was evident and white was the least important of all of these. Snow and ice are anything but white. It felt good to get the brushes limbered up again. I enjoy painting on rough surfaces and getting away from the details that always seem to draw me in... so to speak.

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

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

#2214 "Shades of Singleton Sunset"

This painting was all about the colours of the setting sun across the frozen snow surface of Singleton Lake. I always enjoy the contrasting colours of the reflection of the fading light in the open water of Jim Day Rapids and virtually every other shade in my favourite scene. Every colour of the rainbow was evident and white was the least important of all of these. The days were getting longer and I would be swimming in those waters on May 16th.

The otters were there every day in the open waters of Jim Day Rapids and they were very successful fishermen. Trumpeter swans visited every day and often enjoyed sleep overs in the open water. All kinds of nature used those rapids and we certainly encouraged those activities.

Gravity waves were playing with the cirrostratus of the stable winter atmosphere. There was motion everywhere in the sky, the light and the rapids. Fun.

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

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

#2213 "Pink Lines Sunset Singleton"

Who said the 13th was unlucky? I got two nice sunsets out of that supposedly unlucky Tuesday evening on November the thirteenth. The cold front went through as we sat and enjoyed the sunset. The southwesterly winds snapped around to the northwest with a gust of fresh Arctic air. It was a classic cold front. Streets of pink turbulent stratocumulus soon followed. Hang back shades of fibrous grey cloud persisted just as far as the mid level deformation zone. It was going to clear and get much colder overnight.

I used a lot of paint on this canvas. It was fun plus the oils were getting old and needed to be used. I visited the same sunset from just five minute later in #2205 "November 13 Sunset" from 5:45 pm on Tuesday November 13th, 2018 in the wake of that cold front.

John Constable was one of the greatest painters of the English weather. The sky and clouds were essential components of all his landscape paintings. For most of 1821 and 1822 John essentially only painted the weather in his efforts to get it right. John never lived to realize the success of his efforts. His art influenced and was influenced by the early cloud classification systems.

At times like this it's good to trust the skies. John Constable said there was a lifetime in them. While they are plastic and moldable, they can be loaded with anticipation, fear and anxiety. And everything below a horizon line is infected with their moods.

I observe and record a lot of weather. The atmospheric patterns tell the story behind the weather. I am an eternal student to everything in the atmosphere. Luckily the weather comes to me so I do not have to waste time chasing it down in order to find a painting. Monet may have had his garden and the water lilies but I have the sky. How lucky can I be!

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Monday, April 1, 2019

#0424 "Out of the Blue of the western sky"

This is looking out the west window of the new family room of Watershed Farm in 1999. It was late in the afternoon and I was inspired to paint ... but it was cold outside.
Remember the old TV show "Sky King". .. the title is the leading line of the show. My brother and I always watched the cowboy shows as kids.

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#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...