I did this little painting in the comfort of my office this evening. The scene was an excellent one that I photographed on Saturday. I would have loved to do this one en Plein air, but the road is narrow and there is no place to park really. I had to squeez on the shoulder of the road to take a photograph and get back in the car before cars came.
Although the painting is not too bad, It is missing an element of spontaniety that would have been there had I painted it from the car! I also think the colours could have been bolder... Ah well!
I went back to Norval on Saturday. I wanted to first revisit the site of my first painting there to take a reference photo. I went straight to Louisa Street but to my big surprise, my scene was not there! Stunned for a moment and disoriented. I sat back, opened my coffee thermos and took a sip. The hot coffee burnet my mouth and in my shock I spilled it all over my T-Shirt! Great! Here I was in my car, ready for a couple of hours of painting and my first moment was a disaster! I used most of my paper towels to dry up my t-shirt and put a layer between my skin and the - by now - wet and COLD T-shirt.
The three spots that I have painted from so far in Norval
Once I recovered, I went back to my initial problem. Where was I? Where was my beautiful red barn? In my wondering around town last week, I had become completely disoriented. I did not take note of the street I was on. Only later, when I was back home did I try to retrace my sojourn from Google Earth. Needless to say, that did not work! I spent some time driving around town through every street until I rediscovered my beautiful red barn on Old Pine Crest Rd! I took a few photos of the red barn for future reference and turned to drive back into town when I saw a nice vista beckoning me to paint.
This is the second painting on Old Pine Crest Rd. The house/farm sits on the North East end of the road. The composition is not very successful, but it was a warm up. I find I need to do two or three quick paintings or sketches before I am warmed up and ready.
>>>> Norval House On Old Pine Crest Rd
When I finished this painting, I headed back into town. I found this scene driving down Adamson Rd. just across the bridge. I parked the car on the edge of the road between the trees and went to work.
I like this one better. It has more structure. I bet this scene would look wonderful in spring when the river is not frozen over and the trees are full of colour again. You can bet that I will be back when the buds start moving!
Despite my misadventures, I am finding that plein air work is a real thrill. I can't wait for the weather to warm up a bit so I can venture out of the car and into nature.
So far this week has been bitter cold. No chance of doing any outdoor sketching without being taken to the coo-coo house.
I was watching a DVD and stopped it on this scene to do a quick sketch. It didn't turn out too bad. Next I am renting Mediterraneo or To Catch A Thief. Maybe I can will this weather to moderate!
Anyway, this one was done with my fountain pen and wet finger. I love this brown ink. I created it by mixing a yellow and a black Skrip bottles together. I am running low on the ink. Wonder what I will do when it i finished? Does anyone know of a similar colour ink out there? It will have to be safe for fountain pens.
After stepping away for a couple of days from the first small painting that I made in Norval, I feel the composition could have been better. Friends had pointed that out to me, but I needed to disengage from it for a while to really see it.
I decided to crop it a bit and bring the focus closer on the main elements. Here is what it looks like now:
I also decided that I need the help of a view finder in the field so I could compose my paintings better. I made a small view finder from black foam board, and it will be in my kit on the next sojourn.
PS: I didn't physically crop the painting. Just used a smaller mat.
Every artist who likes to paint in Plein Air, looks for a place they can visit repeatedly to explore and paint. Ideally, it would be within a short distance from their home and would have enough variety to keep them coming. Today, I think I found my place. It is a small village, 15 minutes north from my home on Winston Churchill Blvd. The place is called Norval, or Norval on the Credit . I was using Google Earth to look for a suitable place to go exploring in the area, when I stumbled over a valley with a river and small town. I thought for sure this would be worth visiting. So off I went this morning, back-pack in hand and ready to hunt for a good scene to paint. Little did I know that this village is heavy with Art history!!! Alfred Joseph Casson, one of Canada's Group of Seven painters, painted Norval in 1928.
Casson "Norval" and "Early Summer Norval, 1928"
The village was also home to Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables, and the painter J.W.L. Forster. _._ The day did not present ideal Plein Air weather to say the least. -23 Centigrade is not exactly my idea of outdoor weather. I was going to have to find a place I could paint from the relative warmth of the car. I scouted around the village and took note of several spots that I will re-visit on a more inviting day. The village and surrounding hills are full of places one could paint if one could venture out, but there was no question of doing that today. I finally found an excellent spot on Old Pine Crest Rd. The secluded street over-looked this farm on a hill that was just begging to be painted. So I obliged. Here is the small 5"x7" painting.
Today I decided to brave the cold and venture out of the car to sketch. I didn't venture far though. Meadowvale's community center has a wonderful park that my wife reminded me of this morning. I readily found a nice spot to settle down. A bench overlooking this scene had just enough snow melted off of it for me to sit. I started quickly, hoping to get enough details before frostbite set in. It didn't take long. The puddles of water on my palette soon turned to ice and I had to blow on the palette to melt them. A patch of ice on the bench was useful as a cleaning surface for my brush, but I think that just added to the ice in the palette. The brush soon became unruly with ice in the tuft and ice was in patches all over the sketch. I was about to quit when the boys came into the scene. Ah! How could I stop now!! I warmed the brush with my breath, warmed the palette the same way and gave it one more push. With the kids done, I was ready to leave, but the red winter-coat was wet and I was so afraid that if it iced over it would feather out or bleed when it melted again. I sat a bit longer blowing gently on the sketch to help it dry warm. When it did, my fingers and cheeks were numb from the cold. I quickly bundled all my stuff up and headed to the safety and warmth of the car.
Home at last, and warm coffee in hand, I added the knife scraps and cropped the edges for composition and this baby was done. It is not really material for a full scale painting, but I did enjoy the experience. Working plein air even in winter is exhilarating.
Homer's rendition of the rapids in a few of his paintings is so powerful and full of vigor that you can almost hear the water roaring down the river. His use of earth colours with very little or no blues at all to depict the water is counter intuitive, but to a large extent correct of the waters in the Saguenay / Lac-St-Jean dark waters. Here is a good example of the colours. As you can see the earth colours are all around.
_._ I did this pastiche sketch after Homer's "Canoes On Rapids, Saguenay". It is not meant to be anything more than a study of the water. I feel I am getting there. Now I have to make it my own and absorb what I have learned.