Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Canadian Brush Strokes

I am not a big fan of art magazines. Frankly I feel ripped off every time I buy one with promising headlines. More times than not, the headlines fall short of what the articles deliver. So and So reveals his method. Yaaa NOT! What he/she reveals is that you can get his method if you buy his book or attend his workshop. And so the whole magazine, including its articles becomes a catalogue and not a magazine really.

Such is the case in every magazine I have purchased except for the free Canadian Brush Stroke magazine which is delivered to your email as a PDF file every other month. The Magazine is published by Jensu Design and publisher Susan Blackman out of Leduc Alberta. It features Canadian artists, seasonal contests and showcases art across Canada. The quality of the magazine is superior with meaningful articles and exposes about artists. It caters to a Canadian audience while maintaining a high standard for graphic and editorial control.

The fact that it comes to my email every other month, is a huge plus for me. I can - and do - print it because I like to read it at lunch at work or when otherwise occupied ehmm. But more importantly it is an ingenious idea and a forward looking method of magazine distribution. It by-passes the printing press and the costs associated with that and shipping and allows the publishers to maintain a standard because they don't have to skimp on paper, size or quality of colour. All that, and it is free!

No they did not pay me for this LOL. I don't even know them although they did publish one of my paintings last year in a showcase of plein air art across Canada. The reason I am writing this is to encourage Canadian art and art related businesses such as Canadian Brush Stroke Magazine. You can get your free subscription by filling out the form here. The next issue will be in your email box in September :)

Friday, August 06, 2010

A Brush With The Highlands - Day 3

Sunday August 1, 2010

Once again the pushy rooster had his way. I was up at first light and after a good breakfast (Daryl made eggs and left-over steaks) I headed straight to the Barns farm. Here I set up at the far end of the farm path and did an 11x14 of the hills around the farm. Bill painted close by and I shared some of my yogurt drink with him. For anyone working in the heat, the drink is a very refreshing concoction that is strange, but as old as rocks in the eastern Mediterranean. You simply mix ½ yogurt, ½ water and salt to taste. Not exactly what you expect from a drink, but so fresh and keeps you hydrated very well due to the salt. The last thing you need in heat is sugar, while salt actually retains water in your body which is a big plus. Back when I was in high school, I worked one summer as a translator for a Dutch company in Saudi Arabia. We were set up in the desert building a pre-fab town from scratch and we would take a salt pill every morning as a requirement before heading out.

I finished the 11x14, moved some 300 meters into the farm and looking back, painted the pathway. The light was perfect with shadows and lovely darks against lights. Tricia and her friend were painting close by and we shared ripe Ontario peaches with Dan and Bill who joined us around lunch. I took a small cat nap again, and then headed up on Essonville line to catch the afternoon sun beating on Esson lake. I set up on the side of the road behind the railings for safety but that meant that I was on a steep slope and uncomfortable. Nevertheless, the view was grand and I was happy to capture it despite the fact that I knew I was going to have to work on it later on due to lack of time and comfort. The road rises over the lake and the view is long, something I was missing in the other paintings.

Colours come more easily after two days of fine tuning your eyes and living with the blobs of paint in the pochade box. Somehow mixing colours becomes more instinctive and on the mark. The day was a bit breezy and much warmer than the days before which meant that we all got some good sun. Thankfully most of us travel with some sort of sun shading (umbrellas or sunscreen are a must). Back at the camp, I found David putting finishing touches on a lovely painting he did at the Barns farm as well. I set up in my corner and did the same until the mosquitoes forced me to abandon the effort.

The night was going to be a quiet one. No guitars, no rowdy bonfires just a calm fading away with the last light. The humidity was rising though and sleeping in a closed car was tough. Opening the window or door would mean that the mosquitoes would get a feeding. Closing everything would mean a stuffy hot sleep. I chose the later, but next year I will figure out a way to install a screen on one of the windows to get some air in while keeping the vampires away.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

A Brush With The Highlands - Day 2

Saturday July 31, 2010

When you sleep in the woods, you wake up with the dawn... or in this case when Daryl's rooster decides to call 33 times in a row!!!!!!!!  But hey! Time is wasting away! I opened my eyes to see an image straight out of a Tom Thomson painting. Orange mist through tangled trees and branches set contre-jour against the orange sky. I quickly got dressed (in my sleeping bag) and headed out to Ron's camp site where he was making his usual eggs and bacon. Coffee from David later (yes I am a moocher) and I was on my way. I checked out the Painting site at Barns Farm, but decided to leave that for the afternoon. The light was just not right for me then. Besides, the creek just off Saunders road was calling to me again to paint it in Oil this time. I set up on a small slope just next to the creek and did a small 8x10 while fighting the mosquitoes.

(painting still wet I will post later)

Then I headed to dam on the Essonville Creek and did a very unsuccessful 11x14 in mid-day. The scene was a good one with a large tree all lit up by the sun set against a dark recessed forest, but I just mixed the wrong colours and got my self in a corner that I could not get out off wet-on-wet.

Not wanting to end the day's efforts on a bad note, I took a cat-nap in the car and headed back to Barns farm to paint the vista from there. On reviewing my day, I should have stayed at the farm and done a few from there. There was so much to see and do there it was a shame to leave.


 (painting still wet I will post later)

 By now I was covered with paint and sweat and bugs and dirt. I felt tried and spent and it was time to head back to camp. I took a shower courtesy of Tracey and Daryl's generous hospitality and felt like a million bucks! It was just in time for the BBQ and games. A steak and a couple of beers later, I was ready for the pillow. I left the others playing the guitar and singing and headed in the dark towards my sleeping bag. A day full of emotions spent and painted. I can't remember how I slept, but all I know is it was morning again the next day.

Sorry for not posting any of the paintings today, I promise you will see them all, but they are still wet and I would like to touch up a couple before I show them to the world. I promise to have them all posted by the weekend :)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

A Brush With The Highlands - Day 1

Friday July 30, 2010


I woke up early today, dressed and packed the rest of my stuff in the SUV. Then I checked to see that everything was loaded. Sleeping bag, matres, two backpacks (Oil /Watercolours), an overnight bag with change of clothes, a cooler for water and yogurt drinks, hat, bug spray etc...

I headed out through the rush hour of Toronto, but this time I wasn't heading for work, I was on a 3.5 hr trip to Wilberforce, the site of A Brush with the Highlands one of the best plein air events in Ontario. I took my time on the road and got there just in time to help set up the panels for the show on Monday. Then I escaped, to the camp site and found a spot right next to my friend David. That was a great idea since David is a much better camper than I am and came equipped with a stove and everything! I was thinking canned food, but had eggs and coffee instead! You can’t beat that!

After heading out to the town for a last check of the local store for some cold drinks, I headed out and did a small watercolour as a warm up for the three day painting marathon. It wasn't much, but it got my brushes loose and put me in the right mood. Then I came back to the camp at Tracey and Daryl’s property in time for the bonfire and to meet old painting friends from last year. 16 of us were camping there with about as many other scattered around the B&Bs and hotels in and around Wilberforce.


Saunders Road, Creek, Watercolour on Fabriano Rough 300g, 9"x12"
The night was cold and sleeping in the SUV was comfortable if a little stuffy. I should have built a screen for my window so I could crack it open a bit and let air in, but no matter. A good night sleep was in order. Tomorrow is a big day and I needed all the rest I could get.


Monday, August 02, 2010

Blogs delayed!

I'm back from my 4 day plein air painting and camping trip to Wilberforce for A Brush With The Highlands only to find that the posts that I made from my Blackberry didn't make it online :(

Instead of dumping them all on you in one day, I will post them over the next four days as a diary from Wilberforce.

I'll start tomorrow... too tired tonight.