Sunday, January 24, 2010

Shadow Of A Willow

Most of my painting efforts lately have been in oil en plein air. I have only used my studio for final touches and clean-ups. Yesterday was the exception. While everyone at home was busy with their own goings-on, I decided to escape to the studio. At first I spent some time tidying up my mess (I am very messy and the space is small!) but then I opened my watercolour drawer and the colours called me to take them out for a spin... so I obliged.

Shade of A Willow, Watercolour on 140lb cp paper, 6"x8"

I picked up a reference photograph of the credit river that I had taken last July, and riffed off this little piece. I say riffed because it bares only a slight resemblance to the reference. Jazz painting :) I never do well when I slavishly copy either nature or references, but to take the basic scale and then let the imagination and colours flow is a delight.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Twins, Orangeville

It’s the wind, stupid!

Yesterday a bunch of OPAS painters headed out to Orangeville to paint en plein air. The weatherman had promised a mild and partly sunny day. Just what we need; a thaw to help us paint without our fingers falling out. Orangeville is an hour's drive from my home so I headed out early to meet with David for a coffee before the paint out. As soon as I stepped out of the car Orangeville I knew what the weatherman forgot to mention. Yes it was going to be a warmer day and sure the sun will shine, but the wind was going to make this day tough one for us.

We headed out north of Orangeville to the escarpment area and stopped on top of a hill that looked down on a dream valley below. There were two trees on top of the hill that really caught my attention and imagination. I was hooked, but this was the top of the hill and the wind here would be HELL! We drove around for a while. The others decided to double back and find another venue, but I decided to brave it and paint the twins. I decided to sit in the hatch of my car and paint from there. I could protect myself from the wind a bit that way. That didn't work too well. The wind was blowing from the west and straight into the hatch. I tried moving the car, I even parked diagonally to the street but there was no escaping the wind.

Twins, Orangeville, 6"x8" Oil on canvas board
Given the situation, and not wanting to head back defeated, I pulled out a 6"x8" panel (smaller than I usually paint on) and began painting. I decided to do 10 minute streatches. Using my egg timer I set it to 10 minutes and every time it rang, I took a break in the car and a shot of hot coffee. The wind made it very difficult to work though. My eyes were tearing and my four layers of clothing were no match for the wind chill. Still I toughed it out. Shaky hands and rattling teeth and a few hours of unrelenting wind later I packed up and headed home with a decent result.

Lesson learned: It’s the wind stupid! I have painted on very cold days but I have been blessed with calm winds. From now on, I will listen carefully to the weatherman and if the wind is blowing... I am not going!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Morning Field, Winter

On Saturday, January 2, 2010, while everyone else was nursing the customary New Year hangover, a group of 8 OPAS (Ontario Plein Air Society) painters headed out to Scottsdale Farm north of Georgetown in Ontario. We were determined to start the year with a bang despite the cold (-17c) temperature.

The bone-chilling cold day started with a blazing sun dancing off of the brilliant snow. I set up my pochade box and quickly captured the essence of the field knowing that we would not have the company of the sun for long. Sure enough, a bit later, the sun gave way to clouds and the snow started falling. I put away the painting that I started (This one here) and began another one (unfinished yet) that reflected the changed atmosphere. It is very hard to paint a bright sunny day when the colours around have changed to subdued pastels. Better finish that one in the studio and start a new one. And that's what I did.

I hope you enjoy this one. I call it "Morning Field, Winter". I am hoping to capture this field through the seasons this year.

Morning Field, Winter, Oil on board, 8"x10"
And so a new year starts; full of promise and wide horizons. Happy New Year to all my readers, and thank you so much for always coming back and sharing my journey in art.