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Month: January 2022

New Painting: Set Fire to the Rain.

New Painting: Set Fire to the Rain.

Set Fire to the Rain.  Painted January 2022.  30” x 24”.  Acrylic on Canvas.

Almost three years ago, I did a painting of a family in New Zealand playing in the water at Muriwai beach (famous for it’s black sand and large colony of gannets).  Although I liked that painting, it wasn’t quite where I wanted to go.  I knew I’d revisit this subject again someday and try to resolve some of the deficiencies of the previous painting.  My first painting was done in a very monochromatic palette, using an impressionistic style.  It also took a lot longer and involved many layers.  I should probably call those paintings my “fussy” period.

Sometimes I start out a painting without really having any idea where it is going.  This one was a departure from any of painting I’ve done to date.  I used a larger canvas (24 inches wide and 30 inches tall), a bigger brush and broader strokes.  Without a lot of planning, the painting became much more expressionistic.  The clouds took on a life of their own and the family less of a focus of the painting.  Although it was a grey day, I wanted the painting to represent a sense of exhilaration that I felt as the sun fought its way through the clouds.  The air was heavy with potential and the family playing in the surf, oblivious to the departing storm, added to that sense of freedom. There was a lot of contrast between the waves in the surf and the inky black sand on the beach, which somehow translated into a very colourful and expressive painting. 

To be honest, I’m probably still not satisfied with the figures, but the painting definitely is bringing me that same sense of joy we had exploring New Zealand.  I’m sure that this will not be my last painting based on those beautiful islands.    

Painting away the grey: Good Day Sunshine

Painting away the grey: Good Day Sunshine

“Good Day Sunshine.” Painted January 2022. 12″ x 16″. Acrylic on Canvas.

Sometimes the best antidote for the long grey days of a West coast winter is to spend a few hours painting a summer scene full of sunshine. Last summer our friend John drove up to see our place on the coast and we took him for a day hike around Inland Lake. It’s a particularly easy hike since it never ventures more than about 50 feet from the lake and is almost entirely in the shade of pine trees. Since we were in no rush, we took our time to explore as we made our way around the 12.5 kilometre trail and even spent an hour cooling off in the fresh water of the lake.

I took lots of reference photos, but was particularly fascinated by the strong summer light shining through the trees onto the path. I didn’t try for a realistic painting style, rather I dialled up the colours, increased the contrasts and explored the patterns created by the swooping branches and the shadows on the ground. I was going for a more post-impressionistic style, representing my memories of that day. For some reason, this painting also reminds me of reading sheet music for an upbeat jazz song. The more I look at it the more I can see riffs and runs that dip and swoop. I’m not sure I understand the overall piece, but every time I look at it, I see something else. Overall, it did its job, this painting makes me happy and lightens the dreary days of winter.

While We Wait

While We Wait

The start of a new year is often a time of action, preparing, planning. A fresh start, full of energy. For some reason, this year I feel the weight of waiting on my shoulders.

Despite a quiet and friendly Christmas Season, Omicron is now spreading like a viral wildfire. My booster shot is a day away, but we’re still trying to get Mitch lined up for his booster. We both need to get our third shot before we head back to Vancouver, so those plans are somewhat in limbo. There is some urgency in this, as last week, during the recent freezing temperatures, we had a burst pipe in the house, which started a leak in the basement. We think the damage is limited, but we need to get back to assess the situation ourselves and get the repairs sorted out.

My Mom also had some health challenges while she was visiting my youngest brother in Edmonton over the holidays. We didn’t realize Mom had had a couple of small strokes until she began to experience periodic episodes where her speech failed her. Either she was unable to talk at all, or words and names simply evaporated into the ether. The ideas were in her head, but she was unable to verbalize them. To see my elegant and eloquent mother struggling to find her words has left us all speechless. She is staying with my brother for another week or two while we sort things out. I know that she would like to be back in her own place, but the provincial rules seem to be in flux and it’s hard to figure out what is the best course of action.

On top of everything else, the house build continues at a steady pace. Each week another piece of the puzzle is put into place, but it feels like construction exists in a different universe where time marches more slowly. I know that the construction is going well and that the builders are doing everything in a timely fashion, but I can’t shake the feeling that this build will go on forever. Now that we can walk through all the rooms on the first floor and imagine exactly what the space is going to be like, my desire to move into the house has grown exponentially. I’m getting flashbacks to an age when Christmas seemed impossibly far away and time slowed down to a ponderous metronome beat.

I can’t wait to get my art studio up and running. I can’t wait to storm watch from our bedroom looking out over a Sea full of whitecaps. I can’t wait to curl-up by the fireplace during a winter snowstorm. I can’t wait for a world of normal to return. I just can’t wait, but, in fact, waiting is all I can do.

Art has always helped me deal with internal angst, so to battle this sense of disquiet, I started to plan my next painting. I was instantly drawn to this photo I took last summer of a blue heron, standing motionless on the shoreline. I assume it was either waiting for a fish to swim by or existing in some sort of Blue Heron dream state. There was a stillness to this bird, a stillness to the sea and even a stillness in the summer air. It perfectly represented that sense of inner peace that I was striving for in this time of internal unrest. I expect this to be a challenging painting. The photo itself could be framed, so making it worthwhile as a painting requires that I do something more than just replicate the image. I’m looking forward to the challenge.