Nothing works quite like hosting an enchanted Christmas forest walk for the neighbourhood to fast track into the festive season. Mitch with some help from neighbours, did a great job clearing new paths and getting everything set up. It’s amazing that an entire forest can be lit with only three plug-ins available. Without LED lights, this would simply not be possible.
Below is a view from Mitch’s drone, showing the trails lit up through the forest. The walk involved two loops that met in the middle where we had Santa’s Cottage, a fire pit and hot chocolate before you ventured onto the second loop. The total of these two loops was somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 of a kilometre. There were a couple of four year olds that insisted on running through the entire forest walk four or five times, usually followed by a increasingly exhausted looking father.
For nine nights in a row we opened up the forest to visitors to experience a half kilometre of trails that were lit up with Christmas lights, a garden train weaving its way between fir trees, enflateable Santas and Grinches, sparkling deer and snowmen, an elf house for the wee ones to play in, and an outdoor movie for the kids. In front of Santa’s cottage we offered a fire to warm your hands and a cup of hot chocolate to warm your belly. It gave the neighbours a chance to visit while kids and dogs ran circles around their parents. Although the names and faces blurred at times, it was a great opportunity to meet and reconnect with people that live up and down the upper Sunshine Coast.
We also had one of those rare dumps of snow on the coast. About six inches of snow fell, making the forest walk even more magical. While the temperature was around minus 5 degrees for most of the week before Christmas, on the last night of the forest walk, the temperature rose to plus eight and the next day the rain began. By Christmas Day, there wasn’t any snow to be seen. Typical West Coast winter weather!
A quick update on the house they are building on the bluff. We had expected to be living in the Art Studio part of the house by Christmas, but unfortunately, the builders weren’t able to make that deadline. Although there is no working kitchen, the bathroom tiling isn’t yet done and the fireplace hasn’t been installed, we were able to setup the bed in the sleeping loft of the Art Studio and spend one night sleeping in part of our new home. Milestone achieved. As Mitch noted, this will be the most expensive BnB we’ve ever stayed in.
“Storms a brewin’.” Painted December 2022. 20”x30”. Acrylic on stretched Canvas.
A couple of months ago, I did a painting based on an overnight stay on Powell lake at a friend’s beautiful floating house across from Goat Island. There was something not sitting right about my previous painting of this range of mountains. The painting didn’t express either the sense of summer heat, the nearly ripple less lake, nor the delicious three dimensionality of the mountains in all their curvy glory. The fact that an afternoon summer storm was just starting to manifest was simply icing on the cake, so I decided to redo the painting using a very different approach. It amazes me how a painting can be reworked to the point where the original is almost unrecognizable. My motto is “No painting is left behind.”.
This painting is less stylized and more reflective of the moment I experienced, than the previous version. Normally I find the coastal mountains rather underwhelming, but this particular range is powerful, dynamic and much craggier than most. The sharp peak on the left is Beartooth, the one on the right is Rain Tooth. In my painting, a storm cloud is forming overtop of Rain Tooth mountain. This added more depth to the painting and also just a touch of drama to what was an otherwise hot and still summer day.
Another less apparent feature of this painting is that there is a narrowing of the lake at the half-way point of Powell Lake. In this painting the narrows are just left of center between the gold/green mountain and the blue/green mountain. Knowing that there are still kilometers of Powell Lake to be explored around that corner added a real sense of mystery while I was applying layers of colour. It’s not apparent to anyone in this painting, but it was front and center in my mind while I was painting. As a fun side-note, I’ve included a recipe for a summer drink “Storms a Brewin’”, that would be perfect to sip on while sitting on the Karen’s floating deck looking out across the lake at Beartooth and Rain Tooth while a summer storm fomented.
“You lookin’ at me?” Painted November 2022. 16”x12”. Acrylic on stretched Canvas.
Growing up on a ranch you are aware that animals aren’t all fluffy pets and need to be treated with respect. Certain parts of our barnyard were particularly unnerving because of a couple of unholy roosters that got immense pleasure in terrorizing us children. They would lurk around barn corners and sneak up on you when your back was turned. With a strike that was both silent and deadly, they ruled their domain. It wasn’t until I was big enough that I could use my oversized gumboots to ward off their attacks that I was able to do my chores without a constant sense of dread.
Probably as a means of processing all this poultry induced childhood trauma, I really enjoy painting chickens and roosters. In this painting I wanted to capture that alert look that a free-range chicken gives you when you cross its path. I’m certain that they are doing a careful risk assessment and trying to determine if you are friend or foe. I love how the bright colours of the rooster standout from the muted colours of the barnyard. I think this painting will look great hanging on a kitchen wall!