Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Snapping Turtle and Lily Pads 12"x24" acrylic, SOLD
When I was asked to paint something as a retirement gift for COSEWIC's Ron Brooks, the choice of subject matter was obvious. Ron is herpetologist, and an expert on the Snapping Turtle. I started this project in May, soon after the spring COSEWIC meeting.  I looked at thousands of photos of snapping turtle and as many video clips of snapping turtles as I could find.

I quickly decided that the painting was going to be of a turtle underwater, since that was where the species spends the vast majority of its time - despite the fact that the vast majority of reference photos were of turtles on dry land.

The biggest challenge was the placement of the waterlily leaves, the original sketch for the painting had the surface of the water nearly covered in leaves but as I worked on the painting I decided that I didn't want to do that, since it would reduce the light hitting the turtle and obscure the gradation in the water between the greens of the depths and the blues of the shallows.

To work out the placement I photographed the painting and then colour printed multiple copies of the image to do trial placements of the water lily leaves.  I've never used this technique before, but loved the ability to play with options before committing to them on the final painting.

Ron's contributions to COSEWIC have been very large and he's going to be missed a lot on the committee.  I hope Ron and Pauline enjoy this painting in their new home in Nova Scotia.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Old Veteran, Salt Spring Island Douglas-fir.

It is Remembrance Day, and we just got home from a visit to the Goldstream salmon run, where we watched a group of First Nations remember their family members lost to war. It was a moving ceremony, with a drummer that was singing in coast Saalish, and four cedar fronds put into the water of the river one by one by a young man. The cedar branches moved down the river evenly separated, catching and swirling from time to time on an exposed cobble, or the back of a salmon holding in position above her redd.

 This painting is of another type of veteran, the last remaining old growth tree in a vineyard on Salt Spring Island; one of the sites we painted at this September as part of the Federation of Canadian Artists workshop.
 I was surprized that I was the only one that chose to paint this tree, it was huge and gnarly and a challenge to paint. It seemed the right sort of subject matter to contribute the the Habitat Acquisition Trust as part of the Gala Evening Fundraiser this November, since this organization does good work in helping steward, protect and acquire significant habitat in the Capital Region.

For more information about HAT's Gala go to

Old Veteran, Salt Spring Island Douglas-fir. 12X24" acrylic. Donated to H.A.T.'s Gala Fundraiser dinner (250-995-2428 / ) SOLD

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Weekend Painting in Kananaskis, Alberta

Last Snow, First Nest, Kananaskis Beaver Pond. 12x24" acrylic.  In April 2012, the spring COSEWIC meeting was held in Kananaskis, we decided to stay on for the weekend after the meeting, to have a chance to paint plein air in the Rockies and visit with Leah's brother and his artist wife,  Jackie. It was a great weekend, and spring time Rockies weather being what it is, we had everything from snow to shirt-sleeve sunshine.  The first Saturday we woke to snow squalls, so took a walk and did got some photographs for reference and then took a drive to scout out painting locations if weather improved for us later in the weekend.  This is when we found this roadside beaver pond. Sunday morning was beautiful and we spent the day here. I painted the pond for nearly an hour before I noticed that the island that was in front of me had an incubating Canada Goose nesting on it!
  Pine Marten, Kananaskis 12x24" acrylic. During the week of the COSEWIC meeting I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, some critter moving rapidly by the window of the meeting room. At first I thought it was some of the Red Squirrels that were nearby, but finally I got a good; albeit brief, look at the animal in question and realized it was a Pine Marten. Over the course of the week I saw it a dozen or more times, and part of the committee had some quality time with him or her as it entered the pub on one of the evenings. This scene was painted on the snow squall Saturday morning.