Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hors D'oeuvres will be served…

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Gargantua River, Lake Superior Provincial Park. Mixed media: coloured pencil, watercolour, acrylic and fine sand. 15”x15”, 23”x23” matted and framed.

Hors d'oeuvres will be served, and what better excuse can you find to get yourself out to a gallery to view some art. (Gosh, I had to look up the spelling for that one. Even the invite didn’t get it right and don’t ask me to pronounce it as I’m not normally part of the wine and cheese set.) 

I am pleased to announce that Gargantua River, Lake Superior Provincial Park is selected to appear in the juried art show, Where They Are Now, OCADU Alumni Association, “Opening reception will be Friday November 12th from 6:00pm - 9:00pm with complementary wine and o'horderves. All are welcome.” Art Square Gallery Cafe, 334 Dundas Street West, Toronto.

I’ll be there, probably showing up hungry as the proverbial starving artist; you can too.

And here’s the original blog post when I had just completed the artwork.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Nature’s Calling

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Morning on the Magnetawan, 8x10 watercolour (available at Etsy).
I have friends that live in the woods, literally. They inhabit a small cottage on the Magnetawan River, a property which is now nestled well within the boundaries of Magnetawan Provincial Park. They live a lifestyle that is a strange contrast in luxury and austerity. For instance, they watch opera nightly on their flat screen tv, they read classic literature to one another within the comfort of their lakeside gazebo, but, lacking plumbing, they must venture into the great outdoors for each and every call of nature be it during the warmth of the day, or depths of a cold winter night. When I visit them, as I did this Thanksgiving, I share the lifestyle for a few brief days.
During the day, the visits to the, um, gravity operated facilities, are not a bad thing. If you leave the door open, live entertainment is provided in the form of tame chickadees that converge on nearby saplings. And while it takes no small degree of multitasking, one can reach into a handy can of birdfeed, and share a moment with these little friends. The phrase, “must feed the birds” of course has a whole new meaning at their house.
At other times, of course, this ‘call to nature’ may be less than pleasant, but there are compensations, being called forth to venture out beneath starry skies for instance, or on my last visit, forced out of bed far too early, I was so privileged to bear witness to a beautiful sunrise.  Upon seeing that their was a thick morning mist that suffused the sky with a pink glow, I grabbed my camera detoured down to the dock, knowing that such moments are brief, ephemeral and not to be missed. So there I stood, sleepy, yawning, chilled and crossing my legs rather tightly so that I could make proper homage to the rising sun, delaying the most necessary tasks for as long as possible.
All well worth it, and worth noting that even the most banal of moments can lead to the sublime.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Peat Mountain—Lake Superior Provincial Park

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Peat Mountain—Lake Superior Provincial Park, 8x10 watercolour, looking easterly from the peak.

I tried to figure out the elevation gain, but I’m absolutely hopeless at it. If you like maps and want to figure it out for yourself, map below.

peatmountain

But let’s put it this way. You begin at Rabbit Blanket Lake Campground, just off of HWY 17, and you start walking up, and then up some more, and then more up. Then, just as you think you are peaking the edge of a vast ridge, you begin walking down again, and then up, and up and more up, and once again, just as you think you are about to be led to a breathtaking view, you have to walk up some more. Well, eventually, you do get to the top. This is a day hiking trail, perfectly doable for ordinary folks in reasonable shape—maybe you’ll need to take a breather or two on the way up and make sure you have 3 or 4 hours (which will include enjoying the views, and stopping for lunch). Maybe you’ll need to eat an energy bar or a handful of peanuts when you get to the summit, but that’s really about the worst of it. The scenery on the way up, is, of course, gloriously deep and shadowed deciduous woodlands, heavy on maple, and by mid-September, usually colouring up nicely. It smells like nirvana—something about the odour of freshly fallen autumn leaves. And when you do reach the top, the views are magnificent. One vista lets you glimpse the North Shore of Lake Superior as a deep blue line on the horizon, but mostly you see the endless undulation of high granite hills. If it’s overcast, you may find yourself right inside the clouds, which is a little disappointing if you came for the view, but this year we hiked under glorious blue skies and enjoyed the fall colours at their best. The painted view is looking eastwards across the wetlands leading to Peat Lake.

This one’s available for sale (unframed) at etsy. Peat Mountain. Sealey’s Lake is also now listed.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Quickies in Red—Life Drawing

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1 & 2 are 1 minute poses, the last one is a 10 minute pose. I finished it rather quick and as I have trouble drawing this models face I thought it was time to practice a portrait. I love colour. I swear, had I chosen the black my drawings would just not have been the same. I choose a bright red prismacolor pencil sticks for the warm-us (quickies). The stick is shaped just like a conte crayon but much less messy. I hate smudging and blending (even on purpose) in my work, and really like the wax pencils as the line stays exactly where I put it, even if my hand slips. Given the speed of the process, and the fact that I don’t erase lines, you can get a pretty good idea of how I build up a drawing from initial sweeping lines for the general form, more added for the substance of the body, and then shading and or dark line definitions once I feel I ‘know’ where things are. (ps. cropping due to scanner size, they all have feet and heads).

So in other news…I finally knuckled down and committed to forking over continuous $$$ to the local cable company in the interest of connectivity. I am no longer on dial-up. Hopefully I will be more sociable with you. I can check out your blogs, follow links and make comments in reasonable time frames. I’m hoping this will free up time for more blog posts. I qualify the latter, as scanning and writing takes up an enormous amount of time all on it’s own. Already, I enjoyed a glorious internet free Saturday morning (I used to spend up to 2 hours using their wifi connections) and instead, finished off the shopping chores so that Sunday could be devoted to hiking in the woods, playing guitar and a bit of gardening.

As for the cable hook-up, yikes, it was an absolute ordeal. Poor Victor (technician) spent hours, literally, fishing lines through our rickety house and replacing old inadequate cable lines outdoors. He has a place in my heart as he also was very impressed with my art (aw, gee shucks, blush). The modem was flaky and he had to return to replace it on Sunday, wherein he was greeted by me practicing guitar. More compliments, (aw, gee shucks, blush).

In other news (and I’ll be crowing about it more later). My submission to the Where They Are Now art show with (OCAD alumni) has been accepted. It’s the image on my art for sale page (the river and fish) if you want a preview.

Enough said for now. I need to paint.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Trespass

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If you were looking at this scene, you would be trespassing. The land itself has been up for sale for more years that I can remember (it predates my moving into the Musselman’s Lake community). Left fallow, it becomes more beautiful with the passing years as the forest grows and encroaches on the field areas, and the fields, especially now in the autumn glows with blossoms of goldenrod and asters.

This is where my husband walks the dog; I mostly avoid it due to the dirt bike and atv traffic (this year, thank fully curtailed by frequent police presence (Yay!)) I always view this place with a level of sadness, a fragile landscape that with the stroke of a pen could be bulldozed into oblivion at any moment. Oh well, I suppose I should just appreciate what is, as all things end sooner or later and trespass…

8”x10” Watercolour, Arches Cold-Pressed paper. Colours used, gamboges yellow, brown madder, prussian blue, paynes grey and dioxanine purple. In this case the purple was a late addition as it’s impossible to mix purple with the chosen palette and the asters were an important element. To integrate the colour, I added just a touch of madder, and then added the purple to shade shadows, sky and distance.

I’ve been busy with watercolours in part to practice speed and commitment. Wet in wet wash technique does not tolerate any of the dithering, picking and poking and other procrastinations that I’m in the habit of when working with dry media.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Natural Beauty—figure drawing

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available at Etsy



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Life Drawing Tuesday is back.and I’m in for another ten weeks.  Ursula was the model for class #2, and she was fabulous.  All of her poses where dynamic and inspiring and the fact that she was beautiful was undeniable. She was a natural beauty, and I don’t say that lightly. It is a term we quickly give to things like landscapes and endangered species, but women’s bodies, especially the beautiful ones are so commoditized and objectified in the media that it seems crass to mention it. But the truth is, Ursula was gorgeous, and a talented model, and very easy to draw. While personality and creativity were part of the package the sheer physical beauty was at least a third of the package (and dare I mention that for the men in the group, I’m guessing more than a third?)  Is it wrong to say so? Is it somehow insulting to mention sheer physical beauty? If I was a guy, and saying the same thing, would this post be even less acceptable? So much of who we are, and what we are capable of is influenced by things beyond our control, genetics and environment, how is complementing, say, artistic talent, any different from complimenting someone’s beautiful body. Questions, questions, questions, not to mention, is their anyway to discuss a woman’s body without being politically loaded?
Back to drawing: also had a discussion on the traditional ‘art school’ method of life drawing, which seems to be block in the shadows and the rest will follow. I can attest, from four sad years of this, that without a good grounding in proportion and anatomy, I was lost, all lost. Zipping forward into now, I suppose my style is an anathema to that time honoured tradition because I draw lines, lines, and more lines. Some of my lines are shadows.  Sometimes the weight of the line stands in for shading. If I get a seat that gives me some really good contrasty lighting, I may revisit the traditional approach, but I’d really miss playing with the line.
I’m not trying to knock the method, btw, but since it frustrates a lot of people, just say, first, you need a grasp of proportion and anatomy or the innate ability to ‘see’ the finished drawing on the blank page (if not, it comes with experience) and second, and super important, you need great lighting, which is rare in a group setting where all angles must be accommodated. So don’t beat yourself up, just draw.
I was going to post these for sale on Etsy, but my line is WAY too slow. $25 if they get there. Which is a lead in to; I’m planning on getting internet cable. Given that procrastination is very tempting when it comes to shelling out money, I may go offline for a bit after October 15th when my dial-up expires. So if I disappear for bit, don’t worry. It’s just me being cheap and lazy.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sealey’s Lake-Killarney Provincial Park

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Sealey’s Lake—Killarney Provincial Park, 8x10 watercolour.

A more traditional take to illustrate the holidays. This is Sealey’s Lake on the La Cloche Silhouette Trail, from the east side. While the entire trail is a serious 78 km backpacking trail, my husband take on the near portion for day hikes. Sealey’s Lake is a bit of a slog, being 2 hours one way, but the scenery changes from deep hemlock woodlands, to rocky heights & towering pines, through lush deciduous woodlands and into the heart of the fens. Sealey’s Lake is more of fen than a lake, being shallow and surrounded by peat bog, but it is beautiful nonetheless and a favourite destination. This little rocky outcropping is the point where we stop for lunch to enjoy the view—usually.

This time around, it was raining, and we hid under a sheltering pine to stop only briefly and take a reference snap. The fact that the weather was terrible and getting worse was the main reason we decided to push on to Sealey’s Lake, as there is nothing worse than trying to kill time at a campsite on a rainy day.

We had had plenty of warning, as the morning sky offered up a most accurate weather report. We woke to a low formless ceiling of grey sky, and utterly still stifling air. I joked, sort of, that the weather for today would begin with a fine mist and increase by unnoticeable increments into an all day rain by noon. For once, I was fervently wishing I would be proven wrong, but alas it turned into a prophecy by the time we reached Sealey’s Lake there was a steady light rain from leaden skies. I won’t bother showing you the reference photo, as all was blank and grey; thank goodness for artistic licence. By the time we returned to camp, we were pretty well soaked in spite of raingear, and things got worse from there. This all happened on our second last day of our holidays, and I confess we packed up early and cleared out (still pouring rain) the next day. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to end a camping trip and curl up in a nice warm bed under a real roof.

It’s good to be home.

PS. for those of you interested in such things, the painting was done in a limited palette of brown madder, gamboges yellow, prussian blue and paynes grey.

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