Monday, December 29, 2014

New Year almost here

Well 2014 is almost done and 2015 is almost here....a time to review all the great things that happened in the past year and plan my new goals for this next year. I am always excited at the prospect of the endless new things to learn, new people to meet and new mountain trails to hike.

The new year is like the new fallen tracks, no visible trails...kind of cool to think that this is the year that I am going to do something new, quite different and I just have to figure how what exactly I would like to have that be.......

While I am enjoying the process of thinking, planning and just enjoying the season, I would like to wish you

Friday, December 5, 2014

Cameras and Wildlife Art

As a wildlife artist, I live for the encounters with the creatures in the woods, birds in the sky and mice under the logs. Each encounter brings me a thrill of pleasure and the exciting thought of trying to bring that meeting to the canvas or paper to share.

As you know a camera is an amazing tool to get you the visual information that you might be able to use in future paintings. I am fairly happy with the set up of these 3 cameras that I have right now. While I am not a fantastic photographer  these cameras have been a great help to me.  As people often ask me what cameras I use..... here they are.

I have a small camera for throwing into my purse or pocket when walking. It is a little Lumix 20 Zoom.....takes a great clear photo and has a good zoom. This is just a lovely little camera that takes away any reason you have for not carrying a camera as it is smaller than my wallet.

Cannon Powershot SX50hs for my mid size camera.......and if I can name drop here.....Robert Bateman recommend this one to me.  It is a good light weight mid size camera with a great zoom.
If you only want one camera, this would be the one of these three I would suggest...mid size, takes a great long distance shot.

Then for my big Camera I have a Cannon Rebel XTI with various lens that takes some great shots also but needs a higher skill level then I have at times. It is an awesome camera...but one down side is that it is heavy and of course you need to have the right lens on at the right time.

Here is an example of the PowerShot zoom....(by the way not advertising for Cannon)....just sharing a great tool that I enjoy. Two photos with same camera...first one no zoom...second one full zoom.

Wish it was a beautiful sunny day but it is an overcast grey day so this is not a stellar photo but will give you an example of this camera's zoom. Here is the view from my studio... and yes those two horses on in the nearest field are ours....they are a delightful fellows.  Now if you look in the center of the top photo in the distance you will see a peak of a building.  Here below is the powershot zoomed inn on that peak....not bad eh?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Painting flowers

Every spring and summer when the flowers start to bloom I am totally distracted from whatever I planned to paint by the beauty of the flowers. There is something so amazing about the grace and colour of a rose, the vitality of a sunflower, the strength of a dandelion that makes me rush to the easel. Here are a few of the paintings that have come from summertime. Hope they help to make you feel a bit warmer on this winter day.  
Spring apple blossoms in Salmon Arm

African Tulip flower in Mexico

White Lilies in Butchart Gardens

Sun flowers in Kelowna

Paintings available

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Graphite Grey Portraits

In the last year I ventured away from just painting animals and nature.  It was my year to challenge myself and try something new.... PEOPLE.

I have always admired artists who could represent people in an accurate and attractive manner....I have started using a minimalist approach with a white background and soft graphite gray as my tone. Here are a few of examples of portraits of friends and family. This has been an interesting exercise and I look forward to continuing to experiment with portraits.  What do you think?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mt Revelstoke Park

The National Park of Mt Revelstoke is an inspiring place of beautiful nature. This summer I was invited up to stay in the small cabin at the top of the seek that inspiration and create three paintings. Here is one of the three  paintings. Here is the combination of elements that come to my mind when I think of the Park; peaks of barren rock crowding up into the sky, skinny alpine trees, a small clear lake ( I think this one is call Heather Lake ) reflecting the clear blue sky and of course the alpine flowers in full bloom.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Painting Inspiration

Inspiration can come from so many things and ideas. Sometimes the ideas come rushing in, tumbling over each other and tripping in their hurry to arrive. Other times they hover just outside my mental door taking a long time before entering.

I can feel the idea but just need more time to let it grow fully into an inspiration and then I take out the paints, find the right size canvas and jump into the planning and creating. Sometimes it needs a thumbnail drawing to start,  just to clarify where I am going and other days I just want to fly at it and wing it. Now when I wing it sometimes I end up somewhere other than were I thought it was going to some paintings that is good...others not so much. But no matter where I end up I learn something about creating and painting; hopefully something good.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Mice Art or eeeEEEK

There is something about mice....some of us are attracted to the little beggars and find them cute, almost cuddly and generally like them as long as they stay out of the house and our cereal boxes....then there are those of us who are totally afraid of them....jumping on chairs and working on a vendetta to eradicate them. In my family we have both types of these people.

It probably doesn't surprise any of you to discover that I am one of the ones that likes them and have had them for pets. Not long ago as a break from a large project that I am working on I had a mouse visit my studio. I made a lovely little glass home for him in my aquarium and spent the afternoon chatting with him while I sketched and photographed him.  Here are a couple of the quick studies that came from that meeting.

Now while I would have like to kept him for a few days...he did not seem to really be settling in as some of them I took him out to our barn and released him with a feed of oats.
Psst...don't tell Neil that we seem to have quite a few of them in the barn.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Art on the top of Mt Revelstoke

Just home from a great artist residency on the top of Mt Revelstoke. It was amazing...4 days in a small rustic cabin without electricity or running water in one of the most beautiful parks in BC with 2 other visual artists. When the gates closed in the early evening through to when they opened in the morning...the mountain was ours alone.

The days were full of visitors of all nationalities coming to hike and admire this mountain...but when we hiked out on the trails, the mountain soon adsorbed all those visitors into the quiet beauty. Flowers of all colours bloomed in the meadows under skinny alpine trees and high rocky peaks and well maintained trails led us to even more lovely destinations.

We three artists ( myself, Caroline Scagel and Wendy Mould) were  invited into the park to explore and be inspired. This year is the 100 anniversary of Mt Revelstoke Park and the artwork that we will create from this experience will be used to celebrate the importance and beauty of this park.  Each of our days was full of inspiration with hours of hiking, sketching and painting in a small naturally lit studio. It was a great studio space to share our art and hide from the ample diversity of bug life....many visitors stop by to see what we were up to and stayed for the great conversation and peace from the never ending mosquito hum. Other than the bugs -  other wildlife sighting of pika, marmots, chipmunks, owls, ravens and whiskey jacks were enjoyed. Some of my Park paintings will reflect those meetings.

Our days were full and later in the quiet evenings a full super moon lit the night as brightly as day and invited us out in the early am hours to wander in the moonlight. When the gates opened in the morning the first intrepid hikers would meet in the top parking lot and quickly disappear into the woods. The Park officials were friendly, helpful and full of information on the history of the park, the flora and animals and generously shared bug spray and water with whoever needed it. It was an excellent experience and I look forward to creating art that reflects that.
Happy 100th Anniversary Mt Revelstoke National Park!

                 A beautiful view from the top of Mt Revelstoke looking down at the lake.
Me sketching by Balsam Lake 

Just hiked in 7km to Lake Eva with Caroline and Wendy

                           A rocky ridge of stone across the valley from Mt Revelstoke Summit.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Grizzly Valley Hike

At the top of Rogers Pass in BC at the beginning of Balu Pass trail is a warning poster about bears in the area. The trail heads straight up in to a dark cool forest of huge hemlocks hung with lichen and roots that bulge the trail with interesting lumps and tripping bumps. It is steep  and doesn't level out till it breaks out into the avalanche slope several kilometers above.  Here in the open valley the trail is on a steady but comfortable rise...climbing through lush greenery and fern as we alternate sides of the rushing streams that are being fed by the quickly dwindling snow pack. It is simply amazing to look up pass the new lush growth to snow, talus slopes and rocky peaks far above.

The incline kept growing and the scenery just kept becoming more beautiful as we hiked.  Hot, sweaty and feeling my legs now...We crossed one avalanche and numerous snow packs before reaching the mountain top to be rewarded with the most amazing views in every direction.  Massive rock peaks, old glaciers and rich green valleys dotted with flowers made it delightful. Hiking boots have done their job, feet are tired but not sore.

Totally worth the energy to get to such a spot but at that point we had only seen several marmots, granted they were impressively large and a few chipmunks. Butterflies and bugs were plentiful but for a wildllife artist I was hoping for more. It is definitely sheep country but a detailed scan of the mountains failed to reveal even one.

Now I was expecting to see some bears. The trail we hiked was called Balu Pass...Indian for bear. The mts that I was looking up at are Ursus Major and Ursus Minor (latin for bear) or Grizzly mts. At the top of Balu Pass is a grizzly reserve.  So not to be pushing my luck but I was definitely hoping for a bear sighting.

The return trip was beautiful and allot quicker with standing slides down some of the snowy slopes and allot less energy needed for climbing. It was one Km from the bottom into the hemlock forest when I heard the movement to my right.....there about 50 yards from me was a beautiful young grizzly female with two cubs.  Her fur was rich and plush, one cub was dark like mom and the other was light colored. She watched calmly and intently as we walked on past before she proceeded to lead her cubs up the hill.

Have to say it was a pleasure to see the namesake of the valley before leaving. Wish I had a great photo but just have to share it with words. The opportunity to see her and her cubs made the trip perfect.

By the way, on the subject of bears.......
My grizzly painting "Down by the River" is one of three finalists for Artist of Year for BC Wildlife Federation.  Go to their webpage and the public can vote for their favourite.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Geese, Art and my Reticular Activating System

The Reticular Activation System is part of a human brain that takes care of many important jobs but the one that pertains to this post is it job as an information filter, sorting through the mass of data and information that comes at us through our senses. 

When you have a new interest it is due to this RAS system that you suddenly seem to see more of that new subject around you. If you purchase a red car...all of a sudden you see red cars makes sense that they were there before but you were not activated to see them. 

Well long story new interest is geese....Canadian geese. I am working on a project that features Canadian geese and this spring I find I am surrounded by them. If I turn on the TV there is a documentary on them. If I go for a walk they are there in the pond and or flying over head. If I grab a wildlife book it pops open to the page that features them. I love this. And it was all wonderfully topped off by 4 Canadian geese moving in to live on our property for a month this spring. First time in 30 years that any geese have lived here with us.

Every morning we were awoken by the hooking of geese....( that may have been carrying this RAS thing way too far) and our morning barn visits were overseen by 2 or more geese either on top of the shed or waddling ahead of us to the corral. In the last week or so the mornings have been quiet and I imagine that is was time for the geese to move onto larger water than available here. But what a great thing to have my inspiration right here for even a short time. Here are a few photos of our feathered visitors. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Damaged brushes make the best textures.

It is true, your oldest ugliest and most abused brushes make the best textures in a painting.  But those wonderful old brushes are on their last legs and then suddenly just done. So sometimes you just have to help a few less than desirable brushes along to that wonderful state. So by twisting, cutting, pruning and plucking...I will try to recreate that wonderful old random texture that will help me to form rocks, bark, and soil textures on my painting. This photo shows two brushes that I have helped along to a ragged state with my favourite sponge.

Today as an experiment I took a new foam roller and had a fun time plucking out some the foam to see if I could replicate a sandy beach did not really work, some of my ideas just don't pan out. The wild patterns of a natural sponge are much better.

 So still working with my old or newly damaged brushes, sometimes a crumpled rag to lift off some of the newly laid paint and most often my finger tips to smudge and blur the paint. (Just learning to protect fingers from too much paint with either a full glove or just a finger cut off a glove.) For me the answer to creating good natural texture is first to study it for form, color and pattern....and then find the tool that will best recreate it....most often for me it is the combination of one of my tortured brushes and natural sponge.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Raccoon Painting

The animals that manage to live right next door to us, right on the edge of our yards and the edges of our towns are the some of the most clever and most adaptable animals. These are the coyotes, rabbits, marmots, raccoons, mice and squirrels: not generally admired, they really do deserve recognition for cohabiting with us.

These animals have found their ways to live with us in spite of the dangers that we as humans present. I have to say I admire their adaptability and this painting celebrates a particular favourite of mine.

Here is an acrylic painting on board of a young raccoon delicately washing up in the creek.

 This is a painting that explores visual textures... Rocks, fur and water.......hard, soft and liquid. 
I took this as my demo painting to Opus Art Store and shared part of my process in creating textures with the artists that attended. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

My Love Hate Relationship with Gesso

Yes I love gesso. It is an awesome base that acrylic paint loves to stick to. I like to tint my gesso and put in on with a foam roller.  At first it rolls out really juicy with great coverage and then I go over it very lightly to flatten off any texture. In that way I get a lovely smooth finish and a even color base for  my painting.  Looks awesome, gives the painting a cohesion of color and holds paint really well.

Yes I hate gesso. It has such a stickiness to it that it is seemingly impossible for me to gesso without it spreading out over every surface. It has a fiendish desire to attach to everything it can.  A blop here, a splat there, a smear and dab just there....and of course because it is valued for its stick-to-it ability....what it gets on it stays on and only comes off with focused scrubbing.  I am not a messy person...REALLY!

So there is my annual gesso rant, as you can tell, today was gesso day. Prepped a bunch of canvases in light blue tinted gesso......all good all clean .... just have to get the remaining gesso off work desk,  my hands, right toe and some on upper right mouse and studio door knob......might leave the door knob as it looks kind of cool.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Testing New Canvas - "Watching" - Cougar Painting

Testing canvas was the reason for this painting (any excuse to paint a cat , big or small.) I have a big project coming up and wanted to check out a different canvas than I have used before...15 ounce from a different supplier.  Here is a study of a cougar that I did for the test canvas.

This heavier than usual canvas had a fair bit more texture to it....good for where I want texture but requiring at least a couple of extra brush strokes where a clean edge is needed.  Now you definitely could sand down the texture level on it if needed while doing the gessoing.  But for this test I wanted to see what it would give me without altering it.

 I am pleased with it and will order up some more.

Friday, May 2, 2014

GOABC Artist of the Year 2014

 I have participated in two Artist of the Year competitions already this year.
The first one was due to a friend who purchased my painting "Seek Solitude"  to support his Guide Outfitters Association of BC and made sure that it was also entered into their  GOABC Artist of the Year Competition at their annual convention.

It was awesome to hear that it took the top spot making me the GOABC Artist of the Year 2014.  This is coming full circle for this painting as Mike was also the person who supplied me with the perfect title for this painting. His knowledge of Mt goats is incredible and I appreciate him sharing some of that with me.

My "Down by the River" grizzly painting was one of the top three finalists for BC Wildlife Federation of BC Artist of the Year program for 2015. This grizzly and I had the perfect meeting.......each on our own side of the river we evenly paced down river for a time.  It was a stress free way to enjoy being fairly close to a grizzly.

It is great to have my artwork recognized by these outdoors organizations. Thank you!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Little Slice of Life Painted into a Little Slice of Art.

From the wet stones of a mountain creek straight up to the blue sky above. The long narrow format of a 12 x 36 canvas has caught my imagination. My last painting of a sun kissed raven was in this size but in a horizontal format but this one is vertical.  With painted gallery wrapped canvas edges it fits in the smallest of spaces .......well literally 12 inches, perhaps between doors, on a small angle of the wall. It is just a little slice of life painted into a little slice of it.

Here it is from start to finish...well at least I think it is finished. Some painting take a while before I am sure. Title could be "Up a Creek" but mmmmmmmm....maybe you have some suggestions. Acrylic on Canvas 12x36 inches

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Pine Needles....What Brush to Use???

There is a multitude of paint brushes in my studio. They are arranged in category; rounds together, flats together, varnish brushes together, etc.  But I  have to admit that there are more than a few that have never really been used. They were purchased because they were unique or a friend recommended them or I imagined a use for them that did not work out.

Really most days I grab 3 or 4  sizes of rounds and work most of my work with either a 6 or an 8 round depending which my hand landed on first. Partly this is because I become focused on my work and forget to change but mostly it is because a good round with a great point will hold enough paint and do a wide range of work. From broad strokes to the detail work that I love.

One of my brushes that have not seen allot of use is a long rigger or script liner. It just never gave me the control that I wanted, too long floppy bristles .....but on my current painting I have discovered what to use it for.....pine needles, many many pine needles. It works great! 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sharing Artistic Process

Thanks to Opus Art Store I recently had an opportunity to teach a lecture demo on painting. It was a pleasure to be asked as Opus is my FAVORITE store; where I have been know to wander happily up and down the rows for hours with my arms full of supplies.

On the day of the demo there was a great group of  30 painters who like myself are interested in creating the appearance of texture in our nature paintings. It was my very first lecture demo and it was both very interesting and kinda of stressful .

I would like to extend a huge thank you first to Opus for the chance to do this and to the group of artists that came out to listen. As my first public speaking art event I know that it was not perfect and already have a list of things to do differently next time but it brings me to  my point.

While my presentation was lacking the polish of a more experienced speaker, we did go over a lot of information and at the end it became a lively question and answer event. This group of artists was happy to inquire as to my thoughts while sharing their own.

That is the point! Artist sharing is the birthplace of awesome creativity for everyone. Each of those artists brought something unique to the room and those that shared opened all of our eyes to a new way of thinking about art.

The new artists asked basic questions about tools or mediums, making not only me but all the more experienced artists in the room re-look at why we do what we do. The more experienced artists asked complex questions about not only technique but thought processes and artistic direction as well.

We are very fortunate to have such a wealth of artists and creative thinkers. Most of you are in that group and hopefully that you take time to share your ideas, creative process and artistic adventure with the people around you.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Rocks and Water Paintings

I love rocks. At any given time my pockets are full of small collections of rocks. The shelf above the drier has a corner full of stones and pebbles that have been retrieved from the laundry.

 I have partially completed the study needed to become a gemologist but in truth the rocks I like best aren't diamonds or pearls but the interesting and wonderful ones I can find. The smooth rocks that are to be found tumbled in the rough river, the lichen covered ones on top of the mountain. I might pick up a special one to remember a place or event. Or simply because it is so very black or such a perfect shape that fits my hand.  I have found that I am not alone in this love for rocks and stones.

 Many people share it.

Here are some of my paintings that feature rocks and stones often with water running over them to highlight their colours.