Fennerty Brook

On an afternoon of above zero temperature in late February I packed up and waded through waist deep snow to a favourite spot close to home.

 Each of the many brooks in the area offer an opportunity to explore shape and colour. This is a water shed area that is on the crest of Nova Scotia. One side drains to the Atlantic Ocean through Bedford and the other moves to the Bay of Fundy. This small brook winds its way to the town of Maitland on the Bay of Fundy. I return here over and over.

Early in spring I sat by the same brook and watched the last film of ice melt off the waters edge as the sky opened and sun poured in. A magical moment.

Lacey Brook

A favourite spot to paint for many years the Lacey Brook is close to home and easily accessible. Not that I mind a walk in the woods but sometimes when the air is just right and time is short it is good to know locations like this. 

At times the brook is flooding it's banks and times when you can set up on a rock with water all around. The silence of the forest is broken by the running water and punctuated by the birds who will find you in their home and come to watch the work.

One day in late summer as I worked beside a pool three deer approached and then jumped into the pool before swimming to the other side. They didn't seem to notice me at all and I saw this a great compliment. That I could sit so quietly in a spot I was indistinct in the landscape. I worked, they passed.

Freezing Cold

It's the middle of February here and freezing cold so when I noticed some work completed in years past my thoughts turned to painting outside again. I have been in the studio peeling canvas from older frames and getting ready to stretch some new ones in anticipation of warmer days ahead. 

This year I will also build some new stretchers to see what happens in a larger format. I want to continue working on the idea of completing work in one sitting on site which keeps it in the moment for me. As you can see from the sketch above I don't need winter to be over, just a few hours of above zero temperatures. Having the sun shining is a bonus increasing the contrast between light and dark and keeping the hands warm. 

Working in this way has always had the benefit of allowing chance to enter and play a part in the work. Something outside the control of the artists planning relying on intuition alone. The idea first struck home with me when I was working on a series of paintings around the morning glory plants that used to grow in our yard. The plants themselves grew quickly and the blooms unfurled in front of my eyes over a few short hours. I was trying to keep up to this process recording the plants as I saw them while taking into account the changing light and sky conditions. I began to notice that bees and dragonflies were also enjoying the blooms and immediately added them in wanting to record the fullest account of events.

Since then all kinds of bugs and animals have found themselves recorded in my work by passing through the view plane doing what they do. I add them in and energize my work with their presence.