Big and Bold

The Chic Choc mountains are deep in the Gaspe region of Quebec and full of surprises. The amazingly rugged area is surrounded by a coastal landscape of mountains and ocean and a joy to behold. The mountains described as impenetrable rise and fall sharply between peaks and form a northern extension of the Appalachian Mountains. Hikers access the mountain range by road and on foot travelling on what is the Appalachian Trail.

On the ground and miles from anything that resembles the modern world we were greeted first by a group of five or six young Canada Grouse crossing the trail. The young were followed by the female and quickly disappeared into the underbrush. Just when we thought the show was over the larger and more colourful male proceeded to entertain us with a very impressive display of feathers and strut providing a distraction for the families escape.

Combining the love of painting and drawing with a walk in the woods made a special day.

Art Changes

Scale affects perception.
Large becomes small becomes large, nothing is as it seems.... 
So it happened, that in my mind, I found myself back in the hall housing a famous David . This David is carved from a single block of marble by an artist Michelangelo so many years ago. Although the work was highly polished and monumental in scale the more interesting work for me by far were the series of sculptures known as Slaves. Finished or unfinished they seem to resonate differently allowing more room for interaction with the audience.
I couldn't help making comparisons between the Slaves and our contemporary world. 
Things have changed in many ways but I wonder just how much?

"Quote me on this..."

It is a lucky day to say the least when you chance upon an albino fawn and then have two pileated woodpeckers fly across your path. So it was recently when after a whole summer of hoping for the opportunity to view these magnificent creatures it all happened so fast it seems hard to believe. I thought I should make a painting of the event as a reminder.

Time Travel

As a young boy becoming an artist wasn't a question. Art was something that you did everyday. You made art by yourself and with friends. Painting, sculpting clay, twisting wire or drawing in sand were the order of the day. We gave life to worlds unseen by adult eyes. 
Me on the Left Buddies to the Right
The photo of myself and neighbourhood friends seems to be about the time of my seventh birthday. I don't remember the picture being taken and was surprised by it's appearance so many years later. 

Soon after this photo was made our family moved for a summer to the village of Caledon, Ontario.  Many years later the house in Caledon appeared again as I made paintings using techniques described by Maxfield Parrish an American painter and illustrator.  
Becoming an Artist talks more about early on.


I have recently read the book by What of Shoes, Van Gogh and Art History, Geofrey Batchen, 2009. Geofrey enlists the most powerful thinkers of the twentieth century for a tale surrounding paintings of shoes from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century by the artist Vincent Van Gogh amoung others. Having spent time drawing and painting shoes I can see where arguments about the soul and character of individuals stem from. An interesting read for anyone interested in art and history or people in general. 

Minas Basin II

This week we entertained visitors from the prairies.

One stop on our travels was the beautiful shore of the Minas Basin. The Minas Basin flows to the Bay of Fundy and is every bit as amazing a site to see (sight to sea).

 We had stopped at Scots Bay at about low tide and were treated to an incredible display of wave action due to high winds and a low tide. Long waves rolled over the shallow bay whipping the water along the way into a red frothy soup.

Our time at Blomidon was short as the sunlight faded quickly to dusk but I was put in mind of warmer days and long hikes on the basin floor hunting treasure in this amazing place. 


Ideas swirl demanding expression.

Sometimes painted directly and sometimes hidden, ideas express themselves in many forms. I do use the element of chance in my work and am given to selecting patterns or colours that reveal themselves during the process of creating a particular work. 
As always having materials on hand and at the ready aid the directness of the process.

Downtown Halifax

Years ago in late December I found a spot up on Citadel Hill that provided a view over the rooftops to the harbour below. Sitting in this position your eye could drift down and across the water towards the Eastern Passage and the sunrise through cloud cover in the morning sky.
Overlooking the city from a birds eye perspective stirred an interest in me as an artist. What appeared as a seemingly random division of space by buildings, cranes and wires laid over and interacting with the natural environment created an abstract quality that fed my interest.
So I moved down from the hill and onto street level looking for opportunities to explore the urban space through the painted surface. Of course there is the added bonus of watching the changes in the city as they occur. The viewpoint abstractions feel like found objects, very exciting.

Drawing the Sun Flower

 My mind is still thinking beaches and not a full descent into winter but the first winds of winter blow over the northeast. Being November, this years garden has been put to rest.
Not too long ago that I sat drawing the sunflowers in the garden. I know the sunflower subject has been covered by many other artists and in all forms of expression but I can't resist drawing on the explosion of form and colour that each bloom affords. The sunflower seems to move slower than other plants with each bloom providing a profoundly different shape which only adds to the pleasure. Being there painting is a bonus.

Imagining Space

Pumpkins serve as life models and subjects for abstraction.

Space becomes visible through paint.

Monsters and ghosts dominate the night sky of our fears. 

New Boots

We have been under clouds with everything from drizzle to downpours for the last few days. Along the sidewalk leading to the library the days worth of rain had gathered in small puddles.

Now, some people would try to avoid those puddles but if you are about six years old and have a rain coat and new rubber boots to try out what could be more opportune. Precision stepping ensured each foot landed squarely in the center of each puddle providing maximum splash. I seemed to remember something of this from the past and I took a wild guess that a new boot test was underway. As the mother approached I commented about my guess just as the child turned and gave a full report about the fine quality of the new boots. She laughed and we moved into the library while the child held the door.

Powerful Stuff

The drawing of blooming morning glories had just been completed when I was listening to a radio broadcast on the CBC in Canada. The interviewer was speaking with an author about various things in her life when she quoted the author as saying something about "becoming open to the possibilities of art". The words were well chosen and sharpened as only a writer can. The idea contained in the statement "possibilities of art" idea is still resonating in my body.

That "art" is powerful stuff is not a new idea but maybe one that needs more attention all around. Attention to the possibility of new methods of  expression, movement and change.

Artists Paints

 I wanted to mention that the paint I have been using for the last number of years is manufactured in Canada by D.L. Stevenson & Son. There are many paints on the market and on some occasions I have had to try some others but always come back to the Stevensons product.
I was introduced to the Stevensons products first as oil paints. My father was enrolled in a painting class and took me along, at the instructors recommendation we travelled to Mr Stevensons home in Agincourt Ontario, which just happened to be our town, to make our purchase. As word travelled and business grew Stevensons moved out of the house and into a huge commercial space.

Years later, I switched to acrylic paints for a number of reasons and again Stevensons became the paint of choice. The thick rich colours don't seem to fade and remain flexible but durable over time. They are easy to use and mix well for use on canvas or board. Anyway, if you want more info you can check them out for yourself online or on your next project. I think you will be happy.

Nova Scotia Seasons

A short distance from home a favourite painting site at Lacey Brook remains.
It is just far enough off the beaten track that urban noise is limited and for the most part birds and squirrels make up the resident population. Lacey Brook is a place I have mentioned before and returned to late this summer. The beaver mentioned in Contrast remains elusive in daylight but I can see that work on the dam continues.
In the north east an extreme colour display takes place annually in fall and this year is no exception. In front of our eyes over last few days the change of season is dramatic to say the least. I made time to visit and paint again. The warmth of the air and sunshine make it a very easy day to play with colour and explore natural forms.

Drawing One Oh One

Somehow it always feels good to make a drawing. Having a pencil or some other mark maker on hand and ready is a first step but then the question becomes what to draw on.Recently some old fully loaded polaroid cameras found their way into our house and of course the trigger was pulled. The camera and film had sat in storage for at least ten years so who knew what the result would be. At first the exposed film looked like a colourful smear so I made a drawing over the top. This technique is as old as the film itself probably dating back to the 1960's at least but I had never tried my hand at it until now. The drawn glass was immediately visible but  the image taken of myself only revealed itself over the next hour or two. It is a reversal of sorts as the drawing was fast and the fast medium was slow.

Blaze of Glory

Morning glory plants have amazed me for years. Some years you get none and some years it's ok. I can't tell the difference but the evidence is in the plants.
 When things are right and the plants grow to maturity days become short before the blooms start. Questions arise about the frost that will surely come before long ending the season for all the tender plants alike. Over the weekend the blooms and sun came out allowing time for sketching. Raw canvas stretched over a frame serves as a surface to accept my pencil line that records the beautiful swirling shapes provided by the plants. Corrections to the original are made with a dry brush application of colour.

Magic Seeds

A friend passed along some seeds a year or so ago. She said they came from a plant called the Maltese Cross. Well the seeds were ready and survived to germinate and grow to maturity in our garden.
   So it happened that in the middle of summer when the heat is the hottest in the northeast we were treated to a glimpse of a red that is spectacular. The contrast of colours is stunning and you would know by now that I would have to paint them on the spot. I have taken some seeds from this years plants and will sow them also in the hope of making another painting in the future. 

Take Out

A stack of pots becomes a drawing. The simplicity of the tools and the familiarity of household objects turns a drawing project into an experience for the artist. The tools were charcoal sticks and mayfair paper about eighteen by twenty four inches and a large eraser for correcting. Correcting is allowed and encouraged.

Famous Birds

Our garden is home to many plants that I have drawn and talked about over and over but I wonder if I have mentioned famous birds that have visited.

With Springfield Lake across the road we often get to hear and watch the goings on of ducks and geese.  The playing and squawking, landing and taking off.

On one of the first cold days of fall a spruce grouse sat all puffed up storing what little heat was being given by the sun. Unlike the chickadees, bluejays, and crows who are always on the move this visitor rested for a good half hour. 

Early spring robins are a welcome sight.
Early Birds  When it comes to painting, any subject seems ok, the main thing is to do it at every available chance.

Summer of Contrast

Finally able to spend some time painting. It is something I have wanted to do for some time.
Over the last month we have travelled by car, boat, plane and train. We have walked on city streets and woodland trails. As always on my travels I hoped to do some drawing and maybe even some painting. Travel would take us from Nova Scotia overland through New Brunswick and Quebec to Ontario, with a final destination in Saskatchewan. While we were in Saskatchewan I did find time one morning to walk out and make a small sketch of the grain elevators at Kenaston, which was the furthest western point of our travels. Yes, the grain elevators are vanishing.  Very few remain as farmers transport harvested grains to storage and rail lines in the city.
The area is so completely different from the maritimes it is impossible to compare except to say that the contrasts between land and sky seem somehow larger.

Moving from the wide open space of the prairie and onto a subway in Toronto takes only a matter of hours in a jet.
Along the St. Lawrence River near Gananoque we stopped to sit under a shade tree and watch the clouds float along in the sky while boats cruised the waters. It is high summer and even the birds have taken shelter from the heat of the sun. I sketched an island  that had a building used as a resort inn during the late nineteenth century.

A few days later by car and I am at the side of the pond at Lacey Brook again finally able to paint.
The beavers have made a new dam so the water level has gone up about a foot.

Summer Heat

Summer is upon us now that it is mid July. Hot, humid air makes sitting beside a river deep in the woods a very enjoyable experience. The cool shade offered by the forest shelters iris blooms from the searing rays of sunlight. It is beautiful place to be on a day like this. Once you sit for a while the animals find you and call out your presence to all that will hear.  As always at this point enjoy your time. Take some paint or pencils and give yourself some time to make a record of your experience.

Weather Report

Our power and communication lines have been restored after the storm and things are getting a little more to the normal side. It is thanks to friends and neighbours that our impromptu camping adventure was made so much easier.

There wasn't much time for drawing or painting while we repaired the damage to our home but I did recall another storm that I did have time to draw. It happened one summer while camping in northern New Brunswick.

We were sitting by the campfire as the sky darkened. Lightning flashed and thunder rolled off in distant southern sky when I decided to make a painting quickly. 
The idea was to render an emotional response to the energy that swirled around. I had made the lantern painting later in the evening after dark but before the storm found us in the middle of the night. 

Nova Scotia Cove

When we discovered the cove it was as if everything made sense. We had camped on a point of land not too far away when in the middle of the night the wind piked up and blew in a storm. Wind and rain pelted our tent until the pegs let go from the saturated ground and forced us to take the tent down.

 It is hard to imagine that ideas would come together, merging in front of our eyes into a common entity and then as quick as a wink be gone. But there it was. What it was, I'm not sure. I did feel as if a painted response was in order and set to work.

Black Whole

Black Whole

Halifax Light


A palette of one colour creates economy and creativity.

"I've never considered you in this light"

While enjoying a beautiful spring day in Nova Scotia a whole crowd of narcissus gathered in the yard to help with the party atmosphere.

It is worth setting aside all the other things that need attention to spend a few minutes taking it all in. I started to work knowing the sight would not last long.

Dance for Spring

Painting ferns unfurl from the ground in spring is like playing in a really slow movie.

One scene would mention the warming air of spring and the power it holds over new life. The sounds of the returning songbirds songs would fill the air.

Point Pleasant Park, Halifax

When we arrived at Halifax I was taken deep into the city to a place that had been home to my wifes' family for generations.

Painting was something I brought with me from Toronto and I was determined to explore my new surroundings using this medium. I wanted to play with paint and loved colour and contrast. The view out the kitchen window ay Waverly Terrace became one of my first topics.

One highlight of a city tour was Point Pleasant Park. The Park was close at hand sitting on a beautiful point of land at the end of the Halifax peninsula which provides a view to the open sea.

On the eastern side of the park in sharp contrast to the forest sits a giant container pier or ocean transfer point. I should mention that the forest that once covered the park was destroyed by hurricane Juan in 2003 and will be a while regrowing.

Contrasts between natural and constructed elements around the park and the pier interest me as a painter.

It is also interesting to see changes that were underway a short while ago now rendered to memory.

A giant crane stands on the newly extended deck out into the harbour, a modern day colossus.