You Left Your Coat

 During the warm summer months I was greeted in the garden by a small garter snake making its way across the lawn. The means of locomotion was amazing and fast. The snake quickly covered the open ground and moved under the shed.

The image of its curled body burned in my mind and I quickly returned to the studio to record the shape. The moving form was the important thing at this point so I used the first tools that came to hand, a large marker and grid paper. Not what you would call fine art materials but the shape was the thing and we all know what happens to memories.
So, as funny as it seems a few months later while I gathered kindling wood for the fire buried deep in the pile was a perfectly preserved snake skin. You are right in saying "that doesn't look perfect to me" but I should mention that the skin has since passed through a vacuum cleaner being mistaken for something other than what it was.
I guess the snake liked the garden as much as I do.

Halifax Morning Sky

The view from the Halifax Citadel out to the harbour mouth in Halifax was a striking one for sure. Recently as part of my studio cleanup and renovation I found this sketch that was painted about this time of year.  Just as the sun rose in the early morning sky of late December it punctuated a constructed city skyline with its own reflection on the calm harbour water.

December Days

As we move towards winter the suns path is low in the sky.
The days are growing shorter.
I will move outside the studio again now that hunting season is over for this year.


Among other things, November, is hunting season around here. That means the outdoor walks and drawing sessions in the woods are on hold. Some would say that there is nothing to worry about but I'm thinking why take the chance. 

Working in the studio is way safer at this time of year and soon enough the hunting season will be over. I can hardly wait.

Art Tools

Five days of wind and rain have left a few large branches down in the yard.  The branches were snapped during an ice storm that moved through here about ten years ago and have only now fallen to the ground now.  Today the winds are down and with the sun out you can feel heat in the air.
It would be a good day to head for the beach but studio work will be the order of the day. Where are my tools? 

Painting Cape Breton in the Rain

Rain has been pouring down for the last few days and the ditches around here are filled to the brim. Not too good for working outside unless you happen to be in the car studio. This was the case when the painting above was created. We had travelled to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park to camp and hike for a few days. We expected a bit of weather but not the intensity of the storm that arrived. A silver lining in the clouds came in the morning as we discovered the ominous sky and pounding sea. It somehow seemed like a perfect time to paint.

 A vantage point I had discovered a few years previous turned out just perfect for the occasion. Later that day in town I overheard a conversation between two young local men describe the very same spot I had painted that morning. The thoughts they expressed described surf pounding the shore like never before. 

Painting on Site

 Preparing a simple pencil sketch allows time to become comfortable with the site.
Returning over and over allows the artist time to develop a conversation with the vision. Exploring the effects of time of day or season of the year on the land can be inspirational. Variations of tone and colour fuel the creative process. 
The artist also has the option to move around a view exploring different perspectives.

Art Connections

Paintings and drawings sometimes connect to one another in ways that are not always established when they are conceived. It is interesting to watch as things work in new and unexpected ways.
For one reason or another, from time to time, some of my studio work joins with other pieces to make a new work.
I wonder if that is a result of being surrounded by sewing and knitting and quilting projects in my youth.  
In later years the encouragement of teachers allowed me to consider the process valid  for painting as well. Materials were always being shared and passed along. 
Coats could become rugs or shirts a quilt.

Art Inspirations

For the last few weeks it has been a very busy time in the studio. As I mentioned before the studio is undergoing big physical changes. Because of the changes in the space painting time has been at a minimum but now as the dust is settles and the space clears I am confident it is all for the better. "Short term pain for long term gain" I think is what some would say. 
Last week while searching for a used window to fit in the new vestibule wall I talked with the woman working in the shop about my project. It turns out that she also paints and works in the furnace room.
Too funny and what a small world experience. I suggested a show of work created in furnace rooms around the city and may follow that idea when time allows.
My studio space even with the changes will still be in the furnace room but it is a very clean space and not the cobwebbed dungeon existing in some buildings.
At this time of year I do miss working outside but the late fall season and short days prohibits working that way most days now. Working from the car studio and of course taking pictures along the way continues to provide food for thought.

Fundy Surprise

Learning to paint can be a humbling experience.

 Standing on the ocean floor at low tide can also be a humbling experience.  When I first arrived on the ocean floor at the Bay of Fundy near Alma, New Brunswick I had never travelled east of Montreal. 

Growing up in Toronto, Ontario I had never encountered anything quite like the tides of the Bay of Fundy. The stunning effect of the rise and fall of tidal water was captivating to watch and still is. 

All the other magic and paintings that have come from Fundy to me continue to this day. 


The days are growing shorter and temperatures are dropping to near zero. The last of the fall colours are glowing orange and bronze against moody grey skies.  Eagles fly overhead soaring on rising air along the cliff edges.  While walking the beach today it seems as if we have never seen things quite like this before. 

Art Making

Making art can be like gazing into the crystal ball.
Sometimes, the view is clear. 
Sometimes, the path moves in straight lines.
Other times, not so much.
On occasion, I have had the opportunity to watch artists at work. Amazingly they sometimes seem to draw from an unseen well of knowledge that pours through them. A vision of the finished work seems to exist before they begin.

Kitchen Art

Getting hungry? Head for the kitchen.

Vegetables for a stew.
Fresh fish.
A print based on a painting by Peter Bruegel the Elder, a 16th century Dutch renaissance painter, reflecting a community gathering on the occasion of a wedding. 
Five Hundred years later we find food still has the power to bring people together. It could be an occasion or used to make a painting or drawing. Here, knives and forks and spoons are ready for the beach.
Food choices and preparation mark each day.

New Studio

  A new studio space is something not imagined a few short months ago but now after a few changes to existing spaces a new studio is becoming a reality. As part of the change a cleanup was begun.
One painting found in storage is of the Halifax Dockyard depicting a time not too long ago just as giant cranes were moved into place along the waterfront. Demolition of the old sheds was beginning. Now, a short time later the view is changed completely. Newly constructed buildings are coming to life while the arching path of the old MacDonald Bridge, also under refit, is no longer visible from this position.
                 I hope my much smaller studio project moves quickly and smoothly.

Night Sky

For the last few days we have been treated to a world wonder delivered to our doorstep.

During the evening hours while looking into the eastern sky over Springfield Lake we see the hunter moon rise into the sky over the horizon. In the early morning hours looking into the same eastern sky we see the planets Mars, Venus and Jupiter all close together from our viewpoint and forming a tight triangle shape. Very interesting and beautiful to see.