Winter Solstice on Halifax Harbour

The low sweeping light provided by the rising sun of winter solstice over Halifax Harbour has led to some interesting paintings. Working from the car studio in sub zero temperatures allowed views of light effects silhouetting buildings or even the chance appearance of a sun dog.

Fennerty Lake, Nova Scotia

Yesterday, in the pouring rain we traced an old path following the brook that leads into Fennerty Lake. I have painted along there many times and it didn't seem to matter what the weather was or the season of the year. There was always something to interest me. we walked down the old path from the end of the road and picked a path down to the brook. Changes are everywhere including my painting. Perhaps it is the sound of running water that draws me back.

Lake Martha, Nova Scotia

Yesterday I had the opportunity for a short hike along the shore of Lake Martha at Mount Uniacke. The site is close to home, part of the Nova Scotia Museum, and a favourite over years. As I walked the path that traces the shore I noticed the tree that caught the sun in the painting above.

This set my mind wandering around the province and other short hikes that lead me to the Village of Scotts Bay. Wow, all this in a frozen landscape.


As a young parent and art student finding time and subject matter to make art was a daily challenge.
I had heard that it was important to work with things you knew and I certainly knew pots and pans. While making the drawing of pots it became apparent that a drawing could be just as much about the drawing marks as the representation of any thing. A door had opened and I walked through.

Painting at a Beaver Pond

Painting on site at favourite spot not too far from home is pleasure I have enjoyed to this day. It has become increasingly hard to find site though as suburban development and logging increasingly make finding sites difficult. It is always interesting to watch the seasonal changes while responding with paint on canvas and this particular site involved walking from a lake and then up a brook until reaching the widening that had been created by the beavers. The water was held back by the beavers dam blocking the water creating a pond and marshy area all around.

One Hundred Years Ago

The peaceful calm of todays harbour near the site of the Halifax Explosion masks the unexpected horror experienced at the site and over the city one hundred years ago.

Of course everything was different then and the bridges didn't exist but when you stop and spend a moment near the site a strange chill will come over you. Drawing and painting can take you many places you didn't expect.

Painting on Site

Painting on site while travelling around is part of my art practice. There is a long and storied history of artists working on site and the results are always interesting but it seems that personal insights into painting seem to be gained by actually painting. Sometimes the result even represents the site in some way allowing the experience to transmit to the audience.

Sketching Under the Bridge

Both sides of Halifax Harbour under the MacKay Bridge provide interesting spots for sketching. The ships that tie up at the wharves are varied in shape and purpose creating readymade interest and the history of human activity in the area is long and storied. 

Small Painting

Springfield Lake creates a mirror on the world when the wind is down. The calm quiet of late fall days when the birds have flown south and we wait for winter to arrive from the north.

The small size of theses paintings and others in the series allowed them to be held while the painting was done adding a tactile element to the work. Small paintings with a big heart.

From the Shore to the Wall

Yesterday we finally had a chance to hang our most recent landscape work. A very interesting exercise that revealed the energy contained in the rocks.

Drawing Halifax Harbour

Down along the harbour ships come and go from our shore. The ever changing sky is cut and defined by the monumental engineered shapes which define the waterfront and make things so interesting for myself as an artist to work with.

Painted Garden

Painting in our garden has been an ongoing interest for me. The biomorphic shapes are part of the attraction acting as a direct contrast to work along the harbour that consists of engineered shapes of buildings and support structures like cranes and wharves.

The colour contrasts you can find in a garden are always a pleasant surprise and watching the changing forms from day to day and season to season make a visual kaleidoscope that is hard to keep up to.

Art Studio

In the studio you will need to wear clothes that can get dirty without care. We started out using our parents old shirts to act as a protective layer but now old clothes are the choice.

A small space down in the basement of our house next to the water tanks and furnace serves as a studio.

Some areas can be clean and dry while some spots are just not. It is the nature of the space where I work. Where drips and globs fly this way and that and ideas reign supreme.  


Working on a Derivative Speculation and what appeared but a bee. I do like adding in objects as they appear which adds a element of surprise but also time. Things really do happen fast on site and I forgot the bee was part of the day.

Flowers in Time

While visiting friends over the weekend a small patch of wallpaper remained attached to the wall. A major renovation was underway and all the walls were being stripped to the paster. The process of stripping away and rebuilding is a familiar one to me.

 As a painter working with chance means being open to change and acting on opportunity as it presents itself. When work began on what became a tryptic only the left panel existed. The middle and right panels were added as time went on. Somehow, events and blooms around the house and yard joined together and worked together to tell a story about a particular time.

Painting Algonquin Park and Beyond

It appears that in 1975 I spent some time camping and sketching in Algonquin Park, Ontario. It was a time when we took a camping trip in the park on familiar ground before heading off on a trans Canada trip that would take us as far away as Vancouver Island. That is whole other story. 

I do remember this particular tree perched on the rocky edge of Lake Provoking. There was something about the tree and its ability to survive and grow against all adversity pushing roots out to find the soil that convinced me to make the sketch.

On the trail to the lake there is a river and a magical waterfall with bathing pools in the rocks. I made the painting of the falls a year later along with a painting based on the sketch of the pine tree and am wondering about the tree now after having hiked to a group of very large Hemlock trees over the weekend.

The scale of the Hemlock trees compared to others around led me to read about them and have found that their life could fill well over five hundred years.  As large as they seemed i guess they are teenagers as Hemlock trees go.

The spring painting is from the hill just below the site where the Hemlocks live and as you can see my painting work has grown and changed over these years. The smells and feel of the air around these sites have remained touchstones for these sites even after all the years in between.

Fade Away

How do we know when an painting is finished? This a common question painters hear and I am never sure how to answer. On any one day a work could be finished and then called into question and reworked. The painting above is a prime example of this showing the original flower blooms that were then cut out of the canvas they were painted on. I always liked the edges of the blooms and the way no two seemed the same. They were glued on a board and then repainted and repainted again. So here we are and I'm not sure if it is done or not.

Snow Birds

Now that the fall weather is taking hold we get to see all the snow birds passing through on their way to southern areas and warmer days. Ducks and Geese use the lake as a stopping off point on their journey so we get to see these visitors once in the spring and once in the fall.

Unlike working on site or from a model the rendering of a goose in flight is created from memory. 
The intaglio process used to make the image is a much slower and staged way to work that does have the advantage of producing a series of prints from the original plate but looses the speed component that I find invigorating to the work.

Painting Palette

Working with images of some recent paintings have revealed a not so scientific exploration of ideas around economy. While the objects rendered are wildly varied the limited palette forces the artist and the viewers eye to reflect on overall design. The limited palette did not limit locations chosen to create work as you can see images reflect landscape, shipyards and gardens.

Painting a Chair

Even a simple wooden chair can become the subject of painting. My favourite wooden chair is a rocker so when it came time to make a painting of a chair this rocker was the first choice.

Painting Questions at Lacey Brook

The magical pool of water and the woods that surround it are called Lacey Brook. Most importantly they are close to home and fairly easy to access. Many visits to the same site have allowed ideas around paintings and their physical structure to work out over time. Questions about supports and lines and tones as well as my ability to get to the site with supplies all come into play. Each visit answers some questions and reveals new ones as well.

Blomidon Nova Scotia

Our fall weather is beyond anything we could have imagined. Luckily the storms of the Atlantic that brought so much destruction have missed us. We are enjoying views of a slow seasonal change that are creating a very colourful landscape not dissimilar to the one that we found on a hike over Blomidon Mountain overlooking the Minas Basin. On that day we stopped half way up for a picnic and to enjoy the view that is reflected in the sketch above. It makes me think it is time to get back to Lacey Brook and the pond that gives so many images.