Wednesday, 25 May 2011

River Sunrise

With the arrival of the nice spring weather I decided that it was time to go for a drive along the Grand River here in Dunnville, and felt inspired to recreate a few scenes based on my love for this area. I’ve lived in this small rural community since I was five years old. When I picked up art again nearly two years ago, l wanted to paint the river but didn’t get to the job right away due to the many distractions of new found artistic inspiration. Sometimes a person just needs to slow down and enjoy what they have right under their nose. There are many tributaries that lead into the Grand along with large expanses of valuable marshland which provides a home to many of our wonderful Carolinian species. Living close as I do to the river I have the good fortune to see many of the birds and plants that are indigenous to this area and hope that I’ve captured a sense of these things without literally including them in the painting.

My interpretation of my reference photo, which looked like very early spring, involves warming things up a little, hopefully without losing the overall calming atmosphere on the river and wetlands. I also didn’t want to add as much detail to this painting, preferring the smoother and blended techniques to communicate the peaceful scene.

River Sunrise,Soft Pastel on Wallis, 12x18"
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Monday, 16 May 2011

Springtime Reflected

Somehow this painting started out as an autumn scene and transformed itself into a spring scene, not sure how that happened, perhaps it had something to do with the arrival of season after a very long winter. 

I worked on a new surface wanting to experiment with something a little different and I do like how the colors are more brilliant and striking then on the colored surfaces. I had started another pastel on an Ampersand Pastelbord and ended up washing it off and repriming it with several layers of Golden Fine Pumice Gel.  Another time I would use a coarse ground for soft pastel since this would allow for more layers of the pastel and it would be more agreeable with my soft Ludwig’s.

The trees and shrubs remind me of forsythia, purple smoke brushes and apple or pear trees in bloom, which are species I saw frequently in the horticulture business. I also used the beautiful Unison turquoise pastels in the sky along with a very pale and cooler Ludwig turquoise in the water. The colors in water should always be cooler than those on land, one of the ways you can separate land from water. 

Springtime Reflected   12x16"   Pastel on Pastelbord

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Mourning Dove Above

I know that this isn't exactly about art but I just had to share.

I went to visit my neighbour's to discover that they had a new pet nesting on top of their enclosed arbour. I was told to stand exactly below the arch and look up and too my surpirse there was a very wide set of eye's staring back at me. So I ran home to get my new camera hoping to get a good shot and was rewarded with the following picture:

Isn't she the cutest? The same neighbour has a pair of cardinals nesting in their backyard as well. Later they will probably bring their young over to eat at my feeders as everyone else does. It's a very busy spring around my place.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Northern Marshland

There are so many layers of pastel in this painting, I think I lost track after the 6th layer so this one seems to be about the tapestry of colour and texture that can be seen in the late summer months here in Ontario. I used Unison and a Terry Ludwig Pastels on Belgium Mist Wallis paper. 

I usually start with a reference photo that has at least 70% of the composition in place and make a few pencil studies before starting and this one was no different then usual except I found myself over simplifying. After looking at it for a couple days I decided to extend the height of the grasses in the foreground so that they are obscuring the main water-way with what I hope is a more pleasing result.

I have a new toy called a Canon Rebel XS EOS which takes much better pictures then my old Canon Powershot but I think that I still need better lighting to get ideal photos. Art work must be the most difficult thing a person can photograph, but it’s all a learning process. 

Northern Marshland, Soft Pastel on Wallis 12x16"
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Sunday, 1 May 2011

A Portrait of Angraecum sesquipedale AKA Star of Bethlehem Orchid

This is my first attempt at creating a floral portrait using soft pastels and I hope that it didn’t go too badly considering that the pastel will smudge so much more easily than coloured pencil, but it does move along so much more quickly. The smudging and correcting wouldn’t normally bother me with painting landscapes, but seems to be much more noticeable when it comes to creating the more detailed subjects, as is the case with flowers. Ah the adventures of learning a new medium.

Angraecum sesquipedale helped support Darwin’s theory that if nature would produce a plant with the super long nectary such the case with sesquipedale, then there would need to be a pollinator that could reach inside to retrieve the nectar. You can read more about the history of this orchid at Wikipedia Angraecum sesquipedale. And another link from Jay’s Orchid Encyclopedia for those who might be interested in growing this orchid, it is amazingly easy to cultivate.

The reference photo was taken from my own plant when it bloomed over the Christmas holidays and it is this Mid-winter flowering cycle which gives it the common name of the Star of Bethlehem. 

Star of Bethlehem Orchid, Pastel on Ampersand Board 11x14"
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