Friday, January 29, 2016

Yellow Point Arbutus

There likely aren't many landscape painters who, having seen arbutus trees, are able to resist painting them. Certainly I cannot. The motivation behind this one was somewhat akin to, well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I am keen to get moved to Vancouver Island where these trees are plentiful. If the Universe insists on keeping us on the Alberta prairie I'll just paint the island landscape and consider it a form of visualization.

January 23rd, closing in on the finish of YELLOW POINT ARBUTUS in The Art Room at Linderman Law, Claresholm
It's been a few years (eight to be exact) since I've painted anything as large as this so it was time. In a most gentle fashion I worked on it for only a few hours in the afternoons for about three weeks. Here is the progression of my first painting of 2016 ...

Day one, I drew the arrangement of trees directly on the canvas using a brush and oils coloursburnt umber and burnt sienna 

Several days later it looked like this

I added the stick branch in the space on the right, but I didn't feel it enhanced the painting in any way so I removed it as well as the grasses in the bottom right ...
Only refinement to the foreground left to go

To me the beauty of this piece is in the intricate, dancing upper branches, the soft light of the leaves and gentle background. I could have happily stopped at painting just them but I felt the need to ground these exquisite trees which made the foreground necessary. It was this foreground that gave me the most grief, if I'm honest other paintings go this same route for me. It needed to remain in shadow, so as not to distract from the light above, and yet it had to have interest. Finally, exhausted from pushing paint around I had to say "Enough, it's finished!" ...

YELLOW POINT ARBUTUS   oil   24" x 36"

I have had opportunities to paint these trees en plein air as well as to portray them in other studio works. Many thanks to Tom and Mary for the time spent at their place on Yellow Point, a broad forested peninsula on Vancouver Island that juts out into the waters of Stuart Channel in the Strait of Georgia which is mostly undeveloped with some rural, country living. I scored the photographic reference for this painting while we were on a forest romp with them last February. You will find the photo here on this blogpost.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Ginger Bread House 2015

Before we get too far into 2016 I want to share with you the construction of our gingerbread houses from this past Christmas. We spent a good chunk of three days building three houses.
The family hard at it
Early in December, little Avery expressed to me, privately and politely, her disappointment at being little involved in the creating of last years gingerbread house. That's when I knew her mother and I had to stop hogging the show as we are prone to doing on these creative binges. Avery displayed great focus and did an exceptional job of decorating her own house and doesn't she look happy doing so? 

Seven years old and her sense of placement is already finely tuned
Avery's house
Although the image below (found on the Internet) is was what I would have done if I'd been making a gingerbread house of my own. This house is reminiscent of ones I found at The Gingerbread Museum in Prague ...
More Gingerbread Museum images can be seen here although you'll see mostly cookies, not houses
Denise designs and makes the house patterns and I get to put the icicles on everyone's finished masterpiece

All done, and on the buffet in the glory line up for the annual photo session 
Avery's house
Denise's Gaudi House.  Check out the amazing architectural genius of Gaudi here
Although Denise and I thought he should have had demerit points for using non traditional props and embellishments, Larry's house won hands down for having the most effective overall finish!

Larry's Tree House