Category Archives: Painting
Heading for the Light
Filed under Painting, Sketching, Typecasting
No Name Necessary
Filed under Poetry, Painting, Sketching, Typecasting
A Walk in the Forest
Once upon a time there was a boy who lived beside a forest that was dark and smelled of skunk cabbage and was crawling with slugs that were a foot long and covered with sticky slime. This didn’t stop the boy from going into the forest because he was curious and wanted to know what was beyond the trees down the path that started where his own yard ended.
One day when his mother was busy with house cleaning, the boy took his brother who was smaller than him and they went into the forest a few steps and there they stopped to look back at their house. Then they looked down the path into the forest and back at the house again and then down the path again and they wondered what they should do. They walked back to the beginning of the path and looked at the house to see if their mother was watching. She told them to stay out of the forest but they thought that it would be alright if they just stood at the edge of it for a while and looked. So they stood and looked into the forest and wished they could go in and find out what was there amongst the tall trees where the sun hardly touched the ground because of all the leaves.
While they were looking an owl glided past their heads and silently beat it wings as it flew off down the path and into the forest. That was impossible to ignore and they started walking quickly down the path into the trees hoping to see the owl again, forgetting that they weren’t allowed to go into the forest. When they had walked for a while they saw the owl high up in a tree sitting on a big branch preening its feathers with its beak. They stood at the bottom of the tree and looked up at the owl. The owl stopped preening and stared at them.
Who who, it said, who who who.
Who are you, said the boy and his brother said it too, who are you?
The owl didn’t answer, just saying who who again, and looking at the boys with its large dark eyes that blinked slowly. Then the owl swivelled its head completely around so the boys could only see the back of it.
The boys walked around to the opposite side of the tree and looked up at the owl again noticing that the owl’s feet were now going the wrong way.
Look at his feet, they’re backwards, said the boy to his brother who laughed.
Then the owl swivelled its head back to the other side and once again they were looking at the back of the owl. They walked to the front of the owl and saw that now its feet were forwards and not backwards. Then the owl closed its eyes and went to sleep.
Let’s go home said the little brother, I’m hungry.
They looked for the path but when they found it they couldn’t remember which way to go because they were confused by the owl’s head going this way and that way. They tried to remember what the owl looked like when they first saw it but it was impossible to say which way the owl’s feet were supposed to go. When they looked up at the owl again it had turned its head around which made them even more confused.
I want to go home, said the little brother, I’m hungry. Then he started to cry.
Don’t cry, said the boy, I need you to help me think.
The boy went back to the path and looked up at the sky. He saw the sun and remembered that the earth turned on its axis once every day, which made the sun come up and go down, even though the sun never really moved. The boy remembered that when they had entered the forest the sun had been in their eyes. The boy had a brand new wrist watch which he got for a birthday present and he knew how to tell what time it was. Looking at his watch he saw that it was still morning so he knew the sun was still getting higher in the sky.
If the sun was in our eyes when we walked into the forest, he said, we should have the sun on our backs to go home.
They stood on the path with the sun at their backs and ran as fast as they could all the way home, where they had milk and cookies and drew pictures of owls.
Filed under Birds, Books and Short Stories, Children's stories, Painting, Uncategorized, Wildlife
The Grand Balcon
Just finished this one. Hiking season in the Alps should be open now, but with Covid 19 still about, I wonder how the refuges will be affected? This is on the climb from Tre-le-Champ up to the trail called Le Grand Balcon on the opposite side of the Chamonix Valley from Mont Blanc, that big white hulk in the centre background. Most hikers end the Tour de Mont Blanc with this hike, which on a good day affords the best possible view of the great mountain, from a trail that is. This was the last day of our 11 day trek, and I finally convinced Terry to wear the camo boonie hat I had given him.
To get the whole story, you can buy my book A Walk Around Mont Blanc.
Filed under Great Hikes, Painting, Tour du Mont Blanc, Travel, Uncategorized
To The Lighthouse
This is a real lighthouse, but I took some artistic license. There were no seagulls on logs, but the ones flying were in fact present, for a few moments. The actual scene when I photographed it was rather duller, the colours too hazy, so I livened it up with stronger shadows and highlights.
The thrift shops have opened here, but there have been no typewriters, luckily – otherwise I might have bought one! Eventually I hope to have maybe only a dozen typewriters, but it will take a long time to sell what I’ve got, unless I give them away. I could do that, but even so there doesn’t seem to be much demand these days. This is why I am trying not to buy any more typewriters, because I have nowhere to put them. I think there’s an inverse relationship between how much of a given thing one owns, and one’s desire to own more of the same. If I had three typewriters I might get excited about some that are available in my town right now. Varage seems to have lots of them these days. Same goes for old film cameras, of which I seem to have boxes and boxes full. Who needs it. Hence I’m more focused on doing art, which is easier to store. I work on 1/4″ thick panels, so a foot of shelf space can hold 30 or more paintings, compared to say 2 typewriters.
I do keep a typewriter close at hand, however, just so I can always admire it even if I have nothing to write at the moment. If I had to keep just one typewriter, it would probably be this one, 1958 Smith Corona Silent Super, aka Eaton’s Prestige. Or, maybe the Olympia Traveller…. or the H3K… or the Remington All New…
Filed under Painting, Philosophy, Typewriters, Uncategorized
The Social Distance Isolation Blues
Two months, no gigs. For a musician this pandemic has put a halt to that, among everything else. But, we came up with a plan this week – a concert on the front lawn, maintaining 2 metres between players. I debuted the Corona Gold guitar, which performed flawlessly. I however performed less flawlessly, and more so as the temperature continued to drop and the wind picked up. By 8 PM we were done, after 90 minutes straight out fun.
Meanwhile, life in isolation goes on. Meetings are held via computer. Days are spent alone, mostly, making something, or lately – painting again. I made a second guitar following the pattern of the Corona Gold, but this one strictly acoustic. I switched the top bracing from parallel to X, and made the body a little deeper than the previous one. Also employed the X brace on the back, and the same projected neck design. Having a tall bridge allows using a nifty adjustable bridge too, which makes action adjustments dead simple. Body and neck are maple, with spruce top.
Again I finished this using wiped on polyurethane varnish mostly, with a few coats of french polish shellac on the top to make it glossy.
When the guitar was done, I decided it was time to get out the paint again, after a year. My first project was a kid sized card table, which became the canvas for duck. This is for the amusement of my 3 grandsons.
Two of them saw it, and were mostly impressed with the little pictures of trucks I painted around the edges. So much for the duck!
Next up was a scene from the Presidential Range of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Once upon a time I spent many vacations hiking along those ridges, and several times staying in the huts. Lake of the Clouds hut is the largest of them all, and commands quite a view from its perch on the shoulder of Mt. Washington.
Sticking with the wilderness theme, I rendered my vision of a scene along the Cold River in the Adirondacks of New York (corrected from previous label of Raquette River, which was somewhere else). This was from a slide (Kodachrome even) I took while hiking the Northville-Placid Trail in 1979. May it remain ever wild and remote.
I’ve also been working on another picture book for kids, called Ciel The Blue Horse, and intend to publish it any day now.
Filed under Books, Guitars, Painting, Uncategorized
Compare & Contrast
Compare and contrast is the bane of every student who is given some subject with those instructions. Fortunately I no longer have to comply with such rubbish, and yet I am still thinking about this when it comes to painting. I often wonder when looking at paintings how long and hard the artist worked on them. I can only assume, but then I’ve never seen a painting that had the number of hours it took to create among the information given. There will generally be a title, and the name of the artist, but never the number of hours. I can understand why an artist wouldn’t provide this information, especially if they are trying to sell their work for a good price. In business you do not reveal your costs if you want to make as much profit as possible. What if stuff had the time it took to make it on the label? T- shirt, 5 minutes and 11 seconds; cost of production $1.29; price $9.99 – cheap! Oil painting, 3 hours, cost of materials $14.63, price $2500 – cheap!
How long did it take Vincent Van Gogh to paint some of his famous works? I’m speculating here, but I’d guess a couple of hours for some now worth fifty million bucks! Not that Vincent made any money. It’s just a shame his work is now so valuable, because otherwise I’d give him a hundred bucks an hour to paint something for me, as long as he didn’t waste time having dinner while the clock was running.
But back to the compare and contrast rubbish part – I often have a hard time deciding how long to spend on a painting. Sometimes it will take me a few days, and yet other times only a couple of hours to make something just as pleasing to my eye. So how can you compare those? I am at a loss, and lucky for me I don’t have to submit my paper to the professor tomorrow morning. So here are two recent paintings I’ve done. One took me a few days and many hours, the other took an hour and a half. Compare and contrast!
Filed under Painting, Philosophy, Uncategorized
Bean There, Done That
When it comes to iconic logos, Heinz is hard to beat. I don’t think Andy Warhol liked beans quite as much as he did Campbell’s soup, so I have rectified that situation with another in my long drawn out series of card table art.
On a more serious note, here is a lovely scene from last winter – at least I thought it was lovely!
Picking Up Where You Left Off
Last May, I went out with my portable paint set to do some plein air painting. I did a small painting from a cliff down at the ocean and took a photograph of the scene. Later I sketched it on a large board, planning to do a full size painting. It sat on my easel in the basement for a year, until today. I realized recently that I was avoiding painting large works because I didn’t like spending hours in the basement, where there is no daylight. So I thought about getting a strong but portable easel so I could paint upstairs and move around easily. I looked at one at my art shop but it was about $100. I then had a look at my heavy easel in the basement and realized that I could take it apart and get rid of the heavy bits, like the base on wheels, the heavy bottom tray, the counterweights and the sliding centre rail. So I ripped it all apart and was left with a much lighter easel. I set it up in the living room and spent all day painting. I should have figured this out long ago, but it took me a long time to come to the realization I didn’t like painting in a windowless room. Part of what finally got me moving was seeing the movie Mr. Turner, about JMW Turner. In Turner’s day of course, there was no artificial light. Seeing Turner portrayed at work in his studio with light from the large windows must have made something click, because ever since then I’ve had this idea in the back of my head that I should get going again with my easel painting. Whatever the reasons, I now have no excuse and hope to continue where I left off. Here are a few more sketches and paintings; one small, one medium and one large. It pays to work at various sizes, and especially at small scale, where you really can’t fuss with too much details.
That could be me coming to a bridge over an idyllic mountain stream, but I just made this scene up while testing some new paints. One of those peaks could be Mont Blanc, too! In less than 2 weeks I will see for myself when I arrive in Chamonix to hike the trail known as the Tour du Mont Blanc, or TMB. Training with a pack is one thing, but trying to decide on what to bring is another. The perfect is the enemy of the good, yet I waste hours of thought and time dabbling with various paints, brushes, papers and so on, until I almost feel like forgetting about sketching altogether! However, that would be dumb, because I know that when I get there I’ll be itching to do a sketch – so around it goes. This fantasy was done on heavy watercolour paper using cheap acrylic paints that came in a set. The tubes hold 10ml each, and as soon as I squeezed some out I knew that 10ml would not be enough. For one thing the paint is too thin, and doesn’t cover anywhere nearly as well as high quality paint does. Regular size tubes hold 60ml, which is way too much, but there aren’t any good paints sold in smaller tubes. Winsor Newton makes sets of 20ml tubes however, so I may try those. No doubt it’s decent paint. On any hiking trip you one should keep the gear down to a minimum, thus my sweating over the size of the paint tubes. It seems ridiculous, but ounces add up to pounds, as they say. Two more weeks to get it all sorted…
Filed under Great Hikes, Painting, Uncategorized