The Lee Shore

All along the lee shore
Shells lie scattered in the sand
Winking up like shining eyes at me
From the sea
Here is one like sunrise
It’s older than you know
It’s still just lying there, where some careless wave
Forgot it long ago
When I awoke this morning
Dove beneath my floating home
Down below her graceful side in the turning tide
To watch the sea fish roam
There I heard a story
From the sailors of the Sandra Marie
There’s another island
It’s a day’s run away from here
It’s empty and free
From here to Venezuela
There’s nothing more to see
Than a hundred thousand islands
Flung like jewels upon the sea
For you and me
Sunset smells of dinner
Women are calling at me to end my tails
But perhaps I’ll see you, the next quiet place
I furl my sails

— A small tribute for David Crosby

Any artist will tell you, a complicated painting needs simplifying and a certain amount of study. I have this complicated painting to do and first of all the perspective is challenging. So I had to work on it. I found the horizon line first (where the eyes of the viewer “photographer” were) and traced a horizon line. Then with a ruler acting as a pivot, I found my two vanishing points. There are actually three, but I winged that one (the vertical one).

Then I drew the scene in small thumbnail size, about 4″ x 3″, and then painted in the different values with Payne’s Grey. Yes, I have used a pencil for this, as I think that it would be impossible for me to paint in direct watercolours. Some painters might be able to, but not I.

Now let’s hope that tomorrow the final result is somewhat good. We’ll see -)))

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook 4″ x 6″
Watercolours: Graham Payne’s Grey

Five hundred seasons…

Sun warms the lizard’s back
and the humble back of the mountain.
A raven croaks from the top of a thermal.
The valley oak above the barn,
dying a huge branch at a time,
stands in calm mortability, content
with the warm light that has fed its leaves,
the dark waters that have fed its roots,
its acorns that have fed the woodpeckers
for five hundred rainy seasons.

— Ursula K. Le GUin

I have always loved being a student, and I remember in my very young years when school stopped in summer I would be one of the only ones that was sad. In retrospect, during the winter months, my family and I lived in a middle-sized city and in the summer months, totally reclusive… on a beautiful and wonderful lakefront. So my friends got to be divided in two… the winter friends and the summer friends.

This is a bit like this. Some of my winter friends are right out there in the past, and my summer friends seem to be closer to me. So weird in a sense, if you get what I mean.

This is totally unfinished as I am starting over tomorrow morning. The first mistake that I made was the horizon. The horizon, right smack in the middle of the page? No. So tomorrow you will get another version of this… hopefully improved. Even though I really like this.

Paper: Saunders Waterford 12″x9″
Colours: Hansa Deep, Cobalt Blue, Raw Umber, Payne’s Grey

Travelers

We came from the far side of the river
of starlight and will cross back over
in a little boat
no bigger than two cupped hands.
Thinking about compassion.
A firefly in a great dark garden.
An earthworm naked
on a concrete path.
I think of the journey
we will take together
in the oarless boat
across the shoreless river.

— Ursula K. Le Guin

I remember the first time that I biked with no hands… exhilarating to say the least. Well this painting is a bit the same. I painted this with absolutely no lines before… straight with watercolours. A feat for moi, for sure! So bloody difficult even if it does look easy… It certainly is a challenge, for someone who loves drawing and using “lines” everywhere. Hah-hah!

Paper: Saunders Waterford 12″x9″
Colours: Hansa Medium, Q. Rose, Cerulean and Ultramarine

Red Poppies… at last!

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
— Isaac Asimov

Yesterday’s black and white poppies were just too sad. So I had to paint them today.

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook
Fountain Pen: Pilot Penmanship  Fountain Pen, Clear, EF Nib, Japan
Ink: Noodlers Lexington Grey (bulletproof), my favourite colour
Watercolours: DS Cobalt, DS Green Gold, DS Cadmium Red, DS Alizarin Crimson, Payne’s Grey

Let us remember… and not forget

:: Flanders Fields ::

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
— by John McCrae, May

This seems to be a common theme of mine lately. Well yes, let us remember and not forget… in these troubled times.

Revisiting a lesson learned, and also forgotten

“I suppose what you’re doing as a painter is making a record of your trip through life.
I can’t think of any job that is quite as satisfactory as doing a painting.”
(Robert Genn (1936- 2014))

The quote above rings true for me… it is true that this blog records part of my life in a way. After preparing for my Book Club for tomorrow night, I now have the leisure of time on my hands… and what do I do with it? Going through some of my older paintings and see what comes up. By the way, her class is spectacular. As a teacher, she invests herself totally in it and she expects you to be totally invested too. An awesome combo.

I had not looked at this painting for over a year as this was done in a class given by Uma Kelkar. Quite interesting to revisit after this time. I really had a lot of fun doing this as it was difficult and challenging. The aim was to look at the reflections (incident light coming from the sun), cast shadows, diffused shadows and shadows and make them believable. I changed some of the blue colours along the way too.

No promises, back & front, forwards & backwards

When Joni Mitchell was nine, she contracted polio. After recovery, she taught herself how to walk again. In 2015, after her brain aneurysm, Mitchell again taught herself to walk. As a tween, she had taught herself to play the guitar from a Pete Seeger songbook. With her left hand weakened, she devised daring alternate tunings, which led to innovative voicings, and intuitive approaches to harmony and song structure.
The Painter’s Key

This time I will not promise that I am back in business and that I will be painting a number of paintings…. I’ve learnt that lesson far too often. But what I will say is that I am hopeful, that with the turn of the seasons, I get back to drawing or painting for my heart’s desire.

Yesterday I found one of the photographs that I took in Turkey a long time ago, about 7 years ago I guess, that had always fascinated me and I thought that it would be fun to draw. Well, then, once I had drawn it, I thought it would be fun to add colours to this and practice with rusty eyes with new colours. So here it is. It developed into the front and back of a person… search me how come, but hey! I was having fun. Don’t know if you noticed, but the one on the left has a door as it is a police station in Turkey… can you imagine working in such amazing architecture?

Sketchbook: Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbook
Colours: Ochre, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine, Burnt Umber
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada

Meteora, Greece

La fin du monde est à sept heures
Annonçait le téléviseur
La fin du monde est à sept heures
La fin du monde est à sept heures
On voit les signes avant-coureurs
Les voisins ne se parlent plus
On ne rigole plus dans la rue
Les gens ne font que travailler
Ils sont chanceux et occupés
Le samedi, ils magasinent
Avez-vous vu leur triste mine

— Jean Leloup, “La fin du monde est à sept heures”

Painting done in direct watercolour, no lines, directly on watercolour paper, Saunders Waterford CP. So hard to do and so proud too. Wow! Never thought that I would be able to pull this off. All a question of values… value 2 for the mountains, value 4 for the strokes in the stone and value 5 for the shadows. Still so much to learn, but I am following a path…

:: Desert ::

There is a town in north Ontario,
With dream comfort memory to spare,
And in my mind
I still need a place to go,
All my changes were there.

— Neil Young, “Helpless” Canadian singer, songwriter extraordinaire.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8LYOyqJE7k

The same landscape as the previous ones, but the elements of design are different, as in this case colours. Hot, fiery desert winds and sparks of light. In our sub-zero temperatures here in Quebec, it feels good to delve into a bit of warmth… once in a while.

Unreal II

I’m really starting to have fun with these “unreal” landscapes…. they are pushing me in another direction which I like. They are pushing me to throw in elements from my imagination into a landscape instead of painting what I see in front of me. As an urban sketcher I often see myself as a recorder, a gatherer of information, painting a memento of what lies in front of me, of the landscape or cityscape around me.