Monday, August 31, 2009

Are You Out There?

Acrylic on Canvas Board  10" x 14"

Satellite dishes are a vital link everywhere but especially in Nunavut.  All sizes are sprinkled around Iqaluit such as this large one looking up and out, over Frobisher Bay. In town, I saw a weathered old two room house that looked like it might tip off its pilings from the weight of an extra large dish.

I’m heading home to Vancouver today after two weeks of doing my favourite things – time with one of my daughters, being outdoors and painting. I feel satiated and rested although frustrated with my paintings. This plein air stuff is tough! I will have to learn to paint faster to make it work.

The book I am reading now is:  The Incredible Eskimo- Life Among the Barren Land Eskimo by Raymond de Coccola & Paul King.  It is the memoir of a Jesuit priest who lived and worked in Arctic Canada for about 10 years starting in the mid-1930s. I can't put it down and plan to finish it on my flight back to Vancouver.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

River Mouth and Frobisher Bay

Acrylic on Canvas Board 9"x12"

Aaaah - another day in Sylvia Grennell Regional Park. This landscape was tough to simplify and in the end, I am not sure if I simplified it enough.

The book I am reading this week has been very helpful for my adventure in landscape painting:  Plein Air Painting in Watercolor & Oil by Frank LaLumia. Well-laid out and informative for the budding outdoor painter. The author speaks of the three S’s of plein air painting: see it, simplify it, state it. That was my mantra this week as I wandered the hills of the tundra searching for the perfect composition. If I had run into any other humans, they may have wondered about all my muttering and squinting (an artist’s technique to help simplify the scene).

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Arctic Light on Char Fishers

Acrylic on Canvas Board - 9" x 12"

August in the Canadian Arctic

Photo of my painting spot on Friday. A little bit of heaven.

These last two weeks of August, I am visiting my daughter in Iqaluit, Nunavut. While she is at work, I am painting outdoors every day. This is a new opportunity to be so focused on my art and, as I write this midway through the two weeks, I am energized by the experience.

Each day, I have done at least one painting. I am fairly new to plein air painting (ie outdoor painting) and I find my field sketches need more work when I get home. Outdoors there is pressure to grasp the scene before the light changes or the tide goes out.

I am tickled with my basic equipment setup – everything fits into my backpack except the easel, which I carry separately. As you see in the photo, I rig up an umbrella to shade my canvas board and my palette. There are no trees here for shade – this is above the treeline, not far from the Arctic Circle.

Most of my days so far have been spent in the Sylvia Grennell Territorial Park near of the mouth of the river at Frobisher Bay. The banks are sprinkled with fishermen casting for Arctic char.

The land and skies here are huge and endless; the population is sparse. Out in the park, only one or two people pass by me all day. The solitude is refreshing and it helps me feel free to paint unobserved. I even talked to myself aloud as I worked to solving my painting composition and colours.

Now, I must break from my writing to go outdoors – there is an airshow on here right now and I can hear the low flying planes: part of Operation Nanook. Note to self: Google that later.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Inspired by a Book

Book Review

In Praise of Painting by Robert Genn
Merritt Publishing Company Limited, 1981

If you have a passion for doing something and want to make it your life, then I recommend you read In Praise of Painting by Robert Genn. You may know Genn as a prominent Canadian painter or from his bi-weekly newsletter The Painters' Keys with his friendly, insightful letters on various current topics related to painting, art, creativity and life.

In Praise of Painting, first published in 1981, tells of Genn's life as a painter and it soon becomes obvious why he is successful. He conveys his work ethic and his constant committment to what he loves. He writes of his work schedule -- 9 AM to 10 PM seven days a week -- with breaks for meals, family time and some social visits. He writes of being prepared, at any moment, to paint by carrying his equiment with him all the time to take advantage of the light or the view or a perfect scene when it arises. It is an inspiring, enjoyable easy read.

I am attending a workshop by Genn in October and am happy that I know a bit more about him from reading his book. I have a great respect for his achievements and his committment to painting.

Favourite quote from the book:
"If you maintain flexibility you can discover some surprising things in unexpected moments."

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Plate, Bottle, Bowl

Oil on Linen 11 x 14

This painting took me about a week of evenings plus the weekend to complete. I am surprised how wonky the plate looks through the bottle! That only came clearer to me as I carefully painted the details of it. The plate is special - it is one of the few left from a set given to me by my daughters on Mother's Day years ago. They woke me up and took me to the kitchen where breakfast was laid out on the table with a new set of dishes and cutlery with blue handles.