Through the vineyard

7×10 watercolour reference photo Pixabay

I’ve started teaching a couple of neighbours how to paint in watercolour. They wanted to paint a fence so I found a royalty free image on Pixabay that was fairly simple. They got the chance to practice washes, mix greens, and learn some linear perspective. They did a great job and we got the opportunity to discuss copyright and permission to use other people’s images. My lessons are mostly student driven based on what they want to work on. Can’t wait to see what they choose for next week.

Fisherman’s Wharf, Digby

Feeling like things are opening up a bit, Susan and I drove to Digby to try our hand at the wharf again. I tried to put just enough information in to carry the busyness while trying to not overpaint. It came out somewhat as I planned. It was nice to see progress over previous paintings I’ve done at this site.

The Boathouse

10×14 watercolour on Arches 140lb cp

Enjoying a mini-vacation with friends in CB. After a boat ride, everyone went in to prepare lunch while I had the pleasure of sketching the boathouse. A stiff breeze kept the bugs at bay and a couple of high gusts off the Bras d’Or Lakes flipped my palette. The easel was well anchored though with almost everything clamped on. A perfect day ended up with a lobster supper around the campfire. Life doesn’t get much better.

I now have paintings for sale on my website at

Wind Blown Peonies

12×20 watercolour on 140lb Fabriano rough

Our group challenge was open this week and several friends requested I try painting some peonies that are blooming in my garden. I roughed-in a sketch of the blossoms then kept the under-painting fairly loose. The brush strokes and the tonal variations suggested movement. I simply followed those marks with some negative painting to tease out leaves and stems. I’m happy with the bit of drama. You can almost catch the scent.

Expensive Reflections

Wolfville Watershed Preserve. 8×10 oil on canvas board

Our art challenge this week was to tackle reflections. Susan, Jean, and I hiked into the Watershed Nature Preserve in Gaspereau and set up by Mud Dam. It was a perfect morning of painting and I feel I captured some depth to the water. On the way out we stopped to take some pictures of flowers and somewhere between there and the car I lost my phone. I sent a message for whoever found it to send me an email but I don’t feel very hopeful about it. I’ve since deactivated it and spent the afternoon changing passwords. This is the second time I’ve lost a phone while painting. Upon reflection… perhaps I should just leave it home.

Update: the phone was found by a friend of a friend who was also hiking that day and through the magic of social media they figured out it was mine. It looks like I accidentally ran over it with the car after I dropped it. The protective case was the only part that survived. It’s a relief to have it back though and I’m currently using the old case on my new phone.

The Hen House

I managed to get out to paint at a neighbour’s today. We were all socially distanced. Pia stayed inside weaving and I was outside painting. The sheep were in the pasture to my right, and I’m assuming the chickens were in the chicken house which I sketched in oils. The sun was hot and the sky was blue. I even had a little bullfrog drop by for a visit. It was idyllic.

Working from a B/W reference photo

Sheila 8×10 watercolour on arches 140 lb

I was commissioned to do this painting as a birthday gift for a cousin Sheila by her sister, Audrey. Portraits are not something I do a lot which was further complicated by only having a black and white reference photo. But I love a challenge so…

Choosing colours was left up to me. My memory of her hair was strawberry blond. It turns out my memory is a little faulty… apparently she was “mousy brown.” I feel the facial expression and the dimples are pretty close but the red had to go. Two attempts later and it still wasn’t quite right. The paper would only stand up to maybe one more try. I received a picture of another cousin with the correct hair colour and was reminded that hairdressers mix colours to achieve the right tint all the time. It was a great tip.

So, after lifting off most of the colour and perhaps a bit of the paper as well, I opted for the complementary colour of ultramarine blue to mix with the quin gold/burnt Sienna I had used in my original palette. It was a success and a soft brown hairdo was rendered. My cousin who commissioned it loved it and I can confirm (as it was delivered today) today that my other cousin loves it too. Happy to play a part in this birthday surprise.

B/W reference circa 1967
Third attempt and there was still a little more ginger than in reality.
Fourth attempt was a success with light brown hair and blond highlights.

Sketchbook: From Blomidon

From the top of Blomidon watercolour sketch

Deciding between setting up the easel in a cloud of black flies versus sketching in the sauna-like heat of the car was easy. This quick sketch from the picnic park at the top of Cape Blomidon, took about 45 minutes while the black flies danced hungrily outside my window. Black flies, ticks, and mosquitoes are some of the unpleasant aspects of painting outside in Nova Scotia. However, getting out of the house for a paint break is worth it.

Art Challenge: focal point #2

The Shed 6×9 watercolour on arches cp

The two doors in this painting seem like they might be competing focal points. One is closed but in the light, The other is open but dark. The opening hints at interesting objects that might be tucked away inside the shed. Also the pine boughs seem to be pointing to the right. So, while the red door might initially draw you in subconsciously we are asked to look at the open door with the promise of a treasure. And, who can resist looking for treasure? Let me know if you think it works.