Night Portugal

Night Portugal 8×10 oil on canvas board

We’re focusing on nocturnal paintings in the studio at ArtCan Gallery. This was completed, alla prima, in the studio yesterday. I took the reference on a Portugal vacation a few years ago. Our hosts had bought an abandoned village in a eucalyptus forest and were busy restoring it. We had lovely accommodations in one of their finished houses, aptly named House of Stars though no stars were visible this night. The stillness, broken only by the cast light and shadow, suggested an old world charm I wanted to capture.

Art Challenge: Golden Ratio

Eric’s Camp watercolour

I was asked to select next Friday’s painting challenge and the golden ratio popped into my head. It’s based on the Fibonacci sequence and uses a ratio of 1:1.618 when setting up the composition of your painting. Some folks calculated a template for themselves but being math challenged, I printed an existing one and overlaid it on a series of photos to see which best fit the matrix. I left the sketch lines in so if you look closely you may see the pattern.

Turned out this little birdhouse picture I took at our friend’s camp fit almost perfectly.

I simply relocated the birdhouse from the centre of the image so that the peak of the roof hits the focal point at the centre of the spiral.

The golden ratio overlaid on the sketch paper with the birdhouse repositioned. Note that the far shore aligns perfectly and the tree limbs follow the long arm of the spiral.

I think the original photo already aligned with the rule of thirds so I’m undecided which is more pleasing to my eye when simply looking at the composition. Is there some ineffable improvement? I’m not sure.

Porter’s Point

Porter’s Point Watercolour

This is the view from my den. It’s my second painting of Porter’s Point where the Habitant Estuary opens onto the Minas Basin. The first one was done almost two years ago to the day. It’s also my first complete painting for 2021. I did it from the same reference photo I took a few winters ago. The original painting sold the following spring. Our group was given the challenge to submit a snow and ice painting. I suggested fire and ice and threw in a touch of red which I may still soften a bit. There was a bit of work to get the hard and soft edges right. Overall, I’m fairly happy with the results though. 🙂

Happy New Year

Habitant Estuary Dec 31 2020

Habitant Estuary – This is my last plein air of 2020. It’s above freezing and damp outside, which is passable, but the warmth of the house is more compelling. So, the view from living room window is it.

I succeeded in keeping my palette muted while capturing the subtle variations in the landscape. It involved walking away several times to let the layers dry between details. Not an easy thing to do.

I’m looking forward to another season of outdoor painting in the spring but will be working mostly in the studio over the next several weeks.

I’d like to thank everyone who’s encouraged and supported my painting efforts in the past and especially this year. It’s been a joy to share the journey with you! Wishing you Peace, Joy, Health, and Happiness in the new year! Much love – Gail

Gallery showing

Unchaste 16×20 oil on canvas

Five of my paintings are showing at the ArtCan Gallery In Canning, Nova Scotia through the month of December.

Stillpoint 16×20 oil on canvas

This is a group show with several talented artists.

Morning Glory 8×10 oil on canvas

All artworks are framed and will be available through the Gallery for viewing and purchase beginning Dec 5th through to January 1st.

Forest’s Edge 8×10 oil on canvas

Art is the gift you give yourself.

Morning Mist 8×10 oil on canvas

Sticks and Stones

I tried a three colour challenge again using the same colours I used on the trestle bridge painting. I finally gave up on the shadows and mixed indigo with the darks. My son mentioned it looks kind of dangerous. Perhaps it does but there is sunlight at the top of the hill. I like how the sticks and stones look like bones. There have been a lot of sticks and stones along the path in 2020, yet I feel optimistic that life will get easier for people soon. In the meantime stay safe everyone.

Twenty minute challenge

Minas Basin on Yupo

I snapped the reference photo for this while I was at an appointment this morning. The clinic has an amazing view overlooking the Minas Basin and we have a twenty minute challenge this week. I didn’t quite meet the parameters ‘cause this actually took fifty minutes to finish, including set up and retrieving a hairdryer to speed up drying time. It was a good challenge and the paper basically painted itself in places. Definitely worth attempting again on regular paper to try to cut the time in half.

Trestle Bridge over the Margaree

Trestle Bridge watercolour sketch

This was a three colour challenge. I chose cerulean blue, alizarin crimson, and Hansa yellow medium. Getting the darks was the most difficult part. I took the reference photo while on vacation this summer. We paddled down the Margaree River with friends early in the summer. The water was low and it was pretty bony in parts. Despite that, there was a bit of white water so we got to paddle a few rapids. There was one brief upset when our friends got hung up on a rock and the current tipped them upstream swamping the canoe. It was an easy recovery in the shallows. Once the canoe was bailed and reloaded we went on to have a great day spotting several fish on the bottom, and merganzers who, having large shared broods that time of year, also kept a close eye on us.

Old Stone Signposts – Cape Blomidon

Old Stone Signposts at Cape Blomidon
9×12 watercolour

These stone pillars stand at the entrance to the park at Cape Blomidon. I don’t know how long they’ve been there and can only assume they once held Parks Canada signs. They now stand as quiet sentinels for the tourists and frequent park users. I took the reference photo one day this summer on my way to a plein air site thinking I would tackle it later. Turns out our challenge this week is chiaroscuro (at my suggestion). Glad I had this in reserve… hope it works.

Creative exercises cont’d

Faerie Folk 8×10 watercolour and gouache

Today’s exercise was an interesting lesson in creativity… or “A funny thing happened on my way to an abstract painting.” I was continuing with Friday’s challenge of abstraction to reproduce an earlier painting using a variety of implements and techniques including sponges, credit card, fingertips, feather, and a quill pen. I admit to resorting to brushwork in the final layer but often chose the end of the brush, not the bristles. However, it’s far from abstract. It’s evolved into something completely opposite and feels stylistically more like an Arthur Rackham or Brian Froud illustration. A little presumptive on my part, sure, but I love fantasy art so that’s probably the direction this subject was destined for. I now believe the painting controls the artist and not the other way ‘round. I’ve included the original for comparison below.

Original watercolour