Alone at the Beach

Alone at the Beach. 15×22 watercolour on 300lb Fabriano cp
   I believe this is Mill’s Beach near Blomidon Provincial Park.   I paused working on this to do a commission and some smaller practices so it’s been propped up on my easel for a couple of months.  

I dove back in today, focused on the values more than the details which seemed to work really well, and finished it this afternoon. I only have a few little details to clean up. I guess I was a little too focused though; I missed lunch and an appointment, which is not something I do too often. 

This is the first time I included some figures.  They add scale and interest, and a central focal point.  I usually leave them out because, frankly, painting people is intimidating.  These were just a few little paint dabs so worth a shot.

If I’m allowed a little brag… my son said the shading on the cliffs was ‘masterful.’ Feeling pretty good about that! 😀
I’ll be offering it for sale along with other paintings and prints in the multicultural festival in Kentville this Saturday. I’ll be in the artist’s tent sponsored by Hardware Gallery.

Masking Techniques

Path to the Beach – 10×10 watercolour 140lb Strathmore cp
   The grasses in this painting were done with multiple layers of masking fluid.  I don’t use this product a lot but it seemed promising. Unfortunately, I ruined a nice chisel brush by going in while the layers were drying. And, because I used an inexpensive Strathmore paper (140lb), bits tore when finally I removed the sticky rubber. 

I did get some interesting effects but also used a rigger brush and some scraping.  

I would be happy to know if there are any tools out there for more precise application.  Also, if anyone knows a way to restore the bristles on my brush, I’d be grateful. 

Cheers 😊

The Long Wait

The Long Wait 15×22 watercolour 140lb Fabriano cp
This is a large commission of a smaller piece posted earlier (Driftwood – Bay of Fundy).  It was commissioned by friends who are sailing up from Portland Maine to Nova Scotia. They managed a night crossing of the Bay of Fundy a couple of nights ago and are safely tucked away in a small harbour on the South Shore. 

It was a first for them but they made port safe and sound. It’s good timing; Hurricane Gertrude is about to make the Atlantic a little large. 

I was reflecting on their trip while I painted this. It seemed appropriate for a number of reasons. I’m looking forward to seeing them!

Black Rock Beach

Managed a quick watercolour sketch of this well known beach on the Halifax Peninsula. Everything was going fine until I dropped a bit of Pthalo blue in the foreground to darken it.  

Pthalo Blue is sort of like that shirt from the ’70’s you see in the consignment shop and buy because you like the wild colours. Then it hangs in your closet for three seasons before you give it to goodwill. 

I’m thinking of removing it completely from my palette.

Stone Gate

The folks at the Tangled Garden, just outside of Wolfville, were happy to have a few painters capture some of the beautiful spaces they have. For a small donation of five Canadian dollars you can wander the gardens at your leisure.  It’s a few acres so there are a lot of painterly vistas. It was hard to choose.  

I eventually chose this stone gate and path partly because there was room to set up. Of course I went into unnecessary detail but I softened a lot of it when I got home. I redid the wall and the pillars and added some colour on the right to balance the picture. In hindsight I’d also put more pinks in the centre near the right hand pillar for balance.

I’m really enjoying “gardening” with my paints. And I’m happy with the storybook style I seem to have fallen into.  

The Tangled Garden makes and sells an assortment of jams, jellies, flavoured oils, and vinegars.  They also have their own flavours of icecream, and serve tea on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, in a lovely and whimsical converted potting shed that I hope to make the subject of a future practice.

The Butterfly Garden

 Another loose 30 minute practice in the Moleskine today.  My untended garden is getting overgrown with wild carrot which looks like Queen Anne’s lace, delicate pink musk mallows, and milkweed.  All are classified as weeds and the “real” flowers are getting too embarrassed to show their faces.   

I could weed it but then I would never have seen this beautiful monarch caterpillar happily surviving on milkweed leaves which is it’s only food supply.  

Monarch caterpillar on milkweed photo by gmisenor
pleinairpillar in moleskin

Monarch Butterflies are a threatened species so I keep a bit of milkweed around for them. I could transplant the geraniums, the peonies, the sedum, and the purple spikey flowers I don’t know the name of, and let the milkweed take over. Or, if I wait long enough, the weeds will take over anyway. 😊

The Duck House at Grand Pré

8×10 wc Canson 140lb cp

I love the tranquility of the gardens at Grand Pré National Park.  The ducks here are fat, indignant, and don’t know how privileged they are to have this lovely house to go into each night. I was told they are herded into it nightly because sometimes they don’t want to go. I imagine that’s not so tranquil for them.  The dragonflies seem chill though.Proud to say I didn’t use a single green in this painting. I worked mostly from primary colours.  It was a little too yellow when I finished so I added some darker willow branches and ultramarine to the pond when I got home.  The real pond was actually choked green with duckweed and Lilly pads. Nice for the bullfrogs that sang to us but we’re nearly invisible.
Thanks, Anne for the helping hand.
Since it’s Canada’s 150th birthday, we were given prepped Masonite tiles (bottom right) and asked to paint something representing Canada.  I chose the two turtles hanging out on the far bank to honour the indigenous  population that have been here for about 34,000 years.  Turtle Island is their name for Canada.   

The tile is in watercolour but they tell me it will go into a mosaic of 799 other tiles and be placed outside as part of an exhibit for the Acadian and Mi’kmaq celebrations that will happen soon. I’m looking forward to it.  I hope they use a good varnish or Turtle Island will wash away.

We ended the session with our usual round table critique!