Wild Pea, Everlasting 

I went to Harbourville today with the plein air group determined to keep it simple. It wasn’t.

At the two hour mark I had a very muddled, flat painting. Once home, I added some ink, some extra grass, and scratched out a few more highlights. It turned into an interesting piece, but not at all what I was hoping for. 

I was looking to capture the light in the delicate hues of the wild Everlasting Pea that grows along the rocky coast. I was unable to mix the colour I saw, but I think the looseness reads as a pea flower. 

 The opening in the rocks gave the sense that it’s not a spot you’d want to step in while the mud on the right looks a bit like a lions paw; and in the end, it’s the dark crevasse that seemed to be the focal point. 

I spent a lot of time trying unsuccessfully to get the right values on the granite and earth around the opening to emphasize the void. I’m not sure why I was so drawn to it. Maybe the flowering peas are not really so light and only grow there to lure in unsuspecting artists… but that sounds a little like a fairy tale for another day.



The bullfrogs in the ponds serenaded me as I painted this gazebo at Blomidon Inn after lunch.

One checked me out as it leap-frogged across the path to another pond behind me.

The bulk of the work was bullrushes and trees. I managed to come up with some resemblance of them in about an hour with only two greens in my pallet. Maybe not one for the wall but I’m getting faster.

Waterfall at Blomidon 

This week’s plein air is of the waterfall at Blomidon. With beautiful sandstone cliffs on either side, I turned my back to the ocean and large sky, to choose this site because of the challenge of the water spilling over the rocks and because in a few weeks it will be gone.

I took a minute to clean this up at home with some helpful tips from the group at the end. A blue wash worked on the rocks for wetness. Also, I decided to scratch out the fine detail for the sprinkling traces of water rather than use a white wash. Still a little thick with the pigment in some spots but I think it’s post-worthy so it’s definitely better than last week’s!  

There were two small children who came to play at the base of the falls while I was working.   They only stayed for a few minutes but they would have been great to add scale.  The cliffs and falls are about 40′ tall.  It may be time to start practicing some figure painting. 😜


Staying at the cottage this week has been fairly productive. This is the third painting I’ve completed in three days. It was from a photo I took years ago at a spot where we purchased some grape vines, hostas and saplings for transplant.   

I’m lucky if I can do one painting a week at home.  Must be all the plein air practice.   

Right now I feel the tones are balanced but it’s unusual for me to approach a subject with such a light touch. If you have any thoughts on whether I should increase the contrast by deepening the value of the shadows a bit, please let me know in the comments?

At the cottage

This is the plein air watercolour I did today.  Last week’s didn’t turn out so no post for that one.  Its all part of figuring it out. 

The Art Show and Sale took up all of yesterday, so I squeezed in this little painting after lunch and before guests arrived. 

Based on some generous advice, thanks Graham (Graham McQuade Fine Art), I made a few decisions to help simplify things in the limited time I had. 

There’s a forty foot drop down to the water, so the fence at the edge of the cliff got left out, along with a blue bench and a picnic table.  The greens in the background are a little too vibrant and could be muted with some red but I didn’t want to spend time thinking about it beyond laying down the shape. Also, the chair to the left of the fire pit turned out better than the one on the right but they sit nicely in the composition so I resisted redoing the right one. 

I like the shadow from the tree but I’d also like a little more white reserved in the chairs, fire pit, and tree trunk. I’ll get there eventually.

The plan to stick with simple shapes and colours seemed to work and I can see the potential.  We’re off to Blomidon this Thursday… familiar territory.  This time I’ll try to get the hues correct as well as reserve a little more of the white.

Farm at Round Hill

My plein air attempt of a farm at Round Hill on the Annapolis River.   After a rainy and cold start it turned out to be a gorgeous day!

These lands once belonged to the Acadians.

Hopefully I’m getting the hang of this. It is so challenging to paint quickly. Some in the group felt my sky was the most successful bit, but I was more pleased with the farm and field across the river.

I looked for the light and found it there.

My second attempt of the day was not post worthy.  I was on a bridge with moving water and it didn’t take long for the black flies to discover me.   My concentration went out the window as I brushed away at the flies instead of the painting.

Lunch was served in the community hall and the critique was helpful.


The Beach at Cape Blomidon

The Beach at Cape Blomidon, Bay of Fundy, NS – 15X22 WC 300lb Fabriano cp
I think this is a good stopping point for this painting of The Beach at Cape Blomidon.

I tried to convey the enormity of the beach while still getting across the idea of how large the cliffs are.  It’s hard to capture the particular red/orange of the sand and cliffs.

Standing there with winter jacket and camera in hand, it felt like the land was starting to breathe again, too soon for leaves but lots of colourful promise in the trees.

Cape Blomidon is the home of Glooscap, a creator figure in many local native cultures.

It’s intended to be a companion piece to this painting Spring Tide, which looks in the opposite direction.  Hope you like it.  These will both be for sale in the upcoming exhibition on June 10th in Port Williams and will be on display at The Landing Spa and Studio in Canning, NS.