A bit of colour on the Mersey

Capturing the colours of autumn in Nova Scotia is the goal of many artists. The Mersey River retreat weekend was a great opportunity to play with oranges and reds.  

Two paintings came off the easel today with only one passable for posting.    

For the morning set up, I paddled out to a floating dock.

From the floating dock in the middle of the lake.

The plan was to capture the canoe in front of the mouth of the Mersey River.  The foam ended up looking like snow, and the colour in the reflections ran badly, turning the lake a muddy orange. Plus… the perspective on the canoe was off, making it look like a dory!  I gave up and went for a nice paddle instead.

Easel, paints and chair in the bottom of the canoe.
The foam makes cool patterns on the surface
Where the Mersey feeds into the small lake I paddled.
Fall colours in NS

The paddle lifted my spirits and after a good lunch I headed back out to find a less challenging view.

afternoon inspiration
My interpretation: A bit of colour

The afternoon painting was unfinished as the rain began to add a bit of unplanned texture. It gave a nice effect to the big tree on the right, but worried about all the colours running, I packed up quickly to join the other painters for supper.

As always, the critique at the end of the day was gentle and constructive. Muting the background colours would give better depth. Placing the large rock further to the left would balance the composition more. And, some of the foreground darks could be darker. 

Helpful advice is one of the best reasons to paint with a group. It’s always a pleasure to spend time with these artists.

A productive weekend for some!
Twenty paintings in all!


Mersey River

It was a busy day!  Lunch duty for ten people, and learning a new technique, with a new palette during the morning half of the workshop, led to some slightly burnt sweet potato and chickpea curry. 

The workshop with Roger Savage focused on using your brush like a sword, leaving lots of white, and laying down the right colour in a single stroke and not going back in.  

Roger Savage demonstrating technique

I was a bit intimidated by the white paper after lunch but I had a nice  view to start with.
nice views everywhere!

Naples yellow, aurelian, manganese blue, and English red were some new pigments we tried and while I can’t say I left things alone after the first stroke, I think I got a few things right! 🙂

today’s group effort

Pond at Horton’s Ridge Road Distillery.

A cold morning turned into a hot afternoon on Ridge Road.  The distillery was a great spot for the Plein Air Artists of the Annapolis Valley to meet for their second to last paint out.   There were outside picnic tables and tea and scones available for purchase.

I felt I made some progress capturing the fall colours, softening the hard edges and getting some accuracy in scale and perspective.

Settled in now at Mersey River Chalets with The Evangeline Artists for the next three nights for a painting retreat and one day workshop with Roger Savage. 

Quiraing, Isle of Skye

Quiraing, Isle of Skye 3″x5″ watercolour sketch

Another day of mixed weather, this time while sightseeing around Isle of Skye.  The autumn light in the rain gives the land an ethereal glow. I’m a little jealous of the UK landscape artists. 

Isle of Skye reminds me of many remote places I’ve been and yet it’s difficult to nail down a comparison. Scotland itself, has a beauty all its own.

We’re driving to Glasgow tomorrow for our final full day, then taking a flight home the next.  I can’t believe almost two weeks have gone by. Happy to have a few pictures to try to paint.

The Studio at Ceannacroc Lodge

I had some time this morning to sketch the front yard of the cottage where we are staying. The River Moriston flows alongside the road adding to the beauty of the mountains (visible through two sets of patio doors). 

Our friendly hosts, Ingrid and Christian, have done a beautiful job restoring the property. Named appropriately, The Road to Skye – The Studio @ Ceannacroc Lodge, it was once an artist’s studio and I feel very privileged to be here.

My little 4″x5″ sketch on scrap paper doesn’t do it justice but was still fun to do on a rainy morning. Despite the rain, we are having a good vacation and have decided to stay in this spot for an extra night.  

Overlooking Loch Loyne

Overlooking Loch Loyne.  Rainy days and sight-seeing have kept me from painting most days.  I have to admit though, I am in awe of the beautiful scenery in the Scottish highlands. The colours are just starting to turn. I painted today from inside a dry car while husband hiked in the rain along a trail to the left of this scene. 

Once upon a time 

Watercolour over pencil and ink in Moleskine.  The church behind our B&B in Edinburgh was the inspiration for a little fantasy sketch.  

I could have stayed true to the colours but since I was just playing around with my travel paints, and because there was so much lovely detail, I decided to keeep it bright while working with the evening light.  

I could talk about how far away from realism I got but I’ll just say, I made the tower fairly bright then decided I liked it. It went from there. 

There was some  reflected light on the back of the church but I chose to lighten it more to balance it with the towers, and so there wouldn’t be a dark lump in the lower half. The dark stains and shadows on the two back pillars were closer to the actual values.

I lost the slate blue in the roof so went for a verdigris look because I had already laid down the yellow, and blue and yellow… on the other hand I discovered some great greens.

If I saw this in a children’s book I’d want to read the story.  I hope you find it enchanting.