Saturday, April 25, 2009

Chocolate road - completed

Chocolate Road
6 x 12 oils

I spent some time early this morning and again late this afternoon finishing off this piece. The trees were problematic and I really need to practice more with them. En masse, like this, I needed to concentrate on subtle light and colour changes within them. Not much is green this time of year so keepting the colours that are there subtle is a challenge.

I spent most of a fabulous spring day out wandering the southern shore of the Avalon, searching for new inspiration in sea and land. I walked the East Coast Trail to La Manche and was rewarded with some stunning views of an abandoned village on the edge of towering cliffs above the ocean.

The hike to the cliffs was about 1.5km over a trail that was rough in places, steep in places, and fit only for mountain goats in places, but I made it there and back not too worse for wear. I need to take up running again to get back to the level of fitness that makes a hike over terrain like that not quite so strenuous!

In the abandoned settlement there is a suspension bridge leading over the water and upwards further onto the East Coast Trail. Suspension bridges, while fascinating, won't see me set foot on one unless life and limb depend on it so I just took a photo of it instead.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The chocolate road

There is a little path on the road to my house that leads off to a marsh. Because the area is wet, it often fills with water, especially after rain or melting snow in spring.

I always look up this road as I pass it just in case a moose is waiting to jump out at me, but often to check how much water is there and see the reflections in it. As I passed it the other day, obviously some ATVs had been through the road, likely hauling wood out and had stirred up the already muddy lane. It reminded me of a path of melted chocolate and I decided I'd like to paint it.

I painted this road last summer when it was fresh and green. Now in early spring, there isn't much green to be seen except for spruce or pine trees. There are tinges of reds and purples in the bare branches of dogwood and alder fading into the distance.

I started this piece tonight on a 6 x 12 gallery canvas and hope to finish it tomorrow.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Rhododendron bud - VSD April

Working through some logistical problems, I'm now calling this attempt at my rhododendron bud for this month's Virtual Sketch Date complete.

I started off with a pencil drawing on Arches 140lb paper, then added the base values for the flower. I covered the flower with masking fluid and did a watercolour pour for the background. It didn't go exactly as planned but isn't bad.

When I removed the masking fluid, it roughened the paper in spots, making it difficult to add detail to the flower. I tried more layers then thought I'd add some pen and ink to it. Of course then I couldn't find my Rapidograph and started in a dark blue ink Micron pen. This morning I finally found my pen and added some more touches to the piece tonight.

Am I happy with it? Not completely, but isn't that the way with all pieces we create? There are elements in this which work better than others and I think I may use this reference again with a different medium and see what happens.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Water on Earth Day – Newfoundland’s pristine reputation?

water over rocks

Newfoundland benefits from being an island in terms of its ecological footprint on the earth.  Lack of industry limits pollution of air and water, but the simple act of living creates its own challenges.  Raw sewage still pours into the ocean from harbours, as it does in many parts of Canada and the world.  The problem is being addressed, but it will be years before the harbours are fit to see anything besides seagulls in them.

There has been clean up of rivers in the past few years and one success story is the Rennies Mill River which now teams with fish and wildlife.

caplin 2 smlshell final hi res small 

fish print 1 sml

Fish are the equivalent of the canaries in the mines and are the first to show that something is not right with the water.  Frogs as well are never present in polluted waters.  I am lucky where I live in that both are there in the water that flows from its source to the sea.  If they leave, I will know there is a problem.

 pouch cove 1     IMG_1221w

The Atlantic ocean is clean by many standards but still poses problems for fish and mammals that make it their home.  The fishing industry is dead or dying so the incidents of whales becoming entangled in fishing nets is limited.  Ghost nets still roam the sea, making life a misery for those who encounter

Plastic carrier bags and rings that hold six packs of cans together cause death on a  daily basis for both sea creatures and those on land through slow suffocation or entanglement.

While Newfoundland is blessed with clean air and clean water, we still have a way to go towards a cleaner environment and a smaller footprint on the world.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Inspiration Tuesday

Ryan's Gate - summer
click on the image to view full size

Welcome to Inspiration Tuesday. This image is yours to use under the Creative Commons license (see side bar) if you so wish. If you do create a piece of art with it, I'd love to see it.

There is something appealing to me about old fences and this is a favourite of mine. I've drawing it before in silverpoint, but in winter. It is the entrance to Ryan's meadow where hay is made each summer. The gate and fence are hand made from trimmed trees and hammered straight into the ground. They eventually rot with wet soil and weather but are generally fairly long lived.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rhododendron bud - part I

I've been working on the reference image that I used for this month's Virtual Sketch Date. Flowers are not my forte, but I like to keep challenging myself.

I thought I'd try a poured background for this piece and used a mix of acrylic inks and watercolours. The paper was 140lb but not as sturdy as I thought as it roughened the flower bud when I removed the masking fluid. This is the piece in its current state and I have to try to give the bud some shape as well as add in some leaves to balance the piece.

Stay tuned and cross your fingers!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The master syrup maker

Maple syrup is synonymous with Canada and one of the rituals that spell spring. It is delicious syrup but labour intensive to reach that final amber liquid.

This image is one provided by Paulette for a drawing challenge on Drawspace. She's lucky enough to have a relative who is in the industry - this is the syrup master at work, monitoring temperatures of the boiling sap. I did a quick sketch then added some colour to it.

Some facts about maple syrup:

  • Canada produces 80% of the world's maple syrup - the majority coming from Quebec.
  • Maple trees most commonly tapped for sap collection are Sugar Maple, Black Maple, Red Maple, and Silver Maple. These maple trees are common in the Northeast United States and Eastern Canada. The Sugar Maple and Black Maple provide the highest sugar content, and therefore are ideal for a better maple syrup yield and shorter boiling times.
  • Production is concentrated in February, March, and April, depending on local weather conditions. Freezing nights and warm days are needed in order to induce sap flows.
  • It takes approximately 40 litres (10 gal) of sap to be boiled down to 1 litre (1 quart) of syrup.
  • In Quebec, New Brunswick, eastern Ontario, and New England, the process has become part of the culture. One tradition is going to sugar houses (cabanes à sucre) in early spring for meals served with maple syrup. A typical offering is pancakes, baked beans and sausages, followed by a Tire sur la neige (in Quebec), maple taffee (in English Canada), and sugar on snow (in the United States). This is thickened hot syrup poured onto fresh snow and then eaten off sticks as it quickly cools.