Animals and Birds

Study for "Flamingo", 2019, 4"x4.5" watercolour

This is a 4″ x 4.5″ study in watercolour on 140 lb rough watercolour paper. It will be the basis for a larger painting I plan to start soon. My reference was a photograph taken by a friend, Christine Moss, from Bexley, Kawartha Lakes. She kindly granted me permission to use it. The two flamingos in the foreground need a little more contrast for separation but I can easily imagine this as a fun piece to do on a larger scale. I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll do it in oils or watercolours, but am anxious to get going on it. First, I must complete another painting I promised as a housewarming gift.

"Tyson", 2019, 7" x 8.5" watercolour (private collection)

This is “Tyson”. His portrait is the result of my first attempt at painting an animal in watercolour. It wasn’t as stressful as I had imagined it would be. I enjoyed painting his endearing face. The only time I have painted a dog portrait was in 1998. In comparing the two experiences, I can comfortably say painting this one was a cake walk compared to the other one. Mind you, the 1998 painting was a commission done as an exterior wooden sign, so considerably more stressful by definition.

"Autumn Chick-a-dee", 2019, 5"x6.5"", mixed media on watercolour paper, SOLD

Autumn Chick-a-dee” is a 5″ x 6.5″ mixed media piece on 140 lb rough watercolour paper – watercolour, gouache, and ink. It will be part of an exhibit of small pieces in July 2019 in Lindsay at the Town & Country Medical Clinic. It’s framed silvery grey frame with a white and blue-grey mat.

"Rooftop Gathering", 2016, 16"x20" acrylics on canvas

While on a walk down at the wharf in Centreville on Digby Neck, Nova Scotia I noticed crows gathering on the roof of a wharf shed. It was a pleasant change from the ever present noisy seagulls searching for offal and other pickings. The crows held my attention for some time. It was amusing to watch them interacting, especially when one flew in to claim a spot and there were ‘words’ exchanged.

"Evening Crow", 2017, 8"x10", acrylics on masonite

I kept a journal when we lived at the cottage on Portage Lake, Haliburton for 18 months. On October 3,  2007 I wrote about seeing a crow at water’s edge. Nothing unusual about that. Except, this crow fixated on something and stood absolutely still. At one point it lifted a leg but then slowly put it back down without advancing. What was it watching? Camera in hand, I opened the sliding screen door very slowly, fully expecting the crow to fly off. Surprisingly, the crow didn’t move. Out on the deck, I laid down on my stomach. Was this crow actually going to stay there for me? Yes, it did. I took two photos before it began to move further down the water’s edge, all the while remaining fixated on whatever it was watching. I never found out what had captured its attention.

"Loon Study", 2002, 11"x14" acrylics on masonite

“Loon Study” was a project completed during a 5-day course in 2002 with Canadian artist David Alexander Risk at the Haliburton School of Art & Design. This was an early learning piece for me. I was testing the waters to see if I was capable of moving away from the decorative arts. Although I didn’t paint anything else for many years, doing this piece was enough to tell me I should move on. I saw my mistakes but I also saw promise.

"Your First Warning!", 2017, 8"x10" acrylics on masonite

One spring day I was walking on the shores of Head Lake in Haliburton, Ontario beside a reedy section of the shoreline. I noticed several Common Grackles and Red-Winged Blackbirds and suspected nests were nearby. Then I saw a juvenile Red-Winged Blackbird perched on a tree branch. As I closed in just a little bit to take a photo of it, a male Red-Winged Blackbird gave me a serious warning. I was too close. I took a photo of him quickly and then promptly backed off. I waited a few minutes before easing back to see if he would accept my presence. He literally chased me all the way to the car where it was parked on the far side of a small clearing. He was right on me all the way. Can you imagine how far away that car seemed at that point? My lesson had been learned.

"Eagle Eye", 2018, 16"x20" oils on gallery canvas (silent auction item August 24, 2019 in Bolsover ON)

Near our cottage on Poratge Lake there’s a small marshy area dense with dead trees. Some of them are very tall. When I was out walking with the dogs early one morning I noticed a Great Blue Heron standing in its nest high up in one of the tallest trees. The heron with its grey plummage was barely noticeable amongst the greyness and denseness of the trees. I’ve captured it here as it was looking skyward. The dark pinks of the early morning sun altered the grey tones of the trees by giving a pinkish hue.  This piece is scheduled to be sold through a silent auction August 24, 2019 at St. Presbyterian Andrew’s Church in Bolsover, Ontario.

"Great Blue Heron on Portage Lake", 2018, 20"x20" oils (silent auction item August 24, 2019 in Bolsover ON)

Early one evening I saw a pair of Great Blue Herons out front of our cottage on Portage Lake near Haliburton. This was the first time I had ever seen a pair of herons. One of them moved further down the shoreline before I could take a photo of this serene evening scene. I decided to be true to my photo and paint what I had captured.  This piece is scheduled to be sold through a silent auction August 24, 2019 at St. Presbyterian Andrew’s Church in Bolsover, Ontario.

"Horse on Hilltop", 2017, 8"x16" acrylics on canvas

It was a hot sunny day with a slight breeze. I was out for a walk while on a visit with my sister in Barrs Corners, Lunenberg County, Nova Scotia. I was feeling thankful for the breeze to cool this inland place when I spotted a horse at the top of a hill at a nearby farm. The horse was lazily moving its head back and forth to catch the breeze on its hilltop perch. On a hot day down east, being inland can make a huge difference from being by the ocean. Like this horse, I relished each breeze as it came up. I took a photo, knowing one day I would paint this scene. I wanted to capture the breeze we had both enjoyed.

"Bird Study in Oils", 1999, 8"x10" oils on masonite, SOLD

I completed this early piece at a one-day workshop in Ottawa aimed at introducing decorative artists to the world of oils. By the end of the day I had decided oils were not for me. At the urging of an artist friend Michèle D. Roussel, I finally tried oils again in 2018. My gallery now includes pieces done with oils.

"Barn Swallows in Old Church Window", 2016, 11"x14" acrylics on canvas, SOLD

United Empire Loyalists built two churches in Centreville on Digby Neck, Nova Scotia. Both still stand. The window depicted in this painting is from one of the churches, now privately owned. I took my reference photo many years ago when some of the windows remained somewhat intact. The Barn Swallows serve as an element of perspective.

Centreville is a very old fishing village on the Bay of Fundy. It was originally named Trout Cove after the abundance of Sea Trout in a salt water creek fed by the Bay of Fundy’s tide. The trout disappeared once the tide-fed creek dried up. This fishing village holds deep roots for my family back to 1782.