Sunday, December 29, 2013

"Loon Lunch"

I roughed out this painting based on a photo by Dave Hotchkiss. It took me a week to complete. The loon has a pretty firm grasp on the small perch. I think we know how this story ended. There are a lot of pan-fish in Singleton Lake. I am still working on this painting trying to make it better. It is a tough call when to stop. 

Christmas Blue Birds and Robins

These insect eaters should have left in the fall, following the insects and the warmer weather. They seem to be thriving and have switched there diet to include seeds. They seem to really like the red cedars and the little seed capsules. The one image clearly shows a male blue bird eating a red cedar seed. The male robin repeatedly shooed the blue birds out of a favourite red cedar. The birds survived the 17 mm of ice that accreted during the ice storm. Meanwhile I went around and cleaned all of the Peterson Blue Bird Houses.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Great Blue Heron - Fixed

My Brother walked into the studio and looked at the latest painting on the easel. "I like it but there is something wrong with the head". I always listen to my Brother so I had a second, third and fourth look at the subtleties. He was right. A micron here and there and I think it is much better now. You can be the judge. There is still some work to do...

Friday, December 13, 2013

Great Blue Reflections

This studio painting is based on a stunning photo by a good friend. We see great blue herons a lot at Singleton Lake and this painting is long overdue. They bring hours of enjoyment as they hunt the shoreline. They are slow to leave in the late fall and not even a full freeze-up of the lake is their clue to depart - they like Singleton so much. This painting is not quite done but you will get the idea. It is fairly large at 20 X 30 (inches). Right now the brush strokes are fairly tight and I need to loosen them up.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

50 Years of Our Flag Update

Brief History: Canada’s own flag was flown for the first time on Parliament Hill in the Nation’s Capital on February 15, 1965. This momentous occasion and the events that led to it have a strong connection and a special meaning for the City of Brockville and its citizens. The individual most responsible for the final design of the flag and the parliamentary proceedings known at the “Great Flag Debate” which resulted in the birth of the Canadian flag was John Ross Matheson, the Member of Parliament for Leeds County at the time.
With the impetus of the 50th anniversary of the birth of the Canadian flag approaching in 2015, a group of local citizens have created a project ‘ 50 Years of Our Flag” to raise awareness, commemorate and celebrate this significant milestone in Canadian history and link it forever in the hearts and minds of Canadians with the City of Brockville.

·         Raise awareness of the history and significance of the birth of a Canadian flag
·         Commemorate the individuals who were instrumental in its inception
·         Create legacy projects that will forever link the flag with the City of Brockville
·         Inspire a new generation to take pride in the symbols of Canada

Commemoration Plans:
  • ·         Website
  • ·         John Ross Matheson Way
  • ·         Brockville as the Birthplace of the Canadian Flag
  • ·         Install a 160 foot flagpole, 35x70 foot Canadian Flag and a commemorative plaque at the SmartCentre
  • ·         Original art depicting the beauty and iconic landscapes of Canada with the Canadian flag and the names of the contributors. Produce prints and educational materials to distribute to Canadian schools
  • ·         Fly More Flags both in Brockville and across Canada with support from Home Hardware
  • ·         Corporate Sponsorship of the Commemoration Plans
  • ·         Commemorative Stamp
  • ·         Create a large commemorative event for February 15,2014 and another for  2015 in Brockville

Monday, December 9, 2013

Foot Operated USB Canon Shutter Release

I thought I had it done! Read the Owner's Manual (Something a real guy never does). Bought a simple single pole, single throw switch. Did everything right. Even tested it on the Canon Powershot Pro1 before I soldered all of the connections. The camera clicked when I threw the switch so I thought we were 'good to go'. Wright? Duffice?...  My Canon is apparently one of the few that does not accept the USB, enhanced CHDK software - see". A foot operated shutter release would allow me to stay in the painting zone and keep my palette and brushes in my hands. I even built the switch out of recycled, weather proof plastic. It even looks good - at least to me. I just need to find a new, old Canon camera. This is just a little hurdle and I will still get this fun little project to work.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Singleton on Ice

The weather was amazingly mild with temperatures reaching 10 Celsius under overcast skies with blustery southwesterly winds. The ice on Singleton responded and drifted around. The air was full of the sound of ice edges crunching together. There was not much open water. The mergansers and the few small flocks of blacks and mallards stayed in the small patch of open water in the middle of the lake. Generally the lake was covered with jostling sheets of ice of different ages, thickness and colours. My homemade canvas had a lot of "tooth" which I really enjoyed. The canvas really grabbed the oil.

I did an experiment with another camera set up and focused to take pictures as the painting developed. This is nothing new except that it is a first for me. The act of simply "clicking" the shutter took me out of the artistic zone and I found that a bit (a lot) frustrating. I did some things and took some short cuts that I wouldn't have normally done. I was acutely aware that the camera battery was dying and the the rain showers along the approaching cold front were getting closer as well. I persisted though as I wanted to see how the experiment would turn out. This painting is more about the experiment than the art. I need to automate this entire process somehow. You can be the just whether this is worthwhile or not.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Jim Day Reflections

It was a mild day and I had some time to paint after my chores were done. The lone female merganser was still diving around to keep me company. Something quite large startled me with a big splash at the ice's edge. I probably startled it even more. It might have been either the otter or beaver that I had watched earlier in the morning. The blue birds were still hanging around.
I was interested in the gray colours of the sky, distant trees and snow. The warm shades of the exposed marble at the water's edge were the only hints of warmth in this view of my swimming hole. No swimming for me until at least next May! A chilly east breeze developed ahead of an approaching system. My hands got really cold and that hastened my painting along.
Painting Place the end of Long Reach at N44.52226 W76.10405 looking northwesterly across Jim Day Rapids into the frozen eastern bay of Singleton Lake.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Killarney - The Annual Adventure of the Southampton Art School

If anyone would like to participate in the Killarney Paint Escape for October 2014 - The Annual Adventure of the Southampton Art School - please let me or the Southampton Art School know very soon. The Southampton Art School Courses are being planned for 2014. We had a great time in 2013 but the class size could have been larger. The image is from the only cloudy day we enjoyed. You can contact the Southampton Art School from my favourite links. Happy Holidays... now it is time to go outside and paint...

Monday, December 2, 2013

Invitation to connect on LinkedIn

Phil the Forecaster Chadwick
From Phil the Forecaster Chadwick
Committee Member and Artist at 50 Years of Our Flag Project
Ontario, Canada


I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

- Phil the Forecaster

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© 2013, LinkedIn Corporation. 2029 Stierlin Ct. Mountain View, CA 94043, USA

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Singleton Snow Day

Snow is beautiful especially if you don't have to travel. We had about 30 cm of snow overnight. Light snow continued as I painted. The only sound was chatter of the mergansers on the lake and the hum of the backup generator. Hydro went out at 5 am and wouldn't be back for hours. It was a perfect day to paint. The forecast was perfect from my good friend Robbie Kuhn.

The scene is a tangle of branches and boughs weighed down by heavy, wet snow. I had fun.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Marble Sliver

My subject was a sliver of silver marble marking the shore of Long Reach. The colour may not be exactly "silver" but it makes a humourous dyslexic play on words that I enjoyed. The granite looking shoreline is actually marble which is limestone rock that has been melted and stirred around again. Here is another silly play on words as how can a round "marble" actually be a sliver? Simply, I liked the colours and the way that the relection of the trees played in the water.
Painting on the "toothless" panel forced me to again paint very wet on very wet and forget any mixing of the pools of oil. It was fun which is the only reason why I paint.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November Sunset

The sky was on fire. The approaching winter storm was following the warm conveyor belt carpet in the atmosphere. The reflection of light through the ice crystals of the cirrostratus emboldened me to make note of the many colours. Although I tried very hard I couldn't do justice to the beauty of nature in the sky.

There is almost no "tooth" to the gessoed panels so I have to lay the paint on thick - very wet on very wet. It is a fun change for me... painting with pools and swirls of oil and pure colour.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Common Mergansers at Singleton Lake

I suppose it is a sign of a very healthy ecosystem. The common mergansers have been on the lake for almost a week eating minnows. They actively and cooperatively corral their prey before simultaneously plunging under the surface to chase them down. They are very successful. When I put my canoe in the water or round a corner the sound of hundreds of these heavy birds making their surface running take-off is like the applause at a Jimmy Buffett or Great Big Sea concert... even though I am anticipating the sound, it always causes me to wonder just what is making that noise. That is a steel great blue heron in the foreground. It rarely moves except in a really big wind. There is still a real great blue heron on the lake. There are even blue birds still at the lake. They normally migrate in August with the insects.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Wilson Street Street Studios 4-day Back Country Art Retreat with Phil Chadwick August 6 - 10, 2014

There are only 8 spots available - the really long range forecast is for mainly sunny skies with highs of 25 Celsius - of course we can't rule out the chance of a passing shower or thunderstorm. The showers will be in the passing lane and not on the slower, right side of the road so it will all be "OK".
For more details, follow the links ... hope to have a full group!

Let me know if you are interested or if you wish further information. I am here to help.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

John Ross Matheson and Brockville's "Fly More Flags"

John was very moved with the ongoing support of Home Hardware and Brockville. On Friday November 22nd, 2013, the 50 Years of Our Flag Committee Chairperson Bob Harper showed John the coupon used by people to purchase a 3x6 foot Canadian Flag from the Home Hardware Building Centre. I was behind the camera with John's permission. The ground swell of support and pride in the achievement of the Canadian flag is starting to grow. The 50 Years of Our Flag Committee would like to thank John and the generous support of Home Hardware Brockville. Together we are doing great things.

Friday, November 22, 2013

MerryBookmas, December 14th at the 1000 Islands Mall, Brockville

I have been invited to participate with the Friends of the Brockville Public Library in their first Author's merrybookmas event. It should be fun. I have a few copies of the 2008 "Connecting with Nature" book that generated a significant contribution to conservation on the Oak Ridges Moraine. I also have one copy of the "Passion of Phil the Forecaster" which is a summary of my art up to 2012 - this is my copy and is for display only. I hope to have more published. The main book is the "Weather of Ontario"... and I hope to have quite a few copies of that one.

Looking forward to seeing you at the 1000 Islands Mall on Saturday Decemeber 14th.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Point Paradise

This is the "far point" of our Singleton Lake Property. The marble finger points to the deepest part of the lake which is about 49 feet deep. The red spruce that line the ridge of the point are probably older than Christ. The red spruce trunks are gnarled and marred by ancient scars so they deserve the respect of the ages as they eke out an existence on the rocky and minimal nutrients they can find. Every so often the wind will push one of the small "bonsai" trees over. New growth and seeds emerge from the root and life goes on.

There is almost no "tooth" to the gessoed panels so I have to lay the paint on thick - wet on very wet. It is a fun change for me... painting with pools and swirls of oil and pure colour.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Long Reach Rain

The title is meant to sound like the name of our lane as well as to describe the spits of liquid that I observed as I was making a note of the scene. This view is looking southeasterly across Chip O'Connor's point toward Long Reach. The thinner and brighter cirrostratus cloud on the southeastern horizon was being replaced by nimbostratus cloud and rain. The sliver of altostratus cloud behind the mid level deformation zone was a classic signature for the approaching low pressure area. The calm winds would be replaced by blustery and potential damaging westerly wind not long after I got back. The approaching storm had a precipitable water content about 300% of the climatological normals for November. Heavy rain and severe convection was likely. As it turned out, thee were more than 80 tornadoes across the United States.

The painting was completed on a panel mounted to a stretcher frame built by my Dad. Panels are conducive to the use of a lot of paint. I painted wet on wet. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Reach Long

The title may be the dyslexic version of our street address or it may refer to the way the reflections of the spruce and pine trees on the granite point extend well down into the painting - virtually to the gunwales of the kayak. Reflections tend to have a long reach if you are sitting very low in the water - as I was.

It was an overcast November day and I was having a lot of fun on the water. There were just a lot of ducks and geese and a single loon to keep me company. The overcast altostratus skies were a harbinger of the rain that was on the way. The first spits of rain would signal that the altostratus had by definition thickened up into nimbostratus. This happened after I had paddled just a few hundred more metres to the other side of Chip O'Connor's point.

The painting was completed on a panel mounted to a stretcher frame built by my Dad. Panels are conducive to the use of a lot of paint. I painted wet on wet and resisted the temptation to smooth out the brush strokes. It was fun and the energy in the paint is almost tangible.

Monday, November 18, 2013

November Altocumulus Singleton Lake

I was out for a rare November paddle on Singleton Lake. It was a beautiful day. This skyscape is looking northward from about the deepest portion of the lake. I liked the patterns in the altocumulus and thought this would be a good Christmas gift for a grand daughter - lots of paint and lots of fun.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

November Paddle

The loon youngster is still on the lake ... along with a great blue heron and hundreds of common mergansers. Those white dots in front of the kayak were only a small fraction of the mergansers that had taken flight when I turned a corner. It was a great paddle on a rare November day before the rain and winds arrive. The only recipe that is worthwhile to cook a merganser is the following...

  1. Take a pine plank soaked in water and lemon jouce for three days
  2. Lay the merganser duck on the plank
  3. Sprinkle with herbs and seasonings to taste
  4. Barbecue for 7 hours over a low flame
  5. Eat the plank...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fly More Flags Brockville and Home Hardware Building Centre

The 50 Years of Our Flag - "Fly More Flags Program" has partnered with my friends at Home Hardware Building Centre in Brockville. For only $15 and a Coupon soon to be printed in Brockville papers one can purchase a 3x6 foot flag for less than half price. What a brilliant idea! The image is a first draft of the coupon. Please remember to visit "" and the Aviva Competition.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November Sunset

The sun broke through between two thick and dark layers of stratocumulus. For about 10 minutes the forest along the edge of Long Reach Lane was on fire with sunset, sunlight. The colours and the tall white pines were so striking that I had to give a painting a try. It was Remembrance Day and maybe the sun was saluting with its own blaze of glory. I have painted these white pines before.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Shagbark "Nuts"

For the last several years we have had a bumper crop of nuts from the shagbark hickory in the front yard. They bounce off the metal roof. Normally I just leave them for the squirrels and chipmunks to harvest. This year I picked thousands of nuts and shared those with the Land Stewardship Council who also came to pick their own. They will start these nuts and then distribute the small trees to land owners in need.

I also scattered nuts throughout the property. We already have many shagbark hickories but a few more are certainly welcome. They are excellent mast trees and grow well on this land. I also placed a large pile for the squirrels to enjoy and plant. The cat must have discovered that the squirrels, mice and other rodents also like the pile of shagbark nuts. She stalks the pile of nuts full time. I try to discourage her from hunting but that is her instinct.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Trees on Fire

This blaze of colour was looking down the steep, slippery slope to the tops of the deciduous trees that line George Lake. It was a fun experiment to see if I could capture the moment. I was still working on the painting when  I snapped this picture. There was still much to do.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Killarney Chair

It may look like a single Muskoka chair on the granite but this was Killarney. It had to be a Killarney chair. The empty chair is either a happy invitation to come and sit awhile on the edge of Killarney Channel – to slow down and enjoy the fall colours. For those who view the glass as half empty, it can be a lonely chair vacated by those who left with the summer heat. Either way, I had fun capturing the moment in oil with a rather large brush.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Turtle Hatch 2013

The eggs are much slower to hatch this year - way slower than they were supposed to according to the literature. We have only given a handful of turtles a free ride to the water's edge. This is a northern map turtle. Some of the stink pot eggs may have hatched but I have yet to see any of the 3/4 inch sized babies. Maybe I should wear my glasses all of the time.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Singleton Lake Loons 2013

Singleton parent and chick -July
Two loon chicks hatched out from the nest on the edge of one of our rocky islands. They ignored the cedar floating raft this year but were still surprisingly successful. A pair of bald eagles grabbed one of the chicks in June. The surviving chick was still on the lake as of Thanksgiving - the parents having abandoned it for southern skies in September. 
Here is some extra in formation that I found interesting...

Loons prefer clear lakes because they can more easily see their prey through the water. The loon stabs or grasp their prey with their pointy bills. They eat the prey headfirst  and swallow the prey whole. Loons swallow small pebbles, similar to grit eaten by chickens, to assist the loon's gizzard in crushing the hard parts of the prey. Loons may inadvertently ingest lead pellets, released by anglers and hunters, that contribute to lead poisoning and the loon's eventual death.
Despite the roughly equal participation of the sexes in nest building and incubation, analysis has clearly shown that males select the nest location. Thus male loons and not the females, establish their territories. This explains why the resident males fight so hard to defend their territories.
Contrary to popular belief, pairs seldom mate for life. A typical adult loon is likely to have several mates during its lifetime because of territorial takeover. Each breeding pair must frequently defend its territory against "floaters" (territory-less adults) trying to evict at least one owner and seize the breeding site. Territories that have produced chicks in the past year are especially prone to takeovers, because nonbreeding loons use chicks as cues to indicate high-quality territories. One-third of all territorial evictions among males result in the death of the owner; in contrast, female loons usually survive. Birds that are displaced from a territory but survive usually try to remate and (re)claim a breeding territory later in life.
Most clutches consist of two eggs, which are laid in May or June. Loon chicks are able to swim and dive right away, but will often ride on their parents' back during their first 2 weeks to rest, conserve heat, and avoid predators.
Chicks are fed mainly by their parents for about six weeks but gradually begin to feed themselves over time. By 3 months, chicks gather almost all of their own food and have begun to fly.  Typically only one chick survives.
Singleton chick Thanksgiving weekend

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Gliding Squirrels

The Northern flying squirrel is one of two species of the genus Glaucomys, the only flying squirrels found in North America (the other is the somewhat smaller Southern flying squirrel which is moving northward with climate change). Flying squirrels are strictly nocturnal. From the picture you can see that they have large eyes and a flat tail. They also have long whiskers, common to nocturnal mammals. They prefer mushrooms and lichens as well as other typical squirrel food like nuts and eggs.
Flying Squirrels actually just glide.  Once in the air, they form an "X" with their limbs, causing their skin to stretch into a square-like shape and glide down at angles of 30 to 40 degrees. They maneuver well in the air, making 90 degree turns around obstacles if needed. Just before reaching a tree, they raise their flattened tails which abruptly changes their trajectory upwards, and point all of their limbs forward to create a parachute effect with the membrane in order to reduce the shock of landing. The limbs absorb the remainder of the impact, and the squirrels immediately run to the other side of the trunk or to the top of the tree in order to avoid any potential predators.
 Although graceful in flight, they are very clumsy walkers and if they happen to be on the ground in the presence of danger, they will prefer to hide rather than attempt an escape. That is likely how the cat hunted this one. Luckily I managed to extract it from the jaws of death – leaving it only with a salivated back.
Flying squirrels are generally under some form of protection... especially from me.

Distant Shores

By late morning the sun had taken the chill off the air and the fog was gone. I turned my easel toward the distant cliffs of the southwest shore of George Lake. That's my lunch in the brown bag... See the deformation zone on the western horizon? There is a low pressure area approaching. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sunrise at George Lake

Cool air was draining down the valleys into George Lake. Arctic sea smoke and the long shadows of early morning created a serene atmosphere as viewed from the beach. The lighting and fog was changing rapidly and I had to work fast to capture the moment. This was my "put in" point when I had my canoe with me.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Singleton Otters

Otters are elusive creatures to photograph. This one was playing and preening on the vacant swimming raft until I kayaked by. Sorry! We see them most during the winter - otters are active year-round but are mainly nocturnal except in winter. They may emigrate as a result of food shortages or environmental conditions, but they do not migrate annually.
The river otter is a member of the weasel family and establishes a burrow close to the water's edge. The den typically has many tunnel openings, one of which generally allows the otter to enter and exit via the water. A den is also called a holt or couch. Female otters give birth in these underground burrows, producing litters of one to six young.
The newborn pup is cared for by the mother, father and older offspring. Female otters reach sexual maturity at approximately two years of age and males at approximately three years. After one month, the pup can leave the holt and after two months, it is able to swim. The pup lives with its family for approximately one year. Otters live up to 16 years.
Fish is a favoured food among the otters, but they also dine on amphibians, turtles, and crayfish. The northern river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 31 lb) and is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur.
River otters are very susceptible to environmental pollution, which is a factor in the continued decline of their numbers.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Cliffs of George Lake

This is another view of George Lake from lucky Camp Site 77 looking more westerly towards the cliffs of George Lake. The granite was still wet and very slippery. The ravens were having quite a conversation and keeping us entertained. The deformation zone cirrus indicated that a synoptic scale storm was approaching - slowly.
Kids were jumping off the cliffs and swimming in the somewhat chilly water. 

George Lake

I have painted from this precise location before. Campsite 77 at Killarney Provincial Park offers the best view of George Lake from atop a huge granite cliff. The clear night had allowed the granite to cool and it was now “sweating” in the warmer and more moist air mass the accompanied the southerly breezes. The slippery rock surface made it quite treacherous to get too close to the edge. A curious and sure-footed red fox checked us out as we painted. I expect that others might have fed the handsome fellow.
There is so much in this vista that one has to pick and choose just what to include. Every time one attempts to “plein air” this scene should produce a different result. I think this is my fourth attempt to do the scene justice.
I have gotten to know the “Friends of ‘Killarney” over the years. They continue to keep the area as one of the brightest jewels of Ontario. I have donated paintings to their worthy cause.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Walking Sticks... Who knew?

Walking Sticks... I didn’t know much about them so I had to do some research. Stick insects are part of the Phasmida order (3000 different species), the name of which is derived from a Greek word meaning “apparition.” Their average life span in the wild is up to 3 years. They have apparently become a favourite pet. Imagine taking your “walking stick” out for a walk...
The stick insect resembles the twigs among which it lives making it super camouflaged until they stray on to another surface. Females are normally larger than males. Many stick insects feign death to thwart predators, and some will shed the occasional limb to escape an enemy’s grasp. Others swipe at predators with their spine-covered legs, while one North American species emits a putrid-smelling fluid.
This is the common Northern Walkingstick. They feed on the leaves of many deciduous trees as well as clover (my lawn). Adult walkingsticks mate in the fall. Females drop eggs, one at a time, from the treetops. Eggs overwinter in leaf litter, and nymphs hatch the following spring. Walkingstick nymphs look like tiny adults and are only a few millimeters long when they are born. The nymphs wait until nightfall, then crawl up onto small plants. They continue to eat and grow, staying amongst leaves and twigs where they are well hidden. As they get bigger, they climb higher, until they are in the tops of tall trees.
Who knew?

Sunday, October 20, 2013


This group of trees was very near Red Rock Point. Another artist from our group was inspired by them so I thought that I would give them a try as well. The sun was still warming my back. It was a beautiful October day to be painting in Killarney. There was so much inspiration and colour in the scene that I had to be prudent on just how much was included in the plein air work. The painting wasn't yet finished when I snapped this photo but you get the idea. Do you like my Kitty Litter paint supply carrier?

Red Rock Point

This view toward the northeast is simply on the north side across the road leading to Killarney Light. That is why the artist and the chicken crossed the road. Painting conditions were still ideal and the warm sun felt great on my back. Turtles basking on the logs of Lighthouse Lake kept me company. If there had been a hammock nearby I would have joined them. Killarney Pond was to my right.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Baby Eastern Rat Snake

We have tried for five years to provide two nesting sites for the Black Rat Snake as it was known then. I see lots of baby rat snakes but they are doing well not because of my nesting boxes - at least not yet. The adult snakes I see are using their own nesting sites and that is apparently working well for them. The Eastern Rat Snake as it is now known, is safe on our property at Singleton Lake. I often see them weaving their way along the edge of the buildings. I showed this one to the grand kids. The snakes calm down after they realize I mean them no harm... plus they are quite harmless.