Friday, January 31, 2014

Yellow Waterlily

The yellow waterlily in the painting is actually a "nuphar pumila". Don't be impressed as I had to look it up. Nuphar species occur in ponds, lakes, and slow-moving rivers, growing in water up to 5 metres deep; different species show adaptation to either nutrient-rich waters (e.g. N. lutea) or nutrient-poor waters (e.g. N. pumila). I would have thought that Singleton Lake was nutrient rich. Maybe that is a good thing though indicating that the water quality is actually good and not "enriched" by effluence from people or septic fields.
Lily pads are still my favourite. I plan to paint some more... on those days that are too cold to paint outside. The afternoon sun was from my right when I was out in the canoe on this particular day.

By the way, Sunday is February 2nd and thus Ground Hog Day. It is unlikely that Singleton Phil will see his shadow even after he digs out his burrow. That means there will be 6 more weeks of this winter - otherwise spring is almost here with only a month and a half of winter left!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Grace Gallery - Sydenham

I am participating in a new show with some good friends. The show starts the Day Before Ground Hog Day. As you know I will be very busy on February 2nd looking for my shadow. As most know, if I should see my shadow on the 2nd, I will be scared back into my burrow and there will be 6 more weeks of winter. Otherwise there is only a month and a half of winter left. Rejoice and wait for Singleton Phil's Furcast.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Phil the Forecaster Visits the CBC Weather Centre

This is kind of like Mr. Deeds Goes To TO (Toronto). It is a challenge to pry Phil away from the back woods. The pictures tell the story.

The Polar Vortex

Can we talk about the weather?
Just like the circus act that juggles plates on a stick, meteorologists juggle two plates – one over both of the earth’s poles. Each of these spinning plates is a circumpolar vortex but the one over the Canadian Arctic has hit the main stream media and become famous as the “polar vortex”. The jet stream wraps around the polar vortex directing Arctic air far to the south.  The larger and stronger the polar vortex, the further south the chilly Arctic air is delivered by the jet stream. The polar vortex is strongest and thus more newsworthy in the winter when there is no sun and 24 hours of darkness. Minus 2 in New Orleans is enough to chill out the preparations for Mardi Gras and six inches of snow has paralyzed Atlanta, Georgia. The blue sky blizzard in southern Ontario might be very rare but still can be attributed to “winter in Canada”.
I expected an El Nino pattern to explain the current polar vortex but the ENSO is apparently in a neutral phase that is expected to last into the summer. The El Nino pattern of a large ridge of high pressure on the west coast and a deep trough over eastern North America would have given a perfect home for the current polar vortex over Hudson Bay and northern Quebec. A fresh supply of fresh, chilly Arctic air would be delivered southward by such a large cyclonic circulation. Alas, El Nino is not to blame.
These large amplitude blocking patterns can also be the result of a weakening jet stream. The mean speeds of the jet stream have reportedly diminished by 15% in the last 15 years – more or less. I partially use these numbers because they are easy to remember. Climate change and the greater warming of the poles as compared to the equatorial regions have diminished the temperature contrast between the two regions. Less temperature contrast results in a weaker jet stream – the simple thermal wind equation. It is paradoxical that warming in the Arctic can create a stronger polar vortex in a higher amplitude atmospheric pattern that delivers the cold air further south.
None of this is new. The term “polar vortex” has been used since the 1950’s and climate change was important from my early days as a meteorologist starting in1977. What is new is to see these changes evolve within one’s own meteorological career. Atmospheric blocking patterns used to be rare. They are much more common now with the meandering and weakening jet stream. I even wrote a COMET module on them included within the Satellite Palette because of their importance to weather prediction. Some notable 2013 severe rain events like those in Boulder, High River and Toronto were all linked to atmospheric blocks. The associated areas of fair weather in the blocks do not make the news.
Meanwhile in the upper ridge portion of this polar vortex pattern, California is hot and dry with record low relative humidity (5%), it is sunny and mild in Vancouver and Alaska is warm with rain. Heavy rains, snows, and warm temperatures helped to trigger a‪ series of huge avalanches that have blocked a 100 km section of the ‬Richardson Highway, the only road into Valdez, Alaska (population 4,000), located about 200 km east of Anchorage.
Atmospheric blocks of a bunged up atmosphere is what all of this is about and just maybe these will be the new words that the media sensationalizes. I can hardly wait. Do not expect the Numerical Weather Predictions to do very well with these patterns.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Singleton Lily Pads

Lily pads are my favourite. The colours of green are countless and transform with the light. The overlapping shapes are also interesting. Although they turn brown and wither, lily pads never get old for me artistically. I will paint some more...
This is a "SSS" painting - a small, slippery surface painting on a panel mounted on one of my Dad's stretcher frames. There is no tooth to the surface so one is force to go wet on wet. It was a fun experience.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Lily Swirls - and Please Ignore Weird Posts - They are not from me!

I made some more time for lily pads. They are fun. I liked the lilies than have gone past their prime and were more brown and orange than green. I used all of my blues and yellows to mix just the right colours for these lily pads. I do not as a rule use green paint. With no tooth on the panel surface I had to swirl the paint on to the panel in pools of colour. What could be more fun?

You may have noticed some very weird posts. My research shows they are probably "referrer spam hits from search engines" and somehow the entries are posted on my site. I have contacted Google twice to correct this problem. Linked-In change of password notification posted on my Blog is an example of this or maybe another problem. I just want to paint and share the art - and not worry about the dark side of the web. Please bear with me while I track this problem down. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Long Reaching Sunrise

The sunrise was striking ... and very fleeting. A low pressure area was on the way. The rising sun illuminated the bases of the thickening cloud in a fiery display. The colours change by the minute. As soon as the sun angle gets higher than the cloud bases, this light show will vanish in a flash.
I love to paint skies - each one tells a story. This sun rise would have a long reach (on Long Reach Lane) and impact the weather story for the next couple of days. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

In the Birch's Shadow

The old white birch could be anywhere but it is not. Apparently it was a significant tree almost 100 years ago - if I have my facts right. The fact that the birch is still standing is a bit of a miracle for birches. Frankly I find it hard to believe that a birch can live that long. Just perhaps it only dates from 1956 when Judge William T. Little located Tom's grave "about twenty feet north of the cemetery fence". This birch is described in Little's book. The fencing around the Mowat Cemetery has not done nearly as well. Anything man-made is fleeting - just like this painting.
Regardless, the midday shadow of the old birch points to the resting place of one of Canada's most talented artists. His craft and artistry spoke volumes and does not need any mystery to keep his legend alive. The real tragedy is that Tom was on the verge of creating more spectacular works of Canadian that we can only wonder about. Tom still lies at Mowat and the site is a touch-stone for many Canadians.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Singleton Sunset

Aleta Karstad and her husband Fred Schueler came to Singleton Lake for a visit. We saved just enough time to paint the setting sun, from the relative comfort of the sun room. Does this qualify as plein air painting? I don't think so - but it was fun.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Wedgewood Author Series - This Wednesday January 22nd

We all talk about the weather but there is really so much more to learn. The sky is like a book and we just need to learn a simple vocabulary in order to read and better understand it. I will be talking a bit about the "Weather of Ontario" next Wednesday. Please come - it might be fun. It will be different! I will have copies of the book for you to take home and study. Note there is "no exam" following this presentation.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Old Birch

This old white birch could be anywhere but it is not. It is in the Mowat Graveyard not far from the resting place of Tom Thomson. The Mowat site is a touch stone for several generations of Canadian artists and Canadian enthusiasts. Tom was never moved from that site.

The skeleton exhumed by Judge William T. Little in 1956 was re-buried and marked with a cross. Roy MacGregor believes the small cross currently at the Mowat Graveyard was erected for a documentary film in 1969 and is not the same wooden cross erected by Little to mark the grave site that he and his co-workers discovered. This cross is twenty feet north of the cemetery fence. Roy MacGregor says the exact location of the reburied remains is somewhere else "in the tangle of raspberry canes, dead spruce, rotting leaves and pine needles, somewhere beneath the saplings fighting for light and the lovely yellow wildflowers that grow all along the trail up to his grave. . . ." My friend Neil J. Lehto has studied and written extensively on the Tom Thomson story. His book "Algonquin Elegy" is well worth the read. 

Wilson Street Studio Art Retreats for 2014

This will be fun. Come, canoe and paint in the Kawartha Highlands. I can promise some stories and the official long range weather forecast is "partly cloudy with highs near 25".
Kawartha Highlands PP: 5-days-Wednesday Aug. 6 to Sunday Aug. 10, 7 artists maximum, with room for some spouses/partners. This is a canoe-in, self-supplied retreat. See site for more details.
Artist: $600 (no discount for non-artists) Canoeing experience suggested. At least one portage involved. Canoe provided.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Carbon 14 at the ROM

Carbon 14: Climate is Culture
"Four months of cultural engagement visioning the challenge and the possible future, a unique and powerful narrative engagement with what is one of the most pressing issues of our time, climate change."

Carbon 14: Climate is Culture is the inaugural programming coming out of the North American office of Cape Farewell – the Cape Farewell Foundation, based in Toronto. It is a two-year project that began with an intensive workshop on the shores of Lake Ontario in the fall of 2011 and continues with a wide range of programming activities, culminating in a major exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum's (ROM) Centre for Contemporary Culture, a performing arts festival with The Theatre Centre (Toronto), and a rich series of public programs and events.

My entire 14 minute Carbon 14 interview was recorded on the first and only take. It was not scripted. There was no make-up and no tele-prompter I could have really benefited from both. It was an honest and off the top answer to an honest question. Climate change is a reality. To deny the science or doubt the observations is to be totally blind to reality. Ironically it was a really cold and windy day in Downsview. That is weather. It was still milder than what climate would have suggested.

I plan to go to the Carbon 14 exhibit when I get a chance. This video is only a snippet of the interview and I 
chopped it and degraded the video to make it fit. This is an experiment for me. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

January Grays

This painting was inspired by the "plein air" westward view across Singleton Lake yesterday (Wednesday Jan 15th). The wind and the snow made it quite impossible to complete it outside - so I finished it in front of the wood stove in the studio. Life is good...
Supportive friends have generously compared my art to a couple of very famous artists. I greatly admire these long diseased talents and thank those for their very kind comparisons. The reality though is that every artist has to find their own way and the path to their destination cannot be known until they get there. Even then they might not be quite sure just where they were going. I still don't know my destination but the ride is fun. I don't need much so I am free to follow my path wherever it will lead.
For myself, the finished art seems to be more a function of the subject matter, the weather and the painting surface. Recently I have been having fun on several small slippery surfaces. These "SSSS" paintings are a joy for me to create. They also link me to my Dad who made the supporting frames from the cedar post of the back stairs of the home on East Avenue, Brockville. Parts of the post were rotten and after making the repair, Dad cut down the rest of the 6x6 timber to make stretcher frames. Waste not - want not. Many of these have been stretched with heavy canvas while some have been finished with plywood. The heavy canvas has a lot of tooth but the panels have almost nothing to grab the oil paint.
Anyway, the "SSS" paintings benefit from the strengths of oil paint - lots of texture and colour. Yes, artists have completed paintings like this before. Just because our paths overlap doesn't mean that I am copying their work. I paint for myself and my own sense of creation - but "thank you" for the very kind and complementary comparisons.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Passing of John Ross Matheson

I wrote this entry on December 27th but waited until now to post it.
"I will be brief... It brings me great sorrow to report the passing of our friend and co-worker John Ross Matheson on  the morning of Friday December 27th, 2013. The loss is the most endearing and emotion felt at this time and we offer our prayers and thoughts for every member of the Matheson family.

Canada has lost a true Canadian icon with John’s passing. The 50 Years of Our Flag Committee can only hope that what we have accomplished in the past few years combined with what we will accomplish in the next year, will bring the Canadian people closer to understand the magnitude of what John Ross Matheson gave to his country.

Beyond any doubt, he is and always should be remembered as a patriotic hero, a loving husband, Dad and Grandfather. To the members of the 50 Years of Our Flag Committee it will always be a true honour to let everyone in the world know, he was our friend.

The accompanying picture is one I took in late November. Bob and I were with John discussing some of the coming projects of the 50 Years of Our Flag Committee. The twinkle in his eyes and the smile on his face tells the entire story - John loved life and helping others. The picture in his hand is of the Muir Maple tree but that is another story. This is how I wish to remember our friend..."

Monday, January 13, 2014

Lawrence Nickle - A Painter of Canada!

A very good friend and great artist, Lawrence Nickle passed away on January 3rd, 2014. Not enough Canadians knew his art. That is a shame. Those who knew his art, know their value and how they enriched our society.
Lawrence's art was spirited and honest. He had a style reserved for his plein air painting and one reserved for his studio work. Deep layers of paint were piled on top on each other in the studio. I asked him why? He said he didn't get the colour right the first time and he kept laying paint on until he did. I have and treasure one of those layered paintings.
I spent more than just a few nights on his flop down bed and enjoyed his generous hospitality and back yard salads. After a day of plein air art our conversations touched on virtually everything and we (mainly Lawrence) solved most of the world's problems if only someone would listen. He had a deep philosophical understanding of the world. I had hoped to paint again with Lawrence in the spring before the bugs emerged but those days are gone.
Lawrence liked my analyses of the weather and lamented that the Group of Seven painted clouds "like they were boulders in the sky". Lawrence depicted brilliant skies and listened patiently while I applied "Creative Scene Investigation" (CSI) to uncover the weather he painted them under.
I have many more "Lawrence stories" but you get the idea. Lawrence will be missed...

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Paradise - Follow-up to Ontario Storm Prediction Interview

I had some requests for a better view of "Paradise" that was hanging over Dave Phillips left shoulder in this interview. The full interview "One on One with Peter Mansbridge" plays today. That painting has evolved into my signature piece. I still try to produce a painting that I like better but that is very tough to do. I have been offered crazy money for it but "Paradise" is one of only a very few that we have held on to.
It was a special Sunday afternoon (February 21st, 2001) and the paint just flowed. It was a time before my Dad passed away, before 911, before the recent wars - a simpler time when all that mattered was getting to the end of the portage from Bass to Shoal Lake in Restoule. I painted this from photographs but more importantly, from the memories etched in my brain. Maybe that is where the best art has to come from?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Singleton Loon

This loon was just off the granite point at Singleton Lake. We started the loon nesting platform program around 2007 and it has been used and successful most years since. They are actually quite large birds. When a loon enters the bay, all of the ducks get "out of Dodge". The painting is actually not as "tight" in the brush work as it might appear. There are some pretty loose strokes and I hope that gives some life and energy to the loon.

Friday, January 10, 2014

CBC Interview at the Ontario Storm Prediction Centre

My buddy Dave Phillips once again educated and entertained without stepping over the Climate Change line. For those who missed it the One on One interview with Peter Mansbridge will be broadcast on Sunday. My main goal for this post is to highlight my painting "Paradise" hanging over the desk of the Shift Supervisor - clearly visible over Dave's left shoulder. That is probably the most exposure my art has ever had. Peter looks amused.

Sorry that I have not Blogged for a couple of weeks - life gets busy. I plan to head out to the studio right after this :>))

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

LinkedIn password change confirmation


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