Saturday, January 31, 2015

Singleton Phil Furcasts for Monday February 2nd, 2015

Unlike those other better known varmits, Singleton Phil relies on more than his shadow to predict the outcome of February 2nd - science! It is thus highly unlikely that Singleton Phil will see his shadow on Monday morning. There should be snow blowing in a raw northeasterly wind - overcast nimbostratus will block the sun and thus eliminate any chance of shadows. Some furcasters will gleefully refer to a "wintry mix" - not fit weather for any varmit to be outside their hole in the ground. An east to west band of freezing raining rain across Singleton Lake is  also a distinct possibility. Thus (oh Joy!),  there will only be six more weeks of winter.
Of course if Singleton Phil does by some miracle see his shadow and is scared back down into his Singleton Lake burrow, the saying goes that winter will persist for another month and a half. You do the math... but remember that this is a deterministic prediction and thus bound to be flawed - ensembles and probability are betters way to communicate the weather. Singleton Philly will save that information for another day.

By the way, Singleton Philly is not an albino. He turned gray in his thirties from worrying about getting the forecast right...

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

611 The Fence Line

 Another trip to the old fence line on the north side of Jimmy Coulter's farm. It was an overcast day and initially the sky was darker than the snow. This changed as the afternoon progressed. It was much milder with the temperature around minus 2. Once again, the area was marked by lots of tracks even though there had been a fresh snowfall of 8 centimeters or so in the morning.
The family Chesapeake stayed with me all afternoon and busied herself by chasing the mice through the snow and grasses. She would take large bites of grass and snow and shake the blazes out of it. I don't think she caught anything. 
This is the fourth of the fence line "trilogy". I guess you can call it a "quad". I won't go back again at least until the weather changes.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

661 The Fifth Line

This is looking toward the northwest around 8.30 am from the Fifth Line of New Tecumseth. The temperature was around minus 12 Celsius which was fine until the wind picked up. This is really quite an exposed location. I got some stares from the school bus drivers.."What are you.. crazy?"
I had to mentally crop out my painting from the huge panorama before me. My vantage point is about 3 kilometres northwest of Tottenham and just west of the Beeton Road that almost connects to the 12th Concession of King Township as you head southward.
Once again, I didn't have to try to not to overwork this painting. I was really cold by the time it was fully laid in.

Monday, January 19, 2015

660 The Ninth Line

This is looking toward the south-southeast around midday toward a distant range of hills topped by a couple of old barns. It was still quite bright even though it was overcast stratocumulus - so I tried doing the entire painting with my polarized sun glasses on. The temperature was around minus 10 Celsius but when the sun broke through it was really quite nice. My vantage point was about 3 kilometres east of Beeton on the Ninth Line of New Tecumseth and I was standing on the south side of the road.
I didn't have to try to not to overwork this painting. I was really cold by the time it was fully laid in.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

659 From a Distance

This is looking toward the west-northwest across the front field at the island in Kinnifick Lake. From this distance, there is no hope of discovering it either as an island or as a lake. It was mild at minus 3 Celsius but the wind was westerly at 30 to 70 km/h. A branch fell down and dented the roof of the Toyota Corolla. It was still cold enough to cause the canvas to come loose so that by the end, it was billowing back and forth in the wind.
I decided to paint a close-up of the island from this great distance with the idea that I wouldn't get distracted by the details I couldn't see without a telescope. I really just wanted to capture the colours and the mood of the island. Time will tell if I was successful. The title mirrors the song of the same title. Everything looks great from a distance but close up, one can really see the crude strokes. Up close, the island has just gone up for sale and one can see the lane built illegally across Kinnifick Lake from the east side of the 12th Concession.
I didn't have to try to not to overwork this painting. I would have be a frozen totem if I had tried to do that.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

658 Filtered Light

Another blast from the past...
This is looking into the forest immediately to the southwest of the barn. It was about 10 am when I locked in the light and the shadows across the snow. It snowed on and off and the snow stuck to the paint and my palette. The snow mixed with the paint on the palette making it "oat mealy". I liked the effect so I continued on. The nuthatches and chickadees were really talking throughout the painting. The family Chesapeake came along as well and kept busy barking at bunnies.
I tried not to overwork the painting.. It was virtually done when I left the forest. I just had to sign my name which was tricky in the thick wet paint already on the canvas. The title came to me because of the light filtering through the spruce forest. The title sounds a bit like an ad for a cigarette.

Friday, January 16, 2015

657 Hopping Down the Bunny Highway

This is no simple bunny trail behind the barn. This is a highway worn deep in the snow. It is the Highway 400 between the forest and the bird feeders and shrubs around the farm house. Every sunset, the congestion begins with bunnies whiskers to cotton tails on their way to supper. We usually see a big fat bunny arrive before sunset at the back feeder to be joined by 3 or 4 companions shortly afterward.
I wanted to capture the warm colours on the back of the barn contrasted by the cold colours in the snow and the shadows. I also wanted to tell the story of the big bunny highway.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

655 Winter Stratocumulus

This is the view from the backyard looking west at decaying stratocumulus in the winter sunset. These clouds are the remains of northerly Georgian Bay snowsqualls and they were producing heavy snow and blowing snow earlier in the day. However, now the surface was cooling and the blustery winds aloft were no longer making it to the surface. The snow had ended a few hours before.
I started this from life but the sun dropped below the horizon too quickly and I had to retreat inside to finish it. The clouds were also moving along quite quickly. However, I had taken the precaution of taking a picture before I started to paint so I had the required material to put the finishing strokes on the work. The Chesapeake and I were listening to the country station 95.3 FM and they played Garth Brook's "The Red Strokes" just as I was doing that. I may have gotten carried away with the expensive Gamblin red pigment because of the song - sue me. I scraped of my palette knife on the right side of the stretcher frame.

Monday, January 12, 2015

648 Great Horned Sunset

Late on Thursday afternoon, the clouds and the colours of the sunset over the back hill caught my eye. The family Chesapeake and I headed out just to the north of the farm house and I very quickly laid in the colours and the shapes. It was getting dark very quickly so I didn't have much time. The sunlight breaking through the clouds and the yellow-blue of the sky were the highlights I wanted to capture. A Great Horned Owl was hooting almost continually from the forest just to the north. He provided the soundtrack and the title for the painting.
The clearing that I was talking about in the description of the morning's painting was just starting. In another couple of hours, it would be clear.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

1492 Amazing Grace

Grace Lake is in the valley beneath and in front of the Notch looking from the north. The lake is indeed amazing for its beauty. We hiked into Grace Lake on Saturday September 20th, 2014 and it offered many, many fine vistas to paint and record. The entire area is nestled within the larger park of Killarney which offers even more painting material. This 3x4 foot painting is the son of #1464 "The Notch". I thought the plein air sketch could be even better with a larger format. It is certainly not an exact copy. I tried to increase the rhythm, space and depth in the larger work.
The canvas was on the easel for most of a month. I tried to apply only the brush strokes and colours that it needed without adding too much and killing the energy with a thousand strokes. Sometimes less is more. Sometimes more is indeed more.
The title "Amazing Grace" is a play on the Christian hymn with words written by the English poet and clergyman John Newton (1725-1807), published in 1779.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

646 Waking Up

Early on Thursday morning, the sun was just coming up and no one was home - except me and the pets. This meant I had some free time before I had to do my regular chores. There was not enough time to go far so I headed out on the back hill with Chessy and Maine Coon Cat. I wanted to capture the colours in the remains off the stratocumulus off Georgian Bay as well as the colours in the deciduous forest which was the Wolfson's old place. I feel the colours are right on.

Friday, January 9, 2015

645 Over the Hill

Another blast from the past...
I finished working on my Performance Measurement Publication for the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, CMOS and decided to catch the last rays of sunset on the front hill. The family Chesapeake and I headed up the hill and I started to paint the shadows and colours across the untouched, pristine blanket of snowsquall snow. The dog didn't waste any time tracking it up and before I knew it, the hill was a tangle of tracks and colours. It was too late to move to a new site so I painted what I saw until it got dark. The paints were freezing and so was I. The Chessy had a blast digging in the grasses for mice. When I was almost done, a sharp-shinned hawk cruised over the line of spruce trees and the next thing, a dozen or more birds scattered from the feeders behind the house like the blast from an explosion. I do not know if the hawk was successful in catching its supper.
The title is because the line of white spruce disappear over the hill along with the shadows and the grasses. It is also a phrase I use a lot when I don't know how far it is to our destination. I always say that it is "just over the next hill". Usually it is much farther.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

644 Sunup on a Snowsquall

Snowsqualls are in the weather news this week. They can be predicted with great accuracy several days in advance. If you can predict the wind direction through the lower atmosphere plus a few things about air mass temperature and instability. the other variables are all tied to geography which shouldn't change. If the geography is changing then we have bigger problems than snowsqualls...
The comments made with reference to "7am Snowsquall" also apply to this painting. I had just finished applying what paint I could to "7am Snowsquall" when I was attracted to another burst of towering cumulus development just to the north. I ran and got a fresh canvas and shifted the easel slightly to the northeast. The sun was just catching the top of the towering cumulus turning them a brilliant mix of orange and yellow and red. Once again, I laid in the honest colours with the big brushes I was using. I had just finished that when the corner of the snowsquall caught the farm and the visibility dropped to a quarter mile. It was cold and very snowy and the snow flakes mixed in the paint a bit ... I was done. The paint was really starting to get stiff and frozen.
I brought the sketch inside and signed my name.."Bob's Your Uncle!" - Done!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

643 7AM Snowsquall

Breakfast was done. I really liked the colours in the eastern sky and the darkness of the snowsquall that was pounding Highway 400 and the 404. Listening to the radio, the traffic sounded like a war zone.
The family Chesapeake and I headed out to the front yard and I laid in the colours within 30 minutes before anything changed much. The wind was whipping the snow around and the paint was freezing - as was I. The Chessy seemed quite content and romped around with her ball. I fought the urge to touch the painting up any and aside from signing my name, the finished product was done by 8 am.
Note the spelling of the word "snowsquall" is consistent with the convention that I pushed for at Environment Canada for the warning program. You will find it spelled as two words as well but not supposedly in Environment Canada.

Monday, January 5, 2015

613 White Spruce

There have been a lot of excellent New Year messages about inspiration, finding your unique artistic voice, becoming successful. They have all been quite excellent and written by better writers than me.
I am lucky that art and life are simpler for me. Little things inspire me and now I have the time to practice and explore the colours and the scene behind the "seen" ... and the weather just outside the studio door. I have time to attempt to make the next painting my new favourite and 2015 better than 2014. I wish you the same :>))
What could be simpler than a white spruce casting a not so white shadow on white snow? Snow is white - isn't it? Why is there hot red in cold snow? Why is a white spruce green. These are the kind of questions Forrest Gump and myself might ask. Good luck, laugh and have fun!