Tuesday, June 30, 2015

1306 Rain Clouds

Started 4 pm Monday June 10th, 2013.
Rain was certainly on the way. The shelf of clouds on the horizon was there because rain was falling just to the west. The rush of air downward with the rain was lifting the convectively unstable mass of air upward to saturation causing the shelf to develop. The knuckles on the edge of the cloud shelf are indicative of the strength of the air movement and in this case, the instability. I figured I had over an hour to lay in the shapes and colours. Would it be enough time? A raven flew by so I sketched it in. I admire the "Einsteins" of the bird world.
It started to rain fairly hard at 5:15 pm. I retreated to the studio.
It rained all night and most of the following day. The upper jets used to blow strongly from west to east and usher lows eastward on their way. With a warmer Arctic the upper flow is weaker and now meanders like the twisted flow in a flood plain - "ox-bow lake lows". Slow moving systems will become more common and linger for days.

Monday, June 29, 2015

1441 Just 'n Time

Started 6:30 am Friday August 22nd, 2014. Painting Place N44.50136 W81.37268 Near 11 South Rankin St. Southampton, Ontario.
I was set up on Scubby's Bluff by 6:30 am on Friday August 22nd (my Mother's birthday). The fog was quite thick. The street lights were still on and bright. I decided to paint the two fishing boats on the opposite shore as an illustration for the participants who would arrive around 9 am. The crew started to arrive for the one boat so I made that part of the painting a big priority! They were gone by 7:00 am so I had to finish the other boat and the details after that. The fishing boat that remained never moved during the entire workshop. It was aptly named "Just 'n Time" which was always true since it never moved.
I was using my palette from the Kawarthas' plein Air Trip and it was getting tacky and time to start anew. The oil paint had been on the palette for a couple of weeks and almost none of it was wasted. The paint was sticky and proved to be a trap for the small night-time bugs that still flew in the early morning hours.
I watched what were most likely salmon and rainbow trout snatch morsels from the surface. I even saw the large dark shapes in the shallow water with their huge tail fins breaking the surface like sharks. I never saw one of these trophies caught.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

1422 Developing Showers

Started 2 pm on Tuesday August 5th, 2014 - Tom Thomson's birthday (1877).
The cumulus clouds were developing into towering cumulus and it was only a matter of time before showers started to reach the ground. An approaching cold front would help to organize them as well. The analyzed position on the cold front on the accompanying map was a bit too fast - too far to the southeast. The front has yet to sweep across Singleton Lake. The main band of showers were still west of Kingston at 4:30 pm local and I suspect that was the front.

Friday, June 26, 2015

1419 Multicell Thunderstorms

Noon on Wednesday July 30th, 2014.
The names for the paintings normally come to me while I am painting. My mind may wander/wonder and the reason for the painting and the name fuse. That was certainly the case with "Multicell Thunderstorms".
I often hear people complain that "they" were forecasting thunderstorms today but "they" were wrong again - I never got a drop of rain. "They" are those typically incompetent weather forecasters who can never get it right, even when "they" do. Showers and thunderstorms do not cover every square inch of a forecast region and this was why "POP" or probability of precipitation was invented. A meteorologist needs a thick skin and a smile at all times.
If people could read the sky they might realize that those clouds on the northwest horizon were indeed multicell thunderstorms. There was sufficient wind shear in the atmosphere to cycle multiple updrafts through the flanking line and into the main event where they become the dominant updraft. After their twenty minutes of glory, each of these updrafts weaken and flow downstream into the anvil. Such was the case this afternoon. I half expected to see warnings issued when I went in to check the radar. At 2 pm the line of thunderstorms looked to be developing a line echo wave pattern which can be the signature for damaging winds.
The streets of cumulus ahead of the line of thunderstorms are typically aligned parallel to the boundary layer winds. This was true in this example although it was not a classic case as viewed on the visible satellite imagery.
I did not hear thunder as I painted so the thunderstorms had to be more than 20 kilometres away. Radar confirmed that they were actually about 40 kilometres distant.

Monday, June 22, 2015

1598 Shell

2:00 pm Thursday June 4th, 2015. Standing on the western edge of Saw Dust Island at N44.678818 W76.393301.
This was the first day of the First Westport Plein Air Painting Festival.
Apparently this Shell Station was the last gas on the Upper Rideau. With the sale of the property, the Shell Station was closed. Apparently the locals are not too pleased about it. Perhaps a new gas station will be opened by an enterprising soul.
My very special thanks to a kind Wesport resident for taking the pictures while I painted.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

1332 Before the People

The early morning light is always the best. There were almost no people on the Southampton Beach so the gulls kept me company while I painted. I wanted to get the colours right and had to revert to phthalo blue to do so. The literature says "Phthalo Blue: Warm blue first made for printmaking ink (cyan) to replace Prussian Blue in the 1920's. With clean, pure masstone and transparency, Phthalo Blue, like all modern colors, has high tinting strength." Some artist call it a "stain" but I needed it today. There is always something to learn!
The ridge of high pressure was still dominating the weather but there was a hint of cloud on the western horizon emerging through the pollution contained within the marine inversion.
The community was originally known as Saugeen by the early inhabitants, the Canadian Post Office and Custom House Departments. However, the Crown Land Departments labelled the village as Southampton and the name stuck as the town was incorporated, named after Southampton, the English sea port. The first European settlers of the area were Captain John Spence and William Kennedy, who wanted to establish a fishing company. While it proved unfruitful, Spence became a sailor and Kennedy joined a search for the Arctic explorer, Sir John Franklin. Nevertheless, in 1851 there were at least a dozen families living in the community. In the same year, the Post Office was established, the first and only in Bruce County for several years. Three years later, a Bank of Upper Canada was built.
The pioneers of Southampton wanted the village to become the county town or county seat, as the village held the only Crown Land Department and Post Office in the county. However, the town of Kincardine had a larger population and seemed the strongest rival. Furthermore, Southampton did not have enough population to meet the requirements for incorporation. The town petitioned the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and the elective officials passed an exceptional Act of Incorporation on July 24, 1858 to allow the community to be considered for the county seat. Despite their efforts, Walkerton eventually won the battle.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

1337 Twin Maples

Started 11 am Wednesday August 28th, 2013.
I wanted to try to capture something that wouldn't move. Clouds had occupied too many of my canvases recently and I wanted to slow down the pace just a bit. The majestic, old maples at the entry to the Singleton Studio had character. I liked the rough texture of the bark and the old scar on the one tree. Both trees had sustained some damage from the 1998 Ice Storm but most of those twisted branches were higher and outside the view of the painting. There were a few mosquitoes buzzing around but it was still a pleasant painting experience.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

1324 Front Range Light

Started 9 am Sunday August 18th, 2013. Painting the pier north of Pioneer Park looking northwest from N44.50027 W81.37401.
The south shore of the mouth of the Saugeen River was another favourite painting place of my friend Jane Champagne. This location also is perfect for a plein air painter. It has views of the harbour, Chantry Light, the Range Light and the fishing fleet. It also has benches and bathrooms. Ideal!
Safe marine navigation was vital to avoid the rocks and shoals around Southampton. The Imperial Tower on Chantry Island warned ships of the surrounding dangers, while four smaller Range Lights guided mariners safely into the harbour. Built in 1903, the front and back range lights on the Saugeen River were lined up by sailors entering the harbour, helping to stay on course up the river channel. The other two range lights guided mariners through the ‘gap’ in the Long Dock and into the Harbour of Refuge.
In the 1800s, the Front Range Light at the river’s mouth was simply a lantern attached to a mast, fastened to a crib about 50′ from the outer deck of the pier. The square tapered wooden building, painted white with a red top came in 1903. At one time, the automated fog horn came on whenever fog rolled in from the lake. Today, it is operated by boaters with a signal from their marine radios.
It is challenging to paint the range light in the correct dimensions. I have painted it too tall, too squat and too whatever. Jane pointed out to me one day as we talked about my improper drawing of the range light that few artists got it right. Even this attempt is not perfect but Jane would be happy that I tried. There are other imperfections but I won’t point them out.

Friday, June 12, 2015

1321 Positively Buoyant Beach People

Started 1 pm Friday August 16th, 2013. Painting place about a metre from the water’s edge at N44.48989 W81.38790.
The sandy beach to the north of the pile of rocks that are the remains of the “Short Dock” and it was one of the favourite painting places of my friend Jane Champagne. The site was close to her home, offered a great view of Chantry Light and of course the public beach. What could be better? It seemed only appropriate that Day One of “A Toast to Jane Champagne” would be held on that patch of sand.
This view is looking directly north toward the mouth of the Saugeen River. I had a request to demonstrate both clouds and people in painting. The only clouds that could be clearly seen were along the lake breeze convergence line to the north. There was no difficulty in finding people to paint. Including people in my plein air paintings is way outside my comfort zone but we all need to face our demons. I was worried about the people part of the painting but it actually worked out just fine. The splashes of paint have personality. The "people" are composites of several individuals who came and went. Cumulus clouds are created by positively buoyant air parcels. The swimmers and beach people were undoubtedly happy. If you combine the two, which was the motivation for the painting in the first place, you get the title.
Note the 25x50 foot Canadian Flag on the 135 pole at Dominion Lookout. A group of Southampton citizens formed the "Friends of the Flag" committee in 1994 to commemorate the 135th anniversary of the founding of Southampton. Everyday people can make a big difference and it reminds me of the Brockville "Flag Committee". That is where I go every evening to watch the sun set.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

1318 Summer Morning

Started 10 am Wednesday August 7th, 2013.
The warm front moved north of Singleton Lake overnight. Brisk and warmer southerly breezes were the clues to this fact. A low level jet at the top of the planetary boundary layer had created some streets of cumulus fractus which were in the front of the scene. Convection was likely occurring where this low level jet intersected the warm front to the north. The southerly streets of stratocumulus on the western horizon merge into a solid cloud sheet until it gets overhead and you can see between the streets. The higher level deformation zone was evident behind the stratocumulus. This is the leading edge of the convection along the cold front.
A quick look at the radar and satellite confirms the sky reading - more or less. There is a second low level jet further west but still ahead of the surface cold front. Environment Canada has some watches out but no warnings as of yet and nothing for Singleton Lake. Maybe I will paint a thunderstorm this afternoon.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

1314 Jim Day Morning

Started 10 am July 9th, 2013.
I thought the title was humourous with "day" and "morning" in juxtaposition. Jim Day Rapids is my swimming hole but I had to paint before I could justify going for a dip. I haven't missed a swimming day since June 1st. This is the first time that I have painted from this elevated vantage point looking down at the rapids. The water flow was still high after a wet June and July - but not as high as the 146 mm one day rainfall in Toronto the day before. A meteorologist lives to work on a record weather day like that and to get the forecast and warning right - before they occur.
The quasi stationary front dangling across southern Ontario was just north of Singleton Lake judging by the southwesterly winds shaping the clouds. It was also quite hot and muggy. Thunderstorms would be a good forecast focused along the Lake Ontario lake breeze convergence line.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

1316 Katabatic Cold Front

Started 5:15 pm July 11th, 2013.
A katabatic cold front is an inactive cold front. The winds in the warm air above the wedge of advancing colder air were actually subsiding instead of rising. This meant that only a handful of rain drops reached the ground instead of the predicted deluge. The sky is a book just waiting to be read. The approximations used in the computer model simulations of the atmosphere can lead to really poor forecasts just when you rely on them the most.
The winds were northwesterly aloft above the cool front and north-northwesterly winds within the cool air behind the surface cool front. Some of you might be thinking that this meteorology is too tough to understand. It is really just a fluid like in your morning coffee. The light northerly winds aloft were the only clue that a cold front was approaching. There were indeed scattered showers to the west along the north shore of Lake Ontario where the front received an added boost from the lake breeze front. There were very few if any drops of rain at Singleton Lake.
The fragrances that came from the wild flowers were quite beautiful. The deer flies that buzzed my head were the only irritants. I matched the colours of the clouds very carefully although they certainly were moving targets. There would be fewer clouds tomorrow with a ridge of high pressure building in.

Monday, June 8, 2015

1599 Westport Boathouse

This was the second day of the First Westport Plein Air Painting Festival. Started 8:30 am Friday June 5th, 2015. Standing on the western edge of Saw Dust Island at N44.67852 W76.39347.
Apparently the dentist who owns this boat house, spent his honeymoon there in the loft. I think it would be better than an all inclusive resort in Jamaica or somewhere else where the water is green. There were a ton of different shades of green in this scene and I was faithful to them all. The water and colours were dancing with the fresh breeze. It was fun.
Actually the island does not seem to have an official name - and I asked. Everyone did want to tell me the story behind the island and the saw mill that was located at the exit of Westport Pond. Apparently the island is composed entirely of "saw dust". Rocks have been brought in to reinforce the shoreline but erosion was still evident. One person told me how the ice rolled up on the rocks like sheets of thick glass rolling over ball bearings.
Another told me how the concrete bridge came in one piece and was hoisted by a too small crane that tipped over under the weight.  Five (?) barrels filled with concrete were used to support the "Saw Dust Island" end of the concrete span.
I am always eager to learn about the places I paint. I am sure I am missing some important and interesting facts so should you have any, please share them. The island was actually a terrific place and I observed people strolling, eating ice cream and having picnics. Perhaps "Saw Dust Island" could be called something like "Picnic Island"?
This particular painting is the one that the judges liked the best. It is an honour to have others appreciate one's art.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

1309 Backlit CU

Started 4:30 pm Thursday June 27th, 2013.
The hot and muggy air returned with the warm front that wriggled back and forth over eastern Ontario. My chores were done and I wanted to play with the clouds. The back lit cumulus were dark in the centre with a halo effect of the sunlight shining through the fewer water droplets on the outer edges of the clouds. The veil of clouds in the upper reaches of the atmosphere is the leading edge of a north to south line of thunderstorms still over Peterborough. They eventually arrived overnight at Singleton Lake.

Friday, June 5, 2015

1302 Swimming Hole Reflections

Started 8:30 am Wednesday May 29th, 2013.
Light showers were still lingering in the area and the winds were calm in advance of an approaching cold front. I liked the way the shadows and reflections of the maples played across the waters of my swimming hole at Jim Day Rapids. Beavers had long ago ringed the tree on the western edge of the scene (right). It was still standing with no bark and no protection against the elements.
The water was still chilly but it was getting almost warm enough to take a dip.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

1298 Stable Layer

3 pm Wednesday May 22nd, 2013. Painting Place the front yard of the Singleton Lake Studio at N44.52283 W76.10498.
This is another one of my weather observations. There is always something interesting to paint in the sky.
The sky was overcast with calm winds at the surface. Gravity waves in the altocumulus clouds indicated that there was a stable layer in the atmosphere. The winds at that level were certainly westerly. At the same time arcs of lower altocumulus clouds suggested a significant deformation and stretching process in the wind field. There were even a few spits of rain. Even though the skies were dark overcast overhead the clues were still suggesting that nothing much would come of it. There were patches of brightening skies on the western horizon indicating some thinning of the overcast layers. There were no thunderstorms in the offing so I went and got my easel and palette. By the time I was finished a couple of hours later it was a beautiful and sunny evening.
After painting I checked the radar and a band of strong thunderstorms had developed just east of Singleton. This pattern is typical due to the wave structure of the atmosphere. Other bands of thunderstorms would develop ahead of the troughs of these atmospheric short waves as they rippled along the warm front which stretched west to east across the region. Although it was a clear evening when I finished the painting at least a couple more lines of thunderstorms would cross the lake overnight. The stable layer that I painted was the result of the "calming" of the atmosphere after the passage of a trough and ahead of the arrival of a short-wave ridge. This might sound complicated but it is really quite simple - trust me.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

1277 Fresh Air

Started 2 pm Thursday December 13, 2012.
The Arctic air behind a cold front is fresh in both temperature and quality - unlike the air behind a summer cold front. The ice formed from shore to shore to shore overnight behind one such cold front. The sheet of "glass" required that aqua animals needed to break breathing holes to get around and stay alive. One such hole is in the front left of this painting. Air bubbles trapped under the ice must be rich in carbon dioxide from the exhaled breath of the rodents. I suspect this hole was done by a beaver. The family of otters would have punched a riot of holes while the beavers are more solitary swimmers. I am not sure a muskrat would have been big and strong enough to punch such a hole through the ice.
There is always something to paint at Jim Day Rapids. The northwesterly wind was blowing the last pieces of turbulent stratocumulus away. A few pieces of high gravity wave altocumulus revealed the strong westerlies aloft.
This painting is a companion to "Cold Front 12-12-12" which brought in the Arctic air that made the ice overnight.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

1223 Little Rideau Virga

Started 9 am Thursday May 24th, 2012. Painting Place the south shore of Little Rideau Lake at N44.68019 W76.31321.
Some of the cumulus clouds along the Little Rideau Lake Streets got thick enough to produce wisps of virga. The weather is never dull. This is as close as the area got to getting much needed precipitation. It was dry.

Monday, June 1, 2015

1224 Summer Clouds

Started 10:30 am Wednesday June 6th, 2012 - D-Day. Painting Place the front yard of Singleton at N44.52277 W76.10497.
The cumulus clouds were developing early under the strong, late spring sun. It had rained hard overnight and there was moisture everywhere. The sun soon converted this liquid to water vapour and with convective lift, back into cloud droplets. The air mass remains unstable on the western flank of a late old cold low. There were bound to be a few scattered showers when these cumulus clouds developed into towers. There was nothing to worry about though - nothing severe!
This is getting to be a favourite view for a morning painting. The sun was on my back and both the easel and the scene were illuminated by the same light. The sounds of spring were still playing. I heard numerous barred owls, ruffed grouse and all the small birds I can hear but not identify.
The name of the painting is pronounced "some are clouds". And some are not clouds! The reflections in the water are not clouds.