Sunday, May 14, 2017
When we drove into this beautiful valley in the French Alps, this mountain village in Haute-Savoie resembled our home in Banff. Towering above the town is Les Criou, a beautiful mountain that resembles Mt. Rundle that flanks the town of Banff, Alberta where we live.
Every morning we would bike to the local baker to get fresh croissants and baguette. As we cycled back thru the narrow streets, the view in front of us was the local clock tower with Les Criou towering above. When they were back home our friends said that landscape was their favorite in Samoen....I promised myself I would paint that for them.
Fast forward nine months. Nancy said she had invited our friends over for dinner......a belated thank you for the great time in France. Time to do the painting! This is one of the larger pieces I have worked on....24" x 30".
I first penciled in an outline of the landscape, and once that was completed used a masking fluid to separate mountain from sky, roof tops from mountain. The goal is to keep colors from blending into each other and keep lines crisp. Once that was done, I blended a mixture of cobalt and cerulean blue for the sky. I wanted to create a feeling of clouds, so before the paint dried I dabbed the sky with kleenex, pulling off some color. Next I used a light layer of payne's grey for the mountain walls and the road winding thru the town. I put a layer of light vermilion green on the upper slopes of the mountain. Then, to replicate the trees up high, I dabbed bubble pack into phthalo green and pressed this onto the green slopes. My trees were done!
It's a very special journey with this painting. Each brush stroke takes me back to the fabulous trip we had in France. A special time together as a family and time with friends.
Next I will finish the mountains and work on the roof tops of the village.
Thursday, April 13, 2017
We just spent the past week in Palm Springs and area for Spring break. Daily temps of 33c were the norm, as were shorts, t-shirts, swimming, a bit of golf, great mexican food, margaritas and tennis after sundown.
One day we ventured up to Joshua Tree national Park. The temp went from 89F to 64F with a breeze that cooled everything down. The park has two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado desert. A fascinating variety of plants and animals make their homes in a land sculpted by strong winds and occasional torrents of rain. Dark night skies, a rich cultural history, and surreal geologic features add to the wonder of this vast wilderness.
On one hike we did, we came around the trail with Face Rock in our full view. A collision of boulders standing almost 200 ft high and thousands of feet wide was before us. On one side, there is the unmistakable collection of rocks that look like an elephant. As you gaze across the landscape more images appear: bulbous noses, protruding chins and glaring eyes. The landscape here with all the flowers and cactus in bloom is amazing.
It was a special trip travelling with the family. We are now home with the morning temp at -1c and new snow on the ground. We will be back to the desert again.
Sunday, March 26, 2017
The main goal of my blog is to share the journey of my painting. A huge part of my life and painting is my family and the journey we share together. Here is a part of the journey we have been on for the past six months.
Our hockey season ended yesterday.
It has been an incredible journey this past year. Robson was in his second year of Bantam and really found his place on the team. From being a passionate team mate to fast skater, tape to tape passer and a sniper with his goals, he has had a memorable season. The culmination of his season is his team won the Bantam Tier 1 banner yesterday in Medicine Hat, part of the Central Alberta Hockey League. Robson’s first banner in 8 years of playing.
As I sit here this evening reflecting on the past two days and the season overall, it is with a bit of sadness. His season is over. His hockey future is uncertain at this time.
What is certain is that the drives thru snow storms and hanging out in chilly arenas may have come to an end. The taste of the best breakfast sandwiches in smalls Ville Alberta is history. The countless stops at Tim Hortons, Edo and Subway are behind us. The alarm clock ringing at 5:30 am so we can get up and drive 400 kms. for a league game (and then drive back) are behind us. The lament “Dad, I forgot my neck guard, or shin pads or elbow pads” is in the rearview mirror. I will miss it all.
Just for fun, I went on to our CAHL website and added up some statistics. We live closer to BC but we play in the Central Alberta Hockey League, and play teams from Medicine Hat and Lethbridge. Here are the numbers for our team;
Won 15 games
Tied 4 games
Lost 5 games
From Banff we travelled 5,247 kms/return to all our games
As 2/3 of our practices were in Canmore we travelled 2,200 kms.
It was a great year. Thanks to the coaches, parents and most of all the players who helped to make it so much fun.
And Thank You Robson for making me a hockey Dad.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
While I was working on the painting I had this eerie sensation of being watched. As the eye of Stealth Wolf evolved I felt it was watching me, checking me out. I have a habit of putting a painting on the mantle of our fireplace, and I view it from different angles and distance. The goal is to make sure I have the right perspective and shadows and depth of field.
Having completed Stealth Wolf I feel inclined to create more works of the wild animals that live around us. It is Spring time......soon the bears will be out of their dens.
Watercolor on canvas
20" x 16"
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
One day when I was walking down a narrow road thru the woods, I was startled by a movement in the forest off to my right. I stopped, looking into the woods, and a deer poked its head around a tree. I caught my breath, slowly exhaled then chuckled. Having seen all the wolf track had my imagination racing.........I thought a wolf had been watching me.
You seldom see wolves, but they are in the forest. Almost invisible except for their tracks, they move silently through the valley. With stealth and cunning, they are able to sneak up on unsuspecting prey.
On the walk back to the van, I envisioned a painting with a dark background, snow, and a wolf peeking around an aspen tree.
Stealth Wolf was born.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
It’s Spring time….one of my favorite times of year The smell of the air, the warmth of the sun, the sound of melt water gurgling…..very special.
I was out for a walk today past the Banff Springs golf course. Nice place to go as the road is closed and not many visitors go there. I was out for some exercise and time to think of what the subject matter would be for my next painting.
I was walking down the snow-covered road which was in melt mode as the temp was 6c. Just as I came around a blind corner, I looked down and stopped suddenly……..there in the snow melt was a fresh track. It’s interesting, as the past few months I have been meditating a lot and my senses are getting sharper. Along the walk, I would stop occasionally, sensing energy coming from the surrounding forest and the mountains. I had come across fresh wolf tracks.
I put a toonie beside the track and took a picture. When I got home I did a measurement of the track and the toonie....the track was around 4.5 inches long. The center of my palm to the end of my fingertips is the same length. This was a big wolf.
As I continued walking down the road the tracks wove in and out of the trees. Every 50 yards or so the tracks would stop at a tree where the wolf marked his territory with urine. As I continued along my senses were elevating, getting sharper with every step. All of a sudden there were no tracks, then after half a kilometer, there were two sets of tracks side by side. I stopped, listened to the forest, sensing a very strong energy.
Looking down the road, it was as if I was looking down a tunnel of trees. My spirit guide at that time gave me the sense to not go forward. I paused, closed my eyes and breathed deeply. I then turned around.
On the walk back I would stop to scan the forest behind me, sensing all the energy that was around.
It is Spring time....soon the bears will be joining the wolves in the valley.
Saturday, February 11, 2017
Mount Assiniboine, at an elevation of 3,618 metres, is situated along the Continental Divide. Situated in the south east corner of Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, the mountain sits in beautiful isolation and soars above its neighbors. Mount Assiniboine name is in honor of the Assiniboine people. It means "stone boiler", a name that comes from the practice of putting hot rocks into animal pouches or holes filled with water in order to cook food.
Upon arrival I donned snowshoes and helped tramp down the snow for easier access to the cabins and outhouse. I also had a chance to x-c ski for a couple of hours and venture down the valley to capture the different views of Mt. Assiniboine.
About a kilometer from the main Lodge and cabins are the Naiset cabins. Totally self supported, each cabin has a wood burning stove for heat, and there is a cabin set up for cooking your meals.
One day Pierre, Dominique and I snowshoed to the Naiset cabins to open up the stream there for the cabin dwellers who would be arriving soon. We had to dig down thru 4 feet of snow, then chip a hole thru 4 inches of ice. Once we had the opening we put a cover over it to keep it from freezing over.
There had been a lot of new snow in the area so one afternoon four of us were on the room clearing the snow off. Our goal was to reduce the snow load as well as clear snow from the kitchen windows to let the light in. As the main dining room of the lodge is heated by a wood stove we transported wood from its storage shed to a large pile outside the lodge.
It was a great three day adventure spent with old and new found friends. Hard work, great food and restful sleep, protected from the elements by ancient logs.
A magical place ....I will return again.