Sunday, October 23, 2016

How long does it take you?

This question of how long does a painting take has variable answers. First comes the research time. My husband and I tend to spend many hours in the field watching and photographing birds. The more time spent watching birds the easier it becomes depicting them. It helps having a quality SLR so as to limit the distortion that is prominent in low quality cameras. We've seen a multitude of paintings in the last few years where my husband quickly picked out that the artist either used someone else's photos without putting in the required field work, or that the camera distorted the birds image and they then unknowingly painted those distortions. Being the curious types, we questions these artists and politely suggest they go bird watching to gain valuable information and if at all possible work from their own reference material as it does make a difference.
 Southern Alberta, we were photographing Curlews in the area.

 Dutch Creek, the hoodoos caught my attention and I caught my husbands attention.

Northern BC, too funny that I tend to tell my husband that he walks into my landscapes and yet I see I must do the same to him.

Then comes the downloading of a multitude of images, discarding the worst ones, the ones that will never be good enough to use, though I tend not to be ruthless enough in this department. Then I print out varied images (poses) onto quality photo-paper that I've chosen to fit the design of my painting. I don't slavishly copy the photo for if I wanted photo realism I would frame the photo. As creator of my ideas many works change throughout the painting process. When I work in acrylic I either start with the bird then do the background or I pre-paint a background that may sit for up to five years before the right bird or animal feels right for the design structure.
Background I designed well before a bird was chosen.

When painting in watercolor I used to  design the whole painting leaving ample room for alterations and changes as I work.
Highly designed painting, drawn out in pencil first.

Though now I sometimes grab a brush and draw with paint in a free manner, especially fun to do with florals. Some paintings have sat in what I considered a finished state for a few years when I decide the painting can be much better. Sometimes reworking a piece is a good idea, other times it heralds disaster.
This still-life set up was freely drawn with the brush, no preliminary drawing beforehand.

My husband and I were invited to exhibit our work in the Wildbird Gallery at the Wildbird General Store in Edmonton and also to participate in the 27th anniversary of serving the birding public.
Vinnie the Peregrine Falcon and a couple of owls were in attendance.
Here is Vinnie, sorry no photos of the owls as there were so many people around the owls Gerald could not get close for a photo.
Here am I, busy painting a hummingbird. During the event I was asked that wonderful question of how long it would take to complete. Well I had no idea at the time if I would finish it yesterday or not. When I paint I lose myself to the process. Even though I spent time chatting with children and adults, I kept painting. Took a few breaks and was surprised when Gerald said it was 4:00pm as I began at 11:00am.
These are the images I worked on. I sketched the Rufous hummingbirds onto watercolor paper and painted the backgrounds the day before as seen in the lefthand image. The bottom right image was worked from that state to a finish during the the event. I can now answer that wonderful question how long will it take me to paint the hummingbird,  I now know that the 5 x7 inch painting took  four and a half hours start to finish. Mind that each painting created has a multitude of variables, so one painting may take four hours while another the same size may take ten hours, it all depends on the subject and the amount of detail.

The painting process consisted of using a fine tip brush and dabbing tiny bits of color onto the paper to capture the colorful iridescence that the birds display as well as using subtle washes of color built up one on the other.

Behind me are Gerald's watercolor paintings and some of my hand-built nest projects. In the left hand side of the photo are my acrylic paintings. Lou was mentioning that my bird painting proportions are "right on" made me feel pretty good to have his approval of my work.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Lava Beds north of Terrace, BC. A fascinating place with ragged lava flows covered in moss and lichens. I was glad we camped in Terrace and took the day trip up through Anhluut’ukwsim Laxmihl Angwinga’asanskwhl Nisga’a (Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park) 

We spent about 12 hours on the road stopping and viewing villages, totems and the wonderous landscape, yet still did not see all there is to see. If we have the chance to go again I believe we would haul the trailer up and camp there for a few days as the landscape is so beautiful. 
One set of three falls we encountered on route to the Lava Beds. By not towing a trailer we were able to make plenty of stops to see the sights along the way.

Gitwinksihlkw (Canyon City) has four poles, two on each side of the bridge. In the not far past, to get to the village one had to cross a suspension bridge, now they have a road bridge across the river. 

We decided to drive all the way out to Gingolox, it was rainy most of the day but the clouds seemed to part enough for us to get some shots between the raindrops. Nearing gingolox we had a large white timber wolf cross our path, but due the rain on the windshield there was no way to capture an image. What a spectacular memory to hold though.

 Amazed at the monstrous churches built on the coast, the village is tiny but there are two large churches there.
Old and the new side by side, such fascinating photo-ops, but the rain was pretty steady and it was getting dark so we headed back to Terrace and a warm bed.

Next day on to Prince Rupert
 Poles in Prince George, by the Recreation Centre.

Poles across from the hospital in Prince Rupert, there are three still standing and a sawed off stump where one has been removed. There are burial mounds near these poles. When I asked at the visitor booth about these poles and the graves noticed, I was told that the hospital was built on an old original peoples burial ground. There are no plaques stating this, but one of the poles had a mourning wreath set below it. The plaque's here are unreadable as vandalized with spray paint. Sadly, disrespect for traditional burials is encountered all across this country.

Prince Rupert, love how the fall leaves accent the colors in Ninstints Eagle Pole.

An enjoyable experience to carve a few strokes on a pole being carved by Joe Mandur Jr. in recognition and honour of Freda Diesing, a Haida carver and teacher.  A globe and mail link

One of Freda Diesing's Poles in Prince Rupert. Eagle Chief's Pole carved by Freda Diesing and Josiah Tait. The pole is a reproduction of a pole from Tanu on Haida Gwaii. From bottom up is grizzly bear with frog, killer whale, hawk, human face, eagle and three watchmen. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Ksan, the land of Mist

 Ksan, the most beautiful place to wake up and watch the mist evaporate off the mountain as the sun warms the land.
 Totems at Kispiox.

Totems at Gitwanyow, the building in the background used to be an interpretive centre, sadly it is still listed in tourist info as one, yet now it is used as an office. We asked at the gas station about the poles but the lady working there said she knew nothing about them or the defunct center. 



Friday, June 24, 2016

The Tiny and the Beautiful, Orchids and other flowers of Jasper

I am learning about native flowers and as some of my books don't have very good images to help me identify I may have wrongly named some. If you notice that I've mislabel plants please let me know so I can make corrections, thank you. Enjoy.
 Orchis Rotundifolia (small Round-leafed Orchis) We found these beauties both at the edge of a lake and in the forest. They are so small that most people walk right by without even noticing the colorful delicate beauty.

In both places they were accompanied with Pinguicula Vulgaris (Common Butterwort).

 Cypripedium Calceolus (Yellow Lady's Slipper)Always a delight to find showy bunches in the underbrush, though most were singular flowers scattered about.

Cypripedium Passerinum, passerinium means "sparrow like" because of the bright dots on the inside of the pouch resembling a sparrow egg. (

 This Orchis was found in the same wooded area as the above blossoms.
I do not know the identity yet.

This orchis was found at high altitude on the mountainside.
I do not know the identity yet.

Pedicular Groenlandica (Elephanthead) due the blossoms look like an elephant head and trunk. Many plants found at the edge of Pyramid Lake growing alongside the smaller thin stemmed green Orchis shown below.

Can you see the elephants?


 Beautiful Mountain Bumblebee in the Wintergreen blossoms.

 Pyrola Assarifolia (Common Pink Wintergreen)


 Blue Flax. The meadows were turning a brilliant blue and yellow from the abundant Buttercups and Flax that were opening up, each day the meadows grew more colorful.

 Aneome Parviflora


Pink Pussytoe flower.