Sunday, January 17, 2010

January Thaw...

Winter reluctantly relinquished his icy hold on the Oro-Medonte region... the temperatures have risen substantially.... the deep snow has been consumed by the voracious longer visiting Sun... to the point that the skiers and snow sledders are in mourning because of the snow's sudden disappearance.

This is not, however... "due to global warming". It is rather the annual period we refer to as the "January Thaw".It is an annual experience and period of respite that we who are forced to remain and complain in... or who like "Me"... choose to revel in.. accept as a part of living with our Canadian winter.

I always look forward to this brief "window of opportunity" and head "out there" as many days as I am able... to paint on location. On Monday, I did exactly that. I decided that I would spend the day out at another sugar bush... this one on the 10Th Line much harder to get at than the last one.

I learned from the last near debacle... packed even more lightly... AND... repaired the harnesses for my snowshoes.What a bonus that decision turned out to be!The pathway along and through the maple forest stand was in places over three feet in depth. My trusty two foot bear paw snowshoes allowed me easy access through the maze of small brush and saplings to the intended painting site on the ridge at the edge of the bush.

It was mild... no wind... no glare off the snow. Just perfect conditions for a two hour painting session. I used a snowshoe to scoop out a pathway in the knee-deep snow from my easel back ten paces( to allow me to travel back and forth as I do with regularity during the painting process).I set up the 20x24 inch canvas on the easel... stuck the four bristle brushes in the snow... ferrules up...poured out a bit of turps... and lit into the painting...full tilt!

Because it was grey and overcast... I had intentionally decided not to use an already toned panel... usually a burnt sienna base. For this occasion, I decided to employ a wash of ultramarine and alizarin crimson... bleeding it indiscriminately over the entire canvas... letting it drip where it wanted... then removing what I considered "undesirable" with a shop towel... to lessen the strength of the wash wherever I didn't want it.I added a few pertinent guidelines with the same mixture... then started to "scrub in" blocks of darks to develop composition possibilities.

With the complete silence and unrestricted space around "Me" did not take very lone to get into "The Flow".... lost within my Self... unaware of anything really... just "Me" and my Sugar Bush Friend! The painting fairly "painted itself"- a term "I" use to describe those magical days when everything goes well... and suddenly- there's just nothing else to say... or do.

I packed up my gear... slipped my boots into the harnesses... picked up my gear and canvas and made my way back to the car awaiting my return along side the road a few kilometres away.This was so much easier than the last unnecessary and punishing trek... a lesson well learned!

I placed the painting into a frame right away... put it up on my easel... intending to look it over... with the idea of adding a few necessary..."pushes n' pulls" most often necessary after you return to the studio... and are away from the subject. In my own mind however... "I" could see no need, or value whatsoever to adding anything. "I" truly felt that "I" had said all that "I" had in tended to say... and more!

What do "You" think? I'd truly be interested in your critical opinion!

Good Painting to All!


  1. Fantastic Bruce!
    I had just read that it takes "guts" to lay down a brush stroke and leave it.
    To work in the moment and move on with the painting.
    Rehersing is rehashing and a piece can loose its "life" in the process.
    I like the "story" and the painting very much.
    There is a freshness to it. I'd say you hit a

  2. Thanks Bill... for visiting and for the "Homerun" response!There are very few distractions in landscape painting when you are "off the beaten track" and deep in the woods in the winter... which makes concentration... and risking easier.

    I love the quiet... the smells... feel of the wind... natural movement of ojects in the landscape. Each of these elements factors into the distillation of the final outcome. Holding on to the brush just adds another variable to the equation. Let's call this kind of special day- a "stroke "of luck!HAHA!!

    Good Painting my friend!
    Warm regards,

  3. Bruce... This is stunning.
    I enjoyed your description of the trek as well... Well thought out... It added to your comfort, your pleasure and really helped you create a memorable painting!!

    Tell me, How do you paint those leafless trees so they look realistic???

    I really like this painting!!!

  4. Great painting, Bruce. Love your blog
    Thast photo of yourself at three is so reminding myself of me and my brother who were given paint by numbers at about 6 or 7 by our grandmother. We didn't like the blocky look so mixed our own colors and became original. Thus began a life long interest and love of art.

  5. Hi Marian!... Thanks for visiting and for your compliments on the painting!

    Re: the approach to painting the branches of leafless trees. Paint the branches that are behind the actual trunk and recede to the back of the painting first in lighter values... then add the darker ones on top and in front because they stand most vertically and are in deepest value and tone. Does that make any sense? Give it a try.It's how I approach the matter anyway... and very haphazardly application of brushwork adds a painterly touch!

    Cheers!... and good painting!

  6. HI gary!... Nothin's new in the art world really... just the faces and obvious masters... from whom the rest of us learn! Even the paths are parallel as well... just in different places.That's what makes artists "kindred spirits".... and people who shre their lives!

    Glad to have "You" as a visitor to my blog! Thanks!

    Good painting!

  7. Hi Megha!... Thank "You" for visiting my blog... and for your compliment. Glad that "I" can recreate the "feel"of winter for you.... so very far away! Visit again!

    Good painting!

  8. Thanks for the tip, Bruce... I'll give it a try .................. if it ever stops raining here. (LOL)