Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rained on... But not out! - Part One

I have chosen to post this Algonquin Adventure in three stages... so that I can offer photos of our adventure, as well as images that I painted over the three days. Perhaps the photos might encourage some of you... to "come North" one fall season... for the thrill of a life time!

September in our area and Algonquin Park is outstanding for any outdoor activities... especially plein air painting. The beyond-description change of colour in our deciduous and prominently maple forests is breath-taking and spectacular. Visitors from all over the world congregate in these prime areas to experience this autumnal ritual and to get a glimpse... per chance at the enormous bull moose who are openly "in rut" and ranging widely to challenge other bulls who might venture into an established territory... in search of "female favour".

September weather can be most changing and unpredictable. Rain is always expected... and is accepted as usual fare... and in the northern reaches of Ontario snow can almost certainly be counted on to arrive later in the month in small ground-covering amounts. It is a month of invigorating colder temperatures that sets the tempo for migration and hibernation in the animal and birds kingdoms. Beautiful... but totally unpredictable!

It rained briefly on the Monday afternoon, as we reached the West Gate entrance to the Park. I had been eyeing the long range weather reports nervously... hoping that they were wrong. I had made a plan to go directly to Opeongo Lake Road... knowing that we could at least find suitable material to get off to a good start. That proved to be a good strategy... and both Deb and I managed a decent 8 x 10 in panel in short order.

Painting outdoors successfully during these uncertain weather conditions demands adherence to one strategy. Find a subject that exhibits strong basic structure... and carve it out quickly... in the simplest terms possible. Detail and specific interests can be recorded later when the weather settles down... or back in the studio using data reference from your digital friend. These "extras" can be added more carefully if you wish... to enhance the established structure that is the bones of the painting.

I have included both pieces that we completed on day one. I asked Deb's permission to post her piece to demonstrate what I mean by "getting down the basic structure." In my mind... its unfinished quality is beautiful in its simplicity and starkness. It speaks loudly and clearly to "Me" about the quiet and wildness of this Park. Mine on the other hand... is obviously more finished... but I don't feel hits the mark more than hers. Whether she chooses to liven it up ...or leave it will be her decision. Frankly... I love it... "as is"!

I had not made reservations for accommodations... hoping to scope the scenery along the corridor Highway 6o to decide where we would best be located to take advantage of the best colour. Usually the colour is best nearer the west end where most of the cover is maple and conifers. That was indeed the case this year.

Having noted this fact, we retraced our steps back 60 kilometers towards Dwight... checking for motel vacancies. Luckily, one motel owner phoned around the area for us and we were fortunate to find a reservation for Monday evening. It was quite nice... comfortable... clean and had a lakeside location and restaurant services. BONUS!.... So we booked for Tuesday evening as well... just to insure that we had a place to return to.
The colour is about 75% towards peak... at least two weeks earlier than last year and due to this fact the numbers of visitors and bus tours are in high gear at the moment, putting reservation pressure on those who come expecting to simply walk in. We were exceedingly lucky!
The behaviour of many visitors is often as unpredictable as the weather itself. They seem unaware of the danger they place themselves in when they approach 1800 lb bull moose who are exceedingly intolerant of any intrusion and can administer horrific damage if surprised or cornered. Artists face the same threat as well... so I really try to stay away from the beaten path... easy-to-reach sites. We were fortunate this year!

An above ninety per cent chance of daylong precipitation was posted on the Visitor Centre weather board at the close of the day... so we went to bed hoping that the report might change. It didn't! Time for some "shuffling the deck".... flexibility in planning! If I had been working alone... the decision would have been simple. But I did not want to impose being in adverse conditions upon Deb. She is a real trooper and would support whatever my choices might be... but there is more to having and feeling passion than painting alone! Life has taught "Me" that!

Stay tuned for Part Two tomorrow....


  1. Would love to be there with you...although it is pretty great out here on the island always! But we don't get the intense colour changes of back east and I miss that. This is my favorite time of year and I love getting into warm sweaters and warm boots and trudging around in nature. Then getting back for soup or tea and scones is also wonderful! Your paintings, yours and Deb's are beautiful. You are right about Deb's - it has a direct and fresh spark that gives a total sense, immediately, of the scene. Yours is equally beautiful but in a different way...more thoughtful.
    Thank you for the amazing commentary on my blog about the Lisa painting! I am very flattered and will keep your comment in mind every time I start to feel my confidance slipping...and it does sometimes. The effort required to paint Lisa was a several month labour of love but intense...I can't get to that point all the time...I'd burn out! I am going to try with the Samanda painting when I get back to it...soon I hope. Right now I am dealing with property maintenance and keeping bears out of the yard (yes, they are fairly aggressive this time of year!)...hoping Bob is back home from his father's funeral in about two weeks. The rains will start soon and I can hunker down in the studio with my woodstove, my husband downloading his music in the house and cooking up fantastical vegetarian dinners! My favorite time of year!

  2. Hi Karen! .... Thanks for dropping by.... always great to hear from "You"!

    Sorry to hear about Bob's dad... a tough one for all of us! Time seems to heal... but the "missing" never really ever totally goes away! Not forgetting... That's a good thing!

    Glad that my comments encouraged you to re-focus on your own mission and method. Both are doubtlessly demanding... but both seem to line up with the person "You" really seem to be.

    One can always do little "side excursions" to refresh and experiment... but one must always return to the path and not keep switching about. Your overall body of work dating back to your earliest years display a consistency of interest in and attention to detail. That... along and the very fine quality of your present work says loads... I think!

    Good luck with the bears... and the Samanda piece... when the rains... and Chef Bob return to kindle your artistic spirit!

    Good Painting! Happy Fall!
    Warmest regards,

  3. The wonder that is Ontario and indeed Algonquin! Thank you for sharing your adventure; truly wonderful. I tend not to take on these adventures as I 'go it alone' and somehow in past few years am nervous about travelling it alone. Must be a sign of old age creeping in!

    I remember log jams on the Mattagami River in Timmins when I was a youngster and men with pikes and poles running the logs. Tried runnin the logs myself; it was a tricky trek!

    Rain and mist and Algonquin; what a wonderful combination. An artists' paradise. The glow and light achieved in these circumstances cannot be equaled.

    Envy your journey; look forward to hearing about the next.

  4. Hi Ruby!.... Good to hear from "You" again! Sorry for the delay in answering... missed your comment because things move too quickly in the Fall... and "I" try to suck up all of it!

    Thanks for sharing your own marvellous Mattagami adventures... wish that I had been able to experience those things firsthand!

    I did get a chance to (virtually) stroll down the same road by visiting the wonderful Logging Museum exhibit in Algonquin. I really learned a lot from the experience!

    You know Ruby... "We" are... none of us ever going to be younger! To stop risking and getting "out there" in my mind... is to bring on the inevitable without finding out how capable... and young (at heart)... we still are!

    Don't envy my journey Friend! Learn from it and apply what you wish from it... to enrich your own journey! Get "out there"... and push the pigment!

    My feeling?

    "I'd rather die living...
    Than live dying!"

    Just my thoughts Ruby!

    Good painting!
    Warmest regards,