Friday, January 27, 2012

Back from Algonquin Park... with a new sense of renewal... a changed state of mind

Final sketch # 4 "Madawaska Water Music" oil on canvas 8x10 inches

Note: the "porridgy" areas. Use of strong impasto hides a lot... and adds real strength and movement in the foreground water.


#3 "Through the Cedars"- oil on panel 10x12 inches




Tuesday #2 "January Thaw" oil on canvas 12x16 inches




Monday # 1 "Winter...on the Rocks"- oil on canvas 10x12 inches






I have been trying to find some "get-up-and-go" after my one-sided week long battle with a bad cold/virus. You know that feeling ... I'm sure. Still achy... and living between snoozes... hardly a time to either be... or feel remotely in the mood for creating.



I had mentioned that I often found purely "fun" explorations such as the stick trick to coax "Me" back up into the saddle... without a need for getting into things seriously. Sketching is one of those activities that never fails to enliven interest... no matter what tools one employs. It is portable and freeing... an activity... short in duration like a crossword puzzle that can be put down and come back to without loss of direction. Often this coming and going sparks entirely new direction in thought and a final solution.


The phone rang on Thursday... a call from my painting buddy in Algonquin Park, David Kay wondering... if I felt like a paint up there. My body kept trying to say no... given what you've read above... but my creative half answered yes.... certainly! So we weather-watched over the weekend... freezing rain was in the forecast along with snow. I packed up my gear and clothing on Sunday night and called David early on Monday morning.


No freezing rain up there at that time... so I agreed to head off at 8:00 am towards the Park but with the reservation that if I encountered the FR... that I'd turn around and head back home. The "nasty" never did appear over the entire three days... but I did have to fight my way through some tricky slushy road conditions for half of the journey from the Park's West Gate at Dwight to within a few kilometers of The East Gate at Whitney where David and Diane reside.


I arrived and we had a nice warm lunch... then immediately headed along the Madawaska River Road and quickly found a suitable subject. We had decided to take along my trusty Dodge Caravan instead of David's four wheel drive truck... because the rear hatch door can serve as a shelter from the elements. By placing one leg into the trunk area... two artists can work comfortably under this lid... out of the wind, rain or snow... without fear of the dreaded snow -in-your-palette nightmare that often kills a winter plein air experience.


We did, in fact have snow from time to time... with temperatures hovering around -3 C. But both of us came away with reasonably good sketches... given the less than perfect light and veil of flurries that came and went during our outing. That all aside... I was painting! Back in the saddle again.... Yahoo! Where did those cold symptoms disappear to? Yes... it was indeed a "head" cold... but it went deeper than that in my "head"! HA HA!


We awoke Tuesday to find fiercely gusting northwesterly winds and driving snow - definitely not what one steps out into to paint en plein air! We settled into a great breakfast combination of oat meal and Red River Cereal and chatting that led almost to 11:00 am. We decided that the weather had let up enough to give things a go... again with my Caravan. The Park was really under snow siege... so we opted to return to yesterday's site because there was shelter from the gusting winds... and more importantly... we had scouted out at least three "possibles" for a return visit.


I must admit that the entire day was a constant challenge in dealing with the wind and snow. I was glad of my prior decision to think and paint on the small side! On a few occasions we had to dump off accumulated amounts of snow that had managed to swirl its way around the edges of the vehicle and into our work area.


"Palette porridge"... for us both by the end of the day! We did manage to get in three more smallish sketches... two of which required nothing really when I got them home. The third one certainly displayed the results of snow in the paint! I decided twice during the actual plein air experience that I couldn't brush my way through to a conclusion... so I hauled out my small paint knife and put it to work. Despite this prevailing nastiness... the sun did manage to poke it head through for a half hour... and I seized upon this good stroke of luck to "upgrade my colour and the lighting conditions in Through the Cedars! The gambit worked out nicely I think!


Surprisingly... the knife really did work better... and with the paint conditions of the surface. I managed to save the day with those two... and have since applied the very same strategy to the final 8x10 canvas that I had believed was a "scrapper." I'll let you be the judge of my success... or lack of it! One must be constantly ready to shift gears in the field... adjusting to light ... weather and even new methods/tools for working. This readiness and willingness to act... is often the difference between success and failure in the day.


I returned to Hillsdale with a fresh sense of renewal... eager and ready to jump into the Nova Scotian canvases... which are overdue! Sometimes... pushing oneself beyond what seems to be in the way can rejuvenate one's creative spirit. Nothing does that better for "Me"... than getting "out there"... where every sense is stimulated and fused seamlessly into the actual act of painting. Whether or not we achieve the added good fortune of actually making a "gem"... pales in the face of the spiritual gains that only come from plein air painting... being "One" with Creation and The Universe! Add to that... the opportunity for good and encouraging friendship to share one's passion with!



Good Painting to All !










42 comments:

  1. These are all great. I love the way you let loose and piled on the paint.

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  2. Hi there Stephanie!... Thanks for dropping by and for leaving such positive comments!

    Glad that the paintings pleased you and that you enjoyed the heavy impasto used in each one.

    Painting outdoors in cold temperatures necessitates applying paint (especially white) in this fashion. Otherwise one tends to push it around too much to try and make it behave... and the end result is muddy colour.

    Glad that I made the effort to get "out there"... I'm back in the saddle again! HA HA!!!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  3. Great paintings Bruce, I would like to paint the Algonquin in winter too, it is in my wishes to do so,This February are the streets of Montreal, that I am planning to do, and if in march I have some time and there is Snow in the Algonquin, I may do it, if not ,next year. I love how you handle the snow, very good. Cheers.

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  4. Gorgeous stuff! I really like the top one with all the impasto! Looks good enough to eat:-)

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  5. Hi there Jesus!... Thanks for stopping by... and for taking the time to leave comments and an update of your winter painting plans! Montreal should yield some excellent subject matter.

    There will... in all likelihood still be snow in Algonquin right up until early April. If you're at all interested... I have been invited to attend and to give a demo at a Paint Out (the last weekend in March) in The Park hosted by David Kay at The East Gate Motel in Whitney. Always a great group of fellow artists and great opportunities to paint.

    You can contact David at 613-637-2652. If you're interested... tell him that I recommended the event!

    Have a great winter of painting... whatever!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  6. Oh Bruce!!! I just love the way you throw that paint on...wonderful texture with amazing results!!! love them all!!! This was a beautiful place you visited.

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  7. Hi there Karen!... Thanks for the comments and for dropping by!

    Sounds like your weather has been as unpredictable as ours here!Strange everywhere on the planet it would seem!

    I enjoyed your floral sketches... and the afghan seems to be taking shape as well!

    Watch your self on those roads!

    Good knitting and sketching!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  8. Hi there Hilda!... Thanks for your enthusiastic comments and encouragement!

    "Throwing the paint around"... HA HA!! That was exactly what happened... and luckily it all came together in the end! Weather rules... and can force one to take drastic measures! HA HA!!

    Algonquin Park is truly an inspiring place to visit and to paint in. Like all wilderness areas however... the Park faces change and the impact of too many visitors... given the ease of travel into them these days.

    It can be difficult to be alone there and to escape the hordes of shutterbugs and creepers that briefly light... by the busloads on the main routes. One has to find out of the way places... and be quiet about them!

    The upside is that the revenue gained through this kind of tourism supports the costly maintenance of wilderness spaces. So... a necessary saw off!

    Good Pastelling!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  9. magnificent paintings of landscapes with texture, Bruce : )

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  10. Thanks Sadeu... for visiting... and for your gracious and supportive comments!

    Winter... T'is the time for texture and shadow!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  11. Hi Bruce!

    I see there's nothing to stop a real painter from practising his art.

    January thaw is simply breathtaking! I like everything about it; the colors you used for the background, the trees, the patches of grass through the snow, the water in the stream.

    The Madawaska river also. Your *impasto really did the job. The texture adds a new dimension.

    Lately, we've had more rain than snow. But, I'm an optimist. I'm sure we'll get what we deserve and I mean a BIG snowstorm, enough to last till the end of winter.

    Happy painting to you,

    Helen
    Note * Not to be confused with antipasto :)

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  12. Extremely well done paintings, Bruce! Painting #4 is a huge success!
    I greatly admire you for getting out and painting in such cold.

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  13. Your spirit is indomitable, Bruce! I so love each of these pieces and the texture? Ooh la la! Magnificent! I guess I must have caught my head cold from you. Sigh...I hate runny noses. So sorry that I somehow missed this post. I moved my blog back to Blogspot and if the thumbnails do not update, I don't know there is a new post until it does. At any rate, I do think these are superb pieces and I so enjoyed hearing about your outing with your buddy.

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  14. bruce, this is an incredible series of work!! i am awed by your impasto work, just amazing! these are among my very favorite of your works!#4 is just stunning. stay warm my friend!

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  15. Beautiful snow scenes! Toronto has had nothing but flurries that disappear by morning. I'm anxious to get out there with my watercolours. Very lovely inspiring paintings!
    Happy Trails!
    Nora

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  16. What a grand adventure! It sounds like a whole lot of fun. So glad to hear you are back in the saddle and as chipper as ever. '..snow-in-the-palette-nightmare.' ? That made me chuckle out loud. No.4 is lush! Have a great day.

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  17. Hi Bruce, what a way to get going again! These are some of my favourite paintings from recently, they are so fresh and freely painted. I suppose some of the joy of being 'out there' must be coming through.

    I don't think I could work by standing on one leg and 'placing [the other] into the trunk area', but if it works for you.....! Ha ha!

    All the best,
    Keith

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  18. Hi there Helen!... Sorry about your lack of snow! I'll see what I can do for you with the Snow Gods... they're back here full force this morning! I'll put in a word for you and your area!

    Thank you for your most gracious and encouraging comments. The palette knife is not my usual "weapon of choice"... but in the field conditions can quickly change everything... and one must do what one has to do in order to even paint!

    Good luck with your own wonderful painting Helen! I'll drop by!

    Warmest regards,
    Bruce
    PS I'm a BIG fan of both "pastos"... irregardless of the prefix! HA HA!!

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  19. Hi there Dean!... So very good to hear from you!

    I deeply admire your own painting style and your sense of willingness to share ideas! Sharing these things, in my books, is a way for maintaining artistic growth.

    Since winter is such a large part of our Canadian year, I choose to paint outdoors as much as possible... no matter the cold. There is a beauty... unique to winter alone that greatly excites me. I look forward to this aannual ritual. That will not always be possible. Age and cold hardly mix... and I am learning... that it is indeed creeping up on me.

    Thank you for dropping by... and for your uplifting remarks. Let's keep more in touch. I am adding you to my site sidebar to serve as a reminder to check in more.

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  20. Hi there Sherry!... thank you for dropping by and for your very encouraging responses to these new paintings.

    Sorry about the sniffles! Sure hope your cyber cold doesn't take on the proportions mine did! YUK! YUK!! Simply miserable!

    It was really a wonderful paint with David... and as always great to share time with he and Diane! She is such a fine cook... and is so supportive of David's art... and friends!

    Good luck with your "puter" woes... we're all experiencing them it seems!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  21. Hi there Suzanne!... Thanks for the "top up"... on my "build up"...HA HA!!

    Impasto really does add something special... if it is applied with finesse... or out of necessity! HA HA!! Like whipped creme on a latte! Very visually intoxicating!

    Love your new piece to date... though I don't get caught up in trying to "splain" the metaphysical nature of a work. Usually... as is the case in your exquiste work(s)... the work has a "voice" of its very own - we simply wield the brush!HA HA!!

    Thanks for the visit and your addition of copious "whipped cream" my Friend! Appreciated muchly!!

    Good painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Warm Bruce

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  22. Hi there Nora!... Thank you for visiting and for your encouragement!

    No snow in TO... Come North young woman! Lots here! About another twelve inches of powder this morning!

    The rain and lack of snow won't hurt your studio portrait sketching... and that's where you're producing some fine work! Good luck with that!

    Good sketching!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  23. These are fantastic wee paintings Bruce! I just love the expression you are capturing with the palette knife painting. You have the cold atmosphere of the place down perfectly. As I was reading it I thought if only your wife knew about the very cold conditions you were in after being so poorly would she have worried about you returning home unwell again! Sounds like you were over the cold and that the freezing cold snow painting actually filled you with life and eagerness to come alive with the painting again. I have enjoyed reading your post I have been having my soup while looking at your very cold paintings and feeling glad I am in the warm. Yet also very much appreciating how much we all come to life in the wilds. Looking forward to reading more of your news soon.

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  24. Hi there Lisa!... and a grand adventure it was! Uplifting spiritually and certainly a high motivator!

    "Snow-in-the-palette-nightmare" is no exaggeration! Next time you are whipping up a bowl o'oatmeal for "his Nibs" and your self... reserve a bit and add it to any pigment and try to make a painting! That's exactly the nightmare! Balls of pigment!

    Your choice... #4 was a product of that nightmare.... snow sheeting... and sticking directly onto the canvas and the palette. I played for a while... but quickly decided it was either a "scrapper"... or had its best chance of "rescue" ... after the paint had set at least overnight. And it all worked out for the good I think!

    Thanks for your visit and great comments!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  25. Hi there Keith!... How hilarious! "One leg in the trunk"... the one leg is not mine Keith! My easel has three legs. I leave one up and the other two are fully extended as is usually the case. The "up" leg goes as deeply into my trunk as is possible... the other two come up to meet the rear bumper... placing me completely under the hatch... and out of the elements!

    HA HA! What a picture the other scenario draws to mind! ... and this position for two to three hours! Sorry for the ambiguity of my description there! I'm a bit better with paint!
    HA HA!!

    I am not surprised that these are your favs from recent days. You yourself are a master of saying "lots with very little"!

    Painting outdoors always sends me away from my need and compulsion for fussiness... which is why I value plein air painting and go out to enjoy it! It's freeing... as you well know... appreciate and enjoy yourself!

    Thanks for your visit... the chuckle... and the encouragement!

    Good Plein Airing!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

    PS The pochade box is a mighty tool isn't it Keith! Like all weather tires! HA HA!!!

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  26. Hi there Caroline!... Glad that you enjoyed thes Canadian "icicles"! I did not return free of more cold unfortunately... as a matter of fact... I paid dearly over the past three days for being out too long on the last day!

    However... all that silliness aside... I'd likely do it all again! The one "dose" of Algonquin... will long outlive the dose of cold that is on its way out as we speak! Choices!

    My use of the palette knife is very much akin to your wonderful application of the glazing technique. It is a tool which we feel comfortable with... but know when to hold back! One can get "heady" and overdo either and produce disastrous results... right?

    We both really do... "Come to life in the wilds!" That commonality really shows in the wildness capture in both!

    Thanks for visiting and for your exhuberance!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  27. Thanks Bruce, you may see me there.

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  28. Well Hi there Jesus!... If you're up to it and can make it... it would be great to paint together!

    The Park is beautiful at the time of the year ... with all of the creeks ... rivers and lakes beginning to open up! A "Grand Opening".. you might say!

    Do keep it in mind!

    Good Painting!
    Wamest regards,
    Bruce

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  29. Great group of paintings Bruce, love the water in the January Thaw. Glad to hear your back on the bus...keep er goin' eh!

    Jeffrey

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  30. Glad you are back to painting. I had walking pneumonia in Nov. I never really get sick so I was shocked. For the first week I wasn't up to creating any art at all. Second week I did paint a bit, but I sure wasn't out in the weather you have described. That is true dedication. Your paintings look great.
    Doug

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  31. Hi there Jeffrey!... Thanks for dropping by and for your encouraging comment!

    Had a bit of a relapse with the cold thingy after the experience. Maybe a bit too long "out there "on the last day! But I am back on tack again... ready to paint some more!

    Hard for an old dog to learn new tricks ... sometimes! HA HA!!

    Good painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  32. Hi there Douglas!... Sorry to hear of your bout with the WP... not fun! I think mine might have been a bit of that or... a nasty virus! Like you ... I am very rarely sick... so a bad patient! HA HA!! Glad that you're back on top again!

    Glad that you enjoyed the paintings! More on the way!

    Good painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  33. Have not checked in on you for a while. Still doing great stuff. Like those recently posted paintings.

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  34. Hi there Pardner!... Good to hear from You!

    I'm in the same soup! I'll drop by and check over your "herd"!

    Thanks for the visit and the positive words of encouragement!

    Good Painting!... and Happy Trails!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  35. You need to have a professional meteorologist along with you at all times... weather is important! Sounds like you had fun though.

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  36. Good Morning Phil!... Nice to hear from "You"... and to see that you have emerged to check for shadows! HA HA!!

    Six more weeks you say?. Six more weeks of fun! HA HA!!

    Weather is important for studio painters... but being knowledgeable about "Tom"... you must realize that the best picture opps... not to be confused with apps... occur in "iffy" weather! That's what I heard "from a guy" in Rockport! What d'ya think?

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

    PS Good "weather"... comin' yer way Sooner than later... for SURE!! I forecast that on my radar! Stay tuned!

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  37. Hi Bruce,

    These paintings are beautiful. Wonderful texture. I especially like the first and last. Kudos to you for braving the cold.

    Best to you,
    Sue

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  38. The Park was worth the cold that followed.....maybe(!!) - these are some lovely sketches!! Wonderful compositions and textures!
    xoxox Love Allie

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  39. Hi there Sue!... Thanks for your encouraging remarks and observations regarding these paintings!

    Winter painting really does enhance the need to be "creative"... and "spoon it on"... HA HA!!!

    Thanks for your visit Sue!

    Good Painting and Sketching!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  40. Hi there Allison!... Glad that you like these Park sketches!

    It's always such an uplifting boost to one's painting morale... to paint there ... and to be in the company of a kindred spirit! Both help to raise the bar and stimulate one's spirit and desire to paint!

    Thanks for your ongoing support! I ALWAYS love to read your comments... your critical analysis has always been something that I look for to move me ahead!!

    All my love Always!
    Dad XXXXXOOOOOXXXXX

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  41. Bruce... Bruce... Bruce.... Weather is important. The forecst may not always be right and that is why everyon needs to take along their personal meteorologist for support and guidance. Good job!

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  42. Hi there Phil!... Weather does indeed matter... but for some of us fools Art Matters!... more! HA HA!!!

    We can put our heads together better on that matter... when we get down to Rockport!

    Talk to ya Soon!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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