First Snow

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The first snow is always the nicest because it’s still a novelty!  Here are some poor flowers not enjoying it, despite their new hats.

September 12th, in the Peace Country, Alberta.  They say it will be a cold winter… brr.  This, apparently, is what is called Summer Snow.  That seems colder than Winter Snow.


La Belle

Copy of Rose

Carolyn’s fourth painting, La Belle, for the Peace Watercolour Society Fall Show and Sale came about because the reference photo of a rose was present while one for a waterfall was not.

First it got sketched in fair detail (roses are notoriously complex) and then it was sketched again on watercolour paper.  There were four rounds of masking and pouring, then a few more layers of colour to darken the background and some minor tweaking of the flowers.  It paid off to know that indigo is a greenish blue: the glow on the shaded leaves was almost as important as the bright area to produce a centre of interest.

The purple flowers are the back up singers: La Belle is the star!

Paint out at Bird’s Pond

Carolyn and Judy took advantage of a sunshiny day in September to paint outdoors at Bird’s Pond.  We expected the geese to be clamoring in the water, mustering the troops for the great migration south.  Instead, there was no wildlife to be seen.  All was quiet and still.  Then, from the far shore, we spotted these swans with their cygnets.  They came much closer after we had started our paintings with just one swan each.

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Water Music


I had a lot of fun with this chaos of reflections, flowers, ripples and whatever else was on, in or above the water.  I liked the strong zigzag across the narrow paper and the calmness of the water surface amid the crazy patterns.  You’ll notice that the reflections don’t seem to make sense… well, neither did they in the reference photo!

I once took a music appreciation course and learned a lot about tension and repose in a piece of music.  I think I can say that there is tension and repose in this painting.  My eye can hover for a moment on the flower cup or the flat blue areas before sliding down those reflected stems, whirling through the circular ripples, and bouncing from yellow spot to yellow spot.  That’s where the title Water Music comes from.  Someone more musical than I am might be able to hear the score that accompanies the painting.  I took music appreciation, after all, not Mastery of Music.

An interesting thing I noticed once I had finished: the lake that inspired this painting was Figure 8 Lake, and in the upper half of the painting I can see a Figure 8 pattern in the flowers and ripples.  This was unintentional, but I’m pleased 🙂

Having become very familiar with my painting while painting it for hours on end, I’m actually surprised to see how different the photo references are!  The painting has become the greater reality, the reality is a distant memory.


Grizzly Trio

If your subject comes close enough, the smoke doesn’t matter so much.  We were certainly close to this mama grizzly and her cubs in Jasper, Alberta.  Boxed in by other vehicles, we could go anywhere even when one of the cubs wandered right in front of us.  Mama wasn’t worried.  She turned her rump and made it clear that the cub was on his own if he wanted to be silly.  He soon ran back to the good grass his sibling was enjoying.

Hazy Days

This summer’s fires all across the world have been effecting air quality in Canada.  Here in Northern Alberta, we had so much smoke despite no fires that we were hesitant to travel to Southern B.C., where there are fires.  Still, sitting in the smoke in one place is as good as driving in the smoke in another, so we loaded camping supplies and went looking for adventure.

Here’s what Jasper was like mid-August:DSCF3400DSCF3392

A little hazy, but still beautiful!  We saw plenty of evidence of past fires, but no fresh ones this year.  Piles of tourists were travelling through but we found some quiet places to explore.  This is Snaring River overflow campground.