Sunday, 19 April 2015

Unitentional Symbolism

Notre-Dame Basilica has been a landmark here in Ottawa, for well over a century, then along came the National Gallery of Canada and a decade later, Mamam, a giant spider.   Strangely, in conversation many people will refer to the spider rather than the much larger cultural buildings....I'll leave that analysis to the cultural anthropologists.

All to say, that from the lower Boreal Garden, the spider and the Basilica are juxtaposed quite dramatically, which is what attracted me....well, that and the fact that it was a warm sunny spot on a breezy spring day.

As I came home, I was thinking about art and how I need some real things to represent and how I'm reluctant to adjust even something like a power pole to improve composition.  And I realised, I just created a work of great symbolism and social comment!

Hopefully some critic will tell me just what that is and write at length about my clever statement about the church and egg bearing arachnids.  Whatever it is, I truly hope it isn't sarcastic or somehow least of the spiders?

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Freshwater Shark

With the weather finally breaking after an usually harsh winter, tarpaulins are coming off in the boatyard daily.  This Shark must be one of the early numbers, its hull is a mottled green with faded pink tones below the gelcoat showing through.  These are great sailboats, and are still a popular racing class despite the age of the fleet, many of which date back to the mid 60's.  Many of them have been re-gelcoated and look beautiful.  I suspect that I will see the owner grinding and sanding the hull  as we wait for the ice to blow out and the river to warm up.

Only time for one sketch in London

Between the weather and schedule this was the only sketch I did the day I was in London. A quick and dirty sketch of Big Ben, the world famous clock tower.

My pal David, who grew up here, but has now lived in London most of his adult life, took me to on his favourite boat tour on the River Thames to Greenwich. I had only a few minutes before departure.  Hence, straight to ink, which explains the wonky perspective, then a quick splash of paint with my little water brush. But looking at it, brings back clear memories of the day and the fascinating trip through London along that historic River.  Thanks David.

I was disappointed at not getting the vibrancy of the gilt gold ornament in the sunshine and David, who is an artist, made the suggestion of using masking fluid for those yellow highlights.  I have yet to pick some up but will, when the spring flowers arrive here in the Great White North.

small squares

More of my little vignettes from the train.  I was trying to catch "moments" or elements of the landscape and simplify them graphically into little icons.  They are very small - about 1 1/2".  I'm also trying to use more intense colours, stepping up from my usual pale washes.

As a graduate of the James Belisle school of masking, I taped off the squares in order to have the crisp edges.  The really fun part of doing that, is peeling off the tape and seeing the crisp white edges....or at least what stands for fun in my life!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Hurston Cottage, Wallon Farm

I stayed in a cottage on what is referred to in Dartmoor as a medieval farm.  These farms are rambling assemblages of extended homes, barns and outbuildings.  Hurston Cottage was recently renovated and the only real remnant of the past was the well in the floor of a room off the kitchen which was covered over with a thick piece of glass.

Wild daffodils were out , but I didn't manage to catch the vibrancy of the bright yellows. Time for me to investigate masking fluid and gum Arabic, I think.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Fingle Bridge

I was lucky to have sunny weather when walking from Castle Drogo, near the village of Drewsteignton in Dartmoor National Park.  Fingle Bridge dates back to the 17th century when it was built for pack horses carrying corn and wood through the River Teign gorge.  Today it is the site of near constant photo opportunities as visitors pose in the refuges over the cutwaters ( the piers between arches).

On the Train

I love a train ride.  I enjoy putting my brain in neutral and gazing out the window.  Last week, travelling to London from the West Country,
I was lucky to get a seat with a table to myself, which let me spread out a bit and sketch.

I did the top one first and it's an archetype, not an actual scene, as I couldn't work quickly enough while passing through the landscape.  That lead to the lower one which is a sort of graphic composition rather than a landscape.  (The white bits are sheep.)

These put me in mind of a quilt or fabric sculpture.  With the right colours, wouldn't that be fun?

Thursday, 2 April 2015

A Devon Landy

I've had a "thing"for these old Land Rovers since I was a boy.  It goes back to driving out through the jungle and up and down the steep pitches of bauxite mines in Guyana in the late 60's.

All part of my observation that most guys would like the car of their youth that they couldn't afford at the time.  My list includes a BMW 2002, an air cooled Westfalia camper van, a Citroen deux-chaveux and ( a new ) Mini.  All but the Mini, are hobby cars, as in more time under them, than driving them.  Were I stinking rich, I'd own them all, but with new engines.  Like a Westfalia, with a water-cooled Subaru transverse retrofit 4 cylinder,  that actually power many of what appear to vintage Westie's along Americas left coast.  it's not really about the vehicle, it's about the prospect of an adventure.

I saw this "Landy" in Devon and wondered about the snorkel ...did the owner really ford rivers...or, had it seen service in Africa and was purchased at auction upon return?  But then the sticker in the window explained it all - "powered by fairies".

pen with prismacolour pencil crayon 

Kes Tor and the River Teign

I spent several days in Dartmoor National Park in the West Lands of England last week. A constant contrast between narrow tunnel like lanes bounded by tall banks and hedges and the moody skies and rolling heather hills of the open moors.

It's an amazing cultural landscape where even the wild moors support sheep and ponies.  This sketch was just beyond an ancient stone slab "clapper" bridge where we had a quick dip in a small pool.  Kes Tor - a rock protrusion on a hilltop, was visible through the gap in the pine windbreak.