The Summer of 2013

It’s been a while since my last post and a lot has happened since then, both personally and professionally. Most notably, this past March, we sadly said goodbye to our dog Charlie who’s been a family member for over 13 years. Topping 150 pounds, Charlie was known as the gentle giant.

Charlie

I could go on at great length about how he’s missed and the emptiness of the daily routines  he was once a part of. However, life goes on, new routines evolve, yet the fond memories last forever. We’re also blessed to have Charlie’s daughter, Violet with us. Violet is a wonderful and timid dog who looks like her mother Marlie, a black lab, but is the size of her father. Surprisingly picking up on many of Charlie’s habits, Violet continues to help us fill an empty space in our hearts.

Violet

Enough said. Let’s get back to Grey Highlands and the weather that seems to define us all.

After an extremely dry summer and fall, we had considerable precipitation during the winter of 2012-2013. However, we didn’t get the accumulation of snow that was expected due to rather extreme temperature fluctuations, a phenomenon that seems to be becoming  the norm, regardless of the season. The winter photo below is the same scene of the Rocky Saugeen River at Grey 12, featured in my last post.

Winter Saugeen at Hwy 12

Judging from the heating bills, even after compensating for rate increases, it was a colder winter overall.

This past spring was a welcome departure from what has been the norm. For many years now, we’ve been experiencing several weeks of hot summer weather in March or April, only to be followed by a significant snowfall in late April. This has created havoc with farmers, orchards, and nature’s natural succession. This year however, we never got our spring heat wave and experienced a more normal cool and wet spring. Nevertheless, the extreme temperature fluctuations of winter continued into this spring and summer with several brief snowfalls well into May. The photos below were shot after a snowfall turned ice storm in mid-April. The siberian iris were totally encapsulated by ice and luckily, the twenty-plus foot white birches laden with ice survived with little or no damage.

Siberian Iris in Ice

White Birches in Ice

Although the wet spring frustrated farmers eager to seed, it was nonetheless welcome because of its restoration of the soil parched from last year’s drought. The restorative powers of the rain were evident everywhere and in everything. For the first time in many years, massive blooms of multi-coloured lilacs burst out of the rich green landscapes everywhere. These were followed by old and often neglected apple orchards announcing their existence and majesty through full blossom.

The rains also had a definite impact on the wildlife in our area, seemingly bringing them out of hiding in celebration of nature’s bounty. After more than twenty years in the area, I’ve never seen such a diversity of wildlife. Also, what’s been delightfully strange is lack of fear on their part. While still remaining cautious, they’ve been bold in announcing their presence while acknowledging mine.

The photo below features a pair of wild turkeys that conduct an almost daily inspection of our compost bins.

Wild Turkeys

The next photo features two young white-tailed deer bucks in the early afternoon.

Deer

The next photo solved a long-held mystery of mine. For years now, I’ve heard the haunting calls of birds coming from an isolated field on our farm. My numerous attempts to capture a glimpse of those birds in order to identify them have been fruitless. This year, after earlier mistaking them for pasturing deer because of their similar size and colour, a closer encounter revealed them to be sandhill cranes. We now enjoy watching these majestic birds on a regular basis.

Sandhill Cranes

While continuing to enjoy the experiences of summer, my memories are cast back to the fall while working on completing Beaver Valley Panorama.

Super Storm Sandy Preparation and Aftermath

Monday night, in preparation for Sandy, I moved the cars out of our parking lot so that they’d be far from our huge spruce trees, brought anything that could possibly be blown away into our shed, and closed and secured the shed doors.

I woke up Tuesday morning at 1:00 AM. The wind was howling and sheets of rain were beating against the windows. Also, no power. In a partially awakened state, I scurried in the dark down the stairs to get a flashlight and then further down the stairs to check the basement sump pump drain. To my relief, there was no rush of water. Notwithstanding, as I laid awake for most of the night concerned about it, I became convinced for the need to get a battery back-up for the sump pump.

In the morning, still no power. Alex, my wife, called Hydro One on her cell phone and was told that the power would be restored by noon. So, it’s off to Mac’s in Markdale to get coffee. As I drove down our lane-way in the pouring rain with our two dogs, Charlie and his daughter Violet who collectively weigh almost 300 pounds, I didn’t notice Alex running after the SUV to tell me the power was restored. However, as I drove down Grey 12 to Markdale, I did wonder why all the farmhouses were lit up.

With the exception of debris here and there, I didn’t notice any substantial damage because of Sandy. When I arrived at Mac’s, it was very clear that I was not the only one in need of a caffeine fixation and we all waited patiently as the store clerk rushed to brew enough coffee to meet our demand.

Needless to say, when I got home with a substantial supply of coffee, I found Alex had long finished hers.

One thing that Sandy did accomplish was to blow every last leaf hanging on any tree. So today, I did some scouting for Fall leaf-off landscape scenes. I’m leaning towards a painting rendition of the photograph below of the Rocky Saugeen River at Grey 12.

Another thing that Sandy has accomplished is day after day of rain and cloud cover. I don’t like photographing my works and works in progress with artificial lighting. So, anxiously awaiting some sunlight I AM.

Welcome

Welcome.

From a very early age, art has been an important part of my life. Throughout the years however, it has largely been a secondary pursuit of mine giving priority to a diverse career in the public and private sectors. At this point in my life, my passion for art is at the forefront of my activities and I trust will remain so for many years to come.

I primarily paint with oils on stretched canvas with a love for landscape, as well as fish and wildlife themes. Having experienced life on a farm near the top of Beaver Valley for the last twenty years, there’s no lack of subject matter for my works given the beauty, diversity, and richness of the surrounding environment.

My work is meticulously detailed. However, they are by no means reproductions of photographs. Although I often refer to photographs I have taken when painting, it’s to recall my feelings and perception of the particular scene. In executing my work, I accentuate those features of the scene that stimulated my emotions while downplaying the mundane.

At any point in time, I have at least ten to twenty works on the go. Most of these are merely foundation layers. Although they appear very vague to the viewer, I have already completed them in my mind’s eye and merely need to execute what has been vividly etched in my memory. I focus on completing three of those at a time. This approach works well insofar as my technique requires that background layers adequately dry prior to applying successive foreground layers.

Although so many of my works over the years are lost to viewing, being in the hands of private collectors, I have now begun to photograph my works. On this Website, you can follow the progress of works underway, as well as the successive stages of completed works.