Thursday, 24 October 2013


I'm can't say enough about the value of sketching. The sketch can be but a few lines quickly scrawled on a scrap of paper, or something more detailed in a bound book, but however made their value is priceless. When I'm out hiking I do take photographs of various scenes that seem worthy of a painting, but later viewed I often find myself wondering whatever possessed me to take the photograph, as the scene has somehow become flat and uninteresting. If on the other hand I've actually been inspired to find a place to sit and to taken the time to get out my sketching materials and study the landscape, all of the details of the moment come back when I later view the sketch.

Island - Lake of Two Rivers, Algonquin
Pencil Sketch 
Such was the case when a friend asked that I make a painting for her. She enjoys Algonquin Provincial Park and, for reason that I won't go into, she is unable to explore some of the more remote areas, so it became a bit of a challenge to come up with a scene somewhat familiar, something that she could relate to. I visited my sketchbooks and came up with a small sketch of the island in Lake of Two Rivers. Not the best of sketches, all the same it brought back memories. I had made it years ago late one autumn. I remember that it was cold and damp, end of the season, with only a few aspens holding onto their leaves. It was getting on to dusk as we were passing by Lake of Two Rivers and the island caught my attention. We stopped at the entrance to the campground, and as the campground was closed and the gate down we parked and walked down to the beach. Finding a suitable view I sat down on my camp stool and hurriedly began to sketch. In the middle of the sketch a park warden approached and reminded us that the campground was closed. We acknowledged that we were aware that the campground was closed and would leave just as soon as I completed my sketch. I completed my sketch and packed up and more, or less, forgot about the sketch until this past spring when I stumbled upon it in an old sketchbook.

Viewing the sketch I recalled just how colourful the foliage had been that autumn and I began to play around with making thumbnail sketches. Settling upon one of the thumbnail compositions I made a more detailed pencil study, followed by a watercolour sketch. Finally settling upon a composition and theme I proceeded with the watercolour painting, which you can see started with a sketch.

Thumbnail Pencil Sketch

Detailed Pencil Sketch

Watercolour Sketch

Island - Lake of Two Rivers
Watercolour Painting   9" X 13"

Sunday, 20 October 2013


This past March, with spring in the air, I promised myself to get out of the studio and head to the marsh and various wilderness places, to enjoy nature, and to do a bit of sketching. I promised to return when the winds blew cold, and there was ice on the Bay. Well, there’s no ice on the Bay, yet, but the winds are beginning to blow cold, and there’s snow in the forecast, so perhaps it’s time to return to the warmth of the studio and to do a bit of writing and painting.

To catch you up on the events of the past few months, in the early spring we headed out to nearby Tiny Marsh and witnessed the waterfowl migration followed by the return of the songbirds. For those of you who may be avid birders and interested to learn, numbers appeared to be down and the migration itself was spotty. All the same it was quite interesting and was made more interesting by sighting increased numbers of Bobolinks, and out on the marsh, an increase in the number of Black Terns.

Not so exciting out on Georgian Bay, however, which is a part of Lake Huron. The water level continues to drop, now surpassing its historic low. No one seems to have a definitive answer as to why, less snow melt than in previous years, an increase in human consumption, or a problem relating to dredging at Lake St. Clair. The water level is down over one meter, which accounts for a lot of water when one considers the size of Lake Huron. Perhaps, it’s as the result of global warming and a change in weather patterns? I suppose that in time to come, hopefully not before it’s too late to alter the trend, we’ll learn and set things straight.

Come August we headed up to Algonquin Provincial Park and hiked and sketched a bit. Anyone who has read my previous blog entries will know that over the years we’ve spent a lot of time running from the moose, bears, black flies, and mosquitoes up in Algonquin. As a consequence, it’s a bit difficult to get excited about sketching a scene that you’ve sketched many times before. Over the years I do believe that I’ve made several hundred sketches and paintings of various parts of Algonquin. Still, I continue to be motivated, partly by changing my method and materials. The great thing, which elicits a “ha, ha”, about growing old(er) is that one no longer needs to worry about whether what you produce is liked by anyone. With old age, and no longer the need to market one’s art, one can simply make art for the sake of making art. Have fun in other words.

 A couple of weeks ago we headed up to Lake Superior Provincial Park hopeful to enjoy a bit of good sketching weather and witness a bit of autumn color. Well, Lake Superior wasn’t to be denied its influence on the weather, and as things grew cold, our sunny entrance turned to rain and fog, and we experienced miserable sketching weather. Still, as events like this are to be expected, ignoring the occasional drizzle we hiked several trails, and simply took the time to enjoy nature. I managed a couple of sketches, stressing the word “couple”, and made a few photos for possible reference during our long winter.

So, as we’re coming to the end of autumn, and as the trees are about to lose what remains of their leaves, I thought to share with you a few attempts to catch the autumn colours made over the years...........

On the way to Killarney
Watercolour Sketch

Autumn -Northern Ontario Landscape
Watercolour Sketch

Autumn - Lake Superior Provincial Park
Watercolour Sketch

Wolf Creek - Killarney Region
Watercolour Painting

Along the Trans Canada Highway
Watercolour Sketch