Wednesday, 29 July 2015


In between scanning old drawings and sketches for my new book I wander outside to enjoy the flower garden, and think about cutting the lawn. Key words here are “think about cutting the lawn”, as its been very hot over this way these past few days with temperatures in the low 30s Celsius, and the prospect of a sun stroke is a real possibility, at least that’s what I tell my neighbour who frowns at shaggy looking lawns. It’s almost always very hot here towards the end of July into the middle of August, and almost always hot, hot, hot, during the August long weekend, which is this coming weekend. Reminds me of when I was starting out to become an artist, a long time ago.

When I was starting out to become an artist, and not all that confident about the quality of my work, I’d search out various festivals, and group showings. Summer was the time of out of doors festivals. Generally, this type of festival is put together as a tourist event by a community more interested in making a profit from booth fees than being concerned about the quality of the art work on exhibit. Most of the work at these festivals range from very amateurish to a few high end artists, with a lot of questionable craft work in between. However, we all had to start somewhere, and for me it was a large outdoor festival in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, known as Kempenfest. Back then it was a juried show, albeit the standard couldn’t have been all that high as I was allowed, having paid my exhibitor fee, to occupy a space and exhibit and sell my art.

Exhibiting at an outdoor festival is quite a challenge. You’re assigned a space in which to exhibit and expected to exhibit come rain, or shine. And that first year, rain and shine it did! The exhibitors of today have elaborate tents, and so on to protect their work. Back then, most of us didn’t, so when it clouded over and began to rain cats and dogs, there was a flurry of activity as we rushed to cover our work with sheets of plastic, and whatever else was handy. The clouds would pass and the rain would stop, and once again out would come the scorching sun. If you were exhibiting watercolours, or prints, under glass the space between the glass and the artwork would steam over, then clear as the sun warmed things up. By the end of the day with the fluctuating temperatures your watercolours and prints, works on paper, would be all rippled, or warped. Disaster.

Most outdoor festivals are held on long weekends, and by day three one’s enthusiasm was usually beginning to wane. Of course, with the scorching heat one had a tendency to suffer from a bad sun burn, but back then the sun, we’re told, was not as damaging as it is today. Sales ranged from bad to very bad. But, at the end of the last day you managed to somehow convince yourself that things could have been worse, and you begin to look forward to next year when things will surely be much better.

I did manage a second year at Kempenfest. It proved to be worse than the first, and I convinced myself that there had to be a better venue, something less painful in which to exhibit my work…..and there was! In the course of the following year I was juried into The Buckhorn Wildlife & Art Festival, a very classy festival having extremely talented artists. I was fortunate to be accepted as a exhibitor at this festival for many years, and made many friends who would be helpful in steering my career in what I believe was a right direction.

As mentioned at the beginning of this posting I’m continuing to pull things out of folders to be scanned for my new book, should I ever get time to sit down and finish putting it together. Actually, going through the folders I’m quite amazed at the amount of work that I’ve done over the years. Some of it’s not so bad, at least I think so. Memories much of it. Here are a few of my recent scans: -

Chickadee on Milkweed   Pen and Ink

Chickadee  Pencil Drawing I

Chickadee    Pencil Drawing II

Daisies   Watercolour Painting

Dead Chickadee   Pencil Study

Immature Barn Swallow  Pencil Study

American Kestrel Mantling   Pencil Drawing

Belted Kingfisher   Pencil Drawing

Mallards - Algonquin Setting    Graphite and Watercolour

Mature Barn Swallow   Pencil Studies

A footnote to my comments about my exhibiting at Kempenfest. I mentioned that it almost always rained, or was quite hot, creating a trying experience for the exhibitor. Well, this year was no exception. On Sunday, August 2nd, 2015, the area area experienced severe thunderstorms delivering strong winds and torrential downpours. This morning, August 3rd, the rain and threat of more thunderstorms continues....Pity the unprepared exhibitor.

Friday, 24 July 2015


Although it seems like yesterday, it was many years ago.

This one day I was working in my studio at the drafting table sketching and drawing ducks and geese in the act of landing, and taking off. I’d start with a very loose sketch, then using tracing paper to capture the best shape, I’d transfer the image in reverse to another piece of paper, and continue to work on the drawing repeating the process over, and over, until I’d gotten it right. Finally, when I had a collection of these small drawings I’d transfer several of them to a larger piece of paper creating a flock of geese, or several ducks, landing, or taking off. It was a very tedious, time consuming process. Satisfied with the design I’d transfer the drawing to a piece of watercolour paper and make a painting.

So anyway, as mentioned, many years ago I’m working away at my drafting table drawing when I’m visited by a group from the nearby resort interested in seeing my work. One of the group, a young woman, took an interest in my drawings. I explained what I was doing, in the middle of which she interrupted and explained that she did much the same thing, but with the help of a computer and a drawing program. She worked For General Motors and designed automobiles. She explained that rather than go through a long drawn out process that all that I needed was a with a single drawing of a duck, or goose, which when copied into the program could be used to create what was taking me hours to accomplish. She explained that I’d never have to draw another duck, or goose, the computer could do everything.

Sometime later I would purchase a computer, but apart from using it to size and print my drawings for transfer to the watercolour paper I never really got into using the computer in the manner in which the young woman suggested. I intended doing so, but in the course of exploring possibilities I stumbled upon the idea of producing ebooks illustrated with my drawings and paintings. Besides, I’m an artist and sketching, drawing, and writing, are my passion. The computer for all of the attention that it receives is but a tool, and without the artist it serves no creative value.

The following images are a collection of drawings and studies from many years ago.

Monday, 13 July 2015


Recently, a number of prominent Canadian and American environmentalists attended a conference in Toronto expressing concerns about global warming, specifically blaming the use of fossil fuels as the cause. All that we have to do we’re told is to wean ourselves from the use of fossil fuels, and to turn to so called green energy, and all of the problems related to global warming such as food and water shortages will be solved. Don’t we wish that it were that easy! Some seem to have forgotten that to make the tools that produce green energy, a lot of energy and new technology will be required. In fact green energy is only a delaying action, and will ultimately be proven to have solved nothing, but make a few of the environmentalists wealthy.

The real problem, something that environmentalists refuse to acknowledge, is the that there are simply too many people. The problem began several thousands of years ago when someone planted the first seed, and our role as hunter gathers changed to farmers and fishers causing procreation to run amuck. It’s taken awhile, but poor agricultural practices and overpopulation have caught up with the human race, the reason for famine in Africa, and around the globe.

Recently Sir David Attenborough came out with a statement pointing out that humans are a plague, and that if we are to survive as a species the only solution is to reduce the human population.

Now, Sir David Attenborough is no slouch, he’s spent most of his life studying nature. Frankly, I believe that were the environmentalists serious about global warming they would heed his advice, and turn their attention to helping to solve this plague.  But then, I’m certain that there’s few amongst the environmentalists that are prepared to argue a solution of this nature with the world’s religious leaders?

So, should we worry about global warming? Perhaps, but on the other hand I read another article recently that argues that we’re about to head into a mini ice age. I wonder just how the environmentalists will react to this news?

Meanwhile I’m still mucking around in the basement going through files and scanning sketches and drawings for my new book……

Sunday, 12 July 2015


The past while I've been mucking about in folders and drawers sifting through old drawings and sketches for material for my new book. While over the years I've sold lots of prints and paintings I'm actually amazed that so much still languishes down in the basement, slowly deteriorating in the fluctuating temperature and humidity that exists in our basement.

It's difficult to permanently archive art in other than the conditions that exist in museums with climate control, and even there, I understand, that it's a challenge. Fortunately, digital technology will help to archive some of the efforts of our artists, at least until a new technology comes along that offers a more permanent solution.

As for the new book, it's coming along slowly, but surely. In the meantime, here are a few things that I discovered down in the basement......

Various Life Drawings I did as a student dating back to 1979 - 80.

Thursday, 2 July 2015


No doubt by now, if you've been following along, you get the message that keeping and maintaining sketchbooks is important to one's development as an artist. Sketchbooks are also a treasury of memories.

I'm going to bring this series to a close as I'm anxious to get on with some other matters, the production and publication of yet another art book, and some sketching out and about now that we're enjoying a bit of good weather. I'm going to close with a few more sketches not necessarily in page order, that tend to reveal my personal development over the years.

I should also point out that this particular sketchbook gets dragged out from time to time to accompany me on my travels as, although close to full, it still has a few empty pages. I have a habit of doing this, purchasing and starting a new sketchbook before the last one is finished. Size and format have a lot to do with the fact that I tend to move on before finishing all the pages. It's the same with loose paper, I'm constantly changing for effect. I seem to always be experimenting.

Page 41. (1994) While wandering through the Copeland Forest I came across a fallen tree and thinking of a  possible source for a painting I scribbled a few lines

Page 45. (1994) One of wanderings in Horseshoe Valley during my lunchtime brought me to the top of the Valley. Note that I've scribbled using a lot of different lines of varying strength in order to emphasize different areas. 

Page 49. (1995) I was employed, if you'd call it that, as artist in residence at a resort in Muskoka District, Ontario, one weekend. My renumeration consisted of room and board, and an opportunity to sell my work. Tough life that of an artist.

Page 59. (1997) Sometime around 1997 I changed my focus from wildlife to landscape driven by the idea of producing digital art books. It was a time when PDF files, a universal format was introduced by Adobe. I purchased a "big" book and set about to learn how to produce PDF files. In 2001 I produced my first digital book. They're now called ebooks.

Page 61. (2000) My first ebook was a guide to Algonquin Provincial Park, something that required me to travel around the entirety of the park and produce literally hundreds of sketches and paintings. 

Page 63. We continue to haunt Algonquin Provincial Park and on each visit I make a few sketches.

Page 64. (2013) You'll notice that over the years I've changed my style of sketching/drawing.

Page 65. We were driving on Hwy 60 and passed by the Tea Lake campground affording a peekaboo look from the beach area out onto the lake.

Page 66. (2014) We've travelled up to Superior Lake Provincial park an many occasions. It's a long drive, but worth it as the scenery is spectacular. Here, I've used the sketchbook as a workbook to produce a rough sketch to sort out some details for a more detailed drawing.

Page 70. (2015) A couple of weeks ago we travelled through Algonquin on our way home from Ottawa, and as we passed by Tea Lake I observed another peekaboo vista.

I do hope that you've enjoyed my romp through one of my memory books. I'm going to take a bit of a break in order to finish my new book. I'll let you know the result of my efforts in due course. In the meantime get out there and do a bit of sketching!