Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Nocturne Beach Daily Oil Painting a Day on Copper


Oil on Copper Sheet 6" x 6" or 15cm x 15cm
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The mysterious moon is a powerful influence on the shore. The tides are driven by the moon, making the sea so much more alive and ever changing. Flotsam and jetsam, kelp, sea creatures, shells and driftwood are all gifts left by the tides, sometimes reclaimed by the tides. Walking the ocean beaches in winter really is the biggest treasure hunt of all. I am looking forward to doing that sooner rather than later.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

San Juan Beach Daily Oil Painting a Day on Copper


Oil on Copper Sheet 6" x 6" or 15cm x 15cm
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Another day of dreaming of the summer beach. After all this snow, I really should be painting snow scenes.

Enough, I say. No more snow for now. There are still 8-10 inch piles of slush around. Not nice at all outside. Give me some nice clean rain to wash all the dirty slush away. Then, if we could have some more of the lovely clean white stuff, that would be okay as it lights up so beautifully under the city lights.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Rocky Beach Daily Oil Painting a Day on Copper


Oil on Copper Sheet 6" x 6" or 15cm x 15cm
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Winter Solstice has come and gone and now the days will get longer rapidly. I am looking forward to more sunshine. These winter storms that dropped the 10 inches of snow kept what little sun we get from reaching us through the clouds. There is a little bit of blue sky today, so I am hopeful for a blast of sunlight on the snow. That will be a treasure to see with the snow laying thick on all the tree branches. The contorted filbert has turned to a mass of strangely interwoven sculptural shapes.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Silent Watcher Daily Oil Painting a Day on Copper


Oil on Copper Sheet 6" x 6" or 15cm x 15cm
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The perfect perch for an eagle watching the shore. Such a fine, tall snag, this one had multiple perches to choose from. Rather unusual, I thought as I watched the sun slide behind the islands.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snow Melt Daily Oil Painting a Day on Copper


Oil on Copper Sheet 6" x 6" or 15cm x 15cm
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Out at Eagle Beach in Juneau, Alaska, there is a little picnic area with some very pretty rocks and trees by a pond. When I just had to go somewhere in the spring, this was a good destination. With only 40 miles or so of road, there weren't too many choices. I often took photos here or sketched the late winter beauty of the place.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Brrrrrrr!

I guess I am getting soft. It really isn't all that cold outside. Just in the 20's at night and 30's during the day, but I am really feeling it. I suspect the fact that I really haven't gotten my winter clothes out may have something to do with it. We have had such a balmy (though rainy) fall that I have forgotten to get out the wool, hats, scarves and mittens along with the winter footwear. I better do it soon.

Last week I was looking at blooming primroses in the yard and bulbs coming up, now they look like they have been frozen and thawed several times because they have. I moved the little fig in a pot into the garage, but was I soon enough?

I will have a painting ready for tomorrow, I promise, even if I paint wearing gloves.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Young Tree Daily Oil Painting a Day on Copper


Oil on Copper Sheet 6" x 6" or 15cm x 15cm
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What a glorious world we live in. The morning began with clumps and masses of snow on every branch and twig. There is no sculpture that can compare with the shapes of snow on tree branches for complexity and interest. The ancient cherry tree across the road has massive dark limbs that have been pruned to unusual shapes. The snow laid on them like frosting accented them in a very graphic way. Then a glossy black crow posed on one to provide just the accent the scene needed. Last night the waning moon shone so brightly on the new-fallen snow that the night was more like day. I would love to capture it in paint, but I needed sleep.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Waterfall Daily Oil Painting a Day on Copper


Oil on Copper Sheet 6" x 6" or 15cm x 15cm
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Waterfalls have always attracted me. The sight, the sounds, the freshness in the air create an engaging environment. Southeast Alaska has a multitude of waterfalls with its steep terrain and high rainfall. They are all beautiful in their own ways, falling like silver threads hung from the ridges of the mountains or tinsel on a Christmas tree. Norway has similar waterfalls adorning the mountains. I long to spend more time chasing waterfalls and less time on the minutiae of daily life.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sitka Logs Daily Oil Painting a Day on Copper


Oil on Copper Sheet 6" x 6" or 15cm x 15cm
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Where they are logging the old-growth timber in Southeast Alaska, it is not uncommon to find logs 3-6 feet in diameter. Some of these end up on the beaches from time to time. There used to be a pulp mill in Sitka, and big saltwater yards of logs, so the beaches always had logs on every little island around there. They are some of my favorite things to paint.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Dreaming Tree


Oil on Copper 6" x 6" or 15cm x 15cm

The trees along our shores often have the most interesting shapes. I believe it is a result of the storms they are exposed to or the high winds. Also, it is only some species of trees that can tolerate or even require the special conditions of the salt shore. Sometimes they are inundated with salt water, other times it is only salt spray that lashes them. Sometimes they are drenched with rain for day after day and other days they are desiccated by intense sun reflected from stone or sand and drying winds.

In response to such shaping forces they develop idiosyncratic postures and attitudes. Sometimes the shapes are achingly beautiful. The shapes can also be contorted and bunchy to the point that the tree looks more like a bush and as such loses its tree-ness. Trees are fine beings to contemplate.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Water Drainage


Oil on Copper Sheet 6" x 6" or 15cm x 15cm

The magical valley of the Skagit River is incredibly fertile land and as you can see from all the drainage canals between fields, it is well watered as well. When you see the water in a ditch it generally means that is the level of the water table in the area. For growing crops that is wonderful because it acts like subsurface irrigation. However when we have a lot of rain or warming in the mountains that suddenly melts a lot of snow pack, the Skagit floods all these fields, leaving behind sediment. If it is only a little sediment, no problem, but one year, there was as much as 6 feet of sand deposited on some areas of fields and all the fertile soil was buried too deep for the crop roots. I watched as some farmers brought in huge bottom plows that could turn the buried soil up to the surface again and other farmers loaded and trucked sand to dump elsewhere on their property other than their best land. This was a genuine disaster as this farmland is some of the finest in the country and a huge proportion of the frozen peas in the US are grown here and many other crops are grown here for their seeds for the seed companies. There are also orchards, berries, grains and bulbs grown here. Snow geese and swans overwinter here, eating the winter barley or wheat.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Quiet Contentment

If only I could be as easily happy as a well fed cat with a sunny window to sit in. The human condition seems to demand more effort from us to find happiness than just sitting in the sun, watching birds fly by out of reach.

I find my happiness in working towards goals. I have not been setting as many goals lately. I have been trying the cat method of happiness, eating well and sitting in the artificial sun of my computer screen. But you know what? It gets a bit boring pretty quickly. But I will just have to put up with a bit of boredom as I must get my December newsletter published and sent. It is a big job and takes a lot of computer hours to get there.

As usual, when I can't paint is when I have all the great ideas for paintings, so I am writing them down in a sketch book for later inspiration when I can get back to the paintings.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hill Top Daily Oil Painting a Day on Copper


Oil on Copper Sheet 6" x 6" or 15cm x 15cm
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This farmhouse was at the top of a little hill in Wisconsin. The leaves had already fallen from the trees and blown to where fall leaves go in windy places. The October sun was low in the sky and rather thin where it shone. Cool, growing cooler, I would say. The days were still pleasant enough to enjoy a little exploring of the lovely farm country of rolling hills and hidden ravines.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Rainy Day Thoughts

The best place to be on a rainy day is in the Inglenook. If you have one, that is. The next best place is next to the kitchen stove, especially if food making is in progress. Since I have no Inglenook, I will settle in the kitchen and watch a pot bubble or keep an eye on whatever is in the oven. I sit and read my art books while sipping tea at the kitchen table waiting for the next step of cooking projects.

It is warm and cozy in the kitchen, and the light is brighter here, or at least seems so. My memories of my mother or my grandmother in the kitchen are treasures to me. I can summon their presence back with an odor of baking pie or bread. Best of all, were my mother's sticky buns. No one could ever match those.

I would sit at a table and shell pecans so that she could make a batch of buns for our next day's breakfast. She would have them all set up in the pan and raised in the refrigerator, ready to pop into the oven first thing in the morning just so we could have them warm from the oven for breakfast. How she spoiled us all.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Night Stalker Daily Oil Painting a Day on Copper


Oil on Copper Sheet 6" x 6" or 15cm x 15cm
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Night is a very different experience away from the city. The night sounds are different. Frogs instead of sirens, although that does not mean the absence of danger. There are night stalkers about.

The sky is so much larger in the countryside. The moonlight is often bright enough to see to walk down a path or road. And when the moon is dark, the Milky Way is almost as bright where the air is dry and crystal clear.

I especially remember once walking by starlight in Portugal in October. The sky was like a basketful of diamonds thrown across a velvet cloak. The air so cold and clear that night, the stars shone steady without a twinkle and the Milky Way lighted my feet.