A Bigger Big Pine

"Big Pine, Early Spring"
22 X 28" Oil on Canvas

I think the Williams family needs to adopt this tree as our clan crest.

Here it is again, with many of the same compositional devices, but with more road, more sky, and a lot more blue. I wanted, above all, to get the effect of the intense blue of the sky and how it bleeds into and dissolves the outlines of the tree. I'm not an Impressionist. I'm not interested in flux, in impermanent lighting conditions. However, actual optical effects do interest me--but more in the tradition of Vermeer (Using the digital camera, rather than the camera obscura. Hey, I'm a man of my times, as he was.)

I also expanded on the device of the lines of the foreground running through into the sky, tree and background. I copy the tones found in nature, my draftsmanship is accurate, and I use both aerial and linear perspective, but, under no circumstances will I sacrifice the integrity of the picture-plane. It's a two-dimensional surface, period. I don't put holes in people's walls.

Interestingly, the tree itself is not that much bigger than the last attempt, even though the canvas is four inches larger in both dimensions. I may have to go radically big to get the full monumentallity of this tree. It's not over yet!


Springtime in the South

"Apricot Orchard, Osoyoos"
24 X 30" Oil on Canvas.

My good wife found this one, from the balcony of the care home my grandfather lives in. She has a pretty good eye for what I need, and relates emotionally to art, even though she is not artistically inclined (she claims). Well emotional reaction is what art is all about, and she has that part dialed.

I've been wanting to paint this subject matter for ages, and hear it is. Van Gogh famously tackled this subject, but my treatment here is more Cezanne. Well, I was born in the Okanagan, so I don't have much excuse not to tackle the subject.

Unusually for me, no sky is showing, only the rising sagebrush hills. The slightly askew horizontal and vertical axis, the unified tonalities, and the treatment of both the tree-trunks and branches, as well as the white house, all give a stiff nod to Uncle Paul. This is because my aim is the same as his--to unify the picture-plane and compress the internal pictorial space. It's a 2-D surface, and I want to keep it as such. Buit if the volume of the house and the planes of the background, orchard and foreground where all parallel to the picture-plane, it would loose its internal dynamism and become a bit boring. So it is in the space between static and dynamic that the picture makes its home in the eye.

You'll notice one obvious device in the vertical of the telephone pole which is continued into the foreground tree-brace. This exists in the photo, and is simply emphasized there.

I gave the canvas a light reddish-brow wash after the drawing was done to keep the canvas from glaring through. You can see how I use it in this detail shot. The field behind the house is the ground itself. This also helps create the feeling of overcast light.

The far background/ top looks contrived, but that also was in the photo, just harnessed by me to allow a circular motion against the top and keep the horizontals from running out so badly.

All pink and green. it was fun to paint a lot of some colours I don't use a lot of otherwise.

Christ Church Cathedral

"Christ Church Cathedral" 18 x 24" Oil on Canvas.

In the spirit of innovation, and to continue with the promise I made myself a few posts ago, here is Christ Church Cathedral under a sultry summer sky, painted fast and loose. The painting underneath (turned on its side) provides a textural and tonal base. I'm all about having fun and not copying to strictly with this one. Yet the tones and details I include are just enough to firmly place it, looking south down Quadra St. The cars, cube-van, streetlight, and London Drugs sign--it's all there, but I make you work for it.

I'm becoming fixated with this old building.

Scintillating like a fire opal, I once again make the sky the focal point with successive overpaintings, deliberately building up the impasto. Well, the focal point is really the tower, and its contrast with the burning summer sky.

Mmmmm. Ice cream for the eye.


Douglas Lake Revisited--In Person

Open Range, Douglas Lake. Oil on Canvas. 22 X 28"

Going back to the Okanagan with my Dad and my new bride for a honeymoon, we took the obvious "shortcut" of the Douglas Lake Road, just down the #5 from Merritt.

Well, well. The Big Tree is still there! As it has been for about 200 years. And as we hope it will be for another 200. Such a relief to come around the corner and find it here. We were all a bit apprehensive, what with all the beetle-kill on that mountain... .

I took a print of my painting of it to my 95-year-old grandfather in Osoyoos. We told him that we had gone up through Douglas Lake, and he immediately said, "Yeah there's a really big pine tree near the summit on that road... ." And I said "Boy, have I got a surprise for you!" Some things just work out.

While we were up there I got a couple of really good shots from different angles of the Tree, and I hope to be working them up over the winter, if not sooner.

But for now, here is a seemingly plain piece of just rangeland and sky. I tried to copy the shapes of the clouds fairly exactly (although I may have overworked them a bit) and increased the amount opf colour in the photo. It was shot through the dusty window of a Honda minivan. I picked out a few subtly repeating curves, too. It was hard to paint that much drab tone; the dead grass and leafless trees of early spring.