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Monday, 31 March 2014

First Real Feeling Spring Day of 2014 - The Bluffs

Well, for me anyway, in terms of being outside purposefully. There have been about 2 so far, that felt Springish, since Mar 20th. We didn't get out for a walk this past weekend, mainly because I was occupied Sunday with fun plans with my daughter, using tickets I received from work for the Toronto Rock game which we really enjoyed! We ran into the gold medal bob sled girl there, Kailie Humphries, almost bumping into her and her girlfriend, but by the time my daughter recalled her name she was too far to approach, say hi, congrats and ask if she minded taking a photo with my daughter. "Running" into her made my daughter's day though! Man, me not being an athlete and into sports, I would Never have known who she was lol! I enjoyed spending the day with my daughter.

Right after I got home from work, John and I headed to Bluffers Park to see if we would be honoured with the presence and a sighting of the Buffle Heads and the Mink. The Buffies we saw but no Minkie showed. Another time maybe :-)

There was, crazy as it seemed (ok, it's not That warm out) , a jet skier down seemingly testing a jet ski with a group of people. Though I guess it caused the ducks and swans to slightly freak out and fly, it ended up giving me some birds in flight and various swan water ballet photo opps lol! The birds would fly a bit of a ways away, eventually come back in, just to fly out again when he circled and returned.

Though I'm not a big Scarborough fan (yet we live here now) it was fun and seeing the Buffles so close compared to Whitby where you'd need a 600+ mm zoom just to see them, being that they are chickens there, it was cool to see them closer and actually see their shimmery colors in the dark neck patterns.

Not sure what was up with the odd dude, his friend, and his toy...

It was quite mucky there and we (mostly me) ended up with shoes deep in the mud not to mention tons of goose poop that was all over the mucky grass too.

One thing that tells you it's Spring is seeing the Red Winged Black Birds and hearing their call, not to mention seeing one spread eagled precariously across 2 marsh grasses staring right at us :-)

Sunday, 23 March 2014

My Old Landscapes

Landscape painting, I always found, was therapeutic. It was a nice break from the more concentrating necessary practice of portraits, and even still life. With landscape, less is generally more. Capturing the atmosphere or "feel", and not just the details of the subjects, is what tends to make it successful. A few strategically placed skilled brush strokes that give the viewer that exact impression of the light conditions, the atmosphere, and the colours which that light creates without one ounce of rendered detail being necessary. Are my landscapes like this? Not really - I wish they were lol! I did try not to make everything the exact level of detail, but they weren't those luscious loose strokey "I captured the light and shadow and feel in 5 strokes more or less". That takes natural skill, an already inborn propensity towards that way of painting. I know it when I see it but I can't mimic it. However, I still found that painting landscape was a freeing sort of process and although it wasn't my biggest personal thrill physically or mentally as an artist, my landscapes were well received and family and buyers liked them.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Cheating or Not Cheating?

Well, yesterday, when working with some of the woodpecker images I shot, and which are in my previous post, I suddenly realized something. Looking at the images close I see that the hole in the wood seems to have this light amber golden what looks to be something slightly gooey and that is what the birds had on their beaks in several of my shots. Click! (and not a camera shutter - my brain) omg, is that peanut butter? All of a sudden the photos I managed to get lacked some of the thrill, a bit of the lustre, lol! Ok, either some avid bird photographer was putting peanut butter in the hole so they could get a shot of the birds real close or someone came along who maybe always does, and provided the birds with a needed source of food in what has proven to be a pretty fierce winter.

I don't know, discovering this, having this visual explanation as to why the sudden influx of woodpeckers which seemed to us to be this amazing experience, kinda scaled down the thrill a few notches when I realized "oh, it was the bloody peanut butter" lol! It made my images seem not so lucky, not so amazing and thrilling and certainly way less natural, upon learning Why the birds came so close, why we got so lucky and had so many of them to see and get a chance to photograph.

But, on the same token, that peanut butter allowed us to get to see these amazing creatures, especially the boy Downey Woodpecker, closer than I have ever seen before, left us feeling elated and amazed, made our day, made us feel grateful, and allowed me to see the detail of these wonderful little creatures even better once we got home and looked at my shots (since really, my long distance eyesight has never been good never mind great). It also meant that they are able to survive and hopefully flourish in the aftermath of that really hard which was lived through both by people and animals.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Our Old Haunt

We decided today that we wanted to visit our old area, the area we loved, the enjoyment and walks having been long missed since our move in October 2013 not to mention the pretty icy and cold winter we've had. Halls Rd. and Lynde Shores, we missed you :-)

 Having first arrived, we ran into a really nice guy we knew from a couple years back, a nice and knowledgeable guy who used to do guided Rouge walks, one of which we went along on back in 2011 or so. He mentioned he hadn't seen a lot around on his walk this morning. He did however give us some tips of where to walk, off the beaten path trails, in our new area, near the Bluffs in Scarborough. Lots of dragon fly species and butterfly species he says are often only seen on those specific trails, which we look forward to checking out now! At Halls Rd., there were cute Chickadees and some American Tree Sparrows, the Red squirrel was out and about too, but nothing to exciting at Halls. The lake was high up on shore, and we saw that the ice storm didn't spare Halls Rd. - lots of downed branches and trees.

We headed over to Lynde Shores. The ice patterns on the marsh were cool! We headed along the chickadee path and sure enough, there were the usual Wild Turkeys. There were lots of squirrels, lots of Nut Hatches, tons of Black Capped Chickadees, and we saw Red Cardinals and some sort of sparrow we couldn't quite identify.

There was a raptor of some sort, which flew across and into a mid dense tree area. We knew it was a raptor but we couldn't quite tell which exact one. It was a hawk of some sort.

As we neared the back area, as usual, there were suddenly a bunch of exciting bird visitors :-) The most exciting creature, who flew right near John and right at eye level, was the resident Red Bellied Woodpecker. We had heard her but hadn't spotted her yet. Right after that, I couldn't keep my camera still for then a male and female Downey Woodpecker couple joined us and right after that, a female Hairy Woodpecker. They were closer than usual. So adorable and looked very healthy!

Hope to get a few more pics up after these here. Loving using my zoom lens again having replaced  my broken camera!

New Camera!

With the coming of Spring, Summer, and my daughter's grad most importantly, I really needed to be able to use my camera and my zoom lens.

Originally, we were trying to save for the Nikon DF. Though that camera is ideal for the artist/photographer mix that I am I would be sacrificing other possible expenses, like a car break down, etc.,  too much to purchase an almost $3000 camera. We saw a used D90 at an amazing price so we grabbed it. It is an upgrade from my D70 which broke down finally after 7+ years and over 30000+ actuations of the shutter (I was lucky).

I am thrilled to have my camera replaced! I hope for it to last a year or 2 until we may be in a better position to buy a camera that should then pretty much be a long time lasting purchase as it is a camera that would be worth taking in to be repaired. Walks and photo taking were my leisure and enjoyment :-) They were a constant mini vacation :-) The joy we got from them was indescribable. Now we have that again :-)

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

A Contemporary Realist Show at Loch Gallery in Toronto

Beginning March 15th, there is a realist show featuring some of the represented artists' work, at Loch Gallery in Yorkville, Toronto, Ontario. My partner John has two pieces in it. I look forward to heading down with him Saturday, seeing some of his friends, and seeing the works in person (though I've seen his :-)


Monday, 10 March 2014

Detail of Large Pencil Portrait

Three weekends in a row I have gotten in about 6 or 7 hours all together so far on my large drawing. The drawing is 22x30. It is on illustration board. The old illustration board that was my very favourite back in the late 80s while at art college, Crescent Board, is long discontinued, much to many artists' chagrin as it was awesome. I found Strathmore illustration board 300lb a few years ago that I ended up liking a lot too. However, funny enough, I could only get it at Michael's of all places, no art stores sold it. The board I bought at Curry's is Peterboro though. It is fine for pencil, not an over crazy tooth, but for watercolour I would only use Strathmore as it holds up much better to scrubbing back pigment, a technique I loved in watercolour.

This is a detail of the whole drawing, the face and shoulder beginnings. This pic was shot with my cell phone so of course the resolution is Not ideal, it is quite compressed, more contrasty than the original drawing, and smooshy looking. I do not smudge when drawing, I layer and I scrub back a lot with a soft eraser. I have never liked the look of smudging, I find it has an unreal looking feel, and it always struck me as having that "amateurish looking beginner artist who draw glitzy plastic repros of stars from published photos" sense, especially when you see it inconsistently mixed with non smudge areas. I like visual texture too so maybe that is why smudging is too polished a finish look for my taste. I know my views are probably unfounded since I am sure a lot of accomplished draughts persons use smudging, I just don't care for it, nor the feel of doing it physically.

I have just under 1 year to complete this drawing, and it is daunting, especially the figure part, but I am confident I will finish.

To work, I sit cross legged on the couch, putting my one foot to sleep (not all artists have studios), with my drawing propped up against a large board, and my reference image on my screen, and me a few inches from both so I do not need my glasses. This is a good thing because I would need bifocals and I don't have them either. I will most likely pay for this when I am 70+ as my back and shoulders also kill after the couple hours I work like this but I just ignore it. Anything one has enough passion for, one is willing to take a little pain for lol!