black and white

Camera! (No) Action! Animals!

Recently, I have had access to a small private forest.  I set up a motion camera  to get a voyeuristic look at the creatures of the night. My real hope was to get images of a coyote in the brush before foliage appeared. I wanted to use this personally obtained reference for a  painting about solitude and alienation. For the first month the only evidence of any wildlife was the tiny silhouette of a bat far off in the darkness.  At least I knew the camera worked, but I had to reconsider its place. The results?  Something more suitable to a children's story. "Mr. Racoon, Mr. Possum and Ms. Cat live Alone in My Forest".  I have more animal action in my urban backyard.

Recently, when I was able to check out the camera, a new character arrived on the scene.  About 20 minutes after Ms. Cat prowled by, this fellow appears, and changes his course to follow what I believe are the cat's tracks. Hopefully, on my next check of the camera, I will see that this lovely fox was 20 minutes too late.

Fox checks out the tracks

 

Remembrance Day: It's Not Black & White. Red Poppies, Art & Stories

          The 24th Ottawa War Memorial 
 
On November 11, 2010, shortly before 11 a.m., I stood alone at the cenotaph near my countryside artist studio. Thousands of miles away, my first-born son  was stationed  in a FOB, i.e. a forward operating base in Afghanistan. He had been gone for months, and still had a couple of months yet to serve in his extended tour.

I have always observed Remembrance Day,  but never gave it deep thought. In school, I liked to draw poppies and was often the one chosen to recite "In Flanders Field" at assembly. I appreciated that my children's elementary schools put great effort into their Remembrance Day ceremonies, and sometimes I helped. But other than that?

Well, my age is showing. When I was born, in the dawn before internet and satellite tv, heck, colour tv would have been good, anecdotes about any war were ancient history to me.  You might as well have been talking about ancient Egyptians (except they were cooler).

When I was an older teenager, my mom  revealed to me, like a guilty secret, instead of the sad story it was, that she had been married before. Her husband, who she had adored, had been killed in WW2 and was buried somewhere in France.  Even though this was obviously a pivotal event in my mother's life, my teenage brain saw this as a tragic, romantic tale of love, not a story about war.  Still, my mom was old , and  this was all before my time, so even that  story got filed right along those of my WW1 & WW2 veteran family members.

But oh, what a difference  30 years and a truckload of hindsight makes.

My children are now at the age that my grandparents, parents, and their siblings were when they had their wartime experiences.   I can better imagine my predecessors as young people, now that I have a houseful of them myself. Much easier now to imagine them enlisting for idealistic adventure.  Much sadder to imagine the danger,  loneliness, sorrow, exhaustion, terror, and trauma they faced thousands of miles from home.

Now the stories make more sense. Stories of  obedience, endurance and perseverance, and of camaraderie, compassion, and bravery. And if they were lucky to come home, and not all my family members were, they brought secrets, war wounds and, sometimes, a war bride.

Oh, WW1, WW2, Afghanistan.

That is what I thought of as I stood, now joined by a few others, at that cenotaph that day. I snapped a photo of the cenotaph with my phone,  e-mailed the pic to my son telling him I loved him with all my heart, and that the good folk at the cenotaph wished him well.

To my amazement, he answered me right back.

War is the blackest foolishness, but iPhones, black or white, are mighty handy in wartime.

If you would like to send a Christmas wish to those military still serving overseas, click http://www.sears.ca/custom-content/operation-wish?extid=050211_ca_Vanity_EN_Unknown_Operationwish

Now You Know How the Mouse Feels

Finally! I  finished the third in the series of "Big Cat" oil paintings. Although visitors to my studio especially love the Big Cat 1 painting and it inspires many a conversation, I have great fondness for the humour behind this work. Wouldn't want to be the mouse. I envision this painting in someone's dining room over the sideboard. It's really title should be " Who's for Dinner?"

Cool Cat

Imagine this big Main Coon cat  greeting you in the hallway when you get home or on the big wall at the stair landing! Well loved by all that visit my studio - even by those who aren't cat fans  (as one woman stated "Imagine if it was a horse!") this cat would be a unique art work for the home.  Painting #2 in the Giant Cat Series. 60" high by 40" wide. Black and white oil painting with gold and silver oil paint and oil stick. Next up - "Who's for Dinner"  - the 3rd in the series is almost finished too.

New Art - Giant Cat Portrait Painting Continues

Yesterday I mentioned I used Tri-Art's sludge as the preliminary step (the canvas was already gessoed in white)  to starting this 60" x 48" cat painting. I was quite enamoured of the taupe, neutral colour of the sludge, and began the day by ensuring areas had the sludge show through. This was not my original vision for the painting. Sometimes it pays to go with one's instincts, but in this case it was keeping me from connecting with the portrait. If I don't fall in love with the face, I know something is wrong.

So back to the plan - Black and silver oil paint for this silver tabby. What appears white in this painting, or light gray is actually silver. The painting is not done yet. But the concept that one side of the cat disappears into the darkness, and the other side is awash in silver light -  is becoming clearer.

This oil painting incorporates the use of oil sticks as well as oil paints.