Bowen Island

Bowen Island: Acrylic on Canvas (18″ x 24″) 

For the first three years I painted exclusively on paper. But this summer my husband Tom bought me a 3-pack of canvases at Michael’s. This, my first canvas, tries to capture a ridiculously neon sunset seen from our balcony, looking to the northwest towards Bowen Island during one of those perfectly long, hot summer days when the sun sets so far to the north.

Painting on canvas is a very different experience. The warp and weave of the surface becomes part of the painting, creates texture, and the paint and brush drag differently across the surface, the paint not nearly as saturated.

In earlier paintings I would often apply layer after layer of different shades of the same hue in rough, jabbing dashes trying to create texture and depth, hoping to infuse the painting with rich, glowing, saturated colours.

But the physical sensation and nature of painting on canvas completely changed that. I ended up with a much less-saturated palette. So I’m pleased some sense of the neon radiance I was trying to capture in this paler imitation somehow shows through.


Tulips: Acrylic on Paper (12″ x 14″)

I always know when I’m ready to paint something when I start imagining the brush strokes I might use to capture the feeling of that shape, just as a violinist might imagine how they would bow out some melody while looking at a score of music — the long, flowing, continuous sweep of legato, or the sharp, brisk accented attacks of staccato …

in this case, I wanted to try and capture the crazy, swirly, wild bendiness and decadent dissolution of tulips just before they begin to fall apart.

We were staying up at Sakinaw Lake at my sister Paddy’s place. I had taken her a bouquet of bright orange tulips. Several days later they were resting on a wooden table glowing orange in the late afternoon sun.

On the left is a photograph of the painting framed.



Saturna Island

Saturna Island: Acrylic on Paper (12″ x 14″)

During a ten-day stay on Saturna Island at my brother Mike’s home there, we started going on walks through the woods as a way of breaking up the day.

One day we walked through a forest and emerged right onto the southern tip of the island. I was immediately struck by the gorgeous bright yellow colour of the dried out grass contrasting with the deep shadows and lush green on the floor of the forest, framed on top not by a band of blue sky, but the bright blue ocean just beyond the grass-coloured bluff.


Tumbo Island

Tumbo Island: Acrylic on Paper (12″ x 14″)

In the summer of 2017, Tom and I spent an idyllic ten days at my brother Mike’s place at the south end of Saturna Island. Tom read a long book about the life of Julia Child. We played cribbage. Online was painfully slow so we abandoned it. I got a big chunk of writing done.

Right around cocktail hour, a group of deer would emerge silently, magical, looking at us intently, drooling slightly. They instinctively trusted Tom, as any sentient being would, and let him feed them by hand.

From the deck we looked across a sound to Tumbo Island. By the time we had finally slowed down to the speed of nature, I became entranced by the energy in the fast ocean currents racing around the island, with a rip tide clearly visible further to the east.

It was a very happy sojourn, which I hope this captures, at least a little.

English Bay Beach

English Bay Beach: Acrylic on Paper (12″ x 14″)

Painting outdoors is one of the world’s most delicious pleasures. There is something immediately bohemian about it, and for a moment, at least, it is possible to imagine yourself in the company of one of the great artists, who are often pictured painting outside.

Painting outside in the crowded park adjoining English Bay Beach, though, changes the experience from one of joyous isolation dwarfed by the majesty of boundless nature, into something more akin to burlesque. People, being people, want to see what you’re doing and judge the result. They want to see if what you’re painting bears any resemblance at all to what they are seeing, too, with their own eyes.

That sunny afternoon, standing in the shade of a giant tree that is sadly no longer there, I tried to capture the energy in the light reflecting off of the water and glinting sand, and the energy of the gentle but restless surf as the Pacific Ocean made final landfall, tamed and caressing the sandy shore.

That day I spoke at some length with a policeman who took an embarrassing (to me) interest in this, one of my earlier efforts. To my repeated protestations that painting for me was really just therapy, he emphatically encouraged me and took great interest in the way I tried to capture what we both were looking at. He was more than kind.

I quite like the childish and purposeful lack of perspective in this painting. It is very much me.