Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Wild in Shetland

an artist residency in a far away land

I have officially launched a campaign to make art in a wildly remote place steeped in nature, culture and story.

If you'd like to own some of my work and help make a dream come true, please consider this Kickstarter campaign.

* even if my work doesn't appeal to you, perhaps you have a friend that might feel differently? 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Earth laughs in flowers

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

With hollyhocks was kept ablaze;
In all my recollections they
In friendly columns nod and sway;
And when to-day their blooms I see,
Always the mother smiles at me;
The mind's bright chambers, life unlocks
Each summer with the hollyhocks.

Flowers don't worry about how they're going to bloom. They just open up and turn toward the light and that makes them beautiful. ~Jim Carrey

August, the summer day
 oil on canvas, plein air
 30x30in, copyright Jan Yates 2014

Thursday, August 7, 2014

got nuthin

nope, nothing to show you in regards to finished paintings.

that's not to say i haven't been busy with art related ventures.

one of them is a top secret comission with a looming deadline....

thought I'd share how I prepare
gesso surface, than acrylic under painting
 then oil
below  is the top third of a 24x48in work in progress. 
a long way to go..
I always chuckle when people mention how 'easy' painting must be-if they only knew what it takes to make it 'easy'-never mind the thought process and planning before even entering the studio!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

plein air painting, short and brief

Got all the way out to the hay field 

only to realize the unimaginable
forgot my white

went to ride my bike to fetch it

bungee cord stuck in the spokes
 hiked back to get white and knife

 started painting

  everyone and their dogs thought I needed conversion

 dog knocked over easel

 The intention was to bring this out and resume on a 'calmer' evening, but now I quite like it as is..

July, remains of the day
cold wax & oil
 plein air, 16x20in
 copyright Jan Yates, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

the summer day

I was supposed to be doing yard work this morning, deadheading, trimming etc.

Then the wind brought me yet another Robin’s nest-and I just couldn’t help myself.

New additions to my ‘summer day’ series:


Friday, July 18, 2014

a pretty good day so far

When I think of the horror and heartache that is currently happening in other parts of the world, I wonder how survivors cope-or at least get through. The human spirit is strong and tenacious, but  I am a coward-I don’t think I could get through if I couldn’t create.

Thank fate or god or both that I live where I do- and try never to take it for granted.

 July, a pretty good day so far
oil in canvas, plein air
24x36in, copyright Jan Yates 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

a dangerous world

Taking flight
be all right

I can’t help but worry. I’ve watched them gather materials, build the cradle, nurture and fiercely protect their babies. Only to be sent out to a cruel world.

On yesterday’s walk my heart broke yet again-the fields were being plowed. The fields where my Red-wings and Bobolinks build their families.

I am hoping the fledglings were strong enough to take flight.

 July, a summer day
encaustic mixed media on panel
8 1/2x11in, copyright Jan Yates 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014

why I like plein air painting

Sky is full

 Blinding when the sun falls

Squint and only see patterns

a circle of brilliant pulsating light-shapes

Illuminating field

Now, the portal

 July, remains of the day
 oil on canvas, plein air 12x24in
copyright Jan Yates 2014 

The summer evenings here in Niagara have been comfortably cool. Below, students enjoying the late golden light.


If you are interested in coming out for some plein air sessions, just let me know. The lovely thing about painting up here is you can work pretty well undisturbed by passers by-well, if you don't count the odd dog or two...

Monday, July 7, 2014

taking flight

taking flight
is not a given
all though not always right
all is not lost

Thirty-odd nests have made their way to me over the years. They are not ‘stolen’ as I know birds like to return year after year to the same spot and use the existing structure and build on it-the less work for them the better!
No, they are nests that have been blown down by the fierce winds or abandoned, like the cardinals’ nest in this image.

 a summer day
 8x10in, oil & cold wax on canvas 
words/image copyright Jan Yates 2014

The cardinals were nesting in a vine structure on the porch and one day the mother did not come back.

The heartbreak was in the Father. For weeks and weeks he would call for her, over and over through out the day, his frantic whistles painfully pleading for her return.

So I thought it fitting to make this on the porch. I’ve highlighted the nest, on the lower left, in the image below.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

taking flight

I watched you
Taking Flight
hoping for
a full circle
and a
safe landing

A Summer Day
cold wax & oil on canvas, 8x16in
copyright Jan Yates 2014 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

For Every Bird a Nest

For every bird a nest
Wherefore in timid quest
Some little Wren goes seeking round
Wherefore when boughs are free
Households in every tree
Pilgrim be found?
Perhaps a home too high
Ah Aristocracy!
The little Wren desires
Perhaps of twig so fine
Of twine e’en superfine,
Her pride aspires
The Lark is not ashamed
To build upon the ground
Her modest house
Yet who of all the throng
Dancing around the sun
Does so rejoice?

Emily Dickinson

June, a summer day
 encaustic on panel, 12x30in
copyright Jan Yates 2014 

This is the painting in progress. It's lovely to receive & incorporate  'gifts' into art-kind of like exchanging seeds or plants for your garden-share, nurture, grow...thanks Olga for the feathers!
My July teaching schedule has just been updated, so if you would like to grow your own work of art, please visit

Monday, June 23, 2014

the longest day

The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year, when the Sun is at its highest point in the northern hemisphere.

The June Solstice was hugely significant in ancient societies, a time when the Sun’s magnetic power was at its most intense.  It represented fertility, and marked an important time for the harvests of the coming year to be blessed.

This power has carried through in places of worship and burial sites, from ancient standing stones to pyramids and tombs. These structures were designed to align with the sacred time of the year, when the sun was at its most powerful. While spending time in Ireland I was fortunate to visit sites that the Neolithic pagan cultures built and the experience was profound.

Years of living on agricultural land has heightened my awareness of the sun’s power, and this is my annual way of marking it, to somehow hold sacred.  

 June 21, Remains of the Day
oil / cold wax on canvas, plein air, 16x20in 
copyright Jan Yates 2014, available

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

 Images copyright Jan Yates,  2014, sold

Tuesday, June 17, 2014



It was a turbulent unsettling day.
This morning my gear-laden plein air class headed out-the looming mighty thunder followed so we hiked all the way back and worked under the gazebo and porch. 

This painting was made as the wind threw rain and was knocking everything around-the blue thing is a purse-I like putting plants in purses-

 June, oil /cold wax on canvas, 18x24in, copyright Jan Yates 2014

Thursday, June 12, 2014

as I long to be

Now that I’m free to be myself, who am I?
Cant’ fly, can’t run, and see how slowly I walk.
Well, I think, I can read books.
               ‘What’s that you’re doing?’
the green-headed fly shouts as it buzzes past.
I close the book.
Well, I can write down words, like these, softly.
'What's that you're doing?' whispers the wind, pausing
in a heap just outside the window.
Give me a little time, I say back to its staring, silver face.
It doesn’t happen all of a sudden, you know.
'Doesn't it?' says the wind, and breaks open, releasing
distillation of blue iris.
And my heart panics not to be, as I long to be,
the empty, waiting, pure, speechless receptacle.
—Mary Oliver
 "Blue Iris," from What Do We Know: Poems and Prose Poems (Da Capo Press, 2002)

June,  oil/ cold wax on canvas, plein air, 12x18in
copyright Jan Yates,  2014, available

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Tree stories

Through the seasons this locust tree, framed by a lightning- struck fence, has been a constant source of awe. 

As well as being a social hub for birds, and their families- having been raised in her protective mass of  gnarled limbs- the bees also take nectar from her heady blooms. The honey is divine.

 June, the Locust tree, oil on canvas, plein air,  16x20in,  copyright Jan Yates 2014

~ William Carlos Williams

Thursday, June 5, 2014

little June

"I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June."
-  L. M. Montgomery

The long June days keep me outside working on things growing which I hope to post soon.

However, as I was putting my paints away just as the light was leaving, I looked out the door..

Little June, oil /cold wax on canvas, 8x10in,
copyright Jan Yates 2014, available

Monday, June 2, 2014

Upcoming Plein Air workshops

Plein Air season is in full throttle here in Niagara, and I have just updated teaching sessions. Info below, or on my website.

 Please don't hesitate to let me know if you are interested in participating, and of course I'm happy to provide any further info upon request.

Plein Air Painting
for the outdoor enthusiast

held on the Niagara Escarpment, a Unesco world biosphere reserve

Paint a midst colourful orchards, vineyards, fields and beautiful skies in this painters' paradise. For those preferring to paint structures, there are barns, fences and wonderful fallen down sheds for inspiration. You will work uninterrupted by passersby and all levels are welcome.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

you are everywhere

'The Lilacs are out and I'm thinking of you'-recent email to my Daughter. Every spring she would make a point of picking some for me. I hold the memory close.

I love this passage from 'Lilacs' by Amy Lowell

' Lilacs in dooryards
Holding quiet conversations with an early moon;   
Lilacs watching a deserted house
Settling sideways into the grass of an old road;
Lilacs, wind-beaten, staggering under a lopsided shock of bloom
Above a cellar dug into a hill.
You are everywhere.'

May, Quiet Conversations,  oil / cold wax on canvas, 16x20in, copyright Jan Yates 2014

*On another note, I am happy to report that Saturday's open studio event was a perfect day! Thanks to new visitors and collectors, students, neighbours, friends and loyal patrons for stopping by. Your support means more than I can say.
The only downside - I was so busy in conversation, I forgot to take photos !