recent paintings and news

recent paintings and news

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Desiderata: things that are yearned for (sold)

On the eve of a new year I always think of Max Ehrmann's (c.1920)
words of wisdom:


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

December (missing Guinn)
oil on canvas
30x36in, 2008, sold

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Solstice and change (sold)

This December, on the day before solstice, it was warm, misty and rainy, looking more like April in the Niagara Region.

April, Niagara Escarpment
cold wax/oil on canvas
16x20in, 2007, sold

last December we had a nice layer of snow.....

December, Remains of the Day
oil on canvas
14x36in, 2010

Climate change is affecting the world and can't be ignored-for too many reasons I won't go into here.

I am happy, however, that there will always be a solstice and that the days are now getting longer!


Sunday, December 11, 2011

full circle

It takes a long time to grow young.
Pablo Picasso

My grandparents had a farm and when I was growing up it was where I would be. With a sense of adventure and imagination I’d wander their open fields of possibility in anticipation of what I might see. Even then I relished in being alone (excepting dogs) and loved the hidden feeling that the wild meadows provided.

And here I am more than forty years past yet only five miles from where it all began. wandering fields. with dogs. alone. I love it. But I can’t help wondering: are the field wanderings of my youth to blame for my ongoing obsession?

The location of the painting below is where I stop and meditate on daily walks and resonates with me on many levels.

December (greenbelt disaster)
Niagara Escarpment
mixed media on canvas
40x40in, 2011


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Snow, Sky: November's farewell

Lately I have been so very scattered and I know it is because I have not 'allowed' myself enough creation time. And by that I don't mean the physical act of making art-as we all know it's the 'before' time to process that fuels the work.

November, Remains of the Day 
mixed media on canvas, 8x8in, 2011, available

But I see light at the end of the tunnel-a winding down with business and personal issues that are getting in the way. So today was my transition day. I went for a long rejuvenating walk-and it started to snow! It was light, gentle, tentative  -and like a cleansing-then the snow melted and left without a trace that it was ever there.

Back in the studio around 5PM, I glanced out the window and was struck by an incredibly turquoise and pink sky. I grabbed a wee canvas and just responded. Change is often sublte but in a matter of hours can be so splendidly different.

Below is an earlier work, a first snow in December 09, but it put me in mind of today's transition.

oil on panel
14x14in, 2009


Sunday, November 27, 2011

She loved a November Sky

The image below was made as respite from the paintings I am working on for the February show, although I may include it as it relates to the theme.

Initially I wanted to explore the field, as I love the way is sits this time of year. The dormancy and texture put me in mind of a tapestry, and the particles lifted and swept by the wind remind me yet again that nature is never still-minute microcosms playing in the air.

But when I got into the painting the sky seemed to take over and I let it. My Mother, who passed away less than a year ago, loved the yellows in a grey November sky. I remember our November walks and country drives-pulling over to the side of the road to marvel at the simple splendour of a November Sky.

As I’ve mentioned before, I often like to paint on top of older paintings and that’s exactly what I did here as I thought it might add to the texture of the field. There was a lot of red in the under-painting which I think added to the depth in the land portion. I did, however, prime the sky portion with aluminum and am happy I did as the greys and lighter hues retained their clarity more so I think than had I not used it. I did get carried away though-when the painting was very wet I gently dispersed some fine aluminum powder throughout the sky as well as in the field-in hopes of emulating the wee field particles caught in the shifting light. It did work-depending on how the light hits it there is a subtle trick of the eye quality-a bit of movement.

November(She loved a November Sky)
Niagara Escarpment
oil & aluminum on canvas
30x30in, 2011

Unfortunately because of the aluminum’s reflective qualities, it makes it REALLY difficult to photograph. In the actual painting, the tones and value shifts in the sky are closer-the top left more subdued and even and the willow tree on the lower left horizon line much lighter/brighter. I will let the whole painting dry and re-shoot.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Liah's Tree

This is the other small painting made last week during my plein air hiatus-it was a very grey misty day yet with evocative light meandering in and out.

November, Liah's Tree
oil on canvas
11x14in, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

plein air & murmuration

The painting below was made last week during a 'plein air hiatus' from the large works going on in the studio...

oil on aluminum primed canvas
11x14in, 2011

*And I am sure by now most of you have seen the 'Murmuration' video-good to know that nature has gone viral!
I can't get enough of it, so here it is-Rhonda and Katherine V I can't help but think of you....
Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Winter Moons

I was painting in the studio today and time got away from me so didn’t get out for a walk until the sun went down. The fresh air was quite brisk and it was invigorating to be out in it after such a long day. I love how the fields look this time of night-full of mystery! On one side of the field the sky held smokey clouds highlighted in crimson and yellow from the just-departed sun, and on the other side was a full bright moon in a luminous blue haze.

When I got back I made these little paintings on small canvases that were primed with aluminum pigment. I worked with hardly any paint, mostly dry-brushing and wiping out passages to reveal the reflective aluminum. It’s difficult to photograph works on reflective surfaces and one can’t see the nuances in tone but I’m quite pleased. I think that I will work larger on the same surfaces-if I ever finish current  paintings that I have on the go!

Winter Moon 2
oil on aluminum primed canvas
6x6in, 2011

Winter Moon 1
oil on aluminum primed canvas
6x6in, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


'For me November brings a new cycle of inspiration and tends to be one of my most prolific months.  As I write there are already a couple of ‘Novembers’ waiting on the easel in various states of ‘undress’.'

It's funny that these words, written last November, apply to this one. I am still madly working on some larger studio works (not the same ones). But since the weather is behaving this week, I have managed to sneak out for plein air breaks. They still need some fine tuning so in the meantime, an earlier 'November'-and yes, they are the same trees out of my studio window that you have seen in previous posts.

November, Letting go
oil on canvas

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Pretty Good Day So Far

I think one of the main reasons I paint outside is to let the natural world transport me from the responsibilities and worries that life tends to throw our way. And it doesn’t have to be painting- hiking the same path daily with my dogs will continually show me something new-whether it be the milkweed-open right now with fluffy cotton seedlings waiting for the wind, or red sumac standing against cobalt sky-or the sight of deer out of the corner of my eye, standing very still hoping that I won’t see. Nature is pretty f#ing amazing, and lately I have been thinking about how much I have ‘gotten through’ because of it.

This is an older painting, but one of my favourites:

A Pretty Good Day So Far
oil on canvas
8x10in, 2001

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

last Illusions & Aluminum

November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.
- Emily Dickinson

The leaves were falling on all sides like the last illusions of youth under the tears of irremediable grief. A brood of chattering birds were chasing each other through the shrubberies, and playing games among the branches, like a knot of hiding schoolboys. Every landscape is, as it were, a state of the soul, and whoever penetrates into both is astonished to find how much likeness there is in each detail.
- Henri Frederic Amiel

Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile.
William Cullen Bryant

oil on aluminum primed canvas
11x14in, 2011

I have been using pure aluminum powder with my encaustic works and today I thought that I would try it as a ground for my oil paintings. I have, in the past, painted straight onto steel but was curious to see how a stretched canvas ground, primed with aluminum pigment, would take the brush and paint. I quite like it so far as application. This was painted fairly thin and I am wondering if, once it settles a bit, any of the reflective qualities of the aluminum will shine through...(in a good way I hope)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Encaustic workshop FUN


Yesterday I held an encaustic workshop and  actually remembered to take some pictures. I am usually so busy that I never get time to take pics and regret it afterwards. 

This was a really nice session with just two willing participants, so they had lots of hands-on time.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Encaustic workshop -openings- Oct 26

If you live nearby and want to have some fun, there is an opening at next week's encaustic painting workshop.
I will share techniques including photo transfer, collage, colour, glazing, layering, drawing, printmaking, mono type and, new: cold wax/oil techniques. 
Classes are enjoyable for those with no previous art-making experience as well as returning artists who want to further explore this alluring and tactile medium.
Below are a few examples of the versatility of encaustic painting.

 *These encaustic tapestries are from a 1998 series that I embarked on after  becoming interested in ancient cultural icons-please excuse the glarey photos.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Today was a very changeable day. The wind was throwing leaves from the trees and the sky was trying to catch them.

I've been working all week on a large painting in the studio and trying my darned-est to ignore the fast-changing colours of the land outside.

I did need a break though-what I find about working on large paintings are the continuous choices and decision making throughout the process-from start to finish. I require complete concentration so I can fully engage with the work so schedule at least 7 hours per session for large scale paintings. This exhausts me after a few days and I find I have to switch gears.

Time away from the work is just as important as the work itself, allowing for consideration re where I will go with the work and why, as well as reflect on and distill what I have learned from the process.

so in the meantime....

Today the strong winds were dancing with boughs and branches before throwing last leaves to the ground - I just had to catch the whirling remains before they, too, surrendered to the season.

oil on canvas
11x14in, 2011

*for those who follow my work this will look familiar. It is the view from my studio window and I have painted -and will paint-it many times. These same trees are featured on top of this blog, but on a foggy November day.


Saturday, October 8, 2011


Day is the hero's shield,
Achilles' field,
The light days are the angels.
We the seed.

Against eternal light and gorgon's face
Day is the shield
And we the grass
Native to fields of iron, and skies of brass.

Kathleen Raine

October, Remains of the Day
oil on canvas
30x30in, 2011, available

I’ve had my eye on this field since Spring. It is behind my property and through the years, different crops have been planted. When my neighbour told me that it was soy this season, my heart jumped. I love the russet colours and mottled texture that it becomes in the fall. (I prefer to think that it isn’t GMA)

As lagged as I am from my trip, I just had to get out and paint. To to be greeted with perfect fall weather-warm, sunny, low breeze and no bugs-irresistible- there won't be many left..


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Amsterdam with Van Gogh & Rembrandt


When I planned my recent journey to Germany, I also, with a lot of help, mapped out a detour before heading home and made a train ride pilgrimage to Amsterdam to visit the Van Gogh Museum.

I have experienced Van Goghs’ work 'live' in California as well as here in Canada but needless to say I was so very moved by the body of work presented in this museum. So much so that I held back tears more than once.   

Like many artists who depict the natural world, I feel a symbiotic connection with Van Gogh.  Throughout the years I have developed a deep regard for his unwavering faith in his work and his courage to continue on in his own path-despite the onslaught of  obstacles that he endured. And when he could endure no more, he took his life rather than take a different road. I admire a lot of artists who go out in the land and paint;  but only a  few I feel deeply in regards to how they become one with the land with such raw, honest emotion.

It was fascinating to view Van Goghs’ influences (so much more than I realized re Japanese), the artists who influenced him, and artists that were influenced by him. It was also riveting to follow his earlier dark works as they brightened in their chroma and varied in malleable application. I was also quite pleased to see works that I have never seen in print (and through the years I thought that I had seen them all!).

  In all the works depicted, I found his self portraits to be unnerving-I can’t put into words the expression in his eyes –but I think if I did not know anything about him, I could see everything in them.

A while back I posted a note about a new website that depicts all of Van Gogh’s letters-here is an excerpt from the museum’s site. 

The letters of Vincent van Gogh

October 2009 saw the culmination of the extensive and prestigious Van Gogh Letters Project. Fifteen years of research into the correspondence of Vincent van Gogh by the Van Gogh Museum and the Huygens Institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences will be crowned by this special exhibition, the launch of a freely accessible website encompassing the complete research results and the publication of a six volume book in three languages. Various aspects of Van Gogh's letters are also highlighted in the iPhone application and the Van Gogh blog.

I also visited the Rijksmuseum,  which houses many of Rembrandts' works, as well as Vermeer and many Dutch masters. Rembrandt lived and painted in Amsterdam so it was really a thrill to be here and  experience this exhibition. 

It also holds artists whose work was inspired by Rembrandt and I was interested to see  the influence he had on Degas and his development as an artist. Depicted were small portraits and etchings of Rembrandt rendered by Degas, presented with works rendered by Rembrandt.

*thanks to Liah, Mat & Mogi for the  journey

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

both sides now

I am still in Flensburg, taking a wee breath to catch up on the other side of my life. I was hesitant to bring along my computer but so very happy I did. I can still listen to CBC radio in English and also do research-as well as visit the artists’ blogs I so enjoy.

Although I did get some painting done here I will refrain from posting just yet. So far this journey has me filled with such overwhelming emotion and exceeded any type of expectation I might have had. No time now to sort the words and get them down.

The leaves are turning here and remind me that summer has officially gone, so I thought I'd share this painting, rendered a few years ago. 

October, oil on canvas, 24x40in, 2009


Saturday, September 17, 2011

fall into temptation

In the last post I mentioned that I did not have much time to paint before my trip. Well, I've just contradicted myself. Today was so beautiful I could not resist temptation and got outside for some plein air. 

September, (feels like October) oil on canvas, 18x24in, 2011, available


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sky & journey: Baltic Sea

I’ll be travelling to Germany  next week to visit my Daughter. She is living in a small village on the Baltic Sea very close to the Danish border. Although I am extremely excited to be spending time with her I am feeling apprehensive because of the language barrier. She says not to worry - even in that remote village, most people at least understand English—but I can’t help feeling anxious… I am sure once I get there I will feel differently. In staying almost two weeks I hope to drink in as much art and architecture as possible. But what I am very intrigued with is the Baltic Sea. I  have been doing some research and will pursue this by bringing along some materials for art-making.

Needless to say with all the preparation for the trip I don’t dare attempt to make the time required in resuming  studio  works in progress—so I have been stealing time in my field -preparing my palette and backpack ahead of time-to save time-for catching patches of sky at the remains of the day…

September, Remains of the Day, (1) oil on canvas, 11x14in, 2011

September, Remains of the Day, (2) oil on canvas, 11x14in, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

curious thrill seekers


September (detail center)

Last September my painting comrade and I set off outdoors with very large canvases (at least for plein air). The hike itself was quite an undertaking, making our way through tall grasses and the kind of weeds that tangle around ankles in order to trip and maim. Trudging through the dense unruly field and uneven ground resulted a few tip-over’s for our gear-laden wagon, but we soldiered on. The destination?-a heavenly perch on a field of purple alfalfa, garnished with loaves of earthy hay that had been sitting since June.

September (detail left)

The view from the hill looks down at least  half a mile to a vineyard and beyond to an open field speckled with a few distant farmhouses (omitted from my painting).

September (detail right)

We painted from afternoon until early evening and were completely immersed in our work. At one point I shifted my eyes to check the light and there before me stood the silhouette of a little woman. At first I  thought she was an aberration, but then Dora saw her too. It turns out this wee Irish lady caught sight of us from her farmhouse below. Overcome by curiosity she climbed through the tangly weeds and made her way through muddy vineyard rows (in her proper shiny shoes and tidy cloths) just to see what we were ‘up to’. I love that-artists aren’t the only curious thrill seekers. But the encounter did put the kibosh on painting any further, which was fine as I managed to get down the composition and build up some of the masses enough to use as a guide when I resumed the work. But it is another that I put aside in hopes to get back to it in this new September. And I did, however this time working in the studio by intuition and recall.  I thought I would post it as some passages are perhaps not yet resolved. Right now I am too close and need to look again with an objective eye. 

 September, oil on canvas, 24x48in, 2011


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

foolhardy pear

Today was a total washout-literally-my friend & I got absolutely drenched while painting in the vineyard-wind /rained washed the paintings right off of our 30in canvases-foolhardy pair we were-

so a wee pear of a different sort,  created in a DRY studio....
detail: Harvest 4, encaustic on barn board

 Harvest 4
encaustic on barn board, 6x14in, 2011, available

Saturday, September 3, 2011


September is bittersweet for me...birds are leaving..leaves are turning...I am searching for what was but look on to what will come

encaustic on panel
7x10in, 2011


Friday, September 2, 2011

Ms. Aubergine

My studio is  beginning to look like a produce market with Bartlett pears from the fallow orchard, tomatoes from our garden and my favourite, Ms. Aubergine! I find it absolutely impossible to resist the allure of her shape, colour, texture and gesture.....

 ' Feelin Groovy'
encaustic on panel
8x11in, 2011


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Who are we?

Not that I remember, but that I am
Memory, am all that has befallen
Unbroken being and knowing
Whose flow has brought me here, laden with the forgotten
Time and places, once here and now
Of those where were, from day to day
From life to life as I,
Presences of that omnipresence without end or beginning
Omniscient through our being,
That brings and takes away the unremembered living
Moments of joy and wisdom, the once-familiar
Rooms and temples and fountains, the long ago gardens
Of a thousand summers, music once heard,
Travelling through me and on, like a wave
Of sound, a gleam
Irrecapturable. And who we are
Who gather each one leaf, one life of the myriadfold tree
Of the lost domain, and mourn
The flowing away of all we never were, or knew?
Promises, messages reach us, instruct us,
The untold, untellable, undying
Heart’s desire, resonance
Of elsewhere, once, some day, forever

Kathleen Raine

August, Remains of the Day, oil on canvas, 18x24in, 2011


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Greenbelt Harvest Picnic

Harvest 1, encaustic on panel, 8x11in, 2011

I have finally recuperated from Saturday’s outdoor Greenbelt Harvest Picnic, and, exhausting as it was, it was also F#-ing BRILLIANT!!! My only regret is that I didn’t get any photos of my set up. 

The location couldn’t get any better, as the visual artists were exhibiting right beside the stage!!!!!

Thousands of people attended and the music line-up was fabulous, with performances by Canada’s Sarah Harmer, Gord Downie (Tragically Hip), Daniel Lanois and others.

Sarah Harmer

The highlights were EmmyLou Harris and Ray Lamontagne. I had not heard of him - and by the time he came on we were starting to pack up the tent-but when his band started to play and this absolutely powerful, sensitive raspy voice started to sing, I floated to the edge of the stage and stood there mesmerized for song after song after song....

Yolanda's Garlic, acrylic on canvas, 30x30in, sold

There was a large area with farmers’ booths chock full of fresh, regional produce as well as baked goods-it was so refreshing NOT to see the usual vending trucks with their processed foods.

Harvest 2, encaustic on panel, 8x11in, 2011

Harvest 3, encaustic on panel, 8x11in, 2011

Lanois wants to make this an annual event and I am hoping to be a part of this next year. There was a fabulous response to all of the artists' work that was juried into this show and I am so very pleased to have participated in this inaugural art/
/music/ farming event. (it was a long day though-set up at 8AM and by the time we tore down and left it was after midnight!)

Daniel Lanois & EmmyLou Harris