recent paintings and news

recent paintings and news

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

lions in the afternoon

March is such a changeable month! One moment there is rain and promise of spring—then gales of wind turning to ice and snow. I was looking at work from past ‘Marches’ as I was curious to compare the weather to this one. Posted below is a much warmer March and I clearly recall the day it was painted…

After a long and bleak January/ February we had a warm spell mid-March. Outdoor painters rely on the weather report as much as farmers and I was watching and waiting. Finally the day came. I selected a fairly large canvas (24x36in) for my first plein air attempt of the season-perhaps to make up for all the missed paintings due to the #@!! winter weather. On went the wellies and off I went with my three canines. After a ten minute hike I set up and started working. The painting was coming along beautifully and I was midway through when the dogs started barking. I just kept working as this is a frequent occurrence-especially in the spring with new sounds of birds and critters giving them momentum to carry on.

But the barking became rather growly and aggressive and I finally had to put my brush down and look behind into the sun to see silhouettes of- lions-quite a few-coming our way.

The magic in these fields and orchards is that one can usually be alone. I do have a friend that lives on the other end and like me, she runs her dogs here —but even then it is rarely at the same time-and they are dogs, not lions. As the lions approached I recognized my friend behind them with her 3 dogs and another acquaintance who breeds horses-and, as it turns out, lion-dogs. The official name for these lion-dogs are ‘Leonbergers’ and I don’t need to describe them as I already have- they look like- lions-but gentler and fluffier. Gentle or not they terrified my dogs who in turn ran to me for protection—thus knocking me down as well as my painting, brushes, easel-everything- smack into the dense wet spring muck. By now I was surrounded by eleven dogs and two humans who impressively managed to hold their laughter long enough to help me up. After the herd dispersed I wiped out my painting and started again.

March, Thaw
oil on canvas
24x36in, 2009

In making this painting I was taken by the anticipation of a new season shared by all- birds/bees and creatures great and small - as well as the greening of renewed grasses mingled with the dried and dormant. I wanted the painting to convey growth through staccato brushwork and I exaggerated colour/movement in passages to denote a nudge for spring to hurry up and get here.



  1. Quite the "plein Air" story! I was visualizing this scene in my head, having quite a chuckle. I think it needs to be made into a drawing/cartoon!
    I love the energy and color in this piece, and the signs of life suggesting renewal. The lovely blue color repeated throughout the painting keeps everything well balanced. Makes me think a warm spring will actually arrive one day!

  2. Oh, my! Poor puppies, running to mommy to save them from the lions! Love the story. And this painting. I especially like the wind and movement in the sky - as you said, pushing spring along :)

  3. Love the story, but love the painting even more!! Thanks for sharing!!

  4. Love the story! Your dogs sure got a fright from those lions! I'm with you, Jan. Time for some sunshine and heat and buds and flowers. Enough with the cold and gray and rain. You painting feels impatient and I love that!

  5. Beautiful painting Jan. I saw birds in the trees today while driving through the countryside that reminded me of this painting. I especially love the story your painting is telling about this time of year, very nice work. You are very patient and kind about the lion dogs arrival, I would not have been happy to see my painting upside down in the mud!

  6. Love the "mosaic" quality of this painting!