27 September 2013

Alina's First

In keeping with the format of my grandson's portrait, Sylvan's First, I did this smaller (6" x 8") companion piece for his sister, my first granddaughter, Alina Rose. One year old already! Again, I wanted to include myself in the portrait to express more than a close up of this special baby, but rather to emphasize our relationship. An exceptionally good natured child, Alina often lights up a room with her smile, although in this painting, she is much more subdued. This pose is taken from a composite of photos taken by her mother while I was reading a picture book. Either Alina had a serious look of concentration as she studied the new book's illustrations, or I had that awkward look of someone in the middle of saying something! She was nearly 10 months old at the time. 

15 September 2013

My Sweet Pie

Of all the pets that I have painted, for nearly 15 years, Friskey was my favorite special friend. I am surprised that it took me this long to finally paint her. She was a close companion especially in that we shared a great love of books, she being an enthusiastic book sitter. This made reading rather awkward, but we did spend a lot of time together in that old wing back chair. She could be counted on to find the best sun beam, and had the most soothing maternal purr. Her son, the orange tabby Orville, has made his way into several of my paintings, including Journeys Through Bookland, and Catnap in China. Doing this painting brought back a lot of memories, and I do miss my old friend, my Sweet Pie.

11 September 2013


Jenny is our 11 year old rescued greyhound who we have had for three years. A track winner in her day, she can still run faster than most dogs if she wants to. But she doesn't want to. A trip to the off leash dog park will finding her schmoozing with the people, while the other dogs run and play. I had her certified with St Johns Ambulance as a therapy dog, and for a year and a half made we made weekly visits to a seniors home where she was a good fit. She is a senior herself, after all. It is not commonly known what an excellent pet greyhounds make. They are especially quiet, gentle and make few demands of your time. In spite of their reputation as performance athletes, they are not at all high strung, nor do they require huge amounts of exercise. One of the oldest breeds, they have proven their value as a companion to man. If you are interested in learning more about greyhounds, look for books by Cynthia Branigan, such as Adopting the Racing Greyhound.  Her website here tells more. We adopted Jenny from GRA in Ontario.

10 September 2013

Seasons of Fruit

As with January Fruit, this painting was several months in the making, nearly spanning all four seasons.  Although I am happy with the results, compared with the one on 300 lb paper, this 140 lb (thinner paper) one took a lot more effort at every stage of the process. Perhaps more beginners would stay with watercolor if they started out on the thicker, easier to use 300 lb paper. A thought.  Both half finished paintings were put aside, however as we embarked on a major cross country move, from Ontario after 15 years back to B.C., my home province. As the dust settles, I find myself returning to painting pets......

9 September 2013

January Fruit

In the spirit of experimentation, I decided to do two very similar paintings: the same plate of fruit staged with the same winter sunlight, painted with the same pigments. The big difference would be the paper. Watercolor paper comes in different thicknesses, or weights, and textures. The one I prefer (300 lb cold pressed) costs considerably more than the more commonly used 140 lb. Since I still had a stash of 140 lb tucked away, I though I'd better make an effort to like the stuff enough to use it up at least. How different was it, really, from the other kind? By painting the images at the same time with all things being equal, I would find out. The plan was to paint a little on one, and then while that one was drying, I'd paint a similar passage on the other. It started out that way, but before long this one had taken a strong lead, getting way ahead of the other. Like anything requiring a lot of concentration, I get into the 'zone' and the momentum just carries me along. It would be several months before either painting would be completed, since I was about to have yet another moving experience. This one, by the way, was done on my much preferred 300 lb paper.