Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Looking from Grouse Island to Quadra, BC


After I took this photo I did some little things to the trees in the upper fourth of the painting, and I touched up the rocks in the foreground. 

I just posted another painting on the blog and made a note about the weather looking close to pouring.  I hope it does rain. 

This painting doesn't really show the scale; I wish I knew exactly the width of this expanse of water, because I've rowed it a million times always wondering how far I was rowing----the rowing goes fast if the tide is slack, but if the tide is running it's a fair amount of labor to cross this short distance. Right around the corner  is a stretch of water called "row and be damned" because you can't row against the tide at all if it's running then. If you ventured just a bit further you are in a section called Seymour Narrows, considered the most treacherous waters in North America. Huge whirlpools appear and disappear, swallowing small boats and capsizing big ones. This little section between grouse island and Quadra island is calmer. 

  See the floating dock in the far distance against the cliff? That brown floating dock is 60 feet long. The two white poles sticking up that look anchored to the cliffs are the pilings that allow the dock to float up and down according to the tide. The slanting ramp will likewise move according to the rising and falling water; if you are on the dock, and you have a heavy load to carry up the ramp, you are always grateful if the tide is high, because it makes that ramp almost level. If you are unlucky and the tide is low when you are heading up the ramp, you just have to bear it and accept the fact that anything is better than going to a gym.

 Grouse Island is a tiny, tiny island with a little house no one lives in, and a dock and a generator, and lots of eagles. Always I've thought it should be called Eagle Island because I've never seen a grouse on it, but there is a nest of bald eagles there and their screams are always rending the air. You can see them all day long, and hear them from morning till night.  The island is the haunt of eagles and mink. Whales go by and blow their plume of spray. Half the island belongs to the owner of the house, and the other half of the island is owned by the crown so no one really goes to Grouse Island. I think the house is for sale now. Every now and then a deer swims across in the fast cold water and gives birth to her fawn on Grouse, because it's so removed.  It's a very wild, pristine,  pretty place to sit and paint; when you walk among the tide pools and on the rocks it's a pleasant experience and also a cautionary tale, as it's clear that if you trip and fall and injure yourself, you're on your own. (In fact I think in years past one of the  owners of Grouse Island died that way, just from a simple fall, and it was a while before anyone figured it out and went over to retrieve his body from the rocks.) The idea of living on an island is romantic, and seems to always lure in another buyer, but winter weather or storms bring everything into sharp focus again, and all the hazards and inconveniance of such a life are hard to work around. Eventually the place is always for sale again. I always thought it would be a good retreat for artists or writers, or something. In good weather its beauty is unreal. 

But this  house shown  isn't the empty house on Grouse---I just re-read this post and it sounds like this painting is of Grouse. It ain't. I just got sidetracked describing the spot where I was sitting. This painting was done ON Grouse, looking back onto Quadra Island. Quadra was a Spanish explorer and the island of Quadra is named for him. About 3000 people live there year round.  This house, and this dock, are on Quadra, but the rocks one sees in the foreground are the tidal rocks of Grouse. I do have paintings of Grouse Island but I want to do some things to them before I post them. 

Still Life of Fish

There is a composer I like a lot named Erik Satie, and it's only this last year that I discovered him. I'd heard some of his compositions before as a background in some movies, but thanks to Pandora it's finally an easy thing to put the composer's names to the pieces of music one's been hearing forever in isolated bits and pieces, always to be left wondering "Who wrote that?" When I looked him up it appeared that he was considered not really a composer in the sense that he created major works, but a bit of an eccentric, with a series of compositions that were interesting but appeared haphazard. When I typed him into Pandora, there is a station just for his work and composers who are similar. It's wonderful to listen to. Before he did those works which play now on Pandora, songs that to me seem so emotional and rather strange, he played in dance halls for his bread and butter, serving up the songs of the day. The composers of the 18th century were probably the greatest ones, but some of the 19th and early 20th century composers are so much the soundtrack of my mind,  I cannot get enough of them. Debussy and Faure especially, and now Satie. They were trying to simplify, simplify. You can hear it in their work and see their influence in composers that came later. I love Pandora for helping me put names and titles to some of the things I've always gotten so much pleasure from. 

Sometimes I look at my own things and think maybe they are a bit strange, too eccentric or something, but the fact is they are what I want to work on. 

It's been terribly hot lately but just today it cooled down and at the moment gray clouds have come over and made everything feel like rain will pour any second. 


This is number one of a quartet of paintings; rather than one long horizontal painting, it was painted in four squares of 14"14" on oil painting paper. I am so crazy about painting on oil painting paper it's hard to express. It's wonderful to work on. In this case the edges of the paper are torn, not cut,  and the paintings will be under glass on a floating type of mat so that the painting itself, the paper, will cast a slight shadow and appear to float slightly in a surrounding matt. It gives a modern aspect which I like a lot. I can't stand, can't even bear to look at, old fashioned frames anymore, particularly the heavy black kind that makes a huge black boxey square on the wall. They're nice in their own way, traditional frames, but...they're just everywhere. And they've been everywhere for so long now. I like floating frames and I like oil paintings under glass sometimes. It cleans up that heaviness that can take over when you have a lot of paintings on a wall. 

This is number two. I'm not good enough with computers to make these photos line up horizontally in a row on this blog page. 

This painting is number 3

This painting is the final one, number 4 

I found this progress photo that shows how they line up, more or less.