Thursday, September 6, 2018

A letter to the premier and relevant minister of British Columbia

No paintings today, though I am working on several. Instead, I am posting a letter that I sent to several members of the government of British Columbia. It is my hope that others in the my area and the province, if reading this, are inspired to write, to voice their feelings. And perhaps others around the world will be  inspired as well. I believe our world, our home, is in a sad way, and we all must do something to rectify the problems. Here is the letter ...

I am writing to express my very deep concern about how the destruction of agricultural and greenspace land has been allowed to take place over the past twenty years, all done in the professed attempt to create affordable housing. It is happening without care and thought to ecological sustainability. The availability of affordable and attractive housing has not appreciably increased, and available agricultural land has decreased alarmingly.

Living in South Langley, I am saddened and angered to see the proliferation of unattractive tracts of housing developments of inadequate environmental quality. Housing developments should be an integral part of a healthy community, but what is being built all over Langley bears little or no connection to the existing communities. Furthermore, these concentrated areas of tract housing are being constructed at the expense of viable and valuable farmland which, once lost, is gone forever.

The time of unplanned and mindless use of resources should - must - be a thing of the past. I find it unthinkable that your government is so myopic as to continue to allow short-term financial gain for a few to prevail over long-term concern and responsibility for the sustainability of agriculture and environment.

To summarize, it is my feeling that you are obtusely mismanaging a beautiful and rich land. I hope you have the vision and wisdom to correct this deleterious situation.

Please feel free to paraphrase or copy the letter. And thank you so much for dropping by!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


I LOVE riding and horses more than anything!

Bruno and me a couple of years ago.

Bruno having a pleasant munch in the back garden.

Photo reference for a painting I am re-doing. I have a painting of Bruno hanging in my living area. A visitor was here a few days ago, and wanted to know how much I wanted for the painting. I told her it was not for sale, but I would be happy to paint another. So I will work on that while waiting to ride.

I have loved horses for as long as I can remember. I drew them, played with plastic figures of horses, rode carousel horses, even "rode" statues of horses. And occasionally I got to be around the real thing. I didn't start riding till I was thirty, when I could afford my own horse. I became much more physically active, and yes, had a lot of accidents. I had a very bad cycling accident when someone drove into me from behind, doing about 50 mph. The next year, I came off a young horse, and she proceeded to buck, with her hind feet pounding down on me. Neither of these incidents were fully addressed medically, so my right hip area has had a lot of abuse and not much care.
The past few years have been especially hard with pain, stiffness ... all of those arthritic symptoms. I have been seeing a yoga therapist who has helped immensely, and I will continue to see her. My physician sent me off to an orthopaedic surgeon who looked at the X-ray, did some manipulation and decided I needed a full hip replacement. He described the surgery and showed me the replacement joint. I went home and gave it some thought. I was totally unprepared to go through that surgery! I started to look for options, and  found stem cell therapy. I researched it for several weeks, and then found  a clinic near Vancouver that performs the procedure. Three weeks ago, I had the treatment - an autologous, adipose-derived stem cell and platelet-rich plasma injection into the joint area via ultrasound guidance. A few days ago, I had a follow-up injection of PRP. I must say ... so far, so good. I have less pain and more mobility. The hard part is not being able to ride. I suppose I could try, but I think it would be better for those stem cells to get better established in my hip joint. So here I sit, 
waiting impatiently  ... I'll give those busy little cells another few days, and then carefully have a short and gentle ride.

Thank you for visiting!

Sunday, August 26, 2018


This intriguing-looking bird is the Greater Adjutant stork.  It lives and nests in two areas in southeast Asia. In the Assam region of India, there is a conservation effort being carried on to save the birds and their wetlands.
At the request of a friend, I did two paintings of this stork.

My friend, Christine, is in the middle, with Purnima [in the dark jacket] on the left.

This is one of the table decorations made for the International Ornithological Congress/Women in Science luncheon  honouring Purnima's work. The congress was held in Vancouver in late August.
Several weeks ago, Christine [an ecologist with Environment Canada] asked me if I could do a painting of the stork. She showed me some images, and needless to say, I found him a somewhat homely bird, but interesting at the same time. I created two paintings, one of which Christine has kept, and the other has been framed and presented to Purina Devi Barman, the biologist who has spearheaded the campaign to conserve the bird and its wetlands environment. She is a wildlife biologist working for an Indian wildlife conservation organization, and is educating the local communities about the saving the bird and its wetlands environment.

Swift fox
I subscribe to the Nature Conservancy of Canada newsletter. I was very happy to recently read that this fox is making a comeback in Canada. It was considered extirpated [regionally extinct] in the 1930s. But thanks to a captive breeding and re-introduction programme in the Canadian prairies, it is making a comeback. 

Vancouver Island Marmot

Townsend's mole

The fox, the marmot and the mole [sounds like the start of a fairy tale] are presently on display at a nearby framing gallery. The owner of the gallery is showing her support of a Critter Care, a local wildlife rescue organization.

Thank you for visiting!

Monday, August 6, 2018

By Way of an Explanation ...

I took this in early June. Everything was so lush and green. The photo below was taken a few minutes ago, around 10 AM.

Bruno munching away on his winter supply of hay.

The photos do not have too much in  the way of explanation, but they do, in a small way.  I was spurred to write after reading Judy Barends' blog. It is unseasonably hot and dry in the Netherlands, to the point where it is affecting food production. The same is happening here, and we are experiencing bad wildfires in the interior of the province. I know it is due to climate change, and I am saddened and angered by our provincial and national governments' lack of positive action in this regard. You appreciate, from my art subjects, how profoundly I love Nature, and to see it being destroyed is extremely distressing to me. I have written letters to various levels of government, and become involved with local groups. But I feel this is not nearly enough. I have been doing a lot of reading and research on different aspects of the overall problem, and have come to the conclusion that to achieve any meaningful change in the destructive direction the world's leaders have taken, a complete and radical transformation of the economy [which affects and is affected by social and behavioural qualities of human nature] is imperative.

Thank you for stopping by and reading ... 

Friday, July 13, 2018


Meet Roy. He is the much-loved dog of a friend of a friend. Rhonda wanted to give Roy's owner  a portrait for his birthday,  as he had helped Rhonda enormously, helping her train and rehabilitate her  rescued Boerboel [South African mastiff - much too large a dog to leave untrained]. So I get riding lessons from Rhonda and she gets a painting - great arrangement!

This is one of the photos I was given as reference - not my favourite. To me, it looks more like a pit bull than a shepherd.

But I gave it a try - still didn't like it.

The photo resolution here is bad, but Roy's face is alive, looking back adoringly at his owner.

So we're off ...

Starting to look like a dog here ...

Now this I like! He has animation, great expression ...  and most importantly,  Roy's owner loves it.
Throughout the painting, I use my favourite animal colours - quin. burnt orange, quin. violet and indanthrone, as well as some permanent rose. And as much as I can, I paint wet in wet.

Thank you for visiting!

Thursday, July 12, 2018


quick sketch of a wall in the barn

more barn utensils

some quickie outlines for a background idea I did not use

One of my good neighbours loves sketching and art. I was over at her place, the two of us in her garden, absolutely lost in the moment of creating.

more garden sketches

Bruno's hind end - trying to get more accuracy and life to a  painting I'm doing for a friend. His horse is sadly long gone, so all I have are photos, and they really do not give me the information I need, so Bruno is the substitute model.

Lots of horse bums, and a distant tree done when he was moving too much to get a decent sketch. 

curly-leafed willow that lives in the pond

more finished drawing that I was going to use to do some dogwood 

more bums

another willow - I'd love to find a way to get that scintillating appearance of leaves in sunlight - I think it involves spattering

a somewhat gnarly-looking birch study for the painting class

I try to get an hour's sketching a day. I generally find it more relaxing than painting. Working with Bruno is interesting - I let him loose on the back lawn, and sit down on the grass nearby [hoping he doesn't seriously spook and forget I am there and run over me!] Maggie usually comes over to sit with me, keeping a sharp eye on Bruno - she has a healthy respect for his size.

Finally ... finally ... I think my attitude toward painting is taking a good turn. I have tried for years to paint what people want, and have become thoroughly disillusioned with the commercial end of art.  I am happiest and create my best work when I paint what I want. So I will be doing commissions for friends, doing other works experimenting with techniques, colour, format, etc.  And I will continue teaching and drawing.

Thank you for visiting!

Monday, May 28, 2018


The model. I was at my niece's high school graduation  two years ago, at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver. When the ceremony was done, and we all walked outside, this gorgeous beast of a car [a 1950 Ford coupe]was parked on the street. Thankfully I had my camera, and took several shots.

I first masked out the car, and did several  wet-in-wet gradated washes - a warm pink, a cool pink and several of phthalo blue and indanthrone.

Then I started on the body, using a mixture of phthalo and indanthrone.

Almost all the painting was done wet-in-wet.

Then I started the details. The tail-lights were done with scarlet lake and glazed over with alizarin crimson.

Starting to look like a car.

I think I have the colours and values pretty much where I want them. All I need is a name to put on the licence plate ... any ideas???

Thank you very  much for visiting!