Life in the Slow Lane

Life here in Courtenay is a pleasure.  The birds sing, the breeze in the trees is peaceful, the tide comes and goes, along with the herons and eagles, we walk the Riverwalk which starts only a few feet from our house, explore trails in the local and provincial parks, and of course we make art.

A few days ago we explored a different part of Millard Nature Preserve, across the road and up the hill.  A brief sample of the sounds.


And in response to fan requests (you know who you are my friends) here are a few paintings as well. The first three are from photos taken years ago at the Grand Canyon.  I’ve been testing colors and methods.  Did this painting twice.


Sunset 1

And again.

Another view of the canyon:


Leaving the canyon, this one from imagination, with an underpainting of marks made when testing pastels for values and test how many layers of pastel I could get on unsanded paper.


And finally, a rose from a photo taken last week.

There are a lot more, mostly sketches, but that’s enough for now!



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A Few Artworks

Yes, we have been sketching and painting up here on Vancouver Island as a few of you have asked. Here are pics of some of my efforts.

Canada Jay, Oil

Grasses and Mountains, Pen and ink

Cattails, Oil

Forest Flowers, Watercolor



Forest Flowers, Oil

I have some other sketches done while walking and have other oils in the works. However, there is only so much time for painting between taking long walks and playing music. Of course I also spend lots of hours just watching the tide come in and out in our bay.

Jean has some paintings as well, but I leave it to her to share them.


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Nymph Falls

We’ve been walking every day, doing some painting, and playing some music. I played once more on Sunday evening at Roy’s Towne Pub. What a great group of musicians! The open mike is hosted by Judy and Bruce Wing, an award-winning duo from the area. Bruce backed me on guitar this week on Sunglasses After Dark while I sang and played bass ukulele. Thanks Bruce!

We also spent an afternoon sketching and painting at Nymph Falls.

The falls are a series of cascades on the Puntledge River. A salmon ladder was blasted into the rock many decades ago. We sat by the ladder for our sketching.

Many people have created wonderful balanced rock sculptures in the river. We marveled at how these creations withstand the force of the river surging around their base.

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My eye always goes to the closeup views.

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Some visitors literally get into the river!

We also had a visit from a friendly four-legged sun bather.

It was a great afternoon!


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Miracle Beach Provincial Park

Today we returned to another favorite spot, Miracle Beach Provincial Park.

While this park does not offer lengthy trails, it has an awesome beach (at low tide) that attracts Canadian sunbathers. When we arrived the beach was crowded with families and groups of children from schools or camps. The tide was at its ebb so there was lots of sand to play on.

Though few in numbers, the trails offer beautiful vistas of the ocean and the mountains on the mainland.

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Plant and animal life is diverse and interesting.

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I found this jigsaw puzzle. Someone had thoughtfully laid out the pieces, but it was too difficult for me.

We stopped to do some sketching.

The tide began to come in while we were there. We returned home and by the end of the afternoon the bay in front of our house was filled once more. I’m watching the sailboats as I write this.




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Strathcona Provincial Park

Today we visited Paradise Meadows in Strathcona Provincial Park.

The flowers are just beginning to bloom as the remnants of the winter snowfall were still in evidence.

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The fairest flower in the meadow always seemed to be nearby!

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She even stopped to do some sketching.

No visit to the mountains would be complete without a Canada Jay. They were just fledging their young, so were very protective. Jean could mimic the cries of the youngsters and that really confused mom and dad.

We also spotted a long-billed curlew. This shoreline sandpiper is rare anywhere on Vancouver Island. Perhaps global warming is extending their range to the north. To find it in the mountains is amazing. Apparently they go where the insects are hatching and they definitely were hatching in the meadows on this 80 degree day.

The trout in the streams were also enjoying the insect hatch.

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A fine hike on a glorious summer day!



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Open Mike Jamming With New Friends

Tonight we went out for dinner and music to Roy’s Towne Pub in Royston, about 4 miles from our house. The dinner was pakoras, chowder (for Jean), and a grilled salmon sandwich (for Paul). The music was provided by 14 different musicians, including myself.

The format is an open mike with 3 songs per performer. You have an option of playing alone or inviting others to join in on your songs. I didn’t know any of these folks, but figured what the heck? I invited two guitar players, a bass, a harmonica, and drums to join me. What fun!

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I led the group on Roseville Fair, Deep River Blues, and Good Morning Blues. We got some great guitar and harmonica instrumentals going!

One couple danced along with several of the musicians during the evening.

Three hours of music, fun, and food! We will return next Sunday!


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Woods and Wineries

There are several wonderful places to hike in the area. One of our favorites is Seal Bay Regional Nature Park. It is a gem of solitude with tall trees, birds everywhere, sun dappled trails, and especially quiet.

And, of course, after exercise one must do some wine tasting. Our first stop, Beaufort Vineyards, owned by James Cameron and his family. This small vineyard only produces about 3000 cases a year of 11 different wines. The only place to get it is on this coast of Vancouver Island.

After an interesting tasting and with two bottles in the car and we drove a few miles to 40 Knots Vineyard. More tasting and one more bottle in the car and then we came home.


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Morning in Courtenay

This trail is a lovely piece of wilderness within the town.

About 200 yards from our front door we encounter Millard Creek. Salmon run here in the fall.

The sky begins to lighten at 4 AM. Here is a quick painting I did of the view from our living room at 5 AM. It is looking back at the mainland to the east.

The dark land is a spot that juts out across our bay. The mountains in the background are on the mainland 20 miles away.


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Morning Walks

Here are some photos from our morning walks along the Courtenay Millard Nature Trail and Riverway Heritage Walk. What a great way to greet the day!

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Armstrong Redwoods

Any time we visit Sonoma County we must make a trip to Armstrong Redwoods. This magical place of giant trees, eerie moss, rushing streams and endless tranquility is a small gem in the Russian River valley.

We were particularly interested in seeing these woods since forest fires in the past two years have threatened these ancient trees. We found the old trees faired better than the young ones, but even some of those survived the onslaught of flames.

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The Russian River was flooding, so were the streams in this park.

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However, the intimate still lifes in the mossy forest beckon us to stop for a while.

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Damp trails lead to secret places and invite your imagination to run wild.

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Back out on the Russian River road the flooding had overtaken vineyards. Grape vines were immersed in the muddy water.

Some have escaped so far.

Another treat in this area are the wonderful trees. Many different species provide a variety of shapes and winter skeletons.

And at the end of the day, a rainbow.




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