1000 Shades of Green

This morning we took a hike at the Seal Bay Nature Park. The trails meander through a beautiful second growth forest (I estimate about 70 years) to a rocky beach inhabited by bald eagles and herons. Along the way we saw pileated woodpeckers and western tanagers. (images not ours)

However, the predominant color is green. Of course not just one green, but multitudes of hues. It got me to thinking how many shades of green could there be? As an artist I know that I can mix a variety of blues and yellows to get a seemingly endless number of greens. In fact many artists will tell you to mix lots of the green you want before you begin because you will never duplicate it if you run out in the middle of your painting. (At least that is my experience.) According to Wikipedia, green occupies the color spectrum between 495 and 570 nanometers. If your eyes can distinguish a nanometer difference in hue that would mean you could see 75 greens. Tests have demonstrated that some people (yes, we each have different abilities) can see far more hues of colors than others. Each of the greens in this chart is unique, but very few people can see the differences. Can you?

When one begins to discuss shades you are adding either black or white to a green hue and the number of variations increases accordingly. We are talking millions of possible greens. Walking through a lush forest as we did this morning my senses are overwhelmed by the greens.

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How can I  possibly represent that in a painting? We don’t really have to paint all the hues of green. Context matters. A little red adds much to the green:  like my hat, the cedar trails, and red leaves. A lighter shade of green next to a darker one creates a contrast that our eyes and brain interpret with many hues. One artist I read some time ago recommended using green as little as possible in a painting. As I recall that painter felt it had no life and made the work boring. How could you possibly paint the forest without green?




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An Outing

Yesterday we met friend and fellow artist, Brian, for lunch and a visit to the place he is staying. Brian, who introduced us to this area, has been coming to the Comox Valley for decades. He stays with a friend who has a family home on a bluff looking southeast across the Salish Sea. It is a lovely spot. Hummingbirds fluttered around us as Brian and I sat on the porch talking and enjoying the view.

Today is another rainy one so we will stay home and paint.



Posted in Art, B.C., BC, Comox BC, Comox Valley, Courtenay, Photography, Retirement, Travel, Uncategorized, Vancouver Island | 1 Comment

Rainy Day Painting and Reading

Yesterday it rained for 10 consecutive hours. No walking all day. We stayed inside reading, drawing, and painting. Here’s a painting I did. It’s a composite of the pier posts in our backyard and the view across the bay. Those posts called to me that they needed to be drawn and painted.

We started today with sunshine, but by the time we returned from our walk the clouds had moved in. It will be touch and go the rest of today, sunny tomorrow, and then clouds and rain the rest of the week. That’s summer in the Pacific northwest.



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A Sunny Day for Art

After a dark, cloudy and rainy day yesterday we awoke to sunshine and a return to warm temps. Our first stop of the day was at the local farmers market to get some fresh vegetables and check out the scene. Live acoustic music enlivened the crowd and there were many treats to be found. This is a market where the farmer is the sales person, not just the vendor who owns the stall! Great fun, but no pics.

Next we drove north about 30 minutes to Campbell River. I had read about an annual chainsaw carving contest, Transformation on the Shore. This is not your rough roadside carvings. These folks are sculptors that use many tools to turn large cedar logs into works of art.

Here’s a sample of before and after to show how they “sketch” the wood and then what the sketch looks like as a final sculpture.

There are amateur, semi-professional, professional, and consultant categories. All of them seem to be experts. The competition began Thursday and goes until tomorrow, so none of these sculptures is finished. We watched several of them changed in the couple of hours we were there.

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At 1:00 they began a one hour fast carving contest. These pieces use smaller blocks due to the time. The sawdust really flew as they tore into the block. Here are two competitors at the 30 minute mark.

All of this takes place along the shore with views of Quadra Island and the mountains on the BC mainland.

We also got to see a show by a local artist group. They meet together every Tuesday at the Campbell River Arts Council to paint. Many different mediums are represented. Today was their once a year sale. We chatted for some time with artists Susanne and Bob. They invited us to come up and join them while we are in the area.

I haven’t been ignoring my own painting. Yesterday I completed a piece inspired by the berries that we see ripening on our morning walks. In the dark woods there are shafts of sunlight that illuminate small areas. Sometimes that includes a berry or two!

And that’s the news from beautiful Vancouver Island!


Posted in Art, B.C., BC, Campbell River BC, Courtenay BC, Photography, Retirement, Travel, Uncategorized, Vancouver Island | 4 Comments

A Hazy Day

The skies were quite hazy today and rain is a possibility in the next few days. It also was humid so we chose to be a bit lazy. After a leisurely morning we drove to Filberg Heritage Park to take a walk and check it out. The historic buildings were closed due to continuing cleanup after the four day seafood festival. However, the grounds were open for walking. We enjoyed the gardens and the views back across the bay toward our house. Jean did some sketching of flowers and I took photos.

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After a brief stop for a few groceries we returned home. I decided to spend the afternoon doing some painting and reading. When painting I often have time between steps to let the paint dry and read a chapter or two. It works out to be a nice pace for both activities. Today I painted the same snail shells that I drew yesterday.

Late in the afternoon I managed to get in an hour of ukulele practice.

I will leave you with a message from the park.



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The Day of the Eagles

This morning I was awakened by the call of eagles. We have heard a few of them since arriving, but hadn’t seen them. However, this morning at least 20 eagles came into our bay with the tide. Every tree in the area seemed to hold at least one big bird. We have no idea what brought them. They stayed for six hours and a couple remain in nearby trees tonight. Watching them today we discovered a nest in a nearby tree. No doubt that is where the calls we have heard came from. Today those parents were surrounded by others swooping around the nest and sitting in the trees. What a sight!

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After a few hours of watching the eagles we took our daily walk along the nearby trail. With the warm weather things change quickly. Flowers that were blooming four days ago are gone. Berries that were green are now turning red. A tree that had hard green fruit now sports red cherries. With glimpses of the creek and the bay it is a lovely place to walk.

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In the afternoon I practiced my ukulele for an hour. I’m working on some new songs to share with Julie, my partner in Home Cookin’. More on that in coming posts.

Finally, my art supplies called and I settled at a table downstairs to draw. Since arriving I have been looking at the many moon snail shells in the house. Today I chose three of them and set them up on my table to draw in pencil.

They are still on the table and may tempt me to get out some paints. We’ll see.

So ends another day on Vancouver Island.


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Hottest Day Yet, But Not Really

Norman and Janet departed this morning in order to catch the Black Ball Ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles. We had a fun week with them in Victoria and here at our rental in Courtenay.

After they left we did a quick grocery run and then decided to take a walk before the heat rose. The prediction was for the 90’s and as I write this a 6:30 PM it is 93! However, there has been a pleasant breeze off the water all day to keep us cool. If you stayed in the shade it was quite comfortable. The tide went out a long way and with the wind off the water we smelled the sea (fish and seaweed) all day as well. Anyway, we walked the River/Bay trail that begins almost across the street from our house.

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The afternoon was spent in quiet activities. Jean read and worked on her photos. I spent an hour practicing the ukulele, and did some reading. I also did two quick sketches of the view out our living room window, one in pencil and the other in water soluble ink.

I did turkey burgers on the grill with a tossed salad for dinner. Now it is time to relax (what I’ve been doing all day) and watch the sun set. We face east, so we get the reflected glow of the sunset on Texada Island. It is very delicately colored.



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Water and Trees

Yesterday we ventured inland toward Port Alberni, a town on a long fjord that penetrates the western shore of Vancouver Island. Jean and I had driven this route a few years ago and knew a couple of places to stop for walks and photos. Norman and Janet were willing to follow our lead to these places.

Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park embraces the Little Qualicum River as it cuts its way through the mountains. Deep ravines with roaring water are surrounded by quiet, dark forests.

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Cathedral Grove is an intact example of a fully mature douglas fir forest. Some of these magnificent trees are 800 years old. It is a quiet place of contemplation. The first time we visited there were spirit masks posted on some trees. Unfortunately they were not there this time. We wonder why they were removed. However, this ancient forest still enchants.

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Today we arose to heat. The temp topped out in the 80’s this afternoon while we took a hike to Nymph Falls. It was much cooler near the falls. This spot is a favorite with locals who come to play in the cool waters. We simply hiked along the river trail.

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After resting in the late afternoon heat I prepared a dinner on the grill – sockeye salmon, halibut, garlic zuchini, and bell peppers. With a side tossed salad and some terrific local rose from 40 Knots Winery we had a feast! Sorry, no pics of the food. It disappeared before I remembered my camera.

Tomorrow Norman and Janet leave us for their return to California. Jean and I will break out painting materials and begin to capture this beautiful place. In the mean while here’s a short clip of Nymph Falls.


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First Day in Courtenay

Today I woke at 4:00 AM to sunshine peaking over the horizon and into the bedroom window. At 6:00 AM I gave up trying to sleep and arose to greet the sunny day. Here’s the morning view from our living room windows.

The forecast is for increasing heat for several days and this day started it. It quickly rose into the 70’s. We started the day with a walk along the estuary. The trail goes through a small wetland conservancy and then toward town. Jean and I found lots of places to paint in the coming days.


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After lunch we headed out to tour some local wineries. During the afternoon we managed to visit and taste at 40 Knots, Beaufort, and Coastal Black wineries. The first two make a wide selection of grape wines and Coastal Black makes apple and berry wines/ciders. Tasting was lots of fun and did result in the purchase of some bottles to be reviewed at some future date when we partake of them. These wineries also had beautiful scenery. We strolled around 40 Knots where they have interesting information posted about the growing process. They are organic and use chickens, ducks and sheep to keep the grass, weeds, and bugs at bay. Beaufort has a tremendous view of snow capped mountains.

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So ends another day. Here is the message I will impart as we sit down to dinner.


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Last Days in Victoria and Move to Courtenay

On Monday our friends, Norman and Janet, joined us. Therefore we have been very busy enjoying the sights, sounds, people and food of Victoria and I haven’t had time to edit photos and do a post. However, today we drove north to our next temporary home and tonight I have time to catch up on photos and do a brief post.

Here are some images from Beacon Hill Park, Abkhazi Gardens, and the harbor from the last few days.

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Perhaps the single most amazing experience of the week was witnessing the mating dance of the male peacock. Peacocks were brought to Beacon Hill Park in the late 19th century and have flourished. They roam the grounds at will and seem generally oblivious to the many people. This particular male comes to the same location every afternoon and usually performs his mating dance whether or not a female is in attendance. On this day she was there, but as you will see she had no time for him.

How’s that for shaking your booty?

Now we are moved into a house on the shore in Courtenay, BC. We have a lovely garden with several different patios/spaces to sit, an herb garden, and a walk of about 150 feet to the edge of the ocean. There is a waterside nature trail that begins across the road from our front door. Photos of the place to come.

Tonight we had a wonderful Greek meal at Yiama’s. We highly recommend this place! The service was fantastic and the food terrific. We will return. Tomorrow we will visit area wineries for some tasting.



Posted in B.C., Photography, Retirement, Travel, Victoria, Victoria BC | Tagged , | 3 Comments