Light in the Forest

Today we returned to Seal Bay Nature Park. It was sunny and threatening to get to 80F! There are a few choices of trails.

We chose to stay in the woods where the sunshine came through the canopy, creating light spots in the dark forest. This is one of the things Liz Wiltzen taught me about taking photos for future painting ideas – look for the drama of light and dark contrast. Today it was the light in the forest:

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Jean stopped to sketch some interesting trees.

We found a tree that seemed to be quite unhappy being cut down.

And we came upon this little guy sunning himself on a log and looking under the moss for tasty insects.

An altogether enjoyable walk!


Posted in Art, B.C., BC, Comox BC, Comox Valley, Courtenay, Courtenay BC, Photography, Retirement, Travel, Vancouver Island | 3 Comments

Oh Canada!

We have had a busy few days since my last post. Sunday was Canada Day with lots of activities here and a return of sunshine. There was a battle of the bands, food trucks, and fun for kids at the local water park. Jean and I avoided the crowded activities and enjoyed a relatively quiet walk along the Courtenay Riverway. The festivities made themselves known with booming fireworks after 10:00 PM.

Yesterday the sunshine and clear skies beckoned us to venture to Strathconia Provincial Park. Our destination was Paradise Meadows, the most visited place in the park. It’s a lovely alpine setting with many trails that meander through meadows, past ponds, and into dark forests. We thoroughly tired ourselves out.

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Today we took a morning walk near our house and then did some grocery shopping. (A Canadian fellow at the checkout said he was stocking up on some things before Trump took them away from Canada.) This afternoon we are reading, painting, and blogging.

I haven’t been ignoring painting completely, although I do spend more time playing ukulele and singing than painting.  Here are some of the small paintings I’ve completed in the last week. I am working on small 4×4 boards that are prepped with absorbent ground so I can paint with watercolors. It’s a fast and loose approach that sometimes has unexpected results.

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Next on my agenda is to decide what to make for dinner.


Posted in Art, B.C., BC, Comox BC, Comox Valley, Courtenay, Courtenay BC, Music, Photography, Retirement, Travel, Ukulele, Vancouver Island | 2 Comments

Miracle Beach Optimism

Today we lounged around to let the morning showers abate. After a quick lunch we headed north to Miracle Beach. The windshield wipers beat a rhythm and it did not look like a great day for the beach. However, we did not account for Canadian optimism.


Yes, Canadian families crowded the beach, setting up day tents, lounge chairs, and grills, enjoying a day at the beach without sunscreen! Jean and I stuck to the wooded trails that followed the shore to the Black Creek estuary and then inland to circle back to our car.

Along the way we encountered diverse flora:

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As well as diverse fauna:

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What with all this hiking in the rain we had little time for painting. I have done some paintings, but have not had time to take proper photos of them for posting. Maybe tomorrow…

We stopped at our favorite small fish store (Fanny Bay Oysters at the Buckley Bay Ferry Terminal) and got two fresh sockeye fillets for dinner. Cooked on the grill with sides of baked acorn squash and cucumber salad, they made a wonderful dinner to end our day.



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

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?




Posted in Art, B.C., BC, Comox BC, Comox Valley, Courtenay, Courtenay BC, Photography, Retirement, Travel, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

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.



Posted in Art, B.C., Music, Photography, Retirement, Travel, Ukulele, Vancouver Island | 2 Comments