Friday, December 31, 2010

Golden Water

Golden Waters
Today is Friday I guess, haven't been keeping much track of time lately as I am in Holiday mode!  Seeing as how it was only minus 13 Celsius with no wind chill to speak of I decided to hike down to Wellington Park and do a plein air piece of the the Creek.  This one is 10 inches square and I started it without any coloured ground, wanted to keep the colours brighter.  I enjoyed myself immensely and was finished it just as I started to get cold.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Plein Air Painting

Wellington Plein Air Afternoon
I haven't posted for awhile as we have been busy with company over the Xmas season.  My children came home for a visit, there was a funeral for my sister in law Angie and a number of other things conspired to keep me out of my studio and the out of doors.  That changed the other day when everyone left.  I packed up my paint box and headed for the hills not far from here and painted the picture above.  Had a heck of a time deciding what colours to use for the snow and finally decided to just wing it!  I believe that it captures the moment and place and will serve as a reminder for me.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Re cycling

Approaching Snow
This painting is a re cycling effort, something I do occasionally as I am not one to throw things out.  The options are simply burning canvases that are not satisfactory, cutting them up and throwing them away or white washing them and starting over.  This third option appeals to me because I have always been interested in texture so painting over a previously painted canvas reveals some very interesting textures and can add to the charm of a picture.  Speaking of charm, I am discovering the charm of Manitou Beach every time I venture out for my walks with Crystal and the dogs, or just by myself.  There is beauty in the simplest things.  This painting portrays an approaching snow storm coming from the south west side of the village.  Let me know what you think of it!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rocky Lake

Rocky Lake Sunset
I took some time yesterday to re-work a painting of Rocky Lake, an old haunt of mine where our family used to have a cabin.  The lake is surrounded by Precambrian rock, sometimes manifesting itself in cliffs and fascinating flat forms.  I am much happier with it know as it has a somewhat nostalgic feel to it.  It is a great place, we had many good times there and I hope to visit it this coming summer on my way to our Art Retreat at Denare Beach, SK.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Waters of Life

Tumbling Waters
Something amazing happened the other day at the funeral service for Angie Tysseland in the stunning 3rd Avenue United Church.  Family and friends remembered her in song and word where many people were so overcome that they couldn't sing and others poured out their hearts in soulful performances.  Angies brother Scott spoke of his sister in a manner that made people laugh put them at ease and Nick Nostbakken gave his mother a send off worthy of speakers like Obama or Winston Churchill.  Where does this strength come from?  I know that Angie is a great composer but I always come away from performances of her music with a stronger belief that it is destined for greater audiences.  We will miss you.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Celebration of a Life Lived

The Red Umbrella
Tomorrow, starting at 10 am, many people will gather to celebrate the life and music of my sister in law Angie Tysseland.  We will gather at 3rd Avenue United Church in Saskatoon and remember an amazing women who had a great musical talent.  I commented to my wife Crystal yesterday how my grief could be compared to an ocean of waves, the big ones crashing over  and overwhelming you with wild emotion, never knowing when they will overtake you.  This oil painting I have posted is a plein air I painted near the Bessborough Hotel in Saskatoon while Crystal was with Angie for her first Chemo treatments.  It is a wonder how memories come back, much like the ocean waves I have spoken of.  If you care to, please come tomorrow and help us celebrate Angies life and accomplishments!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Golden Pears

Golden pears

I found this small painting (6x8) in the back of a studio cabinet a little while ago and decided to make some radical changes to it.  What I ended up doing was applying imitation gold leaf to the background and did that ever make the pears pop out!  Painting the still life is a contemplative practice for me and adding the leaf elevated the pears to an iconic level, somewhere where I went whilst painting. Hope you enjoy it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Backyard Painting

Abandoned Cottage
I came across this tiny abandoned cottage down the back lane from where I live awhile back and determined that I would depict it some day.  Today was the day.  I am sure that no one has lived in it for quite some time and it is slowly returning to the earth, from whence it came.  I loved the textures and light playing across its surfaces and likely will have a go at again.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Going to Sleep

Winter Birches
Crystal and I just came back from Saskatoon where we visited her sister Angeline, who is dying from Ovarian Cancer.  It goes without saying that it is a sad thing to witness, such a vibrant personality laying in that bed.  She has been writing a book, for God's sake, in between chemo and radiation treatments and is fretting now because she feels she might not be able to finish it in "time".  She told me I would be the first to read it as I guessed the geographical location part of it is based on.  This painting, a watercolour of birch trees in early winter,  kind of sums up my day today.  Faded glory but still very beautiful, maybe even more so.  Love you Angie.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Three Cherries

Three Cherries Oil (6x8 in.) $100.00
I came across this small painting (6x8 in) this morning whilst cleaning up some of the clutter that inevitably piles up in the creative process.  I remember setting the still life up this summer on the window sill of my studio window and working on it for specific amounts of time, when the sun was "just right" and then coming back to it the following day, if the conditions were similar as the previous session.  I enjoy how it brings back impressions of that time, like a diary of sorts.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Painting what you know

Rose Hips and Snow
I may have said this before but there is much to learn from painting what you know in a place that is familiar to you.  As many of you know, I love water, trees and snow so I find myself continually re-visiting that motif and I find that there is much to learn from the experience.  I get a kick out of making my eyes vibrate by using texture and odd colour combination's to achieve a certain effect.  This scene is taken from Wellington Creek here at Manitou Beach, SK.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Early Morning In Hills of Manitou
Awhile back Crystal, the dogs and I went for a walk in the neighborhood of Manitou.  It was a lovely day, the temperature was just below freezing and the light was fantastic.  Sometimes I think she hates going for walks with me because I am forever stopping and gawking or commenting on the beauty of the surroundings.  Driving is even more dangerous as I tend to look sideways or behind me as I hurtle down the highway!  Anyways, back to this painting.  Low contrast paintings are difficult to execute but very rewarding when you have a bit of success with them.  I am satisfied that this one somewhat captures the moment.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Unconventional Painting Tools

I had a burning desire to get into the studio and paint.  I have been working outside in temperatures ranging from -25 to -4 Celsius for over 3 weeks now on a new home for a client who couldn't wait till spring.  Nevertheless my nose is always running and all extremities are suffering from the extended cold.  It is nice to put some Chopin on the CD player and try some stuff in my relatively warm Studio.  Tonight (because I am a carpenter) I decided to use a finishing nail to assist me in this painting.  It worked quite well.  The scene is a common place little pond that drains into Wellington Creek not far from where I live.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Grassy River

Grassy River
The wife basically kicked me and the dogs out of the house tonight, she has someone over doing reflexology and didn't want me practicing my guitar and ruining the ambiance.  So, out to the studio to work on an older painting.  I could do worse I suppose.  This little painting depicts the Grassy River near Snow Lake, Mb, Wekusko Falls to be exact.  My brother Richard knows the place well, he likely has taken a thousand photographs near here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Like a Rock

It occurred to me while I was meditating on the beauty of this small rock in Wellington creek that people could adapt the ability to let life flow around them, much like the water swirling about the rocks and branches in the water, offering little to no resistance.  In the process you would become polished like a gem as you tumbled about the creek bed of life, settling easy into new places amongst new neighbors.  Such are the things that I often think of while I work and play!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

The day after I painted this small oil Little Manitou froze over for the winter. This is early morning, the sun is just peeking over the eastern horizon and the foggy mist is hovering over the lake, casting everything into a wonderful ethereal effect.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Summer Reminiscences

Its been a rather gray day in this part of the world and I couldn't help reminiscing about the summer past. At a bed and breakfast owned by Martin and Margerat down at Shellmouth, Mb I came across a lovely pot of flowers sitting in front of the yellow cladded wall of their former home. I promptly took a photo of the scene with the idea of painting it someday. That day was today, it was an uncoventional start to the picture, I sketched it out with a felt marker and then went to it. Fun!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Plein Air Study

I went for a walk the other day at the local park which has a lovely creek running through it all year round and was so inspired by what I saw that I rushed home for my paint box (the one that I didn't forget at Jan's place in Langenburg) and painted this scene. I love sitting by water and painting as it is a very meditative practice for me, as I am sure it is for a great many other people. I am thinking of my friend James Dean from The Pas, Mb who used to accompany me on painting trips to places such as Mistik Creek and the Grassy River near Snow Lake, Mb. Wellington Creek is no match for those places but it does have that special something.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I had a great time with this painting. Imagine Don Layh's face when he came into his office (which I had appropriated for a studio) and saw his prized bottles of Scotch being used as a support mechanism for the pears you see above! I had arranged the pears in a precarious placement on top of a Scotch box, which in turn was sitting on the other box in a T form. All of this in front of a large window overlooking the valley below on a gray kind of day. He liked the painting and rewarded me with a drink of scotch, much appreciated Don. And congratulations on winning your two cases at the Supreme Court of Canada! By the way, this painting was done on a cigar box provided by Dean Bauche, who bought about 40 of them at a Dollarama for $1.25 each. We painted on them all weekend.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

All about Pears

I spent the Remembrance Day weekend with some dear friends down in Langenburg, SK. It was a time filled with painting, eating fantastic meals, listening to live music by the great musical couple Silk and Steel and generally having a great time. For some reason there was a focus on Pears, which a number of the guest artists had a wonderful time painting. The oil painting above is my response to some pears bathed in the early morning light pouring through my guest studio windows.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Rememberance Day will soon be upon us in Canada. My Dad tried to serve but he was too young so they sent him packing back home. Good thing because all his brothers were already in the army and someone had to look after Mother and the farm. After listening to Stewart Macleans Vinyl Cafe this past Saturday I was reminded of an amazing experience Crystal, Michael and I had in Winnipeg a number of years ago. You see, Stewarts story was about a Canadian bag piper who went to the Memorial at Vimy Ridge to play his pipes in honour of his parents. We were in Winnipeg's old hockey arena to take part in a Tattoo to honour a group of Cadets who were to be presented with various awards of distinction, including my son Michael. Part of the ceremony was the playing of Amazing Grace on the bag pipes, starting with one lone piper way up in the stands with all the lights in the building off. The piece culminated with I would estimate a couple of hundred bag pipers. Tears come to my eyes as I write this because I have never been so moved in my life. I think I can understand the effect those pipes have on soldiers in the battlefield after hearing all those soldiers playing that evening. God bless our men and women who served and are currently serving our country.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Manitou Morning

I came across this pastel on my studio desk this morning, under a pile of other stuff I have been working on and was struck with a pang of nostalgia for summer days past. Where I live is a constant source of inspiration for me, I am a lucky man indeed. I love pastel, the colour is so rich and the act of drawing is quite natural for me.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Today was largely spent in my studio as Crystal was off to Saskatoon to visit Angie. Angie had a bad day today, damn Cancer trying to get the better of her. Tried to contact Andrew Lloyd Webber to see if he would be interested in Angies latest production "Awakening" but he is all booked for the next three years and is not accepting unsolicited work. To bad for him. Anyways here is my Halloween picture, an abstract view I came across down in Utah. A watercolour with an attitude.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Bridge

I've been working on this pastel off and on for a few days now. The idea was to use short dash strokes to portray the landscape, stay lyrical and faithful to the ambiance of the place. I am somewhat happy with the result but plan on re-visiting the idea with another painting. The scene is called the "Bridge", the sandstone is carved into a natural arch that overlooks an amphitheater type basin which further looks out over a valley. A wonderful place down in southern Utah on the way to Bryce Canyon.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Click here to Bid

Took the day off of work today, we had a heck of a winter storm and that was a good excuse for me to work in my studio. I am quite fired up about Utah, there are many paintings I would like to do. I think I am going to work the theme to death and see where it takes me. I did this pastel today of a wonderous place in Arches National Park, sun was just going down and it lit up the tops of the sandstone edifices quite nicely.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sandstone Arch

Somewhere between Arches National Park and Bryce Canyon we came across a really cool place to hike for a few hours. We started off by checking out some ancient Indian markings on massive sandstone forms, it was humbling. We watered up and started off on a long climb to an amazing natural bridge carved out of sandstone. My watercolour doesn't really do justice to the scale of the place, maybe I should add some humans in it? There was a wonderful silence there, a good place to meditate on the wonderous creation we all live in.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park, in south eastern Utah, is the first place Crystal, Michael and I camped after a long drive from Everett, WA. We were all enthralled with the geography and were anxious to start hiking the area. There are many great walks to go on there, one of our favorites was a place called the "Devils Playground", which is where this watercolour was painted. We spent almost two days there and then moved on to Bryce Canyon.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I'm back from my trip to Utah with Crystal and Michael. We had a fantastic time spent hiking and camping in some amazing places. I took hundreds of photos and managed to do a few sketches, but I plan on doing some studio work based on what I saw and felt down there. More of that to come. This is a quick watercolour I did at Bryce Canyon, where we stayed for two days. There are fairytale like rock formations and trees growing in the most impossible places, a very special place to say the least.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Website

After much trials and help from my brother Richard my website is up and running again. I had to find a new host for the site as the previous company mysteriously folded up shop and disappeared! I plan on doing some major updating of the site as I haven't done that for some time and I have alot of new works that I would like to showcase. Thanks for everyones patience. This oil painting is my response to a plant I discovered in the back alley and my studies of the Austrian painter Egon Schiele. I am currently giving it a rest before I decide whether to work further on it. When I came across it I was struck by its beauty, even though it was practically dead. There was something regal about it and this is what I am struggling to convey.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A short vacation

I am happy to say that in a few days we are off on a short vacation to Utah, where we will be back packing in Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon. My son Michael has already been there and judging by his photographs we are in for a real treat. I am struggling right now trying to pack my art gear in such a manner that I don't need a pack mule to carry it! Seriously though, I will take my watercolours and casien paints along with some pens and pencils and hope to make good use of them. I post this watercolour because it has an autumn feel about it, even though I painted it this summer in Eastend. Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


This painting has been accepted into the FCA show titled AIRS, which stands for Annual International Representational Show. The event will be hung at the Federation Gallery on Granville Island in October. I am honored be showing my work alongside many talented artists from Canada and abroad. The painting is all about my life in Canada's north. I invite anyone who will be in Vancouver around that time to drop in and have a look at the artwork! My apology's to everyone who has tried to visit my website to no avail, the server has been down and we are looking for another host.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Who will stop the rain?

I am thinking that we should start to stockpile cereal grain based products, this has got to be the worst weather farmers have seen in the prairie provinces for decades and it will be a wonder if they manage to get any substantial harvest this fall. What a tragedy to see the bumper crops sitting in ponds of water, I empathize with the Canadian farmer..... The plein air painting above was executed one overcast day at the Shellmouth retreat and it pretty much sums up where my head is at today.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Triadic pallete

I am a great fan of painting out of doors and when I do I employ a limited pallete of ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow pale and alizarin crimson. I also add white and winsor green. With these colours I can usually capture the scene in front of me. Another benefit of using these colours is that you can always come back to the painting at a later date and do fix ups, if so needed. I have learned so much about colour mixing from using these three colours, what an amazing range of possibilities there are. I also wonder why I have numerous boxes full of paint tubes and when I will be able to use them! This painting above was completed in Shellmouth on a painting excursion with some fellow artist friends. I am glad for this blog site as my website host has not fixed his technical problems as of yet, therefore I have not website!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pausing to Notice

With every passing day it is becoming more apparent to me that one must live their life moment by moment, such is the preciousness of the gift of life. I know so many people that are holding on to life by a mere thread, their courageousness astounds me. I think of my sister in law Angeline Tysseland and her life with Ovarian cancer. My friend Brenda and her life with cancer. My Dad and his life with Dementia. Then there are those who have lost their partners, Carol Harrison from Winnipeg lost her husband Earl just recently. The wonderful photographer Courtney Milne is no longer with us. Do what you have to do to be happy now, just don't hurt anyone in the process. My painting of these lilies came from a small body of water just off of Highway # 85, near Madge Lake, SK.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Still Life

This painting is somewhat of a surreal depiction of a still life I set up at a retreat down in Eastend, SK. It is a large painting, 48 x 36 inches, so it kind of jumps out at you! I painted it at our 2010 retreat in Shellmouth and rather enjoy it, particularly the enameled bowl. One of these days I am going to upload my new images to my website, which is currently down for some reason.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

On Being There

The image on my blog's home page and the one for this post were done while I was at our annual Shellmouth retreat, which I have talked about at length in previous post's. I guess I can't say enough about the event. What I do know is that I have made some life long friends there and to me that has been the most valuable gift of the place. It seems that I have only touched the surface of the land down there with respect to my plein air work as there is much to paint in that lovely little valley. This year marked my tenth time down there!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Pastel

One of my resolves for the Shellmouth retreat was to do a painting of a Honduran child, which is what I managed to do with this pastel. I came across this little girl on my way to work down in Honduras one morning and was quite taken with her demeanor, she looked so forlorn. I fell in love in with the children down there, they made a huge impact on me.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Paintings from Shellmouth Retreat

I mentioned in a previous post titled "Observation" my interest in Goldfinches that were visiting the weedpatch next to my home. I was enamored by the contrast of their feathers against the purple flowers of the thistles that they enjoy eating so I decided to do an oil painting based on that vision. I found a canvas that I had started a number of years ago that fit the theme and finished it off with the painting knife. The painting sold instantly! I did another in watercolor and it also sold. I will have to do another for myself.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

In Between

I am just recently back from my annual Art Retreat to Shellmouth, Mb. As usual I had an amazing time. We had quite a crowd this year and many more young people, including my daughter Sacha, which added a nice flavour to the whole event. I am quite excited about the painting to the left, it has a strange appeal to me and I plan on exploring this idea further. I tend to suffer Retreat withdrawal for a number of days after getting home as it is quite an intense affair. Long hours painting and visiting with old friends and not a lot of sleep can catch up to you. Even so I wouldn't give it up for anything!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Summer Art Retreats

Another few days and I'm off to the annual Shellmouth Art Retreat. Time to get my canvas's stretched and gear organized as I never know exactly where the muse will take me. This usually means taking everything except the kitchen sink down there! One whole week of painting and hanging out with dear old friends. My daughter Sacha will be making her first appearance there and I am quite pumped about that as I know she will have a great time. I get lots of work done at the retreat, usually a painting a day. This painting is yet another view from my studio window portraying the afternoon sun playing on the trees and lake. Enjoy.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


This morning as I sat on my deck drinking a good cup of coffee I found myself thinking about the art of observation and how much this informs my life as a whole. There were the robins singing their lovely songs, a warbler hovering above a Canada thistle and eating the seed head. Actually it was that warbler that got me thinking about observation. Firstly, here was this beautiful yellow bird flying above a purple flower head - a perfect complementary pair in more than one way I bet. Nature gave the thistle its thistles to protect it I assume, but it also gave the thistle the warbler, who in the process of munching on its flower also helps propagate its species. And on and on it goes. The way that warbler gives out a joyous song as it bob's up and down as it flies away. The purple martins performing aerial acrobatics that would make Cirque du Soliel envious. Pelicans slowly circling above the lake and climbing higher and higher until they disappear from view. I have to think that I have been observing events such as these all my life and they are as important to me as breathing and my art making is all the more satisfying for it. The above painting was done many years ago while I was on a crazy fishing trip with my brothers and our sons. That is a story for another time!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pastel painting

I've made a box to hold all of my pastels in an orderly manner and had a chance to check out its suitability at our retreat down in Eastend awhile back. It actually worked quite well for me and I will only have to make a few small adjustments to make it right. Had a great time down in Eastend and was sorry to leave the place, as usual. Seems like you just get settled in and its time to go home. This pastel was inspired by the view from my studio window and employs a new method I am playing around with.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Spirit of Manitou Studio Trails Tour

Today is the start of a two day event (July 9-10) called the Spirit of Manitou Studio Trails Tour being held in the Resort Village of Manitou Lake, Watrous and outlying area. If you are close to us why not consider coming out and visiting the studios of all our wonderfully creative folks here? We had a wonderful turnout last year and are hoping for the same or better this year. I am set up at the Renown Room of the Manitou Springs Resort, along with Helen Herr, a wonderful artist and poet.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Eastend Art Retreat

We are back from our annual retreat to Eastend, SK, which is hosted by my good friends Barb and Dean Bauche. It is always a memorable time, getting together with old friends and meeting new ones, dealing with wild weather events, and exploring the wonderful landscape. This year I couldn't help feeling sad and also upset with respect to what is happening with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and its terrible impact on the bird population. This year at Eastend I saw and heard the most beautiful birds that I've never seen before and the thought that they are soon heading down to that disaster zone, possibly never to return is unconscionable to me. We are supposed to be looking after our small friends, aren't we? This oil painting represents the place we stay at down at Eastend. There are numerous blue bird houses around the property and to me signify good stewardship. I would encourage others to take steps to protect our birds, the world would be eerily silent without their songs.

Monday, June 21, 2010

First day of Summer

We've had a couple of days of sunshine finally. Rain has been the new normal for most of the prairie provinces and it looks like more is on the way. My thoughts are with those people who have suffered heartbreaking losses due to the inclement weather. I got up quite early the other morning and painted this picture from my back yard, looking down towards Little Manitou Lake. It is an oil on linen.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tom's Tree

There is a lake I used to frequent with my brother Richard up north of The Pas, Mb. where we
came across a pine tree which made us think of the Canadian painter Tom Thompsons famous painting. In honour of that occasion I painted this pastel. It in no way comes close to the beauty of his work, but what the heck, one can only try!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Serenity at Sundown

I had the distinct pleasure of witnessing an amazing performance by what I believe to be terns over the waters of Manitou Lake. A group of them were flying in formation and they appeared to be a mass of white flecks. When they turned and abruptly changed direction they literally disappeared from sight as there black markings blended into the landscape behind them. What a beautiful and memorable sight! I submit this pastel in honor of the event. It seems like a simple thing to comment on but it really was an awe inspiring spectacle.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Rainy Spring Day

Who out there doesn't love to take a walk after a warm spring rain? The smell of the budding poplar buds and choke cherries, the fragrant earth, the bird song and the wind in the trees. Everything has been given a new lease on life and exuberance is in the air. This little watercolour is a testament to my feelings on just such a day.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


I was banging around the studio this afternoon looking for a canvas to paint on and I came across a panel that was previously painted on. After some consideration I decided that it had the makings of a water type painting with lilies. There is a particular type of water lily that grows in Percy Lake, where my good friend and artist Jan Layh has a summer cottage and I have wanted to paint them for some time. With that in mind I went to work on the piece and very shortly I had what I was looking for. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Amisk Lake

This is a painting that I have done for a client from
Flin Flon, Mb. It portrays a wonderful lake in East Central Saskatchewan called Amisk Lake, or Beaver Lake as some of the locals prefer. I had great fun painting it and believe that it captures the essence of the place. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!