Sketches and Watercolour Painting – Abstract Forest

As time marches along in the journey I refer to as “what shall I paint or sketch next,” the trip often leads to places that I wasn’t really expecting to end up at. Kind of like taking a Sunday afternoon road trip in your car and not hitting any of the spots you thought you would while ending up in areas that were far better, yet left you wondering “how did I get here exactly?”

So, as I say – this is no different in terms of “how did I get there exactly?”

One thing that I’ve learned(well sort of learned) is not to be afraid to do and go places artistically that you never imagined you might head off to. As someone said in a painting tutorial, “don’t be scared to experiment and fail – the paper only costs pennies.”

In my mind, art whether it be painting, drawing, or photography represents the artist’s interpretation of the scene that is in front of them at that moment in time and space. The artist then leaves “enough room” within the context of the finished work for the viewer to make their own interpretation or fill in the blank(s) in their own mind of what the artist is portraying.

Art and the whole creative spectrum(of whatever that might be) should cause the person looking at the work to stop and think – that’s my short version.

So……what do we have here?

This painting was inspired by a short video on abstract watercolour painting using washes to create an abstract sense of depth in a piece.

The washed-out colours in the back are void of detail in order to represent a forest as viewed further away. The trees that show more detail represent those closer in your field of vision. As well, I tried to create(with only moderate success) within the trees themselves a perception of depth, as some have more detail(closer to you) while others seem to be more faded, thus further away.

Obviously, pine or coniferous trees aren’t orange or red in colour.

But that’s part of the “abstractness” of the work.

Anyhow, hope you enjoy it.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Fire and Ice – Arrowhead Provincial Park

Ontario Provincial Parks depending on their size and classification provide a number of interesting programming options throughout the entire 365 days in the calendar.

One of the more if not most popular events are the “Fire and Ice” evenings on the skating trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park. Arrowhead is located a few kilometers north of the Town of Huntsville. From the “old homestead” on the shore of Georgian Bay, it was a trip of about an hour and 45 minutes to get there.

The ice skating trail is about 1.5 kilometers long and winds through part of the pine-forested campgrounds. As I mentioned the ice skating trail and specifically the “Fire and Ice” evenings are one of the more popular outdoor events in this area of the province.

Given the skating trail’s popularity, I booked our pass for the day and the evening “Fire and Ice” for Saturday(Feb 5) on the previous Monday morning. By Wednesday the passes for all of the weekend had been sold out.

So, what is “Fire and Ice?”

It is simply the skating trail lit up with torches.

Imagine being in a pitch-black forest at night in the cold of winter. Now, imagine that there is an icy trail snaking through the trees. Now that could be a challenge to figure out where the trail is. Now, light it up with torches. And this is the magic that results.

Once arriving at the park entrance, it is about a five-minute (maybe a bit longer) drive to the parking area for the skating trail. There is really a top-notch Visitor’s Centre to warm up at; or to purchase Ontario Parks merchandise or perhaps get a fast coffee or hot chocolate.

There is also an equipment rentals shop beside it if you want to rent skates, snowshoes, or cross-country ski equipment.

A short walk along a torch-lit path through the forest brings you to the start of the ice trail. There are “cubbies” to put your boots in; benches to sit on to lace up your skates and several fire pits to warm up at.

And once you get all laced up – off you go!

A couple of pics of Lynn.

In addition, there are also a number of summer electrical camping sites that they plow out for those who like to winter camp, plus the Park also has a number of rustic cabins that people can rent as well.

The cabins are extremely popular and very difficult to rent. They are reserved in just a minute or two just as soon as they come online. In Ontario, reservations can be made 5 months prior to when you would like to go. With a tremendous demand for them, they will be gone 5 minutes after the reservation window opens at 7:00am on any particular day.

Although the skate trail was a bit choppy and rough, it still was a great night out. The glowing torches; people and families having a great time; a cold winter’s night and the pine forests of northern Ontario – it couldn’t have been better.

In the past, my work schedule had always prevented us from going. But, not this time.

And, in as much as it was a physical outing, it was much more of a mental win for us. So many times over the past two years or so have we talked ourselves out of (or at least I have) of embarking on an adventure.

So, a win all around.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Sketches and Watercolour Painting – East Coast Inspired Lighthouse

If you haven’t been able to figure it out yet, I possess what appears to be an almost obsessive need to sketch; draw, and paint east coast and primarily Nova Scotia-inspired lighthouse and seascape scenes.

Frequently the painting gets inspired by a picture we’ve shot of a particular lighthouse or seacoast location. However, there are times when I merely set a generalized or imagined lighthouse on some generalized or imagined point of the Nova Scotia coastline…….and what you perceive is what you get.

As you can see, I’m, not quite done yet, as the island or point of land needs a wash or two of colour on it. In addition, I noticed that the top of the lighthouse has a “slight slant” to it. But, I do exceptionally enjoy the tiny shed at the bottom of the lighthouse. To me, it has the greatest amount of depth and texture in the painting and immensely adds to the overall effect.

I should note, that I do wear somewhat corrective glasses to help with vision issues. I need to remember to check to sketch portion more closely as I do tend to draw on an angle or slant given my minor vision concerns.

Hopefully, later today(Sunday) or Monday I’ll have the painting finished, and I can update this post.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration’ discover yourself —

A Little Six Mile Lake Snow Trudge

In keeping with the theme of “mid-winter blues”, we decided on Friday afternoon given that it was a glorious and blindingly sunny winter’s day, we headed slightly north of us to the Six Mile Lake area of South Muskoka.

This wasn’t really major or even a minor adventure in terms of what we’re used to doing. If it needed to be classified(and I’m not certain why it would need to be?) it might naturally fit “minor in terms of scope”; major in terms of mental and emotional wellness.”

A slight bit of background here, I’ve been struggling for the past number of months(and far too many to count up) with the feeling of being lost; emotionally, and mentally drained/done. All along with that is the work-related stress caused by the pandemic and a host of other issues(again far too many it seems to add up). So getting outside to canoe, hike, or backcountry camp(plus a number of other outdoor related activities) has been to me over the years a number of things, but importantly it has been the way to recharge the soul and to disconnect from life in order to reconnect back to it.

Needless to say, it has been a significant battle at times to make a decision to head out somewhere and then to carry out on actually doing it. More often than not, I end up talking myself out of what I had talked myself into 24 hours previously.

But Friday afternoon was the day.

We ended up doing just a wonderfully short hike(actually, it was a trail-breaking trudge through knee-deep snow) to a favorite point looking over the water.

It wasn’t far by any means, but in a way, for at least me it was a type of breakthrough. At least we got out. So, I’m taking that as a small win. And a win is still a win no matter how big or small that is.

Lynn’s telling us all we need for an afternoon out is a “thumbs up” attitude and all the while supporting “rosy cheeks.”

It certainly was cold(pushing -20C), but no real wind.

Yup, a win no matter the size is still a win.

–as always with love

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Sketches and Watercolour Painting – Tilted Lighthouse

Often(and I mean all the time) on our travels throughout the province, Lynn and I come across what I refer to as the “Georgian Bay” pine tree.

Now, there isn’t a specific species called the “Georgian Bay Pine” however, most of them are white pine trees. The name “Georgian Bay pine” derives from the fact that a lot of the pine trees found all along the Georgian Bay shoreline enjoy a distinct look.

They all have a “pronounced slant” and they all appear to only have limbs for the most part growing on one side of the tree trunk. All of these features are a result of the constant west wind from Georgian Bay blowing solely in one direction against the trees for many, many years as they’re growing.

Nova Scotia inspiration….

I thought what would a lighthouse found in Nova Scotia look like if it exhibited similar characteristics as the “Georgian Bay Pine?” You know, found along a rocky shoreline and with a constant wind blowing on them. All the while recognizing that lighthouses tend to have exceedingly sturdy construction(stone, concrete, etc) in order to withstand the forces of “old Mother Nature” as she cruises the shoreline of the North Atlantic ocean.

The start of the painting with final washes of the sky and sea.

The finished product with the lighthouse and rocky shoreline added.

I’m quite pleased with the final outcome. The painting is loose and abstract enough to make the viewer think about what they’re looking at, while at the same time…’s just plain fun.

Thanks for taking a look.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Sketches and Watercolour Painting – The Blue Mountians

This was the first ink and wash watercolour painting I did, using the new professional-grade paper I got at Christmas.

It was based on a picture I had come across which I really enjoyed, in that it had a variety of tone elements or layers to it that suggested the hills/mountains were some distance off in the background with a hazy and almost smokey sky appearance.

When I had finished it(or so I thought), I was generally happy with how it turned out.

The foreground representing grass was good(although it could be a bit darker); the hill/mountain turned out fine in that it does suggest “distance”(the top of the hill could have sharper edges to it). And the cabin worked out okay as well.

But, it was a pretty bland picture looking I must admit.

As I pondered over it for a few days, I came back and added the trees in to create more depth and some visual points to the overall effect. Which I think was a good choice in the end.

And realistically, who wouldn’t want a cabin on a hilltop surrounded by mountain views?

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Sketches and Watercolour Painting – Nova Scotia Inspired Fishing Boat – Update

About a week or so ago, I posted a loose/abstract watercolour painting I was working on inspired, based on seeing beached fishing boats and such often resting on the ocean floor at low tide. You can take a read of that post from a week ago here. It’s really pretty good.

So, here we have halfway through, and the finished watercolour painting.

To be honest and not to blow my own whistle too much or too loud, I’m genuinely altogether pleased with how the painting turned out.

I do think in hindsight, that adding the thin ink line to the windows and hull might have been a mistake, but I can exclaim with considerable fanfare, I remain my own fiercest critic.

One significant creative element that has been added to the painting process since the beginning of the new year, is using professional-grade watercolour paper. For a “Christmas present” we managed to score professional-grade paper through a chain art supply store at 30 percent off.

Using a far better quality paper, overnight transformed the painting game a 1000 percent.

Secondly, while watching and listening to some watercolour YouTube videos, a comment from one painter/instructor ended up delivering a resounding impact on me.


It might seem like “don’t be afraid to make a mistake” is just a minor blip; a small toe-stubbing potential mishap in the creative journey. But, I can assure you “don’t be afraid to make a mistake” can make the creative juices come to a screeching halt.

So, there you go.

There will be more paintings and stuff to come in the next days and weeks.

Hey, I would love to hear any comments on what you’re seeing.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Wilderness Art – Nova Scotia Inspired Fishing Boat

Searching back through posts from the last while, it has been some time since I’ve updated or added to the “Wilderness Art” category. Also thinking, maybe the “Wilderness Art” name needs an upgrade or update to something different.

Moving on, at the beginning of December, I updated the “Christmas Gift Tag” project. Which by the way, was a really fun exercise to do. Some of the tags turned out so-so, while others were a “hoot” to think of and paint.

Since heading down this watercolour painting and pencil sketching trail over the past 24 months or so, I’ve really come to enjoy two realms of creativity.

Those are folk art and loose abstract watercolour creations.

In addition, I find great inspiration in maritime(specifically Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) scenes, such as landscapes; fishing shacks; lighthouses, or other structures that would lend themselves to either a “folk art” or a “loose abstract” painting.

This one is the start of a loose abstract watercolour of a beached fishing boat that realistically could be found in many places located along the Nova Scotia coastline. Thinking about it for a minute or two, it could also represent many locales in Prince Edward Island given the reddish sand foreground.

Obviously, I still have a bit to do to finish the painting up.

First of all, with the fishing boat as the focal point of the painting, I’ll need to give it some special consideration. I’m thinking of giving it a loose application as well, but haven’t reached any decision as to colours and textures. The boat also needs some shadowing at the base of it in the sand.

Lastly, between the grey sky and the dark line that represents a closer treeline or cliff, I think I’ll add a lightish grey wash to suggest a forest or trees that are quite distant. That should provide some additional depth to the painting.

So, there you have it. The latest update to my creative adventures.

I’m really looking forward to how this turns out.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Parry Sound – 2022 Outing #1

Yesterday dawned coolish in this area, but along with the sunrise also rose great expectations to start 2022 off with a bang(a small or large – didn’t matter) in terms of getting a better grip so to speak on my/our physical and mental/emotional wellness. I touched on this a bit in a post from January 2 – “The 2022 Routine Begins.”

In the morning before we headed out, I had mentioned casually to Lynn that it seems over the past year or two, I’ve often struggled when it comes to deciding where to head out when we want to go out for the day on an adventure.

Not sure why, but it does seem at times that I choose some lovely location and then overthink the whole freaking thing and talk myself out of going.

Nevertheless, I suggested why not Parry Sound?

First – we thoroughly enjoy the entire area up that way. It has a very wild and windswept vibe to the landscape. Secondly – the trail along the waterfront is great from a number of perspectives. Finally – we figured it was perhaps the best spot to get a kickstart on 2022.

So in order NOT to give me the time to “talk ourselves out of going”, we got ready and off we headed.

With an uneventful drive north up Highway 400, we arrived in the parking lot along the waterfront to find it and the trail essentially a sheet of ice. Yes – ice – lots of ice.

To say it was slick would be an understatement. Nevertheless, off we went gingerly stepping as to not take what only could be thought of as a “massive tumble.”

Ice and all, we went as far as Wambuno Beach Park.

Got a few pictures taken from there.

Even though it was pretty slick going, it was a good day. Although we only went a couple of kilometers overall, the mental wellness part made the afternoon worthwhile.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

The 2022 Routine Begins

So, we’ve finished Christmas and hopefully made it through New Year’s(for the most part) and now we start to settle in for what I’m calling the 2022 routine. Sort of a routine, at least for a while.

I’m not sure routine is the best word to describe this, but it is the routine of work, followed by the weekend and then work – and again followed by the weekend and so on.

In many ways, I’m looking forward to this in a sort of “nice to have some consistency way.” Although, I enjoy the holiday season(some years have been better than others), having some level of consistency in terms of schedule in a bizarre way is bringing me a measured level of peace. I know that I work these five days in a row and then there it is – my weekend.

Of course, there can and will be changes and often variations to the routine and yes – that’s just fine. But, in a bigger picture sense, it’s soothing to say that Sundays will be our outdoor activity day and Monday will be – well whatever happens on that day.

As I sit here writing and reading this as I go along, the whole post screams the exact opposite to how Lynn and I roll on most occasions. That being not much of a routine at all. In fact, Lynn would be most thrilled if there was for the most art no routine at all. She’s more of a “spur-of-the-moment” gal.

But, for Sunday, January 2, 2022 – routine and consistency seem like a good thing. In fact, it seems like the right approach for me at this point. I found throughout 2021, that even with the best of intentions to do “this or that” – minutes and hours would slip by and exactly zero would be accomplished.

As I wrote in a post yesterday(Looking Back at 2021…Looking Forward to 2022), one of the goals on a “checklist” for 2022 is to have a far better approach to both my physical and mental/emotional wellness. I know this will only be achieved at any level by being consistent; focused and routine.

It goes without saying, but there is already a bucketful of unknowns two days into 2022.

In Ontario where we live, it appears the Ontario government has more or less thrown in the towel in terms of the pandemic. With the Omicron variant circulating widely throughout the entire province(Jan 1 – count pushing 19,000 new infections on Saturday alone) our elected officials are nowhere to be seen or even heard from. And there is so much more to say, but it becomes overwhelming and a tad depressing.

But, we march forward doing the best that we can do.

And which in its simplest and most basic terms is looking after one’s physical and mental/emotional wellness as best as one can.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —