The 40foot Pool
Sandycove / Dalkey has this fantastic swimming spot called the "40 foot" (for the 40th Foot Regiment that manned the adjacent Martello Tower). It's a fantastic place to spend a nice summer afternoon and, if you're a fan of James Joyce, it's quite a literary spot too.
I spent a number of years living in Guelph, Ontario, first as a student and then again after graduate school. My Saturday morning ritual was a visit to Guelph's excellent farmers market. I was alway liked the rust and faded paint of the CN overpass against a bright blue sky.
Oil on Canvas, 2011.
At 48'x28' this is actually a large painting (for me). It's been on hold for more than two years as I live and work in Dublin. The painting itself is of the edge of my parents property in Blomidon, NS. I always like the way the water turned muddy as the high tide began to recede. The lovely green spring grass made for a great colour combination.
Oil on Canvas, 2013 (unfinished).
Saturday Morning, English Bay
I carry a little watercolour kit with me while I'm travelling. I always seem to have more downtime when I'm travelling for business or whatever than I normally do, so painting is a great way to sit and take a place in. I managed to sneak away on a quiet Saturday morning from UBC, head down to the beach and paint this great view north, with the freighters at anchor, across English Bay in Vancouver.
Cascade Glacier, Alaska
A couple of years ago I had the fantastic privilege of being US Forest Service Artist in Residence. My placement was in Alaska, in the Chugach National Forest on Prince William Sound. We did a week long kayak patrol of Herriman Fjord cleaning up camp sites, doing Leave No Trace outreach, and monitoring the area for noise and man-made intrusions. It was stunning. So stunning, in fact, that it was almost impossible to paint. I tried. Oh, I tried. But without distilling it down to little bits, it's just so hard to capture it all. This paint sketch, looking north to Cascade Glacier, was my first attempt. The shadows, the glaciers, the light, the sheer scale of the landscape was all a bit much for a tiny sketchbook.
Herriman Glacier, Alaska
At the western end of Herriman Fjord in Alaska's Chugach National Forest is the incredible face or Herriman Glacier. Part marine and part on land it gives you this sense of a few things. Firstly, it doesn't just give you a sense of how unbelievable small you are, it tells you in no uncertain terms: you are a tiny speck in this place. Second it gives you a real idea of geological time. It's happening right now, the earth is being shaped, but we are always so busy to notice. Thirdly, it gives you the impression of dying titan. Climate change is happening and there is no more effective place to be convinced of it than the face of a glacier. On land this glacier, huge and vast, just sort of peters out into piles of gravel. You can walk up the slope that results from it's slow, relentless melting. But where it meets the sea, it explodes and thunders and building sized chunks break off. Lastly, if you consider the energy that is dissipated by it, you can't help but try to imagine how much energy went into creating it. Nature is an immeasurably powerful force and we are very small, selfish creatures in it.
Surprise Glacier, Alaska
I think this was one of the most incredible places I've ever been in the world, this little outcropping with its soft grass and wild flowers, halfway down Herriman Fjord in Alaska's Chugach National Forest. It's one of the prettiest spots I've ever been in my life. We stopped for lunch, picked invasive dandelions and I got to painting this scene from View Beach north to Surprise Glacier. It was an almost perfect day, dead calm, you could hear everything: the birds, the waterfalls, the glaciers calving. I could not paint how incredible this scene was, but once again, I did try.
Harbour Air, Victoria
Every couple of years my brother and I take a trip together. "Brothers Day" we call it. A few years ago, we took a trip out to visit our uncle in Victoria, BC, and to hike the West Coast Trail. One of the things I love about travelling with him is that we both bring sketchbooks with us, and we both quietly just sort of sit down and start painting. If one of us does it, the other does too. We had a day or so kicking around in Victoria, and I like things that go, so I picked this handsome Harbour Air floatplane and managed to paint it before it was loaded up and flew off to Vancouver or one of the gulf islands.