Wednesday 21 September 2016


We are nearing the fall equinox. The days are shorter, and cooler damper weather has arrived. I don't feel quite ready to give up summer, I am hanging on with this collection of pictures:

a bee is still busy gathering pollen

the dahlias are in bloom

September Midnight

Sara Teasdale (1914)

        Lyric night of the lingering Indian Summer,
Shadowy fields that are scentless but full of singing,
Never a bird, but the passionless chant of insects,
    Ceaseless, insistent.

The grasshopper’s horn, and far-off, high in the maples,
The wheel of a locust leisurely grinding the silence
Under a moon waning and worn, broken,
    Tired with summer.

Let me remember you, voices of little insects,
Weeds in the moonlight, fields that are tangled with asters,
Let me remember, soon will the winter be on us,
    Snow-hushed and heavy.

Over my soul murmur your mute benediction,
While I gaze, O fields that rest after harvest,
As those who part look long in the eyes they lean to,
    Lest they forget them.

the leaves are changing

lots of berries on the holly

but a few summer flowers are still hanging on

my honeysuckle and wisteria have bloomed again
Autumn Fires
Robert Louis Stevenson (from A Child’s Garden of Verses, 1885)
clr gif

In the other gardens
  And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
  See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
  And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
  The gray smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
  Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
  Fires in the fall!

berries are plentiful on the trees

sunflowers are nearly ready

“Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn--that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness--that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.”
From the studio this week:
"Gated Quails" 12" X 24"
Well that's all for today, thanks for dropping by,
happy Wednesday, with whimsy,


Wednesday 14 September 2016

Skedans Village, Haida Gwaii

Here is the second half of a day long journey around Louise Island with the Moresby Explorers.

The most interesting stop on the trip is the ancient Haida village site of K'uuna Llnagaay (Skedans).

The site has not been inhabited since the 1880's but a few poles and remains of dwellings are still visible.

Although Louise Island is outside the boundaries of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, K'uuna Llnagaay is included in the Haida Heritage Site.

Haida Watchmen stay at the site throughout the summer at this dwelling:

"Skedans village is located on the neck of a peninsula of land at the head of Cumshewa Inlet. A high rocky prominence at the end of the peninsula offered a perfect site for a fort to protect the village. Skedans is a European rendering of the name of the town chief, Gida'nsta. The Haida name for this town is Koona, or in the old days Huadji-lanas, which means Grizzly Bear Town."

The village was located on a peninsula with beach access from two sides, giving the inhabitants an "exit" route if attacked.

Close to the watchmen dwelling a deer grazes unafraid.

Haida Poles are of three types: memorial poles, mortuary poles and house fronatal poles.
The book "Those Born at Koona", by John and Carolyn Smyly, is about the ancient village of Koona.
In the book they sketch and describe most of the original 56 poles working from the 1878 photographs of George M Dawson of the Geographic Survey of Canada.
The book "Those born at Koona" is now out of print but copies are available online through Abe Books Canada.


"Most totem poles stand between 3 to 18 metres tall, although some can reach over 20 metres in height.3 Different types of totem poles are erected to serve various architectural and ceremonial purposes. Most longhouses had house posts, carved with human or animal forms, to support the main beams of the building. Similarly, some longhouses featured a house frontal pole, which would be located at the main entrance and often contained an opening for passage into the house. Mortuary poles, which contained the remains of the deceased in grave boxes, served as both a tomb and a headstone. Likewise, a memorial or commemorative pole was often created to honour an important deceased person, usually by his or her successor."

Most poles were made of Western Red Cedar which is straight grained, rot resistant and relatively easy to carve.
Here is our guide Brian waiting for us to pay attention.

Not many of the original poles remain, and those that do are leaning or have fallen. The forest is gradually reclaiming them; I feel lucky to have seen them.

Emily Carr visited Skedans (as well as other ancient villages) in 1907 and took some photographs and later painted her recollections.

After our visit we got back in the zodiac for our return journey to Moresby Camp.

"Between Moresby Island and Louise Island is Carmichael Passage, with its steeply forested slopes, and Louise Narrows, a narrow passage that dries at low tide, and carries about 20 feet of water at high tide. Boaters cautiously navigate the strong current through the narrows at highwater slack."
Thank goodness we were in the capable hands of our guides.

That is all the pictures I have for today, I hope you have enjoyed todays post.
Here are some pictures of my exhibit at the North Shore Unitarian Church:
"Sticks and Stones I, II and III"

"The Village People Tryptic"

"Pecking Order"
and a link to more of the show:
Here is a painting I completed this week, it is another in the Sticks and Stones series and another varnished watercolour:
Sticks and Stones IV
Thank you for dropping by and happy Wednesday,

Wednesday 7 September 2016

More of Haida Gwaii

I hung my paintings in the North Shore Unitarian Church on the first of this month, they will be up until the last week of September. There are 37 paintings in this exhibit, it fills the sanctuary of the church.

I finished the last painting the day before and was readying it for hanging very early the next day before filling the car with paintings, tags, tape, and everything I needed to hang the paintings.

Here are the last paintings I finished, it is a dyptic; a varnished watercolour duo called "Pecking Order".

I will explain more about what a varnished watercolour is later in this post.


While we were visiting Haida Gwaii early this summer we took a day trip with Moresby Explorers.

The full day trip left from Moresby Camp by zodiac and stopped at World War II logging operations, and Church Creek; after a picnic lunch on the beach we got back into the zodiac and headed out into Hecate Straight and to the main stop of the day at the ancient Haida village site of K'uuna Llnagaay. (Skedans)
Todays blog covers the first half of the trip. We disembarked the zodiacs and our guides took us
into the forest.

Our guide Brian talked about the forest, plants and some of the history.
A very small fungus, but I cannot remember the name:

Many pieces of forest equipment remain and the forest has grown over and around them.

During World War II spruce trees were logged to supply wood for aircraft construction.


These are ancient boots:

Mathers Creek is the site of the former village of New Kloo,  also spelled Clew. The settlement was built in 1887, the people came from T'aanuu Llnagaay (formerly Tanu). Reverend Thomas Crosby helped build the new town, which was abandoned about ten years later when residents  moved to Skidegate. The area is sometimes called Church Creek after the place of worship that once stood there, an old cemetery remains on the site. (source- Haida Gwaii - Islands of the People by Dennis Horwood)

Only the perfect trees were logged, so some old trees remain:

Before and after lunch we did a bit of beach combing since we had not yet entered the protected park area.
We left a few stones balanced for the next visitors to view and rearrange. 
Views from the zodiac.


More of this trip next time.
I promised to explain more about varnishing watercolours.
First why varnish? It allows the watercolour to be finished without glass. When it is used for large watercolours it results in a much lighter product, and frames can be pretty expensive. This technique has allowed me to paint larger pieces.
I still do my watercolours on quality watercolour paper; the paper it either stretched over the same stretcher bars that are used for canvas or attached to a cradled wood panel. To stretch the paper first the paper is soaked and stretched over the frame and allowed to dry completely, the result is a taut painting surface. The second method I use is attaching (gluing) the finished painting to a wooden panel. Of  course the wood (stretcher bars or cradled panel) has to be sealed first so that it does not cause the painting to discolour. 
After the painting is complete and fully dry, I use spray varnish to fix the surface and then apply several coats of a water based archival varnish.
The finished piece can be displayed as is or mounted in a front loading frame.
I hope this makes some sense.
My exhibit of 37 paintings at the North Shore Unitarian Church is the largest I have ever done.
Here again is the link to most of the paintings in the exhibit:
Thanks for dropping by, happy Wednesday,