painting and photographic works

Archive for May, 2011

Painterly Photos

{EAV_BLOG_VER:a386f3aca84de097} – just an Empire Avenue verification tag

For nearly two months my DSLR camera (a Nikon D80) was out of commission  being repaired. When I got it back I went kind of crazy. I walked around Edmonton’s river valley for a couple of hours in the evening and early night and snapped 300 photos! Not all of them are keepers by any means but I was pleased by the number that gave me something interesting to work with.

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A big part of this photoshoot was experimenting  with light painting with the camera. I had tried this back in the darkness of the winter but this was this first conscious effort to try it without the light source being lights. To create these I set the camera to a slow shutter speed (experimenting with a variety just under one second) and deliberately moving the camera in a direction complementing the subject matter.  I love the painterly effect the motion, the blurring has given to the photos.

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On some like the previous image I played around with the colors and values until the original subject matter is no longer guessable.

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Heather Horton – Painter and Explorer

I would like to draw your attention to one of my favorite contemporary Canadian painters. Her name is Heather Horton and she paints compelling (and mainly) figurative works, in a realistic and emotional style . Her rendering of  faces and fabrics is truly breathtaking.

Not only do I admire her painting talent but I am also envious of how she lives life,  her travels and adventures. As she describes it:

“I have traveled a lot over the past two years. A LOT. I believe travel is the best education certainly, yet there is a time and place for it. As a painter, I need a quiet studio, without frenetic energy, in which to create.”

That quiet studio is at her home base in Burlington, Ontario. She is not exaggerating about a lot of travel – just from what I can recall, in the last year she has traveled to Turkey, southern France and Paris, a few points across the central U.S., New Orleans, Alaska, and the Yukon (and I’ve probably missed a few).

On top of all this travel in the last year, Heather has been very involved  in a major project on the life and travels of Christopher McCandless. – a fascinating and tragic story that you can find out about in the Wikipedia synopsis of Into the Wild, the Sean Penn-directed film from 2007.  This project involves a series of paintings that Horton has produced. Paintings from the McCandless project will be exhibited June 3-18 (2011) at the Abbozzo gallery in Oakville.

A great talent with great  and inspiring energy.  If you are not following her already please do by visiting her website, subscribing to her blog , liking her on Facebook or following her on Twitter @Heather_Horton. On Twitter, she often shares inspiring  photos from here travels or some of the great quotes that she has collected. Here is one inspiring recent example:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”~Mary Oliver

Original works by Horton are available from the Abbozzo gallery and prints of a number of her works are available on-line from DeviantArt. ( from where I purchased a small framed print of  one of my favorite Horton paintings: “The Red Toque” )

Boats, Bridges and Bikes

A few of my favorite black and white photos from the last week:


Morning Sun

Rough Wall

Bridge Rail

A Bike and a Bridge

Lumix Experiments

This week I have been continuing to explore my new camera, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7. Like most point and shoot cameras today, it has  an amazing offering of automated, intelligent picture-taking options. However one of the key features that attracted me to this model was the potential for manual control  (and good macro capability).

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I used the camera for capturing the initial images  and then Capture NX2 software for playing around with the color (contrast, cropping etc.). This next image was, I believe, generated from some natural discoloration on a light pole

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A common theme in this experiment and set of photos was deliberate blur of the images. I slowed down the shutter speed , so that I could move the camera during the exposure to create a directional blur.

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This last photo was primarily about the color play but started from a landscape image where I moved the camera in a vertical direction during the relatively long exposure

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I was pleased by this set of photographic experiments but feel I still have a ways to go until I can use this little camera to it’s full creative possibility. There are some definite limitations with this camera compared to a DSLR but for something I can carry with me most of the time, I will find it very useful.

Abstract Harris and Carr

Today I got back to the Art Gallery of Alberta. My first motivation was to re-visit the Emily Carr exhibit. My second reason was a visit to the new exhibition of abstract paintings by Lawren Harris, renowned landscape painter with the Canadian Group of Seven.

Lawren Harris was a founding member of the Canadian landscape school but even in some of his later landscape paintings the move to abstraction was very apparent. This exhibit, simply and appropriately called Lawren Harris Abstractions, focuses solely on the abstract works later in Harris’ career. The core of this relatively small exhibit are six paintings from the Art Gallery of Alberta’s own collection. Supplementing those works are sixteen from the National Gallery of Canada.  Probably half of the works are large (a meter or two) paintings and very interestingly there are a number of  abstract sketches, some apparently preparatory sketches for the works on canvas. There is a certain spirituality to Harris abstracts relating to Harris’s following of Theosophy.

I really enjoyed these Harris works and spent some time studying the curves, colors, shapes, volumes and composition. They are interesting from across the room and intriguing up close. The Harris exhibit runs through to September 11, 2011.

For more about Harris and his abstracts check out this CBC story from 1961.

The other exhibit I had an opportunity to visit today was Nature and Spirit: Emily Carr’s Coastal Landscapes. I had seen this exhibit a few weeks ago  and at the time vowed to visit again. It was just as impressive this time as it was the first time. I focused just on Carr’s paintings today foregoing the companion exhibit of Canadian west coast native art and artifacts. For more on my first visit see my earlier blog post.

The Carr exhibit runs until 2011 June 5 and I will get back, at least one more time.

Mountains in Black and White

Here are 5  photos of the Rocky Mountains in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. I took these while on vacation in August of 2008.

Athabasca Falls

Steps at Athabasca Falls

Rocky Mountain Valley

Glacier's Edge

Long Walk to the Glacier