Monthly Archives: April 2010

Pulled in a Hundred Directions

I feel as if I am being pulled in a hundred different directions these days.   I am painting my heart out trying to get ready for my show next week. Also, I’ve been working with a printer and photographer designing cards, prints and giclee’s from my recent paintings.   It is also that time of year when all the paper work has to mailed off to join in on the summer art events around Victoria.   It has all been a bit overwhelming and stressful.  To make matters worse I have not been able to get down to the harbour to sketch.  I feel I am one miserable artist at the moment trying to do it all.     

I’ve been painting hard and steady the past few months.   I work hard but I don’t produce as much work as I believe I should be able to produce.   I assume I should be able to paint faster than I do.   It causes me a lot of frustration.   I figured out for every four paintings I paint I might be happy with one in the end.  It is disappointing when you put in two months of work and you end up with one decent painting.   I wish my odds were higher but they are not.   I am trying to learn to accept that this is just the way it is. I figure when I am old and (maybe) famous I’ll call these unsuccessful paintings my studies and they will sell for a fortune.   One can always hope.

I’ve been working with Scott over at “Art Ink Print” printing copies of my paintings. He was recommended to me from the Artist in Motion group I belong too.  He’s a Victoria boy who has grown up on the waterfront and is also passionate about our working harbour.  Like me, he sees the way the waterfront is changing and shifting.   He gets my paintings; he understands what I am trying to say in my work.

 If you click on the photo the word’s will come unfussed.

Scott is the sweetest guy.   He’s talkative, informative and offers a wealth of artistic knowledge.   Being an artist himself he understands and supports you in ways I don’t think too many other printers around town would be able to do.  I highly recommend his services to anyone thinking of going down this road.  He’s a great guy to get you started and you can find him above Starbucks at Yates and Government Street.  

I am miserable when I am working this diligently.  I am missing my boys and the harbour.   I haven’t been able to get out sketching.   The red mountain is sitting idle in the driveway; the dog is lying around looking at me with sappy eyes.  It seems like I am cemented to the house with an endless list of painting and household chores.  An artist’s life is a struggle at the best of time and no offense to the men artists out there but I do believe women have more on their plate than men artist do.  For me it’s one huge juggling act between my art, home, and business.   

I will be out sketching and bugging the boys soon.  I have enough paintings completed for my upcoming Sidney show.  They are all varnished and ready to go.   I can pick up my prints from Scott on Monday for my open house Monday evening.  I have a new painting started and sitting on the easle ready for me to paint.   It is of the Pilot boat sitting up on blocks at the shipyards.   I hope to finish it for the Sidney show.  It will be a bonus painting if I get it done.  I have my paperwork completed and mailed off for my summer venues. The house is still a mess but who cares as I am going to hit the road with the dog and the Red Mountain as soon as this show is over.   My fingers are itching to get out there and sketch.

Don’t laugh to loud at this sketch.  It’s about a 10 minute drawing in the wind on my way home from the printers.  I couldn’t pass by this scence without trying at least a quick sketch.  It will be interesting to see how I develop it into a painting.  I do have inspiration galore when I spot my boys at work. 

So until next time,



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Sitting Under the Bay Street Bridge

I was sitting under the bay street bridge last night waiting for the boys to show up to pick up a barge.  The Evco Spray comes in early in the morning with a load of gravel and parks the loaded barge right here by the bridge.  They usually come in quite early as the Blue bridge is not suppose to lift between 7 and 9 am so I think they get in around 6 – before my time anyways.   Then the guy in the yellow loader spends the day unloading the gravel and the Spray goes over and ties up with the Seaspan Boys so the guys can have a nap.   Depending which direction I decide to venture in the morning I will either come across the colourful Yellow and Red Tug or the lime green barge.  It all depends on which way I loop around to do my daily harbour tug check.

Once I see one of them, barge or tug, I know that  Spray will be back by the bridge around 6 pm to pick up the barge.      They can’t pick it up any time sooner because the bridge is not supposed to be raised between 4 – 6 pm due to Victoria’s rush hour traffic.  I am not sure what they mean by rush hour traffic in this quaint city – maybe 12 cars or so.

Anyways, I went down to draw under the bridge around 5 so that I could spend some time sketching the barge before the tugs showed up.   I planned to take some photo’s of the boys when they showed up.   This is usually how I go about things.   I take photo’s of the tugs working as they are never still enough for me to draw otherwise.    Then from the sketch I will set up my painting compositions and then I pop the tugs back into the picture using a photo reference.   But I don’t  have to do this much anymore as now I can do the tugs right out of my head.  I never thought the day would ever come that I would be able to draw from an image in my head.  

Anyways, here’s the quick sketch I did in my sketchbook.

You can click on these sketches and photos to make them bigger.

I was freezing and just about ready to throw in the towel as the guys were a bit late.  I was ready to go home when I saw them  coming.

I love the action.  The clambering and smacking as the bow hits the side of the barge.   The voices of the boys shouting,  radio’s selching,  engines spinning, black exhaust billowing,  colours radiating,  I love it all.

They come in fast, tough and strong. No pissing around.   The deckhands are off that tug and up on the barge before you can even shake a stick.

Cate XX hard at it.   Crank that sucker!!

No wonder he’s giving it.   Look at what that little tug is hauling the whole kit and caboodle.

The Spray has to tuck in by the bridge when he picks up the barge.  So the Cates XX pulls him backwards and swings him around.    They do this beautiful dance out there in the upper harbour.

Were out of here.

Heading towards the uplifted Blue Bridge.

And then to my great surprise I nearly got knocked off my feet by a runaway otter.

He came barreling up the cement staircase leaping steps two at a time and sailed right by me along the sidewalk.  It must have been a male as he was huge in a cute manly way.     I couldn’t figure out where it would go as all that was ahead of it was a busy traffic intersection.

 He was high tailing it like he knew exactly where he was going

It caught me by such a surprise that by the time it registered on me to see I turned my head back to the tugs and then when I quickly looked back he was gone.

I was flabbergasted by its size, its loopy run and how fast he disappeared from sight.    But, no kidding he nearly ran me down.

 Getting smacked by a galloping otter would be a new one for me. 

so until next time,



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Hot off the Press!!!!!

I just finished this painting and I love it.   I mean I really  love it.   It has so many of my favorite things in it.   The Blue Bridge, the Parliament buildings, the mountains, the water and best of all a manly tug and crew.   Boy, you can’t get much better than that as far as I am concerned. 

The photo quality is poor as I just took a quick photo by hand.    I was too lazy to set up the tripod and cover up the windows.  That is why they are washed out a bit  because of the light coming through the glass.  The same goes with the following paintings.  I was just excited to show them to you.

The Red Serge!   Does anyone get this meaning?

I love this one too.   I can’t believe it!   Two in a row that I am happy with.   For everyone who knows me this is a big huge leap forward as I am hard to satisfy when it comes to my work.

Yep, you guessed it I am not happy with this one.   I overworked it.  But I like the lights on the mast.   I think I did a very good job at getting those lights to stand out. It is hard to tell that in this photo the orignal is brighter.

These are good size paintings approximately 36X48 inches.  

Ok, I am  all pumped up and I am off to start another one.

I have six shows coming up.   Talk about panic mode.  



PS  Don’t forget these paintings are FOR SALE   you have  first dibs before the show starts on May 4th.


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How It All Began

A few years ago, on a grey west coast day I was walking over the Bay street Bridge and the yellow and red colours of an Evco tug popped right out of the fog at me.  I nearly pissed myself. Then to add the icing on the cake they were hauling a bright lime green barge.   That picture nearly killed me on the spot.   It was after seeing this image that I started to go out sketching the Industrial areas of Victoria’s harbour. At that time I had no idea how to draw or paint landscapes let alone tugboats.  But there was something about those tugs and the working harbour that I felt I needed to capture in my own way.  

Those working tugs and the men on board them provoked something within me.  I could feel the honest character of the tugs and the men and I realized that these moments might not be with us much longer.     I feel with great sadness it won’t be long before the colour and flavour of Victoria’s working harbour will be gone.   So this is why I sit on cold rocks, fall through blackberry bushes, freeze to death, rush through the streets of Victoria and the list could go on.  I do it because I need to record these stories in paint before they are gone forever from Victoria’s waterfront.


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