Sunday, May 31, 2009

A quiet corner

The violet colored iris started to bloom in our flower bed. The little statuette of an angel was placed in the center ready for the summer.

Blooming crab apple tree

The two crab apple trees seemed to have burst into blossoms overnight in the Gross' backyard. It was such a beautiful view which my humble effort proved to be no match to.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

On a leisurely afternoon

After the first painting done, I turned my easel around trying to capture the sweeping view of the green wood in the park with lots of people in the distance spending a pleasant afternoon.

A view from Dinsdale park on Assiniboine River

Local Chinese community organised an outdoor picnic gathering at Dinsdale Park with lots of families attending,bringing tons of food with them. I left the crowd and found myself a quiet corner on the bank of the river to paint. It was early in the afternoon with full sunlight beating down over my head.

In the morning light

Rarely did I have opportunity to paint in the early morning at this location. So I made an effort to come here as early as possible to try to paint this familiar view in the neighbourhood of Cornwallis Crescent next to Balmoral Bay. While I was just about to paint, a young lady suddenly came to me from behind, speaking incoherently and trying to grab my brush from me . She was apparently in a semi intoxicated state and seemingly very upset. Anyway, luckily she left without further incident, but this small interlude almost marred my mood compounded with occasional bursts of loud laughs from a house in the distance.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Against setting sunlight

Late in the afternoon after supper, Ping as usual could not wait to get her hands on her garden. Looking at our house from across the street I was so struck visually by the setting sunlight that I set up my easel in a hurry, and did a quick oil sketch with Ping working on her garden.

From the garden of the Eatons

Came to the Eatons' backyard to paint after work. David and Ann were sitting in their sun room to enjoy the weather. It was really windy and the blossoms from their plum trees would soon be blown away, which reminded me of Shakespeare's sonnet No.18, the only sonnet that I have ever committed to my memory.

"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?Thou art more lovely and more temperate:Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,And summer's lease hath all too short a date;Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;And every fair from fair sometime declines,By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;But thy eternal summer shall not fade,Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. "

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The path

After supper around 5:30 I found myself walking towards the path where I had painted so many times over the past 6 years. The sunlight was breaking out of clouds and the crab apple trees were being lit by the light while two ladies were walking their dog towards me. This was the moment I was trying to keep  in my memory as well as onto my canvas. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Color of spring

I have lost track of how many times I have painted at this spot over the past 6 years! However, each time I found myself at this spot next to our line of hedges the urge to paint was strong as ever especially at the turn of the season. The vibrant and fresh color in spring was engulfing my every sense while I was painting away in the afternoon. 

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Blooming Nanking Cherries

The blooming Nanking cherry brush on Maureen's property was so enticing that I simply could not pass by without getting it onto my canvas. Around noon when the sun was in and out of clouds every now and then, I tried to capture its cheerful and light spirit. 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Garage Sale at 42 Balmoral Bay

As before, the Gross always serves as the organizer of such a neighbourhood event. And they are so well organized. On top of that John's great sense of humour always adds to the cheer and joy of the moments. To me garage sale means more than a garage sale it serves kind of as a seasonal initiation and a ritual that marks the transit of  a long passage of winter into a hard earned summer season. After the first painting I trained my easel towards the Gross' front yard trying to capture the moment of such an event. 

Balmoral Bay in the morning

Early in the morning around 8 people gradually came to the bay to muti-family garage sale. Every year at this time  Balmoral Bay will hold its annual community garage sale which really attracts lots of people. This year with such beautiful weather finally there is no exception. It is not so often that I can set up my easel early in the morning to do some painting outdoor. I was totally captivated by the color and light in the morning. 

Friday, May 22, 2009

A long stretch of fences

A favorite spot of mine to paint across the seasons. While passing this location on my way home to work, I was attracted by the glow of the blossoming trees in the sun , and I  returned to it with my easel  to paint this view on this open space behind Cornwallis Crescent

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Moment before sunset

It was about 7 p.m when the trees in the backyard  were lit up by sunset. The moment was impregnated with a serenity and beauty that was beyond verbal descriptions

Glow in the sun

The tender green of the new leaves on the trees glowed in the sun as viewed from our driveway in late afternoon. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Blooming Nanking Cherry

While passing Mr. Gross's house  his blooming Nanking Cherries caught my eyes, I stopped by this backyard and painted his lovely cherry trees. 

Monday, May 18, 2009

A good fence making good neighbour

Maureen, our next door neighbour invited us over for lunch. We always count ourselves lucky to have such a wonderful neighbour. After lunch I painted this view over the hedge into Maureen's backyard. 

A view over our drive way with our car

Early in the morning after I came back from a morning shift, I set up my easel again to paint attracted not so much by the view as by the absolute serenity I found myself in!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Picnicking at Assiniboine River

Late in the afternoon I drove to Dinsdale Park on Assiniboine River.  The wind was very strong and I had to hold down my easel with my left hand to keep it from being blown away while I was doing this painting. The picture of group of family and friends gathering together on the green grass picnicking  and barbecuing was quiet idyllic. 

Color of early spring

A bit cloudy when I started this painting in front of our house. The shimmering green color of green was finally here to stay! 

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Brandon University

After dropping Ping at work, I made a detour to B.U campus with my easel. It was so quiet on the campus that I could hardly see any sign of human activities except a few of the crew working on plants and group of people having their wedding pictures taken in front of the original building by a professional photographer. Standing here looking at the BU landmark building I could not help but thinking how this university had totally changed the course of my personal life, and how a personal decision made incidentally 18 years ago could have a such an impact on myself and the rest of my family! and on a broader scale, how what happened almost exactly twenty years to the day in Beijing , China in May 1989 had so much changed the course of late 20 century history as well as the lives of thousands upon thousands of Chinese students like me. As I was painting this view,  I found myself sinking deeper and deeper in thought tracing back the road I had followed which led me to Brandon, Canada where I would soon mark my 18Th anniversary! 

A window view on a sunny morning

 Came back from working over night early in the morning. Instead of going back to bed, I pulled up the curtain the view outside was so captivating that I set up my easel immediately to try to capture the fleeting moment.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A study of a willow tree

Walked to the path between two fences , the old willow trees from inside the fence made me stop to paint. 

The grove of trees over the hedges on a rainy day

It was cold , windy with forecasting of snow! Standing on our front yard painting I could feel the temperature dropping and my hands and feet numb with cold. How eve, the sight of the trees soaring into the sky seemingly trying to fill up the gap in the sky left by the few that were cut down were so inspiring that I simply could not resit their beckoning

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My homage to the trees!

I remember how far back in my teenage years I lamented for those big old silver birch trees along the bank of  a small river right behind my childhood house in the far remote Altay Mountains of the far Northwestern China.  One day all of a sudden in the 70s for some unknown reason  a few guy showed up on the river and started to  cut down those beautiful birches one by one. I remember I felt so sad for after all those big birches were so much part of my life: I had spend numerous hours watching birds nestled in their foliage and small trouts coming to rest in their cool shadows from their big limbs bending over the water of the river in the hot summer,  and later in my early teens I spent hours upon hours sketching in watercolor their beautiful silhouettes along the river.   Three decades later after I finally went back  from Canada to revisit my birth place I found myself standing on an ugly cemented road with potholes where the river used to flow and the birch used to stand lamenting again for those beautiful trees. I remember clearly it was right on the bank of the river across from the groves of birch one day when I was about 6 years old I sported a lone oil painter sitting there with a pochade box on his lap painting away to his heart content totally oblivion to the political storm that was about to engulf every part of China, the Cultural revolution! The images of that lone painter painting away on a quiet river was so cemented into my memory that  even today I still feel myself under its spell ! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A glimpse of a house next door

The house next to ours is the most impressive one in our neighbourhood with its big French window and lots of old trees in its front yard. I painted a quick oil sketch today before the sunlight receded. However, the very next day  quite a few of the trees  were cut down by city crew!  I seemed to have painted a visual lament for these trees ! 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Looking over the hedges again

A bit cloudy today, and it was getting really cold towards afternoon. However, in spite of painting numerous times from our patio I found it hard to resit the temptation to paint again the same view. 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mum for Moms

It was on Mother's Day yesterday when I bought this pot of mum for Ping. It has become such a cliche to buy mum for moms on Mother's Day. Nevertheless, yesterday, I repeated the same cliche. Looking at the dazzling yellow flowers against the warm sunlight pouring into the window I  set up my easel on the dinner table and  painted a quick oil sketch dedicating it to all the ladies young and old, past and present, who have made such a difference in my life! 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A view of a house nestled on the bank of the river

After I finished the first painting on the spot, it turned cloudy suddenly and wind started to blow and I could almost feel the chill from the river. However, the view of the house in the distance with a stretch of open green space was really captivating and I turned my easel around  starting my second painting for the day. 

Spring coming to the Assiniboine River

I drove to  a location on Assiniboine river across from Dinsdale Park in Brandon where people tend to go fishing at weekend. The trees lining up along the bank started to turn green which looks exceptionally beuatiful against a crystal clear sky. 

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A glimpse over our hedges at sunset

There is something sublimely beautiful about a sunset sky at this time of the year. The shimmering green color warmed up by  the light in the late afternoon has really a hypnotic effect on me while I am painting alone in our quiet backyard. 

Looking at myself in the mirror

Sick at home with migraine headache , I could only relief myself from the pain by picking up my brushes again, and since I could not go outdoor painting I simply painted myself standing in front of a mirror. It proved to be really unsettling to stare at oneself for so long as if I were trying to lay open my own self for an unscrupulous dissecting. 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Looking out of the window again

Looking out of the bedroom window on a cloudy and windy afternoon I could feel spring was finally here with its dreamy like green color and its fresh breath of air. 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Broadway Avenue

Standing under the shadow of Hotel Fort Garry on Broadway Avenue I set up my easel on the sidewalk for my last painting. At the end of the street the green dome of the railway station was sparkling in the bright sunlight. I tried to  imagine what life was like in the hay days of railway travel and how teemed with life was this particular location then. It was getting really warmer while I was standing there painting  I seemed to be able to see the shimmering green in the big elm trees lining up the street where pedestrian and traffic conjure up a picture of busy urban life. After all it was alreay May and spring is finally here to stay. 

Manitoba Legislature

hile I was painting on the grounds of the legislature building a long possesion of military cadets marching by the front of the building adding to the drama of the site. It was around noon by the time I finished this painting and there was such one more picece of canvas left for me to paint.

Hotel Fort Garry - East View

Early on Sunday  morning while most people were still in bed we came to Main Street at the junction where there was a cobbled street which would go  under a tunnel under a railway bridge all the way to the Forks. We left our car in a parking lot, and walked all the way back to the entrance to the tunnel where I started to paint Hotel Fort Garry drenched in the morning sunlight. It was quite cold and my hands started to feel numb half an hour into painting. 

Saturday, May 2, 2009

St. Boniface Basilica

Late in the afternoon after a day of painting nonstop, I came to take a rest on the bank of the Red River where the swift current of the full river swept by me as the dim crescent of a moon merged gradually in the dome of the sky above me. I could see the facade of St Boniface Cathedral baptized by the warm sunlight of the late spring afternoon. I seemed to see history so tangible right in front of me.

Winnipeg Skyline

It was already early in the afternoon when I drove to the top of the public parking place. Standing on the top, the sweeping view of Winnipeg sky line sailed into my sight while the activity-teaming life of a big urban center unfolded under its feet. Against a strong gust of wind I set up my easel to paint trying to absorb visually and mentally as well what was spreading in front of me.

Provencher Bridge

After a quick snack, I found myself on the bank of Red River looking at this spectacular new bridge across the river under the brilliant spring sky. Well, I felt so excited standing there painting! After all is not it the same Red River mentioned in the song Red River Valley with these lyrics
"From this valley they say you are going,
We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile.
For they say you are taking the sunshine,
That has brightened our pathway awhile.
So come sit by my side if you love me.
Do not hasten to bid me adieu.
Just remember the Red River Valley,
And the one that has loved you so true. "

Why it is that I could still remember the lyrics line by line? Back in the late 70s when China first opened its door to the outside world, for the first time in my life I first heard such beautiful tunes from a distant world after a generation of us grew up in the hay days of Communist China! I still remember the first time I heard it and rudimentary  awaking of something hidden deep in my heart.

The Forks in Spring

Came to Forks early in the morning to find a spot to paint there. The river was so full now and the walking path along the bank was still inundated under the water. When you think of Winnipeg, Forks tends to be the place to identify it with, for after all this is the place where history still lingers and ,where the cheerfulness and liveliness of contemporary urban life rubs shoulder with the fading remains of distant past. Under this big tent I was told people skated in winter on a makeshift skate rink. As I was painting this view, more and more people strolled into my sight and I could almost sense the pulse of the city.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Assiniboine Park Path

A lone birch tree close to the exit of the park casts a striking silhouette against the backdrop of an impressive neighbourhood of beautiful houses and quiet elm trees lined streets in the afternoon sunlight.

Assiniboine River Bank

After a short lunch break, I came to the spot on the Assiniboine River right at the exit to the park to paint this view. While painting I heard a vehicle pulling up on the street and the driver saying hi to me. It happened to be a former client who had purchased paintings from me. It was such a delightful surprise to see her!

Pavilion at Assiniboine Park

Thanks to the generous accommodation offered by Jenny I was able to go to Winnipeg and stay there painting on location throughout the weekend. It was still quite early in the morning when I reached Assiniboine Park. It was a bit chilly and windy when I started this painting standing at the open space behind the Pavilion building. I was told that due to the flooding of the Assiniboine River the open space was under a pool of water looking like a lake. Now the water was gone and people came back for a realaxing weekend.