Sunday, August 14, 2011

NEW Blog on

well it looks like the new website is up and running just fine.
and I will be posting any further blog writings and pics, studio updates and information to the new site. Thanks for visiting !

the regular BLOG will be continued when I have something to share...;-)

and the studio updates will be under WHAT'S NEW
upcoming events, classes, exhibition, awards, artist-in-residence and projects

Monday, July 25, 2011

last Haida Gwaii post

this will be the last of my blog postings for the journey.
a few days to finalize things and pack up before heading home.
My thanks to pal Drew for the use of his cozy home in Masset.
A restful place to paint, read, nap and write.

the Poles speak

I will let the poles speak for themselves.
and I did manage to wander away from the interpretive tour long enough to do a small sketch. My way of absorbing and experiencing the place.

Heather Beamish and myself

Boat trip to Skedans. old poles

Headed out to the old village site of Skedans on Louise Island - on the west side facing Hecate Straight. After a lovely dawn 90minute drive down from Masset to Charlotte, 30 min ferry ride to the south island, 40 minutes jolting drive on a rough logging road, in a packed van with 10 others, and then a covered boat trip of another 45 minutes over some heavy swells. You have to be committed (and I don't mean crazy) to travel out to these remote locations. But that is what makes the visitors to Haida Gwaii a bit special. Unless you've got money. then you hop in a float plane or helicoptor for a $2000 day. We had a great day with Queen Charlotte Adventures - Glen & Lexie were our guides.

Arrived in Moresby Camp with clouds hanging up on the peaks, and a glimpse of blue sky. At the head of Cumshewa inlet (about 25 km inland - cutting almost half was across the island) this is the grand central station of wilderness tours, paddlers, sail, boat and fishing charters, and travellers. The sun broke through and yes - again there were rainbows ! in the bow spray from our sturdy aluminum hull. As you can see from the pics, we ended up with a fabulous sunny, sea sparkling day. It is so great to see things from the water.

Heading out to the east side of Louise Island Lexie pointed out several old logging and cannery sites. Cumshewa and Slewyn inlets had been a major industrial zone for the area, large camp "town" sites complete with a school and pub. Unfortunately it shows in the scarred and scattered regrowth after heavy logging on every island and hillside. Today all the machinery from such practice is removed throughout Gwaii Haanas, and the encroaching forest moves in to take back with seedlings, moss and decay.

We passed through/over many kelp beds, and the small bay at Skedans was full of waving ribbons of underwater fronds. We trundled into the small boat to go ashore, and the Watchmen were waiting for us on the beach. There was the largest burl log ashore that I have ever seen, the bark, splits and swirls of grain quite unique. The coastal views and headlands would have been spectacular - even without a pole. Backed by tall basalt bluffs and deep forest, with a small stream at hand, this would have been an ideal village site. Our young Watchmen interpreters provided information books and a "comfort" break, and a couple of deer browsed around the cabin.

out the inlet from Moresby Camp

arrival at Skedans

log burl and driftwood

Not native - but resident deer.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wind and welfare

Folks here take the weather pretty seriously. They talk about it all the time, everywhere you go. In a place where every other person has or is out on a boat, with some of the most unpredictable waters in the is serious. Fishers, tour operators, charters seem to be the mainstay of the local economy. And it changes every hour. Sitting at the waters edge the clouds were racing by in two distinct layers overhead. Isolated low fluffy and high, thin long stripes of white.
I enjoyed a warm and sunny morning out hiking and sketching, but by 2 pm it was gusting and howling through the open windows in the house. Stole my hat when I got out at the hardware store in Masset, and brought the chill marine cloud down on upon us before you even noticed. Never did get to see Alaska.

Coming to Haida Gwaii I had 3 weeks to do an outdoor art project - and expected there would be isolated days of lighter weather to get the painting and the varnish done. I didn't schedule anything, so that I could work around the daily elements. I never anticipated it would be done in a 10 days. There was an article in the Observer this week about the driest June and July for a long time. Not only did I get the work done without a hitch - every time I have had the opportunity to go exploring somewhere special, the sun has appeared. I lucked out big time.

thanks again to the Village of Queen Charlotte staffers, for the admin support and the site preparation. Couldn't have done it without you. And to Bill and Heather Beamish for their generous, relaxed and flexible hospitality. And especially for my roadside studio and wheels. In a place with no buses - there would have been no exploring for me.

Working at home today on the paintings that I have started on location. so far so good.

This is where I got to out on site - before the tide came in and chased me away.
"Leaning tree - Hiellen River. Tow Hill. Haida Gwaii"
9"x12" acrylic on panel.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Two Hill - most fabulous steps in the world

The stairs on Tow Hill
I have seen a lot of trails, paths and walkways all over the world. But never anything like this. You must excuse the mulitple photos of the boardwalk here, but I was seriously blown away with deep appreciation and respect for the trail builders of Tow Hill. Not only the obvious commitment of expense for materials and labour...but the effort and sweat to get so much stuff up such a hill. And to do an exceptional job of it. In this place of mud, moss, roots and rocks to trip you up, you have to watch EVERY step. But I was able to wander up the slope at leisure, gazing above at the trees and birds, each wooden step marked and placed just so. It is amazing. And makes this unique and lovely place in the world safely accessible to many more visitors. Thank you BC Provincial Parks and happy birthday (100 years)

East facing lookout over North Beach stretches away to Rose Point. Many vehicles and folks clamming and crabbing along the hard packed tidal sands. Lots of 4 wheel drive vehicles heading off to explore the streches of beach out and around the point. Nothing but driftwood and beach shrubs facing the sea in front of the forest - for as far as you can see. The Hiellen River mouth and black basalt rock bluffs of Tow Hill break the sweeping stretch of sand.

Lots of the trees are affected with large burls, a mutated growth out the side of the trunk. This happens in isolated areas where many nearby trees will also have burls. (they are beautiful swirls of shimmery wood grain when cut and polished) but I have noticed that in the burl affected areas some trees also have fantastic branch and multiple trunk formations. Kind of a spooky magical forest feeling. Add the moss, old mans beard, mist and shafts of sunlight...and there you have it. Haida Gwaii magic. really somthing hard to photograph. You just had to be there. but there was no one but me - had the place all the myself...didn't see another person all morning. Was wonderful.

West facing lookout over South Beach - From this platform perched atop the steep cliff you cannot see the rock below you. The flat bogs and forest of the north end of Graham Island stretch away. Salal and roots of windblown spruce cling to and overhang the face of the basalt escarpment. and the round sweep of the beach and bays are outstanding. Nearest Yakan point is the site of one of the oldest and largest middens ( archeological sites of clam shell and village site) on the Queen Charlottes. It is a private area of band land marked from the roadway. also looks like a favorite spot for surfers.

Friday - Tow Hill - Blow hole

A great place to spend a sunny morning - views in all directions. and without even checking the tide tables I managed to hit the blowhole at it huffing and spashing best. Complete with rainbows in every spray.

Towards Tow Hill

thursday - start the day with Cinnamon buns.

I decided to explore only as far as Agate beach. Then come back out to do Tow Hill and area another time - and just drive through what I had already seen. Yeah - good luck with that.
It seems to take me a very long time to get anywhere here in Haida Gwaii. Nothing wrong with the roads or my maps...I just keep stopping to take photos. and looking for likely places to paint.
So don't ask me if it was 10 minutes drive or 40. I couldn't tell ya.

this time I made it out past the foot of Tow Hill, to the campground and river mouth of the Hiellen River. Started being low tide - but after an hour painting, I was chased up the bankside by the rising waters edge.
The road to Tow Hill is an adventure unto itself. Like a tall avenue the spruce - large and small - are spiky and menacing, but all the while dripping with fat pelts of moss. the forest floor a green carpet, rolling over fallen logs and stumps. The road widens and narrows between the feet of huge trees, oncoming cars having to wait to pass. Glimpses of the crashing surf and the sound of constant songbirds coming through the window.

Tannin stained rocks and river