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Showing posts from May, 2011

Bay Woodyard and Gavin North

Bay Woodyard Gavin North Bay and Gavin run  Honey Pie Hives and Herbals  and their products can be found in shops from Ottawa to Toronto and, of course, throughout Prince Edward County. For about ten years they've been making soap, teas, candles, lotions, etc., but they're probably most famous for their unpasteurized honey, and it was this aspect that I chose to feature in their portrait. The idea I came up with to tie in their honey production was to superimpose a hexagonal (i.e. honeycomb) pattern on the painting and then make subtle colour shifts to differentiate the cells (see below). This got tricky when it came time to paint the grass and trees because of all the complex details. I shot the couple in various locations (starting with inside their straw bale house, then moving outdoors), but this painting is based on a photo taken when we approached a group of bee boxes to see what the honey bees were up to. They're mostly dormant in the winter, but a

Blaine Way

Blaine's happy smile here comes from having to steadily hold onto a piglet while I took pictures...and I'm very glad for it, as it really shows his good-natured character. We got lucky with some sunshine for a few minutes, but, as you can see from the close-up details below, it's mid-winter and Blaine is out there, tending to the animals (with his son, too). Again, what I initially was worried would become a sameness in my paintings (photographing the farmers in winter) actually underscores the fact that farm work has to be done all year round, regardless of what we would consider uncomfortable working conditions. Winter farming isn't something that comes to mind when we think of pastoral farming scenes, so I'm happy to have depicted this aspect in a number of these portraits. Blaine has a variety of animals on his farm (cows and calves for beef, horses, wild boars, and muscovy ducks), but I was quite taken with these red-haired cuties, and he wa

Cody Vader

I met Cody in Angéline's parking lot on a snowy morning which gave me perhaps too much diffused light, softening everything and not giving me strong, contrasty shadows. When looking at the photos afterwards, I determined Cody's portrait would reflect this softness around the highlights on his face, but I'd add my own contrast in the form of a very dark background and slightly rough texture on the coveralls. This was the first portrait I completed for Field to Canvas and, I believe, set a strong precedent that I was onto something here. Cody was "born and raised farming," and his large family has a grand, well-known, and respected presence in the County, farming vegetables, sheep , cash crops, and their famous maple syrup. Follow this link , scroll down to the bottom, to read about their syrup (you'll see John Nyman on that page too!). Thick, luxurious hair. (plus negative space) Amazingly-fun-to-paint coveralls. Cody showed up dressed f

Ed and Sandi Taylor

Ed Taylor Sandi Taylor The Taylors run Honey Wagon Farms located just at the outer western edge of Picton, growing a wide spectrum of vegetables (note the lovely potatoes below) as well as producing maple syrup in their own sugar shack. They've been at it for fifteen years, not using any herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides, which often means extra, often tedious, work is needed. In fact, to get rid of the Colorado Potato Beetle from their spuds, they go out into the fields and actually vacuum the little buggers off the plants. With a vacuum cleaner. For real. That's pretty amazing. But the Taylors love it, feeling that farming allows them the opportunity to work with Mother Nature (Sandi told me that Ed comes in the house, gleeful as a kid, every season when the new sprouts begin to poke out of the ground, retaining that wonder in the miracle of life). They also feel farming provides them the great opportunity to meet like-minded people who are as interested as t

John Nyman

John Nyman's been farming all his life (over 31 years now), but six on his own (but that doesn't mean by himself). Visit John's website for tons of great information. I visited John's farm in the dead of winter, and there he was, clearing snow, feeding the sheep and cows, tirelessly (and impressively, to me) just doing what needed to be done --and without complaint, I must add. That's another thing I found all my subjects had in common: although a few explained some of the frustrations and challenges facing farmers (versus the big agricultural corporations like Monasnto), they never complained to me about the actual work they needed to do (I've seen it; it's not easy work). These great folks are examples to everyone. This portrait allowed me to incorporate elements of John's farm, giving me the chance to try out different techniques and subject matter. Like in my portrait of Lukas Lister-Stevens , I wanted to use a shallow depth-of-field

Tim Noxon and Vicki Emlaw

Tim Noxon Vicki Emlaw The farm may be called Vicki's Veggies  but it's very much a joint operation between this husband and wife team (and a few others who help out/work there from time to time --like Lukas ). They've been farming for about ten years (mixed vegetables, heirloom tomatoes, etc.), but Vicki's Veggies is somewhat of a cultural hub in Prince Edward County. When Krista and I moved here a year ago almost everybody we met asked us if we'd been to Vicki's Veggies, so much so, that we found a few free minutes (we were very busy setting up Small Pond Arts , after all) and paid them a visit. Our visit coincided with their annual Heirloom Tomato Seedling Sale , and we were dumbfounded at the sheer number of different varieties (see a few in this short video clip ). We also met Tim and Vicki who, like all of the farmers I met for this project, were incredibly friendly and welcoming. We had now met the Cultural Hub of the County, and we've b

Erika Mohssen-Beyk

Erika runs Reachview Farm  (which is also a bed & breakfast) in Prince Edward County and has been farming for about ten years. She's got vegetables, fruit, grain, hay, sheep, goats, and chickens, but there's another feature that Erika's got that makes her operation quite remarkable: she's entirely off the grid; she supplies her electricity via wind and solar power. None of the farmers featured in these portraits work alone, but, for various reasons, some appear solo and some appear as couples. Erika is not the only woman in the series, but she is the only woman who appears by herself. Just as I felt it was important to show an age range, it was important for me to represent both men and women here, and I am very happy to be able to include Erika. Close up, the weave of the sweater becomes a big, blue field of abstraction. There are areas of thick acrylic underpainting I added for texture (click on the pictures above and below), but only surrounding E

Lino Micheli

Lino, AKA The Accidental Farmer , runs Bethel Organics and has been farming chickens, hogs, ducks, and veggies for about three years, but specializes in heritage breeds: Chanticler Chickens, Canadian Horses, and Berkshire Hogs. The last of which, Krista and I were lucky enough to taste in the form of naturally-smoked, nitrate-free, organic bacon a few weeks ago when Lino announced he had some available. I saw the notice on Facebook and immediately drove out to Lino's and bought about 7 pounds of bacon (most to freeze for later enjoyment). It was the most bacon I'd bought all at once, but worth it...and I may have even met the source pig when I went out to Lino's in the winter for our photo shoot. The first time I saw Lino was during the 2010 Maple in the County festivities in the Town Hall in Bloomfield, PEC, where he was selling his wares as The Accidental Farmer and I was displaying some of my artwork, representing Small Pond Arts . I didn't actually meet him

Ted Maczka

Ted's eyes seem to tell it all. Also known as the " Fish Lake Garlic Man ," Ted is so famous around Prince Edward County that I could have just used this close-up as his portrait and people around here would probably still recognize him. Ted came to Canada in the 1970s and it was while working in a non-agricultural job that he learned that Canada imported its garlic from China. After looking into this further, Ted came to the conclusion that there was no reason Canada could not be self-sufficient in garlic since our climate was ideal for growing it. He then took it upon himself to become an evangelist for garlic and, since 1978, apart from operating his wildly successful garlic farm, he's been interviewed and featured in dozens of papers and on nearly as many TV programs across the country and abroad (he showed me several binders of clippings). A strong advocate of locally-grown garlic, Ted's entirely self-taught with regards to the scientific research