April 28, 2008


"Blooming", 18" x 24", oil on canvas, Lydia Johnston

Fourteen straight days of sunshine in southern Vermont, in April. Unbelievable. I don't think I can remember ever having a stretch of sunny days for this long. I have lived off the grid since 1980, depending on the sun for my electric power. I have an array of photovoltaic panels on my roof which sends power down to a set of batteries in the basement, where the power is stored. Usually we have a few sunny days and then cloudy weather. We have a backup generator for those times, particularly in the winter, when we use more power than is coming in. Never has there been a time when the batteries are fully charged day after day.

And so what seemed in mid-April to be a late start to spring, quickly changed. We went from barely any buds showing on trees, to the new leaves fully out. The daffodils and tulips and forsythia in full bloom. I always love it when the first soft colors of spring start to emerge. It always goes by quickly, but this year the time frame has been accelerated. Despite wishing that the drama of spring would unfold more slowly, the warmth and sunshine has been wonderful.

April 18, 2008

Painting Water

"Water's Edge", 12" x 16", oil on canvas, Lydia Johnston

Recently I have been working on painting water. I have a large 36" x 48" painting started last fall of a lake with ridges behind. Most of the painting is complete, but I have felt the water still needs to be developed more. So I have been painting a number of smaller canvases experimenting with different techniques for portraying the sense of water in ponds and lakes, the flatness, the reflections, the ripples, the glassiness.

Here is the first of this group of water paintings, a small study of trees surrounding a vernal pool.