Niagara-on-the-Lake Cenotaph

Visiting some friends in NOTL during the annual Peach Festival, I brought my camera along in the hopes that the summery festive crowd scenes would yield some subject matter for a painting or two. However, Mother Nature sent a torrential downpour instead. But once the rain eased up, the late afternoon lighting provided some nice dramatic atmosphere as determined festival-goers returned to the stalls.


Starting with a sketch. The WW1 memorial clock tower forming a centre piece; Road markings creating some interesting design; A big red antique tractor on the far right is interesting, but I will have to be careful not to let it drag the eye out of the composition.



Continuing to “draw” with a brush and some dark colour. These dark shapes create ‘anchors’ to keep track of things as more paint gets loaded onto the canvas


Blocking in colour using acrylics. Keeping the paint thin. Not too worried about getting colours or values exact at this point. Main objective is to cover the white of the canvas as quickly as possible. The tree on the right is a large dark mass and risks overweighting this side of the composition. I find using blue in the underpainting helps to make the volume recede and feel less massive.


Canvas is covered. Time to start deepening tones. Colours are all much warmer than the palette intended for the final piece.


Final stages of the underpainting. Ideally, no area in the painting should require further darkening at this point.


Now to oils and straight to the highlights – the bright awnings – and the sky. I have now bracketed the tonal range of the painting. Everything else from now on should fall between the lightest lights and darkest darks already established.


And the finished piece.