Tag Archives: nocturne


Frances Vettergreen, Steam I (King Edward nocturne), 2011; oil and wax on panel, 24.5 x 24.5 inches

The things I spend time observing have changed, thanks to one small boy.  This is –sort of — a portrait of an old sandstone school near our house.   It’s closed now and occupied mostly by a large colony of pigeons, who, when it’s really cold, sit on the chimney enjoying the warmth.  We’ve been watching the birds since he was tiny, and now that he’s a steam-train-mad toddler, we inspect and comment on all sources of mist we come across.  Cold days in Calgary, that’s all buildings — and all cars, and storm drains, and the teeny bit of open water in the river….

I’m a bit surprised by how fascinating I find the plumes of steam myself, especially in the wind.  The treatment of the steam in this image is a departure from most of my recent paint handling but I think the
brushiness of it captures the movement of warm air being blown down over the building.  The rest of it is fairly abstract but drawn from the shapes cast by the streetlights over other buildings and trees in the neighborhood.

The very dark areas contrasting with the very light made this one a real challenge to photograph!