(Click on paintings or drawings below to view larger size.)

Virtual Paintout - Slovakia II - December 2012 (first stages)

Happy 20th anniversary Slovakia! (I heard on the evening news that they split from the Czech Republic on 1 January 1993.) Street View images of the country are filled with blossoming fruit trees so I gave up looking for snow and decided to start dreaming of spring already! (road to Voznica)

Wishing everyone a positive and productive 2013!

Virtual Paintout - Slovakia - December 2012

You have to be in the mood for spring if you travel through Slovakia using Google Street View because most of the images were taken in April or May.  Yet the spring scene I selected above has a bit of a red and green holiday feel to it, doesn't it?

This is my contribution to Bill Guffey's current Virtual Paintout. Here is the link: Liptovské Matiašovce, Slovakia.

"Liptovské Matiašovce, Slovakia"
24x24cm, oil on canvas
(private collection, Brussels)

Virtual Paintout - New Brunswick - November 2012

Above is a tiny oil sketch of a street view scene in the Canadian Province of New Brunswick for the Virtual Paintout this month.  I hope everyone there is all right after Superstorm Sandy.  Link to Google reference photo: here

"Fresh Lobster"
12.5x17.5cm, oil canvas panel
(private collection, Brussels)

Virtual Paintout - Croatia - October 2012

Bill Guffey selected Croatia for October.  As usual, I spent lots of time exploring: from scenic seascapes to urban centres and finally mountain vistas -- it's a beautiful country.   When I found some autumn trees near Stirovaca,  I had to get my paints out and start right away.  Above is the resulting oil sketch.  Link to Google Street View: here

"October in Croatia"
15x20cm, oil on canvas panel

Virtual Paintout - Denmark - September 2012

The Virtual Paintout took us to Zealand in Denmark this month. At first I followed the coastline and checked out the picturesque harbours:  birds, boats, children -- but unfortunately always with overcast skies.  So I moved inland and selected a sunny landscape: 

"62 Sorøvej, Sjælland, Denmark"
13x18cm, oil on canvas

The deadline for submissions was approaching yet I was determined to tackle something bigger. I thought I'd go back and paint a harbour but then ran across some springtime scenes with blossoming fruit trees.  I was ready to go when I turned a corner and the season changed to autumn. The Google image said "October 2010" -- how appropriate!  The light was just right -- casting long shadows of the trees that were starting to turn yellow and pink:

Link to reference photo in Google.

"Early Autumn in Denmark"
40x40cm, oil on canvas

Place(s) à l'art - septembre 2012

Place(s) à l'Art septembre 2012
20x20 cm, oil on canvas
(private collection, Brussels)

River and Canal - August 2012

Working on a tan and painting at the same time is no easy feat -- not only are you blinded by the sun but you're usually not getting the best view at the best time of day. Yet I was determined to get some sun during my visit to the US.  This year there was a further problem:  a new breed of mosquitoes that attack in broad daylight (also extremely abundant and potential carrier of West Nile Virus).  So I learned to apply "Deep Woods", set up anti-bug candles, and combine this with various degrees of sun block.  

"August in Yardley" (Delaware River in the distance)
23x30cm, oil on canvas

I also tried putting together an extremely lightweight oil sketching kit that I could carry around effortlessly.  Since I rarely have more than an hour or two to paint, this could be a solution for me because, while sketching is fun, I really miss oil painting. I tried it out on the canal in Yardley and when I was almost ready to go home, a man came by to fish -- providing the perfect final touch!

"The Canal"
20x20 cm, oil on canvas

Technical note (to myself):  Squeeze out some paint in small plastic box before going out / bring small tubes of extra paint (in plastic sandwich bag), a few brushes, a rag, a newspaper, turpentine, a small canvas, all in a lightweight backpack / apply mosquito repellent / take bike and find a bench with a view / lean the canvas against the backpack (easels are too heavy) and apply paint quickly but stay concentrated.  For the trip home, place the small canvas in the bottom of a grocery bag (paper bag inside and plastic bag outside) face up - this works as a makeshift lightweight wet canvas carrier (and can be attached to the handlebar of the bike).

Link to photo of my plastic box (leave the wooden box at home - too heavy): plastic box

August Postcards


I've had these blank postcards for watercolor painting for ages but only started using them this year.  Now that I can scan before sending, I'm not worried about dropping them into the mailbox.

More postcards here

all of us!

I used to think I was fairly unique in the world.  I mean, there were usually three other "Cathy's" in my high school classes but never another Hale. Even local phone books concurred. But years later, the Internet changed all that. I should have suspected it when I couldn't get my email address back after letting it expire. It was only when Google slowly crept into my life, that I began to discover others. I remember first finding a school teacher in the South, then a lawyer. Later the list started growing quickly. However, I only stumbled on another Catherine Hale artist about two years ago (Catherine Hale in the UK).  That's when I decided to make my own mark on the Web. I linked myself to my current residence in Brussels so there could be no confusion.  Now and then I check again.  An 85 year old sculptor in Canada named Catherine Hale had her first show last year: Catherine Hale in Canada.   Now a third Catherine Hale artist has come on line -- Catherine Hale in AustraliaI like their work and each has a unique approach. I'm dedicating this post to all the Catherine Hale's of the world! ;)

Small paintings of Uccle

"Le Crabbegat"
10x15cm, oil on canvas
(private collection, Brussels)
"Eglise orthodoxe russe Saint Job"
10x10cm, oil on canvas
(private collection, Brussels)

Another View of Mount Fuji

When Fujifilm asked to use an image of my Virtual Paintout “Postcard from Mount Fuji” to demonstrate the high quality of their printers, I didn’t realize right away that this would lead me to discover the world of canvas prints. I had thought prints would pale in comparison to real paintings, but - to my astonishment - the result was excellent. When enlarged, my tiny brushstrokes seem transformed into huge colour marks that stand out on the canvas. They’ve explained to me that they use a special printing process on a Fujifilm Acuity UV (ultraviolet curing) printer, where ink is water based and when exposed to UV light, the molecules bond to each other and to the support. The water then dries up immediately.


I've tried this out on other small paintings and sketches.  They not only withstood magnification but have been given a whole new life – no longer limited to just one wall or hidden in a sketchbook on a shelf.  For instance, I now have a giant enlargement of my tiny 5" x 8" sketch of Ostend on my office wall. After spending two years reducing everything to thumbnails for computer monitors, I’m having a great time enlarging everything!

Le Kauwberg - les dessins

I never tire of drawing the patterns created by the slopes and foliage of this park. On May 27th, I brought my Faber-Castell Polychromos and 8.5" x 11.5" Daler Rowney sketchbook there -- I've decided this is the combination that works best for this subject -- and I captured a small family picnic in the grass (above).

In March I drew the sand of the former quarry using the same FCP coloured pencils in an 8.5" x 11.5" Strathmore sketchbook which has lighter paper but it's also grainier so I was less happy trying to make that combination work. 

I find it so difficult to come up with the perfect drawing kit -- always trying to find a lightweight solution that includes everything I could possibly need. The FCPs are too heavy now that I've assembled such a large set but if I try to narrow down the selection, I'm convinced I'll be missing an essential colour. 

Every season at Le Kauwberg provides new inspiration but I tend to spend more time there in Spring:

5.5" x 8.5" DR sketchbook in early June 2010
8.5" x 11.5" DR sketchbook  + FCP in April 2010
8.5 x 11.5 DR sketchbook + Derwent Coloursoft + FCP in April 2011
I've saved most of the above images to my Flickr account as well.  Here is a link to a drawing from late summer last year: 20 August 2011.    (8.5" x 11.5" DR sketchbook + FCP) 

More to come!

Virtual Paintout - Jerusalem - May 2012

"The Shuk"
11.5 x 16.5 inch, pastel on paper

The Google team has recently added Israel to Street View.  I am finding some amazing views in Jerusalem and have been trying them out in pastel. Above is a covered market in the old city: the winding path goes on and on and every step along the way could inspire another painting. Below I used oil pastel to capture the panorama from the Mount of Olives.

"Jerusalem Skyline"
6x9 inch, oil pastel on watercolor paper

Virtual Paintout - Gdansk - April 2012

I was impressed by this massive structure in countless shades of red brick on a square in Gdansk and completed the above drawing before discovering it was the "Muzeum Bursztynu". Further research led me to realise that bursztyn was actually the Polish word for "amber" - that souvenir stone I brought back on a necklace when I visited Poland ten years ago. Aside from jewelry, the museum also has a collection of insects found in amber. It turns out that amber is "fossilised tree resin" so the insects must have gotten trapped in the resin before it turned to stone. This fits in well with the other section of the museum, which relates to the building's long ago use as a prison tower and torture chamber!

Here is the Google Street View image that inspired the above drawing: LINK

"Muzeum Bersztynu"
21x29.5cm, colored pencil on paper

Virtual Paintout - Saint Petersburg - March 2012

McDonald's has been established in Russia for 22 years now -- time flies! They opened their first hamburger restaurant in Moscow on 31 January 1990. As usual they tried to add products that corresponded to local tastes. In Russia this meant cherry pie, potato wedges and cabbage pie!

I'm sketching on the Nevsky Prospekt again (via Google's images of Saint Petersburg). I used a combination of pencil, markers, water soluble crayons, ink and yellow highlighter (8" x 11.5").

Street View Link

8 x 11.5 inch, pencil and marker in sketchbook

Virtual Paintout - Санкт-Петербург - март 2012

"Невский проспект"
21x29.5cm, Neocolor II in Daler-Rowney sketchbook

This month's Virtual Paintout takes us to Saint Petersburg! I can't believe how much it has changed since I saw it in 1988 (as Lenningrad). I tried to find my photographs to locate the same views but have misplaced them. By clicking around in Google Street View -- looking at views from bridges -- I wound up on the Nevsky Prospect and began to draw in a sketchbook with Caran D'Ache Neocolor II's. Here's the link:
Street View

Elba Beachscape

"Elba Beachscape"
30x30cm, oil on linen canvas panel
(private collection, Brussels)

Virtual Paintout - Elba II - February 2012 (first stages)

This is my second submission for the Virtual Paintout in Elba. I'm on the Lungomare John Fitzergerald Kennedy in Cavo looking towards the beach. Of course, that's just wishful thinking! I'm not really there; I'm painting from the Google Street View image (see LINK).

"Elba Beachscape"
30x30cm, oil on linen canvas panel
(private Collection, Brussels)

Wolvendael Magazine - February 2012

My 2006 painting of the "Foire de Saint Job" illustrates page 49 of February's Wolvendael magazine ("Journal Ucclois des information communales, culturelles et commerciales")!

Virtual Paintout - Elba - February 2012

Right after my last post and my Street View travels over Rocky Mountain ski slopes, the weather suddenly turned cold in Belgium and on Friday it snowed all afternoon causing huge traffic jams throughout the Kingdom. Now that it finally feels like winter here, Bill Guffey has decided to send us to a warm, sunny island in Tuscany for February's Virtual Paintout -- not a bad idea! The Via della Costa winds through breathtaking scenery where cliffs drop into the Mediterranean. I couldn't wait to try painting this view of Chiessi in the Comune di Marciana. This was not as easy as I expected but definitely a lot of fun and I'd like to try the same view again on a bigger canvas. The only problem is that I already have several other locations picked out on Elba...

Here's the Street View image in Google: Chiessi

24x30cm, oil on canvas

Virtual Paintout - Summit County, Colorado - January 2012

For January's Virtual Paintout, Bill Guffey sent us to Summit Country, Colorado. What an amazing location! I soon understood where the county got its name. The Google “street view” team actually put on their skis for this one: more like “slope view” in parts. It was difficult to choose a location to paint. I must admit I was looking for something I might be able to send out as a holiday card next December... I hesitated between Christmas decorations in town, skiers in action, a view of snow covered peaks and various groups of evergreens. This weekend, I took out a small canvas board and painted the above. The weather in Brussels has been unseasonably warm so I really enjoyed this getaway in the snow!

Here's the scene in Google's Street View:

Don't forget to visit the Virtual Paintout blog for the entire collection of winter landscapes inspired by Street View Summit County.

"Slope View"
18x24cm, oil on canvas board

Happy New Year !

When I first moved to Belgium, I heard that my landlords had nice paintings on their walls and that they had two sets. That is, when the weather started to get cold, they would take out the winter landscapes and put the summer canvases into storage until the following summer. I'd never heard of anyone doing this but it seemed like a wonderful idea.

That's probably why, back in December 1999, when I noticed my paintings didn't go well with the Christmas tree, I decided I needed a special holiday painting that I could take out and hang in December to replace one of my spring landscapes. So I went out and bought a poinsettia plant and painted the above still life.

This is the first year I've forgotten to take it out, yet with workers here tearing out the bathroom walls and mixing plaster in my bedroom, it's not surprising. In fact, I haven't managed to do much of anything during this two-week vacation. Hopefully the humidity problems are finally fixed and I will be able to spend more time painting in 2012 (rather than cleaning bathroom walls with chlorine in my spare time).

"Xmas Flowers"
40x50cm, oil on canvas