Saturday, April 5, 2014

Spring... Full Swing!

April crept in surreptitiously... cunningly and with vengeance in her heart. I awoke on the morning of April 1st to discover fourteen inches of wet heavy snow on our deck. The birds at our feeders and I shared immediate disbelief... total disorientation and deflated spirits... knowing full well that the day ahead would be filled with challenges and interruptions to our spring day plans.


Feeder frenzy begins...

I cannot remember shoveling snow that heavy... nor will I... ever again! It is unhealthy for anyone to try and manhandle that heavy burden at any age. I cleared the deck first and freed my winged buddies from their worries... and their gratitude was immediate. Many came to the feeders even while I shovelled away the last of that heavy *@#%&. That lifted my spirits... a little.

We went to Kingston to do some chores... and returned to find a great deal of the dump "disappeared" or honey-combed by a very warm wind and sunlight. Hallelujah! What was to follow on the next day was mind boggling for me really. I pay very close attention to my natural surroundings... and honestly feel that I live mostly in tune and with understanding of the workings of my world about me. What transpired on the morning of April 2nd was as much an April Fool prank to my mind... and as much an anomaly as the fourteen inch April 1st overnight snow deposit.

The feeders and our front yard were filled with new arrivals and voices... each species displaying territorial and courtship behaviours in their varied voices and actions. It was tumultuous... and at the same time awe inspiring. Spring had sprung! But this enigmatic display and event did not end here. Out on the River itself... the skies at every level suddenly flooded with more bird species... simultaneously on their migrating journeys back to summering locations.


Peer through the latticework of branches.... that erratic... undulating necklace of white beads are indisputably "wavies"... or north bound snow geese. No "V" formations characteristic of Canada Geese... rather knots that undulate earning them their Inuit name.... "wavies." These geese are a diet staple for the Inuit of the North and their hunters decoy them to within gun range by waving white sheets on the ground.

 Skeins of excited and seemingly endless honking Canada geese flocks of hundreds pushed through all morning... joined in their high stratosphere planes by undulating ribbons of snow geese... strung out like dental floss across a cloudless blue sky. At water level... endless squadrons of small shorebirds that I believed were willets or sandpipers crested the diamond encrusted calm waters at a dazzling clip. And in the middle space pockets of sea gulls of more than one genre winged their way eastward. Right on the water are vast resting and feeding rafts of varied waterfowl and geese... all displaying their bright spring mating plumage and doing their highly individual and ritualistic courtship dances. Soon they will be gone... lifting en mass to extend their annual spring odyssey northward.

I have never in all my years born witness to such a spring revival event of this magnitude... in a single moment. It was likely a once-in-a-life time fluke... or was it. I wonder???....

 My birding journal required some extra attention over the past few days... with sightings of more eagles, a snowy owl, turkey vultures song sparrows and American gold finches... just to name a few. It has been a wonderful spring tonic and booster shot for me - a break from the winter works water colour duties in our basement studio. That time and energy consuming project is coming along really well. I am "in the flow" and I am approaching the end off my first batch of chores. What a relief that is! I am pleased with what I have produced... but that is a story for another day.

I will sign off today with the mention of the spring arrival of another "migrator". My brother Don has arrived from Victoria BC and will be spending two weeks with us here at "Islesview".  All three of us are overjoyed to share this opportunity to "be family" after three years of separation...except by weekly back n' forth telephone calls. We are busy trippin' about daily to childhood haunts and enjoying great food and "Happy Hours"... that run into the evening late.


Here... I am joined by a Canadian dignitary... both excited for Donnie to arrive from Victoria. Patience laddies!


Don's in the middle part of the escalator travellers. Donnie is looking away almost embarrassed... and the first man is smiling at me... can't figure why????


Maybe it was my welcome sign I was holding! HA HA!!! Pay back Sib!....


Call it again.... a "Resurrection" of the spirit. I can only speak for my Self...  in that  I feel enriched... uplifted... and yes, at moments transcending today into a state of full mirth and Happiness! Spring... and Hope reigns Eternal in my heart... and the land about "Me"!


Thrusting tulips this morning newly emerged after the overnight rain


Joined by these anxious to escape skyward daffies!


First boat past Rockport... off to work in the islands... an early start.


Captain Eugene Johnston will have to settle for second on the water recognition this year.... but he really did try to retain his coveted win from last season. Ten stubborn inches of ice astern kept him from repeating this season. 


This sight at St Brendan's Cemetery across the Parkway greets me at the halfway point on my nightly walkabout. I always pause to give thanks for the blessings of my life and the gifts of my Creator. The depiction of Christ's Crucifixion... with the empty crypt behind indelibly transfix the frailty and brevity of human life. I am reminded that Christ's sacrifice was offered to insure a  promise of life beyond earthly existence. Whether one chooses to believe in that ... in my mind is based upon personal choice and conviction and is driven by simple Hope.

Hope is nothing but a word... a field of unfulfilled dreams... unless it is accompanied by direct actions and purpose to bring it into reality. I feel blessed that our Hopes have been kindled and given sustenance by mutual effort and definite plans to lead us into summer.


This watercolour sketch symbolizes one small action in my plan to extend beyond merely hoping. Enjoy!

I will be away from posting... until the dust settles and visiting is past and our Gallery is ready for summer visitors once again. I want to take this time to wish all of you...

Good Painting!... a Happy Spring and Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Leaving Winter's Grip... in the Rear View Mirror

As this morning's post title subtly suggests... when one is in the process of driving to a desired destination, it is both valuable and pertinent to "check" one's rear view mirror (Past) to properly orient their forward thinking and movement towards the desired destination (Present). It takes very little consideration or intelligence to fully realize the futility and imminent disaster which would accompany any attempt to drive for any extended period of time... using only the rear view mirror perspective. One must remain alert and attentive of "the road ahead"... as it unfolds moment by moment before us.

As well, one must be prepared to make choices and decisions about where our Art "vehicle" can travel... and a map (plan) of sorts... a "trip-tych" to set out direction... time... and destination. It can, of course include a period of "joy" riding... painting for the sheer joy and pleasure of exploring... either "back roads" or new paths. Both hold possibility and new views that have been missed before. However... in this venture, one must roll up the sleeves... dig down deep and do the actual work.... that is... DRIVE!!!

As I alluded to in the last post Life is about choices... responding, or not... to opportunities that present them selves. Along with those responses come direct consequences. WE alone are responsible for change in our life... or to seek out solutions that we can live with when we face adversity, or "perceived" failure. These decisions do play out in both our personal and creative lives. Neither life is exempt from outside influences... whether they be personal or financial. Life is all about change... and changing. And changing is more about...Attitude.... and Self-discipline!

This past week... filled with uplifting sunlight... blue skies... and a landscape magically transformed from winter white by newly-appearing patches and patterns of tawny spring browns has beckoned teasingly... and constantly to my restless plein air heart. The plein air side of "Me"... usually obsessive-compulsive by nature... no matter the weather or elements was "confined to barracks" since Friday. My only "fixes" allowed ... have been an evening walk of about an hour's duration... after my inside studio task for the day was fully accomplished.... and our morning coffee clutch to start the day.

 Over the past four days, I have had my fix... and it more than suffices! Yesterday, I watched four male robins jousting at their annual spring tournament. I watched and listened as a mute swan... the first of this season helicoptered noisy overhead. I was serenaded each evening on my walk by plaintive red wing voices... and wakened each morning by the mournfully beautiful covey of mourning doves at our bedroom window.

This morning... I went down to the dock... alone in the quiet of this new spring morning and greeted Mr Golden (red) Sun as he yawned... stretched and finally rose to meet "Me". You that were still in your beds missed this once only spectacle. Sorry you missed it.... maybe tomorrow?????.....


                                              "Oh I have slipped the surly bonds of earth..."


                                                              "Come dance with me..."


                                                  "Mr Golden Sun... such a lovely fellow...."


                                        "I'm the boss in this patch of Spring Buster!... Shove off!"


  No matter how you spell the word... mourning or morning... we so love this peaceful...         unassuming  pair of souls

To conclude today's epistle... I am including a purely visual explanation to describe my current watercolour sojourn... minus my usual verbal diarrhea. Read it as you will. Use if you wish... to guide your own ideas further. If it offers you half of the joy that I am currently experiencing... travelling back down an 'ol country road I once travelled... then this post serves its intended purpose.

To all... I wish each of you...

Good Painting!... and Happy Spring. Pitter-patter... and let's get at 'er! Back to my drawing board and watercolours.

Stay tuned....





"Winter's Release" - mixed media (watercolour and ink) 5x7 inches on Canson Montval 140 lb paper

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Changes... A Spring Tune Up!... Drink Up Your Spring Tonic!

Newly arrived signs of the approach of Spring seem timely... now two full days after the actual "official " date of arrival as registered on my calendar. I have learned over the years not to put much "cred" on that calendar pronouncement... and especially this year as the annual tug-o-war between Spring and Winter has see-sawed teasingly for (too) many weeks. But there are encouraging signs that I have observed in the past... which now are abundantly appearing day-by-day... all around me which give me heart to believe that... Spring has sprung!

Large pans of river ice are being flushed past us throughout the day, as the too long frozen and quiet river resumes her animated and ever eastward moving journey to the Atlantic. Bald eagles, waterfowl and gulls have returned to patrol the shoreline on their morning fishing trips. New birds have begun to appear at our feeder... and our winter feeder residents have been unceasingly displaying their plucky spring courtship rituals and associated territorial displays.

I have seen my first flocks of robins... the raucous crows are flocking about. Yesterday, I heard my first cheery red-winged blackbird notes... a sure harbinger of Spring. The uninvited and pesky squirrel mobsters... both grey and black have caught the fever as well and are deliriously carried between whether to eat-or- mate antics. Our resident chipmunk characters... and most especially Deb's beloved short-tailed "Mr Chips" provide endless morning entertainment for us both at our morning Coffee Club with their tag and hide-and-go-seek antics. Spring... is truly... in the air!

Though the increasingly warmer sun is voraciously rotting away the snow in tandem with the ever present March wind... snow most everywhere except on southerly facing planes... remains deep below the ice barrier formed during our December ice storm. Travel in the sugar bush is nigh unto impossible and proves exhausting even to attempt to walk in as I have done recently. The necessary -5F overnight to +5F daytime temperature range which allows the flow of maple sap has not been there. The season which at best ends mid April has yet to begin in most bush operations. There is a question of whether or not there will even be a season or not.

"There is no such thing as work - life balance. There are work - life choices, and you make them. and there are consequences."

- Jack F. Welch, Jr
Chairman and CEO at General Electric from 1981 to 2001 when he raised value for the company by 4000%

These are my recent work-life decisions which Deb and I have taken to prepare for our summer business at The Paint Box Gallery. Deb is at her creative post just west of my easel in the basement. Together ... we are working earnestly as a team to create and build upon  last year's reasonable success. Life is indeed about choices... and team work. I am indeed greatly based to have such a life partner... and best Friend to share life with! Combining work and life choices is surely made less painful... even joyful... when one has Andrea Bocelli carrying you off with his special voice/instrument... to "Tuscana."

Despite this reality... my mind and thoughts are locked into my own spring cycle of change. When the River ... the creeks and the "sweet water/sap" begin to flow my need to paint these is compulsively aroused within me. The series of sugar bush paintings that I have recently posted attest to that fact... and I yearn to continue. Yesterday's "perfect" plein air day was more than difficult for me to ignore. Despite the blue sky... the warm sun and very little wind...I found myself at work in our winter (basement) studio space. I was there because... I have to be. Time for a necessary "Spring Tune Up."

That tune up refers to switching from my preferred oil medium for the next few weeks from to water colour and pen and ink used in combination. I have an impending deadline to produce images for our new line of greeting cards for our shop and for a corporate customer. That end of April date is predetermined by an April deadline for the printer fast approaching. Though I was specifically a water colour painter at the start of my career (and I do much enjoy working with it still) it presents a different thought process. Along with this hurdle exists a number of unique challenges and specific techniques to achieve the effects I want for these card images.

Getting into the flow"... pun intended... is difficult and can be only achieved through diligent practice... and "play". So I have chosen to commence that process with a full sense of playing... using images from my sugar bush and local landscape files to work out the glitches. By Monday, I hope that I will actually be ready to set to work on the necessary images to be delivered at the end of April. Ready or not... Let the games begin! Keep your fingers crossed for me.



                                               "Change... before you have to." (JFW)
                                                                             or
                                      "Control your own destiny, or someone else will."


Limbering Up

I have continued to select the acid free Canson Montval 140 lb Fine Grain Cold Press watercolour paper because of its whiteness, its ability to allow correction without damage to the paper and its overall ability to hold both the pigment and ink. Its heavy nature allows me to dry it quickly using a hair dryer, at the same time maintaining its original flatness to the finished state. I provide a frame of sorts using Frogger Painter's Tape to mask in the image are which ih this aprticualr case is a 5x7 ich rectangle. This keeps a crisp edge to enhance later framing and offers clean... trouble-free tape removal at the conclusion.

Here you can readily see the fluid and simplified light mapping in HB pencil that I have developed initially to guide my painting process. I did not use "Frisket" or other masking techniques to reserve white throughout the painting process. I used a medium pointed sable brush lightly loaded at first to wash in colour into areas that I wished to establish colour. I intensified... or blotted out that colour to create my own particular response to the colour on the paper. This was carried our across the entire painting surface to create a lay in state. At this point I used the dry to fix the washes... after which I began to add details in ink... but not to any state of complete finish.
       


Here is the finished watercolour... intentionally very pastel in nature to create a late spring afternoon...  moody and nostalgic... which was my intent. it can be noted here that some areas of the paper have retained their original whiteness and are crisp and sharp... as I wished them to appear. In the process of working very spontaneously without trying to reserve every white aspect of the painting... some areas did indeed lose their whiteness. I recovered those... especially in the background areas by implementing the use acrylic titanium white... mixed with water colour where desire to achieve the values that I wanted. While this is hardly an entirely "purist" approach to watercolour... it serves my purpose and sensibilities. This will never see a juried watercolour show... so who cares??? The image has been created for a gift card usage and it will justly be designated a "mixed medium" pedigree... should that matter to anyone!


What matters most is that all of my initial goals for the activity were accomplished. I re-entered the watercolour arena comfortably... no... more to the point... joyfully. I had fun and very quickly felt like I was back in the company of an old friend. You all know that feeling. A "place of meeting" between two lifetime friends... where there exists no need for busy talk. You simply go forward very naturally from where you last left off. Ain't that a wonderful feeling???

Well... back to the drawing board folks! Anxious to get back at it! Early on this week, I will post a demo of sorts to share the process along with images from start to finish in my next post. Hopefully these offerings might offer you some insights in regard to my approach.

Stay tuned...

Good Painting... and Happy Spring...to ALL!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dare to Dream...

Throughout my life I have been...  forever it seems been called a day dreamer... or worse a "Romantic". I have never denied those claims... nor have I ever felt the need to defend my passion for both. What would life become... without Romance... Dreams or Passion? I could not bear to live out a single day of my own life unable to pursue life using these creative and joyous tools. With them... there is always the possibility of growth... and the opportunity to learn more of life's secrets.

A few days ago I came across a painting that I had made in March of 2012... and mused at the fact that ground was completely bare of snow cover and I distinctly remembered that the day was warm and spring like. My friend David Kay and I were painting off road in the bush and I was looking for a subject to capture my interest. I distinctly remember wishing I were in a sugar bush... where at this time of year there are numerous subjects and plenty of action. I settled into a painting of a rather ragged and lichen covered ash to satisfy my need for painting... but came away totally disappointed with the end result. My heart simply wasn't in it... and the painting showed that fact.

I sat with my coffee and stared into the structure of the painting and tried to work backwards using my brushwork to perhaps understand where the painting fell apart... but the cobwebs created by time obscured that fact. However... I did notice two areas that drew my attention. I could make out an area that looked like the peak of a shed to the upper right and an area to the left that looked a bit like horse heads. Remembering my wish on site to be in a sugar bush... I decided to play with the painting using that notion. What resulted came totally out of a day dream and play process. That "Nothing to lose... just use your imagination " approach led to this painting.

I'll leave you to decide for yourself whether the activity was successful. I totally enjoyed the three one hour sessions resulting from this exploration and am not looking at the original dull reminder of my earlier struggle and failure.

Taking time out from the real world to simply play... as a child would sometimes is a refreshing and uplifting experience to lift one from the doldrums.

Dare to Dream! Play... and enjoy the process. Be brave!... Own it... Not the other way around!

Good Painting... to All !!


"Woodland Broadloom" - a plein air oil on canvas 20x16 inches


Charcoal mapping of unintentionally created areas that aroused my attention within the framework of the original painting. Check back and forth with upper original to see the "ghosted" impressions concealed... well... in my unbridled imagination at least! HA HA!!


 Here they are... amplified by a limited palette lay in using three primaries and white.


Tonal play with my regular split palette felt ever so much mopre comfortable... adding more attention gradually to the "new" maple and buckets... the horse team and the sugar shed to the rear. Already, there exists a greater depth of field in the painting and I think... more visual interest and colour.
"

More detail is added across the entire picture plane... while at the same time centring and maintaining my original attention to the foreground tree and pail focus. The shadows in the foreground shout out and are distracting. Light and colour have to be adjusted in the next pass.


                                  "The Canadian Bucket Brigade" - oil on canvas 20x16 inches

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Resurrection... A not so surprising theme for Spring

With Daylight Saving moving into the picture this weekend... winter loses yet another toe hold on his cold icy reign. The renewed  presence of longer lasting daylight signals clearly that we will soon move ... along with other creatures and living things into our long-awaited pageant of spring time rituals. These annually repeated celebrations, starting with the pancake breakfasts of Shrove Tuesday (just passed) herald a march from winter towards Easter and spring, eventually arriving at summer.

This week, my youngest son Bryn will join us here in Rockport for the traditional March Break which all school children ( and teachers) so look forward to each spring. We plan to join my daughter Allison for a trip to the maple bush at the Cataraqui Conservation Area north of Kingston to watch and take part in the annual tapping and sugarin' off event... topped off by horse-drawn wagon rides and a pancake... sausage and maple syrup lunch. We have observed this maple sugaring rite of spring as a family tradition every year... except during the Nova Scotian years.

It is no surprise that the Christian religious celebration of Easter strongly embraces and is built around the theme of Resurrection. "Rising from the dead"... at this particular time of year would truly be very easy to comprehend for even the most illiterate of church goers... in any age. Why would one question the mystery in such a sacred event? Why would not accept, just through simple faith alone that the resurrection of the Son of God... Creator of our world and Universe is possible? That same mystery of rebirth out of apparent death in winter happens before our very eyes each and every spring as the seasons cycle in expected change. Can science diminish the mystery of "the why" in that process? Not for me!

Somehow, in my system of belief... Faith offers Hope. Without Hope... what is life? Just a treadmill of events. A gerbil wheel of sorts for all living creatures on which meaningless and purposeless cycling occurs. If I subscribed to that fateful definition and acceptance of life.... why would I create "others in my likeness" to find the same fate? Would the life and purpose for our new born "Wee Mac"... scarcely begun his journey... be simply to trudge meaninglessly using the same wheel as his Grandfather?

No! His birth is actually the Resurrection of my father and forefathers' lives and dreams and accomplishments... and my own youth ... with its unbridled energy and belief in possibility. Resurrection defeats the feared notion of the permanence of Death. For me personally, it offers the possibility of "sweet dreams"... eternal rest and continuance in a fashion that I am presently... in this earthly plane unable to understand - or worry about. My only function is to live my life as fully and purposely as I can... sharing the gifts that I possess with my Family and as many fellow travellers who share my beliefs and dreams as I am able.





Andrew and Mac... These are my sons... They're both "Grand"...and I am greatly pleased and filled with Love...Faith and Hope!

Enough of the metaphysical... and back to the earth! This morning the term "Resurrection" took on an actual physical aura in my day. I have been carrying out some "Spring Cleaning" - a dreaded task for a hunter-gather such as my Self! Rolled up and tucked deeply in the back of our deepest basement storage space... not unlike a Dead Sea Scroll (couldn't resist) was "an antiquity"... well for me anyway. It was a largish 30x36 inch canvas that I had taken off its stretcher bar frame, simply because the framework had warped in storage. I had no idea what to expect as I unrolled it... but in doing so, I was immediately transported back thirteen years and another "plane" in my journey.

The painting captures a nocturnal November image of the Shrine at Ste. Marie-Amongst-the-Hurons at Midland, Ontario on Georgian Bay. It is a Roman Catholic pilgrimage location dedicated to the martyred Jesuit Fathers Jean de Brebeuf and Gabriel Lalement who carried Christianity to the neutral Huron tribe in what was known then as Huronia. They were brutally tortured and martyred by the warring Iroquois on March 16th and 17th, 1649. How strange the timing of my re finding the canvas... but nonetheless appropriate! On the back is a poem that I created which considers their plight and the plight of all humans... who must, in their life time surrender to death's grasp.

I took my youngest lads Bryn and Liam to the site on a number of occasions. I had thought that the reconstructed palisaded village protecting the elm bark longhouses... complete with re-enactors and modern Huron interpreters would be the most exciting for them. However... each time, I was blown away and humbled by their request to visit the church... to light candles and pray. It is indeed a highly moving and spiritual space. My own cathedral of worship remains the outdoors. "I" ... am "One" with my Creator or version of Him, in that immense vaulting open space. It pleased me greatly that my lads could find their own sense of the same here in this wonderful and historically significant space.

I hope to re stretch the canvas... it deserves that to be done and just perhaps to find its way back to Ste Marie. We'll see what time has to say about that!


"A Martyr's Moon Along the Wye" - oil on canvas 30x36 inches

Here are my thoughts regarding the frontal image recorded au verso on the canvas on November 21st, 2001

Martyr's Moon Along the Wye

Death comes to us all
Some time.
How one faces it...
And goes towards the darkness, which is in fact
The Light...
Not raging
But in Faith and with Hope
Holding one's flickering candle bravely
Unafraid... even at the end.
Holding firmly... resolutely to that ever faint and flickering Light
As those brave and saintly souls did
In one dark hour
Now... three hundred years ago.
Their purpose and mission are not silenced 
By their hideous passage from life...
Faith overrides Death... and offers forward through Resurrection in spirit
Hope!

In closing... my thoughts are shared humbly with all of my blogging friends. These are more eloquent words words on the same subject by writers of more skill and reputation. They do, however... offer credibility to my own thoughts about resurrection. This first passage might well be compared to the volatile situation in the Ukraine and Crimea. Is it insurrection.... or Resurrection? Only time will tell! 

"Nations, like stars, are entitled to eclipse. All is well, provided the light returns and the eclipse does not become endless night. Dawn and resurrection are synonymous. The reappearance of light is the same as the survival of the soul."

- Victor Hugo

This next quote is so very appropriate and one that means a great deal to me personally. He is a modern martyr... who shaped the world through his mission of non-violence... the very act which extinguished his earthly being. He even knew that he would never see the mountain... or his dream realized in his life time. But Faith and Hope drove him to pursue it on behalf of others.

"Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime."
-Martin Luther King Jr

We shared the same cathedral I believe... and the Hope for a better place for all. Maybe ... he was a painter too. 

I wonder.....

The last quote comes from the Jesuit martyr Gabriel Lalement's own journal:

"My strength is in the strength of God. In Him, I can do all things."

Keepin' the Faith... and paintin' in Rockport!
Rich blessings of Spring ... and

Good Painting... to ALL!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Renewal... Resurrection... Spring

Call it what you want. We are quickly approaching that precious and much anticipated time of the year where winter abdicates his icy cold rule increasingly... minute by minute at both the beginning and the close of each new day. This rapid change in daily sunlight does much to invigorate the land and all of the many creatures that share it. The warmer air is literally full of song... chatter and unfettered energy and activity. The world is once again... alive... with renewed possibility.

It is perhaps ironic... but appropriate that we as a Sherman family are in the midst of receiving the great blessing of a new child and member into our family circle. The event aligns itself perfectly with the exact notion of Spring - Renewal. For each of us... it renews and kindles the warmth and presence of a common spirit of belonging. If anything... it elevates that precious feeling to an even higher level for each of us... both young and old. In particular... this event clearly defines our real purpose for being here... and more clearly... what is the greatest blessing for us all - Life!

I have subscribed to a wonderful a wonderful Bi-Weekly Newsletter created by the British Columbian artist, Robert Genn for many years. I much enjoy his writing as much as his wonderful fine art. We share so very many common values and life principles that it is as if "He" is speaking.... using my own thoughts and experiences. It gives me much peace and inspiring resolve in my own daily life and work. We both value family above else... and in his case and my own... this principle has developed creative children who have made their own way in life... with their own skill set. But in spite of their individual lives our children remain loyal and supportive of their [aging] parents. Unfortunately for Robert Genn... he is terminally ill... but still painting and living out the final leg of his journey... in  the presence and with the magnificent support of his children.

His successful artist, musician and song writer Sara... who has made her own mark in New York has stepped in to "tidy" affairs... and to help him continue this Newsletter. Through this intersession... I have come to realize that the credential "writer"... can be justifiably added to her personal resume of creative skills. I would like to use a quote from today's email... and I must apologize Sara... for not obtaining your permission first. However... in giving proper credit to my source and by explaining how very meaningful it is to me personally at this moment in  my own life... perhaps you will realize that I am using it in the very context that you have created this magnificent mouthful of wisdom:

"The saving of lives, for an artist, is surely a daily act. Artists are resuscitators of dreams, rescuers of the abandoned, lodgers of the unwanted, and keepers of faith. In our lifesaving, we are saved. In polishing the souls of others, the artist polishes her own with her resurrections. She can't help herself - giving life is the ultimate creative act." (Sara Genn)

This so clearly describes my own journey... my own dreams for a better world for others... and in particular - Children. Each one of us carries within us, the abilities to accomplish good. Each one of us has a passion for something we love... that we can build upon and perfect to our best ability... and then share it. Not all of us can become artists... equal in skill or success. But we can share the passion for making art and sharing it openly without fear of comparison or judgement. Many of us are parents. Being a parent becomes an art form in itself... for some. Many combine that responsibility with a career and other personal interests. A manual does not come with a newborn... though many Dr Help books can be found to support and encourage this new part of the human journey.

The term artist can mean so many things. But if we choose to"read between Sara's wise lines"... we can become artists... if only:

We serve others daily... support the dreams of others.. including the unwanted, the imperfect and the abandoned. Choose to polish... without a score card... and above all else...

KEEP THE FAITH... and PASS IT FORWARD!

My painting for today's post was begun after I received the wonderful news from Andrew that "Wee Mac" had arrived safely. I decided to create this sugar bush painting firstly... because "sugaring off" is my annual creative resuscitator of sweet(er) dreams and possibility. Symbolically to me... Mac's arrival trumpets the renewal of my father's lineage... and the passing on of my own to Andrew and his new family.

I chose to paint this painting entirely from memory. It is indeed "a place"... of sorts... in a corner of my subconscious inner world of memories. It is both one... and many sugar shacks that I have visited over many past springs. It represents the most simple and humble of shanties.... the type that housed generations of families and children who like myself... relished the beauty and the majesty of Spring's annual entry.

I humbly offer this as an early Spring greeting to each of you my Friends... and as the first of many paintings that will become Grampa memories ... for Sweet Mac!

Good Painting to ALL... and to my Family CONGRATS... and ALL my love Always!


"Sweet Dreams" - oil on canvas 16x20 inches

Post Script:  A from Ralph Waldo Emerson... via Sara Genn again.

"As soon as there is life, there is danger. I dip my pen into the blackest ink because I am not afraid of falling into my pot."

Dip... and push those brushes tirelessly... and fearlessly! Keep the Faith!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

True Masterpieces

When one stands before the "monument" of a true master in any art form... one comes to realize the vast difference in skill between that work and the efforts one produces ... even within a full life time of impassioned study and commitment. That is why these creators are recognized as "masters". They are visionaries whose works transcend the average... and that form the engine which drives and fuels creation for the generations who follow in their particular discipline.

When I visited the Ufizzi Gallery in Florence and for the first time came face to face face with Michelangelo's monumental marble "David"... I was simply overwhelmed... and wept openly at its utter beauty and magnificence. It was one of the great Epiphany moments in my entire life, one which forever changed me as a person... and as an artist. Standing below that 17.5 meter massive nude figure... perfect in every perspective and detail I recognized the difference that his passion and genius which separated him from most other sculptors either in the past or the present.

It clearly demonstrated to me that such a gift separates one man from all others... though at the same time it can inspire one to reach beyond one's own insignificance to become better. And his example has surely done that in Western Art. My initial feeling was inadequacy.... the feeling that I was "playing with crayons" by comparison.The truth be told, I still am... and always will be! What I drew from the experience was the opportunity to study and to learn from seeing his work... and then to set it aside without a need to feel inferior in any way. I decided then and there ... to devote the remainder of my life to realistically develop my own abilities to my utmost. And I believe that I have done so.

You see... my true "masterpieces" that I shall leave to the world when my time has run out... are my five children. Each is unique and gifted in their own way... and imperfect in others. These five individuals carry the best of me forward into a future that I shall never see... much less live in. I would wager that their accomplishments might well outweigh my own... and I would be pleased and feel blessed... if that were so. Just to set the record straight... I have no immediate plans to leave earth any too soon. These are simply my observations and joyous feelings tonight having just received some blessed news today.

At 12:15 pm today... Friday, February 28th 2014... our Sherman Family welcomes its newest family addition. Enter... Malcolm (Wee Mac) Justin Michael Sherman to be the gift to his over joyous parents, my first son Andrew and his wife Melissa... and my fifth grandchild. We have all been anxiously awaiting this moment and we share in the joy and happiness that this arrival brings. We promise to love ... support and care for him... as we have done so for you.



Like my comin' home duds Guys?... My dad came home in these thirty two years ago. Cool
... EH?


"Mission Control... The Eagle has landed... one "small step" for Mankind!!!

Rich blessings of Joy... Health and Happiness from us to you three!


We are deeply... and richly blessed for your safe arrival Mac! Can't wait to pass you around and actually feel your presence... as pass you about and admire you!

All our love ALWAYS!

Dad and Deb
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