Sunday, July 10, 2016

When Worlds Collide...

I had begun this post back in mid June to recognize National Aboriginal Day here in Canada... but in all truth my resolve and desire to finish and post it evaporated with the recent and deadly turn of events all around the globe. This unexpected inner malaise reached a crescendo... driven by the ranting rhetoric of Donald Trump followed immediately by the series of senseless tragedies that have since gripped various parts of the United States.

The sole part of my original post that still applies is its intended title. It would seem to me that in both Canada and the United States, we are witnessing the sudden upheaval of the tectonic plates of early history which have for centuries had been observed periodically... but otherwise had lain unresolved.

The earlier general indifference of the majority and power-enabled abuse accompanying it can no longer be ignored. The terror arising out of these senseless and obscene acts has swept aside the very underlying fabric of our "peaceful" societies... creating and promoting fear and bitter hatred across cultural and ethnic boundaries.

In both histories, we dominated, humiliated and abused a group of people one indigenous... the other dragged in chains mercilessly from their true homes to serve early capitalism. Both suffered the same mistreatment and both were dealt with inequitably and even inhumanely by our governments and yes... even our people.

Now... with fear and anarchy on the very verge of controlling the streets of any city, town or hamlet... we are faced with the new reality. We either meet the situation embracing truth and honest intent to reconcile the misdeeds and mistakes of  past history.

Maybe we must revisit enshrined "rights" that are now not just obsolete... but are now a danger to all citizens within our midst. First amongst these rights to be re-evaluated... and perhaps even fall by the wayside in my mind... should be the "right to bear arms".

The use of deadly force... even by our police needs to be reconsidered and our officer members retrained in what police maintained in my own community as I grew up - a stronger community presence and mentorship role with youth. Both of these very visible and meaningful aspects of police work in the twentieth century helped establish my own healthy respect for the law and the officers who were resposble for maintaining and dispensing it.

Just one old codger's response.... certainly a much more cpomp-lex problem than my idealism describes in this brief post.

My post does reflect however... how very disturbing the world situation has been for me in my own creative life. I truly have been left reeling by these events... and my optimism has been eroded for certain. An early post construct entitled "Truth and Reconciliation" lies unfinished. Perhaps it need not advance further... it has served its purpose for me. In tandem with today's post... the two leave me feeling like I'm simply "peeing into  the wind".

I am including the body of that earlier post today... as it shall remain. Ironically, it perhaps it sounds the "Last Post" for Journaling With Paint. There comes a time in everyone's life that one must become "Self"-ish. That is, one must seek to serve and honor one's Self. That is far from the other "selfish".

I have been struggling with this decision for many months now... searching my heart for many months now, while seeking a new direction. Recent family and personal health concerns and economic realities in our lives here in Rockport have further contributed to a need to refocus our energies and directions.

I have finally made a decision to embrace a new direction with vigor and a much-needed time away from blogging... at least for the time being. I believe I have found a novel pursuit to direct my attention and creative energy towards. My painting of course... will continue unabated.

Stay tuned...

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

Truth and Reconciliation...

I am a few days behind in posting, given that the substance underlying my reason for this post passed me by on June 21st... National Aboriginal Day in Canada. Highlight... it would seem for that event here was the unveiling of a lifesized bronze at Parry Sound, Ontario... home of World War I hero, Corporal Francis Peagamagabow.

The bronze symbollically depicts the "warrior" Pegamagabow  unleashing the eagle... in this case into the gentle winds blowing ashore from Georgian Bay. At his feet lies a caribou... totem of his Ojibway clan. Ironically however... it might as well symbolize the presence of his rifle and sniper's skill... "credited" with 378 "kills" and more than 300 captures. These are indeed the "remembrances" as the "Warrior Chief"... which have earned him worthy honour on the battlefield.

My own respect for Pegamagabow arises in his post war achievements as a Canadian father, grandfather, great-grandfather, leader, fierce activist for his people's indentity and causes - his peaceful humanity. These attributes in my own mind line up better with what I am proud to assert... are Canadian values which align with what I consider "being Canadian" stands for. They also follow the direction indicated within the body of my last post.

In Canada... we as a nation are currently working through the process of addressing the injustices caused to indigenous (First Nations) peoples contained within Canada through a process the government calls "Truth and Reconciliation". How long this takes... and to what degree it is met will be hopefully determined through rightful and fair negotiations in tandem with First Nation, Inuit and Metis leaders.

The injustices span nearly 400 years of European colonization and domination. Highest on the list of grievances to be discussed and settled upon are land claims caused by unfair treaty agreements and the catastrophic degradation, physical and sexual abuse imposed upon innocent  and helpless native children who forced out of the hands of their parents and culture and into distantly located residential schools. These acts were a deliberate and willful intent to destroy the fabric and language of their unique cultures and way of life.

The obvious hopeless despair of so many First Nation individuals and communities is rooted in these earlier and still continuing injustices. Fortunately, icons like Peagamagabow have inspired new leaders and youth who have risen out of the ashes to assume leadership roles. These are intelligent individuals who have combined their own sense of "Who" they are and where they have come from... with modern standards of education and a better understanding of the place for an autonomous presence for their nations in Canada.

The time is right. Symbolically... the time in a natural fashion parallels the Summer Equinox we have just exerienced. A full moon rising last evening beautifully over the peaceful waters of "Manitouana"... here in Rockport. The Thousand Isands most certainly live up to their First Nations origin - Garden of God! It parallels and demands a time for the Canadian Government leader Justin Trudeau to offer more than a token Sunrise Ceremonial gesture to mark the occasion. I think that his iconic Canadian legend and father Pierre would expect... and offer more.

I wonder..

Poppies in Summer Equinox moonlight

In closing out this post... I would offer another level of consideration in regard to the process of "Truth and Reconciliation" . Could the gesture not be expanded to include all Canadians??? 

By definition of the word... and by birth... am I not - are we all not indigenous Canadians by birth. My ancestors arrived by ship across the the Atlantic Ocean from Scotland and England in the late nineteenth century. Original First Nations... it is puported by current archaeological evidence, crossed into North and South America across the Bering Strait millenia ago. Only time and circumstance separate us really.

What DID separate us and has caused the chaos are the ownership values of white superiority carried by Europeans and imposed upon First Nations Peoples already here and settled... sharing the land degrees.  The creation of reservations was akin to creating structures which functioned (intentionally) like corrals. They most certainly limited movement, cultural pride and identity, education and language maintenance. But more damagingly... this abuse of power destroyed a way of life and the sense of free will of an entire people. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Legends... and Reflections of "Grief for the Loss of Beautiful Strangers"

Permanence in the world... and our own sense of mortality across many generations has been shaken to their very roots during the past few weeks. Disappeared from earthly existence almost in a chain are legendary icons David Bowie... Prince... Mohammed Ali... and Mr. Hockey Gordie Howe. Gone are they and their glory days. Gone too... is our level of comfort and a part of our own sense of place in our own parallel journeys.

I have been saving a newspaper article by Toronto Star journalist Sofi Papamarko published on April 26th, 2016... just a day after the untimely passing of Prince. I had never really been a true Prince follower... but I was inexplicably deeply saddened... and particularly moved when at last I exposed myself to his music... and came to understand more about the gifted young man. His passing heightened my awareness to how much we all live a "taken-for-granted" existence... governed totally by opportunity and whim.

The core of Papamarko's article is woven around the thoughts of grief and loss expert and book writer, Robert Neimeyer in his one book in particular, "Techniques of Grief Therapy". I have not read the book (as yet)... but these quotes used in the article piqued my interest to do so when I am able.

"Celebrities in particular may exemplify our values, ideals and aspirations, and so their death may represent the death of a part of us."

This quote closely supports the very feelings that I have described above... and most assuredly the feelings that I have undergone myself in losing these life markers. From time to time... we do lose su7ch a marker, but when there is a sudden avalanche of such loss... I find myself buried (for a time)... paralyzed and unable to feel... to create or to repond positively. Am I alone in this thinking?

I wonder...

I will take the time to read Neimeyer in my own plodding fashion... but currently "The Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gardiner is in my headlights... and is serving me well in my searching. Here is another brief quote that perhaps suggests a good reason for me to move forward with my plan to read Neimeyer:

"Rather than questioning the legitimacy of this experience in the case of the death of a celebrity with whom we have identified, it might be more appropriate to marvel at the human capacity to invest ourselves in the lives of others, well beyond our immediate circle of family and  friends."

It would serve one well to remember that every legend, no matter what field of endeavour they have excelled in... were first children... then beginners - it was a journey. Their level of excellence was arrived at more through hard work and determination than through their innate "gift".

I share Neimeyer's belief that service to others offers the great opportunity to not only contribute to betterment in the lives of others... but as well, doing so tends to elevate one's own feeling of purpose and worth... "What goes around... comes a round."

Papamarko mindfully concludes her article with this wonderfully insightful argument:

"The deaths of our idols aren't that far removed from the inevitable deaths of those we love the most. Celebrity deaths often force us to reflect upon the finitude of earthly existence. If larger -than-life demi-gods in leather and lace can so quickly shuffle of this mortal coil, what Hope is there for the rest of us schlubs?"

I have myself passed through the first portals of earthly loss with the passing of both of my parents. The sting of that loss remains with me... especially on days like this Sunday... Father's Day when I make my trek graveside in Brockville to deliver flowers and to "speak" with my Dad and Mom. I offer my words of gratefulness to them without any logical hope that they hear my words. But I do so, in simple Faith. I have come to know that without Faith that Hope cannot exist. I choose not to live in a world here... without the presence of either. The existence of a world beyond "Here" can only exist in my system of spiritual belief if - I earn the right to enter through my conscious acts here.

I will close today's post with this personal thought that for me links Legends... Reflection... and Father's Day.

My Dad was a simple man... "ordinary"... to many who didn't come to know and love "Him" as I did. He lived a life of moderation in everything - except in the sharing of his love and passion for music. His piano and musical skill could have taken him far further than he chose to travel with it. But he chose to be with his family and to share his music with a loving and grateful community which recognized him for "Who" he was.

But ... in my eyes, Dad was a legend... someone to admire... respect and to emulate... even beyond Death itself. Death can know no pride in taking him from me... for he remains fully within me for as long as I am here. Reflecting... if I look in the mirror or someone remarks that... "You are so much like your Dad."... my heart swells with pride because through me... he still lives and is not forgotten - a living legend... a legend living outside his time.

He would share my pride today to welcome a new Sherman into our midst. So for him... I welcome Andrew and Melissa's and Mac's new wee daughter/sister Whitney Linda Joan into our special family circle. Long Health... Happiness and rich Blessings to your family! Congratulations Andrew... and Happy Father's Day. I know that my Dad shares my pride in observing your own early fatherhood!!!

              Whitney Linda Joan - born June 8th, 2016  - 7 lb 6 oz.... Mac's new Little Sis

 Dad led a very blessed life... a path that I have diligently striven to follow. And as I myself pass into the autumn years of my journey... I move forward as he taught me to and with these two credos to live by:

"Keep Smiling".... and "Just do your best!"

"Thank You... for the Music"... Dad and Mom!!!
Love you both.,.. Forever!

Happy Father's Day Dad

"We all could die any day."
 -The Purple One

Adds Papmarko..... "In the meantime, let's dance."

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Learning from the Classics...

Ironically, all "classics" in every in every human discipline were once new and every master in each of these disciplines was once a beginner. Therein lies the first lesson to be learned from classical study:
Exceptional skill and excellence develop in relationship to time spent practicing and in an unwavering persistence and desire to grow.

A small few may be blessed with an innate "gift" in a particular discipline that may accelerate growth and development early in life. But most of us must independently search out and discover our own passion and pursue it doggedly under our own steam. It becomes a lifetime pursuit that often must be blended with securing an education... raising families and earning a livelihood.

Often, this pilgrimage leads right through our entire lives and if we are fortunate, we meet special people along the journey who encourage and facilitate our growth. Sometimes, we actually meet these individuals/mentors personally and their presence enriches our artistic lives exponentially. In other cases, we "meet" these influences through books that we read... in instructional dvds or through online contact on social media sites like Blogger.

However, it must be said that the largest responsibility for personal growth in any discipline lies squarely in the hands of each individual. Self-education and determination remain the greatest single factors for personal growth. It's like following a "pick-a-path" basal readers approach where choices must be made based upon intuition and personal interest. Outcomes are dependent upon those singular choices... and outcomes vary greatly among participants.

I would like to share some of the choices that I made along the way in arriving where I now find myself.

Like most of you, and out of pure economic necessity... I was an ardent pencil n' paper freak in my earliest years. Art education opportunities were very limited in my community, but I was blessed to have had two teachers in elementary school who did nurture my artistic spirit and did affect great change and further searching that remained with me throughout my entire life.

I basically taught myself to draw and from late adolescence onward, I read and voraciously developed that skill at every opportunity in many sketchbooks. I moved to oil paint in my teens briefly, but abandoned it until after I was married. That interest was revived by the chance discovery of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg ON. This fateful introduction led me to resume my study of The Canadian Group of Seven members' work and that journey continues right  up to now.

I began my "home education" at a kitchen table after putting my children to bed and vigorously copied paintings by Thomson and AY Jackson. I found their paintings easy to read because of their textural and lyrical treatment of line and color. Both were designers by trade, so that composition was obvious and textbook in quality.

I learned my lessons quickly... and at my own speed. Jackson was a master in collecting pencil sketches on location and translating them later into fine studio paintings. I greatly admired their mutual need to paint outdoors. I believe that I was very much in tune
with Thomson's moody and restless nature then. That remains unchanged today.

Within the body of work that the Seven produced are monuments that remain as pivotal influences in my own searching. "At the Maple's Edge" and "Scarlet Maple" by Jackson are two of these. "Northern River" and "Jack Pine" from Thomson's oeuvre are two others of particular weight and significance for me.

"At the Maple's Edge" - AY Jackson

                                                   "Scarlet  Maple" - AY Jackson

The rich color and light in Jackson's outdoor painting and his loose, shorthand style of sketching both bear testimony to his designer strength... strong composition and pictorial design. His draftsmanship, though dramatically downplayed to facilitate his painterly style and outdoor preference... nonetheless clearly demonstrate his drawing ability. You can also find within the sketch... color notes and numerals from 1-10. Therefore bs 6 would later mean burnt sienna value of six in the studio and guided his own color choices later in the studio.

     "Pencil sketch of Quebec from "AY' s Canada"

It was Thomson's seminal studio masterpieces before his untimely end however, that continue to haunt me with their magical tapestry-like patterns of light and color. I feel that his work possesses a kaleidoscopic quality - never static... always shifting as your eye in an ever moving search across and around the canvas.

His field sketches seemed simple and honest... and yet, in his final years there was a reaching out... a searching to re translate the ordinariness of the landscape before him into a surreal and deeply personal new reality. Sadly, his life ended tragically and far too soon for us to ever fully comprehend where his journey might have taken him.... and us as Canadian artists.

My favorites of his studio masterpieces were "Jack Pine"... an Art Nouveau influenced canvas for certain and "Northern River" first painted in Algonquin as a sketch and then adapted in a larger and more finished canvas format in the studio during winter. This painting more closely follows the tradition of his plein air studies and panels painted as he tripped about Algonquin Park fishing, canoeing and painting alone in his canoe. Perhaps... "He" and "I" shared deeper similarities... and inner secrets... beyond making art...

I wonder...

"Jack Pine" a very large canvas in Art Nouveau decoration and light. It bears a strong similarity to stained glass produced by Tiffany and the like working in the same time period.

"Northern River" is a canvas that has periodically entered and re-entered my life since elementary school. A large silk screen version which hung in my elementary school across from my grade four room now hangs in my bedroom. It continues to add pleasure every day that I look at it.... and draws me to Algonquin... and back to Thomson each time that my eye picks it up.

I believe that we as artists are sponges of a sort. We absorb and carry the juice and energy of things and events we experience and value... long after they have passed by. I believe that this image bears this out and I will try to share my reasons with you... in paint.

I painted this 30 x 24 inch canvas in 2009 in Algonquin Park on Opeongo Creek. The golden light and mood reminded me...somewhat of Northern River. I wondered at the time... could this be the same spot... one hundred years later? Just an uncanny feeling...

I still wonder...

As the years passed and the canvas hung about... I became increasingly uneasy with the painting. One morning last week, I thought that I would see what happened if I pushed forward with an experiment to see how much I would need to change my painting to match Thomson's effort... without setting out to fully copy it.

I lessened that possibility by intentionally limiting my palette to cadmium red, ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow light, burnt umber and of course titanium white. I laid in some guide lines with a large stick of vine charcoal and set to work... using only two brushes... a one half inch bristle and a quarter inch bristle... start to finish.

I will let these pictorial records of my painting process do the talking now and you take care of the reading... and deciding.

"Northern River" by Tom Thomson

                                             "Evening Quietude"- Opeongo Creek (2009)
                                                             oil on 30x24 inch canvas

Charcoal "mapping" - note intentionally compositional deviations in trees... especially the serpentine spruce

   One hour lay in with one brush and left overnight to reconsider and dry

Finished... and as yet... unsigned... What to do????

The exercise in my mind supports my belief that we assimilate knowledge from things that resonate within us... or that we are attracted to and admire from everywhere in the world that we visit. I am the combined product of a healthy and supportive middle class upbringing, a university education experience... and the "School of Life".

However...  I continue to deeply believe that "significant others"... and their work have presented me with huge influences and opportunities to learn from. It is this belief that continues to fuel my own desire to blog and post my thoughts... process and paintings to share with those who might think as I do. It is my way to pass forward the kindnesses that were bestowed upon me generously during my own journey.

Take what you will from my ideas and put it with your own. Perhaps. One idea might transform your own thinking..,. and give you new direction in your own. One voice can become a choir when combined with others who dare to believe... and act in unison! Dare to dream! Join with me!

Good Painting!... to ALL!!!

Friday, May 13, 2016

"It's Time For a Summertime Dream...."

There is recorded an early piece of folklore which boldly declares... "One swallow never made a summer." This statement merely challenges a commonly-held myth that the sighting of a first swallow heralds the arrival of summer. Common sense would more accurately support that many other factors... most notably, the solar system's configuration would have more to do with predicting that moment.

Yesterday, in our part of the world, it indeed felt wholly like summer and even the thermometer conspired to add credence to such a premature belief. Summer's official start here will be marked here by the Summer Solstice at 6:34 EDT on June 20th. As we all know, the path of the earth orbiting the sun in the sky actually dictates the changing of the seasons... and the rest of the natural observations that we draw upon are merely in response to that celestial change of the earth's axial position relative to the sun.

The word solstice is derived from the combination of two Latin words "sol" (sun) and "solstitium" (to stop). Together, the term means that the sun appears to stop higher and more directly overhead to create greater warmth and longer light. Logic and science are practical and predictable instruments to guide decisions for planting, vacationing and many other truly summer decisions.

However, there is something soothing... even romantically reassuring to simply formulate one's own forecast of summer's arrival based upon events that seem miraculously to reoccur within the space of only a few days each year. I take great pleasure and joy in recording these "happen-stances" in my personal journal... and look forward to welcoming summer... in my own fashion.

Deb hung our red hummingbird feeder during the last week of April... in a simple act of faith and kindness. As if by magic... one week later on May second, the first of our three resident ruby red throats fueled up for the first long drink of the summer season at her feeder. The other two have since arrived... and the aerial warfare is now well underway. Their annual pattern of arrival lies (predictably) within the same seven day window according to my records kept since arriving in Rockport.

This summer-for certain occurrence in our lives is added to a chain of other changes as winter' defeat n' retreat deepens and brief Spring leaps so suddenly into Summer. Skeins of overhead Canada Geese have taken to the ground... have paired up and are now preparing to nest. Barn swallows patrol the waterfront with their aerial antics in pursuit of the copious supply of recently hatched flies. Ants have invaded our kitchen... cuing our immediate need to place ant traps strategically to quell their assault. These are the predictable visual reminders in my own consciousness... that summer is on the way.

Summer's presence is in the air as well. My itchy eyes and throat provide ample enough evidence that Claritan is in order for a few weeks. The pollen sacs have exploded with the increased heat. Leaflets have replaced catkins and a varied palette of vivid greens paints the landscape and woodlands.

A trillium tribe... bivouacked in their spring solitude. Sheltered by the roots of a great and ancient oak at Pitch Pine Point. As I paused on my evening walk to acknowledge their welcome new presence... I thought; "Did their ancestors partake in this annual spring pageant of renewal and rebirth?"

I wonder...

The trillium and other Spring wildflowers carpet the forest floor and add color and life to the previous drabness and decay. On my evening walk... the wonderful aroma of raindrops kissing the dry pavement awakens sense within me... that date back even to my earliest childhood.

Tonight... I am witness to the human ritual of which I have been part for all of my life. It is a sacred and hallowed moment for "Summer Folk"... as we are referred to by locals. Quite frankly, even though we now reside in Rockport and conduct a legitimate business here... we remain and are viewed by most, as being "from away." We were not born here. But that matters little to either Deb and I. We know "who" we are and find solace in that reality.

On the dock below us... I watched several carloads of young men appear suddenly and then charge excitedly down to the dock where a boat tended by two young men waited. There was an immediate flailing of upraised arms and long embraces... a brief conversation, followed immediately by a rapid relay of backpacks, bags of groceries, briquettes, beer, personal pillows and sleeping bags into the boat. Without pause they embarked southward... a toute vitesse around Club Island.

The annual "Boys of Summer Reunion" for 2016 was underway. I knew... and understood as well... that "The Girls of Summer" would soon repeat this summer sacrament. That would be replaced by the gatherings of the island clans who now return to their family summer retreats on cue every July and August weekend to share time in the Thousand Islands. Summer is a special time for all River Folk... both young and old. "I" am... a "River Boy"!

"River Boy" - oil on canvas 24 x 30 inches

This painting was part of a solo show I created entitled "Summertime Dreams" back in 2002. It captures my son Andrew on one of our six annual week-long canoe trips into the islands. It now hangs in his home... where it rightfully belongs.

So Summer???... It does indeed arrive on a solar and EDT platform for most. But for me personally... summer arrives in a way that I understand and help create. And at The Paint Box Gallery in 2016... Summer will be met with the changes that Deb and I have teamed up to create. All is in place. The hard work has been accomplished. The Gallery is flush with new color and life. We are exceedingly proud of our combined efforts. 

Welcome Summer!... and Welcome to those visitors who pass through our doors!

Here's a shortened virtual tour for those of you... "from away"! HA HA!

Happy Painting!... and Sweet Summertime Dreams... to ALL!!

Here's a musical song sampling where my "Summertime Dream" theme originates from! Thank you... Canadian Folk icon Gordie Lightfoot. As pure... and richly Canadian as Maple Syrup! Enjoy!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

"M" Words...

The month of May has been flipped over on my calendar... offering clean new space to fill with tasks and new possibilities. The first "M" word May... offers Deb and I welcome release from our winter "captivity" in our basement studio into the fresh air of our garden and river view. It is an uplifting and exciting rite of renewal.

We open The Paint Box Gallery on Mother's Day because this weekend celebrates another important "M" word for us - "Mother". Both of our Moms have passed... so the "M" word memories are all that remain. But on this special day set aside ...  we do especially remember their nurturing contributions, sacrifices and lessons that they shared so generously with us while they were part of our daily lives.

Personally, I find it difficult to separate my parents as being only female or male. I have always looked upon them as a team... both sharing the 'pulling' of the great burden of parenthood in tandem. Neither has had a larger influence upon me than the other. I am the sum total of the combined strength(s) of both.

Both contributed to and influenced the value system under which I have tried to live. I have modeled my own parenting strongly upon the template that they provided and am encouraged to see that their system... passed forward to me, and then by me to my own children has successfully been rooted. My planting now has flowered and currently bears strong promise of a beautiful and varied garden of individual blooms to bring further joy to the world.

I have neither painted, nor posted since early April... and have much missed both. But now, I am reaching the end of the necessary tasks and time that took me away. We are currently busy completing the last of our duties to ready the gallery for our Summer 2016 opening this weekend. Hopefully... the Universe will again reward us for our winter of work. Time will tell.

In closing out this short post, I felt it necessary to honour Motherhood. Mothers are truly more than the title usually suggests; they are as well mentors who share their learning and wisdom... magicians who weave the ordinary into life enriching tapestries of adventure, magic and joy for their families. Their "work"... is nothing less than... Fine Art.

What better way is there to salute them... to proudly share samples of the Fine Art that they nurtured in each of us... with the world. Here's a Mother's Day salute and a sampling of bouquets for all Moms... from my Mom and I !

Happy Mother's Day... and Good Painting to ALL... Artist Mothers!

Happy Mother's Day... "Mom and Dad"... I'll love you both... FOREVER!

 "Thank You... For the Music"

                              "There is beauty all around... when there's love at home..."

                                                                  "Keep on Smilin'..."

                                       "Seek... and find joy... in the simple things around you."

"Home... is where the Heart is!"

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Beauty ... of Bigger

It was exhilarating to stand before a larger black toned canvas... armed with a single one inch chisel bristled brush. The only goal was to use the roughly placed white chalk lines as guides to lay in the larger color blocks in my chosen composition.

Within the short space of an hour, I stood before the makings for what I knew would be a successful canvas because all of the necessary structure... or foundation was already laid down. The remainder of the painting process merely dealt with refinement... balancing values and creating a color harmony which would unify the whole.  Here's what the initial block in looked like at the end of session one.

Day One

The various "Big" shapes are readily discernible at this early stage. I chose to carve out the center of interest... but its shape is far from stated in a final way. Everything still remains tentative. Each section  of the painting is still open to change and further consideration. The sky is very "stainy" and will be worked up slowly in glazes to attain the morning glow that I wished to be present.

After supper, I returned to the easel and reworked the sky to lessen the left over black toning in the sky area. I decided to let the paint set up overnight. I use Griffin Alkyd white paint on my palette which is a quick dryer. I knew that I could return to the canvas the next day and resume work at the closing stage of the day's work easily. It would offer me time to consider what area to move to next to maintain an "around the full canvas" attack.

                                                                       Day Two

In looking closely at this picture taken at the end of the session in day two... one can see various areas around the central image that now bare the signs of significant change... and yet remain unresolved at this juncture. There is a stronger sense of mood and lighting at this point... which was my goal for the day.

Day Three

Note that in this picture attention has been given to the addition of detail to the light itself... ie the railings... window and weather vane atop the lantern.... as well as the play of light upon the walls of the light.

                                                                        Day Four

                                         "River Guardian, Rotary Light, Prescott ON" 
                                            - oil on gallery wrap canvas - 24 x 30 inches

This is where it sits this evening. Today was a day of push n' pull... a day of balancing values... playing with highlights and adding details for interest. For all intents and purposes... I have achieved what I wanted to in this project. Mostly, my need to use big arm movements to replace "tight-assed' drawing and sitting to paint... both foreign to my preferred plein air approach have been alleviated. I feel refreshed.

Tomorrow... after a time away this evening, I will give it one more look when I am fresher. Looking forward to another "BIG" idea canvas and following my own path.

Stay tuned...

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

One Last Thrust...

After an overnight rest and step back from the painting, I decided to "ice the cake" by adding texture... and therefore variety using my palette knife. I carefully restricted its use to the foreground snow area and the river-facing wall of the lighthouse... thus adding interest and relief from the overall quality of total stillness. Signed it...
Done liker dinner!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Family Gathering(s)...

"We're all we've got..."

I awoke a bit earlier than is my custom this morning because my head was working overtime... mulling over new painting ideas and recent events. Perhaps this is because our opening deadline is fast-approaching... or more likely, it was the surge of "spring things" that appeared simultaneously on my walk last evening.

As I made my way around my one hour circuit in the gently falling rain, I could smell the tell-tale new earthiness of spring. Purple crocuses smiled at me as I left our driveway. Everywhere... tulips, lilies, daffodils and other perennials pushed their greenness skyward.

The air echoed with the crescendo of a variety of male bird voices - all bent upon dominating and securing their air space. The paved pathway on the Parkway writhed here and there with newly-arrived thin, pink earthworms... seemingly stretching out the kinks of their imposed underground winter captivity.

Robins appeared more cheery... and plumper than usual... given this fresh spring menu of crawlers. Perhaps their rotundness owed itself to a still hidden clutch of turquoise-y treasures that would soon be gently placed in mounds of collected sticks and soft grasses... in places that irritate human home dwellers. Cardinal pairs seemed more present along the route... the males perched in pinnacles above all else... trumpeting their air supremacy.

The most unexpected discovery arrived from deep in the swamp on Old River Road. It as the happy... but noisy drone of choirs of spring peepers. All of these harbingers shouted:

"Spring has sprung!"

It struck me... as I drifted slowly from sleep into morning consciousness that all of this sudden change in activity could be attributed to family gatherings... or preparation for new families... gathering.

It struck me again... that the annual ritual of gathering of sap and production of maple syrup in Ontario sugar bushes... as well encompassed the gathering of family members to share the labour and the love of being on the land once again after a long cold winter - renewal!

Our own family had just recently "gathered" to share the annual ritual of making a pilgrimage to the Little Cataraqui Conservation Area's sugar bush to celebrate "Maple Madness. That included having a stack of freshly made pancakes topped with buttery goodness and lathered in freshly made maple syrup from the bush there.

Left to right: Melissa with Mr Mac, Andrew, Nana Joan and BoBo (Allie)
Sorry that you had to miss this year Debs... I had your pancake!

Other surprises transpired as well. Thank you to the resident chickadees on "Chickadee Lane"... and to the accommodating John Deere tractor operator who elevated Mr Mac youngest Deere operator on record! Bonus!!!

                                           Two... in the hand are worth ten in the balsams!

Is there anything more powerful in the world than trust... or Faith??? I wonder. I felt the sheer wonder of having power... but no power ... to make this happen! It quite simply..."is."

                                                            Mr MacDeere takes charge!
I would offer yet another extension of my ongoing thinking in regards to the concept of "family gathering". Here are two paintings that I have made in the past which look at the same "Idea"... as it came to me from the natural world.

I received news early last week that the East Coast version had just recently been sold at The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia... after being on corporate rental for eight continuous years. What a Happy Easter surprise that was!!!

"Family Gathering at Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia" - oil on canvas 30 x 36 inches

"Family Gathering" - oil on canvas 30 x 36 inches

A copse of trees some likely related... at various stages of age and growth.

The Bajan Mafia... The Shamrays
Braden, Moi, Deb Lisa, Ryan and Mica... gathered together in Toronto

This was our Christmas Break gathering with my youngest Bryn, Susie (Bryn's Squeeze), his brother Liam and Deb

In closing out today's lengthy post, I would like to give thanks to each of my five children and especially to Deb. She has consistently and unselfishly provided a real Mom role model and a loving support system for each of them. Deb and I are very proud of each of you and we celebrate the uniqueness of each. Without any one of you... our lives would be greatly diminished.

Allie's recent Easter card to Deb and I says it all for me....

                                                   Inside... it adds... "Is a day well spent!"

We love you dearly!

"We"... are richly blessed...

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