Saturday, July 26, 2014

Using Memories... as Painting Tool - A Two Act Play



This post is dedicated to my longtime musical pals Jivin' Johnny Philips and his lovely wife Carol of Midland, Ontario. Without your love... your friendship and your music... I could not have survived to paint these pictures... or to write this blog. Bless you both Badgers!


"Every man's memory is his private literature."
- Aldous Huxley, English Novelist

ACT ONE - "VALUES"... A MATTER OF PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE

I have discovered over the years that there is so much more to "painting" than the simple act of getting the right perspective.... values... colour or capturing the scene before you if you are painting en plein air. The same can hold true if you are painting in the studio. Painting "pretty pictures" is something any artist can accomplish with practice and study... in any genre one would choose to paint in.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have struggled to address a long past due commission... but found myself withering at the prospect of having to deal with a mess of now almost meaningless photo reference images to begin to piece together in my mind... the panoramic view necessary to create the design which the client desired. The short of this sad tale... I was stuck... and finding every reason in the garden... wherever... to avoid the task. The clock has been ticking.

I managed to regain my painting momentum... and courage... with three plein air treks with two painting pals. Stay tuned... and I will post the results of the other two after this post which jumped ahead in my queue of "to dos". I feel compelled to share my wandering path over the past weeks... if for no other reason... to offer credible proof and support for my thoughts in the introductory paragraph of this post. Bear with me!

Two weeks ago, Deb and I were offered a pair of free tickets for an evening at The Thousand Islands Playhouse in nearby Gananoque to attend a performance of the multi-award winning play "Jake's Gift". Both Deb and I were at first reticent about attending... but the critical review on the Playhouse web site piqued my interest, so we decided to have an evening out on the town... a rarity for us in our busy summer season.

The Play House Theatre comprises of a larger Springer Theatre for major productions and a second smaller Fire Hall Theatre... suited for smaller audiences offering more intimacy and contact with the players. Ironically, The Play House was once the home of The Gananoque Canoe Club which was the site for Teen Club dances where my high school chums and I danced the summer nights away... pressed sweaty cheek to sweaty cheek for the "slow ones"... with those lovely Gananoque girlfriends we each had and adored. Mine was simply... Mary.... and could we cut a mean rug together ... jivin' to"Wild Weekend" by the Buffalo Rebels and  all the hits performed by local heroes Brian Onley and the Monarchs from Kingston.

The smaller venue was the perfect setting for "Jake's Gift". We could almost touch Julia Mackey, the play wright and the sole member of the cast. This gifted artist brilliantly and seamlessly shifted from each of the four personas to the other... never losing the tempo of this poignant legacy of remembrance.

Isabelle, the precious but witty old "soul child"... we've all met those encounters a curmudgeon-y, gruff and grumpy old veteran of WW II, Jake...  who is attending the 60th Anniversary of Juno Beach in Normandy. He comes seeking to make peace with himself... and to visit for the first time in 60 years... his brother Chester's grave... before Time has its way with him,  as it has with nearly all of the veterans who served in that conflict.

Along the way, Mackey injects Isabelle's straight-laced Grandmaman... a woman survivor of this epic event, but who lost her husband to the Germans in that same tragedy. Further along in this encounter... enters a high school teacher who has brought a group of band students from Hamilton to participate in the celebration and to visit the vast Canadian cemetery at Beny-sur-mur... where 2048 Canadian casualties during that campaign are interred.

Through vivid insights into the memories and dreams these four characters, Mackey constructed a deep and inner private appreciation of "gifting"... the need for gratitude and remembrance and for "Me"... a confirmation of my belief that as an artist, I must continually search for new projects which go beyond making "pretty pictures".

If you possibly find yourself in an area where Julia's play is playing, I can promise you an evening which will move you tears... swell your heart with pride... and your head to dream new dreams.

Julia... I have long had a desire to visit Normandy and these cemeteries on my "bucket list". However... sadly, it would seem... that this will not likely occur. But because of your brilliance as both a writer and a performer... I was at Juno Beach....in Gananoque, Ontario... for one brief hour on Thursday, July17th. That defies normal time, space and perspective. The wonder of art... and perfect artistry.I laud and thank you Julia for fulfilling that journey with a memorable evening of theatre.
!

Beny-sur-mur Cemetery, Normandy. The graves in this vast war dead cemetery is fully maintained by French school children like Isabelle... one grave being that of Chester, brother of Jake. Such a powerful and perfect simile to create a personal act of remembrance... on a stage so very far away.


This small oil painting titled "Where have All the Flowers Gone" was created as my own personal act of remembrance of a young life lost in faraway Afghanistan. Captain Matthew Dawe was a hockey and school chum of my son Andrew. The painting includes a beloved Marine Corp Band Trumpeter from my boyhood... lilacs from the village of Barriefield where Matt and Andrew attended school together... and where Frank and I painted so many plein air paintings together. The other props speak for themselves. The painting is a "universal"- it transcends any need to explain meaning. Its construct... goes well beyond simple reality.

Captain Matthew Dawe... puts a face on each Remembrance Day for our family and those who admired him for his service and leadership... and for his ultimate sacrifice. Never forgotten Matt!

The painting now is in the hands of Matt's Wife Tara and son Lucas... and a facsimile larger giclee of the painting hangs at Matt's Alma Mater in the Band Room at Yeo Hall, The Royal Military College in Kingston,ON... commemorating his sacrifice and presence at RMC. 

There are many ways to serve... and as insignificant as you might think your own contribution / voice might seem in the overall scheme of things.. your thoughts... and actions using your own artistic expression count .
Art matters!!!

Lest we forget....

ACT TWO - THE POWER OF MUSIC AND SONG


"Music is a warehouse for your memories."

Last evening we were again gifted with a brace of tickets for an evening out at The Brockville Arts Centre... in my early childhood and growing up years... The Regent Theatre. "Back in the day"... kids ruled every Saturday afternoon matinee. The Bowery Boys, The Three Stooges, Roy Rogers, Flash Gordon, Tarzan, Bomba, Lash Larue, just to name a few... were the fare, Admission was 12 cents... a box of popcorn set you back 10 cents... leaving 3 cents for an after matinee treat consisting of three tar babies, or blackballs for a penny at Howison's Store. Those were the days when a 25 cent (earned) allowance carried a lot of incentive to help out at home.

Last evening... the fare again trotted this pair of Rockport residents and a theatre filled with other greylings... like ourselves down another decade on memory lane. "Feelin' Groovy"... is a show featuring The Music and Times of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel by an All-Canadian tribute band featuring the musical genius of Jim Witter and his sideman Ian Tanner. They are backed by a drummer, keyboard player and guitar man.

Their near-perfect renditions of their hits from the Sixties of Mrs Robinson... Scarborough Fair... Feelin' Groovy... The still haunting Sound of Silence... For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her... The Boxer... I am a Rock... Cecelia...  America... If I Could... were interlaced continually with a mesmerizing light show and projected images of Life Magazine covers ... theatrical marquee posters and iconographic photographic journalism stills highlighting the ordinary... and the tumultuous events during this decade of change. Each song triggered a memory of a person... place or event in my own journey. Quite simply... it was an rich evening of travel in time... backwards.

Music has long had a powerful effect on me and my painting. Coming from a family which embraced music and song in all parts of their daily lives... it was an easy transition for me to use it as a tool to enhance my creative spirit... but more importantly... it was a vehicle promoting spiritual healing... a personal "Bridge Over Troubled Water." The song... an anthem... for me was the "final note" that the evening concert music by Witter and Friends. My heart swelled... as I rose instantly to my feet ... joined with everyone in the theatre who shared this evening of song and brother and sisterhood to offer our gift of applause in return for their minstrel performance.

Judging by the unabashed gyrating that some performed in the aisles in the closing set... and the buzz that droned along with us ... filing out familiar doors to King Street. I was not the only one with music as a fundamental element in my DNA. In that moment... I knew that they and I were... "Homeward Bound."

I offer these musical "painting notes"... all owe their origin to music in terms of subject. But as well...I must confess that I was "under the influence" while painting them... PWI... with music!


This painting could well be the poster child cover for this musical soiree event. 
                                                       "Lost ...in the Sixties."


But then again... so would this small still life dedicated to my Mom  and Dad's legacy of music fit seamlessly with the gift of these talented musical artists.
                                                          "Thank You... for the Music"




My personal portrait tribute to the life and cherished memory of Tim Berry... "The Guitar Man" speaks to a deeply held personal expression... fuelled by the spiritual capacity of music... to transcend even life... and death.
 In closing this lengthy meandering and musical interlude... I will share an unexpected occurrence in the parking lot immediately following the show. I recognized a face...much older now... next to me... as we returned to our car. The eyes...as is always the case for me spoke of my football coach in 1962. I took the courage to ask if he was Bruce Bracken. Much surprised... even startled... he stammered back. "Yes I am. ..Who might you be?"

I gleefully replied..."I am Bruce Sherman... Mr Bracken." The immediate shift from being perplexed... and replaced by a HUGE smile will remain with us both... long after our hug... brief catch up chat and his promise to visit us at the Gallery in Rockport. Time can erase many things in life... but team sports... music and the Arts are the adhesive which binds us forever..spiritually as people and a culture. These entities are what separate us as humankind from other species.


Finally... "As Time Goes By"... my Dad's closing number at this gigs with his band Don and Buddies... also the theme from the blockbuster movie Casablanca. A still life with many memories and moving parts... the soldier from Matt Dawe's tribute... my BCI Ram football treasure which links Mr Bracken and I... and the cup that Mary  "McKetch" MacEachern and I won together in 1959... as Jive Champs at... The Gananoque Canoe Club / Thousand Islands Playhouse! Serendipity????.... Me chooses to believe NOT!

"All my life's a circle..."

The Circle Song
- written and performed by Canadian folk icon Joni Mitchell

Long may they... and we prosper!

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

"Ain't nothin' better in the world you know,
Than lyin' in the sun with your radio."

- Lighthouse



Monday, July 21, 2014

Plein Air Artists... "Without Borders"

In the body of my last post, I stated my view that art crosses all borders: age... language... culture and even great geographical distance. This blog exemplifies and embraces that truth. I have yet to meet many of you who choose to read or to follow Journaling With Paint... and yet I feel a great sense of kinship which could as well be described a familial bond of sorts.

Through our back-and-forth visiting and sharing of ideas ... feelings and processes, we knit ourselves into a virtual community which is bound by a common creative spirit and a desire to reach out and discover more about ourselves..others and the world we live in. In doing so, I have discovered that no matter where we each live... we do share a "parallel" journey which draws us together.

Over my painting life time... I have been blessed to find myself in the company of so many talented artists and artisans. I have learned much from sharing the journey and living creatively in their midst. I could not begin to name all of them... nor could I say that any one of them shaped me more than another. For "I"... am [creatively]... the sum total of all each of their influences. Without any one of them... my creativity would for certain be diminished. I would hope that they could say the same of me and my presence in  their own lives.

Art seeps from a creative spirit of a creative individual and almost through a kind of subtle osmosis enters the spirit of other nearby creative individuals at will. Each of us is is like a tuning fork... we can pick up creative resonant energy when we are predisposed... and open to it. That "force" need not eminate from either the young or the old to hold that influence. That was so ... in my garden party paint out with Hana. I came away supercharged and invigorated by that young spirit... and I am the better for the experience... just as she was. There was a conduit enjoining us... "alternating current", if you will that continued throughout the entire session.

Monday found me in the company of Rochester, NY artist, Paul Taylor. Paul and his family are "river people" like myself. Our families have summered here all of our lives and the River is the cradle of our being. It is safe to say that this common element has largely shaped the adults that we have become. Painting is merely another "intersection" in our separate journeys. Though we work in different mediums... what we translate in our island art impressions bears a strong resemblance one to the other. We truly hit it off... right from our first meeting and I am certain that we will be painting friends from this point onward.

We decided to return to Rock Island Light House near Clayton, NY... which necessitated our doing the "customs conga"... both entering the US at Alexandria Bay, NY... and then upon re-entering Canada at Rockport later in the day. It was a perfect painting day... no win... no humidity like the brutal heat of last year's trip. We painted and lunched "side-by-each" and continually teased and chatted. It was a highly pleasurable and profitable day for us both. We concluded the day... joined by Deb and enjoyed an evening barbecue and soiree at the Taylor compound on Phil Taylor Road... located just west of Rockport on the Canadian side.

While countries have borders and hoops to be jumped through... and I well  understand "the whys"... it is uplifting to know that there are folks who we can share a deeper sense of understanding... tolerance and respect... sans the need for borders and confrontation. We simply embrace the fullest concept of "accord"... and choose to live without a need for rules of citizenship to be accepted for who we are.

We are simply... plein air artists... "without borders"... free to create as we wish... together... on both sides of the River we love.



Below is a compilation of jpegs to offer visaul insights into our day of adventure... and a brief running tour commentary for you to enjoy.


Approaching Rock Island in the very narrow and treacherous main shipping channel


The Canada Steamship "Pineglen" heading upriver into the Great Lakes via The Saint Lawrence


Passed safely through this narrowest of passages on the river... headed next into Lake Ontario


A friendly spotted sandpiper.. joined me and continually played peek-a-boo with me near my easel


My choice of painting site... low with the river out of the picture... something I had misgivings about when I got it back to the mainland


Pushing paint... under the shade of a large oak... greyness gone... but a bit on the "shaky"... given my too long hiatus from my oils and paint box. But it didn't last for long.


Paul doing what he loves when not painting.... gathering photo reference for those long winter studio night sessions back in Rochester... far from his river

We cruised our way slowly back to Rockport, working our way inland through the islands and The Millionaire's Club yachting facility and resort... "dressed to the nines"... with the opulent summer homes of America's summering "Who's -Who"... And the beat goes on!


Paul's Boat... and our water taxi for the two hour tour homeward to Rockport

Pullman's Nobby Island... its Victorian traces still to be found



Sunken Rock Light... sentinel... midway at the other end of this treacherous shoal region


An example of Island wooden boat traditions... "Pardon Me Too". Yes... there is a much larger and more costly ""Pardon Me One"! There is an old adage that struck me during this cruise and in particular at this sight:

"The only difference between some men and boys... is the price of their toys."


"Afternoon Delight... at Rock Island Lighthouse" - oil on canvas 10x12 inches

I was not at all pleased with the view, as painted on the island. Neither the light... nor the keeper's house seemed to be in a proper relationship to the river they sit on. Nor did they display clearly the function that they have served for over a century. I took a huge risk and decided (without photo reference) to make a drastic compositional change by lifting the river and far shoreline into view... and at the same time dropped the ridge of foreground land slightly to accommodate a deeper sense of space. I feel that the resulting painting better accomplishes a lighthouse feeling for the painting. Once again... be in charge of your painting. Take risks... change is continually possible... even well after the plein air session... when the blinders come off! HA HA!!

I will be back out with Paul this morning. Where ... I don't know.???... But it will be another adventure for certain.

Stay tuned...

Good Summer Painting... to ALL!


Friday, July 18, 2014

No "wifi" Necessary

Summer continues to offer up many of us a much looked forward to hiatus from the drudgery of daily life in a work-a-day-world. No where is that more obvious to me than here in our village... where the daily spectacle of the loading of "summer people" to awaiting boats bound  for beloved  island haunts repeats itself daily over the entire summer months. Kids bearing jammed back packs, duffel bags, travel cases trailing on wheels... with a personal pillow under the other arm shuttle personal gear down to the docks. Often... follows groceries, golfing gear, tennis rackets, or occasional fishing equipment. Within brief minutes... vehicles are parked... locked and simply abandoned on land as as these folks set sail for pirate adventures and dreams... which have been passed from generation to generation.

These sights harken up sweet memories from within  me of decades of that same act in my own life- our family's annual return to Narrow's Lane Road and "Sherman's Shangrai-la". Summer meant "Freedom"- the relaxing of routines... living in bathing suits... running shoeless until September... rising each morning at 5:00 am (rain or shine) to scull myself about in our wooden punt to fish alone... or just to explore the many islands. After lunch (ashore) and a few set chores... we headed with friends to the "Deep Hole"... the gathering place for our cottage colony to swim... dive and net minnows. By mid summer... we were all "brown as berries" and completely oblivious to school or town things. Evenings usually found our cottage kids around the hardwood harvest table with birch log legs in our living room. One half of the table was busy playing Monopoly... the other facing off at multiple ends of Crokinole. The room buzzed with gleeful interaction and laughter... lit by a single brace of bulbs in an overhead light fixture. This was our summer "Shangrai-La"!

It distresses me to no end to watch the seemingly endless number of individuals... locked on to a hand held device of choice... walking or sittting alone... oblivious to the beauty of the place they have come to visit. Some have come from faraway places that I will never see. Most likely... they shall never return. I wonder... what memories will they carry of this grand place?Wireless?.. yes in the modern sense of its technological meaning... but unplugged in every other "sense" of meaning in my understanding. It implies to me a sense of technological addiction that is both unhealthy... and rude behaviour when it is imposed in social situations that demand a group awareness.

Enough of my reminiscing and moralizing. Fast forward to the Present... and to the pleasant event that precipitated my earlier rambling reminiscences... and wifi rant. Enter Hana... a beautiful... sweet... eleven year old sprite... who must have been here before. She's an "old soul"... a peer for this aging child. When in her company... the barrier of age and experience does not exist. We operate on the same plane... and in our own language and terminology... "We are wireless!

Hana and I first met for the first time last summer in the same place... our Islandsview garden. Her grandmother, a friend of mine had asked me to give her a surprise art lesson during her visit with her near Rockport. They arrived... "dressed-to-the-nines"... with Hana expecting to visit my gallery on the way to a "girly-girl-only" lunch. Dressed in a lovely dress... she intrepidly jumped into my planned collage n' paint exercise. It was a grand day of sharing... for us both. Her completed painting/collage clearly displayed her artistic skills... natural sense of colour and design. It was... in my mind... an artwork worthy of  adult merit and expectation.

Hana's Garden Art Party... Summer 2013



 "No fear" approach... start to finish. Only odd moments of personal reflection... punctuated with an odd question. "Wired"... into that space reserved only for creation... contemplation and meditation.


 Such natural beauty... and honesty - in both the Art... and the Artist!


Hana's Second Annual Rockport Garden Party

Last Friday afternoon, Hana arrived with her grandfather to spend the day making art... and conversation with me here at Islesview! Since the garden was resplendent with colour and subject matter, I had planned an acrylic on square canvas project. Now aware of Hana's strengths and flexibility of thinking it took mere minutes and a hug to jump back into last year's comfort zone for us both.

As we sat together with a faceful of lilies and other blooms to choose from... we both organized and "mapped" out a charcoal compositional pathway for our intended painting. I fixed it with fixative spray and then jumped into palettes of colour which had been laid out on two white recycled styro meat trays. The painting moved surely and rapidly... blended with catching up conversation and news from both easel mates.I can truly state that we were indeed both... wireless... and seamless... despite a vast age difference during the two hours that we were painting together. It merely proves... that Art knows no barriers such as age... culture or geography. All arts  provide universal bridges which enjoin people in peace and harmony. 


Hana and I... "wireless" friends connected through Art!


All in two hours of fun!


I painted the edges black all around and put a wire hanger on the back of each. I thought it fitting... that both should hang together in Hana's room back home. Besides... it is her birthday! Happy Birthday Hana!

See you next summer! Keep smilin'... and doing your artsy things - piano... guitar and painting!
Hugs!... and be safe!

Your painting Pal,
Bruce

Stay tuned...

POST SCRIPT:
Finally... back to plein airing. On location at Rock Island Lighthouse, Clayton, NY

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Kid Power


"When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but also helps us to develop inner happiness and peace."
-the 14th Dalai Lama (1935)

I arose as usual around 5:00 am... and headed to the kitchen to begin my morning ritual of rising... with a push of the button on the coffee maker at-the-ready. It was then... at that moment that I suddenly realized that summer was on the move. Less light! Yes ... the calendar should have provided that information for me, but I am a strange creature more governed by light and natural phenomena around me than by an inanimate time piece, or man made calendar. I respond to the amount of daylight...  more like the birds, chipmunks and squirrels who wait together en masse on our deck and in our yard at 5:35 am for my daily "shell out".

In truth, I have been away from my painting and writing here on this blog. I have been drawn to perform other duties (and pleasures) that quite simply have eroded my painting routine. Yes... I feel edgy and uncomfortable because both are important to me spiritually. But sometimes... life demands choices which are not governed by one's own wishes... or regular routines. One must simply "go with the flow" and try to put a positive spin on things ... until things return to a normal rhythm and routine.

Kidz Art- Session One

On Monday and Tuesday this past week, I agreed to assist Deb in offering a painting class for camping kids at nearby Landon's Bay Campground. Deb acts as treasurer for FAB (The Frontenac Arch Biosphere)... a not-for-profit group of hard-working individuals dedicated to implementing strategies and programmes within this UNESCO - designated World Heritage Site. Their major objectives focus upon ensuring the sustainability... health and monitored economic development of the Biosphere through developing and encouraging stewardship of its many resources. One of these many initiatives are educational outreach programmes like this Art for Kids venture which we were part of during this week. The ideal is to promote stewardship and a sense of respect for the environment. Deb and I share a common belief... that children are the most sensitive and most willing individuals of our society to embrace the possibility of change and will be the most likely advocates in the future to facilitate necessary, but sustainable change.

We decided to incorporate a brief introduction which was delivered effectively by Deb... based upon establishing a sic, but clear understanding of what the "biosphere" that we live in entails. She then expanded this awareness into a breakdown of the biosphere's main elements: Habitats i.e water... air and land... which support life in the form of flora and fauna. We had the twenty-odd scamper campers share some information about any animals, birds and plants that they knew and had encountered in their life experience.


Deb's leads  into presenting her group presentation to develop an understanding for the Frontenac Arch Biosphere... using her stained glass piece "Big Blue... Fishing"

At this point, enter the art connection. I introduced colour theory and mixing based upon primary colours, plus added white and black. We had raised the bar a bit ... offering them an unfamiliar medium.... acrylics and canvas to work with. A challenging task certainly... but one, which in a fashion mimicked their own individual challenge to overcome the environmental issues facing all of us.


Art as a powerful vehicle to express personal ideas and feelings... not just an activity... "for fun. Note the heads. This is summer?????... but Art is a universal bridge for communication... any time... anywhere and with with anyone!

We then had them draw a number from a hat... a number which would correspond to a 6 x10 inch coloured photo image that I had prepared. This would be their painting subject for the acrylic-on-canvas activity that we had planned. No one complained about their "luck 'o the draw."

Despite the wide range in their ages (from 5 to 12 years)... everyone stepped into the activity willingly and with high spirits. Occasionally, with the smaller campers, Deb and I were summoned to offer support. But all reached a successful finish by the conclusion of the two-hour session. I have included some samples to offer you insight into the very admirable results they achieved. Great learning had been achieved in a relatively sort period of time and with minimal adult intervention! We felt that all of our objectives were met and that we all had fun in the process!

I will not show faces or use names to protect identities of the children.



Chickadee.... Dee... Dee... Done!



A ruby throat... just a-hummin' along... strong!



Darth Eagle... Prince of the river sky!


One good (left) flying tern!


Great Northern Pike... feared by all smaller fish



The shirt says it all. Love Life. Protect and respect it wherever you discover it... on land... in the water... or in the sky.



A counsellor joined the fun... and added some shaggy mane beauty


A loose Moose... soon to be collared... or should that more accurately read... coloured? Mixing colour and pushin' paint is such a freeing experience!


Terning to painting... after some careful drawing


FINALLY.... brown! Red + yellow + blue. HOOT HOOT!! Hurray!


Do they offer Fine Art at Trent?.. I think that I have found another niche after camp counselling!


Conversely... I wish to note the impact that these young and emerging artists had on our thinking and feelings, as we shared the time with them. We came away uplifted in spirit and motivated to look at creating our own working methods differently... based upon the simplicity of their joyous and carefree approach to painting. I came away much more satisfied and convinced that letting my "inner child"... guided purely by the right half of the brain take charge to create fearlessly and quickly best suits my own nature and artistic objectives.

Essentially, what I am offering as food for thought, is that the doldrums and becalmed state we at times find ourselves in as artists... discouragingly searching for a "NEW" voice is needless. For the most part, self-imposed too high expectation is the cause of this fruitless artistic derailment. The best way to dribble a basketball is to find a comfortable rhythm and maintain it. One can still change direction and speed... without losing possession of the ball. And... there is absolutely no penalty for taking a "time out" to gather one's thoughts... to regain  energy and then to get  back into the game. Children (without adult intervention) do this naturally... with verve and perfect joy. They play for the very sake of play!

From the Mind and Actions of a Single Young Child

At the conclusion of the Monday painting class, we took pictures each child with his or her work to be shared with parents. After that, they simply shifted gears and jumped ahead, as kids at camp do... to another activity they had in their "cubbies". That is... all except one petite and very special miss named Kalea. She presented herself to me immediately after putting her lovely painting away and asked if she might be able to help us with clean up. She then set about emptying all of the tins of dirty water and cleaning them. Afterward... under her own steam she began collecting brushes and delivering dirty paper toweling from each table to the garbage.

In my own classrooms... individual cleanup of one's station and tools was a mandatory requirement for all participants. Previously assigned monitors then undertook the further task of cleaning brushes and other equipment, placing these in their proper storage in their place... ready for next session. Responsibility! But I had intentionally bypassed this training opportunity... given the very rigorous task given... and the high level of good behaviour shown by all.

I was touched by this wee lady volunteering without any thought of reward or recognition... wanting only to help. This was the perfect situation to bring forward further our intended message re: stewardship. I seized the opportunity and in the closing minutes of the Tuesday one hour session, I brought her to the front of the group and honoured her for her random... and very deeply valued single act of kindness to Deb and I. I offered her one of our large fridge magnets, bearing my favourite river painting image "River Vesper." I hugged and thanked her telling her how much her gift meant to us. The group and counsellors clapped... as she scooted to tuck her small token into her backpack.

Thank you again Kalea!

"No act of kindness is too small, the gift of kindness may start as a small ripple that over time can turn into a tidal wave affecting lives of many"

-Kevin Heath,CEO  
More 4 Kids

Stay tuned next post.... for more Kidz Power... at Hana and Bruce's 2nd Annual Rockport Garden Paint Out held at "Islesview" on Friday afternoon!

Good Summer Painting to ... ALL!












Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Canada Day 2014... in Rockapulco!

"Goodbye Mummy!".... Not my own words... but those of a young woman preparing to leave on a long and warm homeward journey to somewhere in Nebraska. As her /partner/husband dutifully loaded camp bags... back packs and golf clubs in the trunk of their vehicle... mother and daughter hung on to each other with a reluctance to ever let go. I recognized and remembered so many of those same bitter-sweet farewells that I had with my own parents at our nearby cottage "Shangri-lai".. and saw repeated time after time with other families... from both sides of our beloved River. There is a time to come... and a time to go. Parents remain and the grown children must leave this summer Neverland... with its endless days of swimming, fishing and shoeless exploring. Adults must live (mostly) in a world governed by deadlines and schedules.... and responsibilities which children during childhood are exempted from entirely. But Time... the great master of us all mandates change... and change we must!

We have decorated our front lawn to demonstrate our Canadian pride for certain... but for us it is more correctly a visible invitation to laugh and to connect with visitors to our quaint village. We consider ourselves as Canadian ambassadors-without-portfolio... obligated to send away those we meet with a sense of welcome and an appreciation of our heritage and culture. This is a necessary function that we feel as committed to... as presenting our artworks for sale. In our experience... this method of approaching the visitors accomplishes both ends.



           


 Easy Rider                                                               and The Paint Box Peace-nik!


Our gardens have taken a lot of my time to prepare them to offer their beauty and we are deeply satisfied by the attention... "Kodak moments" we observe daily and comments people offer us in passing. It is not a boisterous or professionally designed masterpiece by our hands... but rather a stewardship garden... passed to us for our pleasure and use by a previous owner and master gardener, Mrs. Morphet. We try to keep faith with her  vision of loveliness and her passion for all things floral.



Looking down Lily Lane to our Gallery


Windswept corner down Front Street


The floppy poppy family


Radiant red lilies join the floral fray


Mother Nature continues to add her own predictable summer bouquet of wildflower blooms... the latest marking the mid point of summer.... field daisies, black-eyed Susans and day lilies... just to name a few. There are a host of others... noted and considered by most as... merely "weeds". But I love and enjoy them... anywhere but on our front lawn! HA HA!!


Nature's Bouquet... wild and sweet!

I wish to send out our Happy Canada Day and 4th of July greetings and best wishes to ALL of our family members and friends wherever you are celebrating this next week... from The Paint Box Gallery in Rockport. We are deeply blessed... and most grateful of the privilege of living "Free" in a country  such as ours. Thank you to those men and women who make that so for us through their service and sacrifices on our behalf.



Rich blessings to ALL!!

Stay Happy... and Safe!


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Father's Day - A Day For Offering Thanks... But Tainted by Paradox

Traditionally in all family circles within our society... Father's Day has been set aside as a special day to recognize and fete all Fathers for the gifts they have offered their family members. Many fathers have blessed each of us with their generous, loving presence and wisdom since infancy and right up into our adult and married parental lives. "I" .. count my Self among those blessed individuals fortunate enough trough birth alone to have been accorded this rich blessing. My Dad was... and continues to be... even after his passing, a metronome which keeps and sustains the tempo of my own personal journey and principles. I carry his spirit and model of goodness in my heart... Forever!


"Keep Smiling" - watercolour on paper 10x14 inches  A 100th Birthday tribute to the "little BIG Man" who taught me to face the world ... aways with a smile and the courage to honour and speak to my own Truth and principles.

This Father's Day is special in our Sherman Family because my eldest son Andrew has blessed us with a first child of his own... Malcolm Justin Michael Sherman. With this happy event, the circle has come around full for Andrew and I. He now has a "bowman" to introduce our beloved River to when the time arrives to do so. I am exceedingly proud of he and Melissa and know that wee Mac will enjoy a life as filled with Love.. good memories and adventures as those that Andrew and I have shared together as Father and Son.

Happy First Father's Day Andrew! I am proud!


I require little space in this post to offer forward my gratitude and my remen\mbrance of my own precious Dad... for there never passes a day when his memory and presence are not in the fore of my everyday life and activities.Together... we "made it so" through a common journey which I continue to live out  for us both... and in his honour.

Ironically... and sadly for "Me"... my warm and fuzzy feelings about this Father's Day end in celebrating Father's day 2014 and in the next part of this post I will try to explain why this is so. I inherited a generous and giving spirit.As well, I inherited a peculiar sensitivity to recognizing need and others the needs and an absolute compulsion to serve their need.  It has been a gift which has served me well, but with that gift comes a price. One is totally vulnerable to the pain and sadness of those we serve and it often overrides our own sense of happiness.

"I am such a happy man. I love going to work each day, I have a beautiful wife, a beautiful son and another baby on the way... Rachel, we are so blessed." These are thoughts and words that could well have come from my own mouth.... but they aren't. They are the words from RCMP constable Dave Ross, age 32 to his wife Rachel. Ross, along with two of his comrades were mercilessly gunned down last week in Moncton, New Brunswick while responding to a call that a man was roaming the streets heavily armed.


All of these beautiful thoughts and another special Father have been ripped away from this grief-stricken Larche family circle... left to survive... if they can with the large gaping unfixable hole that scarce days ago seemed untouchable. It speaks to m of the uncertainty and unfairness of Life... but in all truth... "fair" is but a human word to cope with such a loss that is unimaginable... even surreal.

I am not the only citizen rocked to the core by this senseless tragedy and act of premeditated carnage. I feel a sense of shame for my self and countrymen that I have... even in a small way contributed to the media driven criticism of certain events in their handling of other dangerous incidents. They daily faced the possibility of the same fate with every call they answered. They and their families always expected them to return... to put down the garage door left open... to return to the barbecue they had left without questioning... to sit down together and have the meal that was interrupted by duty and to resume the family life they deserved and valued as we do.

Deb and I know this feeling in spades. Her son Spencer is a Sergeant at the RCMP detachment in Cranbrook, BC. We know first hand of the fear that a wife and family has to go to the door.... or to feel the overwhelming grief that floods out all good for a long time in their own precious lives. They are a very large family.... knitted together in a special fashion which only brothers-in-arms can truly feel or understand. That feeling of family and kinship applies as well to service men and women, firemen, police and all other citizens who put their lives in harm's way on our behalf.

I cannot presume to tell you how to celebrate your Father's Day in your homes. But wherever you are... hug and tell your Father/ Husband /Dad that you love them and how much that they mean to you. It could... when life has its miserable and unpredictable way... be that very last time you can do so. Do that every single day... as if it were possibly your last last meeting. In this fashion... you will both feel... deeply blessed and special. The families of Constables Douglas Larche, David Ross and Fabrice Gevaudan will be included in my own Father's Day moments of remembrance. I owe them and their families that deep debt of gratitude.




In closing this post, I apologize for any "downer" feelings that I might have brought to and shared with you. It is my greater wish to wish all Father's and their families a very enjoyable and Happy Father's Day from The Paint Box Gang in Rockport!

We feel blessed.... today.... that Spencer , Jody and our beautiful Grand Girls Ava and Ella are safe and spared this tragedy. But they... and we... are not untouched by the loss of three fine Fathers and the grief their wives and families will be forced to bear for the remainder of their lives. Their ultimate sacrifice matters to me.

Rich blessings to ALL!!!