Sunday, July 26, 2015

Jubilant July... and Summer Glory

Gallery business and personal life issues have kept me away from my painting schedule. I have not been able to get away to paint as regularly as I usually do. But I have learned and accept that sometimes Art must out of necessity take a back seat - sort of... HA HA!

July has seemed to evaporate and the clock is running... as our gardens tell us that. Each morning I head down to the dock to regale Mr. Golden Sun's arrival and to use the silence and solitude to plan my day. I have to pass along the length of our flowerbed which lines the approach to the Gallery... and on each occasion the garden reveals new change. I feel much in tune with the precision and rapid shift in floral dominance... as change occurs as regularly as a clock.

The much awaited annual arrival of the host of day lilies in our garden has begun to fade. Their radiant reign... rich in colour  is almost fully run its course. Black-eyed Susan's... bluebells... wild Queen Anne's Lace... now podded milkweed and this year... unwanted mushrooms on our lawn under the apple tree signal the sly approach of August. Summer is surreptitiously slipping away.

I did manage an enjoyable plein air day here in Rockport... shared with my Rochester NY painting friend Paul Taylor. Paul, like myself is an unabashed "River Boy" driven to paint and share river views we share in common... or on two sides of the river. On this occasion... the main ingredients we focused on were SSSSS... Sunlight.... Solitude  and Structure. We found that at SSSSSS ... Seaman House... nestled on Old River Road on the other side of the Parkway. I took Paul there because the owners have created lovely gardens to couch their historic stone cottage home.

"Summer Glory... at Seaman House, Rockport" - oil on canvas 10x12 inches SOLD

Here is my small canvas which recorded my own responses on that outing. I have saved it to use here because it fits into the theme of today's post SSSSSplendidly! Another river friend person... just arrived thought it splendid enough too. SSSSpendid enough to hang a SSSold sticker on it two days after I hung it in the Gallery!

In closing... here are some floral bouquets from our Islesview Garden for your viewing enjoyment - your own personal Rockport Garden Gallery Tour! Enjoy!!

Deb's Nook...

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

Monday, July 13, 2015

Super Heroes and Heroines... Beyond Comic Books

A Whole New Meaning For "Comic Relief"...

All that remains of the seventy-five year old icon of comic collectors is "his red hair and toothy grin."
No longer the bumpkin of the yesteryear "hip" era... he has been just lately transformed into an overly suave, Bieber-like bobblehead "Bad Boy" by the Archie Comics empire. His Riverdale High gang have suffered a similar fate. An upgrade? I wonder...

To quote from Toronto Star's columnist's description in her July 9th, 2015 column... "Archie's best friend, Jughead, still wears a crown, but in every other respect he looks more like a stoner than a jester."

Despite the suggestion by the chef executive officer that the brand was emblazoned in readers' minds as a nostalgic stereotype and that the wave of emerging indie titles was sweeping into comic book stores"... my own very late teenage lads still hanker for an Archie in their stocking and even to this very day continue to display copies on their bookshelves in their college rooms. This behaviour hardly fits with suggestion of the chief executive officer at Archie Comics... "that Archie was moving down the path of irrelevancy."

Liam... aged... a tall and intelligent fifteen..."in quiet conversation"... with Archie

As I was out doing chores this past week, I found myself tuned in to our local WNPR radio waves and happened upon an interesting broadcast which dealt with the phenomena of super heroes such as Superman. As a youngster, I always enjoyed reading Superman, long with other favourites Like Donald Duck, Little Lulu, The Black Hawks... and the Classics for 15 cents... just to recall a few.

Trading comics regularly with other neighbourhood kids was a passionate 50's pastime for kids like myself who were on a limited allowance. I went door-to-door soliciting... with all my trades in my CCM wagon. Looking back on this activity, the social and educational benefits were huge. It taught me salesmanship and helped me develop self-confidence and new friendships aside from my school chums. It also increased my penchant (which continues to this day)... to prefer to read books accompanied by pictures.

The public radio broadcast also reflected upon the creation of the comic book heroine Wonder Woman in the mid 1940's. Her fortunes soared because of huge appeal to male readers due of her statuesque beauty... and she captured the imagination and consciences of young girls and women... who saw her persona as an opportunity to elevate the possibility of heroism in women - unheard of in a time with the accepted and unchallenged dominance by powerful male images of conquest such as Batman and Superman.

Perhaps the rise of female characters/heroines in comics coincided with the necessary emergence of women in the work force during the war years which sparked the soaring popularity of Wonder Woman... enabling her to continue to maintain her popularity as the most dominant super hero figure of all time and right up until today.

Comic books introduced us all (in a skewed manner) to the notion of what heroes and heroism was about from a very young age. In my own mind, the notion focused too strongly upon control and dominance... magical powers or superhuman physiology attributes. It did disservice to the notion and probability that heroes and heroines could be... and were actually very "ordinary", in every sense of the word. They might actually be neighbours, friends, family members... or our Selves! The possibility of that  purely a matter of perspective... and an active Faith in one's Self.

Beyond the World of Childhood's Version of Pulp Fiction... The Real "Super Man"

This picture below forever changed my own measure of what a true hero was for me. I believe that it also did so for many other individuals ... world-wide. Terry Fox was indeed a quintessential Canadian teenage boy... until he lost his leg and his youth to cancer. However, that loss caused him to set out upon a lonely marathon to raise money and public awareness. He created an alternative to viewing himself as the "victim" of the cancer. He used the remaining tool... his leg which had carried through track meets alongside his new prosthetic leg. 

He began his long Marathon of Hope on the east coast of Canada... "one distance between telephone poles" at at a time on his arduous pilgrimage and along the way. His magnificent act of courage and grit gathered momentum... undreamed of amounts of money from adoring public and world-wide press attention, as his epic journey unfolded kilometer by kilometer. Children and young Canadians in particular were captured by his selfless courage and determination. They greeted him like a pied piper in every hamlet, village town and city that he passed through. 

Singlehandedly... this very ordinary cancer-stricken curly-headed youth captured the hearts and respect of all Canadians... and most especially..."He" touched my heart and changed "Me" forever when I met him the first time in June of 1980 as we passed along the Trans Canada Highway at Havelock, Ontario. As fate would have it play out... we had rented a twenty-six foot Winnebago to embark on a Cross-Canada adventure of our own. My eldest child Lisa was thirteen... my daughter Allison barely a year old... not walking and teething.

My wife Joan and I knew that with Lisa's impending move to Manitoba with her second family members that our close time together was drawing to a sad close. This was to be a special opportunity to see Canada in a lasting fashion together. It certainly became that and remains with all of us to this day as a highlight of our early years as a family.

Ironically... when I was in the thrall of passing through the magnificent Rocky Mountain Range... Lisa was sprawled up top over the cab... devouring  a steady diet of Archies. I was so angered at what I considered " a slight"... in the face of the beauty that surrounded us and... very high cost we assumed to make this possible for her. That view... as I have come to discover was purely a knee jerk response to my own obsessive and unreasonable need to record every turn of the road and view between Kingston and Tofino. Sorry Lisa... you were entitled!

When we were headed home after being eight weeks on the road... we met Terry again at Thunder Bay. As I reached out my hand to him as I passed... I knew in my heart that "He"  was at a more critical stage beyond merely "running on empty." His face continued to reflect the true grit that had carried him the distance 5573 kilometers over the 143 days... but his eyes revealed to mine when they met... the deeper danger which lurked beyond the surface of his tired face and more laboured gait.

A scant three days later, he would be forced to abandon his epic dream Marathon. On June 28th, 1981... Terry Fox's magnificent Marathon of Life was drawn to a sudden close by pneumonia and complications related to the spread of his cancer.

Though his physical Marathon of Hope was drawn tragically to a close, its vision of Hope continues to fuel the ongoing September ritual worldwide to sustain his dream in his honour. The Terry Fox Run For Cancer has raised more than $600 million worldwide to date and continues to flourish unabated. 

Terry was awarded the Companion of the Order of Canada... the highest tribute paid to [ordinary] Canadian heroes and heroines. To date, he remains the youngest Canadian to receive this singular honour. Statues have been erected at three points along the path of his intended journey. I have been blessed to have visited each of them.

Starting dip of the prosthetic... Saint John's, Newfoundland

"Final leg"....Victoria, BC

                               Me and Terry... reunited at Thunder Bay

This is my visit the middle marker for his incredible journey is at Thunder Bay... the exact place where I met him for the last time. It was a tremendously humbling and emotional moment relived for me. The deep pride tinged with great sadness was overwhelming. It brought back that special moment and glance that we shared. It reran the movie of the precious events in my own life which led to my teaching partner Leslie Coleman and I assuming a project with our combined classes for learning disabled children to lead a school filled with youth at Polson Park Public School in Kingston.

I had always been a fitness freak of sorts since high school... running 10k distances or more to stay trim. Leslie and I came up with the idea to use our daily K-Club fitness group to spearhead and restart Terry's Marathon... virtually and collectively... kilometer by kilometer until we, as a group finished the distance "from sea to shining sea."

Our wee band of sixteen  "challenged learners" issued their agreed upon challenge to an auditorium of their peers and teaching staff at a special Friday morning assembly that they led. During the next week our K- Club membership instantly... and dramatically swelled. The noon hour and after school three block neighbourhood and schoolyard circuits revealed clearly that the torch that Terry had thrown had been picked up with the zeal and pure sense of honour that lives within each child I ever met.

Personal K-Cards were punched daily with their mileage by our monitors and rehung each week in the hallway outside the main office on a board with a map. Each Friday our lads showed a National Film Board movie which recorded the area that we were [virtually] passing through during that week... and the red woolen line edged its way inches at a time towards "Mile Zero" at the Pacific Ocean... Victoria, British Columbia.

I was dreadfully ill with very bad flu/cold that gripped me for too long on the day that our final virtual destination was reached. That illness faded in the presence of the euphoria that our school felt collectively. Was it simply chance that this Marathon concluded on February 11th... my birthday??? It was not ever planned to be so. The UNiverse reveals itself in mysterious ways!

MacDonald's Restaurant of Kingston contributed a school-sized Cross Canada Cake and orange drink for all to commemorate this victory. The Whig-Standard newspaper featured a picture of our wee band of lads with their cake. Their smiles richly recorded their inner newly-held belief that "disability" is just a word... and that they could "have their cake and eat it too".... just like their "normal" peers.

That accomplishment and memory remains the zenith moment in my own rich personal teaching career. It remains that for me because it represents the fusion of Terry's dream... my connection to him and the realization that like him a group of otherwise unsuccessful... unnoticed small band of boys proved to the peers about them that they had the power within to summon up "super human" accomplishment and good... beyond even their own dreams.

This is the essence and raison d-etre for this too long and [seemingly] "art-less" post. Within each of us lies the "Hero/Heroine" we can become... when passion and need engage to allow what is necessary to accomplish acts of bravery and courage. We simply must Risk and then take the courage to Act.... and Believe.

Faith... especially in one's Self is a powerful tool for enablement. Faith often must be maintained without the actual physical presence of an outcome. It must be doggedly maintained in the face of great adversity and fear. It is an elixir for the soul... a medicine for body... the candle of Hope in a vast Darkness. Dig deeply... if you have need. It's there to be used within each of us. 

Be the Hero/Heroine... that you see in others!

Post Script
These are not merely words thrown carelessly about. These words are shared from my current life and situation of adversity for our family. Little did I know... or dream that I would have to re assume a Marathon of Hope at this point in my long life. Neither did I dream, that this venture would be in support of the wee teething baby Allison who was with "Me" on that fateful journey when Terry Fox and "I" intersected in our parallel earthly journeys.

Cancer is again the enemy... and yet Hope and Faith remain in our hands to do battle. I have been working out an outline for a course of action to personally address this adversity... beyond being with my darling Allison during the course of her treatments and recovery.I choose to end this post today with a direct quote from Terry Fox which is forever etched upon the Victoria monument to his incredible dream and journey. It reads:

"Somewhere... the hurting must stop."


A Heroine and a Hero.... May 26th, 2015.... pre-chemo. Here... we are commencing our common Marathon of Hope. 

"Donations"... of good vibes and prayers are gratefully received.

Rich blessings and Good Health!... To All

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Rewind ... and Back to Forward

Today is Canada Day... a dreary and rainy one in Rockport... though the sun did manage to shine through the greyness for a few encouraging hours this afternoon. Though the predictable influx of tour buses with hordes of Asian visitors kept pace... the usual steady flow of independent travellers was down over previous years for certain. Somehow... it didn't really seem like Canada Day for me personally. Perhaps that "rainy day feeling" as well...  incorporated the worry and sadness that has lately beset our family due to Allison's sudden health crisis.

I worked in the Gallery throughout the day and did make a number of sales of smaller offerings and I did sell one 8x10 inch riverscape canvas... so that this post is not at all intended as a "grumble". It is rather an attempt to reflect upon the copious blessings that offset the situation mentioned above. Weather and health issues remain outside our best attempts to control... or even to predict them. Often they arrive and catch us unprepared. The secret of dealing with these rests entirely with one's attitude.

Allison has just recently completed her second chemo treatment. Though she does experience nausea and at times an ambivalent appetite... her worst complaint seems to be the reduction of her usual high energy level. She continues to live in her usual manner... going to the university to do some work and some writing to keep up with those deadlines. I cannot at all fathom how quickly she has come to face this opponent with such candor and bravery. But I am... so very proud of "Her". She is made of that "good stuff" that separates the gifted... from the ordinary.

                                                     Forest Spirits... Forever Soul Mates!

Tomorrow morning, I will head up to Kingston to be with her and her Mom while she has the port implanted in her chest... the port through which the remainder of her chemotherapy treatments can be more easily and safely administered. Another of the "continuing education" events that I had never expected... or planned for. But I am becoming highly educated as to just how deeply embedded and active cancer is within our society.

The fear coming out of this realization is only offset by my constant amazement at the resources and treatments that are available to those who suddenly find themselves victims and hostages to this dreaded disease. Add to this revelation the presence of a legion of dedicated... caring and competent medical personnel... at all levels. We are deeply blessed in this country we live in for the availability of the multitude of health services offered in hospitals right across the country.

So... on this "different" Canada Day for AWB... I would like to reach out... recognize and thank each of the specialists, doctors, nurses and support staff in our medical profession and hospitals. Canada is a place of greater Hope because of the good work that you do on our behalf. Canada is a truly unique and special place that I am deeply blessed to call my Home.

Happy Canada Day... to ALL!

In closing I offer these glances back at favourite paintings which document my pride and my enjoyment over a lifetime in painting the Canadian landscape.... east to west.

 "Morning Has Broken, Stonehurst South NS" oil on canvas 24x30 inches

"Rustico Lighthouse, Rustico PEI" - oil on panel 20x24 inches

"Les Grands Couleurs de Charlevoix"  - oil on canvas 4x3 feet

"Silent Night" , Farm Point, Quebec' - oil on canvas 30x36 inches

"The Dimming of the Day, White's Falls, ON " - oil on canvas 4x3 feet

"Northern Thunder Chippewa River, ON" - oil on canvas 12x16 inches

"Still Soaring, Indian Head Saskatchewan' - oil on canvas 12x16 inches

"The Real Canadian Idylls, Kananaskis, AB" - oil on canvas 3x4 feet

"Squamish Light, Squamish, BC" -  oil on canvas 3x4 feet

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Shades of Meaning

It is indeed strange as I look back over my life, how closely my journey has imitated the very process that we as artists employ in creating our paintings. The term shade, in painting usually refers to the amount of darkness, or absence of light in colour choices. The increase or lessening of colour by degrees. But by dictionary usage and definition the term can also be used to describe less than honest or entirely legal dealings, or places out of direct sunlight.... indeed shades of meaning

During the earlier course of my journey, I had been socially conditioned to believe that Life... and Truth were simply measured either in black or white. In my mind, I had (mistakenly) been led to believe that there were no grey areas... areas that were neither black or white. This system of belief and practice led me to become an individual suffering greatly from a too large dose of (in my therapist's words)... "self-righteous indignation." Such a position made me too critical of the opinions and practices of those around me... and such an outlook... has more often been more crippling to my own growth than theirs. I continue to work on my achilles... daily.

In Life ... as in painting... black n' white will continue to always play a significant and necessary role in determining positive outcomes for us. In my own painting process... the concentration of black (dark) in conjunction with the white (light) determines my main subject of interest. It is my usual habit... particularly when painting en plein air to establish this area first. I do so because lighting changes so rapidly and that often is what I'm chasing.

However... I have come to realize that this important area of central focus is wholly dependent upon the harmony created by the grey, or middle value areas... which combine to form roughly seventy-five per cent of the entire picture plane. The same holds true... I have discovered... holds true as well for both Life and Truth. This realization and a conscious effort to work with that reality has resulted in a more peaceful and less stressful journey for "Me"... and those loved ones who travel in parallel journeys with me.
"Still waters...."

I delivered the small oil sketch "Lilac Liturgy, Barriefield Village" to Allison. She was over the moon with it... as were Deb and Joan. Allison felt that it signified a very significant shift in my working method... as did Deb. All three commented that they would really like to see me push forward with my next works in a similar fashion. That would be easy really because you see... "I" was simply playing. Trying hard to leave in the background, the recent fear and deepening sadness that had quite literally paralyzed me and stopped my painting rituals.

Interpreting... "Imagineering" and Applying the term "Shades of Meaning"

As is my customary strategy to determine "what" I paint, I walked about my village and ended up... as I often do at St Brendan's Roman Catholic Church. It sits prominently perched high overlooking Rockport Harbour overlooking a vast vista of the Islands and the River that I so cherish. It is a refuge for me... though I am not at all catholic... or anything else by religious pedigree. I do share the same God and His Creation.. in this Manitouana / Eden - First People's name for "Garden of the Gods". It is indeed that!

I decided to research my vast digital library for reference ideas with which I could begin my next painting... "St Brendan's Church". I found a particularly interesting fall image, one that I felt that offered enough new colour challenges so that I didn't come up with yet another "Basking in Summer" rendition from two summers ago.

I decided to bring up the table top set up I had made from the downstairs studio, so that I could paint and manage the Gallery while Deb was away at a meeting for the day. It had a plein air feel to it too... so that added further incentive - and great light!

I sat looking at the white 10 x12 inch canvas for quite a long while... again "playing" with ideas that came and went until at last... I placed the canvas in a vertical format to address the height of the church with its central steeple and bell tower. I decided to begin the exercise purely in between black and white... using a mars black acrylic on top of the stark white of the canvas.

I simply painted the areas of the photo reference that appeared dark a solid black this left me with patterns of black  scattered across the picture plane.

This is my comfortable table top set up... it sure does make painting a breeze either here in the gallery or inside at my computer station.

Stage One - This is a closeup of the first blocking in stage... which took less than five minutes because I let the paint and brush do what they wished... an intuitive and indirect approach contrary to one which dictates accuracy. I really didn't know where this segue would lead.

Stage Two - I decided to use a mid grey acrylic pigment to fill in white areas that seemed to be in 
middle values and I purposely allowed the grey and black to run together. I created very transparent mixtures of grey wash and applied them lightly to the sky and white clapboard areas of the church structure What resulted was basically a notan sketch... or grisaille painting in shades of black.

Stage Three - During this stage, I gingerly began adding rock structure using short, dash-like brushstrokes in the most common colour depicted in the rocks in the reference photo. I then added very dark green areas where they appeared in the rock face, water and in the tree areas in the upper left and right. I added some darkened values to the roof of the church. I dashed in a slash of blue sky and introduced some white into the (imagined) cloud areas. 

I then added in the red sumac foliage in a purely summary fashion... along with golds and yellows in the tree areas. Finally... having reached a point where the entire canvas was covered, I took a break for lunch and went away from the painting entirely. That break actually was carried over until the next morning to avoid getting caught up in the unwanted addition extraneous detail.

Closing Act - I promised myself that I would resist any attempt to overwork the piece and in so doing lose the fresh and painterly look that I had earlier tried to achieve by taking a previously untravelled path. I added slightly higher and brighter accents to my reds and greens. I closed out the activity with a few slashes of sky reflection in the very dark water passage and a few choice sky holes in the foliage to add depth and interest. Last addition was the much-photographed statue "Queen of Peace" lovingly holding the baby Jesus... located centrally beside the entrance door to the church. It is but a few strokes... but is present.

A final comparison to the reference above... and the finished piece in isolation below. Mission accomplished. A fun day of purely playing that pushed me further away from the "blackness" that threatened and had put my creative spirit/ soul "in the shade".... out of the Light that is so necessary and precious to finding and maintaining peace and happiness.

 I think that the Faith and Hope that I placed in using this technique to create new meaning for my painting through a slightly different perspective serves to underscore as well... that Darkness, in whatever form it may take in our lives... can be overcome simply through Faith. NO... not "blind faith", as some refer to it. Capital "F" Faith - a strongly held Faith and communion between  a Higher Power... and one's Self.  I activate and meditate every morning at 5:00 am... not just to ask for... but to offer thanks for the copious blessings that I have received here in my Manitouana.

"Hope is not a way around things... it' s a way through things. "We"... are making our way as a family through this period of mutual darkness hand in hand... heart beside heart. I will continue to paint and post regularly. That was Allison's wish and I will honour that. "Art Matters!"

Here is the the unusual source revealed by the Universe which triggered the substance of this post...
and this painting.

"Say what you mean.... Mean what you say! HA HA!

                               River Blessings, St Brendan's Church, Rockport in Autumn'
"Oil on canvas- 12 x 10 inches

In closing..."Keep smiling!"An appropriate phrase on which to end this post. It was a phrase on a card that was tackboard in my Dad's "Inner Sanctum". Thank you for the many blessings that you brought into my life during our time together.  I miss"You" Dad... but you are with "Me"... always!

Happy Father's Day up there!

Happy Painting... and Father's day!... to ALL... of my blogging men Friends!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Self-administered CPR... Creative Paralysis Resuscitation

This is the most difficult writing task that I have ever undertaken. It arrives "out of the blue" really... because for two weeks and a bit, I really believed that I had no ability or further desire to either write... or paint. To put is quite succinctly, I found myself overwhelmed and in a complete state of emotional and creative disarray. The worst part of this situation was that the cause lay beyond my own physical ability to rally my own forces and interior resolve to deal with this upheaval. It came from without... suddenly and without warning.

Allison appeared with her Mom at our home in Rockport and I could tell immediately from their faces and body language that something terrible was shared by them both. It was only when my wee Allison fell into my arms and blurted,,, " I have breast cancer Dad and I"m so scared." With those eight utterly devastating words... our lives have changed beyond belief... both for Now and forever. For the treacherous shadow of that dreaded "c" word has perched on each of our shoulders and has taken us away from a now faraway life of taken-for-granted health and mortal safety.

 Our Family is a strong and unusually loving one... as I have always related in my open and often too personal posts. At this point of writing... we have as a family unit moved somewhat quickly through the initial stages of fear... grief and anger. These are necessary emotional human responses... but must not be embraced wholly for any length of time. Time is more precious than ever now... and the use of it a major factor in striking back quickly with a capable medical team and a battle plan... which we are greatly blessed to have in place already.

Tests were rapidly sped up and showed positive and encouraging results... in-service workshops have been attended by Allie, Joan and I to create personal knowledge and understanding of the disease... and its path of treatment. We have already successfully passed through the first chemotherapy treatment ... together... which will be the format for all other necessary treatments. Deb keeps the fort here at the Gallery. "We"are... a committed Family in every respect.... and like the Musketeers... "We are all for one... and one for all !"

Needless to say... this insidious situation has created far-reaching effects and implications. For me personally... "I" have suffered creative "arrest." This paralysis hearkens back to a very dark and destructive time in my own past. I have rarely been visited by it since that period now twenty odd years passed. In reflecting upon this very problem each morning during my 5:00 am meditation-prayer sunrise ritual... I formed a pact to use the strategy which freed me and returned me to the path of healing "way back when". I must paint!

Yesterday... I set up my tabletop set up in the Gallery and set to work on a small 8x10 inch canvas... a replica of one which I had earlier gifted to Allison/ She had asked me weeks ago if I might consider doing a small copy of this painting for a good friend of hers who admired it every time that she came to the house. Her husband had very recently passed away from cancer and Allie felt it might give her a lift. I rarely... if ever wish to paint a subject a second time... and never exactly the same.

This three pronged reason to paint "resuscitated"... and fueled me to get back into the saddle. I was painting for my Self... for Allie and for her friend. The subject was a place near our home where Allison, Andrew and I went to paint together when they were very young children. It is a lovely stone church in historic Barriefield Village... an idyllic place to paint... heightened by the intense lilac perfume which comes from the walls of lilac that bloom in May along the full length of "Lilac Row".

 I hesitated to post to protect Allie's privacy... but she insisted that I keep posting because it was something that I contributed to the lives of so may blogging artist friends. One of her own friends Jill had posted on Face Book two days ago... a message of tribute and support for Allison Sherman. It literally went viral overnight... and to my knowledge (though I do not have a face Book connection) has raised over $6000 to help alleviate any extra expenses that she might face because of her financially precarious adjunct professorship status at Queen's University - such a travesty for such a generous... dedicated and respected young woman scholar!

If you felt inclined... I would be greatly honoured if you might at least visit and read the tribute to Allison... and the comments that have been accompanied by generosity. This magnificent gesture lends ample proof to my earlier words and continuing belief that;

" Family ... Friends... Children and Art matter!"

I would as well appreciate your thoughts and prayers for our family. Sorry for the delay in posting... but life can... and does get in the way! First things first.

"I" love "You"... forever Allison... and am with "You" ... ALWAYS!

That means Family and Friends for "Me"!

Good Painting!... to ALL!!!!

Original 20 x 24 inch canvas

"Lilac Liturgy" (copy) oil on canvas 8 x 10 inches

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sticks n' Stones... and Other Day Dreamings

This post will bring to a conclusion my "off the wall" wanderings... notions and ramblings - at least on line. I cannot promise at all, that the practice itself will ever end for me. My search for freedom of expression will continue unabated within the framework of each of my "voices".

Today's projects will address unusual places and surfaces to paint on... and most to be paintings found in places other than where they are least expected to be found... or executed. Within each new format lies a new challenge to think outside of the box and to create variety... and to infuse new life into a tired vision. It works for me anyway. Call it... "recess". Remember how much they were looked forward  by you and your childhood school chums? A time to play for the pure sense of enjoyment... setting aside all of the rules ... and making up your own!!!!

Sticks n' Stones

The Stones

You might recall this twiggy diversion... where I whittled/ roughly fashioned a couple of drawing tools with varied points to intentionally lay down an imperfect and intuitive line drawing with india ink. At no time did I attempt to allow "old" habits to conform to engrained pencil, pen, or brush methods. I simply pushed ahead... and accepted every unruly line and unplanned run until I had a structure that pleased "the child".

I then applied burnt sienna... not as the perfunctory tonal ground... but rather as between the lines - a "filler".... somewhat akin to the route that a child learns to travel.. "to stay within the lines" laid down in a colouring book experience. And I intended that it looked rather "unmannered"... to indicate my adult-guided struggle to not seek perfection.

Then, with this point reached, I shifted gears back into my usual painting mode with the challenge now being to make sense... and retrieve a landscape that responded to the earlier play. Could I attain better finish? At the time that seemed impossible. Look at the third jpg and you be the final judge.

The Stones
Back in the late seventies and early eighties, I found a necessary diversion from my watercolour ways in playing with india ink and black and white imagery. Having arrived via the lead pencil and sketchbook portable express... the ink with its visually appealing sharp contrast on white paper seemed an easy fit. I purchased a handful of Rapidograph mechanical pens... complete with easy-to load cartridges and headed into the field and up to my drawing table,

I was totally in a thrall for months... creating sketch and drawing after drawing... even sets of highly rendered historical prints and cards. It was a heady time for me and suited the limited times in my too crowded teaching and family responsibilities. It also vastly improved my draughtsmanship!

 A perfect fit - for a time! Then colour once again came-a-calling... as it always does for me. I merely put the two mediums together and launched my public sales career... alone on a local farmer's market. There amongst the cabbages... carrots and berry pushers, I began selling... hold yer hats ... 5x7 inch hand matted historic barns and homes. I demanded a handsome $12.00 a heave and sold out each time each time that I appeared on the market. I was inspired to continue this "lucrative" path for a period of two years.

The rest is history. Step -by-step... my garden grew gradually to where I am today. I was invited to one gallery after another to exhibit, until I finally reached a conclusion I would saddle my own horse and ride... solo. I have learned that history merely repeats itself. The appearance of the 6x6 and 6x8 craze today does not surprise me. It merely follows a path dictated by a crowded market place and a weak economy.

Glad I am... that I am on the other side of the rainbow this morning! And folks... there is no pot of gold... on either end. Just the simple joy I feel from having travelled freely and on my own ticket to here.

At one point I found found an unusual segue for my ink fetish. It arose from a rather humiliating experience I had suffered in high school... at the hands of a teaching tyrant in front of the entire class. He called me out for daring to draw in his geometry class in the back of my own text book... to break the monotony of his dreary presentation. He had admonished me saying that I would never amount to anything (like my older brother)... and that I would likely end up (like him)... "on the rocks". We both became full time artists.

At our 25th high school reunion... in full earshot of his colleagues and students... I "respectfully"presented him with a smooth limestone rock bearing the image of the high school.  I thanked him (honestly) for guiding my life and art career. I told him that I had found success and a reputation for producing ink renderings on smooth Lake Ontario limestone rocks... and that in his honour... I advertised and signed them as "Sherman... on the Rocks!"

I seldom get angry... I creatively try to step up... and get even! HA HA!!!

This is one of those many stone monuments to earlier days that I prepared as a Christmas gift for my folks. It depicts a view from our cottage lawn at The Narrows ... not a "stone's throw" from Rockport! How strange this Universe!

Each stone carried an personal inscription au verso that the customer wanted added for their gift rock. I sat at the Acadia Shop in Kingston during an entire Christmas season cranking these out for customers who went elsewhere shopping and returned later in the afternoon or next day to pick them up! Live out your dreams. Make them come true!

Other Day Dreamings...

I will close out an already too long post with jpegs which project more insight into my Magical Mystery Tour. I will continue to dream... and to post as I please. I do so ... hoping that in some way I inspire someone to reach out for their own star.

Table top for side table I did for Allison's undergraduate  gift

Full artist's palette presented off the wall and on a table easel

Photo collage Xmas gifts under gel coat textured of Andrew's Dogs Tilly and Maggie. They are included in a nightly bedtime ritual for Andrew Melissa and wee Mac. Sweet Dreams!!

"Opening and Closing" from my solo show Summertime Dreams ... a repurposed cardboard suitcase to hold cottage board games. Two canvas cut outs depict cottages opened and closed. My sister Chris has this in her home in Edmonton, Alberta.

Two of the four personalized painting paddles that I Xmas gifted to Andrew... as my bow partner in numerous Thousand Island Annual canoeing trips and campouts.

One of a number of paintings that I painted and configured to fit recycled storm windows. This was a wedding present for a Muskoka Gal. She had seen it... coveted it... couldn't afford it because of an upcoming wedding date. It was a surprise gift presented to her on her wedding day by her Mom and Dad. Paddled right into the right home!

 One of two plaster sculpture projects which I truly enjoyed. HMMM!.... Going back in that direction one day! Think I'll get "plastered"... but I don't drink alcohol!

This is an MDF panel I made of several... to commemorate Canada using a postage stamp format. This one commemorates Muskoka... and my birthday. Can you find the hidden 1944 that I started the painting with????

This is an old cupboard and window combined to make a kitchen spice cabinet. IT houses a painting of McFadden's Sugar House... hence the title.... "Sugar n' Spice!

This is a ladybug decoration for Deb's bedside table

This is a sign given as a wedding gift to this couple ... displaying an old barn on their property

Well... you get the picture. Being off the wall can offer rewards, adventures and unforgettable chapters you could never write... find... or enjoy otherwise... without wandering off the main road. I guess that I could have offered "off road" experiences as a theme title as well.

Hope that your journey and discoveries bring you the same amount of joy that these wanderings have offered me during my own!

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