Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Unbridled Imagination... allowed to run freely

The title reflects my ongoing belief and desire to tap into this reserve. It is much like the process that I observed and always admired in children's approach to creating. I so yearned for that same freedom in my own artistic process. But you see... like all children, we are forced to leave Neverland... far too soon. We are dragged by an educational system bent upon measuring performance... "against norms."

All such "rules" are based upon studies and meaningless pathways ... to a child's mind and pleasure. It is unfortunately often too late in our lives, that a real Truth we finally come to understand and embrace dawns upon us. A revelation (from a poet, Leonard Cohen in his Selected Poems 1956-68) that "there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."

This learning and freedom that I am sharing with you through this blog and today's painted work... (still in progress) is sent as a "reveal"... to the "Big Magic" that only now I am discovering. After a lifetime of pursuing goals that were controlled by a market and goals that were less enviable to me as time passed.

Here is the sum total of the "free play" I have enjoyed for a number of months now. It has lain dormant... waiting for me to resume... or to put to sleep. Neither would have been a wrong path...because I had full control t whatever outcome I felt was possible.

Enough said. Here is that "Four Square... still in progress. What do you think? I'm open to your ideas and input. Just interested in your "read" because you have travelled with me and continued to encourage me through all of my struggles.

What remains is to "turn on the lights" to create the darks and some finishing strokes. Just a couple though.

I will stand by... and stay tuned..

Happy Summer Painting... to ALL!!

"The Games People Play" - oil 24 x 24 inches  ( four 12 x 12 inch canvas panels)

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Situations... where perhaps ... "less says enough... or more

The subject matter in this first canvas in my project is likely one that you might be acquainted with. It represents basic elements of the favorite two player card game cribbage. If you are familiar with how the game is basically played and scored, then you have been further information about my goal in choosing this subject.

Upon looking more closely, you might notice that some parts of the canvas remain unfinished. While looking it over in my studio one evening, I realized that what was missing... or the state of finish did not in any way add to... or take away from the visual strength of the work at this particular point in the process. Did "finish" then... truly matter... or was it even necessary?

I wonder????

Looking a bit deeper at the canvas, I was suddenly drawn to a totally unexpected and unintended fact. Some objects in the painting appeared to be free-floating in space. The cribbage board "appeared"... to hover above hand of cards. Why?

Closer inspection offered the possibility that this illusion was brought about... or heightened by my choice of black as the ground and in conjunction with the bright, crisp color and edges... an illusion of space... distance or separation was created.

After some more thought (and waiting) I began searching for ways to further perpetuate the "illusion" aspect of the next panel. The goal for the project then shifted away from one which focussed upon "high" realism/... to one that might visually play with the viewer's eye and imagination.

'Putting Your Game Face On'

The next game focus that I have chosen is one that my own family... and most likely yours wiled away countless lazy summer hours every evening together around the dining table."Cooperative gaming" - Joyful... exciting and with no cost to join in the fun. Taking turns and "imagineering" the control of wealth and property ownership... taking risks. Remember???

"Those were the days my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day,
We'd live the life we'd choose
We'd fight and never lose...
For we were young and sure to have our day."

The "illusion effect" is not quite so obvious here at this point in the image. Light and shade can assist in that "magic"... as opposed to slavishly getting caught up in detail and accuracy. Certainly a work still in progress. Stay tuned... I'll come back later.

Monday, July 1, 2019

A Pause ... to Celebrate!!!

This video "After the Gold Rush" is so appropriate on many levels in this post this morning. It strikes a very strong chord in my thinking. From the magnificent musical mind of Neil Young... via the revered and songbird voices of three gifted... intelligent... strong women musicians. Finally, from me to you.. "a simple painter just passing through" What does it say to you?

"We... the North!"

Beyond being a now iconic basketball cheer... this terse patriotic ditty now serves as a driver in an entirely new marketing industry. One can buy it on a range of now pedantic shirts, caps, coffee cups, vehicle banners and  flags. et al... to ad nauseum. The only thing more nauseating is the farcical money-grabbing display of free agency that NBA players have chosen to inflict upon (once) proud Canadian fans who supported the Raptors as a team. I feel betrayed... and cynical as opposed to swelling with pride as a nation. "WE"...  the TRUE North are better than that... and always have been.

As Canadians... whether in Peace or war, we have long been recognized as a nation of Peacemakers. Since the conflict of 1812-14, we two neighbors have chosen to live in peace and prosperity on a (fence less) border... the Saint Lawrence River. Will that continue?

I wonder... 

Or will that too be displaced by greed-driven feelings and actions by a small few for their own profit and gain? Time will tell. It's all about "climate change"... right... EH?

Enough lectern / pedestal stuff. Here's the really important stuff on this special 102nd Birthday of our country.

I wish to offer a heartfelt  HAPPY Canada Day! ... to all of my family and friends stretching... "From sea to shining sea."

I feel so very blessed and Proud to be Canadian. Proud of the beauty of our homeland... still...
"true... strong and free."

Here is my personal tribute... in paintings that I was blessed to have visited and painted en plein air along my journey.

"... and miles to go... before I sleep."

-Robert Frost 
(American Poet)

My love and thanks to all of my loved ones!... You know who you are!

Maritime Monarch, Peggy's Cove , NS

Rustico Light, PEI

Evening Greetings
Les Eboulements, Charlevoix, QC

La Lumiere d'or
Saint Louis-de-Ha-Ha, Que

The Magnificence of Algonquin Park in All Seasons Quadriptych

Faded Rose... Rumble's Feed Mill, Hillsdale ON

Kensington Market,  Augusta St Toronto

Northland Falls, Kakabeka Falls in Autumn

Ribald Royalty, Kananaskis, ALTA

The Real Canadian Idylls, Kananaskis ALTA

Squamish Light, Squamish, BC

A handful of hours to share with you... proudly... and humbly on July 1st, 2019. I am greatly blessed

Deb and I included a few quiet moments last evening decorating Allie's commemorative ginkgo tree... "She" was fiercely Canadian and deserved a nod on this occasion. Gone on... but NEVER forgotten Jemima!! Miss you!!!

Love Always 


Thursday, June 27, 2019

Transition = Process - Part One

"Art is a process." This thought immediately chains itself to this next thought... together to read  "where nothing becomes something." This quote is borrowed from one of author Louise Penny's novels.I feel that her observation closely resonates with colorist-artist Casey Klahn's assertion that "A good painting never stops communicating."

The only difference lies in the fact that words used in the creative writing process are replaced by brushstrokes in the painting process.Both create a similarly full and equally expressive visual language. Both forms involve the use of composition, imagery, movement, color... and most especially... emotions. Each of these creative devices stimulate the viewer's imagination to invite deeper exploration, thought and involvement.

Like many of you, I have been examining my own process in regards to thinking about... and producing art. I find my creative spirit restless and uncertain as to how to proceed. What do I want create in this closing chapter of my own journey? Do I search for some path that is entirely new... or do I use facets of what I have learned and mastered to provide new connections, or extensions which lead to new learning and expression.

I have truthfully spent time seriously considering new mediums. But I have done before and in every case found myself circling back to oils. I have looked at new subject matter and forms of expression to infuse new interest. I cannot embrace a genre, say abstract expressionism purely for the sake of "breaking away." Although I may admire the results of many artists who excel in this genre, I simply don't have a feel for the underlying motivations to grapple with it.

After much thought, I have decided to launch this new direction using an approach that I have always felt comfortable using. The process offers me comfort because it continues to provide a foundation and framework for my thoughts and principles of learning. I think in layers of related ideas. I try to brainstorm ideas that I can connect into webs of measurable similarity. I refer to this process as Thematic Learning. The process that I employ, I call "Imagineering"... constructing using bytes from my imagination files.

I used the same thematic approach successfully for myself and my students in my classroom. To demonstrate this process... and to get myself off to a start, I refer back to an earlier project that
developed from this model. While carrying out my recess duties, I was drawn to how interested students were to a specific game in the yard that required very little space or equipment... and absolutely NO teacher supervisory involvement. Total... free play, quick decision-making, lightning reflexes, quick substitution and interactive cooperative gamesmanship.

From this simple exciting yard game template, I created my own variation... using canvas and paint... to play... instead of four players, a utility ball and asphalt.

"Fall Four Square" emerged from the extrapolation of (seemingly) unrelated situations and ideas. I think that the end result is successful and requires little or no further explanation on my part. The piece invites you... the viewer to "get a glove" visually and to get in the game.

"Come play in the leaves - if you are so inclined."

                                             "Fall Four Square" - oil on 12 x 12 inch canvas

Take Two!!!.... Roll 'em!

Represents a further extension of the "Four Square" theme on a single canvas... with a "twist". One which even I had not expected. That "twist" created a very valuable lesson... and new direction for my thinking. Such is the stuff of taking the time to look - to REALLY look inward. And then to see  and unlock unexpected joy and new potential.

The subject matter is likely one that most of you can relate to in your own current lives... or early growing up years. What started out as a pretty run-of-the-mill... ordinary still life subject soon took on new proportions and potential for me as I stared at it for (too long) on my easel. I simply became ... for the lack of a better term... STUCK!

What do you see in this initial frame of my new project? Can you see a point of transition... a place where this might move in another direction than I had first intended?

I wonder... and would be interested in hearing your ideas before I proceed to discuss the direction I took. And by the way... the piece... is still in a state of transition - a work in progress!!

Stay tuned...

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

Saturday, June 15, 2019

How Many Thank yous.. can one say?

On this Father's Day, 2019, let me count the ways... using my paintings to express my gratitude and lasting tributes of respect to my very special Mom and Dad. The very essence of  "Who" I am... and aspire to become manifests clearly a living physical testimonial of your undying love and generosity.

"Good paintings" continue to effortlessly communicate. They need no explanation... they are universals. They strike a common chord in the hearts of whoever views them. Simply put, such paintings reach beyond what the eye can interpret... more deeply to the heart and soul of the beholder.

They affirm the old and cliched notion that "a picture is worth a thousand words." Your gifts to me during my own lifetime and during the entire course of my life with you in your home(s) create more words of gratitude than I can offer today.

Let my paintings humbly attempt to offer tribute and my gratitude to you... beyond your earthly presence.

                                                     "Thank you for the Music"

                                         The many forms of music that we joyfully shared... sang together

                                 "August ...on my mind"

The taste of ripening August summer celebrations of foods and birthdays, both of which still linger on my tongue and forever in my heart.

"Keep Smiling"... not just a funny card tacked up on your bulletin board down in your basement "Inner Sanctum" Dad. You taught me to always carry this calling card with me daily and to share my smile... copiously... with those I met along my daily path. It has served me... and a host of others well.

                                   Bountiful Blessings...
                                  Count your many blessings... name them one by one
                                  Count your many blessings... see what God has done.

                                  You taught me by your example... to have Faith -
                                   To believe... and to live by practising it.

                          Happy Father's Day Andrew!!

I am so very proud of the new Father you have become to each of the three new Sherman faces that you have ushered into this life with Melissa. You make all Shermans... past and present
proud. Grampa Sherman thought you special... way back when. You have followed his footsteps to the "T". He had a good eye for Dad talent! lol

Happy Father's Day... to all my Blogging families. Celebrate the Fathers in your midst.... and say your own BIG  Thank Yous in your own special way!!!

Good Painting and Happy Summer Painting to ALL!!!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Rewind... and Fast Forward

Mother's Day. 2019 has arrived. Perfect weather has ushered this annual pageant.. the event itself, a harbinger of Spring. The lilting brogue of a Baltimore Oriole, resplendent in its orange and black vestments inspires Gratitude and Hope. Hope that the icy grasp of winter has finally stepped out of the room for six months.. at least and that the promise of new green life and wildflowers will very soon make us forget the icy clutches of winters' lengthy cold quickly.

Friday, I made my annual trek down to Oakland Cemetery in Brockville. I fully expected my Easter offering of a basket of Gigantico purple and yellow pansies to be ready for the dumpster. Several days of successive colder, rainy weather usually leave these hearty early blooms colour at least to dispel the drabness of late winter.

As I arrived with my brighter Mother's day offerings at my Mom and Dad's final resting place... I was overcome with the totally unexpected sight of the pot of Giganticos blooming better than when they were first placed.
Perhaps it was the even period of sun and shade... or the protective cover of the towering white pine under which my parents dwell... to Eternity. It truly was a time for Gratitude and I felt my Mom's warm presence smiling down on me... and I remembered her wise words: "When life looks rough- look UP!!"

And I did so... with Peace and Joy for the gifts she shared with me and my family of children. I paused to press forward to Mother's Day 2017... the first Mother's day without Allie. Scarcely a month after her untimely and unfair passing... and hardly a time for anything other than a deeper sense of grief and loss.
And in the Now... Sunday, May 12th, 2019 we will truly celebrate the life gifts of women in our lives who created such meaning and beauty. Women who sacrificed... who mentored and taught us how to live.

So setting sadness aside (momentarily) this Mother's Day, we will gather.... Deb, Joan and I for a meal together today and a trip down to Allie's commemorative ginkgo tree. We will decorate her tree with a new set of solar powered mini lights and flowers.Rather than tears, I intend to read this wonderful Emily Dickinson poem which came to me through Robert Genn's Bi-weekly Newsletters.

Dickinson has always been a poet I admired. A painter of paintings using simple language. A minstrel for "the ordinary man." A man such as I am... hope to remain.
Thank you to all Mothers... everywhere. Your lives truly matter!

"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tunes without the words
And never stops at all."

Rich blessings to All! I close out today's post with my own painting tributes... past and into the present!

                                           " Venetian fragments... and memories of Allie"

"August on my Mind"

                                                "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom Time"

                                                                  "Summer Reliquary"

                                            "Lilac Time at Saint Mark's Church, Barriefield"

Ironically, the quaint Barriefield Village lies directly across the road from where we now reside. I spent many pleasant hours plein airing my way around to the numerous painting locations. I intend to commence  a few trips to reacquaint  and rewind myself back to the remnants of the Past... hoping to fast forward myself with a new eye and skill set to capture Barriefields presence in 2019.

Stay tuned...

Andrew's lovely wife Melissa introduces Mr. Mac and Whitney to their newest family member, Reese Allison.

Deb cannot rightly be called "Mom" by any member of the Sherman clan. But she is readily recognized by all... for her numerous and generous contributions to ALL Shermans... large and small. That qualifies her with the honour of being a fully fledged Sherman "Mother.

"Happy Mother's Day"... Sweetest Heart!

I am truly... and deeply blessed!

               HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY... and Good Painting.                                                   to all Moms out there!!!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019


This post had to be delayed until today, due to computer difficulties that arose during our move to Kingston. Thankfully, our kind webmaster - designer Brenda Stanley corrected them (as always) in a quick and painless fashion. Thank you Sweet Lady!!

Celebrating Allison's ongoing presence
Friday, April 26th, 2019 marked the second anniversary of our dear daughter Allison's passing... over. Personally, I choose to express that event in her too short life in these terms. Our family... as a whole, I believe feel the same way.

We came together, as always at her fledgling... but thriving ginkgo tree. It was planted in her honour by her Queen's student family to remember her gifts to them in life. We choose to come together as her earthly family and friends to share laughter, good memories. We decorate her now budding ginkgo fulfilling our own need to nurture the spirit of her "being"... to kindle and keep it alive through our combined ongoing love and respect.

Others of her friends could not be present to join us. Their tributes to her did so from ever so far way through Face book. Allie sensed the presence of " legions of angels who continued to watch over her... never leaving her to feel alone, even in this darkened time."

Death still cannot extinguish the 'Light' that she shared so generously... with so many during her brief lifespan.

Perhaps the most comforting words that were sent online came from a quote from a very special Venetian friend, Jill Weinreich - Luppi was Allie's very special person during her time in Venice and has become a very special friend to the Sherman Family as a whole. Her soothing tribute:

To live in the hearts we leave behind... is not to die." Thomas Campbell (1777 - 1844)

Allison possessed many gifts... and used them all to perfection. Her way with words was perhaps the greatest of her assets. So in closing out today's post dedicated to her presence and legacy, I will leave a selection of a significant few of her own that clearly demonstrate her proficiency with language:

" Even in this darkest dark, I have never for a second felt alone hanks to your loving energy, prayers, messages, visits and gifts. You are the best evidence I have that I have made some good decisions along the way for they have brought into my life.

We cannot feel fear and sadness at the same time as gratitude. Fact."

Though I continue to miss you each and every day, gratitude is all that I feel today my darling Allie. Gratitude and Joy. That you came to us from out of the mysterious cauldron of Creation in this vast Universe. "You" travel with me in my heart... through to Eternity.

Each heart shaped stone forming this heart mold "found" me on different days... reminding me that you still  exist everywhere... and visit me mysteriously from out of nowhere.

We both loved Pooh so and we both practised the simple ... but generous ritual of sharing ... on every level.

    Allie's Mom Joan       Dawn Lloyd Allie's-Friend and Dept. Secretary  Deb et Moi

                            Spring has arrived at the Ginkgo... just not fully  to Kingston

This was the top of a side table that I created as an art gift to commemorate Allison's undergraduate Art History Degree at Queen's University . The iconography and message contained therein foreshadowed her accomplishments and her many gifts... her ever radiant Light.

I wish to conclude today's tribute to Allison using "pictures" from Allison's remarkable journey to speak for themselves. 

Undergrad moment toting her beloved "Hanno" his grad credentials matched Allie's... marching to the platform on each and every occasion to receive "their" diplomas. No fear!

Allie's last trip to Italy... note the bobbed hair. This is Roma... What was she thinking??? I wonder....

                Allie in the presence of master Veronese's "Adoration of the Magi"''' her fav!!!

                                             La Venezia di Allie by friend Peter Coffman
Inscription quotes Allie:

"I've encountered so many wonderful students and they know how much I love them, how much they've given me and how proud I am of them."

These last words very near the end of her life most eloquently offer significant evidence which supports my belief that Allie left this life fully aware that she had modelled for herself and her students... The Art of a Life Well Lived !

                                                             "First Gifts From Venice"

                                   "I" love "You"... FOREVER Jemima Puddle Duck