Sunday, December 20, 2009
An unexpected Christmas gift
I had a totally unexpected visit to the Gallery by our local veterinarian. I say totally unexpected... simply because we don't have a single animal under our roof and care.
Drew Hunnisett and his wife own and operate the Hillsdale Veterinary Services and live in the Oro-Medonte Hills... for the same reason that I do. They love the space and the people of this wonderful region of Ontario.They live in a straw bale and stucco constructed house at the end of Line 5 Oro with their eight year old daughter. She can often be found "on-the-job"with her dad in his portable clinic truck anywhere in the Oro-Medonte.
Drew is the quintessential old country vet... as depicted in the popular British "All Things Big and Small"... right down to the pork pie hat... rubber boots... shirt and tie... plaid tweed coat... and a broader than usual grin and sense of humour that warm you up to him... even before he utters a word in conversation.
We often exchange "Good mornings" and a bit of friendly banter when I encounter him at the crack of dawn at the local variety store. I am fetching the morning Star... and he a tea and sweet to kick-start his daily tour of local farms.Beyond that, all we seemed to have shared in common was our postal address and a wave here and there as we passed.
Being a methodical man of purpose... he immediately led the conversation by asking what I was painting on the side of the 6Th Line as he he had passed by back in early November.He said "that he was curious... as to why I would be painting on the side of the road looking into a pasture... when there seemed to be so many more tempting subjects close by".
I told him that I had passed this place hundreds of times and in all seasons and that it was the beautifully sunlit copse of birches on the slope of the hill that always commanded my attention. On that beautiful late fall day... it was the combination of the stridently white birches, scarlet sumac and the khaki-coloured strands of juniper all in harmony and all clinging to that diagonal slope... that caused me to stop and set up on that day.
He offered his reason for belatedly dropping in to see what I had painted there... and if I might still have the piece around. I brought it out and showed him... and his reply was, "Oh my!... That's exactly why my daughter pleads with me to drive back home past the "Tree Place". She loves this place!"
He enquired as to the price and told me that he and his wife would drop by later in the week to look at it together. He felt he would like to surprise his daughter...under the tree. They returned... both loved the painting... but the wife argued (reasonably)... that this is quite an unusual ,... if not expensive single present for a small girl of this age. They asked us to put it on hold for a day or two until they mulled it over together.Good idea!Don't buy.. or sell on impulse!!!
Out of the blue this past week... Drew blew into the Gallery late in the evening and said, " I'm here to fetch that painting... we've decided she'll be thrilled and delighted to have it. It will make a fine keepsake of our days here for "Her"... it's lovely"!
I was touched that they would recognize and encourage this young soul to value the world around "Her".That it mattered "She" did! This is my greatest aim as an artist... to educate viewers and collectors that these natural blessings are ours...to enjoy... and to assume stewardship for! It is not ironic that this family "practises" this respect and love for things wild in their daily lives. I could not help but add my share to their gift... firstly by reducing the retail price ... but as well.. by writing a short poem which ties together our mutual passion ... and our "seeing" together.
An ordinary pasture to many who daily pass,
To them just another patch... of drab coloured grass.
But to some who "imagine" it's a circus that unfolds,
A visual kingdom rich in reds... greens and golds.
Brightly lit birches ascend the slope too,
Stretching tapered, crooked fingers towards a canopy of blue.
Khaki-coloured junipers toboggan the hill,
While the deep magenta shadows pierce the foreground at will.
The smell of the pines in the crisp autumn air,
And the song of the wind, as it gusts here and there.
The silence of this pageant without warning gives way,
To the shrill, mocking call of a resident jay.
The last vestige of warm Summer massages the Soul,
And all of your being... seems contented and whole.
How can one miss this... yet another can "see"-
I guess "Imagineering" and "Wonder" are what enjoin "You"... to "Me"!
In closing... it is reassuring to "Me" that some "special" children and their "special" parents ARE, in fact, continuing to recognize the value of this blessed Eden we call the Earth. More importantly, they passionately embrace the Resonsibility for their role in its Stewardship.... and work actively to add their commitment.
True... that "making art"... can bring one financial return... awards... recognition and offer personal satisfaction. But to see your work fill another human being's heart with joy,... or wonder... is the ultimate "Gift" back to any artist!
Paint your heart out... and share it with another!