Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Value of a Second Glance....

My last post fully demonstrated the process whereby I approach a large studio painting. A subject is conceived (usually)through a process of careful preparation... study and distillation and moves slowly towards a constantly changing and emerging ending. That ending can be dramatically different from the reference photo ... or the plein air version. It depends upon what enters into my thinking as "I" work along in "The Flow".

My next project is an extension of a previous project from the last winter painting season. It is a largish canvas as well... begun in somewhat the same manner as "Canadian Gothic". However... I took shortcuts... didn't bother to grid (when the ratios of sketch to canvas were different) because I had a "deadline" to meet to get the requested three paintings off the easel... crated and shipped to the gallery. "I" felt good about the three pieces... in retrospect... likely grateful they were completed and ready to ship. That's where... "the wheels fell off"!

The first disappointment came when I received the large painting back after only days at the gallery... hardly enough time had passed to justify the cost of shipping and effort to get it there. I unpacked the piece and stood it vertically... ignoring it for a couple of days while dealing with the discouragement.During one early morning visit to the studio... I happened to glance over my shoulder in the direction of "orphan".... and there it was... SMACK in my face... the reason for the quick return/rejection.

The canvas and subject were of a horizontal format and in that plane looked.... well... at least half respectable. But in the vertical plane... the painting glared and certainly "spoke" even to "Me" with much less respectability. I was actually shocked that "I" would have not seen these glaring errors... before letting them out for the eyes of qualified "others" to view.It was to "Me"... an embarrassment and something "I" didn't want to look at or revisit again! So the painting has been face-to-wall ever since.

In January... when my wife and "I" were putting together some changes we wished for our personal and artistic lives... we cleared out a bunch of "hangers-on". Many things were delivered the the local Goodwill Centre. I paid a visit to our area where I store older canvases.... tidied it up and went up into our apartment above the gallery where "Winter Residents" was residing in shameful exile.I sat down momentarily and looked at the canvas.This time, however... it was a look to find a solution... rather than the look of condemnation and embarrassment that it had received upon its untimely... and unexpected return. For the first time "I" saw a directions... changes that could make this "child-of-mine" something that "I" could be proud of.
Through viewing the plein air sketch from ten years ago... along side the "failed first large composition and then the corrected version. I hope to usher "You" through the risky but rewarding process through which that painting and I passed through. "I" truly hope that if nothing else is attained through this record... what will emerge is a belief that "Redemption" is ALWAYS possible... where there is (1) a recognition and acceptance that there exists a problem (2)that there exists a deeply felt willingness to work at improvement and (3)that one has the capacity to "let go" and forgive things that happened in the Past. This applies not only to painting... but as well... to all other areas of one's life.This is the true pathway.. to "Inner Peace."

I" hope that "You" enjoy seeing the trio together for comparison... and that perhaps this post might encourage "You" to revisit... and reclaim an earlier disappointment. It is a great feeling to overcome adversity and succeed!

Good Painting to All!


  1. Bruce! You sorta lost me at the "bakery"
    I understand what you're saying about some of this, however these three paintings look absolutly wonderful.
    I don't necessarily judge art.. because it is
    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is the doughting Thomas that robs its beauty.
    (my opinion)

  2. Hi Bill!.... Thank you for your opinion... "I" am always open to the opinions of other artists and clients.
    My premise in making the changes lies purely in my own self-doubt about the composititon and the double centre of interest and pole... which in my own opinion drags the eye up and out of the composition. However... since "I" am the "baker"... half-baked or not... the paln is a "done deal".... and Bill... "I" feel that it adds... rather than robs! Just another opinion!

    Thanks for dropping by... and for your valid opinion!

  3. As the headline reads," The value of a second glance..."
    I understand now what you are saying, and agree with you.
    Bruce, your art is like fresh homemade bread.
    It warms the sences, and nourishes the soul.
    Good painting my friend!

  4. I agree with the changes you've elected to make, Bruce. The first version is fine but you created a cleaner composition.

  5. Hi again Bill!... Thanks for "keepin' yer ears (and eyes) on" my Friend!

    Open discourse and dialogue are foremost in what "I" wish to achieve and encourage in my blog posts.Honest observations and criticisms are welcomed... and create an open forum in which artists can share ideas, feelings and the presence of the "Third Eye". Painting and making art of any kind demands solitary hours spent alone with what one is trying to create. Sometimes the "eye" and ideas put forward from another "perspective" opens a fresh door. "I" value that greatly!

    In creating this blog... I would sum up my purpose as an "invitation to participate in learning"... the same credo that "I" offered to my many students during my teaching career.

    "I" look forward to our continued sharing... and learning together... no matter the distance between us!

    Good Painting my Friend! Thanks for dropping by!
    Warm regards,

  6. Hi Dean!... So happy that you visited and that "You" have become a Follower. "I" certainly felt very much in tune with your work... and the spiritual sense conveyed in your thoughts... and your very sensitive work. Thank "You"... for your kind support of my decisions with regard to my changes in "Winter Residents".

    Blue Rocks is a VERY special place in my painting heart and world. It is a stepping stone back into a world where people didn't live behind locked doors... children played without fear... and the noun
    Community was more than just a word.

    "I" am deeply "blessed!... but "I" have felt the pain of "homelessness" in a personal way.... but that's another story!

    I was moved by your honesty and integrity... and am now a Follower! Lead on my Friend!

    Warm regards,... and Good Painting!

  7. interesting dialog, Bruce. Thanks for your insight to wha tyou are doing and striving for. Lead on...

  8. Thanks for your visit and encouragement Gary! I found your sites to be equally interesting and informative.

    To quote Walt Whitman:

    "Now I see the secret of making the best person.It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth".

    "I" feel that the two of us have been blessed to have had the benefit of these two blessings... and "I" do feel that "I" have become a better person because of it!

    Look forward to future sharings! Good Painting!

    Warm regards,