Sunday, August 22, 2010

Summer in Transition

As in all things in life, change occurs continually. Seasons are visible examples to us that life changes and moves like a river... slowly but certainly towards the next in the cycle of the four that create the natural rhythm of our world and which govern the actions and lives of all creatures... including Man. Man plays as small a role in this pageant as any other creature... larger or smaller.

Summer at this moment... is indeed in transition... losing the vitality, exuberance and energy that defines its glory and richness in this natural seasonal cycle. Even now, there are clear signs of that transition, despite the harvest of plenty that abounds everywhere about us. Subtle as they are... signs like diminished daylight... cooler night temperatures and heavy morning dews... gathering flocks of birds and waterfowl feeding ravenously... coats and feathers molting... all signal in unison that summer is drawing to a close... again.

In our human world, sweet thoughts of rest and relaxation turn suddenly to preparation as well, to a return to work for some... to a return to classes for others... to a return to the rigours of rapid urban dwelling away from lazy cottage living and play. These transitions are already underway in degrees and soon will speed up out of a realization that summer is no longer in transition... but has left us entirely.

Personally, "I" have always followed the transition through the seasons orienting my painting patterns and rituals using specific natural "markers" that seem to present themselves more or less in a predictable order in time of appearance and succession. Each season displays its own set of "markers" to indicate transition or movement. For spring, the return of light is obvious... budding of trees... return of species... the icy solidness of rivers slivering their way towards becoming rushing black torrents of water and the appearance and smell of the deeply snow covered ground... ready to give birth to new greenery and woodland wild flowers.

I have always followed wild flowers from spring into summer to watch and measure the heady transition. There is an exactness about how these summer "markers" determine the passage of the season. There is a defined difference between spring wild flowers and those of summer. Spring wild flowers habituate shaded woodland and wetter swamp places and their lives are brief in comparison to those of summer. Summer wild flowers populate open meadows and roadsides... and defy the sun's mighty and relentless heat. They depend upon that heat and energy to mature and flower.

The parade of succession begins with the much maligned dandelion hordes-amongst the worst enemies of the urban dweller. Skeins of white daisies dominate June, enjoined with and followed by black eyed Susans and day lilies as dominants which extend throughout July. Yarrow, or Queen Ann's Lace and chicory reign throughout the early part of August, as Susans retreat. By mid August goldenrod rules the meadows to the delight of busy honey bees... and are soon joined by purple New England asters for the final fanfare and curtain call for summer wild flower growth.

This wild flower transition so resembles a game of chess... each new flower creating a move-by-move transition towards a predetermined goal and ending. I decided to create a painting to depict this process using a sort of subtle game board format featuring each newly appeared flower as it appeared. I would add that the painting itself developed in much the same way. One flower at a time, but in direct relationship to others around it... and according to a conceived plan.

I first created a burnt sienna toned "ground" for the painting. I then applied green acrylic colours dropped... dripped and tilted purposely and randomly on a 24 inch square gallery wrapped canvas which I had divided into nine eight inch squares using vine charcoal. The next step was to draw in each flower carefully into its designated square using an Indian ink brush-pen. I accomplished this step rendering each flower on site... one at a time. Obviously this painting was not intended to be my usual rapid brushwork type of plein air piece. It took many hours of planning and execution to arrive at a finished state.

The selection of flowers corresponded to how effective they might appear in either a dark or light square on my game board format. The dark was determined by the dominant use of shadow in the individual floral square. That dark was determined and set at the very onset by employing light, scuffed shading with the Indian ink brush-pen around the flower parts.

Each floral square was painted from start to finish before moving on or considering others around it. I wanted each to have its own unique colour presence and form maintained independent of all others. At the conclusion of the piece, I spent a few days considering and balancing any glaring visual discrepancies... and making value adjustments as I felt were necessary.

Summer ... in Transition bears comparison to human existence as well. We share undeniably similar comparisons to seasonal change in human growth, development and aging. Summer is full of energy... colour... pageantry and warmth that takes us away briefly in spirit from the cold realities of daily life and ... Life's brevity. Autumn majestically trumpets the fanfare that finalizes the richness of summer and harvest in an unparalleled pageantry of brilliant colour that ends in a final phrase of quiet. Then winter swoops in bringing an icy finality... and silence.

Such is Life... both natural and human.... transition and change!

I lovingly dedicate this wild flower post to my Mom's memory. She was ninety-two years... young... on August 21st... and shared my deep love of all flowers wild!
Though Time and earthly matters do conspire
To blight sweet memory treasures rare,
I only have to look about me,
Or in my heart -
And "I" always find "You" there.
Love "You"... forever Mom!


  1. A beautiful touching post!!

    Love seeing how this painting progressed too. Really nice multi-faceted painting!

  2. What a lovely idea to create small paintings of the spring and summer time flowers on a large canvas. A lot of work yet very pleasing to the eye. You were inspired to celebrate the memory of your dear mother.

  3. Hi Marian!... Glad that you enjoyed the post!

    I truly enjoyed working through the various stages of this project. Sometimes it's necessary to throw yourself into new territory with an "idea" just to stir the creative kettle.This one surely did that for me!

    I completed another similar project and format based upon the theme "Nine Days This Spring" on a similar 24x24 inch format. I might post it as well... if people were interested in seeing the process again... only with spring flowers. We'll see how people feel about that.

    Thank you for dropping by!

    Good Painting! Enjoy what's left of Summer 2010!
    Warmest regards,

  4. Hi again Caroline!.... Thanks for visiting... and for your gracious and encouraging comments!

    August has always been a very special month for our family right back to our earliest years of cottaging as a family on the St Lawrence River. Lots of wonderful memories... that continue to flood back to "Me"... and give me great comfort... in the Now!

    You're right that it was a great deal of work.... and it did lean a bit towards being illustration... but it did... I hope record with some detail the magnificence of summer wildflowers... and their transition throughout the summer season.

    Glad that it pleased you!

    Good Painting! Enjoy the remainder of Summer!
    Warmest regards,

  5. I'm not sure why, Bruce, but your words just touched my soul this morning. Such poignancy and truth, beauty all around. Love this painting!

  6. Hi again Autumn!.... I believe I know the reason for the post's "resonance with your Spirit!

    "You" and your husband are indeed "in transition"... in your lives and it would seem to "Me" that it is the "summer side" of your life... rather than the "autumn leaves" part!

    There is a song that my Mom and I loved... and that our family sang so many times together Autumn. I'll pass it along for "You" to think about... it is true "I" believe for anyone.

    "There is beauty all around,
    When there's love at home."

    If you wish to know more of the lyrics and the simple melody.... Google Hymn-Love at Home... its all there!

    Glad that the painting pleased you!

    Chin up! Good painting and planning Autumn!
    Warmest regards,

  7. Hi Bruce,

    What a beautiful painting. I like the game board idea, which echoes the way the painting itself was completed.

    All the best,

  8. Thank "You" Keith!... Coming from you... I really consider this to be a high compliment!

    You were so right about the painting process echoing the the chess movements as well. Your own work follows a very similar process as well if you think about it Keith. Protecting "the white"... "advancing the dark"... "checks" n' balances... to... "check mate"! Completed! HAHA!!

    Thank you for visiting!

    Good Painting!
    Wamest regards,

  9. Hi Bruce,
    Great idea. I love the squares of various wild flowers of each season. Summer is coming to an end as I await the birth of my grandson, maybe today. I am taking a break, but just had to reply to another one of your wonderful paintings.

    All the best to you

  10. Hi Joan!... Good to hear from "You"... as always!

    Glad that you enjoyed the Transition piece... it was great fun doing it... and I love wild flowers... so it was enjoyable to be immersed in those things wild!

    Hope all goes well.. and that your grandchild arrives safely. What a wonderful Thanksgiving you will have this year!

    We have so many blessings Joan... and Family... for both "You" and "I"... is clearly our most precious treasure!

    Glad that you have decided on a time down Joan... we all need those breaks just to gather our thoughts ... and spend time with those we love!

    Thinking of "You"... fingers crossed!

    Warmest egards,

  11. Hi Bruce,

    What a wonderful composition. All these flowers are lovely and all the more that they are side by side.

    As for summer, I got a "pang" today when I looked out to see hummingbirds at my feeder and thought they will only be here for another month. They come every May and they are symbolic of the beauty of Spring and what is yet to come.

    Thank you Bruce for your invitation to "plein air", you never know. I have only visited Quebec and that was many years ago and loved it. I even bought a painting when I was
    there. I saw a lovely flower display and the words inscribed "Je Me Souviens". I hope I spelled that correctly, doesn't it mean I remember my ancestors?

    Best to you Bruce and enjoy the rest of the summer.


  12. Hi Sue!.... Thank you for the compliments on Transition! I am a birder as well... and look forward to their comings and goings. I too love the ruby throats that visit our flowers and feeders in our part of the world.Saw one on my walk this morning!.... Briefly I might add!

    Always open to plein airing... and look forward to the Autumn colour period here... it is mind boggling... makes the heart sing!

    "Je me souviens" does indeed translate I remember... (from where I come.... French Heritage) It is the inscription on the Quebec provincial licence plate.

    Hope some day that you make it up this way... great painting country for sure!

    Your plein air outing with Joan proved fruitful! A lovely seascape my dear... without fur! HAHA!!

    Good Painting! Happy Summer!
    Warmest regards,