Saturday, May 21, 2011

Listen to the Music!.....

"Lost in the Sixties - oil on canvas 20x16 inches - SOLD!

"In a picture I want to say something comforting, as music is comforting."

-Vincent van Gogh

Never at any time in the year is there so much music in Nature... as in the Spring! Nature comes alive... the air is filled with sounds and excitement! Music in Nature is pure sound.... void of human noise it is regenerative... and healing to the human spirit. For this sole reason... plein air work should be included in one's process.

Painting beside a waterfall creates the sounds of the visuals in front of you. Combined with the light... colour and movement... it takes artistic awareness and understanding to a higher level. Needless to say... it adds emotional as well as visual support... that often results in a fresher ... more accurate rendering of the scene than from photo reference back in a cozy studio.

Music can be a very supportive influence within the studio as well. Music in this case... comes out of one's "personal play list"... or musical tastes. Whatever the case... research supports that music is inspirational and uplifting to the artistic and human spirit. When those inclement days force you to remain inside... music can transport your senses into a higher zone of creativity.

I have a very eclectic collection of... and interest in various genres of music as does Deb... and in our shared studio we play between sometimes very different individual play lists. We do share common artists and genres... but we do differ broadly in tastes as well. When I need a special artist to inspire me... I choose and vice versa when she feels a need for her music.

I love classical... big band.... jazz... country and folk classic... with a sprinkling of "oldies" from the 60's and 70's. My preference would be to be entirely in the classical genre... and in particular Vivaldi... with those soaring... ethereal violin celebrations.. like the magnificent and uplifting Four Seasons.

However... there are special pictures as van Gogh's quote suggests... that pull at the strings of my heart and soul. Any of Wyeth's work... the Canadian impressionist Tom Thomson and certainly... most of van Gogh's oeuvre. Michaelangelo's David and Pieta reduced "Me" to a blubbering fool... when I stood before them. Art does have the ability to bring about a transcendental state.

Just last week, one of my blogger friends Suzanne Berry posted her most recent piece "The Camera"... a response to the Moses Botkin Challenge Group that she works with from time to time. Suzanne's work is continually of the highest calibre and I much admire both her work and her approach to creating art. This piece however... dragged me constantly back to her site for multiple visits and great enjoyment.

There were many things about the piece that attracted me... but it was the mere simplicity and treatment of her subject that drew me to it... along with her usual masterful and dynamic compositions... breath-taking brushwork and her luminous use of colour. Simply put - this is a masterpiece ... one that I coveted!

I work alone really by choice... and do not join into the challenge thingy... simply because I have so many ideas that I want to work with... before my hour glass is empty and I am no longer able to paint. It will come to us all. Each artist has only so much time to make so many paintings. I choose to direct my own journey in this way. So choose wisely!

Suzanne's energetic... but natural pose reminded me of a photo I had taken on Salt Spring Island when I paid a visit to see my brother and his wife in 2006. The photo taken was wistful... yet warm... but at the same time I felt a deep sense of pathos for the individual. He was most obviously quite stoned... bangin' out 60's hits that we both had shared... but in our very different journeys. He was quite "down-and-out" in his fortunes, it seemed to "Me"... but "He" was 'Free"... to be what he had chosen to become... and seemed happy with his lot. "I" admired "Him" for that! Lord own journey has hads its ups n' downs too... I can assure you!

I am not usually interested in formal figure or portrait work... preferring to work in landscape and still life genres. I admire those gifted individuals who have committed their lives to those other very demanding art forms. But Suzanne's piece... forced me to leave my path... take up the gauntlet... and to seek some new adventure. I enjoyed my Self so dramatically... that I already had another subject in line before the first was half finished... but that's another story for next time!

So, in closing... my deepest thanks and gratitude go out to my Friend Suzanne Berry and her talented group for making... "Lost in the Sixties" .... a reality! It would never have likely occurred except for this encouraging shove from the witty and talented Moses Botkin Gang... and in particular... Suzanne. Do visit her site... its always a treat for "Me" that I look forward to when she posts new work! Her site is located on the right side of my blog page!

Make your own music... sing your own song!

"Sing!... Sing your song...

Make it simple to last the whole day long.

Don't worry if it's not good enough,

For anyone else to hear...

Just Sing!... Sing your song!"

-Karen Carpenter

Good Painting... and Listening to ALL!!!


  1. Hi Bruce,

    Your comments about plein air painting are so true, and I would add the smells and even the weather; the whole package really. Painting in the studio can so easily become mere copying, from sketch or photograph, but outdoors there is always something extra.

    Your figure painting has that extra element too. There is a real sense of someone who has found inner peace.

    I have to agree on Vivaldi. Beethoven would be high on my list as well, and nothing evokes a British summer better for me than Vaughan Williams' 'The lark Ascending'.

    All the best,

  2. Hi Keith... "There is always something extra"....Always!

    "We"... trek together... on the same path and journey... yet on two separate continents!

    How sweet the music of Nature is... no matter the slight differences in score!!!!

    Thank you for your gracious compliments on the new piece. Means a lot to "Me"... coming from you Keith!

    I am totally unaware of William's... "The Lark Ascending".... You've piqued my curiosity Keith. A hunting I will go!!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  3. What beautiful thoughts, Bruce. I find that my favorite music, 50's, 60's, 70's, emphasis on 60's, has now a tendency to make me maudlin. Since I tend to be a bit more down than up (I call it melancholy), it is more often than not hard to listen to. There are other types of music I enjoy, jazz, blues, and even classical, but haven't found those types of stations on the radio. I shall have to look harder.

    I love your thoughts on this man too. For some reason, his face reminds me a wee bit of Alan Alda. I know. I'm nuts. But still, this is fabulous!

    Suzanne's work is just absolutely exquisite, yes? I think her work is some of the finest out there and her sense of humor is beyond the pale!

  4. Dear Sherry!... Thank you for visiting... and for sharing you own thoughts and ideas surrounding the content of this new post!

    Maudlin and melancholy are in themselves not unusal or unacceptable human feelings. They are in fact... honest emotional responses to situations we all face daily in our own journeys.

    These feelings become dangerous and even harmful when they become "the norm" and seem to swallow up one's every thought and action. Because of them... we become paralyzed and helpless... in our own mind's eye.

    I often use maudlin genres of music to facilitate the emotional response in my painting-positive! When I find that my mood is low... and I feel helpless and vulnerable... I flip on Vivaldi's Four Seasons... and immediately my heart and spirit lifts!

    We must all create devices and strategies to help us ride out the storms that visit us all. Your writing... weaving and painting seem to fill the bill from my vantage point Sherry! They are outlets to release the inner "demons"... using your skills to create a pressure release valve!

    I too... see the Alda resemblance in my Guitar Man! OH... How I loved Hawkeye Pearce! I admire him as an actor ... and a person because of his talent... his intellect and wit and his ability to transport "Me" to places I will never visit!Do you see the parallel between Alda and Suzanne? Both artistes exceptionales... both highly intelligent and witty- both with a work ethic that you can't help admire... even be in awe of!!

    Chin up Girl! Crank up Vivaldi... or better still... your favourite Sherry Smile-maker!

    Good Painting and Writing!
    Warmest regards,

  5. Bruce I really like the figure you have painted it really is excellent, the figure is well painted and drawn too and is packed with atmosphere and light! It shows that you enjoyed your painting time! Music and poetry are painting companions.

  6. Thank You Caroline ... for your supportive and insightful comments!

    All of the elements that you mentioned were the very qualities that drew me to the subject in the first place.

    The exercise was a useful lesson for "Me"... in maintaining patience and at the same time letting the process lead me ... instead of the other way around! I am pleased with the result.

    Music... painting and poetry are indeed companions that heighten and encourage creativity!

    Thank you for visiting!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  7. Hi Bruce,

    You can do no wrong, whether painting plein air or figurative painting. Wonderful. As for Suzanne, oh yes she is a marvel and how wonderful to have her studio not far from my home. I have never visited her personally, but she is a committed and talented artist that I have followed ever since starting blogging. It's artist like You and Suzanne that inspire all who love to paint and have the desire to learn and grow. Once again, thank you for sharing.

    All the best to you

  8. Hi there Joan!... Thank "You" for the HUGE compliments... Suzanne and Bruce in the same mouthful of words is indeed that for "Me"!

    Better get yourself on over for a visit with her Joan! She'd welcome you with open arms ... I'm sure!

    I enjoyed the figure "challenge"... and will post a second later in the week! Learned a lot about my Self... and found that "straying off the beaten path"... was both rewarding and pushed the envelope for me!

    Good painting!
    Warmest regards,

  9. For some reason I keep missing your posts... Supposedly the most recent posts show at the top of my sidebar, but I'm not sure yours do because I keep missing them.

    Anyhow, glad I stopped by. This is just wonderful... guess I should thank Suzanne too... it's not like your other paintings and I like this... (as well as your others) but change is nice.

    So we should all stop to smell the roses AND listen to the music!!

    Be well.

  10. Hi Marian!... Glad that you got by your sidebar "derailment"... and arrived at my blog! HAHA!!

    Thanks for the encouraging words! This painting ... and the next couple will all be "not like my others". I have really been searching around for some new impetus and direction.

    Smelling the roses (and apple blossums)... listening to the music(and your heart) are really good for the creative soul. Routine and ritual is essential in our lives... but so is adventure and... the unexpected! Keeps life(and art)... fresh and exciting!

    Good painting!
    Warmest regards,

  11. bruce, i am eternally grateful to you for your incredibly kind and generous words!!!!! thank you from the bottom of my heart for mentioning me and my work, for the words, i'm speechless and so grateful!!! thank you so much, i'm honored and flattered!

  12. i'm so wrapped up in myself i forgot to comment on "listen to the music!" which is STUNNING!! this is truly an amazing piece, that my painting inspired in any way is a supreme compliment! this is one of my favorites of yours, i simply love figurative work and this is so well done! your brushstrokes are stunning! BRAVO!!!! AND MANY MANY THANKS!!

  13. Hi Suzanne!...It is a great pleasure... and honour to work with... and beside artists of your calbre and commitment!

    "If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person."

    Mr Fred Rogers
    The World According to Mister Rogers

    "I" just wanted "You" to know how important and influence and inspiration you are to "Me"... as I watch and learn from your example. None of is too old... or too beyond the need to learn ... and grow as people and artists.

    Thank "You" Suzanne!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,