"Summertime Dream is the title of a popular 1976 Gordon Lightfoot album and also a summer anthem/song favourite of mine. Back in October of 2002, I created a solo show for a prominent gallery around this title and a number of the cuts from this remarkable album.
Lightfoot captures the essence of being "Canadian" in my mind. His soulful lyrics embody my own personal feelings of pride for a beautiful and diverse landscape... and a cultural mosaic of immigrants seeking a new life and freedom in a tolerant land of opportunity and possibility.
Summertime is truly a time for dreaming... and dreaming belongs unquestionably to children who are free from the arduous demands of school classrooms... and parental work schedules. It is a time for outdoor activity without the burden of heavy clothing. It is the time for beach bumming... fishing... hangin' with friends... going to cottage and camp... and taking the much anticipated annual family vacation trip.
In short... Summertime is a time for Adventure. A time to catch fireflies... roast marshmallows... pick blueberries for free... a time hike and explore. A time for the Peter Pan in "You"... to let Tink outta your pocketand play... and be your own Child... if "You" dare!
We spend so much of our lives "acting our age"... and responding out of shame to: "Grow up!" In short... as adults we are expected to surrender too soon... the very most precious and innocent part of our lives to conform to expectations of an often dismal... demanding and discouraging world where competition... money... influence and status govern every aspect of daily life.
I have always valued my "Child within"... and protected it from rakes that would try to pry it away from "Me" or devalue it. I let that child out to play when I feel he is safe... and in the company of other like-minded individuals. I travel with Friends who remain so from my earliest life... and "know" immediately and embrace those who also dare to live by the creed.
The two large paintings that I wish to share with you in this post are special paintings for "Me"... and the Family who commissioned me to paint them. I was given some rather obscure photo references and the free agency to create them both as I saw fit.
The two places were favourite two favourite vacation places for these four people. Both are located on Prince Edward Island... and I had visited these places myself... so it was easy to create the ambience that would carry our shared love of these places.
Both paintings progressed without difficulty. They "painted themselves"... is the term I often use for this piece of luck. Right from the initial pen and ink sketches to form the composition from multiple photo images through to adding the final details... they simply revealed themselves without difficulty.
Upon meeting the two girls and their mother, I immediately felt the energy of my own "child within" resonate with their youthful exuberance and joie-de-vivre. Even the figures and the interaction amongst them seemed to summon and include "Me".
Both of these images appear side by side in my book "Two Voices-Paintings With Poetry of AW Bruce Sherman. Both are accompanied by a poem that I felt compelled to write and include to register my feelings about the content... and how they somehow applied to my own youth.
The first painting is entitled "The Shell Seekers" an oil on panel and measures 12x36 inches.
The Shell Seekers
Three kindred spirits
On a wind-swept shore.
No conjuring up fantasies of doubloons and lost treasure -
Three kindred spirits
On a path called Life.
And a sense of connection -
Three kindred spirits
"One" with each "Other"
And the Universe -
The second painting , entitled "Soaring" is an oil on canvas measuring 36x48 inches and pictures the two girls heading off... pails in hand to beach comb at their favourite summertime vacation haunt.
Slip-sliding gulls effortlessly wind dancing
Spirits skipping -
Drawn to the storm-littered beach,
Heady with visions of filling pails with waiting buried treasure,
Pirate booty soon to be claimed as their own!
Free to explore a world beyond adult reach -
Free to learn lessons that only Nature can teach.
Free to be the children they're entitled to b
Free to be the children
We once used to be.
I was to discover only when the three came to pick up the finished paintings a truth in their lives that I had not imagined. The man in the Shell Seekers... so a part of their adventure and happiness was not their birth father. Their dad had been killed in a tragic automobile accident. The mom was overcome with joy that I had captured correctly the natural way that these girls and their new dad had grown together... despite the tragedy.
The Universe is a mysterious place. It often reveals itself in strange... but worthwhile ways. This was one of those occasions for all of us in this chapter. "I" am deeply proud of these two pieces... and that they will each belong to one of those girls later in life to recount these special childhood moments. Making paintings and Art is not always about money... or about perfection. Mostly... it is about capturing emotion and special moments... and sharing!
"The Pony Man"... another of my Lightfoot favourites was written for his children Freddie and Ingrid. Although they would listen to his songs... they were not "into" either his on-the-road- a-lot life or his lyrics. As Lightfoot so rightly puts it: "Kids don't really care what you do do; they just want to be with you."
These two paintings and the lives of these family members offer testimony to this important message!
Farewell to July!
Happy Summer to all!... and your Families!
Sweet Summertime Dreamin'....