Saturday, September 3, 2011

Change is in the air... or it should be!

Episode One: Friday afternoon

I went out yesterday in search of a shady... quiet place just to work my palette back into shape without interruption or having to travel around looking for the perfect subject. We've all done that too many times in our past and often came home discouraged and frustrated and... worse still... without " bird in the hand."

I headed eastward out Mount St Louis Road... past Rumble's Mill... and beyond Mount St Louis Cemetery. I have always enjoyed this particular area because it is shaded ... quiet and relatively unsettled. Stones in this cemetery describe the early French settlement, dating to the mid to late 17oo's. This can be said to represent the earliest of settlement in this Oro-Medonte area... just a few generations after the Jesuits and French explorer Samuel de Champlain arrived in this area... then known as Huronia due to the tribal presence of the Huron First Peoples. This area became important to the French in the development of the lucrative fur trade route from Hudson's Bay to Quebec via the Great Lakes chain.

I swung south up the 5th Line Road and pulled into the shady maple grove that lines both sides of the road at The (new) Mount St Louis Roman Catholic Church... established in 1839. By a European time frame this is indeed "young"... but in terms of church presences in this part of Ontario... it easily can be referred to be at least "middle aged." Mass continues to be offered regularly on Sunday at 9:00 am... whereas many other churches of other denominations are either rapidly in decline... or already closed. Many now function as personal residences.

This plain country brick church at a crossroads reflects the faith and commitment that early settlers in an solely agrarian society had for their belief system. The church also formed the social hub of the community for any functions... with its white frame hall located on the same property. Today... it serves the same function for the community... but as well serves as a "coffee house' for folk music enthusiasts on Thursday evenings throughout the winter months.

I settled down to work quickly and was making rapid progress... when the light suddenly disappeared and thunder and lightning replaced it. All of my reasons... especially the patterns of light were gone... as was my desire to be located under such old and heavy maples during an electrical storm. I quickly began the taking down process... but sheets of rain were already drenching everything... outside of the canopy of shade under which I was working. A good choice of location for two reasons! I would have to take a "rain check" on this sortie... and hope for another similar day tomorrow!

Episode Two: Saturday afternoon

I headed back to the same location with my "rain check" in hand... and a renewed desire to get back to finishing yesterday's business. Everything was relatively the same with regards to lighting so the painting moved along nicely and finished without difficulty and finished in just over an hour. During the relaxed part of this painting process... my mind drifted about considering a lot of concerns and impressions that I have observed over the past few months.

Strange... how the plight of this one small church seemed so different than larger ones in more populated areas around it. What was it that enabled it to continue to function in the same manner as it always had... in the face of the same environment of financial woes and social changes that had challenged and finally defeated larger parish churches?

Things do change in all aspects of life... and only they that are willing to change with the times can either grow or survive. I think that will be true also for working artists for the next few years. This weakened economy and the lack of confidence in the money markets will certainly shape future spending practices of even those with affordable incomes - the backbone of art sales wherever you live.

I think that Faith in oneself and a sustained strong work ethic must be key factors in surviving in the new marketplace. Keeping an eye on... and adapting to market changes are certainly essential as well. That doesn't necessarily mean abandoning your own process and choice of subject matter to become a "market painter." Being ordinary... or following the lead of others will simply result in being rolled in with the others. Buyers today are better educated... and more discriminating than in previous generations from my experience... so that offering fresh new ideas... drama and higher colour will attract the eye of these new patrons.

Look for new ways to present your own ideas. Expand your repertoire. Go out on a limb to experiment. Look to new places to visit... portfolio in hand... with new ideas to promote your work. Take a look at your pricing and gauge it according to your painting and exhibition experience and the quality of the work around you. Sometimes we artists are heady on... but not always totally realistic about "who"... and "where" we really are in this rapidly diminishing... yet more highly competitive art world that we live in at present.

How strange... that a quaint wee country church can evoke more than a subject to be painted! When one is painting... en plein air.... there exists a space for such contemplative thought that normally is absent in the studio. Out here... all of the senses are enlivened... firing at full capacity. Out here... many of the worries... and the hurries and scurries disappear... allowing one to commune with one's soul. Painting should really be just that. Painting "Ideas".... from the inside ....out... to be shared with whomever might care to pay attention.

This very special and infinitely large space is not ... just a single church. It is a personal cathedral... without denomination or dogma... a sanctuary for celebrating and enjoying the gift of The Creator and His Creation.... and hence the title for this painting is simply...."The Sanctuary."

Good Painting to ALL!!!


  1. So nice to read you on this fine morning. Thanks for the history class. Most interesting!

    I'm glad this church is still alive and doing well. I'm afraid it is not the case with my old catholic parish church St-Philippe which is getting demolished piece by piece. It is located in Trois-Rivières and is awaiting complete destruction. Probably will be replaced by a condo tower. So sad! And it confirms what you were saying about churches having to adapt to this new society of ours.

    But let's get back to this beautiful painting of yours. There's such a fresh and pleasant atmosphere in it. It's like the rain has washed everything and left nature all clean and fragrant. You have captured it all. I love it!

    Je pense que les grands artistes sont les témoins fidèles de la vie quotidienne.

    Thanks again and have a wonderful day!


  2. Good Morning Friend Helen!... So nice to hear your "voice"... "from away"... dans la belle Province!IT is rainy and dreary here. Thanks for the ray of sunlight!

    You are so very right about churches having to step up and offer new and pertinent ideas for modern lives. The old ways have served their purposes... but there is a distinct neede for the reformation of ideas and goals.

    I love and always marvel at the grand variety of architecture of churches and secular buildings in Trois Rivieres. Such a shame that some are disappearing ... giving way to gaudy and site blocking towers with little or nor character or architectural value.

    Thank you for your very uplifting observations and thoughts about "The Sanctuary". You caught the very essence of what I intended for my viewer - that feeling arising ONLY from the plein air experience!

    Glad that it gave you pleasure!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards... and thanks,

  3. hi bruce! your posts are as thought provoking as they are delightful! traveling with you as you search for the right spot shares so much! a beautiful post, a lovely painting and a great experience. thank you!

  4. Hey Bruce! Thanks for the thoughtful comments you've let on my blog : ) As always I appreciate them very much! This was a good post - interesting as always. Happy painting to you friend!

  5. Hi Bruce, there's some interesting food for thought there. It echoes some of the thinking I have been doing recently, about maintaining a distinctive style and not falling into the trap of painting what we think buyers want.

    I'm glad you were able to finish the painting - it's a gem. The way the church is glimpsed through the bushes, makes it seem somehow protected from the changes going on around it.

    All the best,

  6. Hi Suzanne!... I am so happy to know that you value our mutual "sharings" of ideas ansd process!

    Seeing how art can be made differently... expands our own creativity... if we are open to new ideas and the opinions and strengths of our peers.

    Thank you for your very kind compliments... they continue to mean a great deal to me... given your own set of skills and accomplishments.

    Glad that Irene did no real lasting damage in your area!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  7. Hi Kim!... Good to hear from you! I am releieved to know that my "suggestions" were received inb the spirit in which I intended and they were sent!

    I encourage you... and everyone to stretch your horizons... move the marker... if only for your Self! That's what art is really about in the end - growing as an artist... and at the same time as a person!

    Back to bothe oils and the acrylics... I'll be interested in seeing more!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  8. Hi Keith!... Thank you for taking the time to check in... and to add such meaningful observations and compliments about the piece... and our very similar painting goals!

    Be true to thine Self... works for me!

    The bit about the church peeking through the bushes offering a suggestion of a protective role... I like that! Thanks for your comment!

    Good painting!
    Warmest regards,

  9. It amazes me Bruce how you create such a beautiful impressionist painting from what looks an average scene from your photograph. All that colour and life you create is very uplifting to see. You 'see colour and sunshine'! It is true that the economy is changing all the time and buyers are more careful. I also believe there are three times more artists about than there used to be. Fifteen years in our area there were only a handful now there are hundreds of artists, have you noticed that happening in your part of the world? Maybe fifteen years ago a great deal of Sunday painters decided to pack in their day job and lead a more stress free and meaningful life, maybe that accounts for part of the problem that is facing artists today.

  10. Hi there Caroline!... Thank you for your visit and for your complimentary and insightful remarks!

    When one paints "with God"... at his elbow... around and everywhere about ... there are things that creep into one's painting that are missed completely in studio painting.

    For me personally... paintings that are created without more than a photographic reality to them...are like unsharpened pencils. There is no point to them!

    You have hit the nail right on the head about the sizeable increase in the number of artists that have popped up everywhere... in every part of the world... including my Oro-Medonte Hills.

    This influx of new "artists" is both both good and bad. With the advent of self-generated and free website and blog platforms... anyone can declare themselves an "artist" and charge ridiculous (low and high) prices... even without credentials or having "earned their spurs."

    In times of economic upheaval... it is refreshing to see people grasping the initiative to improve their lot... but it surely does congest the art market with a glut of art... and creates fewer opportunities for more established artists. That's just the situation currently is.

    My point in the post was that rather than complain... professional WORKING artists should examine their own process... add new elements that address the changing marketplace and put their heads down and get down to more serious work than ever.

    These folks will survive... simply because they paint with something(s) that the other new entrants have yet to develop - Experience... Passion and Dedication. These come only over a lengthy pursuit and for the most part... are innate anyway.

    Paint on my Friend! Your lovely landscapes... though they encompass both reality and surreality simultaneously... have a unique quality that cannot be created by a poorly thrown wash in a single sitting. They exhibit the highest level of planning and execution!

    Stay your course Caroline!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,