Saturday, November 26, 2011

An Autumn Day... WIth Ice Around the Edges!

An Autumn Day... With Ice Around the Edges - oil on canvas 20x16 inches

Friday brought along another unusually beautiful day to get "out there"... and I did! With midday temperature hovering at a warm +12 C... I headed out in search of a "little smackeral" of something... other than the constant diet of houses and buildings of the past several weeks. I was determined to look for a woodland theme... something that perhaps twinned that favourite theme of mine with another... moving dark water.

Since it was going to be a short outing, I quickly decided not to spend precious daylight minutes touring about looking for the perfect scene. I headed due south three minutes on 93 Highway and hooked eastward on Ingram Road... intending to make my way past the Copeland Forest... and working my way towards "The ol' Honey Hole"... 6th Line Oro... where I knew good solid painting material existed all along the meandering oxbow Moonstone Creek.

I glanced southward for just a instant as I was cruising along... and my eye caught sight of the subject for today's 20x16 inch canvas. Emerging through the mass of trees from the Copeland Forest... was the diminished version of a much larger flowing Willow Creek further upstream.Not much more than six or seven feet across at this point... it passes under Highway 400 to merge in confluence with Moonstone Creek and the Sturgeon River... finally ending up in Georgian Bay.

There was just enough dark water and movement... in concert with the yellowing and rusty weeds and marsh growth and a maze of vertical and horizontal trees to create what I felt might make an interesting quick sketch. I even managed to find a flat concrete culvert... a perfect platform to work from... just off the road and with a high vantage point. Perfect!

I took a couple of quick reference shots to record the light and shadow... then dove headlong into setup and the painting process. I decided to use a vertical format to capitalize on the vertical strength of the composition, as well as the lovely network of lacy sky holes at the top... that broke up the horizontal massing of the mixed trees. Since I was painting on an acrylic burnt sienna toned canvas... I added darkest darks first... followed by a washed in version of the lightest lights.

I quickly chose and added in with a mixture of Ultramarine Blue and Alizarin (blackish purple) the particular trees that interested me the most... and which had the greatest compositional value for me. That done... I established the dark water element... again by staining it in. I then stepped back to analyze my plan of attack through the mid tone range.

I painted very rapidly... totally avoiding any fussiness or detail... to fill in all of the existing toned area. I accomplished that within the first hour of painting. I then took a break... did a "walk about" to get away from the painting... had a drink and looked at other things nearby. I then returned to the easel and worked my way through the "dots n' dashes".... or "push n' pull" as many refer to this process of making balances in tone and hue strength. In the last 15 minutes... I used my rigger to add a few details like twigs... rushes... reflections in the water until I felt that I has said enough.

I am pleased with the loose...painterly and not "mannered"quality of the brushwork... as well as the fall light and mood that is present in this sketch. I don't think that I'll add anything. It simply is... what was there... "A Warm Autumn Day... But With Ice Around the Edges!"

Good Painting! ALL!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving America!!!

" Quietly Rusting Away" The Gibson Homestead, 6th Line Oro - oil on canvas 20x24 inches

Yesterday, we enjoyed another gift of sunshine and a continued impunity from the clutches of impending... but indecisive final winter cold. While the actual afternoon temperatures hovered around the freezing mark, it was the absence of wind combining with the warmth of afternoon sun which made the entire afternoon of painting pleasurable and productive.

I had earlier spent the morning combing through this year's images to select the one that we will use as the theme for our annual Christmas card to friends. I always enjoy this task because it gives me the opportunity to look back over the breadth of my painting adventures during the past year to identify those works that seem to be unique in technique or perhaps subject matter.

I try not to lock into only a winter mode or even a large painting format, despite the fact that it is Christmas... and that traditionally, Christmas cards by and large follow a winter format. On occasion, I have selected a "daisy"... in lieu of a "rose."That is to say... a very simple and painterly sketch... as opposed to the larger and more manicured style of the studio works. Daisies are my favourite flowers! Many of my longtime friends have walls in their home dedicated to my annuals... and I try to send them along something new and exciting for their Christmas surprise.

I had no problem selecting my favourite this year. It is one of my "intuitive" works... that is... paintings that predictably embrace my impressionistic preference in style... bright colour and attention to light. However... I purposely take a sketch and reconfigure its reality... adding a playful and expressionistic interpretation... creating exaggerated rhythm and movement in parts of the work. "Minuet d'Hiver"... or Winter Dance/ Minuet captures the Algonquin Landscape in a stately.... yet at the same time whimsical fashion.

I feel this was one of my better canvases this year. Surprisingly... despite grabbing a whole lot of attention from visitors to the Gallery... the painting remains unsold. And that doesn't bother me in the least... for I enjoy it every time that it catches my attention. I know that it too... will have its day to leave... but for now... it's mine to enjoy!!! ... "I" dance with the trees! HA HA!!!

I wanted to get my teeth into a larger canvas after all the small Hillsdale sketches. So I headed out... with no particular agenda... other than to achieve this end. It didn't take long to decide. Today's subject is a tin clad homestead belonging to an octogenarian... and somewhat stern Hobart farmer, Howard Gibson. It was his family homestead... and now sits empty... mouldering into eternity. He lives alone... farming the very same acreage as his predecessors... in a nearby white clapboard frame home... next door to Hobart United Church and Cemetery where his parents lie interred. This place is a favourite haunt of mine... you might call it "The Honey Hole"... for this ol' Bear!

I have made countless paintings up and down this 6th Line Oro... I feel most at home when I am painting along it! When I first came to the Oro-Medonte to paint, the 6th Line, like most of the Line Roads was unpaved... and virtually untraveled. Often my easel was set up in the middle of the road. Now paved and heavily used at peak times by homeward bound commuters to cut cross-country... doing thus would certainly mean moving the easel frequently... and in some settings it would be down right foolhardy to do so!

This derelict tin clad relic is unique really in this region. It has such an appealing patina for the painter's eye... with its mixtures of weather-produced rusts and aluminum paint. Surprisingly... that despite the absence of habitation for such a lengthy period... it still stands proud and tall... the ridge line of the roof remains plumb... meaning that the field stone foundation and footings are remarkable intact and stable. I omitted the large barn located directly behind the house behind the tree... because I enjoyed the relationship that seemed to exist between the tree and the house. The sun-raked and sloping middle ground of a variety of matted browning grasses and weeds made an excellent foil to the strong vertical form of the house and tree.

The blue sky... scumbled with very light cloud cover gave a wonderful cool complement to the warm grass and house beneath it. It was a very easy picture to step into... and fairly "painted itself"... from start to finish and despite the very heavy car and truck traffic on the four-laned Highway 400 running alongside me. "The Flow" draws attention away from such usually distracting annoyances.

In these late November days of tawny transition and cold... usually unattractive to many artists, one can find pleasing subjects if one makes the effort to get "out there." Look for some major subject of interest to be cradled by the myriad of rusts and browns. Good painting material can be found. This is an example of the kind of reward that awaits a painter... willing to get off the couch... dress warmly... and pack in his or her imagination along with the painting gear. It's worth the effort!

All in all... it was another magical ... another day in Paradise... Another blessing enjoyed... to be shared!

Happy Thanksgiving America!!

Many blessings... and Good Painting to ALL!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

O Canada!.... Oh... Canada?????

A symbol of Distress....

"A picture is worth athousand words!"...Thank you Tim!

Cpl Philip Hunter Canadian medic with interpreter/ friend Sayed Shah Sharifi in Afghanistan

I believe that all artists share a common need to "make sense" of the world they live in... and in so doing they see it in an entirely different manner than those around them. Artists usually are are unlike those around them in our two and fro world... who only seem to look, but seem never able to truly "see"... that is to say... understand what is all around them. They are content to live in a "taken-for-granted" existence... blinders on... plodding grudgingly through their uninspired lives.

I find it very strange that very elite (no reference to the artists) in this "blind battalion" are our people in high positions of power... and highest amongst these... our political leaders. On the very day after Remembrance Day... after all of the wreath laying and droning political rhetoric... befitting a funereal setting... Veteran's Affairs here in Canada unveil a plan to reduce the pension benefits by the amount of disability pension a returning (physically or mentally wounded) veteran receives... in some cases leaving soldiers and their families with no income.

In Saturday's edition o\of the The Toronto Star it was reported that Sayed Shah Sharifi, a former Afghan interpreter used the Canadian Forces (then cut loose when we withdrew from the heart of Taliban heartland) has been denied a visa to immigrate to Canada who he served during the conflict. I am... admittedly "a bear of little brain" and of VERY little interest... when it comes to either military or political topics... however, it makes sense perfect sense to me... that this adopted soldier (along with all his family members)... one in our rank and file by choice... will most certainly suffer a deadly, if not horrific end at the hands of the remaining insurgent faction still operating in Afghanistan. He has already been "marked".

You can pack away your poppy Mr Harper... along with your sanctimonious public false face. You can indeed hide behind your desk on Capitol Hill in Ottawa. But how can you sleep at night? How can you ever face another Silver Star Mother with her war-orphaned children and a crowd filled with veterans at a future Remembrance Day Ceremony?... Or attend the funeral of a veteran who has committed suicide... after returning to the "safety" of the homeland that he or she fought for?

How can the government justify the claim ever again... that the reason for Canadian involvement in a conflict abroad... is to guarantee a (Afghan) people freedom and the hope of a better life.... when we can't afford our own returning veterans their due respect... thanks and support from an involvement dictated by politicians and military heads ? It reeks of the worst kind of hypocrisy and is a disgrace to our nation! You offend all veterans deceased or alive... and all Canadians through your callous actions!!!!

I apologize for using the space in this bog, usually devoted to art... to embed this rant. But veterans were just ordinary folk... who gave their all... so that ordinary folk like us could express and share our opinions... so that "We" could have a voice! I join these Canadians to speak on behalf of all veterans... anywhere.

My thanks to Cpl Philip Hunter, an Afghan veteran/ medic himself, for his courage to speak out via The Toronto Star against the government's rejection of his interpreter and friend Sayed Shah Sharifi's (promised) application for immigration and asylum in Canada. My thanks to political cartoonist Tim Dolhigan for granting me permission to use his cartoon in this post. It eloquently supports veteran feelings and certainly my own. It underscores the power of a picture..."to be worth a thousand words!" Thank you Tim! You can visit Tim's web page at .... Great stuff!

If you return to an earlier post this month...November is the Cruelest Month... you will understand my anger... disgust with our government and the reason for my rant. As Canadians... we ALL lost a part of our Selves... each and every time a Hercules aircraft touched down at Trenton Airbase... repatriating the body of one of our fallen 158 young men and women... and their surviving comrades-in-arms. I simply can't... and won't remain silent because.... only the living can speak and act!!

"The torch be yours to hold it high....

If ye break faith with us who died,

We shall not sleep though poppies grow...

On Afghan hills!...

Lest we forget!

Just one Grateful Canadian's's opinion.... and I'll let you, the readers be the judge and jury on whether these opinions are valid... and worth responding to. Do those actions make sense to "You"? I wonder????? If they matter to "You"... take the time to respond... and better still send off your thoughts to the Canadian Veteran's Affairs Minister... and the Minister of Immigration. I intend to do so.

The Honourable (optional) Steven Blaney

Veteran Affairs Canada

14th Floor

66 Slater Street

Ottawa, ON

K1A 0P4

Again... to my followers....sorry for the rant! But as I said earlier... November is always the cruelest month for "Me' personally. Remembrance Day will forever have a "face" for "Me". I shall not forget or be quiet - ever! I do, however... promise a snappy... upbeat painting to salute my American Thanksgiving celebrants' upcoming Turkey n' Football Fest!..."I" promise!

Good Painting... and Happy Thanksgiving to ALL!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What A Difference A Day Makes!... or Carpe Diem!

Thursday - "The McFadden Homestead, Hillsdale in Fall"- oil on panel 8x10 inches

Friday... it's Winter!

As well as making a great title for a song, the title for today's post... and especially the tail end of it really drive home the truth in the old adage: "Never put off until tomorrow... what should/could be done today!" Sometimes a single day can make huge difference... especially for the plein air enthusiast and that fact is clearly defined in the the two jpegs offered at the top of the post.

After lunch on Thursday... the sun suddenly appeared and seemed to want to remain... signalling an (unplanned) afternoon painting opportunity! I decided to go directly to a scene that I pass on nearly every walking trip that I undertake in the village. It is a pleasant view of the old McFadden Homestead perched commandingly... high on a wooded hill... looking down on passersby and the United Church Cemetery. It lies due east from the now deceased owner John McFadden's sugar bush and shanty which I painted two weeks ago.

Despite seeming forlorn and certainly less cared for... I still much enjoy seeing it in the changing light and cover of the various seasons. John's wife Lorna was a "regular" at the St Andrew's Presbyterian Church and shared her energy there for many years, in concert with people like my now passed dear friend and neighbour Marian Drennan and solid... hard working local farm folk Stewart and Myrtle Jamieson. They are the old stalwarts and remaining loyal stewards of this village institution.

Deb and I attended (and thoroughly enjoyed) the church for three years... simply because it was going to close and be lost to the community without financial support and local interest. However... facing Marion's sad passing and her hugely empty pew across from us... along with the political bickering... and insatiable need of "a few" to control the rest... these changes signalled a good point to exit... and we did. The struggle continues for the church and its faithful... and I fear the end for that lovely brick monument to better days is as predictable as the closing of Dalston Public School. Time and society's needs change everything!

I've learned to accept that inevitability... and no longer rail or lament as I use to. I choose to record those changes in paint... as they were... or at least as I romanticize... they might have been according to my travels and memory of my own lifetime. Not surprisingly... my sketch books are filled with "ghosts"... gone from sight and in a lot of cases... even the memory or experience of neighbours. That fact gives "Me" a modicum of satisfaction. My paintings of schoolhouses... churches... mills...... sugar shanties... barns and homesteads.... all things old and rural..are indeed records... pages from my journal... that will perhaps be enjoyed... and remembered... after my own inevitable passing. That validates a huge part of my journey... and is enough "purpose" for "Me" !

While November remains my toughest month to weather emotionally... and the reasons for that have been clearly revealed in a previous post... it is paradoxically one of my most fertile periods to write along with my customary painting. I have always enjoyed prose and poetry as a format for expression and enjoy formulating verbal imagery which correlates with what I am painting. Sometimes they operate in tandem... and lines appear between brushstrokes... and find their way quickly to my mileage log in the van. Later... I rework the meter and thoughts more fully... not much different than what I do with my field sketches at times. My self-published Blurb book "Two Voices- The Paintings and Poetry of A .W. Bruce Sherman" is a compendium of those outcomes and this inter-relationship process. A short preview can be viewed just to the right of this line in this blog.

At other times... the poem.... no let's more properly call it a "word thought" arrives first... and I scrawl it on the back side of the panel or canvas. It is this interchange of verbal and visual that I am focusing upon. One enriches the other... One "enables" the other... One excites the other. That is the underlying importance of plein air/ outdoor painting. ALL of one's sense are firing... which in my mind guarantees a richer... fresher... more honest result. A plein air painting can be said... to "speak in many tongues." It can also be embellished or made larger in the studio after the fact and outdoor experience.

Here's a "word thought" that came out of the "Fall"...and the "Snow Day at McFadden's

Homestead, Hillsdale."

Winter... Overnight

Voracious hungry harvesters are hastily shearing fields of browned corn,

Leaving paths of ermine and stubbled rows of stalks... well shorn.

Vast open leas and meadows now dressed in winter white,

Are playgrounds for the snowbird flocks... just arrived overnight.

Leafless hedges and woodlands grey, etched dark against this whiteness so bold,

Just here and there, tho' wind-stripped bare, wild apples... dangle gold.
The fading greens of pasture lands, tinged in dying yellows,

Lay white and still, save for the play... of two frisky equine fellows.

The world is changed... the wheel has turned and autumn's given way,

Now gone is the blaze, the fanfare gold and red... winter's here to stay!

Good (Winter) Painting to ALL!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

There's a bit of Tigger... in Autumn!... or The Power of Pooh!!!

"Lest we forget"... Another kind of Remembrance Day! Dalston PS - Oil on panel 10x12 inches

BOUNCE!..... BOUNCE!... BOUNCE! Not a bad thing either... the weather and Tigger... "bouncy"... every which way! One day almost winter... the very next Indian Summer as we Canadians refer to that last shine of autumn. Allison... Andrew and "I" revelled nightly in our erratic DVD romps through The Hundred Acre Wood. The pure joy of childhood propelled our every step... and I am not at all ashamed to reveal... that I was as giddy and joyful as they in those early adventures together! I miss those days, especially when the darkness and reduced daylight reduced playtime outside and we would curl up all three...for a "Snuggle" (as Allison referred to the activity) to share"The Blustery Day"... every day throughout that dreary part of autumn.

But Time pushes we humans along... and children find new friends and adventures... as they should and those of us who are "growed up" must either face the Darkness alone... or dig deeply into our pockets... find that Inner Child... and skip out into the world to find our own play. My way to... "slip the surly bonds of earth" (and it works every time for me)... is to grab my paint box... easel and a panel and simply get... "out there"!!! There is not an excuse I can make that is valid... it's a must situation!

I worked hard yesterday morning preparing a rather lengthy and tedious proposal to a gallery for an opportunity to create a solo exhibition based around my 6x12 foot quadriptych. The sunny and unusually warm weather outside caused my attention to "BOUNCE" out the window... so much so that I hurried up the photo part of the submission... and gleefully mailed off the package by two thirty in the afternoon... just when the shadows and light would be perfect for the site I had chosen a day earlier! (I watch the weather!)

Within a five minute hop in the van, I was set up and ready to paint alongside the highway... but down in some scrub grass which afforded an interesting new view of a subject I have passed by a gazillion times and said, "That would make a nice painting!" The light and shadows were perfect... not advanced enough as to let me play catch up... so that when the ideal time was reached... I would be in step with those speedsters.

How strange... when locked into that Flow... that nothing around seems to have influence. All that "Is"... is the painting! How strange as well... that when the light begins to fail... quickly as it does at 4:00 pm these days... that the light on the panel seemingly... remains on! I managed to work out the paint into a reasonable facsimile of the final lighting and was content to call it a day... mainly because I had skipped lunch to get out painting! This ol' Bear needed a "little something"... and to get home to his "Honey"! HA HA!!

Well... all of this silly banter is simply my way of offering.... when November, or "the blues" come your way... dig deeply into your pocket... and let your "Child" out to play. I've yet to meet a child on my journey... who doesn't enjoy a "BOUNCE"... in the woods. Take along your paint box... and see what happens. Always... for "Me"... "it leadeth me beside still waters... and restores my soul." The jpeg is the resulting effort... with only a few quick licks added after supper. My new upbeat feeling... is medication enough to lift "Me" out of the grasp of my earlier greyness. That honey of a sunny day was not wasted!

Good Painting ... to ALL!!!

PS While painting this picture, so many thoughts kept running through my mind about the people and events that took place within the walls of Dalston Public School... and were now either hidden or lost. When I got home... and after supper... the thoughts continued to take up my thoughts... and so before retiring,I penned this wee "word thought" to record some of those feelings. I thought that you might enjoy them as well.

How...Where... When... and Why?

How many feet rushed to answer its bell?

How many stories could this empty classroom tell?

Where went those small voices filled with optimism and cheer?

Where did their knowledge and Life take them from here?

When did the village children cease to pass through its door?

And when... will they recall those cherished hours from Before?

Why ponder the Past and its long bygone ways?

Why?... because they form the basis... for all our Todays!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November is the Crulest Month...

"Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"- oil on panel 12x10 inches

Captain Matthew Jonathan Dawe
Company C, 3rd Batallion

Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry

Lucas and Peter Dawe Senior, Lieut-Col ,Rtd.... presenting the Captain Matthew Dawe Ceremonial Sword to OCdt Jean Christophe Jacques' Ouellet at The Arch Memorial Ceremony at Royal Military College in Kingston on October 2nd, 2011

This building at The Royal Military College in Kingston is the first building to be named in honour of a Canadian soldier killed in action Afghanistan

An Athletic Trophy... The Matthew Dawe Trophy for Excellence in All Four Sports at RMC

I think... if you follow my blog regularly that you would agree that I present a pretty upbeat and optimistic outlook on the whole. But I must readily admit that that optimism and "joie de vivre" is greatly challenged during this usually gloomy month... save for celebrating the births of two of my children.... November 24th for Liam James... now to be 18 years young... and on November 30th my eldest child Lisa will turn... better ask "Her"! HA HA!!

I was born... raised and spent most of my life on the shores of The St Lawrence River... so "I" am proudly.. a "River Boy"! The is the core of my very being... spiritually and artistically. I feel much at peace when "I" am "home"... standing on its shores... anywhere between Gananoque and Brockville... where I was born. When we visit the area... I stop and simply gulp in that rarefied River air... and my body and mind know that we are at home!

At this time of the year however... the River takes on an almost malevolent... steely... gun grey persona that I can't say I totally enjoy... except on rare days when buttermilk skies add a warmth to compliment that pervasive and dominant greyness. And yes... I am one of those unfortunate individuals who suffers when light or time is changed or is available for shortened periods of time.

On this very date... November 10th, 1975 a huge Great Lakes ore carrier, The Edmund Fitzgerald disappeared with all hands during a vicious November gale on Lake Superior.It was discovered by a deep diving expedition to have succumbed to damage caused by being broken in half between two mammoth waves... then plunging at break neck speed... burying its forward bow area deep into the lake bottom. Death would have been instantaneous due to the frigid water conditions and the pressure which easily buckled the superstructure and hull of this mammoth laker.

This horrific November Canadian Great Lakes disaster brought great sadness to all Canadians... especially those who live along the waterways on which the Edmund Fitzgerald sailed. As a boy playing baseball at the coal docks on the Brockville waterfront ( I lived a block away and within sight of the River)... we would pause our games and run to the docks to wave at the passing carriers. We got to know the ships on sight... the Scott Misener and the Edmund Fitzgerald being my favourites because of their length... sleek beauty and swiftness. On more than one occasion this ship passed coming and going on its journey up and down the River.

My favourite balladeer and troubadour, Gordon Lightfoot... who coincidentally was born and began his brilliant musical career in Orillia, twenty minutes from Hillsdale wrote The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald which is easily a Canadian anthem... and an all time favourite of mine. I am listening to it ... as I write this post... and I resurrect and play it often...each and every November. Strangely... despite the magnitude of sadness that this ballad carries with it... paradoxically for "Me"... I find peace and inner quiet as a result of listening to it.

According to old Chipewyan native legend... Gitchee Gumee as they refer to our label Lake Superior... never gives up her dead. Lightfoot added these thoughts to a pair of lines that resonate my feelings about November perfectly.

"The Lake it is said, never gives up her dead

When the skies of November turn gloomy."

Those gloomy November skies are a perfect backdrop for our Canadian Day of Remembrance... held across the Dominion on November 11th... the day that gunfire ceased in World War I. IT has always been a part of my November ritual to visit the cenotaph and to take part in the Service of Remembrance in each of the communities where I have lived. I even took my full classes on the day to encourage their participation and understanding of the sacrifice... and the needless and devastating loss that war causes.

I had two uncles who served overseas during World War II... both were severely wounded in action in Normandy and Italy... so that our family well knows the cost of war and has reason to be respectful and observant of this day. However... on July 5th, 2007 Remembrance Day would forever carry a face... a young 27 year old Captain... a hockey pal and schoolmate of my son Andrew... a child that I had enjoyed on a hockey team that I helped coach with his dad.

Captain Matthew Jonathan Dawe and five of his men were killed instantly by a roadside device in southern Afghanistan... only a week after he had lost three of his men in another incident. He was one month from returning to his wife Tara, 1 year old son Lucas and his family. Matthew came from a military family. His father Peter is a retired lieutenant-colonel. All four sons served in the military... and one currently commands the Canadian Afghanistan contingent.

Even as a young peewee hockey player... Peter was a leader on and off the ice. His quick wit and infectious smile is something of "Him" that still burns strong in my heart today. Just before his untimely death Matt was quoted as saying that "he couldn't wait to get home to his family in Edmonton and Kingston"... "and that his heart ached to change diapers and do the daddy stuff " with Tara and Lucas. Too sadly.. both "He" and "They" would never enjoy those precious... taken-for-granted daily moments... which most of us sometimes gripe about.

According to his superiors and his men who loved him dearly..."Matt led from the front"... and he paid the supreme price for that valour and example. Tomorrow at the Remembrance Day services in nearby Midland... during that "two minutes of silence"... "taps" and "Reveille"... my heart will belong solely.. to Matthew and his courageous family who survive him: Tara...Lucas... Reine his mother... Peter his dad and brothers Philip...James and Peter.

Kingston is an army town... a base for the army, Staff College and the Royal Military College. We had a home in nearby Grenadier Village. Our children were raised and schooled with army children. It was indeed a tight family environment... and the ties remain. My daughter Allison lives just down the street in Kingston from Tara and Lucas. Last Friday, we dropped by in order for me to present this painting memento of my respect and thanks for their sacrifice. Tara was not home... but Allison has offered to deliver the painting and a note to Tara and Lucas on my behalf. Others have recently offered gestures of remembrance in Matthew's honour which underscores his community's and whole family's continued belief... that their loss continues to have meaning and purpose. I have include a couple of jpegs to show those gestures with my viewers.

We have all been robbed of beautiful... wonderful... precious minds... each in our own corner of existence. Let us set aside daily thoughts of gratitude to those who "led at the front"... and sacrificed their tomorrows... so that we could have today! Honour them... by making something lasting and good Today... and Tomorrow... in their memory and honour. We owe them that debt of gratitude... not to squander their precious gift to all of us!

Heads and hearts up!... and back to the easel!

Good ALL!!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

On the Job With Dad Day... in Kettleby!

Bryn's admirable effort... at the lay in stage... lots of potential!

Dad's effort... with a bit of work to finish

Kettleby ... in a bygone era

Village General Store, Kettleby c 1930 - watercolour 20x25 inches by Peter Haworth, a Canadian artist I much admire for his water colouring efforts

Two hearts... as "One"!

Bryn at the easel.... "into it"

Curtis House -1890

The Italian Bakery (Old General Store)

Our subject for the day- John Stone Clift's Home and Blacksmith Shop - 1890

Looking down Main Street, Kettleby

The weather stills holds as I write today's post... blue skies... sunny... +12C degrees... but the four successive days of hard overnight and early morning frosts have all but eradicated the colour. Pockets of oaks... poplar... birch and tamarack/larch provide much of the remaining colour... and for that... I am grateful!

Bryn and I enjoyed a wonderful paint out together at Kettleby on Wednesday. The weather was sunny and bright... but the winds remained gusty and chilly all morning. I pulled the van up close behind our easel setup together to help serve as a partial windbreak... but we were in the shade of a house and large trees... so that heightened the cold of the wind.

We chose a subject which combined the 1890... century home and shop of village blacksmith John Stone Clift. It has been updated... still to period tastes and stylism... in a board and batten construction. My guess is that it was a simple frame "centre plan" clapboard home... typical of the period throughout most of rural Ontario.

This style of one and a half storey home, typically had a central entrance on the facade, located below a dormer window located directly above in the half storey. You entered the home to be greeted by a staircase that led to the second storey. The dormer window provided the necessary light for this staircase. The low ceilings in each of the two upper bedrooms followed the slant of the roof. The ground floor consisted of a parlour and dining room to the front which were lit by front windows.... and a kitchen/pantry area to the rear.

While painting... we were visited by local octogenarian resident Mrs. Marjorie Burkholder, who has lived her entire life in the village... in the same house as a child... during the whole of her lengthy married life... and now alone. She readily shared her vast knowledge of her village's history and fellow residents. Her pride in her heritage and her obviously sharp mind and memory are something which I greatly admire. There still survive... places and people who embrace "the older ways"...and live contentedly in quieter places. Kettleby and Marjorie are examples of this anachronistic phenomena... where Time... seems joyfully and willingly... to stand still.

We enjoyed a wonderful hot beverage break midway through the morning at the busy local Italian Bakery... house in the old General Store... and went back at noon to warm up... and to enjoy a delicious hot lunch. After lunch we did a tour about to look at other homes... stopping at each to read the historical plaques on the facades of each building. Little has changed in Kettleby... and newcomers have been happy to embrace the villagers need... as a whole to maintain their identity. We didn't even have to take down our easels during the whole day. We presented no threat to the comings or goings... and were made to feel welcome everywhere we went.

Bryn managed to get his panel to the lay in stage... and I purposely stopped a bit on the unfinished side for me... to enable us to continue the paintings back in the studio on his next visit. I took supporting digital images which can help with reaching a suitable studio finish... but at the same time maintaining the plein air freshness.

I asked what he had learned from "being on the job with Dad" experience. He said he had learned a lot about mixing colour... about brushwork and about aspects of composition and... the effects of cold on paint... and a lot about the history of Kettleby from Mr's Burkholder. Tongue-in-cheek... and he's a master at this... he laughingly replied..."And I learned that I won't be joining you for winter paint outs!"

I too... learned lots ... watching Bryn work... listening to his questions... watching him learn from the Kettleby experience and history lesson. Parents should avail themselves of more opportunities to work side-by-side with their children. Each learns to appreciate... and to better understand the other!

The cold did bother him... as it does most folk... and "Me" on occasion as well. But I look forward to winter painting... and being "out there"... with that winter world... all to my Self!!!

I'll post the finished pieces next week to show their final state!

Until then... Good Painting to All!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Still Chasing Autumn!...

" Things... go better with Coke!"

"Fenced In By Autumn"- oil on panel 8x10 inchesa

"Long Morning Shadows!'-oil on panel 8x10 inches

I simply can't believe the good painting fortune that I've enjoyed! The weather... and the colour continue to provide me with unbridled enthusiasm and subject matter to be painted!

The remaining foliage here is so soft and muted in most places... like the woodwind section of the orchestra... and then ... here and there yet... the rich brass of remaining maple oranges, softwood golds and raucous oak russets sound a distinct trumpet fanfare - splash of "colour surprise that begs the inclusion of a dash of raw pigment... almost directly from the tube!

The two jpegs that I've posted today are examples of what can be done to make contemporary/ modern homes more appealing as painting subjects. I tried to surround these otherwise rather "ordinary" (from a painter's selective eye) subjects... with a "supporting cast" of interesting visual elements... which do exist... but are "amplified" for artistic punch to create more visually appealing images. I also have used a much sharper and steeper than usual three quarter perspective to elevate the subject... giving it prominence... and a greater sense of... dare I say... majesty????

Regardless of what viewers... or even owners will think... I very much enjoyed painting these two... and feel a great sense of achievement from my own belief that they really don't stand out as being different from... or inferior in artistic merit to the "heritage" homes... which obviously are my usual subject matter! I hope that you enjoy these first two examples. I hope to do a couple more and then finish with a couple of my usual fare.

I will be absent for the next three days however. Tomorrow.. I will be painting in the quaint rural village of Kettleby south of Hillsdale near Aurora with my youngest son Bryn, aged 15 years. It is "Going to Work With Dad Day" at his high school... and he elected to join me at my ..."Work"! Kettleby is a picturesque throwback to rural Ontario town life at the turn of the twentieth century. It provides a host of interesting subjects, many of which I have painted before... and is the perfect quiet place to spend a day painting ... en plein air... with a Soul Mate... and "He" most certainly is that!

On Thursday and Friday we will head down to our home town...Brockville, on the St Lawrence River to visit our dentist Peter Culp. Pete and I go back a long way. He was a student in my grade seven and eight classrooms in the late 70's... and we have remained "joined at the hip"as long time friends ever since.

We will do an overnight visit with my eldest child Lisa at her lovely home on Kerry Point Road... five doors down from the site of my family's cottage on Narrow's Lane Road. Next day we will head two miles westward to Rockport to conduct some "business". More on a later date!

We then head up the highway about 45 minutes to Kingston to "do lunch" with my daughter Allison... to celebrate her birthday and to presenther with her La Salute painting.Later in the afternoon... we will point the van cross-country towards Hillsdale... weaselin' our way through the back roads taking in the beauty of the Canadian Shield along Highway 7. Though the journey is a good 4 hours in duration... the scenery never fails to give us pleasure... and less trafcfic for sure than the other major 4oo level semi-infested speedway alternatives

A whirlwind couple of days of travel... but that's what painting does for "You"... keeps the grey matter energized... and the arthritis at bay and the soul joyous... and thankful!

Talk to you soon! Stay tuned... for our combined results arising from our Kettleby Kaper! I'll most likely post again towards the weekend. Until then...

Good Painting All!!