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!!


  1. Oh Bruce what Beautiful Words to match this Beautiful Painting.

    Have a great weekend.
    All the best to you and Deb.


  2. Hi there Joan!... And thank you for these words of encouragement!

    Glad that you found pleasure in the painting and the words that accompanied the painting!

    Thanks for the best wishes... and ours... back to you and your family! Have a great weekend!

    Good Painting and Sketching Joan! I am REALLY impressed by your newest works! Paint away!

    Warmest regards,

  3. Hi Bruce,

    I hope that wasn't my fault with my comment about the white stuff! I think you said it was forecast though. At least if you don't like a painting you can always paint it over with white the next day!

    As you know, I share your feelings about recording changes in the landscape. Photographs can do that as well, but it seems to me that they are often just a case of 'click and move on'. Paintings require thought and emotional connection, as shown by your beautiful words.

    All the best,

  4. Hi there Keith!... Nope! Your "prophetic" words were already written on the weather wall at Environment Canada's Weather Centre!

    Strangely enough... that snow in the picture has all but disappeared because of a rapid rise in the temperature!

    We really do share many connections... both in our processes... and our thinking about outdoor paintings... heritage issues and natural stewardship!

    Thank you for visiting... and once again for your supportive and encouraging words Keith!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  5. Another beautiful painting. Very peaceful. You've added a lot of charm to it, compared with the photo. Another great reminder that painting brings a very different attitude to a subject than a photo.
    Happy Painting,

  6. Hi there Nora!... Thanks for visiting and for adding your very solid personal thoughts and observations!

    Your omment about photo versus real life... really underscores the truth that data and image seldom... if ever, add in to attitude and emotion to one's painting process.

    Observation and imagination... I believe, continue to be the artist's greatest tools to achieve success and a certain unique style! This very result seen in your own lovely life studies and line drawings Nora! I love those best of all!

    Good Painting and Sketching!
    Warmest regards,

  7. Ah Bruce...I love when you wax poetic...or prosetic. Ok, the last word I made up. But it is all true, my friend. Love the house on the hill and too lament the loss of owners who love and care for a home.

  8. Nice work. Just found your blog from Keith's and glad I did. ;-)

  9. Hi there Sherry!...Thanks for visiting... and for your "tongue-in-cheekiness"! I love it! Both descriptions work for "Me"! HA HA!!!

    The painting isn't really a lament as such... but simply a painting that records the ongoing joy I feel in passing this part of Hillsdale's heritage.

    The subdivision is aptly named... The McFadden Subdivision... and that stands as a fine tribute to that family's contribution to life in Hillsdale... Past and Present!

    Glad that you enjoyed the painting and post Sherry!

    Good Painting and Writing!
    Warmest regards,

  10. Hi there John!... Welcome to my blog! Thanks for visiting and for your compliment!

    Any friend of Keith... is indeed a friend of mine! We share many common interests and values... aside for our obvious shared passion for painting!

    I'll get over to your site for a look-see! Look forward to many more sharings!

    Good Painting ... and again Welcome!
    Warmest regards,