Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year Blessings to All!

Lost in the 60's - oil on canvas 20 x 16 inches SOLD

Thank You ... For the Music! - oil on canvas 14x11 inches GIFTED TO SON ANDREW

Cherry Pink... and Apple Blossum Time - oil on canvas 16x12 inches

Minuet d'Hiver - oil on canvas 36 x 30 inches SOLD

The Magnificence of Algonquin Park Through the Seasons - oil 4 panels (Quadriptych)
6 feet x 12 feet

"A painting can help us to think of something that goes beyond this senseless existence."

-Gerhard Richter (realist painter)

Just a quick post to offer my deepest thanks to each of you who have made this blogging venture so rewarding and fruitful during 2011! I have learned much about the world that each of you lives and creates in! Thank you all for sharing so generously!

The purpose for my blog is to provide an open and non threatening forum where people can exchange their ideas... processes and even elements from their private lives. That seems to really have taken root successfully... judging by the fact that my 198 posts to date since 2009 have generated just over 20,000 page views(Not including my own visits). That fact speaks for itself.

While many folks simple read and move on without needing to comment... the fact remains that they plugged in... if only briefly and were given the opportunity to glean what they might have. Others have taken the time to comment and to add their own compliments... impressions and to offer personal extensions of what is in the post.

I find this interface highly motivating and inspirational to have company on an adventure where I usually find myself alone... either in the field or at my easel. Sometimes that "third eye" observation or bit of encouragement is sufficient to help one overcome discouragement and to pass those times when creation is blocked entirely.

New Year is traditionally a time to look back over the year and to examine and to reflect upon what has been accomplished, as an aid to guiding one into the next year. I went back over this year's output... which I feel has been generous and exciting for me personally. I have selected my favourite 10 paintings completed in 2011 and will offer them to you in two batches of five... the first five tonight. Some are major works if you use size as the measure... but truthfully... I feel that several of the smaller pieces offer as meaningful and powerful an impact as do their larger kin!

I hope that you enjoy seeing some of them again and to see that paintings should be undertaken to express the feelings you have experienced. By sharing these with others... you offer the gift of insight into your own world of thought and experience. They transport others across vast distances which they perhaps might otherwise... never have the opportunity to visit.

As I mentioned in a comment just this past week to one of my regular visitors... Beauty exists everywhere around you and in every part of the world. You simply have to seek it out and if you paint honestly... combining that beauty from without... with a genuine feeling of beauty you feel from within... the result will always be a beautiful canvas to record that relationship!

I recently heard an interview on CBC radio featuring Gloria Steinheim. These words from the interview are worth remembering:

"Everyone needs to tell their story."

If painting is your "Voice"... be proud to speak using it... no matter how good or bad you might feel it is. At least... you can be proud... that "You"... were heard! You might be pleasantly surprised to know that others value it!

Good Painting!.... Everywhere!... and in Every Season... in 2012... to ALL!

Warmest regards,


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Yesterday... and Today...What a difference a day can make!

Just the day prior at Rumble's Mill... just a dusting!

Winter Traceries

The Old Manse

Snow festooned Birch

Looking westward up Mill Street West

St Andrew's Presbyterian Church

The Old Hillsdale Lockup....Jail

St Andrew' Steeple

Late Afternoon Light on Mill Street Residence

Yesterday morning it was dreary and rainy... with most of the dusting of snow that had made Christmas 2011 in Hillsdale almost entirely gone. It was these conditions that seemed to quickly dampen the festive spirit which had prevailed for that special day.

I had to take Liam and Bryn into Aurora... an hour's drive distant to do his evening shift at The Cineplex-Odeon Theatre... and Bryn to search out Boxing Day bargains. We left around 1:00 pm to insure his being there on time and with some "wiggle room" to spare. The rain quickly changed to snowy slush as we pushed southward on 93 Highway and by the time we were half way there it was beginning to snow quite heavily.

I quickly dropped them off and headed back towards Hillsdale... stopping only top pick up a few necessary groceries. By the time that I reached the Barrie area... still about a half hour south of Hillsdale... the roads had become treacherously slick and slush covered. It was not a pleasant trip the rest of the way home. I arrived back home around 5:45 pm... the trip requiring almost triple the usual time required to make the two way journey.

At bedtime... it was quite evident that the 2 cm estimated snowfall target predicted by Environment Canada had long been surpassed. Upon waking this morning there was almost 10 inches of powder snow on the ground... on top of the 2 cm of slush predicted. Nasty! Numerous collisions were reported all along the route I had taken... clear down into Toronto and westward to Southwestern Ontario.

This powdered snowfall adhered to the already wet branches of the trees... the grasses and fences everywhere in the village... transforming the landscape and residences into a lacy...winter faeryland. Between the frigid cold... the strong gusting wind and the marshmallow dominated features of the landscape... it was too much to paint up... but not too much to record and enjoy on a walk!

I ventured out around the village this afternoon to take some photos to share with all of you... who don't have this in your climate. I will say nothing further... except to underscore a few words from a Christmas favourite... that I'm sure you will all know. Walking in Hillsdale in the northwesterly wind this afternoon was very cold.... -15C with a windchill 0f -25C. But it truly was in every way like..."walking in a winter wonderland!" I think these jpegs say so too!

I am sending these snowy pix to my SoCal friend Marian Fortunati to enjoy.... and borrow for Canadian winter subject matter... should she wish to do so! Anyone else motivated ... get a shovel and dig in!.... Be my guest!

Good Painting in 2012 to ALL!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Peace on Earth! ... Add Your Voice!

Season's Greetings to ALL!!!

Christmas is closing in on all of us quickly... and most obviously, our attentions have to be switched away from the easel and even the blog and focused as they should be... on the matters of Family and celebration preparations!

Our celebration jumped off to a peaceful and very full start... in every sense of the word with our weekend rendezvous with Andrew, Melissa and Allison in the smallish, quaint town of Rockwood. It left all of us warmed by each other's company and the shared love... and primed for the other Christmas rituals and visits that lie ahead... but that are celebrated in other places... with other families.

Tonight... Deb and I will decorate our smaller-than-usual fir... and for the first time in our Christmas part of our life together, the two youngest (due to illness last weekend) will not be here to join in. I am... as you can probably tell from other posts an incurable romantic... steeped (too much at times) to past rituals... that I most definitely find hard to relinquish.

But Time has its own way... of herding one along and I have long since learned (from well remembered pain) that one must embrace change and move along with the flow... that is the flow of Life itself. This one necessary change is going to be enjoined with several others during the course of 2012. While change is both challenging and even threatening to each of us... again... I have learned from resisting... and the past unpleasant experiences that delaying necessary change results in greater pain to one's Self... and all around one. So Deb and "I"both have chosen to live by the credo that: Change begins with "Me"!

My "Road Taken"... or rather chosen, using my Art as a vehicle of travel has led me on an enriching and fulfilling personal adventure across Canada and to many places in the world where I have visited... lived... painted and found lasting friendship and wonderfully enriching kindred spirits. Many of these remain up to today... because we choose to remain connected in heart and purpose... despite great geographical distances between us. This blog is a similar instrument or "Voice" for "Me"..."You" and "Others"... who like us travel with Optimism... much like minstrels with a song to share with any who care to listen.

One set of friends, Norm and June Dubois "happened into" our studio several years ago to look around our gallery... to fill in their travel itinerary while visiting from Edmonton, Alberta at Carriage Hills Resort in Horseshoe Valley. They purchased a large piece of art... and remained for supper. Since then... they have returned when they were able... to our area on two occasions.

On both occasions... we have shared meals and time together here at the Gallery and on their last visit we took them out in search of cemeteries with ancient stones. They dabble in genealogy. On this occasion I took them out with the necessary equipment... and introduced them to the art of creating permanent rubbings. They took home some marvellously ornate rubbing memories of stones dating to the mid 1700's. What fun we had!

This morning I received an email from June... that is much more than an email. It is a gift from the heart that simply required punching a few keys to deliver its joy. I have chosen to include it along with our annual Christmas card as a gift... which I have no doubt will leave you full of deep Love....Hope and Joy... as receiving it did Deb and I this morning! Simply go to the upper right hand Video Bar..... Bocelli and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir... "Put your ears on".... Click... and Soar!!!!!

In a time when human actions and voices around the world seem only to echo in a tumult of angry... chaotic voices and hopelessness... may our Christmas wishes and this ethereal music from the heavens themselves enjoin... to encourage each of "You"... to continue to add your "Voice" to our choir and family in art... to embrace and work towards making our world a better place in 2012!

Merry Christmas from The Paint Box Gallery Gang and Family... to ALL!!!

Many Blessings and Much Peace!... and Good Painting!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Gift of Getting A Grip... While Loosening Up! - Part II

Our "Charlie Brown Tree" - Christmas of 2006 held at Lazee Dayz B&B - Horseshoe Valley, Oro-Medonte

My brother Don and his wife Claudia , her brother Blake and his wife Sherry... all from British Columbia and Deb and I rented the B&B for Christmas Week to share Christmas. Being so far apart, having separate family responsibilities and working hard to keep our heads above water, greatly diminished the possibility for us to be to be together and enjoy Christmas.

This tree was the focal point of our Christmas Eve activity together. I had brought in this tiny fir and we all made decorations from simple materials at hand... all the time listening to Christmas music and sharing laughs and food. Just as in Charlie Brown's case... the resulting tree became special... and under it were the "gift"stockings we each filled for another!

We have not been together since... and this Christmas Don and Claudia are spending Christmas in their retirement home in Yuma, Arizona. Despite this fact... I can retrieve... and replay "the moment"... passed... but not forgotten... each and every Christmas. It is a gift that we gave to each other... that simply... keeps on giving!

My title for this post may seem a bit confusing and obtuse... but it is far from either of those states. Each of us is bombarded by so many outside influences to conform to what is dictated by the society at large that we are forced to live in. Christmas is perhaps the most obvious example of this imposed servitude... as we hustle out to the frenzied malls in search of the "perfect" gifts for our loved ones... at the best dollar value!

Most of us spend more money than we can, or should afford to spend... just to keep in step with the crowd... of family members... friends... neighbours, or worse, the endless suggestive television ads offering (back end cost loaded)... "deals that can't be passed up"... like no interest for one year... no down payment necessary! Electronics... cars... trips... all large ticket items that press the plastic currency to their fullest limits.

My simple laundry dampener gift to my Mom and the joy that I vividly remember from when I was only four years of age... made with the help of my Dad lingers still in my own memory. My Mom treasured and used it throughout much of her laundry-laden years. What surfaces clearly is a definition of what "gifting" really entails. Firstly, there is the giving... and with it, coming the receiving. There should be a measure of pleasure received from both acts.

Sadly... our present society has drifted away from those warm and memorable days when one could expect a hand knit pair of mittens... socks... a sweater...a toque... scarf... an afghan... homemade candy... preserves.. hand carved toys... drawings and paintings. Even the usual Christmas request for skates... hockey pads... bikes and wagons... dolls and teddies might have been filled by "gently" used and lovingly repainted or repaired substitutes. As a child, I can't recall ever questioning the appearance of those gifts... or wondering where they came from.... beyond the Christmas magic of Santa and loving thoughtfulness of my family. They were quite simply... Heart Gifts... sent especially to "Me"!

We will be sharing this next weekend with my eldest son Andrew and his partner Melissa in their new Rockwood home along with his sister Allison. The whole emphasis will focus upon sharing each other's company... good food and drink... an ongoing ritual and love of all board games and ensuing laughter... with only a small emphasis on token gifts. The real gift to each member will be Time... spent ungrudgingly... together as a family for a few days. That's enough!

Lisa and my Grand Kids will be spending their Christmas together at Lisa's new home at Bethsheba in the Barbados. We will share Christmas with them in her Rockport area home upon their return in early January. Christmas can be celebrated on a day other than December 25th! Again... we will be spending time doing many of the same family things... and gifts will be shared by matched pairs of us. In November, we each drew names for one personal stocking to be filled... with a value less than $100 and some one thing at least... that will be handmade. I drew the stocking for my 17 year old Grand daughter Mica... and have made her a personalized Blurb Daily Planner... featuring her alone and with family members as she has emerged into the beautiful butterfly that "She" has become!

Liam and Bryn will be "At Home" with Deb and I here in Hillsdale commencing on the Dec 23rd through to Dec 30th. Christmas will take the form of good food and a trimmed tree... but again, less cluttered underneath than in the past. The lads both sent Santa and Mrs Santa a "short list"... from which we chose gift ideas to go along with a couple of surprises. We too, enjoy game evenings... movie nights and of course, food and special eat treats... including the turkey thingy!

We limited our spending a lot this year... but what we haven't limited... is the sharing of the season as a family and that is something that many folks lose a grip on during most of the year. It is indeed a busier world, dominated by work and commuting schedules... activities that keep us far flung from each other.

Blackberries... lap tops and iPhones that accompany parents to choir practices... game sites and the cottage... occupy interests even at meals... sports events... car trips and vacations. The message we send is that we...."Don't have time!" That is not exactly true. It might rather read... "That I choose to use my time for myself... and that I don't have time... for YOU!"

What if I was simply to say: "This Christmas, all that I have to give you... is my time." Is that a gift? Time at any age... is the highest coin in the human realm. It is short... and its spending should be precious to us all.

Why not... get a grip around your loved ones... and loosen up on schedules and electronic subservience... just for a few days? Time moves along... things change and people do as well. A favourite line in a favourite song of mine, "Puff the Magic Dragon" by Peter, Paul and Mary... includes these poignant lines midway through it:

"A dragon lives on forever, but not so little boys,
Painted wings and giants rings, give way to other toys."

What is Christmas... without the presence of Children... be they aged two... or thirty-two? Children grow up and with them...Life with them passes quickly beyond us. Why not get a grip on them... spend quality time with them. Offer your time... and place something you own that is special... something that is handmade by you, or some thing that is treasured by you... into their hands. In the giving... "You" will be receiving... within that same moment!

Many Blessings!... Glad tidings!...and Good Painting to ALL!!!

Good Painting!... and Happy (Family) Holidays to ALL!!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The True Spirit of Christmas... Past and Present - Part I

This is a favourite picture of Deb that I treasure for a variety of reasons. She made this Sno Folk quartet for her beloved Regina, Saskatchewan Grand Girls Ava and Ella for their front lawn. At the end of Christmas, Ava... the eldest asked her Dad to allow her to keep it their play room... where she uses it as a backdrop for her doll play! Put BIG smiles on Gramma's face !!!

" Now it's Christmas!... I've got my sock!"

Deb's much anticipated annual sock exchange with son Spencer.

Some of Deb's Funky Girly-Girl Teen Line of jewellery

Deb with some of her new all occasion Krazee Kardz

Toled Wooden Top for wrought iron custom table

"The butterfly upon the road preaches contentment to the toad." - Kipling

Oops!.... A funky tongue -in-cheek window Hanging in a recycled window frame

A Stained Glass enclosed planter

Free standing Stained Glass Goldfinch

Deb and I have been out wandering the malls and shops... as most of you are as well... hoping to find a special gift for those we love. I will declare straight out... that I do so grudgingly... not because I wish not to gift those whom I love... but rather, I despise being drawn in by the pitch that compels one to comply... and that even sets the bar for spending.

I have come from a very simple family background... one in which the tradition of celebrating Christmas was the "high mass" in our family ethos. I vividly remember the very first gift that I gave my mother. It was a clothes sprinkler... an absolute necessity for an ironing mother... in a time when irons were preheated on the top plate of the wood stove... and later on with a regular electric iron (without steam).

My Dad and I gave the empty quart wine bottle a coat of aqua green house paint and allowed it to dry overnight. I then added a wine coloured zig-zig top and bottom around the bottle. Dad took me down to the local hardware store and we purchased an aluminum sprinkler nozzle and a pair of decals bearing an image of a Mexican having his siesta... yellow sombrero down to his bent knees... against a saguaro cactus. These were applied using a transfer method using water on opposing faces of the bottle.

All of this secretive sactivity was carried out away from my Mom's eyes, in the bowels of our home... a dank cellar which served as my Dad's "Inner Sanctum." This space was usually out of bounds to the family. It was here in this "man cave"...where he read... listened to music... transcribed music for his band. Just being allowed down into his private refuge from an active, noisy growing family was in itself, a gift of sorts to "Me"... and I realized it and appreciated it as such!

I could hardly keep the secret until Christmas Day.... and seeing my Mom cry when she opened it, forever etched into my own ethos... the reality that "We" can all be the bearer of gifts... simple gifts that we create... gifts that we can share with the whole world. That simple act of giving a "heart gift" means the world to anyone who receives it.... because it is personal and unique and can never be purchased! She used that gift for a lot of years... even well after she had her GE steam iron!!

One of my own favourite annual gifts at Christmas was one that we were permitted to open before Christmas... a day at a time! In our family... and in my own since... Advent Calendars herald the coming of that special day... one sweet taste at a time. In the spirit of that Christmas ritual... I am going to offer a daily gift to each of you out there... my own version of an Advent Calendar... in my deepest appreciation to each of you for your support and your encouragement over the past year.

I have chosen to offer my first Advent gift to my dear wife Deb... who I know... always has my back and my interests covered. And because of that... "She" has my promise of Unconditional Love... for as long as we both are here! This gift of recognizing "Her" on this blog is to laud her immensely beautiful spirit and creative gifts which she continually offers to the world. I have selected but a few samples of the body of quality work that she produces in many mediums. I think you will readily see... and agree... that "She" is a multi-faceted and gifted Artist... Extraordinaire.... a Child at heart and a Good Soul!!!

"I" am deeply blessed to share my journey... and studio with "Her"....

"I" Love "You" Deb!!!... "A bushel n' a peck... and a hug around the neck!"

Stay tuned for Part II!

Good Painting to ALL!!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Apres Plein Air...

"Winter Sunbathers" oil on panel 10x12 inches (original version)

"Winter Sunbathers" - (reworked)

Note highlights on snow touched areas such as window ledges , manure spreader and more clearly defined tree crowns

"Huddled in the Afterglow" - oil on panel 10x12 inches (original version)

Note the addition of light to the foreground branches and the tips and trunk of the middleground white pine to add additional lighting effects.

"Huddled in the Afterglow" -( Reworked version)

" Down the Lane" - oil on panel 10x12 inches (original version)

"Down the Lane" - (reworked version)

Note that the diffuse light in the original is replaced by a heavy and direct lighting from the left which elevates contrast and colour.

As with apres-ski... when one requires a bit of down, or away time and relaxation after the rigours of the slopes... to allow the body to warm and the muscles to relax. In outdoor painting, it is always good to allow a period of time to reflect upon the sketches/paintings which one has brought in from outdoor sources... to weigh the need for possible changes.

It seems senseless to lose all of the freshness created from firsthand observation... but it can also be argued that often one has time constraints imposed by rapidly changing light conditions and the effect of cold upon the paint application which limits the potential for a better painting. Being away from the actual subject offers the opportunity to include personal flourishes in colour and brushwork which closer relate to creating than merely trying to copy what is in front of you.

When I first posted my last sketches untouched as they were fully completed en plein air... I received many comments that remarked about their fresh and spontaneous quality. A few urged that I not change them at all... fearing that something might be lost from their first appearance.

It is at this point that the artist must decide for him or herself to add or hold. Ownership is the purest part of creating. Advice should always be listened to and carefully weighed and considered. However... final chlices hoices surrounding the making of art should not be given over to others... no matter how close they may be to you.

I have posted the three previous works in pairs. The top in each case is the original form... the one below the reworked version. I felt that each piece needed a bit of additional attention... and the very last one... a major shift to regain a sense of light and colour that simply wasn't there on that particular day. I am pleased with all three. I hope that I haven't disappointed any one with my changes... but I truly am satisfied with the results because I followed my own intuition. They're signed!

Good Painting to ALL !

Friday, December 2, 2011

Titanium... White Christmas!

Holm's Homestead, Gervais Road - oil on b. sienna toned panel
(Note the grainy texture detail )

Barn Complex on 7th Line Oro -oil on burnt sienna toned panel - 16x20 inches

John and Mary Silk's Century Homestead, Matchadash

Oil on toned b.sienna panel 10x12 inches

Winter rolled into our Oro-Medonte region off Georgian Bay like a freight train on late Tuesday evening! I arose early on Wednesday morning to find about 6 inches of snow already on the ground and with gusting winds and zero visibility making travel of any kind treacherous and foolhardy.

None the less... I had an appointment to meet with a prospective new gallery owner in nearby Penetanguishene... so I headed out cautiously at 60 kph or less and managed to arrive on time for the 10:00 am appointment. On the way back to Hillsdale, a sunny and blue sky scenario followed on my heels and remained for the remainder of the day.

What a stroke of luck that was! My painting buddy, David Kay and his lovely wife Diane had arrived to spend a few days with us so that David and I could do some plein air work in the area.

We had a quick hot chicken stew lunch and David an I headed out eagerly to the site on Gervais Road that I had chosen to begin our painting time together. The site there had a unique and colourful subject that David had never seen, or painted... though I had on two previous occasions last winter. I knew that it would work for us and that it would alleviate any need for a "drive around"... which usually eats up valuable painting time.

David approved heartily with my choice... and we immediately launched into action. David selected a 16x20 panel to work on.... while I chose a smaller 10x12 inch sienna toned masonite panel that I was eager to try out. I had used a different method of applying the gesso undercoating... which left a fine abrasive tooth all over the panel surface... not unlike a coarse pastel paper texture.

We had arrived at the site by 2:15 pm... and both of us had what we wanted by 4:00 pm, so we decided to pack it in and spend what was left of daylight looking at possible locations for the next day. The temperature late in the day had plummeted quickly to -8C... so knowing our limit and choosing a less punishing strategy... we made the right choice not to push for another start.

Thursday morning was beautiful... with the sunlight coming in and out while we painted , but we were both able to produce good paintings from the site we scouted out the previous day. Again... by 1:00pm, the temperature, as expected dropped very quickly. We passed up the planned hot lunch break in Craighurst and pushed on up to Big Chute on the Severn River to a nice farmhouse subject. David has his fill of Algonquin wilderness settings... and so enjoys the opportunity to sink his teeth into rural farms and barns for a change.

By this time, there were no lighting effects at all... very BLAH conditions... offering little chance for contrast and dramatic lighting. However... the composition was very interesting to us both, so we soldiered through the greyness... and the rapidly increasing cold to get down something that we each could carry home to our individual warm studios... to play with.

Both of us love the outdoors... and the solitude of painting alone. We share the same respect and need for wilderness conditions in our lives. We always are able to find commonality in our interests... pleasures and our personal code of values. On top of that... we both have supportive spouses who accept us for who we are... support our work and enjoy company together as couples.

We are deeply blessed... and know it!

None of these images have been changed in any way. They are... as they were created and returned from the field... untouched. They'll sit a day or two... and I'll enjoy the time... with coffee in hand... deciding to add... or not... and remembering a couple of fine days... "out there" with a good friend... doing what we both love!

Does life get any better?... I think not!

Good Painting to all!