Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Beat Goes On....

"Jail Birds!" - oil panel 8x10 inches

" Final Fanfare" - oil on canvas 12x16 inches

"Sunlit Lane" - oil on panel 8x10 inches

"Forgotten... Until Today"- McFadden's Sugar House - oil on panel 10x12 inches

Friday morning... when the sun reluctantly did crest the eastern horizon... what did we behold... but white stuff on the ground... "just a dusting"... as we refer to insignificant first flurries... but nevertherless - SNOW! The forecast on the radio this morning is for more snow in our area over the next few days... but the snow tires are on... the car's winterized and a good supply of windshield wiper fluid is on hand. We're ready!

Despite the cold temperatures that have swept into the Oro- Medonte... the colour continues to hang on... the sun continues to provide warmth and lighting. I've been able to be "out there"... still capturing more village material for our upcoming "Friends and Neighbours" exhibition in two weeks. This morning... I will return to the field... two, or maybe even three sites already on my radar... weather permitting!

The jpegs posted today are favourite places that continue to interest "me"... a couple I have painted on more than one occasion. Two others are "first timers" for me. Not that they didn't strongly pull on me to be painted... just that the old adage...."the grass seems greener on the other side of the fence"... seemed always to draw me away from what was beautiful... and at hand. No longer! They are now painted... and "I" will feel less guilty in passing them... as I did frequently because they now have a presence.

The top image is an old throwback... a designated "Heritage Site" from Hillsdale's earliest rural past. It is a one room jail... two holding areas... complete with iron bars... each with a cot... and a wood stove to provide the "amenities". There was no need even for a guard I'm told... so "visitors" were simply left to their own thoughts and amusements until feeding time... or release.

I noticed this site on many... many occasions before painting it finally... simply because it is located on a lane leading directly to our parking for our Gallery. We must pass by it each and every time that we return to our Gallery and home. The colour was still rich and enticing on Thursday... so I decided to bite the bullet and give it a stab.

Earlier in the summer... as I swung up the lane... I was met by a small gathering... or "murmeration" as it is known.. of starlings either feeding, or gathering small stones for their crops in the view ahead. It struck a funny chord within... which I have held on to until this pleasant wee painting...."Jail Birds" came into being! Sometimes the waiting... is about rethinking...revising what is merely visual... into a stronger image with something more to say! I like the final cut!

The second jpeg... a lovely Victorian vintage Ontario brick was once the manse for St Andrew's Presbyterian Church. Since serving the servants of the Lord... it has served as the home for a very gifted potter... and presently is the home and business of Event Decorator and Design... owned and operated by Elizabeth and Steve Johnston. Liz is the only daughter of Biker n' Triker, Rolly Hallyburton. Deb at one time was the book keeper for this very high end event planning business... until her "craftiness"... got the better of her! HA HA!!!

I painted this painting yesterday morning... watching the half inch or snow on the tree branches and ground melt out of existence... for now! It was a lovely bright and crisp day. The quiet and solitude was broken only by a couple of interested school children... headed of to classes at the nearby elementary school... a block or so further eastward down Albert Street... and a very busy blue jay that kept noisily ferrying back and forth into the fir cover to the left in the painting.

The third image lies up Mill Street West... near St Andrew's Presbyterian Church. I liked the higher elevation of the sunlit clapboard house... joined to the foreground by the brightly lit roadway and dark foliage shrouded wings left and right. It was a simple composition... simply painted and I am pleased with the outcome.

The fourth and final image for this post... John McFadden's Sugar House... has been on my list-to-do for three weeks. However... the leaf cover was too dense and gaudy to offer a pleasing and uncluttered composition. So I patiently waited... and that paid off! As Kenny Rogers so aptly put it: "Ya gotta know when to hold!" Painting outdoors is indeed like playing in a game of poker with a myriad of other "players" in the "game"... playin agin ya! Sometimes the cards are stacked against you... and "Ya simply...gotta fold!" HA HA!!

During the next week... although I will be away for two days... I will be concentrating my attention upon more contemporary and modern homes in the new subdivision... to show that the village is composed of both the old... and the new. Life is lived quite differently in both places... but I quite enjoy walking through both areas... and have friends living in each. Both add a distinct flavour to village life.

So Autumn continues to hold Winter in abeyance... for who knows how much longer? But who cares? I look forward to Winter's arrival... as a continuation of expected seasonal change. I will be ready! I have my winter clothing... cotton gloves... boots... and trusty snowshoes at the ready! But until winter arrives... I'm out there!... Painting another piece of Autumn 2011!

Good Painting to ALL!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Turning a Rain Storm... Into a Brain Storm!

"Wrapped in Autumn" - oil on panel 10x12 inches

"Faded Rose, Rumble's Flour and Feed Mill" - oil on panel 10x12 inches

"Bathed In the Final Warmth of Autumn" - oil on panel 10x`12 inches

"Waning Light and Colour" - oil on panel 6x8 inches

How strange this Autumn! I reported earlier last week that Autumn's colour seemed to be waning... along with the idyllic "Indian Summer" conditions which Ontarians can usually expect in late October. Last week the winds and rain lashed our area continuously for five days straight... and as I reported... I totally expected that the highly anticipated and enjoyable Fall painting run was completely at an end.

That was not to be the case, however! Blue skies... warmer temperatures and evidence that a whole lot of the colour remained aloft in the mixed woodlands of the Oro- Medonte... raised my spirits and juices... driving me outdoors for two more wonderful and productive plein air sorties.

So far... I've managed a total of eight 8x10 and 10x12 inch sketches to be added to my fall production for 2011. All of these sketches have been located within walking distance of the Gallery... so no waste of time... driving about... looking for inspiration at the cost of time... and


The positive response to my small local Hillsdale sketch..."Autumn's Hangin' On... But Mary's Gone" struck a chord on Friday morning. Why not spend a block of time sketching usually ignored homes and sites right in the village and nearby area? Having toured about on my nightly walking ritual... I quickly realized that there was indeed "the meat" for an interesting... and close-at-hand make work project for me using these "ordinary" village subjects.

Deb and I have put our heads and hands together to flesh out my local paint "Idea" into an actual late fall show aptly entitled: "Friends and Neighbours." We have mailed out an invitation to all Hillsdale residents via a coloured flyer through our local post office... inviting all to the opening of the show to take place on Sunday, November 13th. The show will continue for two weeks only... ending on Sunday, November 13th.

The show will consist of about thirty works... most being plein sketches completed about the village... of historic and contemporary homes as well as heritage sites such as Rumble's Flour and Feed Mill. Our hope is that village folk's interest will be piqued enough... to come out and see... "Is our home included?"

The answer is quite simple! Might be! But if not... it can be easily added... as a direct commission tailored to your own space... format and specifications! What a great Christams idea for that special someone... or to fill that dull... empty wall space in your home!

If nothing else is accomplished by the creation of this show... we sincerely hope that it might cause residents to "see" their village in a new light... and bring about the feeling which I have for the village... that it is indeed beautiful and worthy of spending my own time and effort to record its specialness. I have included four jpeg "morsels" for your interest and input.... with four more to come later on during the weekend.

We'll see what happens. Nothing ventured... then nothing gained! If you don't send a ship out... then don't sit waiting at the dock waiting for one to come in! As my ol' pal Rolly Hallyburton... owner of The Hilldale Bicycle Shoppe offers: If you don't have your own "bikes"our front... then people don't know you're there... and won't stop by!"

"I"... am a converted Graduate... of the Rolly Hallyburton School of Business! His costless... effective sales strategy works! We have our "Choir Boys/ Orphans"... lining our front stairs... each and every day... waiting to be adopted... at "fair" market value... considering that they all owe us rent! Get the drift?... Move 'em out!

Stay tuned!.....

Good Painting... to All

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Turkey's finally finished... but Thanksgiving remains!

"Autumn's Hangin' On... But Mary's Gone!"- oil on panel 10x8 inches

"The House That Built Me" (Line from a popular c&w tune)

Commission: Oil on gallery wrapped canvas 12x16 inches - SOLD

Despite the constant maelstroms of wind... and the deluges of rain all week... the colour is hangin' in there... and so am I ... hoping to get "out there" for one last full day of fall plein air painting. Fingers crossed!

But before I allowed myself that pleasure... I had things about the studio... and in personal life to tie down before that could happen. I can happily say now... that those necessities have been met... and hopefully either today orMonday will find the colour remaining as it has been... in pockets of dots n' dashes of the earlier crowning colour... which has for the most part passed.

I do actually enjoy the more muted and subdued colour as I suggested in an earlier post... where the heavily moist and misty air offers moody views and more manageable values that don't overwhelm or dominate visual senses. Just one guy's preference...

After completing Allison's votive painting of La Salute on time... and varnishing and providing the hanging necessities for the house portrait completed recently... delivering it... and getting paid by one very happy client... I noticed a subject not more than 200 paces from the Gallery door which commanded my immediate attention. I had contemplated possibly painting this subject many times for a number of reasons... as I passed by it on my evening walks.

I quickly came home on Friday... grabbed my easel, box and can of spirits and went over to the site in my van. It was drizzling n' spitting, but I simply used my usual inclement weather set up... "one leg of the easel inside the trunk area of the van... two legs outside... and myself under the overhang of the van rear door." After about an hour of quick brushwork... I packed 'er... "as is"... and headed back home... and directly into a deep hot tub to get rid of the damp cold that I felt in my core.

The first reason was that I liked the intimate... compacted composition... a neighbourly, almost familial relationship between the tree... house and church. Now... in that composition... the maple had dropped enough of its foliage to create a peek-a-boo view... broken by small clumps and bright golden "floaters"... to make a stunning and visually interesting subject to get my teeth into. I really like what I captured... it's plain... and simple!

The second reason was more personal... and was perhaps the more driving reason and incentive to make this painting. The 86 year old Lady Friend... large "L" and "F" fully intended... who had lived in this simple home.. had raised her large family of sons, daughter and grandchildren here...sadly had passed this summer... after a long, but never-complaining valiant struggle with cancer and simply old age.

Mary Morrison was an independent... always cheery and upbeat soul, who lived alone in this home... but with the help of her caring and attentive family who checked in on her daily. This home is reputed by local lore at least... to be the oldest surviving home in Hillsdale... being of log construction under the now faded "modern" mask of pinkish brown aluminum.

I often visited with Mary on her porch... pausing to catch up... have a few laughs and to get another village history and heritage lesson. She also enjoyed a nightly walk ritual... the same loop... only in opposing directions... "To spice it up!" she often jokingly threw at you. Often... she would simply appear at the front door of the Gallery and come in and sit down for quick visit. On occasion... she would have a fistful of grainy black n' white Brownie Sure Shot photos to leave for me... "to use in my work."

We shared so many small moments and time... and it cost so little to share these. I miss "Her"... more than ever now... as this year's autumn season slips away... too quickly. I hold on to these warm memories of "Her"... and in my own way used my paints to leave a small... perhaps insignificant "snapshot" back to "Her"... which declares with some joy... thanksgiving... appreciation and gratefulness that Mary Morrison... mattered and is remembered. That is so... if for no other reason than because "She" reached out unconditionally and consistently to the rapidly changing small world of Hilldale... and to this man... "from away"!

Thank "You...Mary!

Sharing... and caring knows no barriers. Anyone has the ability to participate... and the endless blessings... are unseen and certainly unexpected! Thank you ALL... for sharing your paintings... thoughts and ideas on your individual blogs

Good Painting... Sharing... and (extended) Thanksgiving to ALL!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Buon Compleanne... Allison!!!

"Notturno Veneziano" - oil on gallery wrapped canvas 12x12 inches

I am dedicating this evening's post to my lovely art historian daughter Allison Morgan... aka Jemima Puddle Duck/ Ms Pig... who will turn thirty-one tomorrow. It seems hardly possibly that thirty-one years have passed since she and her Mother laboured for twenty-seven difficult and dangerous hours to bring her into this life. It seems like only yesterday... that she shared my studio space every Saturday morning at my Brush Works Gallery in the Woolen Mill in Kingston , Ontario.

All of my children have shared in my artistic journey... each one with his or her own individual interest and ample artistic talent, I am proud to say. But it has been Allison... who has made it her life's avocation to pursue all things Art... up to and including her earning her Doctorate In Art History from St Andrew's College in St Andrew's, Scotland. She now teaches Renaissance Art History between Queen's University in Kingston and Carleton University in Ottawa... while continuing to write a post doctoral enlargement of her thesis topic for publication.

I am indeed proud of "Her" ... and her academic achievements... but what I most admire about Allison is her sense of self-determination... loyalty... intelligence and her wonderfully quick wit and sense of humour. "She" is... the kind of teacher that we so very deeply need at the head of the class... to guide young new minds through her wonderful example. Her sense of fair play... yet high expectations for her students will lead many other students... particularly young women like herself to push forward the envelope for opportunity and advancement in the world... for these young minds... in a too tired and male-dominated society of the past.

I decided to paint a special picture today... a sort of commemorative gesture marking not only her special day... but one which would visually celebrate the common love that we share for now... and always...Fine Art - Past and Present... as well as the common love and affinity for magical Venezia. It was here in this magical city of culture... that we both found our life's passion... work... and our Selves!

The image I have selected is my favourite basilica in Venice.... Basilico Santa Maria della Salute... or "La Salute"... as she is affectionately known by all Venetians. I visited her and sketched it her many times during my eight weeks of study in Venice. This High Baroque church architecture... constructed of white Istrian Limestone sits like an iceberg in the inky darkness of night... fairly seeming to float on the surface of the quiet waters of the night lagoon.

She was designed by the important Venetian Baroque architect Baldasarre Longhena between 1631 to 1687 and was opened with a special pageant known as the Festa della Madonna della Salute on November 21st, 1687... and that pageant processional still is observed on that same day... travelling from Piazza San Marco and across the Grand Canal to La Salute. Some cultures never forget to remember and to celebrate... things that mattered from their Past!

"La Salute" was constructed and dedicated to honour and to give thanks to the Blessed Virgin to give thanks for deliverance from the Great Black Plague which decimated the population of Venice... other Italian cities and the rest of the known world in the first half of the 17th century.

Her luminous and ethereal presence... against the stark, inky black of night... from the very first time I witnessed this moment described in my painting... perfectly described the basilica as being a looming symbol of new hope... in a previous world filled with suffering and death. And even today... in these troubling times... that Hope is revisited each ... celebrated and embraced by the citizens of Venice on November 21st. It's a marvellous example of... simple... child-like Faith and Hope!

So... I offer this rough quick study of this fine Venetian monument to "You" Allison... as a symbol of hope for a bright and fulfilling future life... and as a deeply held and unconditional gesture of my great love... affection and pride that I hold in my heart... especially for "You". Thank you ever so much for the constant and unconditional love that you have offered me along our journey together...

I so look forward to sharing many more exciting adventures together... and our always enjoyable returns to The Hundred Acre Wood... The Blustery Days... and our fav... The Muppet Adventures! Still young at He(Art)... EH Jemima???? HA HA!!!

Have the Happiest Birthday ever!... I look forward to a real celebration get together soon!

Until then Ciao... and Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

All my love ALWAYS!!!



Good Painting... to ALL!!!

PS I'll give this a "tickle 'er two in the morning Allison and add a few figures on the steps to amplify the grandiose Baroque scale of this magnificent edifice. It was a mad one session dash to get it posted in time for the celebration! Hope that you like it!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Autumn is in its last throes here

"A Beauty... Even in the Gloom"-Madawaska River Near Whitney oil on canvas 12x20 inches

This past weekend colder weather... relentless northwesterly winds and sheeting rains ripped unceasingly and mercilessly through the maple canopies... leaving only pockets of high colour here and there in the Oro-Medonte Hills. Colour from here on... up to the final stages of autumn will highlight the burgeoning and dominant russets of the oak... gaudy yellow softwoods... ochre tamaracks/larch and the groves of contrasting greens of reddening white cedar... darker black spruce "pointers"... and lighter green white and red pines. The fanfare aspect of autumn has been reduced to but a few plaintive notes... before unceremoniously submitting bare bones... to winter.

As I mentioned in an earlier post... Autumn is at best a bittersweet moment... a time to reflect about one's personal life and to give thanks... it being our annual Thanksgiving... for the copious blessings that we all enjoy. It is also a wondrous time to watch nature's creatures either preparing to winter... or to depart for safer and warmer latitudes to avoid it's harshness... and lack of food sources. Geese and crows ferry about neighbouring freshly harvested fields... fueling up for their long journeys south... while new faces like those of the grey-breasted juncos flit and rummage actively in the hedgerows and ditches... seeking out seeds.

Despite the realization... that winter will soon blanket the entire world with his ermine coat... and that leafless frozen tree branches will rattle their skeleton tune in all treetops... I really do love to be out painting... trying to capture the now muted colour and enjoying the acrid smell of fallen leaves, as they begin the process of mouldering away. Even man's presence seems less intrusive... and I look forward to the ambient smell of seasonal woodsmoke in the crisp cold air. There is an intrinsic beauty... even in the face of the likelihood of "too many " months of harsh cold... and gloom.

My wife always (constructively) complains that paintings completed from this period in the year are hard sell items... simply because of the simple fact that people do not want to be reminded about what is upcoming... or just passed. However... I choose to make these paintings for my Self... and I'm more than content to have a few of these hang about... simply to remind "Me"... that one can find beauty and something to enjoy... in all parts of the year.

Today's offering... completed en plein air... up north along the Madawaska River... just outside Algonquin Park is one of such paintings... a "reflection"... that I still much enjoy. It was completed in late October in the fall of 2004. I still get a great deal of pleasure from seeing the painting... and re listening... if you can believe it... to the actual conversations that I shared with my painting pals on that day. I hope that you enjoy this little "special child" of mine... and see something that redeems it... through your eyes and tastes.

I am at present buried in a smallish 12x16 inch commission... thankfully small.. and currently at the two thirds mark to being complete. I will knock this one out of the batter's box by tomorrow... with a couple of blazing fastballs... straight down the middle! It will be a "nice"... competent piece.... but it's about the lack of full artistic "ownership" of the process...

You all know what I mean by this! Grateful for the opportunity to pay the bills... and the confidence shown by my client in my painting style ability. Gratefulness as well... to have it in the done tray... so that I can joyfully return to day dreaming.... and painting again... outdoors!

Good Painting... and Happy Autumn... what remains of it... to All !!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What if?..... OOPS!!!

Surprise! Surprise!...."What if "... I posted a new post for today and it didn't appear.. today? Well... it's just happened and the reason is simple. I began the draft earlier on in th month had held on to the post... originally begun on Monday, October 3rd... until this morning!

Silly Goose... this Bruce! The Blogger memory doen't advance previously begun posts to the present. So "if"... you are at all interested... simply scroll down two posts passed... to the post title...."What if". The whole post is there... along with the updated version of this reworked canvas shown above !

Sorry for the glitch!

Good painting to ALL!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bittersweet Autumn... A Time for Reflection

Evening Angelus, Combermere- Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Heads bowed in Grace

In this pastoral place-

Giving thanks for the plenty
In this beautiful space.

Two ol' Pals

Cavalcade of Colour at Brewer Lake

Brewer Lake Reflections.. Algonquin Park

View to the confluence of the York and Little Mississippi Rivers at The Conroy marsh

Oxtongue Rapids Inukshuk

Bittersweet Moment, Combermere- oil on canvas 11x14 inches

Madawaska Magic- oil on panel 12x16 inches

Summer always seems to be a time of hustle and bustle... a time where human activity mimics the energy and vitality of the natural world where human kind reside... work and play. Though it is long like winter as a season... it really almost seems to evaporate in one's mind. Where did the time go?... is a question in most of our minds. It seems that cottages were just opened... and that boats were just slid into the water... and the kids just got out of school for summer vacation.

These are the questions that surface in autumn... questions that again, I'm certain... are brought forward in the face of sudden changes in the natural world. As the summer warmth is stolen from us by the slyly approaching winter... as the myriad of lush summer greens are replaced by the flush of the tumultuous final fanfare of colour in our woodlands and hills... as the animal world shifts into high gear as hunter-gathering activity takes precedence over courting and play... we come to realize and become more attuned to the natural rhythm of the rapidly changing natural world, where we are but pawns in the chess game of life.

For those of us who have reached the "autumn" years of our own earthly journeys... autumn perhaps seems rich and vivid on one hand... yet saddening in another. "Bittersweet"... is the word that comes to mind for "me"... to best describe my own feelings. It is at this particular time that I pause to look across the breadth of my journey... recalling highlights and less pleasing moments... recalling changes that have evolved during the course of my journey... recalling friends and relationships that have enriched my own journey. Some of those... have passed on... though they were as young as I... way back when. Time is indifferent to the human term "fair"...

I choose to embrace and to bathe my Self in the blessings... the gifts that continue to sustain "Me"... those gifts that further enrich my life and offer renewed possibility. I choose to view the glass ... "as half full... rather than half empty. Autumn... for "Me"... the whole short season is about Thanks-giving! I am richly blessed!

While I was painting with Deb and my friends David and Diane at the century farm near Combermere, I roamed about... camera in hand as I customarily do for a break once in a while during a painting session and came across this natural and poignant still life created by some farm soul who shares my Faith and connection to Life. It will most certainly become a large painting in the studio down the road... but I wished to share the photo image with all of you today because it encapsulates my belief system so wonderfully about Life and our brief place in it.

I am... as well including the two sketches that I managed during our wonderful and unforgettable Algonquin Getaway-2011.

Rich blessings...Happy Autumn... and Good Painting to ALL!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving... to ALL!!

"Bountiful Blessings" - oil on canvas 30x24 inches

Deb and I just returned from a three day stay in Algonquin Park with painting pal David Kay and his wife Diane. We went up Wednesday, arriving at noon... in order to get in some painting before the usual Thanksgiving weekend hordes descended upon The Park.

While we enjoyed some quality time painting... however, the really high colour had already been reached a week earlier... leaving only traces of the heavy red and orange prominence in all parts of The Park. Strangely enough, there were also larger numbers of Park visitors than I expected along Highway 60 and down the various roads leading to favourite painting haunts.

Given these changes... David suggested that we spend some time down the abandoned railway bed that runs alongside the Madawaska River from Whitney to Madawaska. We have painted successfully there before on many occasions and we had complete privacy along the river on Wednesday afternoon. We both managed to make a nice painting each... and Deb took some great action pictures of the series of dramatic rapids. A good start for all!

Next day we struck out over to the Barry's Bay/Combermere area and painted... again totally alone at a century farm with phenomenal views of the Highlands where the York and Little Mississippi Rivers converge upon the Conroy Marsh Preserve. The landscape is nothing short of spectacular... and will remain untouched by development because of the sensitive nature of the area .

Deb and I painted a section of a century old log barn complex with the area mentioned above a s its backdrop. Diane curled up with a book on a chair in the warm sun... and played the afternoon away with the four barn kittens who kept visiting her. Each of us was doing what we wanted... basked in warm sunshine... and surrounded by unparalled quiet and beauty!

Later... we returned home to David and Diane's lovely lakeside home on Galaeiry Lake... where we enjoyed drinks... followed by a sumptuous barbecue meal of steak... pork chops... baked potatoes and fresh smoked laked trout... accompanied by various greens and squash by chef David... finishing up with a deliciously baked apple apple crisp... a la Diane and an evening of fellowship and laughter!

A night's sleep... minus the usual continual hum of highway traffic afforded us a wonderful and unbroken rest. We headed home this morning after a filling and traditional egg... sausage and toast sendoff at the East Gate Motel Breakfast room. We gradually weaseled our way back through the Park and Muskoka side roads into the Oro-Medonte and back to Hillsdale to be here to meet weekend visitors to The Paint Box Gallery.

Life cannot be better! Good friends... good painting... good food and another round of good Algonquin memories. A bounty of blessings... for which "I" am truly grateful! This has been a truly great Thanksgiving celebration that we will long remember.

A Happy and Hearty Canadian Thanksgiving Greeting... to All my followers and Friends... no matter where you live!

God bless!... and Good Painting to ALL!

PS Paintings and Pictures from the trip to follow next post. This still life painting of my bounty-laden Grampa Birrell's wheelbarrow covers the Thanksgiving bases most adequately I feel!

Monday, October 3, 2011

What if....?

Reworked in burnt sienna washes. Note underlying brushwork still visible.

"September's Song" oil on 8x10 inch canvas... using plaette knife only!

"What if"... is one of those quandaries which visits and confronts each of us at many times... often even daily in our painting lives... and along our journey. Those words usually predicate an immediate need for a decision for change. Often the change is small and the term is used casually in personal thought... or perhaps in conversation with another to explore options to create a desired direction of change. Usually, if used in conversation with another... the term could signal a rather loose "invitation" to participate in the development of a change... a gentle and nonthreatening way to gather and assess options or possible solutions to a pesky problem.

If the term is used as personal response to an inward questioning... it might be simply a verbal rehearsal to used to posit "possibilities"... before deciding upon a definite course of action to solve the problem at hand. In both of these cases... the term reflects a positive and normal strategies for problem solving in our daily lives. That same condition applies to creative thinking and action(s) as well and usually leads to a more positive outcome than merely diving into the problem ... without a plan of attack... or weighing of possible outcomes.

There is another form of "what if" as well... one that is not productive. In fact... if used to reflect upon actions NOT TAKEN which lie clearly in the past... and only reflect a sense of regret over a failure to act... the term is highly negative... and destructive.

The Universe, meaning Life... offers each of us an unlimited number of choices and opportunities over our journeys. The choice... and right to either act... or not lies squarely on our shoulders alone. We surely must take into account... a myriad of conditions in order to make these decisions... and we must also weigh in how our decision impacts the lives of our friends and loved ones. Choices can also be influenced by financial and personal health and safety issues as well.

All of this said... we are each given one life to lead... with no absolute guarantee of another awaiting us beyond this one. It behooves each of us then... to maximize our given opportunities by facing each bravely as we encounter them and to regularly exercise complete belief and trust in our Selves to make these decisions. We all are guilty of "coasting"... ceding over responsibility... even making irrational excuses for avoiding what we fear most - the Future. It is much easier to bask in the comfort of the known... "The Now"... or worse still... to rest upon the laurels or fear of failure based upon "The Past"... neither of which is fully relevant to future outcomes in our lives.

It is never too late to begin any journey in life.... nor to undertake any personal change in the course we have been following. Rather than wallowing in self-pity.... or hopelessness due to constraints imposed by others... or your own fear of flying, why not choose to use Today... and Tomorrow to plan and execute your very own Redemption.... and Transfiguration. It is never too late to fulfill your own personal bucket list.... one item at a time. It only requires that internal reflection... inwardly... a truthful "conversation" with your Self... adding in your own..."What if?".... and get down to work... just trying to accomplish that first step in the process!

The "loser"painting in my post is an artsy way to demonstrate my point. The first canvas' subject... not able to be seen now ...was a "scrubber"... completed way back in September 2001. It laid about until I know longer could bear to look at the failure in it. So I sanded and again reissued this small 8x10 canvas. As I looked at the "new" white emptiness.... I could still discern some of the underlying brushstrokes through the shadows they created. I began to rotate the canvas... constantly looking... searching to find... or "See" something concealed in its emptiness.

Finally... I said to myself..."What if you introduced and played with some thinned burnt sienna?"... which I did. Before long, I found a landscape of sorts emerging... one that bore no resemblance to the original image at all. I left it overnight and returned to it fresh the next day.

"What if I used a palette knife... instead of a brush?" That would certainly help bury many of the "too obvious and unwanted lines." And so it proceeded... until "The Now" version. The only remnant of the Past is its title: "September's Song". Both were completed in the month of September... and keeping this shard from its less illustrious Past... seemed a fitting reminder.

Following the process.... these are the "What ifs" that ran through my mind.What if I had just junked the canvas?".... What if I had "Shermanized" it in the usual fashion? The "What if "... has now become the "What is"... and I am most pleased with the result... not just the image... but more the process of making an earlier failure work into something positive... with "possibility"!

Take courage! Take risks! Take ownership for your own Destiny.... and live your Life... each day... as a Blessing!

Much Peace... and Good Painting... and Safe Risking... to ALL!