Friday, April 13, 2012

Last Post!... From Hillsdale!

We have all but wrapped up the preparations at this end for moving next week. We have been out to dinner with several close friends... we have placed our lives in boxes... and discarded things carried for too long to make a clean transition. We have changed address information on personal certificates, vehicle and insurance policies and as well established our new postal address and phone number at the other end. We have even established a new physician and pick up new eyeglasses today. All seems in place ready for the exodus from Hillsdale on Friday, April 19th !

There is excitement at the thought of moving into Islesview... and in beginning a new chapter in our personal and artistic lives... back "Home" on the shores of The St Lawrence River! The house is painted throughout using Deb's colour scheme and the hardwood floors are by now... laid in the two upstairs bedrooms. The Gallery should as well be completed... and I can't wait to see the results as we have planned.

It is a humble start for what we hope will a complete "Renaissance" for The Paint Box Gallery. We have brochures... signage and advertising ventures already completed for our Grand Opening on May 24th... a National Holiday in Canada... and as well the weekend set aside for the Thousand Islands Studio Tour.

So it is fitting and appropriate on this... the last post from Hillsdale ... to salute Hillsdale as our home for over a decade by highlighting favourite paintings from our time here. The Oro- Medonte and Georgian Bay regions have been so very inspirational and some of my finest paintings... both in large and small format that have emerged simply because of the unquestionable beauty of the area and the friendships that we have found while living here. Both of these elements will for certain... be hard to leave behind. However... it has been said ....and I do believe this!

"Touch the Past... but embrace the Future!"

Onward towards whatever The Universe has in store for us!

Good Painting to ALL! See and talk to all of you from Rockport!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Algonquin Park... A Land of Ghosts... and the Beaver

Log Dam and Chute allowed passage of logs between place where two bodies of water narrowed and met. These lessened or prevented dangerous log jams.

Rivermen who died or were drowned... were given riverside burials by their fellow mates... often marked along rapid driven rivers such as the Opeongo, the Petawawa, the Madawaska by humble crosses and their hob nailed boots nailed to a nearby tree. Today... many of these crosses have melted and mouldered into the moss and lichen... leaving no visual record of the tragedy of yesteryear.

Our Canadian Symbol... The Beaver... Tail and all!!!

Woodland "Found" Sculpture

The Law of Perseverence.....

Inquisitive Gray Jay... or pesky, thieving "Whiskey Jack" as he is known.

A young winter-ravaged bull moose... less his rack.

Whittlin'.... beaver style!

A silent snow-capped beaver lodge.

The beaver dam..... a natural work of pure engineering.

I felt it only fitting to follow up my last blog post with a pictorial overview of my trip and my visit to the Logging Museum Exhibit prior to my demo. Algonquin is much more than a place to "Me". Along with the St Lawrence River... these special locations are natural sites of tranquility and peace... refuges from the din of humanity... true edifices... cathedrals in their own right in which to worship and commune with our Creator.

These wild spaces retain the ambiance of a natural beauty... and shards from a time when settlement and encroachment had not yet disturbed the Natural Order of Creation. To find oneself alone with this pristine landscape... save the presence of its wild creatures humbles one and clearly defines one's place and importance in the world we are blessed to live in.

I always come away from these experiences... enriched and infused with renewed excitement to paint. As well... I come back to my everyday existence less jaded and less critical of my own circumstances. In simple words... I return grateful to have been given my life and the freedom that I have enjoyed... to live my life with the fullest degree of freedom of choice and opportunity.

I hope that my sharing of these Algonquin Moments... that you too might be encouraged to seek out wild places in your own region and to infuse them into your own work. Perhaps together... our united images... thoughts and work will inspire others to visit and support the maintenance of these wild and sacred spaces for future generations to enjoy. Tolkien says it best through Gandalf in Return of the King (Lord of the Rings-Book 3):

"The rule of no realm is mine. But all worthy things are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail on my task if anything that passes through this night can still grow fairer and bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I too am a steward. Did you not know?"

Each of us does indeed bear the responsibility to carry forward stewardship of this beautiful planet and each of us can contribute a meaningful single voice... that together and in unison can form a choir to be heard and coalesce a feeling that can change the current squandering and disregard for our common home.

My life ... my paintings and my words are my contribution to this cause. And yours... Are you not a steward too?

In closing... I will share a poem/word thought that I composed on that morning visit to the Logging Museum site... when the world was quiet... and seemingly mine alone.

In Memoriam (To the Logger, River Man)

Death was all around you

In a land that we can scarcely know,

You lived... and died in quiet places

Where we will never go.

You toiled and struggled

Through frigid nights... plugged through till early dawn,

You kept your path... no matter what,

Where others couldn't carry on.

I think of you this morning

As I sketch... and try to picture "Then",

My mind drifts back to those long lost days

When men were really men.

Though Time and Progress have moved along

Your legacy endures,

For as long as fir and rock exist

My respect and gratitude... are yours.

Good Painting to ALL!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Out of Algonquin... Renewed... and Rockport Bound!

"Black Spruce... Coming and Going" - oil on canvas 16x20 inches

"Spring Reflections In Algonquin Park" - oil on panel 10x12 inches

"Algonquin Woodland Broadloom" - oil on canvas 20x16 inches

Field sketches and notes from my early Saturday morning tour of the Logging Museum site.

A very simple line map to start

Into the zone!

The Demo Piece... unfinished... but fully structured.

"Spring Tumbles In at the Log Dam and Chute"- oil on canvas 24x18 inches

My annual spring foray to the Park was, as always... thoroughly enjoyable... exciting... enriching and inspiring! The weather was nothing short of perfect for plein air painting and the Park... all but stripped of her winter vestments. Lakes usually covered with ice thick enough to support one contained mere shards along their sides. Creeks... surprisingly too... lacked their usual surging, anxious and torrential powers. All of these indicators simply support the reality that the weather has not been what is expected... anywhere on this planet. Disturbing really!

Going into the Park, I sighted my first moose of the year... a very unhealthy and weathered looking young bull standing almost in a stunned state alongside the highway. Male moose are less their antler rack at this time of the year. I stopped and approached quietly... keeping my usual safe distance... but soon realized that his obvious rough looking condition was not the results of a hard winter. There was a sad tiredness in his eyes... a helplessness really and I couldn't help but approach her more closely than usual. There was a vagueness... a sense of broken spirit - a loss of that essence of freedom which sets wild things apart from even human kind.

In our painting time together on the weekend, David explained that this moose likely was a victim of the ticks carried into the Park by white tail deer. They have been ravaging the moose population as well. This particular parasite, once limited in range to the Eastern Seaboard of the US has now entered our northern reaches as well. This tick is dangerous to humans as well because the tick is a carrier of the potentially fatal Lyme's Disease.

David and I stepped right into action on Friday afternoon heading to a site I had chosen on my trip through the Park on my trek to Whitney. It was a familiar swampy setting with jutting dead black spruce spars... with fugitive pockets of ice and snow laced into the hodge-podge of fallen timber. Perfectly... and uniquely... Algonquin Park! I had not painted for three weeks... so that the first half hour of work was just a struggle... my brush feeling more like a big broom.... the canvas a mere and meaningless clutter of marks rather than markers.

I made the decision... to simply dive in and let go of the control I was seeking... and to paint intuitively... simply responding to shapes... rather than attempting to manipulate using line. From this point onward, the painting "painted itself " really to the finish and the jpeg is unchanged... as I brought back on the day after two hours of painting. I think that it is... finished! I like it best... perhaps... because I persevered... caught the moment and won the day!

Early, after a great breakfast, I set out alone to scout out the site for my evening painting demo. I had chosen it before arriving from previous photo reference in my computer files. I wanted to get a feel for the site as it currently appeared... to refresh my meory with new detail and freshness.

Saturday was again a second perfect day weatherwise... and I managed two decent sketches... and might even have attempted as third... was I not "on tap" to do the demo for the group of twenty-five artists attending this Paint Out. Saved my energy... and that turned out to be a wise decision... given the stress and pressure that three disruptive members inflicted upon me and the other twenty-two respectful and interested audience during the entire course of the demo.

If you read Robert Genn's Twice-Weekly Newsletter this week on the subject of "Talkers and Doers" you will note from his comments and experience that this phenomena which I experienced was prevalent and predictable everywhere. That does not make it easier to tolerate or direct a full and pleasurable experience for everyone... BUT... narcissists (Talkers)are incapable of feeling empathy- they simply are aware of only one thing... satiating their Mount Everest sized ego! I delievered my demo to the "Doers." Enough said on the matter!

I simply chose to use the strategy that I practise on location. I "zoned out" the disturbing influence and simply delivered the demo rapid fire within an hour. I then wrapped up the demo by apologizing for my "quiet" ... and my need to withdraw to complete my task. I then revealed the core of preparation that I had gone through prior to delivering the demo and fielded many good questions regarding the my painting process.

I have included the demo piece... unaltered after delivery (as are all sketches shown in this post), along with the sketch references that I made on Saturday morning to give me the feel of being on location. The black and white ink sketch was my reference to give me the drawing set up. The painting was accomplished purely from memory... helping to create an intuitive and fresh look... I believe.

I had such a highly productive enjoyable weekend of painting... great food... renewals of old and valued friendships. My deeply felt thanks to friends David and Diane Kay... my wonderful hosts at the East Gate Motel in Whitney... and owner Steve and Lisa at The Mad Mushers for their consistently superb evening cuisine! Thank you all!

Now all speed forward... All hands on deck ... in the final packing mode... Rockport on the radar!!!

Happy Easter... and Happy Spring to All!

Good Painting to ALL!