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!


  1. You were certainly "in the zone" with that demo, Bruce! Lively and fresh looking!

    Happy Easter my friend.

  2. Hi there Dean!... Thanks for the upbeat "Easter Egg"! Much appreciated coming from you Dean!

    "Lively and fresh looking"... is compliment enough for me!

    Good Painting... and Happy Easter to you Dean!
    Warmest regards,

  3. Good to see your paintings again, and read about your productive trip. About the low water - we are similarly having a real threat of serious drought here in the West Country of the UK. Tonight on the news was a warning of ticks in bracken covered areas. Practically unheard of here.
    Sounds like you managed your demo and onlookers well.
    Keep up the great work.

  4. Hi Bruce, thank you for sharing your demo with us. You have done an incredible job in just an hour of painting and working from a sketch. Shows the years of hard work that have resulted in really great skills to paint s well. Often a good break away from painting will help us to return to the canvas with renewed life and ideas. I also read the Robert Genn newsletters they are always so interesting. Sorry you had the stress from a couple of restless students it can happen I always feel it unsettles the other students who are serious about learning. You did so well and what matters is that the demo was a great success and those who care supported you so well with their company, good food and accommodation. Happy Easter!

  5. Good Morning Andrew! ... Thank you for visiting and for leaving such interesting facts and comparisons regarding weather in your area of the world.

    Interesting that conditions there mimic the very unpredictability and unseasonable conditions that seem to be occuring here. Frightening really!

    I did enjoy my stay in the Park... and painting with old friends. The solitude and quietude really refreshes and renews my spirit. I never fail to come away feeling rejuvenated... and deeply blessed!

    Good Painting!... and Happy Easter to you Andrew!
    Warmest regards,

  6. Good Easter Saturday Morning to you Highland Lass!.... Thank you ever so much for your visit and for your kind and supportive words!

    Despite the disappointing conduct of a very small... and the word "small"... applies in so many ways to these people. The only way large applies to them... is in reference to their own sense of self-importance. Otherwise... they are insignificant in my reality. One has to learn just to ignore and work around them... and focus on the positive... and I choose to do so!!!

    Doing a demo is akin to being a manikin in a storefront window... you place yourself before people to give them something to consider visually. The choice to admire... or "buy"... or otherwise lies with those on the other side of the glass! HA HA!!

    I got my job done... and so many really gained from the evening... and carry home ideas to put into action in their own lives... and studios!

    The rest of the foray was incredibly rewarding!

    Happy Easter and Good Painting Lass!
    Warmest regards,

  7. Hi Bruce,

    Happy Easter to you, Deb and your family. Love your process, from the early sketches to the completed painting. To give a demo and have to listen to some rude people has to be difficult. I tip my hat to you, a true artist and teacher.
    Sorry to hear the ticks have found their way to Canada, we worry about those terrible creatures attacking our pets and family. There is a product called Skin So Soft, they absolutely hate it, keeps all insects and bugs

    Looking forward to your move, I am truly happy for you and Deb.

    Once again, Happy Easter, and thank you my friend for all the wonderful suggestions on my journey of art studies. So very appreciated.

    All the best,

  8. Good evening Bruce. Your paintings give a good impression of the perfect weather and the demo piece has a nice freshness, despite the challenging conditions!

    I'm sorry to hear, though not surprised, that you have a tick problem over there. It's the same here and the prediction is that they could well be worse this year after the mild winter.

    Good luck with the move.


  9. Hi there Joan!... Thanks for visiting and for your uplifting and supportive comments re: the demo!

    We have everything well in hand now with the packing with just our supply cupboard items and tools to be boxed. All else is ready to move out!

    The ticks seem to have emerged as a real problem everywhere. They are dastardly creatures that can cause real havoc for pet and humans alike. Thanks for the Skin So Soft tip... it works for mosquitoes and black flies as well.

    Have a Happy Easter with your family Joan!

    Wishing you Good Painting... and Happy Spring!
    Warmest regards,

  10. Good evening to you Keith!... Thanks for dropping by and for your kind comments regarding the demo piece!

    I too... am pleased with its freshness... which I think comes from using the sketching reference... still fresh in my mind... and the speed at which I painted. No time to get fussy or wander off course!

    Those ticks are nasty creatures... one must be vigilant in the high grass or deep leaf cover... they love to hich a ride!

    Good Painting!... and Happy Easter Keith!
    Warmest regards,

  11. Glad you are painting did your move go? Also was very annoyed for you regarding those three who rudely disrupted your demo...I have experienced similar situations and your response was exactly right! Love all these paintings but there is something about "Black Spruce..." especially your brushwork that is truly fine! Nice contrasts and a sense of mystery also. Fortunately out here ticks, etc. are not a problem...yet! We continue to have fairly cold weather but sun has begun to show itself a bit more.