Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Back to the Drawing Board!

We had a surprise return visit on Sunday to the Gallery by the gracious couple who just purchased "Summer Reliquary." We had agreed to come and bring the painting to their lovely riverside condominium home on approval. That was to take place on Monday morning at 9:00 am. We were taken completely by surprise to see their van pull into the driveway ... out of the blue on Sunday.

After a pleasant conversation and much banter and kidding the gentleman asked me if I ever made paintings from a photograph. I assured him that on occasion... and when necessary I did so. He pulled out a rather tattered picture of a very elegant Victorian home from his wallet and asked, "What about this one? I quickly and politely) glanced over the black and white photo... looking for elements that might form the basis for my answering yes. I do say no to any potential project presented which I can't commit to. Better to be honest right up front than to suffer throughout the commission process... and find yourself boxed in by a product which was doomed for failure right from the start.

I replied after some searching... that it was a charming subject and could be a possibly good painting subject... but that I would need some facts from him that weren't obvious from the small 2x4 inch black and white. Both he and his wife chimed in immediately that they had a box of pictures from which they could provide more reference for me to begin. I agreed to consider it further during our Monday morning meeting.

"Summer Reliquary" looked absolutely stunning in its potential home over their off white wooden fireplace mantle. Its vertical strength and the warmth of the frame picked up all of the colours of their other furniture and d├ęcor. Smashing! I am proud to have it placed in this elegant home... and in the care of this lovely and discriminating couple.

The three extra small and coloured reference photos did in fact pique my interest and I agreed to work up a sketch in pen and ink based upon this reference and to present it to them for final approval and further direction as to size and medium to be used. They agreed that the commission go forward in oil in a 16x20 inch canvas format... and that suited me for certain!

It turns out that this lovely home is located in Waterville.. in the Eastern Township of Quebec. It is the gentleman's family home. It means a lot to him for the same reasons that our own family homes strike nostalgic chords in all of us. A home isn't just a house. It's a place where one's heart can return to... long after our feet have left it forever!

It is an honour and I am proud to be asked to share in recreating a semblance of that memory which he clings to his wallet... so deeply into the later years of his journey! I'll do my best to to disappoint him!

On to the easel tomorrow! Here's where I will start the painting process from.

Stay tuned!...

 Photo reference and ink sketch. Note written data to act as
memory notes to guide the painting process.

Some might call it luck... but luck has nothing to do with the good fortune we continue to enjoy... as each new day arrives here in Rockport... both on the land and on the water. Simply put : in order to catch fish... one must put a line in the water! HA HA!!

A Northern Pike 31 inches in length and weighing in at 7 lb. What a great fish fry we enjoyed the next.evening! YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMEEE!


  1. Gorgeous sketch of your guest's family home, Bruce. I know the finished product will be even more beautiful.

    Woohoo! Look at those legs! I mean look at that fish!! I like fishing but only if don't lose the fish in the process. We've never caught one that large, for sure. We always catch and release. I don't like the taste or smell of fish, no matter how fresh it is.

  2. Good Morning Bruce,

    Congrats on the new commission and the catch of the day. I love the pen and ink sketch and looking forward to seeing the finish painting. Your client will be very pleased.

    Once again your post has both delighted and inspired me. We are having a heat wave on Long Island, so I will stay in and paint from a photo that was taken of a subject last Saturday.

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


  3. God morning Sherry!... Thanks for dropping by and for adding your cheery... and amusing comments!

    The fish was a real fighter and I had "foul hooked" him on the stomach when he struck. I had been fishing for yellow perch with worms... and therefore never remotely entertained the idea that a pike would become the quarry.

    Secondly... I was using an ultra-light spin cast set up which meant that the ensuing struggle was prolonged.. and (too) hard fought... a both ends of the rod!

    By the time that I finally landed him... he was too done in to be released... as I had intended When a fish is foul-hooked it is both the law.. and good sportsmanship to release the fish.. no matter the size. I tried unsuccessfully for over fifteen minutes to resuscitate him... but in the end decided t fillet him ad eat him.. hat being the only other fitting end to the saga.

    I my teens... I worked nearby at Caiger's Fishing Lodge.. working with local guides to clean fish and to prepare them for shore dinners. Therefore, in the process.. I garnered some very fine recipes... which make even the lowly thought of pike (by most anglers)... a tremendously fine fish to serve and to eat! What feast we enjoyed! M.le Pike did not perish in vain!

    My easel is et up in the shade. as I write... ready to begin the commission piece (in the shade - it's already 30C... a three day heat wave!

    Stay cool Sherry!... Happy Summer!
    Warmest regards,

  4. Hi there Warm One in Long Island...from warm One in Rockport! A heat wave here as well... so I'm set up well into the shade for my morning go at it!

    It pleases me greatly that you continue to find something in my posts that help you with your own journey and fine work Joan!

    Stay COOL... Happy Summer!
    Warmest regards,

  5. If that great ink sketch is any indicator (and I know it is), the house portrait will be a smashing success, Bruce!
    That pike is a super catch! Watch out for your fingers!

  6. Hi there Dean!... Thanks for visiting.. and for your encouragement re:the commission !

    "Too hot!"... to handle that at the moment! I'll set to work when the thermometer settles down! HA HA!

    Still have all of my fingers... but the pike is for certain... minus his "bite."

    Good Painting!
    armest regards,

  7. Hi Bruce, I know what you mean about painting from a photograph that doesn't inspire you. This looks like a good subject though and I think it's something that would probably interest you if you discovered it for yourself.

    Well done with the catch, I hope you continue to hook meals and commissions in equal measures.

    All the best,

  8. Hi there Keith!..Photographs just don't cut it for me. I feel very little emotional connection to the process and as a result... find it difficult to commit to get down to work.

    The use of them alone to connect with my subject... runs completely against the grain in my spontaneous and usual plein air approach! You can well identify with that feeling as well, I' m sure!

    But... I am indeed blessed to be finding work out there in these tough and uncertain economic times. I am grateful for the opportunities and peace that we have already found in our new and beautiful home!

    Love that phrase.."hook meals and commissions in equal measures. HA! HA!!ill be fishin' for certain!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,