Saturday, September 29, 2012

Still Soaring... After Algonquin Adventure

"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And dance the skies non laughter-silvered wings...
                    .... to
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God."

No! I was not in the air flying in an aircraft during my too brief stay in Algonquin Park... but in every sense of meaning of the word... I was experiencing the very same exhilarating feelings and emotions which the poet-WWII pilot John Gillespie Magee so eloquently describes in his poem "High Flight."

I first was introduced to the poem in Grade Seven as a young school child... ironically by the a revered  teacher/mentor, Miss Mildred Hyde... with whom I had the great privilege and honour to team teach with many years later... for five years prior to her sudden passing. She taught me many lessons about living one's life fully... in service to others and the art of teaching. Even at that early age... I was deeply moved by those words and have carried them forward ever since into my current life.

Autumn colour and a Park experience never fail to ignite those feelings and to kindle my artistic fire into action. This year was no exception! I realized that the colours in the highlands of the Park were at their peak, even before entering the East Gate entrance. The tamaracks were well on to their change from green to fiery ochre... well before their usual late October to early November schedule. The reds, yellows and golds.... everywhere one looked... were dazzling... waiting to be painted. And paint... David and I did!

We drove immediately to The Visitor Centre to take care of ECOAA business first, thus leaving the remainder of the afternoon to get "out there." We deposited our three entries for the juried exhibition... and quickly left the Centre and judging arena for a quieter place on a nearby roadside bog we had scouted out on our way further into the Park. We both jumped quickly into action... and in a bit over two hours we both had our first 16x20 canvases in the truck... and headed back to Whitney for a quick sandwich.

We then back-tracked to a favourite "honey hole" on Opeongo Lake Road... where we hoped we could escape the milling crowds of birders and photographers along the road everywhere. Our site was indeed vacant... so we dropped down to water level and set up "side-by-each." The evening light was beginning to fail rapidly... so we both knew that speed was essential. No time for walking about... or contemplation. Just jump in... and let the paint land where you first think it belongs... and hope for the best. Both of us came away with satisfactory results ... given the hour and a bit we had to lay in the 16x20 inch sketches both on panels.

I will shift away at this point in this point from the "word part"... and will inject jpegs which better illustrate the majesty and awe of this year's first Algonquin Autumn experience. I will add in my modest... but earnest and  untouched sketches... "impresssions"... raw from the field  for comparison. One can never hope to fully capture nature. At best... one hopes to pass along the emotional  feelings... deeply felt. I hope that you might feel and agree that I have! Enjoy!

Good Fall Painting to ALL!

PS Out to the Gallery to add a few strokes... hopefully...  not too many.. to close each sketch out! I' ll post those and other jpegs on a later post.

Stay tuned....

A Photographic Montage of Algonquin Colour

Painting "Impressions" ... painted en plein air on two glorious Autumn days... back-to-back!

"Algonquin... A Prima Vista"  (First Sight of)- oil sketch on canvas 16 x 20 inches

"Algonquin... Aglow!, Opeongo Road" - oil sketch on panel 16 x 20 inches

"Madawaskan Crescendo... Into Autumn" - oil sketch on panel 20 x 16 inches

Post Script - Sunday, September 30th
Retouched Versions completed the day after coming home

I find that at a certain point in the initial outdoor sketch, one reaches an impasse where either applying further pigment results in greying down the first rich colour values... or one gets caught up in looking for too much detail. I prefer to bring the sketches home ... away from the actual setting and to add these touches from memory... or more likely, just from my imagination. In either case... I did sit with a coffee and carefully consider what I thought might add to each sketch... savouring the coffee... the warm sun... and the memories of the day.

I most always choose to  use the term "sketch" in reference to the initial field work... simply because I have not reached the point where they have a finished feel for the reasons stated above. After the sketches have been reconsidered... and are selectively retouched with further strokes and passages...  the sketch, in my own mind can then be considered a painting. A painting... with the freshness of a sketch - that's important to me!

I am pleased with the results... and I hope that you might see those changes and agree!



  1. You indeed captured this beautiful park on a beautiful day, Bruce. I love the autumn, the colors of the leaves as they begin to show their finest colors...I can almost smell that air!

    Gorgeous work, my friend.

  2. Hi there "Crimson Leaves"... This post's yours my dear!

    Bright n' cheery... with Autumn's finest on view! And yes... there was indeed smoke in the air. Most folk in these parts still use wood for heat... for at least part of it. It conjures up sweet cottaging and camping memories for sure!

    Happy Autumn Sherry! Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

    Good Painting... You are?... I hope!
    Warmest regards,

  3. Good morning, Bruce!
    I love the look of your completed pieces! You put just the right amount of work to maintain the alla prima feel of the original.
    "A painting... with the freshness of a sketch" Well said, Bruce!
    And thanks for all those gorgeous Autumn photos!

  4. Hey Dean!... Thanks for the visit and uplifting comments! Glad to share Algonquin's beauty with you! You are free to use them... should you wish to!!!

    The phrase "a painting... with the freshness of a sketch"... well applies to your own work. You never allow the photo references to infringe upon your creative expression! Always lively... fresh looking... with sufficient subtle detail to catch the eye!

    Good Fall Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  5. What a location! It must feel like there's a painting to be painted every second step. The air looks so crisp and clear. These three paintings are beauties, I like the energy in the brushstrokes - they show your joy at being out there. Thank you for sharing a slice of your beautiful autumn.

  6. Hi there Lisa!... You are correct on all counts!

    Paintings anywhere one looks... crisp air... colour... energy in the landscape which begs painting... and JOY!!!

    It is Canada in her best dress... a Canada that I am so proud of... and to showcase in my paintings for others afield to enjoy!

    Thank you for your visit and encouraging words and observations!

    Good Fall (Coastal) Painting!
    Warmest regards.,

  7. preciosos paisajes me encanta tus pinturas,T sigo.Saludos.

  8. Good Morning Carmen!... Thank you for visiting and for taking the time to comment!

    Though I don't speak Spanish at all.. I get the general picture that you enjoyed these "picturas"... and I send greetings to you!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,