Monday, January 28, 2013

Life... Measured in... Inches

Strange how this contents of this post knitted itself together this morning... how such seemingly unrelated events could trigger this chain of thinking and compulsive need to write! I thought it worth sharing.

It all began yesterday morning when I headed out... coffee in hand to sit on the end of the dock... excited to watch morning's majestic entry just eastward between Grenadier and Pine Islands. In the low light in the driveway, I could make out the shapes of smallish footprints, compared to my own which ended at a big rectangular patch of dark... revealing what had been the presence of a vehicle that had been parked over that space when the slight snow feel last evening. Those tracks and that space belonged to my first child Lisa... our Bajan Island Girl. She had come to have a last visit with us before "She" and her doodle of a dog Clover made the trip to Cattlewash, Barbados to begin a new life in their new home.

My interest for attending  the morning sunrise ceremony suddenly lost a lot of its excitement... and my view "outward'... to the world that I so find Peace and Joy in... reversed "inward" to that place where I store the other treasures which sustain "Me" and from which I make "withdrawals" from time to time to find purchase and calm when Life becomes too much. Memory is but a personal savings account form of banking... all about savings...deposits and withdrawals. My account is more active than most perhaps... and I constantly try not to allow my Self to go overboard in the withdrawal end. "Overdraft'... is never a healthy situation... for any of us!

I wouldn't call my state melancholic at all... but it has most certainly have plummeted before into that painful and deeply troubling state in earlier life... but I have indeed been "awakened" to the possibility of following a path encouraging those feelings for too long, and I have a life plan which I follow religiously which diverts me away from that abyss. Life is good! But I found my Self suddenly thrust back to a time where Lisa was wee... and "We"... our family, at the time were young new to family life. I recalled Lisa's relentless search to earn the title in her own mind of ... becoming a "Big Girl."

"Chattel House, Speightstown, Barbados" - watercolour and ink sketch "gifted " to Lisa...and returned to the Barbados

My eyes and my attention were suddenly drawn across the frozen, now psychedelic strata of frozen river to Pine Island. There my mind back-tracked to the Lisa story and I recalled the moment when Captain Peter Frost... once a pirate "wannabee" there on the Island  proudly showed the inside frame of the kitchen door where his mentor/ Grandfather JK had recorded the Keats children "periodic tables' of height ... to their  inch and by the year growth on each summer stay on their precious Pine Island reserve. I had thought at the time... how wonderful a mark to leave which would in later years to help these children... each of them in their own way to retrace their life backwards in time... inch by inch!

This is "Me" says Peter so proudly ... "Rumpelstiltskin... AGELESS!... it read ... and so true for both JK and Peter. They... during  life, and now in JK's absence Peter continues to travel and sail with a Peter Pan view... of Neverland!..... something which continues to draw the two of us together in spirit!

As I watched... and felt the warmth of the new morning kiss my cheek, I marvelled at how "the same" we are as human family. "We"... all of us, look at the world and reflexively almost tend to measure our lives linearally   by the inch... and worse by the pound. Neither scale should be the scale upon which we place value on our place or feelings of worth and importance. I have had the very good fortune to have shared time and learning with "peers"...  though short in stature were "tall" in their abilities and greater in their knowledge of a certain area of interest. Those differences can be seen... and even tapped into for strength to help us all grow... together... and not apart!

Yesterday afternoon , Deb and I travelled to pick up my second born, Dr (Jemima Puddle Duck) Allison in Kingston. The purpose of the planned visit was to have a catch up on her teaching life... her writing projects and... her return to Venice plans... happening on Tuesday. We enjoyed a wonderful visit... great food and together time catching up at a favourite bistro, The Copper Penny. It was obvious again to "Me"... that the little girl (who always maintained that "She" was "going to grow up to be an artist" and was as much a fixture in my studio as my easel  and on my plein air trips)... had "inched" her own way into the world of Art and had soared well beyond where "She", or any of her family or Friends could have imagined. At the same time, her 'inching out"...  has also meant "inching away from the comfort of Home and Family. But in my mind... that is as it should be... and is good!

"Fondamenta Rimedio, Venice" - oil on panel 7x5 inches "gifted to Allison

I crossed this bridge over the canal to our pensione on the left side ... every day, twice a day for the eight weeks that I was studying and living in Venice

I distinctly remember an incident of total rejection for "Me" and a piece off my work that I felt "special" in those early water colour days. I had submitted "Three Bucket Maple" to a juried show at Queen's University. It is a piece which our family still owns.. I gifted it to Andrew and Allison so that it would remain in the family. Since that rejection, "Three Bucket Maple" has earned a Juror's Choice award and was chosen to be part of a travelling art collection to Germany.

It drew the admiration of two prominent and renowned Canadian artists,  who encouraged "me" to stay with the ship. Despite their critical comment supporting my work, I was dashed to the point where I had decided not to go further with my art... and to focus more on my teaching and family. It was a two word comment penned carefully on the surface of my drawing table which would forever dispel my fear of criticism and send me back to my work relentlessly up until now. Those two powerful... and precious to "Me" even today words... "Be Bold!"... were left there quietly... without pomp or intent to receive praise by... 6 year old Jemima Puddle Duck! How can a six year old child's wisdom and influence be so strong... at such an unexpected time in life? The Universe is mysterious... and wonder-filled!

"Three Bucket Maple" - watercolour 22x28 inches on 300lb Arches Paper

I won't apologize for my trend lately in my posts to talk so personally... or so philosophically. Bare with "Me" that this blog site is called "Journalling With Paint." It is a space where both "voices"... speak and  record. Hence , I feel no real reason to apologize. It is not meant to be preaching... or as I have alluded "teaching. I merely need to release these thoughts to the world... leaving space for expression in paint. My current project is a portrait which will be completed today. It is a deeply personal project just like the content of the post. One "voice" sets the other to work in my process. They always work in tandem. Good... but paradoxically bad. Life gets too busy and crowded.... and goes off in all directions... briefly.HA HA!!!

I will close this post by adding this personal thought for you to consider, if you will. Life's journey can be measured by inches... which for certain becomes feet and then thousands of miles during its course. What line that journey will take depends largely upon individual choice and effort... with a bit of luck tossed in. All lives too... are measured by the number of breaths we shall be blessed to take. Use some of those breaths to create the space and opportunity to be left simply... "breathless"... by the beauty that can be found within "You" and not others... and in the Now, which is within inches of where you now are!

To my loving children Lisa, Allison, Andrew, Liam and Bryn... enjoy every breath that you are given fully... and know that wherever "You" are... "I" am with "You" always ... and forever! Till we meet again... Be safe!... Fair journeys and rich blessings upon "You"! Come Home soon!

All my love ALWAYS Dad


  1. Dear Bruce,

    Once again, your words express exactly how we feel as artist and for those who are fortunate to have children. Your work and words are so very heartfelt. Leaving Virginia, and my daughter and her family is always difficult. But as you write, life is too precious to waste wallowing in self pity. It is great when a child leaves the nest to explore and experience life's journey. Bravo to you and Deb and I must include myself and Mike, that our children of independent of us and yet knowing we will always be there for them.

    Mike and I are blessed to have grandchildren. Oh Bruce, they are a joy, not sure if you and Deb have been blessed with grandchildren of your own. If not, just wait and see the wonderment of experiencing such joy.

    All the best to you,

  2. Good evening Joan!.. Thanks for offering your wonderful and
    uplifting comments again this visit!

    Glad you enjoyed time with your own family... that is a rich blessing in life! And yes... I do have three grandkids: Ryan 26, Mica 18 and Braden 16... so I know your joy in that regard!

    Like you... I am so very proud of each of our children. Though they are not "our" children (Deb's and mine together) ...they treat Deb with the same love and respect that they afford me... simply because "She" has assumed... created and nurtured in them a sense of "mother"... that she wasn't required to offer... unconditionally! We are greatly blessed to have such good children... who are at the same time... our Friends as well!

    Back to the easel... both of us!
    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  3. As usual, a very thoughtful post. I certainly can relate. I have 5 children, and as much as I long for their visits, their departure always leaves me feeling a little melancholy.

    Your children, and grandchildren, are very fortunate to have you as their dad. As painful as it might be, you do not hold them back from following their hold them with an open hand. What a gift!

    I hope that you show your portrait here one day. I am working on one of my grandson. I have resisted the urge to throw in the towel so far. I think I need to borrow your daughter's wisdom, and "Be bold.". Or perhaps, I need to remember my daughter's words when I tried to coax her to accept braces for her very crooked teeth, at 10 years of age.... "Not everything needs to be perfect, mom!"

  4. Good Morning WWendy!...Thank you for taking the time to visit and for leaving such thoughtful personal comments!

    I love that expression you have used..."holding your children with an open hand." That perfectly describes what I have tried to do for each of my wonderful children. It is how I hope that people will treat "Me"... allowing me always the ability "to be"... my Self!

    I don't know about showing the portrait simply because this painting is a gift for a Friend and is a personal response offered directly from "me" to "Her." I felt good about accomplishing the portrait... it is a good likeness and captures exactly what we both feel about the person. It will soon be on its way to her!

    Your daughter has wisdom at a very early age too Wendy. If "She feels comfortable with her appearance at this point... "not everything has to be perfect, mom".... is a truth that I would honour!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  5. I like your journaling - with words or paint, Bruce. I find the blog kind of anonymous in a way, a way to sort out my own head at times. That I've found so many who share their art on their blogs is icing on the cake for me. Safe travels for your kids!

  6. Good Morning Sherry!... Thank you ever so much for your sharing od personal feelings here... as you always do!

    I love that "anonymous" description you have offered to describe this forum. It perfectly describes my intent and purpose for continuing to create and share it wioth my on line Friends! Thank "You" for that... I intend to use it soon in an upcoming post "idea"... still perculating and distilling as we spoeak this morning.

    My heart is always with my children. They are an extension of my own body and soul and "I" am proud of each one of them as they move out successfully to find their own niches... and adventures... one "breath" and one "inch" at a time! Sometimes, however... the absence or the parting ... leaves one simply... "breath-less"! HA HA!! You know what I mean Sherry!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  7. Good evening Bruce, your words are suitably calming as I sit here with a storm raging outside.

    I think it's wonderful that you have been encouraged, in your life's journey by your own daughter. Then she has gone on to follow her dream as well. Together with your refusal to allow yourself to dwell on dark thoughts, it all makes for a very uplifting post. It's something to remember during storms, either real or metaphorical!

    All the best,

  8. Good evening Keith!... Thank your for visiting! Your words are as calming here in Rockport. We have another foot of snow freshly deposited... with freezing rain on the forecast later in the evening, so I had shovelling toi be done to avoid waking up in the morning to a real mess!

    As we speak... Allison is in the air on her way back to Venice for two weeks of necessary research. Lisa was awaiting Clover's arrival in her new environment... and by the look of her face in the first pictures back to us.. she seems very bewildered and wilted after her long trip to reach the Barbados. Her last email to me again added encouragement... upon seeing the finished portrait. I trust her artful eye... and her heart... implicitly!

    Beuracracy mandated that she fly first to Gatwick and be quarantined for three days and then recrated for the second leg to reach Lisa! Sounds like a real dog's life for sure. Hard on a wee animal!!!

    Life is as much about storms ... real and otherwise as sunny days... isn't it Keith? Adversity is a great teacher!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,