Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Off Line... Life Gets in the Way... or... "Off the Wall "

It should come as no surprise to most of you that at certain times, life and a myriad of external infringements eats away at our precious easel time and creative intentions... despite our best intentions. That has been the case for me during the past two to three weeks. I have literally been taken totally away from my painting and from posting as well.

Several months ago, I agreed to assume the responsibility for coordinating a spring juried show for an artist group that I have been an off and on membership relationship with, dating back into the 1970's... when I first began my career as an emerging young artist. Due to the fact that I taught school and chosen to move about a lot... far away from Eastern Ontario, I never really had the opportunity or the time to contribute to the actual organizational functioning of the group.

When I moved back to the area, I agreed to assume an area representative role... which meant that I would feed any information about events in our area to the executive to be passed on by quarterly newsletter to the membership at large. Seemed simple enough. However... soon after I was "asked" to coordinate this show and felt somewhat obligated to accept... since the show would be hosted by a local college with a beautiful gallery venue.

This soon burgeoned well beyond a "simple" operation because of changes to the entry process from actual painting (the prior method) to digital image submission. Three situations factored into the equation to increase the level of difficulty and the increase of time required. Firstly... I made a one letter "typo error" in the Rules for Entry submission to members ... in my own postal code.... YIKES! This error could not be rectified after the fact and necessitated my kindly gallery curator friend and colleague and I having to extend the entry deadline date by two weeks.

The second factor was the digital entry business in itself. Many of us in this art family are seniors.... and some, believe it or not.... do not have a computer let alone the savvy required to make a disc or create a storage device entry to be submitted! Pure pandemonium ensued, further complicating the submission process.

The third situation had to do with the actual jurying and the postal delay fiasco. Three entries arrived after the jury deadline date which had to be met unchanged. Those entries had to be disallowed... and I have since eaten three VERY large pieces of humble pie... through a letter of personal apology to each. Don't know yet whether that will be sufficient penance...  but hey!

"Life is complicated... and I truly have done my best!" I don't know the results of the jurying as yet. Those will be revealed at the opening reception for the show.I received and processed each of the paintings submitted and judging by that alone, I feel that the association should be very proud of the resulting exhibition. All of the jurying aspects were handled by a selected independent panel of three jurors... with the actual hanging of the show being in the capable hands of the college and the curator. She is a cracker jack curator... creative herself... affable... flexible and a joy to work with. That has been the one very positive aspect of this experience for me personally. We have forged a new relationship and will meet as artists... when she comes to Rockport in the summer to paint with Deb and I... tagging along her "better half "... a fella named Bruce! We should really hit it off! HA HA!!

So, while this experience brought with it some unpleasant moments and responsibilities, it as well has been growth oriented for me personally. I have learned much about the process of "organizing" such an event and the tricky business of handling the "eccentricities" of an artistic collective of egos. I have learned how to skate on thin ice... and continue to stay upbeat despite the probability of failure which can arrive with a single phone call... piece of mail or telephone call. The jury is out... the decisions made... and "I" am but a lowly artist who as well submitted his own work to the jury's whim.

Stay tuned... but until then, here are some examples of projects ... or creative undertakings that I have undertaken in the past. Each of these might well be considered ( beyond pure tongue-in-cheek)... to be totally.... "Off the Wall." They seem to fit the occasion and since I haven't paint for ever too long now, I offer them in lieu of an visually empty post! Back to the easel soon.... I Promise!... my Self!

This is a Lady Bug decoration I added to a bedroom side table that I had made for Deb as a birthday gift.

This is an antique window frame which I converted into small kitchen or bathroom cabinet.... "sweetened up" with a Hillsdale sugar bush scene.

This is the top of an old antique side table that I repainted and hand decorated to commemorate Allison's undergraduate Arts degree. A personal tribute to the first... of her now three her special  graduation days on her educational journey!

This weathered ol' storm window boathouse portrait was a surprise wedding gift by a father and mother... presented to their daughter after she raved about seeing it at the opening of one of my solo shows. She came back... to give me "a big hug around the neck" later in the show. Who'd have "thunk it"...? Such a pleasant ending for a discarded and unwanted ol' storm window! Beauty is indeed... in the eye and the mind of the beholder!

These are two of the four paddles that I created as Christmas presents for my paddlin' adventurer / son Andrew some years back. My canoe belongs to him... when he releases my ashes from the canoe ... into the River. That's in my will! Don't know that he'll ever wet any of these paddles. They now hang in his "man cave"... home office!

This is a sign I was commissioned to paint for a couple's house warming gift from their close friends. A favourite old Oro Medonte Barn of mine that was located nearby their home. A gallery setting ... with no walls!... totally en plein air! HA HA!!

Here's a sculpture that I carved and casted using plaster of Paris poured into geometric shapes that I cut from plastic sledding carpets that kids use... duct taped and twisted and stapled on to wooden armatures until they dried. I then used a rasp and sand paper to further form and  smooth the separate geometric objects. I joined them by drilling holes and gluing them together using epoxy glue and wooden dowels.

Voila!..... "Gull ... Waves and Rock!"  Art... that stands on its own three feet!

This was a "BIGGY" project called "Sunscreen". It was an ambitious undertaking which unfortunately never did sell as a whole unit. It was a cherry twig frame which I collected en plein air and assembled... constructed to serve as a screen in a summer home living room. It had a 48x24 inch canvas on the left wing... a 24x20 and two 16x20 inch canvases in the median panel ... crowned in the Gothic arch by a 14x11 inch canvas. The right wing consisted of a 30x24 inch over a 24x20 inch canvas. The canvases were all fastened using 2 inch screws to the cherry frame. All canvases relected a summer theme both in the home... on the patio and in Nature.

The wings were movable and could be folded or at various angles using forest green coloured raffia cord. The reverse side of each wing and panel were covered by a lovely green and black fern forest motif on brass  cafe style curtain rods. It received high compliments over the three years that I kept it around. I finally removed each of the paintings and they have since been sold separately. The frame???? ... It is now located in the beautiful lakeside garden of our very special friends Rolly and grace Hallyburton on Orr Lake. Deb and I were married in that garden ten years ago in June. Special memories!

Was its lack of sale viewed by me as a failure? Not at all! There are some things we choose to do in life... purely out of a sense of passion. I learned a lot about myself and realized something more important than makiung money from the process.

"That except through my eyes and my hands... it might never have been seen." Ring a bell???? Check out Allison's table top!

This old cardboard suitcase lives with my sister Christine in Edmonton, Alberta. A spring scene is depicted on this side and a second circular-shaped painting... a fall cottage scene on the other side. The two symbolize the process of ... "Opening and Closing" one's cottage... a ritual our family carried out joyously together.. not far from here for over fifty years. Chris keeps board games in it... the kind we played with our cottage chums nearly every night at "Sherman's Shangra-lai" at Narrows Lane Road. Perhaps, whenever she has the occasion to open and close this suitcase... she will relive those magical cottage evenings shared in laughter and friendship with our cottage colony chums. Grand days and nights... pals never forgotten!

This 24x30 inch canvas is entitled "River Boy." It could well depict "Me"... back in the day, but it is a painting I made of Andrew with our canoe on one of the islands near Rockport on one of our six Annual Thousand Island Canoe Trips. Sweet memory this one! This hangs in Andrew's home in Rockwood... in good strong paddlin' hands. This "Lad"can handle any "rough water" or "foul weather"... "I" know that for certain.... and moreover... so can "He"!! The song of the paddle will always remain strong in my heart and has carried me through my entire life... and led "Me" always.... "beside still waters." Life is really.... just a river. One must simply get on it... and paddle!


Good Painting to ALL!!!


  1. What a wonderful post, Bruce, and I enjoyed every word and every photo. I don't blame that young lady for liking the window frame painting. I think it is stunning myself. In fact, I love each of these images and the suitcase is probably my favorite of them all.

  2. Good Morning Sherry! Thank you for your visit and uplifting remarks concerning the contents of the post!

    This highly transitional time of year seems to have all creative folk...."off their game" Spring always seems to arrive in too many fits n' starts I guess! Humans don't seem to adapt to any change easily... we're creatures of habit and ritual!

    I use this unsettled period each year to launch back into my painting routine employing a somewhat "off the wall"... zany project to heighten my creative juices and spirit. Works for "Me" anyway!

    Stay tuned!....

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  3. Hi Bruce, I'm sorry to hear that you've had so much trouble. I hope your letters are received in the same spirit that they were sent.

    I love the painted furniture; so much nicer than mass-produced items. The sculpture was a surprise, but another beautiful example of your art.

    All the best,

  4. Good evening Keith!... Thank you for your supportive and encouraging comments!

    It really matters little how they are received to me.... since they were sent in the very same spirit under which I undertook the coordinator's task. I readily accept the role my error played in the issue... others will simply have to "pony up" and accept their own contribution. Enough said.

    "Off the wall"... means out of the unusual to me... and that is the essence of unique art. "The Road Not Taken"... as Robert Frost would call it! HA HA!!

    Thanks for taking the time to drop in and comment Keith! Glad that you enjoyed the post!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  5. Dear Bruce,

    Wonderful work, love the painted screen, but then again I am and always will be a big fan of your great works of art. This journey we are on gets a little bumpy at times, but artist are resilient.

    All the best to you,

  6. Hi Joan!... Thanks for your supportive visit... and encouraging words!

    Life itself is like a river. It can be smooth... calm... reflective and treacherous in places. Fortunately for "Me"... my eyes and soul live on this vast and wonderful River in front of me every single day. My roots are here... it is the cradle of my soul and mt artistic expression.

    Life will... and does... have its way with "Me... I am not exempt from the everyday problems and issues that confront us all in our daily lives. But... My River and "I' are "One"... and that in itself gives me comfort... Faith and Hope!

    What else can one ask for?

    "We" are deeply blessed....

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  7. Loved this post and the chance to see some of your really unique projects over the years, dad! Some of them I get to enjoy daily, of course! Love the way you push yourself to try new things, and find creative ways of transforming the average into the extraordinary! Can't wait to see some of your planned projects come together in this same vein in the near future! Just about to head off for the airport. Will speak to you from the other side of the pond!
    Love always,
    Jemima P xoxoxox

  8. Hello Dear Heart... "I" will deeply miss your wonderful presence and support Allison for the next two months... but you are headed to that transforming place... Venezia which drew us even closer together... if that were ever possible! Oh, that I were there to tag along and share walks with you along those mazes of the fondamentas and calles! "I" will be with "You" in spirit... you know that!

    I hope to have at least two of those new "surprises" completed by the time you come to share dinner with us here at "The Rock" in July... I primed a large canvas for one today... and have been running the "major event" through my mind... in preparation to paint.

    Enjoy your teaching and your research. Let us know when you are safely settled in!

    Thanks for taking the timne to make a fast.... "fly by"! I did think of you at lift off time !Ha Ha!!

    Safe journey!... Much adventure! Say Hello.... and give The Three Tetrarchs a HUGE hug from "Me"!

    Much love ALWAYS!
    Dad and Deb

  9. Ten days without a post? We miss you too!

    I can see that you've been busy with your other passion...family! Isn't it wonderful!? Aren't we lucky?

  10. Thanks Wendy... Family and "other things"... given their rightful place maintains balance and equilibrium even for artists! We are "people" first... I've learned that and a firm adherent to that philosophy!

    Stay tuned... I have a post in the making!

    Good Painting and...
    Warmest regards,