Friday, June 7, 2013

"Seeing Things" - Part Two

Life has been an eclectic mix of art creation and appreciation... music... the-out-of-doors and family for my entire life. I grew up in a family in which these valued elements were recognized and practised. I have never lived in any place where those basic elements have not been woven into my everyday existence. I cannot imagine a day without having access to any one part of this well spring of healthy living. Each part is interwoven with the others to create balance and purpose for me in my journey.

During the course of my journey and enjoying these elements, I have been fortunate to have met many kindred spirits who have shared my passion for these life blessings. Those elements have linked us over vast distances and a lifetime as Friends... almost family really. Together... we shared the Joy of making Art... on location... in the outdoors... en plein air... whatever term you wish to employ. All mean exactly the same thing to me. Painting thus... does indeed create greater connection and much learning potential outside of pure studio painting simply because being "out there" offers stimulation through all of the senses... simultaneously.

The experience of painting outdoors does, in fact enliven paintings made there... no matter one's level of skill or experience in painting. It does indeed better lead one to "Seeing." The act of looking is cursory and can be done in a glance then forgotten. The act of "Seeing" however, can only be accomplished by looking... studying intently... discriminantly and analyzing... with a resulting total understanding. This gained insight and knowledge is indelibly retained.

Saturday... A Family Affair... en Plein air... With the Towe Family

Being with children while they paint has always been one of my most
enjoyable creative undertakings. It is always a creative experience for me as well, because I view myself as having a fully vested role as an active learner... as opposed to assuming a role an instructor. In simplest terms, the experience is an opportunity for my "Inner Child" to come out and play as a playmate with other children... and to learn as they do from the experience.

In the past, I have watched as intrepid adult teachers gingerly entered into the fray... at first tentatively at best, and in some extreme cases constricted even to risk in the presence of children. This particular session began much the same as described above as we proceeded through my introductory interactive activity to explore and discover primary to complementary colour vocabulary. Not surprisingly to me... the children had all of the vocabulary and eagerly volunteered their knowledge to be shared in the group. The adults were... at first reticent, and yes, even void of correct answers for these basic and necessary bits of information. ie What two colours make green?

Despite the obvious "gap" between the two participating sections... that gap diminished very quickly and without incident to a comfort level, whereby I really felt there were seven children painting and playing together outdoors. Each had his own unique palette and interpretation of the view I had scouted and chosen as our site for the day. Each set to work immediately and at once... one could sense the obvious instant success and enjoyment that each participant was experiencing. Questions emerged from every quarter and the time seemed to evaporate until we broke at the lay in stage to come back to "Islesview" for a shared lunch with Deb.

Again... I will try not lengthen the text further than necessary in this post, when pictures can translate and tell the story more adequately and effectively. You can judge for yourself the success and accomplishment of these six novice plein air oil painters in their work. Enjoy!

Hail!... Hail!... The Gang's all here!.... Painting their little hearts out!

Brian's start... fastidious and highly intent is he... at all things!

Connor... reluctant at first... but firin' on all four cylinders here!

Kathy... at first reticent... but goin' for the gusto now! Great hat... EH????

 Vanessa.. shy... but "still waters run deep"... Hey... she got in there first and finished first!

Wendy... painted before but not en plein air... No problemo!

I used the KISS Method (Keep it simple stupid) to get things going. I began the actual lesson on site with a very quick fifteeen minute demo to offer individual insight into how to interpret and reduce any need for detail in the beginning. I focused upon creating a "guide map" using a darkish and stainy mixture of alizarin crimson and ultramarine blue. I quickly washed in and  massed blocks of darks. 

My fifteen minute quick study 16x20 inch demo... complete and untouched still... with pine needles and dirt - it fell off the easel! Just added texture.... for interest's sake! HA HA!!!

Building upon the short primary-complementary lesson... I offered each a 10x12 inch burnt sienna toned panel to be used for a palette bearing the three primaries and white. I provided another 10x12 inch toned panel as a painting support. Colour mixed is colour placed on your painting. I provided three brushes... two different sized flats and a round. I withheld the rigger, used for final details until the final twenty minutes. As the painting process developed... I added "helper" hues which broadened their colour range and reduced mixing problems. My job was simply to act as a resource function and colour supply. Questions decreased dramatically after the lay in stage. All of the "children" painted independently as we worked to our two and a half hour agreed upon deadline.

Not too shabby Brian... for a guy who had maintained that he couldn't paint!

My man Connor... Good on ya Dude! You get the... "Medal o' Honour"! HA HA!!!

Overheard from Kathy... the gal who "had no talent" : "Hey... This is fun!"... and It shows!

Wendy's magical brush at work. Great balancing of darks and lights.... and structure!

Vanessa... quietly pondering her final strokes for her "broken colour"masterpiece. Not bad... for a grade five gal! Cool glasses too!

I think that my pictures clearly demonstrate that painting can be something which draws a family together. Listening to adults mingling joyfully... and encouraging their young charges outdoors made my day worthwhile. The thank you email waiting for me upon my return from Belleville on Sunday evening told me that they too fully felt that joy and camaraderie which had been mine!

 We .... are deeply blessed!

PS Oh... and by the way... "other families" joined us as well on our outing, as did countless visitors who took pictures and chatted during our celebration!

The mallard and their fuzzies... dabbling their hearts out nearby

Two geese and their gaggle... just sunning within earshot of our intent painting group

"There is beauty all around... when there's love at Home!"

Good Painting to ALL!!!
Part Three coming up! Stay tuned.......for the Believing Part!


  1. Good morning Sherry!... I knew that "You".... would "indeed"... understand and grasp the message that I wish to convey in this post!

    Thanks for your very terse ... but articulate and insightful three words of recognition!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards... to you and your own Family!

  2. I like your teaching philosophy, great post, very much appreciated.

  3. Hi there Jim!... Thank you for your huge compliments! Coming from a peer of your ability and stature, they mean a lot to me! Thank you for taking the time to drop by and take in this family event!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  4. Hey Bruce nice one...a dream come true eh!!


  5. Hey back Jeffrey!... Thanks for your visit and uplifting comment!

    "Faery tales can come true...
    It can happen to you,
    When you're young... at Art!"

    HA HA!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  6. What a glorious life! I know I surely don't have to tell you the, but I'll say it anyway,,,,you are truly blessed, Bruce!

  7. Hi there Dean!... Yes... blessed indeed! My life is filled with so many blessings which more than compensate for the disappointments which as well are found along the way in life!

    You and I share a very similar outlook and sense of gratitude for the life we are continuing to create... and enjoy!

    Good Painting... and rich blessings to you Dean!
    Warmest regards,

  8. Hi Bruce, I love the idea of "seven children painting and playing together outdoors". That says it all really!

    All the best,

  9. Hi there Keith!... I knew that "You" and other kindred spirits would understand and "see" the meaning contained within this post!

    Thanks for visiting and for adding your supportive co,mment!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,