Monday, August 26, 2013

August... Summer on Rewind!

As my post title suggests, August is a month of reflection... or a looking back over the events and activities which define Summer 2013. For Deb and I, it has been a busy summer in the Gallery. We have unbelievably... reached the middle point of Summer, as the rapidly decreasing light in both morning and evening reveal to us.Children are now becoming like the new Canada Geese... anxious to move on from the sedentary summer lifestyle. School... and getting back to school chums is even a welcome thought. The air has changed as well. It is colder in the morning and evening... and smacks of ripening and harvest. There is decreasing pleasure boat traffic on the River. It increases only slightly on weekends. The water level has dropped a full ten inches in its usual fall cycle.Change is in the air... everywhere about us!

We certainly have been rewarded with decent sales in all areas of our combined creative efforts. My painting sales have been steady and gratifying. All but two of my February "Painting a Day" 8x10 inch panels are gone out the door... as have several larger major paintings. Our new box sets of tourist-directed Souvenirs of Rockport and Cruising The Thousand Islands greeting cards have sold well in the Gallery and have greatly exceeded our expectations at the General Store Gift Shop operated by The Rockport Cruise Lines. The new series of 5x7 and 8x10 inch plaque mounts featuring my larger river subjects (Deb's pet project) have yielded good returns as well. Our combined energies and commitment have been well rewarded!

On Deb's end of things, her gift cards have fled the shop en masse throughout the entire summer. Her unique designs displaying a blend of her whimsy and artistic flair have combined to attract much attention... a lot of laughter... and phenomenal sales revenue! Her stylish jewellery and small stained glass sun catcher "souvies"enjoyed the same retail success... adding another "black plus" to the ol' ledger each day. Her stained glass church window commission... now placed and dedicated at The Church of the Redeemer continues to bring her  well-deserved attention and praise from clients who have seen it in situe. All in all.... Summer 2013 in The Paint Box Gallery has been gratifying

In an economy, where so many artists and larger commercial galleries are floundering... some even failing, we are more encouraged and determined more than ever to continue follow our current path and five year business plan. We do so in Faith, and in the knowledge that our ideas and commitment will simply grow and mature further - if we continue to continually re-evaluate our products and directions continually.

We feel deeply rewarded... and blessed with these gifts.

On another area of personal reflection, I am thinking of my Mom and Dad, whose birthdays we annually celebrated together as a family in the month of August. Both have passed on... as has the intense sense of grief and loss that I first felt in those initial years following their deaths. But I still have those "missing you moments" nearly every day. Deb and I placed flowers on their grave yesterday, a small gesture of my continuing love and gratitude for their contributions to me and my children.

I have tried to replace the understandable grief which one feels at such a loss with a more palpable and positive substitute. I choose to reflect upon special the times we shared and those smaller daily blessings... which at the time seemed ordinary. However... through the passage of time, they loom far more important and remain... despite their physical absence as fresh in my memory now, as the fine china settings...wildflowers... peaches... corn... melon that we enjoyed and shared together each and every August in my memory. I celebrate those embedded precious memories when I savour those tastes of yesterday.

So, I have chosen to remember them this August with a still life - a frozen visual moment in the space between both birthdays... using these summer harvest delights we enjoyed for so many happy Augusts as subjects. However, it has been difficult to carve out enough free time to completely wrap my head and my heart around its completion. Perhaps... it was grief intervening still... in this month of ripening and transition. I seemed somehow blocked and avoiding it on the easel.

On last Thursday evening after supper, I decided to use my usual strategy of throwing caution and the comfort of  my usual painting process to the wind and to "seize the day." I went to the nearly laid in canvas and attacked with a medium sized painting knife... choosing to more randomly block in texture... lights and darks all around the still life composition to find freedom and inject life where it seemed too "still." By the end of that one hour session... I had regained the Flow and the excitement so necessary for creative success. Later the next morning, I used a stencil technique using a paper lace doily to recreate the fussy lace work. I think it works successfully. It gives an impression of that textural quality and detail without the usual  pains-taking and hours of fussing I get into. It simple... "is"... but a small part of an entire whole.

I am a plein air painter by nature... motivated more by the complete freedom offered by spontaneity and flexible decision-making. Risk is always a part of my process. In fact, it is the engine and catalyst I depend upon to fuel my exploration and sense of accomplishment. Other genres like still life, or figure work require an added spiritual or inner "calling" to inspire, or connect me to them. In these genres, my brushwork seems less "painterly"... too quiet and calculated. In short, these subjects seem to restrict and impede my inner spirit... in the same fashion that denominational worship does... and I usually avoid them.

My mantra however..."Don't give up the ship" always prevails. So here is a "play-by-play"... or the building process for your interest and perusal. Enjoy!

Rough lay in stage... imperfectly recording  first observations... covering the toned grey canvas

Working up light... adding new highlights and detail.... building around the composition

Time for a rest... and just looking

"August... On My Mind" - oil on toned canvas 24x18 inches

Finished... more or less... just some tweaking... "push n' pull

Happy Birthday Folks! I love you BOTH... Forever!

Good Painting... to ALL!


  1. Bruce, I don't know that I've ever known a man with as much love in his heart as you have for your family. I am humbled and awed, truly. As always, your art is just exquisite and I like when you venture into still lifes. Every time I visit your blog I fall more deeply in love with that windmill in your sketchbook.

  2. Dear Friend Sherry!... Thank you for your very special compliments about my Art and my sense of Family!

    Having been blessed to share my journey with two parents who cherished me... I feel well prepared to face life and its many challenges and disappointments. How be it... that they loved me in very different ways... both taught "Me" by their example. Both loves revolved around unconditional love from as early as I can remember... and up until they left us. Simply put... their both kinds of love led "Me" to become who "I" am.

    I would have to say as well... that their love and creative example have fuelled my creative journey and spirit to the point that my painting and my spiritual (evenly balanced female and male sides)are indistinguishably entwined and work in complete harmony. This state creates equilibrium/ balance... and a complete feeling of Joy in my daily life.

    I am truly honoured to call you Friend, despite such a distance... simply because I sense we follow parallel journeys and share the very family values you mention in your gracious comment. We both strive to discover... and to honour our Authentic Selves... and are willing to share both our strengths and our weaknesses openly with others.

    I thank you again for your many visits and honest sharings.

    Happy Summer!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  3. Your painting is a beautiful tribute and the love shines through.

    Congratulations to you and Deb on your successful summer, a true example of the success that follows good honest hard work. Long may it continue.

  4. Hi there Lisa!... Thank you for your visit and always supportive comments about my painting!

    You are so right Lisa! Lvve does indeed "shine through"... and never more specially... when it is combined with "good honest hard work."
    Wishing you the same good fortune for your own hard work and commitment to your "other half"!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest rgards,

  5. Congratulations on the sales you and Deb have made in your gallery Bruce. Autumn days are close by and as you write the cooler mornings and evenings tell us that summer is starting to pack her bags ready to leave us for this year. The seasons are wonderful aren't they, each unique in their own way. Our parents become a part of us for always, they will love the flowers you have painted them Bruce. Happy painting laddie!

  6. High there Highland Lass!... Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts about the seasons and change.

    I look forward to those changes because they are catalysts that stimulate one to advance their thinking and painting process to accommodate weather... and changes in the landscape itself. Each season brings its unique beauty and challenges to the artist.

    My parents are indeed "with me"... each and every day that I step to the easel ot travel about in this Island paradise that we shared as a family for so many wonderful and happy years.

    Goosd Painting to you Caroline,
    Warmest regards,

  7. This is such a lovely tribute to your parents, whom I am sure, are very proud of the person you have become.

    Tomorrow is my dad's 92 birthday! He is my biggest fan...and I am his! Mom, who has passed, was my inspiration, as she was a talented lady in the art of traditional rug hooking.

    The role of a parent is inspire. Sounds like you had those parents. Me too!

    Congratulations on a successful summer!

  8. Hi there Wendy!... Thank you for vsiting and for sharing your own family experience!

    "To celebrate... to inspire." Aren't we blessed... you nand I? I think that every day... and try to celebrate their conributions... only if silently... each and every day!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

    1. Thanks Bruce. I think the greatest tribute to our parents is to carry on the legacy of their example in dealings with our own children. You do that well.

      Btw..if you check out my blog you will see a pic of the birthday boy that was taken two years ago in your neck of the woods.

  9. Hi there Wendy!... I believe... and try to always practise those exact sentiments i n my own dealings with each of my unique children.

    I wiull indeed check out the "birthday boy... in yer neck o' the woods"... and PRONTO!!

    Thanks for dropping by!

    Good Painting and Parenting!
    Warmest regards,