Saturday, June 29, 2013

Why Gardens?....

This past week Gardens have played a significant and necessary role in our life. Though each of the gardens was very different... each was unique in its plethora of beauty. Each  was created by loving hands in its own singular way; each touched my heart and stirred me to try and write this post. I hope that I can do each justice in my post.

The first garden is the largest of all. It is immense and takes in all of the Thousand Islands. This region we live in was originally called "Manitouana". In the language and meaning of the First Peoples who first inhabited this place, that word translates "Garden of the Gods." It truly has that sense of sanctity and spiritual power, as is evidenced by the fact that none of us who grow up and live here in this special place... can move away. We all return... drawn by an inner need to return to regain our sense of "Home" ... and belonging. I am blessed to be home!

The second garden is our own here at "Islesview" in Rockport." I watch (and weed) daily... in complete awe and wonder, as the floral clock created by a previous woman resident  garden keeper/artist moves... bloom through bloom... slowly inching its way through summer. One bloom barely begins to fade... than the next steps forward to replace its beauty and to extend the Joy that we all feel in "watching our garden grow." I often wonder to my Self... whether or not this woman, now living in Kingston misses her garden, or even knows how much pleasure and pure joy that her creation continues to offer to us... and the countless camera-toting touristas who take thousands of photos while visiting Rockport. I wonder....

Ever beautiful... even wet  and dark in the rain!

Beautiful structure... good enough to paint! Hey!... That's an idea!

Inukshuk... peeking over!

Beyond the smell and beauty of this rose treasure... lies the River! It doesn't get any better.... for "Me"!

Deb's latest Krrrrr-azee Kreashun! A gift from Rolly! You did him proud Debs! This ol' clunker now is the main Sony moment in Rockport! A true show stopper!

The third garden we visited was the truly Eden-like garden we were married in. That garden is the joint love and creation of our good Hillsdale pals, Rolly (The Bike Man) Hallyburton and his creative and lovely wife Grace. Revisiting that garden was so uplifting for Deb and I... and its magic and serenity did much to "gird up our loins" for the visit to our fourth and final garden stop in Midland, Ontario. Grace and Rolly's garden... yes ... Grace is mentioned first because it is HER Eden... her vision... her passion... and her generous gift to the world. Rolly works steadily along side her to make her vision emerge... but steps aside at the first hint of controlling its path. The garden is open to the public to visit... and it is visited frequently by people... many strangers 'from away'. It is a floral labyrinth of garden tableaux and niches... each tucked away lovingly... and purposefully to maximize the element of joy and surprise that one feels, as one works their way through this special solitude. It is purely a Heaven ... on Earth! I'll let my pictures and their piece of Creation do the virtual walking... and talking!

The wedding view from the bridge on Saturday, June 3rd, 2007... "My Three Sons"... my Best Men!!! Our Friend and pastor Lois Lyons represents our Creator...

The Bridge scene today... quite different and grey... hushed but still sacred!

We've survived... and prospered... together! I'm feelin' more comfy in my plein air tuxedo!

Pals Rolly, Deb and Grace ... fronted by Roxie... the real Boss!

Recognize this??? Stay tuned....

A bronzed pair of Lovebirds... could it be Rolls and Gracie???

A maritime moment! The three buoys were mine. I brought them with me back from Nova Scotia... thought they'd fit in well here!

There's Peter Rabbit... 'Greeter' on his corner of the meandering boardwalk

Five cents is a bargain!....A small price for the privilege of sharing this Garden Legacy... the photos only introduce the garden in a very rudimentary way! There's so much more... didn't want to curb your appetite to visit... should you ever have the chance!

Welcome... or come again soon!... to the Hallyburton Garden of Peace and Tranquility!!!

The last on our garden tour was a garden I have watched flower... and spent many happy hours in since its inception in the small backyard of Midland friends, John and Carol Phillips. Carol has lovingly added to its beauty.,.. much like Rolly and Grace, over many years. Each year she proudly opens her garden to residents of Midland during their annual garden tour event. It is a quiet... private place of Joy for The Phillips clan... and one end belonging entirely to the their lovely grand girls Jose, Mathilde and Carmel sports a unique large scale doll house complete with their own private deck. It is indeed Carol's version of a magical Neverland. Deb got a personal tour of these special 'digs'. Sorry... there are no pictures available... due to the nature of the visit. That will be another post for another day. Stay tuned....

Our visit this time was for other purposes however, and it was with a considerable sense of dread, reluctance and with heavy hearts that we came to that garden on Saturday, June 22nd. I would rather have not come... events struck too close to home for "Me" personally. But the sad circumstances and our long Friendship demanded that we "be there"... to support John and Carol in the celebration of their daughter Laurie's life and tragic passing; seventy odd other friends and family members felt as we did and responded out of a similar feeling of love and need.

The afternoon celebration began under threatening grey skies, but despite that fact, Fate determined that the predicted rain would not join us... and in John's own words:
"It didn't rain; in fact, everywhere Carol and I looked there was 'sunshine'... and much of it came from the warmth we felt from being surrounded by a loving, caring family... in specific, YOU!!! We both felt at home and uplifted and our sadness was wonderfully tempered by joy. Thank you so much for being there."

That phrase "sadness tempered by joy" strikes a resonate chord in my own heart... for that was the same overwhelming effect the celebration that I experienced... commencing with the drumming ceremony which Carol and her drumming family conducted. I had never been present at a live drumming performance, but the sacredness of the changing cadences of that throbbing rhythm immediately established a deeply felt heart-like presence... that one could easily imagine was "Lor's" (my pet name for Laurie). Its sudden conclusion restored a peace in the garden... which somehow had been missing when I had first entered this familiar place.

John's son Andrew (Andy) assumed a role as 'speaker' for the family... welcoming the seventy-odd family and friends gathered to celebrate Laurie's life, offering all present the opportunity to share their favourite or unique moments and feelings about Laurie's life... and many of us did. After John's sisters spoke... I offered my own sweet memories of Laurie: mine was that of her as my 'Picture Lady"... a memory evoked from John and Carol's 25th Wedding Anniversary party when Laurie was a newly-budded, beautiful teenage flower... just in that magical prime and fragrant fragility that only seventeen year old girls seem imbued with. Flash! Flash!... in my face... every time I turned around. "There were more pictures taken of me than John or Carol".... received many a chuckle and smile.

John and Carol had each opened their hearts and their home to "Me" in those years of my own recovery from a Darkness which had all but destroyed my own will to continue. I dearly needed to assure them that the same love they had offered "Me"... had permitted me to stand before them today 'whole" in spirit once again to honour Laurie's life and tragic passing. "Life is only about choices... and as human beings we all must make our own way and our own choices. Often those choices are not well thought out... and lead to pain and sometimes irrevocable tragedy in the lives of those standing by seemingly helpless and unable to do more than be present and support." And that is exactly what each of us were doing at this ceremony. "We"... as their Family and Friends were simply there to assure them of our Love... and our continuing Presence.

Music has always been a powerfully binding agent of our lifelong journey together, dating back to public school and Teen Town in Brockville in the Fabulous Sixties... when we "jived n' grooved" to our Golden Oldies every Friday night at the Masonic Temple. John and Ian Wilson (also present for the celebration) spun the 45's religiously every dance night. On Saturdays... we "pointed dem canoes to Gananoque"... and repeated the scene at The Canoe Club Saturday evening dances all summer long. Music shaped and banded us together in a 'brotherhood'... which has lasted up to this very day.

Music has formed the very heart beat of life in the Phillips Family over the years. Music has always been omni-present in their lives. A visit to their basement, seconded to house John's collection of musical memorabilia and his 60,000 (and still growing) vinyl collection... lovingly displayed alphabetical... by genre and numerous operative turntables to listen on. It is a veritable musical treasure trove... bolstered from every musical genre. John has 'gone digital' in later years... and has sprawled successfully into Carol's beautifully conceived Kitchen and family room. To some wives, it would be a 'deal breaker'... but for this magnificent and loving couple it is simply 'them'... and "the beat goes on"!

Corin Raymond, the son of John's long time friend Trevor is a young and talented folk and jazz troubadour hailing from Winnipeg. He was performing at The Annual Toronto Jazz Festival with his band, The Sun Downers and showed up on Saturday to offer a guitar and vocal tribute to honour Laurie, John and Carol. Carol and John had hosted a launch for one of his CDs in their kitchen... truly 'kitchen music'! That's how the ball bounces... in the world of j-jivin johnny and Carol ! The lyrics resonated so beautifully with the occasion's underlyoing purpose...."Lord don't take me to the mountain yet... I'm not ready..."  Our gathering of celebrants...swaddled in song and love. Love does indeed conquer all... and indeed "tempers the sadness with Joy." Gardens house the music of all Creation... and Music is the salve of healing... for the heart!

Our celebration ended with a "listening"- a sharing of 'Lor's' Fav Tunes List... as wide-reaching as John's to include the likes of 'her men" Ray and Otis and gal Janice... to her hit men Led Zeppelin. One tune which "Lors" and I shared... and understood well without ever talking about it was "Dream Weaver" by Reo Speed Wagon. "Hear" the words... and you will understand why choices are made... and the pain can finally end.

Dream Weaver,
Just closed my eyes again
Climbed aboard the dream weaver train
Driver take me away from my worries of today,
And leave tomorrow behind
Ooh Dream Weaver
I believe you can get me through the night
I believe we can reach the morning light.....

"Though the dawn may be coming
There may still be some time
Fly me away to the bright side of the moon
And meet me on the other side."

In closing this Garden post....
"Death leaves a heartache,
No one can heal.
But love leaves a memory,
No one can steal."

My love and gratitude for our Friendship will never be far away from you John and Carol. I cherish the moments we have shared and the memories we created together. The most painful of these will pale and fade away in the presence of the Love that your lives has extended to so many of us... and that we will always return to you. And 'Lors'... none of will ever forget your creative gifts that you so deeply loved crafting... that puckish smile...  that sardonic... one-of-its-kind 'Cat Woman' wit... and for "Me"... those fabulous 'Kodak Moments' that continue to light my sweet, special memories of "You"!

See "You"... "on the other side"!
Much Eternal Peace... finally!


"A Bounty of Blessings" - oil on canvas 30x24 inches

Recognize the wheelbarrow? This was a plein piece painted in Rolly and Grace's Garden Sanctuary on the Thanksgiving weekend of 2012. I had given the wheelbarrow which had been my maternal Grandfather Birrell's in his simple... beautiful, well-kept and treasured garden... as a token of thanks to our dear friends for permitting us to be married in their garden. It seemed appropriate for it to remain there as a reminder of our joining together for this celebration.

I had numerous opportunities to sell this piece since then... but it mysteriously (to me)continued to 'hang around'... as some good paintings often do.... until they are really needed.  I decided that this painting be with John and Carol in tribute to their 'garden tending' of flowers... and Friends like my Self and to the memory of this special celebration and their beautiful flower, 'Lors.'

"I" am deeply blessed..... to have such Friends as those mentioned in this post!

"The greatest gift we can offer those who have left us, is to fully live our lives in their place."

Happy Canada Day...From The Paint Box Gallery in Rockport, Ontario, Canada !!!

"A mari usque ad mare"... from Latin translates from sea to shining sea. It was chosen as the credo to embelklish our official Canadian coat-of-arms because it succinctly describes the geographic fact that our vast country stretches from British Columbia on the Atlantic Ocean to the west all the way across our Prairie Provinces... to Ontario and Quebec... through to our Maritime Provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland/Labrador to the east on the Atlantic Ocean.

It is a uniquely beautiful... vast and varied country in geographical and cultural terms. We are proud of both of these attributes. This weekend... all Canadians... along with The Paint Box Gang will be celebrating Canada Day proudly... but quietly... as is our way. Let us all remember to give thanks for the blessings we enjoy each and every day day throughout the entire year... and as well to remember those precious Canadian men and women who sacrificed their own dreams and tomorrows... so that we could live freely as we do! As a tribute to their unselfish sacrifice... make every day Canada Day... in your own unique and memorable way!

A Happy... and Safe Canada Day to my Family members... ALL Canucks... however... and wherever you choose to celebrate it!

Freedom has a price! Don't forget theirs! Be Happy!... and Grateful... for "Them"!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Day... For Expressing Gratitude

Happy Father's Day!!!

"Thank You... For the Music!" - oil on canvas 14x11 inches
A tribute of respect and gratitude to my Dad

Today is Father's Day.... a day set aside by families everywhere to recognize and honour those male co-heads of households who continually contribute their love... energy and life force every day throughout the entire year... and across a lifetime. They bring to a family strength and a male perspective... which combined with female side, enables children to enter the real world able to contribute and to receive gifts which reflect the environment and values of their communal home and upbringing.
The view of Gratitude that I mention in my post title above, I feel... is a two-sided. Today, I deeply feel the Gratitude I feel for my own Father. "He" was my Father... My Mentor and my Friend. He always attempted to talk across the table to "Me"... trying always to do so without scorn... shame or sarcasm... unless my actions deserved such. Simply put... he recognized my intelligence... my creativity and my absolute need to think freely and independently. That was his greatest gift to "Me." It was what persuaded and prompted me to always try lead my own families and my students in similar fashion. He led by his example!

The second face of my own view of Gratitude... is merely the Gratitude I hold deeply in my heart for the five uniquely beautiful children that I have been privileged to father. Each of them have been the greatest of blessings in my journey... and I cannot fathom life without their presence. They are my masterpieces! My paintings simply pale in comparison when compared. Each is a unique masterpiece... created somewhat from the contributions of their mothers and I... but more proudly on my view... each is quite simply unique and special because of their individual differences juxtaposed with their similar good and generous hearts and willingness to share their gifts with the world.

I know that my Dad (and my Mom) would share my pride today in seeing the footprint which their own many sacrifices and efforts helped shape in my children. Their gifts and values passed forward  to "Me" are now radiantly obvious in the achievements of Lisa, Allison, Andrew, Liam and Bryn. Today ... as I pause to reflect... and give thanks and show Gratitude to my Dad, and their Grampa... I reciprocally gives thanks and acknowledgement of my Gratitude to each of these beautiful young minds.

On this Father's Day... Sunday, June16th, 2013... "I" am deeply blessed!

I will close this post with a quote that I found while reading a special source of my own inspiration... past and present. It comes from The World According to Mr. Rogers ( Important Things to Remember) and reads:

" Actor Davis Carradine, son of John Carradine, said in gratitude of his father's accomplishments, " I could stand on his shoulders and feel twice as tall."
That each generation could stand on the shoulders of the last and feel twice as tall is a poetic hope for all our families.

A Happy Birthday for my first-born... Mona Lisa aka.... "Dolly-Dolly-Dumpkins, Queen of the Pumpkins"... artist, writer, Mother Extraordinaire, interior designer, floral arranger... now residing... crafting... B&B ing and mosaic- ing in the Barbados!

 Allison.... aka Ms Pig... In Venice, as we speak... here teaching her class at the Frari .
                                                                     "Rabbo Allison!" - teacher, writer, artist , chef, yoga enthusiast. painter, crafter... and generous spirit!

Andrew... aka Andyrewster... and Ms Tilly ... golfer, bowman, athlete, artist, now Ontario/GTA Rep for Thermal-Fisher (a division of OXO)

Liam... aka "Liam-pee 'em " (not pants!) about to Graduate high school in June... computer specialist/ builder/ programmer, painter, photographer and philosopher

Chef Bryn... aka "Mouse"... (now grown past that nickname)... woodworker, athlete, painter, sous chef more-than--worthy chess opponent and all around good guy - good pal

Can you see why I feel so blessed???

Rich blessings and Happy Father's Day!... to ALL Fathers out there.
Stand TALL!!!!... and Keep the faith!

Thank you Dad... and my beloved children for your unconditional life time gift of love!

Though we may travel very different paths in our outside lives, let us always hold hands... and remain together on the inside.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"Believing"... or... The End of the Beginning" - Part Three

The time since the two Paint Out weekend just passed has sped up... and blurred together. So much so, that considering where and how to write this concluding segment was proving  problematic for me. Summer has a  customary way of arriving too late... or uncertainly in dribs and drabs... and then evaporating mysteriously. One almost always...  is left with an empty feeling that this sweet hour of play and much-looked forward to respite from the long cold of winter has slipped away... leaving one awkwardly alone on the dance floor without a partner...  still wanting to dance.

The floral "clock" in our garden has been moving rapidly... lilacs, tulips, daffodils, irises and our blossoming apple tree and forsythia are now but a memory of the Past, while lilies are headed up and the daisies smile serenely... a welcome sweet smile from my Mom. The "bloom" which had I felt in sharing plein air painting time with the Towe family and my two days with old friend Frank in Belleville has worn off. Both were rousing successes from my view and both most certainly brought new learning and pleasure to all parties concerned. But Time is always on the move... and I have been drawn along by the current and flow of my own life to next challenge... Enter a cast of two... in some ways reminiscent of my own family of  four siblings... or..."The Ya Ya Sisterhood"!

My two weekend painting guests from Ottawa were two sisters... pleasant... intelligent.. highly sensitive and worldly middle-aged women. Both were gregarious, but in getting to know them better, it soon became evident that while on the surface they while were both very definitely loving towards the other and had been reared in the same nest, their life experiences had indeed created two very different and strong personalities. Each came to this plein air experience prepared with an equal willingness to risk and learn... but using entirely different methods and thinking. Interestingly, to me... both shared a level of self-doubt about themselves and their creative sides.

To create an equal playing field and comfort zone for each, I presented my plan to treat them both equally as complete novices... starting from "ground zero". I  began by presenting a short introduction to colour mixing similar to the start with the Towe family.  I choose to purposely use this term to describe this point... because the journey we were commencing together was in fact quite like the actual site "Ground Zero" in the aftermath of the destructive events of New York... or more recently, Boston. There exists a definite need to revisit the actual site where picture making ceased, in order to commence with reconstruction of a basic vocabulary to understand the process of painting... and courage to try.

It is my own premise that ALL of us first "spoke" and described our world about us... ourselves and our feelings in terms of our picture-making. As "primitive" and devoid of rules and technique that this early expression presented itself, that expression was pure and unaffected. Our picture-making then was a genuine and undirected response. It was a confident act which revealed the relationship we each had with the childhood world in which we lived... and played. Now, after finding our way through the rigours and responsibilities of an adult life, (the Dark Ages), we reach middle age. Here, we search for a Renaissance... or a reawakening of the search for individual meaning for our lives.

We all have lived (more or less) through creating and rearing families and careers. But now many of us have found a need for a personal Quest... a personal adventure searching for adding fuller meaning to our lives. Others of us never left the Art path, but our goal in our adult lives was focused upon achieving "excellence" through honing skills to create an individual style and creating careers and sales. Somewhere along the way, most of us lost touch with the child... and his or her unfettered creative joy. Now, we find ourselves trying to make our way back to where we first began the journey.

In many cases, I have met many people... especially women who wish to take up this search. I have made it my mission in these latter years to help guide people such as the Towes and these two sisters through the maze and back through Self-discovery... to that precious time in Never Land... when they "Believed"... and found simple Joy and a place where they belonged. In this Zen World...Life would no longer be defined in terms of parents values... our spouse's goals... or our children's needs. It is a New and Golden Age of Self-discovery... driven by our own actions and wishes.

It was so interesting to bear witness to the process, as it occurred for these two siblings. Both approached the process very differently. It was obvious to me from the start that their personalities strongly shaped their painting processes, as they tried to sort out new problems as they arose. As well, I detected that their sibling past continually played into their levels of security and feelings of success during the process. Both individuals... in my humble opinion, created two very capable and equally pleasing-to-the-eye paintings, but both were significantly different ion their approach, as was their individual feeling of achievement. Neither had any previous experience painting in oils. You can judge for yourself again the quality or appeal of their paintings produced by viewing the jpegs below.

Saturday Session- Mother Nature Steps In

I had kept an eye on the weather forecast and had expected very cold and rainy weather for Saturday and that in fact occurred, so we moved into the outside Gallery where I had set up a colourful floral still life... Plan B. Here are photos to record that session.

 A quick lesson on mixing colours from primaries.... tinting and shading... creating browns and greys...then value creations in a single hue. Whew... a lot to take in... but necessary to start painting !

The floral subject... daunting at first glance... but not if... your are selective in what you choose to leave in "your bouquet/ arrangement"

Here is my ten minute "flash dance" demo... purposely left vague and "in your face" unfinished. There does exist basic structure and obvious choices about using the subject. After lunch... I added a few details to move towards a finish. However, once again it was purposely unfinished... and at the end I scrubbed it with my painting knife. What remains... is " a ghost" of the original sketch. I stressed that it was never intended as more than an exercise and guide for their own starts. I promised them (perhaps) a future finish... using an entirely new technique!

"Let the games begin!"..... on toned canvases 16x12 inches... which strongly encouraged their choice of a vertical format.

Michelle sets forth very strongly and emphatically in a well-developed line drawing. A great start!

Denise... a bit more hesitant and "airy" in her tentative start

Denise... quickly feeling more comfortable and gaining confidence quickly in adding paint to the drawing

Les deux soeurs a travail... cote a cote! Un moment merveilleux!!

Ideas and thoughts emerge rapidly... in paint

Denise... with a definite homage to Vincent! See it??? Raw colour applied with rapid abandon!

All around the subject first... and then to work to close out a successful lay in. Anybody hungry yet?

Lunch break... at Deb's Kitchen Kafe! YUMMMMMY!

Denise finished first... with panache... and JOY!

Two Beautiful Bouquets... Vive les differences!... See those smiles?
"I'm a Believer".... That says it all for me!

Sunday Session - En plein air in the Village

I had a couple of sites in mind, but deferred to the choice the ladies felt comfortable with... The Grout's Backyard Garden which had been the site for the Towe Paint Out. It was a sound choice because the subject and structure lend themselves to easy interpretation... and probable success for the novice outdoor painter. The scenario was the same for both gals... the one quickly  into action ... the other creeping in but with a sense of reserve that guaranteed her a comfortable experience. I completed a ten minute demo which stopped at the lay in stage to illustrate how the subject was supported by nearby masses. No colour direction was necessary after our first session.

Here is a shot showing the actual site with my vague quick draw lay in

Michelle jumps in confidently... basics are there already!

Denise... using her feeling her way around approach... it works!

Michelle approaches the lay in and lunch moment with satisfaction and gusto

Denise's scrubbed in... transparent lay in... painterly for sure!

We reached lay in by lunch time and we agreed to go down to the nearby Cornwall Pub for lunch... leaving our set ups as they were. We enjoyed chatting about the morning's activity and directions for the finish... and a sumptuous lunch as well! Back to the easels... both eager to get on

Michelle closes... speeding up her painting action... in lieu of using her usual precise and perfectly placed details. See the rhythm and flourish she has created as a result of taking chances?

Another confident finish... and HUGE smile of satisfaction for Denise!

And the winner is??? The smiles say... Both!!! Bien fait.... et encroyable... mes amies! These two beautiful sisters had never painted in oils... or en plein air before this weekend. Incredible!... That's the word!

It is never too late... or early to resume one's artistic journey. We spend so much of our lives just looking out the window of life... blankly as we travel daily... not really actually "Seeing ", or understanding what is in front of us. We live  a very "taken-for-granted" existence. As well... we really don't "see" the creative possibility that lies inside us all. It requires one brave and decisive moment where we reach out and risk going beyond the limitations we... or others have imposed... to discover a "Brave New World" where we too... can "belong"... and find more Joy in living. We each have a creative "voice"... our own unique way that we see and understand the world. We can find personal joy and share it with others... if we can "uncloak"... and relinquish all need for comparison to enjoy the true spirit of creating... en plein air.

Sharing the journey and watching the amazement and wonder of such an experience as this adventure with Denise and Michelle continues to motivate me to give classes. I very much look forward to meeting Denise and Michelle again... and judging by their smiles and departing words... I will... and Soon!

Bonne chance ... toutes les deux... et Merci beaucoup! Salut!

I will end this post by sharing a piece of Native American wisdom that I heard recently on a NPR morning broadcast for each of you to ponder:

"What I am.... I must become."

Life is the process of forever... "becoming" for all of us. Is it not?

Good Painting... to All !!

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!