I had not given much thought to making my own for this New Year until I came across a column in the Toronto Star newspaper written by Mark Cullen, one of Canada's "gardener gurus". While I have always admired his gardening skill, I must admit that I found his tone and presence somewhat arrogant and felt he carried an edge of superiority.
Somehow, in this particular column, that all seemed changed. His tone was more sincere... more personal and further on in his column came the revelation for that change. He had been diagnosed in May of 2013 with prostate cancer. While the cancer was treatable ... it caused him to re-evaluate how he was leading his life. He was financially successful... highly knowledgeable and respected and revered in his field. His new journey began while sitting under a mighty oak healing in his front yard. It was there where it was revealed to him where his Quest to find his True Self might commence. I would like to share his insightful resolutions with you. I choose to join him in trying to carry out this Quest... sharing his resolutions... but in my own terms and journey:
1. I will observe more. I will look further into my fascination with my own garden and environs. Though its bird songs are familiar to me. I will wander the fields and shoreline even more than I already do each and every day in search of new ideas and knowledge and with my eyes open wider.
2. I will create more. Though my creative production is usually constant... like all creative individuals I can allow myself to get too far off my ritual in the studio and plein air painting. I will try to paint outdoors at least two days in each week. I will include new media to further encourage a healthy work ethic and variety in my work. I will continue to try and paint more pure... as a child would without too many rules.
3. I will feed and nurture more. Though I conduct classes... hit or miss each summer, I will seek to create more opportunities to share my painting process, as I do with this blog site within my community. I have always found that in teaching I open myself up to new learning as much for my self as I do for my students.
4. I will endeavour to share more. I am very sharing by my very nature, but I am going to search out particular sectors or organizations where I can volunteer my strengths and energy to help others.
5. I am going to commit our joint energies as a couple to ticking off "bucket list" experiences. Though I do not fear death really, I never will embrace dying's finality without an effort to live out each moment and experience as fully as I can... with integrity and dignity intact.
Now... back to "Child's Play":
The revered childhood educator Mr (Fred) Rogers provided hours of wholesome company for Allison, Andrew and I when we were growing up together and simultaneously taught us many valuable life lessons that still shape our family and personal lives to this day. He always maintained that play was a child's first work. I still hold that tenet to be true and offer it to you this New Year's evening... in the form of this painting just completed today.
I had so wanted to make a snow "person" with the kids when they arrived... but the weather gave that idea the icy... "cold shoulder"! It was impossible to actually make a snowman. However, the Universe delivered to me an alternative method to accomplish this "childish" Christmas wish. It came via my long time painting Buddy Frank Edwards' blog. In his blog ... he had "built" a snowman with pigment on a toned 12x9 inch wooden panel. That started my snow man quest. I asked Frank if he minded my using his "Idea"... and since we had made many plein air "snowmen" together over the thirty years we have painted "side-by-each"... the answer back was a big, "U betcha!"
Frank was a syndicated political cartoonist and illustrator in his day job... but we shared studio space... and the great outdoors throughout our adult lifetime. We have shared a life time of adventures and time together that will continue, I believe until one or both of us is finally gone. Here is my take on a snow-less snowman.... in text and jpegs. Sorry Frank... but I need words as strongly as you need to avoid them.
My Snowman idea was completed indoors... in stages... given the constraints of the season and weather business. I had no plan or reference to work from... just my imagination. I had no partner to help me... so I invoked one of my muses, Andrea Bocelli to join me in the studio with his Cieli di Toscana soundtrack. Here is the result... in stages of this snowman's creation. I dedicate it to all of the "children"... no matter their ages... who have supported me and given me the courage to be my "Self." You are one of those special "children" Frank... so mostly for you!
A vertical 18x14 inch toned canvas. I rapidly sketched in a gestural line drawing using an India ink brush/pen. The elements are strongly obvious... all basic elements are present... in a setting I understand!
I decide to make it a nocturne... including my Christmas Star which on a clear winter morning is due south of our home. I revel in its being there and watching it move as the morning progresses toward sunrise.
I establish a St Lawrence landscape feel for my emerging plein air snow man.
Let there be Light! ... further imaginative play run wild. Children have no stringent rules for making snowmen. They just play... and unforced... joyful magic happens! That's how I felt throughout the entire process!
This is where time seems to vanish... cold or light doesn't enter into the picture? Remember being late for supper... because.....
Deb "put on her mitts"... and joined into the final fun. The snow and colour for the star were her ideas. Thanks Babe!
Well... here is the finished painting. Time to go upstairs for some hot chocolate... HA HA!!
This painting will not be offered for sale. From the first stroke on the canvas to now... it has a purpose for the future. I am proposing to my entire family that this personal Christmas Snowman... "Winter Star" be given to one of my children each Christmas to be exhibited for the entire Christmas season in his or her home. I will provide a special box and at the end of each Christmas visit... the painting is to be passed to the next person on the list... so that a continual tradition of sharing my gift will be created. It is never to stay at one home or become the sole possession of one "child."
My wish is that even after I have passed into time... my "presence" ... through this painting will encourage my family present and future to reach out and share our sense of family and the true spirit of "Giving." It will also serve to remind each of them... to NEVER surrender their wondrous... creative and joyful "child within"!
Happy New Year ... and Good Painting ... to ALL!!