Monday, January 13, 2014

Surprise!... after Surprise!

There exists some irony in the title that I chose for my last post that best matches itself with an old adage:
Be careful in choosing what you wish for. For it may surely come to pass. January did indeed add an early, and unexpected surprise for our New Year here in Rockport. It came out of no where... with complete stealth and... surprise. And completely floored us!

Surprise # One

I had set out on Friday afternoon in search of a site to enjoy my second outdoor painting foray. I discovered such a place and a subject in a very ordinary corner of my every day travels. The day turned out to be one of those rare winter days where there is no wind to deal with...  and the growing warmth of the a higher January sun inspires one to set aside the usual winter need for speed.

Gone was the usual weather-driven need to set up quickly and to jump immediately into painting in high gear. There was ample time to just sit and take in... and to slowly savour the subject. There was no rush to paint. There was even time to set my radio to my constant PBS classical music radio station. With the trunk lid of the van open, I would be able to have music as my afternoon painting companion... on an otherwise empty back street in the rural village of Lansdowne. It was all too glorious. What a pleasant and unexpected surprise!

The scene reminded me so much of the Christmas cards I so admired now long ago, when I perused the ones Dad was quietly chronicling at the kitchen table after each and every Christmas. During his process, he would customarily check off the names of folks who wished to share his tradition of card sending, while eliminating those who did not wish to continue. He would even set aside those special cards that appealed to him pictorially. They would find themselves magically reappearing on the mantle at the commencement of the next Christmas season. I follow that tradition... somewhat.

I vividly remember being attracted to rural subjects like red barn board covered Vermont bridges... barns... horse and sleigh subjects and town street scenes... ones just like this quintessential rural winter street scene that lay before me in Lansdowne. I totally remember it as my introduction to Canadian art history and to figures like AY Jackson... Manley MacDonald... Pilot... Suzor-Cote... Gagnon and Colburn... just to name a few. Perhaps... this was the initial source and crucible for my own painting preferences... so many years later. It was certainly reminiscent of that earlier time on this day, as I set forth to capture this legacy from a rural past in Ontario that has all but disappeared. I shall be amongst the last of a generation that will have it to see... and to record. Things change... and with that change... things lose their value and finally their very physical presence in our cultural landscape. A pity... but it is how life runs!

Here is the raw sketch/impression that I painted as it came back to my studio. I feel very little need to rework it at all. There exist a few inaccuracies which always occur during an interface with the landscape and a few flat areas that need brightening a bit. Other than that, it will remain as I had recorded it... and I am well pleased with the result. It added joy to my life... and surprisingly came from close to home. 


Plein air oil sketch on canvas 8x10 inches... "in the raw"

Surprise # Two

I decided next morning that I would got down to the studio and "tidy up" this sketch ... devoting no more than fifteen minutes to insure that I retained the painterly, loose quality of this small painting. As I approached the door between the stairs and the studio door, I was confronted by two rather dark and ominous patches on the burgundy broadloom.WATER! Terror gripped me immediately, as I grabbed the handle on the closed door opening into the studio. The area right at the entrance was soaked with water as well... but jumping further into the broad loomed carpeted area, a small sense of relief swelled within me. At least the studio area itself... with paintings, files and books on the floor had not been effected... yet.

I went over to the closed door to the adjoining spare bedroom... snapped on the light switch and quickly glanced into its interior. Horrors! The carpet in there was totally submerged. My greatest fear came from the fact that we has stored my quadriptych vertically in this area. We would have to put worries about that concern on the back burner for the present. I called for Deb, and together... we began quickly removing the paintings and bedding from the two single beds. That done and the studio cleared of all objects on the actual floor itself, we went back to the task of evaluating an immediate plan of action.

It was quickly obvious... looking at the one low window in the room, that water was entering the space... and very steadily as a result of trapped run off of melt waters from the 6-10 inches of solid ice that had formed in our driveway and around the house itself. The added overnight and all day rains had exacerbated the run off... so that water ran to places that it usually didn't. This created this major problem... and surprise for us. It realized that the carpet had to come up immediately and that a heavy duty shop vacuum would be required to remove all of the inside water accumulation and to stem the flow of the incoming water. I fully realized as well... that decisive action had to be taken outside as well, to remove the built up ice and snow from around the back and front of the house. So the problem... and required solution was two-pronged in nature.

I immediately called our land lords and they responded immediately by sending their very handy son-in-law  to lend a hand. He agreed with my evaluation, so we joined forces in first cutting up the carpet and removing it. Then, using his mighty powerful 6.5 horse power "super sucking 2+1... he very quickly removed all of the water very quickly. We placed a good sized oscillating fan in the room overnight to further help in drying up the area. Our actions appear to have the problem under control... for the moment. Fingers crossed...NO MORE SURPRISES, January.... PLEASE!

I spent the remainder of the day breaking up the heavy ice crust and shovelling away the snow under it around the entire front and back of the house. After a breather, I set about axing a channel through the six to ten inch thick base of ice down the full fifty foot length of the driveway. Needless to say... sleep came early and was welcomed by us both at the end of this hectic and worrisome day. My earlier expressed enthusiasm for "surprises" had for certain been more than sufficiently... "dampened"!

Post Surprise Thoughts

Despite all of the worry and hard work that we faced in the handling of these little January "surprises"... they serve to teach each of us important lessons. Firstly... we must learn to accept what life delivers to us. We must first think... make a plan and then work as a team to overcome whatever the disappointment... obstacle, or setback may be. As with the pre-Christmas "surprise" power outage, we carried out these steps in the same order and we more than survived. We grew closer together as a result of our combined effort and genuinely felt much less powerless in the face of this adversity. 

In my experiences in my own life... I humbly offer to you that Adversity has been my greatest teacher and that it has advanced my personal growth in every aspect of my being! The adversities I have been faced with and endured form the very basis of the current feelings of Peace and Contentment that I now enjoy. Deb has brought her unconditional love and support... providing the very "salve" that soothes the effects of adversities that regularly manifest themselves in our daily life. Together... we have formed a creative and grateful team. .. and we have learned to pull... and together, we share both the load and the benefits of our labours. That is all that matters in life.

 "We"... are deeply blessed.... and ready to face more of life's endless array of "surprises".... small "s" fully intended! HA HA!!

Lesson Learned?... Focus more on the pleasant "surprises." Make a plan and ride out the unpleasant ones together. SMILE!.... They usually pass quickly... and are forgotten just as quickly as they have appeared !

Good Painting!... to ALL!!!

Post Surprise # 2      "All's well... that ends well"!  (Shakespeare)


"Back Street Lansdowne Legacy" - plein air oil on canvas 8x10 inches... just a few "colour surprises" added





11 comments:

  1. Hi Bruce, I hope your triple painting is OK and not damaged with the water. The main thing is that you were able to get on and sort out the problem quickly before the water got into the main part of the studio. Love your wee painting good to hear all is well.

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  2. Hi there Caroline!... "All's well... that ends well"... and it has for the moment! The quadriptych is A-okay and dry again... caught it in time. The studio was really unscathed. Bessings.... counted!

    On to the next item on the list! More Painting... Surprise!... Surprise! HA HA!
    Stay tuned!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  3. Well, my muscles were tensed just reading about the second surprise!!! But you handled it well and I hope the problem has been solved. Winter can offer many surprises - good and bad. As for the good, well that winter scene has so much warmth in it I'm sure it was partially the cause of the melting and water! Lovely, bright, just sooo appealing :) While I am not a winter person, although born in January, I do admire you for going out into the cold and snow and ice and wind and putting it all out there to come home with something like this!

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  4. Hi there Rhonda!... Thanks for your cheery and uplifting visit and comments!

    Yes... my elbows and shouders groaned and complained greatly over a couple of days... but the "surprise" has passed (for now... or until the next one... HA HA!) and all of the uncertainty and worry has all but vanished. Back to the painting!

    While outdoor painting isn't for everyone... doing so does present and teach one lessons that can be entirely missed in the studio. Strangely... one gets acclimatized to the cold after a few outings and makes the going easier.

    Couldn't miss on this Christmas card motif. It speaks of warmth and invites you to paint it... no matter the weather. It now has been recorded ... and I can drive by it each day on the way to picking up Deb's newspaper... knowing that fact! "All's well..." Onward!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  5. Hi Bruce, I shared your trepidation as I read about you finding the damp patches, and then went on to discover the flooded floor. I'm relieved that it wasn't as much of a disaster as you first thought. Breaking up that ice must have been hard work, I've done a bit of that on the inch-thick ice on our driveway and that was hard enough!

    I like the painting. It perfectly conveys the scene you described of a sunny winter day.

    All the best, stay warm,
    Keith

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  6. Good morning Keith!... Thanks for dropping by!

    Trepidation,your word... bordering upon frenzy... mine was my first thought upon discovering the wet patches which led me to the mini lake in the adjoining bedroom beside the basement studio!

    Relief soon followed... thankfully however, with the rapid intervention by my land lord's capable son-in-law to suck up the wet and carry out the soaked and damaged carpeting.

    Gratitude and blessings are the go words now! The "sunny" side (silver lining) of the damp cloud! HA HA!!! Choice of perspective comes into play here! These feelings perfectly match those plein air feelings expressed in this wee back street sketch!

    Hopefully... I can now get back down to what I most enjoy!
    Stay tuned!...

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  7. A really lovely painting Bruce...happy that it will forever be a reminder of some of our childhood memories, though with a touch of melancholy...

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  8. as well I am glad that you caught the flow when you did...hope everything worked out...

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  9. Hi there Jeffrey!... Tank you for both your visit and encouraging comments.

    Like yourself... my memories and feelings are usually what drives my painting process. Melancholy surely is one of the emotions most of us feel at different times and stages in our lives. The key tis how we deal with that particular emotion. Our method ... using painting as a vehicle to express it outwardly and openly... in my mind is a healthy instrument for doing so.

    Paint on... and enjoy the trip! That is something we are both inclined to do!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce0

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  10. HI there Jeffrey!... Please excuse the typos. I am experiencing a glicth at the moment where my cursor becomes locked into printing multiple O's! YIKE! I can't go back in my comment to correct for any length of time without it reoccurring!

    "All's well... that ends well." The painting ended in fine style!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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