Saturday, June 14, 2014

Father's Day - A Day For Offering Thanks... But Tainted by Paradox

Traditionally in all family circles within our society... Father's Day has been set aside as a special day to recognize and fete all Fathers for the gifts they have offered their family members. Many fathers have blessed each of us with their generous, loving presence and wisdom since infancy and right up into our adult and married parental lives. "I" .. count my Self among those blessed individuals fortunate enough trough birth alone to have been accorded this rich blessing. My Dad was... and continues to be... even after his passing, a metronome which keeps and sustains the tempo of my own personal journey and principles. I carry his spirit and model of goodness in my heart... Forever!

"Keep Smiling" - watercolour on paper 10x14 inches  A 100th Birthday tribute to the "little BIG Man" who taught me to face the world ... aways with a smile and the courage to honour and speak to my own Truth and principles.

This Father's Day is special in our Sherman Family because my eldest son Andrew has blessed us with a first child of his own... Malcolm Justin Michael Sherman. With this happy event, the circle has come around full for Andrew and I. He now has a "bowman" to introduce our beloved River to when the time arrives to do so. I am exceedingly proud of he and Melissa and know that wee Mac will enjoy a life as filled with Love.. good memories and adventures as those that Andrew and I have shared together as Father and Son.

Happy First Father's Day Andrew! I am proud!

I require little space in this post to offer forward my gratitude and my remen\mbrance of my own precious Dad... for there never passes a day when his memory and presence are not in the fore of my everyday life and activities.Together... we "made it so" through a common journey which I continue to live out  for us both... and in his honour.

Ironically... and sadly for "Me"... my warm and fuzzy feelings about this Father's Day end in celebrating Father's day 2014 and in the next part of this post I will try to explain why this is so. I inherited a generous and giving spirit.As well, I inherited a peculiar sensitivity to recognizing need and others the needs and an absolute compulsion to serve their need.  It has been a gift which has served me well, but with that gift comes a price. One is totally vulnerable to the pain and sadness of those we serve and it often overrides our own sense of happiness.

"I am such a happy man. I love going to work each day, I have a beautiful wife, a beautiful son and another baby on the way... Rachel, we are so blessed." These are thoughts and words that could well have come from my own mouth.... but they aren't. They are the words from RCMP constable Dave Ross, age 32 to his wife Rachel. Ross, along with two of his comrades were mercilessly gunned down last week in Moncton, New Brunswick while responding to a call that a man was roaming the streets heavily armed.

All of these beautiful thoughts and another special Father have been ripped away from this grief-stricken Larche family circle... left to survive... if they can with the large gaping unfixable hole that scarce days ago seemed untouchable. It speaks to m of the uncertainty and unfairness of Life... but in all truth... "fair" is but a human word to cope with such a loss that is unimaginable... even surreal.

I am not the only citizen rocked to the core by this senseless tragedy and act of premeditated carnage. I feel a sense of shame for my self and countrymen that I have... even in a small way contributed to the media driven criticism of certain events in their handling of other dangerous incidents. They daily faced the possibility of the same fate with every call they answered. They and their families always expected them to return... to put down the garage door left open... to return to the barbecue they had left without questioning... to sit down together and have the meal that was interrupted by duty and to resume the family life they deserved and valued as we do.

Deb and I know this feeling in spades. Her son Spencer is a Sergeant at the RCMP detachment in Cranbrook, BC. We know first hand of the fear that a wife and family has to go to the door.... or to feel the overwhelming grief that floods out all good for a long time in their own precious lives. They are a very large family.... knitted together in a special fashion which only brothers-in-arms can truly feel or understand. That feeling of family and kinship applies as well to service men and women, firemen, police and all other citizens who put their lives in harm's way on our behalf.

I cannot presume to tell you how to celebrate your Father's Day in your homes. But wherever you are... hug and tell your Father/ Husband /Dad that you love them and how much that they mean to you. It could... when life has its miserable and unpredictable way... be that very last time you can do so. Do that every single day... as if it were possibly your last last meeting. In this fashion... you will both feel... deeply blessed and special. The families of Constables Douglas Larche, David Ross and Fabrice Gevaudan will be included in my own Father's Day moments of remembrance. I owe them and their families that deep debt of gratitude.

In closing this post, I apologize for any "downer" feelings that I might have brought to and shared with you. It is my greater wish to wish all Father's and their families a very enjoyable and Happy Father's Day from The Paint Box Gang in Rockport!

We feel blessed.... today.... that Spencer , Jody and our beautiful Grand Girls Ava and Ella are safe and spared this tragedy. But they... and we... are not untouched by the loss of three fine Fathers and the grief their wives and families will be forced to bear for the remainder of their lives. Their ultimate sacrifice matters to me.

Rich blessings to ALL!!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

In Synch with Summer

The prolonged seesaw battle between Winter and Spring has finally been resolved and out of that struggle... the coronation of Summer has finally begun. Our garden floral clock tells me so, but so too does the gradual arrival of the "summer folk" who annually migrate here to people the scattered island refuges.Their faces have been much missed and absent on the River and in the village since their sudden departure late last August and September.

Our Gallery is fully open and operational and we have finally begun to reap the rewards of our joint winter works programs created in our studio and en plein air. Our lines of cards are being well received at this point. Newly introduced products like my mouse pads and magnets... to our surprise have had to be reordered already. Very encouraging to us ... given the lateness of the natural world signs and the disorientation and hesitancy in the human world in response to the former condition.

We have worked long hours together to ready and spruce up the Gallery. Deb has completely rearranged the interior furniture and has created a more pleasing look and flow. The Gallery has been rehung in a fresh manner. Other product focus areas have been located strategically to create pauses in the flow which encourage thought and pondering. We have created new eye-catching features on our front lawn and on the facade of our renovated garage/gallery which displace any confusion in the viewer from the street's mind as to which function this structure serves. With our winter and spring goals addressed and met... I can now get back to my outdoor life of painting on location. I have greatly missed that... and look forward to totally immersing myself in that activity which gives me so much pleasure.

Here is a potpourri of photos and recent watercolour images to offer you some further insight into the above comments. I can smell turpentine... as I close this post! Let the (plein air) games... begin!

Welcome mat view for the Paint Box Gallery for summer 2014

View down "Plein Air Lane"

Deb's jewel box display

Take your pick Ladies! Let us give you a hand!

Another palette of Deb's Creations

New Magnets... looking for new Fridge door Homes!

Deb assembling our new box sets of my images for the four separate Rockport Cruise Line Tours

Window Art by Deb

A new artisan addition by a grade seven student from my past, Mark Roche of Brockville. Whimsical wooden "Churches and Cabins From My Mind".... crafted entirely from wood procured from weathered telephone poles! The detail is uncanny! They're hot sellers already! We plan to feature Mark and his work here at the gallery in July!

The card shop!.... Plain... and simply unique!

Below you can see the seven images that I created in late winter to present two more box sets each containing four images for the Rockport Cruise Lines. I now have created a box set for each of the tours that they offer. I truly enjoyed shifting gears out of my familiar oils to a watercolour and ink mode expressed in this jaunty souvenir format designed for card creation. Judging by their early popularity... they will receive the same attention and good sales that the earlier two enjoyed during last summer. Fingers crossed... but they are printed... available and the work is done!

The RCL "Chief Shingwauk"... the work horse off the cruise line on his eastern approach to the world famous Boldt Castle... crown jewel of The Thousand Islands!

The Boldt Castle Yacht House which holds a vast collection of classic wooden river craft... many owned by the original owner George Boldt.

A western pass of Heart Island and Bold Castle showing the Triumphal Arch of Honor on the left... The Castle sandwiched in the middle and the children's playhouse, Alster Tower on the right. A classic wooden runabout in the foreground leads the way to a Thousand Island experience and adventure!.

Here a A Great Blue Heron drifts lazily by the Power House on the island which is joined to the main island by a foot bridge. The power house never turned a volt of power on the island. But that's a story... for another day and post!

Stay tuned.....

Casa Blanca... a magnificent Victorian river home... once a private residence... now a high end guest home with a panoramic box seat on the International shipping channel. Elegant living from the Past... still offered to guests in the Present.

The House of the Seven Gables... once an opulent private river home... now a leadership training centre for world classed corporation executives.

This larger than life limestone statue perched high on a cliff in the Canadian Palisades. This unique sculptural attraction depicts Saint Lawrence... guarding over the River which  bears his name. In his hand can be seen a book. He is the patron saint of librarians. In the other hand he holds the brazier on which he was martyred by the Romans and was thereby elevated to sainthood for his act of fidelity and love of God.

These are but a few of the sites and reasons for making Rockport and Thousand Islands a possible vacation destination in your future travels. You could also make a visit to our Gallery and home... always... open to our Friends!

"Yours to discover... Ontario!" Come visit!

Good Painting... to ALL!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

"Salt and Pepper"....Straight from the Heart...

Just as these simple spices inhabit and offer special flavour to daily life... there exists among our fellow men and women... individuals who add to the quality of life of so many others,. They accomplish this simply through the manner in which they conduct their lives and the wisdom that they so generously offer through their writing... thinking and actions.

This past week I received the sad news that a Canadian artist/writer whom I deeply admired had succumbed with dignity after a year long battle with pancreatic cancer. Robert Genn embodied that unusual blend of intellect... artistic vision... and sense of pure Humanity dedicated to the service of Art and fellow artists.

That news and personal sense of loss comes on the heels of the news earlier in the week of the passing of the American spiritual leader, artist and writer, Maya Angelou... another huge contributing sphere of influence in the formation of my thinking and value system.

What drew me to these individuals was their ability and willingness to speak directly from their hearts transparently about those elements and pains that most of us choose to hide from view. Mostly, we view these things as "personal" and  no one else's business. We are taught early on in our lives to "keep secrets" and to suppress fears and pain because it might make us appear weak. Safe perhaps... but when hidden the risk of festering and becoming a worse problem is more often the reality.

Often in life... mentors and heroes are "ordinary" people whose spiritual depth... understanding of life and great sense of Truth and Dignity lift them above the masses who simply trudge through life. In so conducting their lives in this fashion... others gain and find personal comfort and understanding simply through the transparency of their honesty and sharing. They teach by leading... and remind us that past pain can be overcome with redemption and work.

I will deeply miss "Salt and Pepper"... but the taste that they leave in my "palette" will remain and will most certainly be passed forward through my own modelling of their simple truths and lessons of humility. Perhaps this is sole claim to which we can all aspire to attain some degree of lasting purpose... aka... immortality.

I wish to close this post with two quotes from these remarkable individuals which I feel best reflect the deepest sense of their similar high system of values and  Humanity. Perhaps in sharing them with my friends here on my blog... their marvellous spirits and message will be further used and valued in the future... that they will never unfortunately see.

Maya Angelou... April 4th, 1928 - May 29th, 2014

"National treasure"... dead but never forgotten at 86 years.

"I have learned that people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Never forget that each of us has the power to do good works no matter our circumstances... gender...  race, creed, skills or intelligence. In doing so with constancy... we leave behind us good feelings and lasting impressions of our "having been"... in the hands of others to further their own journeys. That is a measure of immortality to which each of us can... and should aspire.

Robert Genn Canadian Visual Art icon and writer... a piece of Canadian Culture painting on location in the Natural World that he so loved and felt at peace with... at Lake -of-the-Woods

Robert Genn, May 15th, 1936 - May27th, 2014... passed too soon at 78 years.

"The thing about art is that life is in no danger of being meaningless."

We shared a common belief that art and Nature were binding forces of good that could be shared by all... with no borders of ability or age. Creation is a deeply personal interface with one's soul and the environment and people that we encounter on our journeys.

Post Script taken from  a recent Robert and Sara Genn letter

"Love me truly!
Remember my constancy,
With all my heart
I am with you
even from far away."

A fitting epitaph for each of these remarkable lives.

Rest in peace ... I have been deeply blessed by your gifts to "Me" and will continue my own journey in your honour and with your spirit of goodness.

Good Painting!... to ALL!!