Monday, July 21, 2014

Plein Air Artists... "Without Borders"

In the body of my last post, I stated my view that art crosses all borders: age... language... culture and even great geographical distance. This blog exemplifies and embraces that truth. I have yet to meet many of you who choose to read or to follow Journaling With Paint... and yet I feel a great sense of kinship which could as well be described a familial bond of sorts.

Through our back-and-forth visiting and sharing of ideas ... feelings and processes, we knit ourselves into a virtual community which is bound by a common creative spirit and a desire to reach out and discover more about ourselves..others and the world we live in. In doing so, I have discovered that no matter where we each live... we do share a "parallel" journey which draws us together.

Over my painting life time... I have been blessed to find myself in the company of so many talented artists and artisans. I have learned much from sharing the journey and living creatively in their midst. I could not begin to name all of them... nor could I say that any one of them shaped me more than another. For "I"... am [creatively]... the sum total of all each of their influences. Without any one of them... my creativity would for certain be diminished. I would hope that they could say the same of me and my presence in  their own lives.

Art seeps from a creative spirit of a creative individual and almost through a kind of subtle osmosis enters the spirit of other nearby creative individuals at will. Each of us is is like a tuning fork... we can pick up creative resonant energy when we are predisposed... and open to it. That "force" need not eminate from either the young or the old to hold that influence. That was so ... in my garden party paint out with Hana. I came away supercharged and invigorated by that young spirit... and I am the better for the experience... just as she was. There was a conduit enjoining us... "alternating current", if you will that continued throughout the entire session.

Monday found me in the company of Rochester, NY artist, Paul Taylor. Paul and his family are "river people" like myself. Our families have summered here all of our lives and the River is the cradle of our being. It is safe to say that this common element has largely shaped the adults that we have become. Painting is merely another "intersection" in our separate journeys. Though we work in different mediums... what we translate in our island art impressions bears a strong resemblance one to the other. We truly hit it off... right from our first meeting and I am certain that we will be painting friends from this point onward.

We decided to return to Rock Island Light House near Clayton, NY... which necessitated our doing the "customs conga"... both entering the US at Alexandria Bay, NY... and then upon re-entering Canada at Rockport later in the day. It was a perfect painting day... no win... no humidity like the brutal heat of last year's trip. We painted and lunched "side-by-each" and continually teased and chatted. It was a highly pleasurable and profitable day for us both. We concluded the day... joined by Deb and enjoyed an evening barbecue and soiree at the Taylor compound on Phil Taylor Road... located just west of Rockport on the Canadian side.

While countries have borders and hoops to be jumped through... and I well  understand "the whys"... it is uplifting to know that there are folks who we can share a deeper sense of understanding... tolerance and respect... sans the need for borders and confrontation. We simply embrace the fullest concept of "accord"... and choose to live without a need for rules of citizenship to be accepted for who we are.

We are simply... plein air artists... "without borders"... free to create as we wish... together... on both sides of the River we love.

Below is a compilation of jpegs to offer visaul insights into our day of adventure... and a brief running tour commentary for you to enjoy.

Approaching Rock Island in the very narrow and treacherous main shipping channel

The Canada Steamship "Pineglen" heading upriver into the Great Lakes via The Saint Lawrence

Passed safely through this narrowest of passages on the river... headed next into Lake Ontario

A friendly spotted sandpiper.. joined me and continually played peek-a-boo with me near my easel

My choice of painting site... low with the river out of the picture... something I had misgivings about when I got it back to the mainland

Pushing paint... under the shade of a large oak... greyness gone... but a bit on the "shaky"... given my too long hiatus from my oils and paint box. But it didn't last for long.

Paul doing what he loves when not painting.... gathering photo reference for those long winter studio night sessions back in Rochester... far from his river

We cruised our way slowly back to Rockport, working our way inland through the islands and The Millionaire's Club yachting facility and resort... "dressed to the nines"... with the opulent summer homes of America's summering "Who's -Who"... And the beat goes on!

Paul's Boat... and our water taxi for the two hour tour homeward to Rockport

Pullman's Nobby Island... its Victorian traces still to be found

Sunken Rock Light... sentinel... midway at the other end of this treacherous shoal region

An example of Island wooden boat traditions... "Pardon Me Too". Yes... there is a much larger and more costly ""Pardon Me One"! There is an old adage that struck me during this cruise and in particular at this sight:

"The only difference between some men and boys... is the price of their toys."

"Afternoon Delight... at Rock Island Lighthouse" - oil on canvas 10x12 inches

I was not at all pleased with the view, as painted on the island. Neither the light... nor the keeper's house seemed to be in a proper relationship to the river they sit on. Nor did they display clearly the function that they have served for over a century. I took a huge risk and decided (without photo reference) to make a drastic compositional change by lifting the river and far shoreline into view... and at the same time dropped the ridge of foreground land slightly to accommodate a deeper sense of space. I feel that the resulting painting better accomplishes a lighthouse feeling for the painting. Once again... be in charge of your painting. Take risks... change is continually possible... even well after the plein air session... when the blinders come off! HA HA!!

I will be back out with Paul this morning. Where ... I don't know.???... But it will be another adventure for certain.

Stay tuned...

Good Summer Painting... to ALL!


  1. Stunning photos but the painting surpasses them, Bruce. It is beautiful and your risks paid off in spades. Love that cliff house in the photo. I wonder what it looks like inside? So nice to have friends to paint with on occasion, no?

  2. HI ther Sherry!... Thanks for your as always... cheery visit and uplifting comments!

    Right on all counts! I lead a very blessed life! I continue to enjoy a busy week .... painting with good buddies! Life doesn't get any better!

    Have a great summer!

    Warmest regards,

  3. Bruce, what a joy to see these wonderful photos and most of all your great work. Thank you for sharing.

    All the best to you and Deb

  4. Hi Joan!... Long time no speak... or post! Glad to see you back on line!

    Thank you for visiting and for your encouraging comments!

    Good painting!
    Warmest regards,

  5. Hi Bruce, I enjoyed this taste of life along the river. It was bold to alter a perfectly fine painting so radically, but I think the finished version does reflect the location better. The perspective should be all wrong, but somehow it just seems to work. Well done.

    All the best,

  6. Good morning Keith!... Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights here in this post.

    My post was a sort of version of your running commentary of your own treks... the painting... just my solution for a conundrum we all face in our own work. Taking risks to step out beyond our "normal" and safe picture-making processes needs to be undertaken. As artists, we must always feel able to own the process... and the painting. If the process... or the painting owns us, then we are lost to remain in a rut and personal mediocrity.

    Perspective isn't just following a set of rules. Perspective can also be a personal view... even an altered one that suits our own feeling of need or situation.

    Just some additional thoughts to add to your very good comments!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,