Friday, September 26, 2014

Pedalling... or Peddling Your Passion

"Every time that I'm in the woods, I feel like I'm in church."
                                - Pete Seeger  (Folk Icon)
The Act of...   Pedalling

While the title of today's post might be at first written off as just another piece of "word smithing"
on my part... I offer it totally as some food for thought to each of you who seeks to elevate their painting processes. Think of the act of painting as being similar to riding a two wheeled bicycle. How did you begin that process of gaining the courage and skills necessary to leave your first three wheeler at the curb...  to strip off the training wheels... or to feel the joy of travelling under one's own very power? What were the stages that you passed through to enable you to travel wherever you wanted under your own power?

Firstly, it took a certain level of personal need and courage to take up the challenge... and to overcome the fear of falling. Then it took determination and perseverance over many trials... perhaps guided by someone that you trusted before you finally felt equipped and ready to solo. Painting is very similar in many respects. Few of us are complete "naturals". Most of us simply at first felt enjoyment when we were pushin' a pencil... or paint. And as with riding a bicycle... once the skill is learned, it is seldom forgotten and usually just requires a few sessions to regain our confidence and level of skill. Then riding becomes an individual self-guided journey.

However... continuing to further use the "bicycle" metaphor... few us will ever reach a level of skill to actually compete in high level bicycle racing... or ever hope to represent our country in the Olympic Games... no matter how long we pedal our butts about. It is likely most unrealistic to set ourselves up for such lofty goals. The folks that end up in this part of the bicycle spectrum are dedicated... highly motivated athletes who were quite literally... "born to ride".

This does not however, disqualify any of us from enjoying the thrill of simply "riding"... by ourselves... or with others who share our common passion for just plain "pedalling". It's healthy for the body and soul... builds character and involves adventuring... well beyond daily limits or personal expectations. Quite simply... we are better for our participation and involvement. In fact... you could even... pedal n' paint. Where might that take one??? I wonder....

Pedal on... Risk... Explore... Coast... Take time to enjoy what's around you. Set achievable goals... and hope... never to arrive. Reaching such a destination would mark the end of a magnificent journey. Keep the dreaming alive.... Just pedal on!

Peddling... Your Passion... another kind of pedalling

In my own personal experience, I offer that the success in selling one's art is dependent upon many variables. Some lie well outside our ability to control. If one hopes to successfully sell in this weak economy... one must have a special bike "to peddle"... that is not just the average. In other words... not what everyone else is peddling. There has to be some unique quality that separates one's work from others. It might be more creative use of colour... strikingly different elements of design... or perhaps a unique handling of paint. Whatever... it must separate you from the "ordinary"... or the visions of others.

Identify what you have an earnest passion for. If it is landscape...then paint... read and totally immerse yourself in landscape to gain a full understanding of your subject. Come at it using different techniques... in different times of the day and with changes in lighting. Try painting the same place in other seasons. Shuffle the deck. And above all... do find pleasant weather to try your hand at painting en plein air. Nature is the most inspiring and patient teacher.

Not every painting we make is worth sharing... let alone placing it in the market place ... whether at a fair... or on a blog or web site. Some paintings are only exercises... whose truest value lies only in interpretation of the mistakes we have made. Take the courage to "make them disappear"... by your own hand after you have had ample time to study them and reach the conclusion that they deserve..."a thumbs down". Place only your best in your sales department. If you painted it with passion and feel pride that your name is on it... then likely those feelings will be translated and understood by potential clients and viewers... deeming it saleable. Viewers will admire and want it for the very reason that you painted it.

Shifting gears from painting butter tarts... to radishes and onions... then on to pets you have never seen... except in a photo really do little more than to fill time for a day. The question to be asked in my mind... is. What does my painting say to my viewer? Does it speak of a feeling deeply and passionately held within me Does it encourage participation beyond seeing it as another pretty picture? Is it evocative... provocative... active... ???

What I am offering in this post is simply "food for thought". Perhaps there might be a phrase that might help you in your struggle to pedal... and peddle... your very own two wheeler. I mean not to be in any fashion or terms judgemental. I merely wish to offer a view that has served me well on my long journey. The fact that I still go out to painting with joy... and receive ample "reward"... be it in $$$... or in compliments from people from all walks of life when they visit our Gallery. Those gifts serve to motivate me further in following... and sharing my path with those who are of kindred spirit with my own.

I'll end today's post with this profound passage from author Julia Cameron's inspirational creative hymnal "Heart Steps" first published in 1997. I found it closely matched my own artistic and spiritual beliefs.

"We are ourselves creations. We are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves. This is the God-Force extending itself through us. Creativity is God's gift to us. Being creative is our gift back to God."

Do paint with your heart... joyously... in your own image. Be proud of your achievements... but maintain humility. It too... is a necessary tool in the artists painting kit.

Here is an island setting and view that for half a century has served as personal marker which I have used to orient myself on my inner GPS. It served to mark my return to this place I call home... and it served to bid me goodbye as I glanced at it when I had ever to depart. All of this will soon disappear. This beautiful piece of white clad river heritage will very soon succumb to new change afoot all along this side of the Saint Lawrence. Some cash-fat "Daddy Warbucks" will soon have "his way" with the foot print left ... after this century-old architectural face on the River is flattened and scooped off to the local waste disposal site. That's the way it goes these days... up n' down the shoreline. Money speaks... as it always has... and Time pushes on by. Only the River itself continues its rythmn... and "they" are even playing with that too.

"Ridin' out the Storm... at Big and Little 99" - oil on canvas 10x12 inches

This is the first of a couple of smaller paintings that I wish to make to record its having been here. The white clad wooden boathouse was the "offing" point to countless Island adventures for all of the earlier residents and their guests for well over a century. A childhood chum of mine had resided in and took care of this property for half of his lifetime... only to be given an abrupt and totally unexpected "pink slip"... and an order to vacate within a month. This was not "the way of the River"... as I have known it. Property owners long honoured the special service of their caretakers and caregivers with the promise of a guaranteed life time of accommodation and security. Things have sadly changed. A handshake no longer can be expected to seal a promise or a deal. Where did honour go? I wonder.....

The two small islands are known to locals as "Little and Big 99". Little 99 barely qualifies to rightfully assume the title island. An island must ahve a least one tree growing on it to be offered this distinction and place in the famous "Thousand" count. I feel that their proximity to this river heritage offers my belief that it is indeed possible for Man and Nature to coexist in harmony - provided Man's arrogance and predisposition toi controlling nature at his whim can be moderated.

Just one ol' dude's rant... but it's my Truth.... and I choose to speak it and live by it!

Happy Fall... and Good Painting... to  all!


  1. Good post Bruce with a subject most of us grapple with...much of our "successes" in a commercial or social way lie beyond our control and trying to reach them can be very frustrating and disappointing. However the joy of creating and the fulfillment we can achieve through it is ours alone and I believe the ball we must keep our eye on.

    When I was guiding salmon and halibut anglers I often had to coach them while they were reeling in their trophy to take it easy and not to rush, cause once that fish was lying on the floor of the boat the fun was pretty much over.

    We must all learn to love the process of creating and try to make it foremost in the effort. It is where we have all the control and where fulfillment awaits...

    Another lovely piece here Bruce that takes me another trip to the Islands in the St. Lawrence.


  2. Good evening Jeffrey!... Thank you for your visit... and your "right on the marker" comments regarding the real essence and value of creating art!

    If personal joy and fulfillment represent our primary motives for creation... then all of the other "forces" at work in the market place cannot tarnish our sense of purpose and our intrinsic reward received in return for our efforts.

    Glad to continue to share the creative path. Though we live greatly apart geographically... we are "One"... spiritually and artistically! Does it get any better????

    Happy Fall... and Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  3. You always write such interesting and thought provoking posts. Good advice about not putting everything out there. I think, it's part of maturing as an artist. I recently cleaned out my "room". The place where all of those paintings were/are stacked. I went through every painting and put it in the "PAINT OVER THIS" pile or the it's good or it represents a good memory pile.

    Now to do the same on my website. Thanks for the itty bitty cattle prod!! :)

  4. Good evening Marian!... So nice to chat again... thanks for stopping by and for adding your own thoughts!

    Quality control and ongoing product development are essential aspects to improve sales success in any type of business... large or small. Without either of these one's business risks the distinct possibility of being displaced by more innovative and unique competitive sources.

    Face it... the art field is saturated with seasoned and emerging new artists who are anxious to succeed. This vast increase in numbers is competing for a relatively a decreasing market because of poor economic market factors. The message is clear - Step up!... or step aside! That's my personal read!

    Good for you Marian in delivering what I have described... and for having te courage to cull out what you aren't proud of! I have long sensed your passion for and commitment to your work. Stay the course!

    Happy Fall... and Good Painting !

    Warmest regards,

  5. ah…. 'progress'..
    I enjoyed your heartfelt post and your great depiction of a vanishing little place in time.

  6. Hi there Mary!.... Yes... "progress"... forward looking visions! But the Past and Present as well offer us a sense of place in the scheme of things.

    Glad that you enjoyed the post and the wee sketch! Thanks for dropping by!

    Happy Fall ,... and Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  7. Love the painting, Bruce!!! But then I always do. I enjoy seeing the similarities and differences in your work with watercolors and your work with oils too. Not so dissimilar in the end. I don't sell, for the most part. Just give it away...

  8. Good morning Sherry!...Thanks for [once again] weighing in on this post!

    Your comments support my own belief that "style" is something that evolves through years of exploration and individual experimentation... and not by imitation.

    As well... all artists are truly "sponges". We learn mainly by assimilation of our experiences and the influences perhaps... of others that we deeply admire. All that remains unique really... is the way that we by ourselves think... and push paint.

    I hope to push further with some related thoughts regarding this evolution which artists face... my Self included.

    Selling is but one reason for painting... and in my own belief should rank well behind the noble and generous gesture that you practise Sherry. I deeply admire you for that humble... but powerful gesture. I love your work... because... it's honest!

    Happy Fall... and Good Painting to You!
    Warmest regards,

  9. So sorry to hear those beloved buildings will fall victim to 'progress', Bruce. The world is indeed changing...and not always in a good way.

    This applies to the administration and many business practices, in my humble opinion.
    Proverbs 17:7 Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.

    Love your post and painting.


  10. Good evening Dean!... Thanks for connecting and for sharing your opinions here!

    Progess... even by the ol' GE commercial standard.. is hardly our most inportant product in today's society! That applies to business , administration... education... government.... and religion. What does that say about our world????

    Your Proverbs wisdom in this comment fairly clinches those observations. I think that once again... that we "are on the same page" Dean!

    Good Painting... and rich blessings back to "You" !
    Warmest regards,

  11. Hi Bruce, I think one of the biggest lessons we can learn is acceptance of failure, or rather that we can't succeed every time. I used to get very depressed when a painting didn't work out, feeling that I had wasted my time. I now realise that if we don't fail some of the time, we don't make progress either.

    It's a shame to see history being swept aside in the name of 'progress', with no respect for loyal tenants. I don't know what the plans are for this land, but I suspect that it won't enhance the area!

    All the best,

  12. Good afternoon Keith!... Thank you for offering your insights today re: dealing with challenges... and failure(s)! It's all ... in the game!

    We cannot buck change exteriorally... but we can embrace change within our Selves.. with verve and vigour in our own attempts to grow beyond "ordinary". That's the real progress that's important!

    I firmly believe that we both do that in our art and personal lives!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,