Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Defining... and Refining... One's Own Journey

I have spent a good deal of time in recent weeks looking back over my painting journey... looking for markers to guide how the latter part of it as it will emerge. Throughout the breadth of that entire journey... I have discovered individual works from twenty or more years ago that could easily have been created yesterday. They each share the same mature aspects and interests and my question is... why?

I certainly "jitterbugged about".. as I note other bloggers doing. I see many exploring new mediums and subject matter trying to find a unique voice and new directions to keep them motivated. I too... followed a similar path in the earlier days of my painting. I too... maintained a "day job" and family responsibilities for a large part of that journey... so that I indeed had to steal time to sit down to paint.

I faced the very same trials and discouraging hurdles in my life that many of you face in your journeys today. Nothing much has changed for an aspiring painter... really. It is even a more difficult journey to gain success and sales... if that is what motivates you. The Internet has quite literally reshaped the art business.

Throughout my life, I believe I have followed my original passion to paint the landscape around me. Nature continues to intrigue me and inspires me to look at my own life as part of it. I am but one creature who lives in... and depends upon its health to continue to provide for me and my progeny. To the best of my ability, I have tried to maintain stewardship of this Eden and to encourage others who I have met or taught to do likewise.

 When I look at the traditional use of the term landscape... I see it differently. I have a view of it as being multifaceted. It is most certainly the natural and physical land form. However, I see it it as a spiritual entity too... because it speaks to me. It is not merely a collection of things. It talks... it breathes... smells and caresses me. It offers me peace and tranquility. It teaches me how to live and to accept inevitable changes that life brings to me... as it does us all.

I am greatly blessed to have discovered that the landscape is my muse. I have no longer any need to travel vast distances to have subjects to paint. Many of those interests have always been at arm's length for me. And in  the past... I rushed about to paint as many paintings as I could because of the sense of urgency that other demands brought to my life. Now... I choose to paint ...more thoughtfully... and to choose subjects that I can respond to... solely with that goal in mind.

This new exhibition opportunity... I believe fully reflects this attitude and internal change within me. I have truly enjoyed creating each work. I strongly feel that there exists an intended narrative quality each in each that will offer an opportunity for a dialectic dialogue with my viewers. Hopefully... the show will encourage them to value the beautifully unique Canadian landscape that we share... and to "see" it for what it is - a legacy of heritage.  Win ... lose ... or draw... I am continuing on this path and truly hope that the satisfaction and peace continues. I am greatly blessed...

Here are three of the latest smaller works that will be included in the show. All have their origin either on the river or nearby. Two reflect my interest in the natural land form of the Canadian Shield which forms the the unique geological origin of the Thousand Islands. They also record presence of the Saint Lawrence River as the major conduit for the waters of the Great Lakes into the Atlantic Ocean to the east.

"Waiting For the Maple Run" is a small 8 x 10  canvas depicting that period of peace and change... where winter yields to the strengthening sun of spring. It also marks the much-anticipated tradition of tapping sugar maples to make maple syrup . Both are coupled to lift winter-wearied spirits to new heights and "sweet dreams" of summer!

Visiting the bush... and having a pancake breakfast is an annual event I look forward to... as much as catching a glimpse of that first robin harbinger! The practice is a unique piece of Canadian heritage and the lingering connection that we continue to feel with the landscape.

"Wind... Water and Rock" - oil on canvas 8 x 10 inches... here portrayed by a lost channel in the labyrinth of similar passages among these countless breath-taking landscape vistas. This is a universal view really... encapsulating all that this landscape offers visitors - rugged pink crags of granite faces... with windswept white pines and dark green firs clinging tenaciously as they have... for a millennium. While man does influence noticeable changes on the landscape... this rugged land endures and ... eventually has its way with human intruders.

"Quiet Waters" - oil on canvas 12 x 16 inches

This smallish painting qualifies as one of those landscape subjects that transcends the notion that "landscape" merely connotes physical land form. As I "stepped into" this picture... twice... this thought flooded my thoughts... as it customarily does on so many plein air occasions:

"He leadeth me beside still waters... it restoreth my soul..."

The natural world truly does lift my soul fully out of the din of mankind... and provides me the elixir which maintains Hope... Inspiration and my ongoing Gratitude for my life. I wish you the same good fortune with your own painting journeys.

In closing out today's post I offer this very appropriate snippet of wisdom and encouragement from the eastern philosopher Rumi to each of you. He speaks clearly to "Me":

"When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you... a joy."

Much Peace and Joy and...

Good Painting to ALL!!!


  1. I have the exact same thoughts on landscapes that you do, Bruce. The same internal peace and joy and uplifting of spirit. Now...if I could translate those emotions onto paper as you do, I'd happily paint nothing but landscapes. Alas, I flounder trying to put my soul on paper in every effort. I know very quickly if I'm going to manage it and the usual answer is a resounding "NO!"

    I love these pieces, as I always do when you put your hand to paint and paper. I've always loved your sugar maple paintings especially. Still and yet, one of my most favorites is a windmill watercolor you did in your sketchbook a few years back. Oh to paint like you!

  2. Good morning Sherry!... Thanks for dropping by and adding your own thoughts... always welcomed!

    Having the landscape as my own personal Muse does not eliminate the tussles I often endure with completing paintings en plein air ... or in the studio. Perseverance is always the answer to overcoming self-doubt or interruption... with a dash of discipline added to lock down the successful finish!

    I think that my love for sugar bush painting and and the joy of spring itself manifest themselves in my annual bush paintings. The windmill from the Barbados adventure surely captures the essence of past and present in this beautiful Eden. That is why I have retained it for myself!

    "Oh to paint like you..."???? What a mistake that would be Sherry. Imitators never ever achieve anything noteworthy.... and do they ever really believe that what they have "created"... truly is theirs?

    I wonder....

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

    1. Not to imitate your style, Bruce...just to have your level of skill. This is what I desire.

  3. Gidday again Gal!.... I leave it there... just for "You" my dear! HA HA!!

    Thank you for continuing to believe in... and to share my journey!

    Much Peace... and Hope!

  4. Hi Bruce, these three paintings all have that extra emotional quality that you talk about. As with all your work, there is the feeling of things personally experienced; I always sense that you are paddling along those watercourses in your mind's eye.

    All the best,

  5. Good evening Keith!... Thank you for taking the time to visit and comment on these new works! As a peer... I much value your impressions and evaluation of my work.

    Like yourself... personal response to the subject comes from the passion I have for the things that I choose to paint. I am indeed reliving adventures in my my mind's eye... even when I paint in the studio. The Natural world is the best classroom for discovery and rapid growth.

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  6. Nice work Bruce. I especially like 'Waiting for the Sugar Run', I guess partly it invokes some distant memories but the painting is a stunner. Like many things our connection to the subjects we paint helps to connect with those who view it, it seems to make them live. It is a goal worthy of effort.


  7. Good evening Jeffrey!... How nice to chat again!

    I think we both share a feeling of passion and intimacy for the wild... it shows in your own fine works ... and also in the way you speak of your experiences.

    We are both deeply blessed to know... and to feel the difference that such a connection to Nature into our lives! It also brings opportunities for friendship... and respect such as the one we share over a great distance.

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  8. Good morning Sherry!... Your comment "Not to imitate your style... but to have your level of skill" surprises me Sherry.

    My journey and the level of skill and style that you "desire"... are both beyond your ability to achieve ... presently.

    Firstly... I have always believed in my Self. Secondly... I have dedicated the entire seventy - one years of my earthly life to achieving what you admire, Therein lies the formula for anyone who admires... or sees merit in what I exhibit.

    Life is more about choices... than gifts or "windfalls" It is about "doing the work and having a passion and belief in your own creator-ship!

    I do not offer these comments arrogantly... or intending hurt or discouragement. I have always encouraged... do your own very best. Then you can be proud in the knowledge of that Truth!

    I wish you much Success and Happiness and...

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,