Monday, March 9, 2015

Follow Me... If You Wish...

I am at last reaching the conclusion of a long haul to fulfill my obligations to the The Glass Studio Gallery to deliver an exciting collection of new paintings. These (hopefully) reflect my thoughts and impressions upon my return to my place on this magnificent River and its 1000 Islands.

It has been a long and arduous journey I can assure you. But I can also assure you that the gain that is to come out of this undertaking will not be measured solely in its potential for success in dollars alone. Though I firmly believe that will occur... at some point... the greatest gain to have been made will be for "Me" in finding an exciting new direction for my work.

The strength of this show is that it marks a clearly pivotal departure for me in my approach to making landscape paintings. More importantly... these paintings consolidates a fresh view (in my mind) that summarizes where I have come from in my painting journey... and where I wish to conclude it. Therein lies the newest blessing in my already full and rewarding life!

After so many years of paintings landscapes in many different places... depending always on the Natural world as my my Muse and mentor, I began to tire of facing yet another "pretty picture" painting opportunity. That repetitive scenario no longer fuelled the passion that had previously carried me and my paint box out into the landscape in search of another adventure. That sense of adventure was flickering... and even lately...fleeting at best.

This harsher than usual past winter that is just on the the verge of giving up the ghost removed any realistic and comfortable opportunity to paint en plein air for me. I continuously awaited a break where I could escape the overwhelming feeling of confinement that I felt in our shared downstairs studio. The space is large enough... bright enough and Deb's company is always enjoyable. But it is the solitude and presence of the external stimuli that the Natural world has always afforded me that was missing. That is an important ingredient for me in making successful and evocative paintings.

Ironically, it was this very problem that paradoxically led me on this new path and new way of thinking... and "seeing" the landscape. The situation forced me to sit down and to more clearly define..... what the term "Landscape" actually meant to me. My final conclusion arrived ever so slowly. But today... I look and at a new and inspiring realm of "possibility" for the way I will approach painting the landscape in the future. I believe that "difference" is clearly evident in each of the paintings that I have made for this upcoming exhibition.

Here is an abbreviated view that I wish to share with you about my discovery;

I had always embraced the commonly accepted working definition for the term landscape - "an extensive piece of inland scenery seen from one place... or a picture made of it." Fair enough... and that was the model upon which I had primarily based my thinking and process up to now.

However, I now see the term as possibly meaning many things... and something quite different... at least in my own terms and usage. I believe that we all began our search with the same working definition, simply because... that was what was presented to us as the "acceptable" model upon which to base our beginnings. We all pass through the process discovering and applying new views and methods to experiment with further. Most of that new data we apply comes from the perceptions and experiences of those around us whom we deeply admire... or whom we view as "successful".

I have come to discover a new path for "Me"... and it comes from within me. It has always been in there. The term landscape, in my thinking can mean many things... and can be looked at and thought of ... "outside of the box" we have unwittingly built around us. Consider these "possibilities."

Could the human mind not be considered a mysterious and incalculably vast landscape in itself? I firmly believe that it indeed is that. It is a vast landscape composed of an immense personal library of memories and thoughts that is ever-changing... and... unique to every individual. Could that not become one's sole Muse... if one chose to make it so? Abstract painters customarily rely upon this intuitive response mechanism to make their expressive paintings come to life in their usual painting processes.

Another facet that I think reflects a sense of landscape... is to consider the actual physical landscape including the presence or the effect of man... or animals upon it. That notion can even be further extrapolated to include the cultural and historical change and development of this change in land use and development. Add to that a landscape perspective which focuses upon either an urban or rural setting. All are still landscape forms. The list is endless.

But the element of landscape that I am choosing to embrace from here forward borrows a computer term -  cut n' paste. I have the very enviable position of having spent most of my painting life in the outdoors. I have always maintained... and will continue to advocate the practice of learning in the natural classroom through painting it... in all seasons.

Therefore, I have had enough experience and made enough paintings in that situation... to quite frankly paint right off the top of my head... if that were my choice. It isn't ... by the way! Becoming a better painting is a life long avocation and pursuit.

However... it does afford me the free agency to "Imagineer." That is my term to describe the freedom to paint intuitively from reality... all the while adding or removing at will what I have no use for. This approach allows me the opportunity to include ideas... that upon first glance appear to demonstrate incongruity. They do however... take the physical scene to a spiritual level dictated by my own personal feelings and passion for what lies before me.

This is a brief attempt to share the thoughts and ideas that I have been considering to help me determine a new personal vista and view for painting the landscape. Perhaps it seems not to be applicable... or even sensible to your process and thinking. That is okay
 I should like to close out today's post with this thought.. I offer it as always as ... "food for thought - eat or not."  That is should always be the question!

I would like to close out today's psst with this thought. I spend a great deal of time preparing for and writing each and every post on this blog forum. I do so... ALWAYS in the hopes that the content will inspire others to reach out... risk and discover their own adventures and truths. I DO NOT in any fashion purport that either my words... or my beliefs and practices reflect any unique revelation or template for the success ... or the failure of others. Were that to be construed as the case... I would cease writing this blog immediately if I thought that it bashed,,, dashed or discouraged the journey of another.

With some of you... who regularly seek me out ... to visit and chat... or ask direction, I do try to impartially, but fairly reach out to you as a mentor of sorts. If that is the case, be aware that I never hand out false praise... or "back slap" to encourage receiving one back. I do not surf... simply because my passion and my task is to paint. "I" am principally responsibly for my own journey and outcomes. The praise and the joy that I receive comes primarily to "Me"... as it should... from within!

I offer the first today... of my landscape views... this one from the past. But it is as relevant to this post... and perhaps merits a place in the upcoming exhibition (still to be discussed). It is unquestionably a very personal still life - an insight into my past... and into my memory trove of images which are my life. But it is as well a landscape measuring the breadth of my own life. It is a "Universal"... because this same "landscape" does in fact run in parallel to similar life landscapes that I have yet to...  nor likely will never view. Just a thought...

Good (Landscape) Painting!.... to ALL!!!

PS I will on fact post a slide show of the paintings for the exhibition for those of you out of the loop geographically later in the week... just for your interest.

"As Time Goes By" - oil on canvas 36 x 30 inches

This personal canvas pans across the very breadth of my own journey. 

Admittedly... it is a total "construct"... "Imagineered" using my imagination and thinking. From my childhood toy soldiers.. through my jive champ trophy earned with my "first serious" love, Mary in a dance-off competition at the Gananoque Canoe Club (now the Thousand Islands Playhouse). U Moving up to my earned football jacket... which to this day still represents the standard upon which I was able to lift my Self... to feel self-esteem in a school run by the elite of our community.  And outside... and high on the horizon... with a sinking sun... lies a favorite painting subject of mine -  a red barn. This represents today... not a "final resting place."

This painting, though painted in 2006 has yet to exhibited. For the reasons cited... it remains with me and my family. I think this a perfect time to include it in this exhibition, which as well as reflecting my return to the River and my roots, where the journey began... it speaks to the title (which was the song that my Dad ended each and every one of his dance is with). 

"AS Time Goes By"... for each of us... we leave behind a trail of significant memories which in total say..... "I was here"! 


  1. Ok. You really had me worried. I thought you were going to tell us that you had decided not to paint anymore. I should have known better!! You are just doing a little change in direction and allowing us to have a glimpse of your inner landscape! This is exciting! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Good evening Wendy!... Thanks for your visit ... and your concern!

    Not paint any more???.. Ye gads... sooner not be breathing! However... like all of us who share the path... we search for more meaning and new challenges. They often appear when we least expect them... as was the case for me during this show process!

    Glad that you enjoyed the post and found something of interest for yourself.

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  3. I have always liked this painting, Bruce. It speaks of memories and days gone by...a veritable dipping into my own head (scary place though it might be). I agree that landscapes can include all the bits and pieces, flotsam and jetsam, and daily minutia that grows us into who we are.

  4. Good morning Sherry!... Finding your presence here at my blog... is akin to seeing my first robin of the season! Uplifting... and a sure sign that a good day is ahead!

    We truly are good friends of a sort Sherry. Despite the great physical distance and our differing view points at times... we have truly cultivated a meaningful and rewarding relationship based upon trust and full transparency.

    Your skillful use of language in defending and presenting your view point clearly... poignantly and powerfully... moved me greatly. "You" are indeed the person I believed you were all along! Learning to trust and grow is a life time struggle for us all. Possessing a "natural gift"... as well as giving one an edge perhaps... carries with a great burden of responsibility to do something with it. In my own case... I will argue... that "my gift" has as well been a curse for "Me"... because it drives me ... in an at times unhealthy and obsessive -compulsive manner.

    At several junctures in my journey... it created HUGE problems for me and my families... and left me quite frankly... alienated... and alone.

    Thankfully... with the help of all family members and my own hard work for decades now... I have finally found an inner peace and a love that I longed for. "I" love and respect my Self finally... "and that has made all the difference." I did indeed... take "the road less traveled by... as Frost wrote about his own life.

    Thank you for returning... in such a positive vane too Sherry!

    I wish you a fair journey... filled with much Peace and Happiness.

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  5. Bruce, I like you too much to ever leave. Your wisdom is priceless to me and that drive you have is what pulls me; I have it myself, though it gets way sidetracked by life at times as well. I also feel that your heart, your love of God, your love of your wife and family...these are things that I respect and admire so very much.

  6. Good morning Sherry!... Thank you for your visit this morning and for these wonderful words of encouragement!

    "You"... and your words are true blessings in my life!

    You have a wonderfully creative and effective writing style... both in your comments and in your own blog postings. You consistently display qualities and a certain unique "timbre" in your writing that makes it evocative and interesting to read.

    Point offered for your consideration? Keep honing that writing skill and interest that you have a passion for. Never know where it might lead you in life my dear!

    Thanks again for your honesty ... and friendship Sherry. I shall not be leaving you either for the same reasons that you have expressed! Stay tuned...

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,