Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Introspective and yet... Retrospective

A strange title at first glance perhaps... but let me try to explain its use and validity given my current situation and perspective.

I have been giving time and thought each morning to the task that I have been given... to deliver a short talk to those invited to the vernissage this Saturday at the Kingston Glass Studio and Gallery. Kate has asked that I try to encapsulate my thoughts and ideas in preparing this exhibition on the agreed upon theme: On the River... A Homecoming. As well... she asked that I share my personal and artistic journeys and if possible .. to discuss my process and approach to my painting the landscape in particular.

 In reflecting upon her requests... most of what was asked is hardly unusual for me to answer... because I am often asked about these aspects of my life Biography and geography provide answers to the River and Home Coming parts. I was born in Brockville on the banks of the Saint Lawrence and summered with my family for fifty odd years at "The Narrows" located between Tar Island and the mainland about  a stone's throw eastward from Rockport. Hence the River is indeed... my true Home.

I have lived in Toronto briefly... with longer stays in nearby Camden East and Kingston. My travels have taken me to Nova Scotia for a six year stay and then up to the Georgian Bay area... before finally arriving ... "back at Go"! I have painted in all but one Canadian province (Newfoundland/Labrador)... Italy... all of the British Isles... Germany... the United States and the Caribbean. All of these richly beautiful and diverse places piqued and enriched my landscape painting interests.

However... it has always been my dream to come back to this area to finish up. Though my travels revealed untold beauty and adventure... I never felt better painting the landscape... than in this idyllic Thousand Island archipelago. It has been... and remains... the cradle of my spirit(s) - my Soul and my restless creative spirit.

In discussing the theme possibilities with Kate beforehand, I attempted to relate to her how my life and work had changed... rather recently and especially after moving back to Rockport. Even my concept of what constitutes a landscape has changed drastically. As with all of us... we are taught and conditioned socially to adopt certain realities and perspectives in order to communicate and operate within the parameters of the group that we live... and play with. The same holds true with art education.

Much of my life has been spent playing with... and being in the company of young people. I believe that in so doing... I have been reluctant to assume or cave in to social pressure. I haven't lost my joy ... or my desire to "get down and play". I have always been an independent learner throughout my life... and have encouraged and enabled that goal and choice with the people... young or old that I choose to share time with.

At this point... to make this too long story... short as was my intention... I will cut to the chase.

The most striking change that I discovered in my introspective moments... was that landscape need not merely imply... as we are taught to believe..  an interpretation of impression of a  part of the natural world about us. It can be viewed and painted in terms of other equally valid perspectives.

Landscape paintings can be made... even created, be focused and attributed as cultural or heritage landscapes. These paintings tend to focus upon man's influence and his use of the natural landscape. That can include significant architecture... and even people actively engaged in specifically related activity.

A third kind of landscape, in my opinion depicts a spiritual landscape. Such landscapes evoke a spiritual connection and can even be constructed and manipulated to exact a spiritual connection with the viewer. These landscapes can take the forms of figure drawings... still life subjects based upon related inanimate objects... or again focus on the natural landscape in a mystical way... or the responsibility for assuming stewardship.

No matter which form of landscape a painter chooses to paint... he or she is attempting to establish a conversation with the viewer... using a painting as a narrative device. That attempt, or opportunity to establish such a conversation is always preceded by a prior conversation that commences internally within the artist in response to the outward stimulus from the Muse.

I maintain that an artist only presents his... or her finest art when it has its origin within and is fueled by passion and a compulsion to share the experience. To me... Art is yet another Voice... one which is just as expressive and valid as the spoken voice. I would add... that this second voice is more powerful as a tool to encourage conversation... simply because it allows freedom of interpretation and response... without judgement.

I feel that my collection of twenty paintings for this exhibition includes samples of each interpretation that I have put forward. I feel that they reveal an introspective look inside me to reveal how I feel and think about the world I live terms of Today... and Yesterday... in my own journey. A couple of the paintings that I have chosen to include which belong to me clearly demonstrate the breadth of my own unique journey.

While my art is in no way unique... or let's say innovative in itself... it is none the less totally unique because... like you, I created it with my mind and hands. I did so to share it with others. Withoput my actions... that voice could not be heard. Those are the Metrics upon which I base my success as a painter. Even this blog is based upon this same creative template - sharing ideas in a safe and encouraging forum. I truly hope that this is so... and that you feel free to comment and share your own ideas.

If I can lay claim to any notion of being unique... perhaps it lies in the great fortune I have been blessed to have been given. I have been able to integrate Art into my family... teaching and creative lives... so that scarcely a day has passed that I couldn't involve myself in some way with my passion and a pursuit of Art. I have been greatly blessed...

Good Painting... and Happy Spring... to ALL!!!!

PS Here are some samples of this week's small Spring "landscaping" projects. You decide in which category I might have been working! HA HA!! Enjoy!

"Spring... Is Just Around the Corner" - oil on cradle board panel 8 x 10 inches

"Sap's a' runnin!... Full Steam Ahead!" - oil on cradle board panel 8 x 10 inches


  1. Both are beautiful pieces, Bruce, but I have to tell you that the horses just are so exciting and full of life! I love that is something I'm a bit short on of late so... I was trying to apply your thoughts to my own perspective and it is partly difficult partly spot on. While I do have a passion for art and trying to express myself through it, I never overly think it either. It tends to be an instinctive need that leaves me feeling a failure much of the time. LoL But then you already know that about me. Ah well...I think because I try to put on paper my emotions rather than a vision. Egads...I'm delving too deep for 4:37 a.m.

  2. Good morning Sherry!... "You" are always the first robin to visit... in every season... and I ALWAYS look forward to your coming and our chats! HA HA!!

    I like that our conversations are transparent... no matter how dire or personal they become. I am always comfortable to discuss and to be a "sounding board" for your worries and your solutions... along with my own. We are not so very different you see.

    You will note that my come back to you is consistently the same Sherry. "You"... alone are responsible for your destiny... and your choices. I continue to believe that you are a beautiful person... inside and out! I believe also... that you have yet to strike on your "mother lode". Just keep mining... and trying Girl !

    Go out to the world that you inhabit... like my horses... "excited... and full of life"... Hope and Optimism. It's catchy Sherry! Others feel it and are drawn to you to feel its warmth!

    I leave you with a quote this morning that Deb has beautifully personalized with a decal on the wall of her personal bathroom space. It reads:

    "Above all- be the Heroine of your life - not the Victim.
    - Nora Ephron

    Capital letters intended!''

    Learn to do this... and be willing to NOT depend on others to either propel or discourage you in seeking your Dreams... and I KNOW... that you can be the winner that you so want to be! Peace and Happiness accompany this state of mind and "being... Sherry"!!!

    Good Luck and Happy Spring Sherry!

    Warmest regards,

  3. Hi Bruce, it's all too easy, when producing landscape art to sell, to find oneself turning out what I call "postcard paintings". It's so much better, and more worthwhile, when there is some meaning to the work, either in the form of some narrative, or in the emotion that we put into it. Your work always has that extra depth, and it's all the better for it.

    Good luck with the exhibition,

  4. Dear Keith... Thanks for dropping by... and for these very uplifting words of support!

    I have always recognized and appreciated since I first met you... that we indeed share parallel journeys... and distinctly differing values and motives for making our paintings than other artists one meets in the "Blogosphere".

    That by any means...does not make them less than us... but certainly different in the "metrics" under which they choose to operate.

    Simply put: "Different strokes... for different folks"... and that's okay!

    Like yourself... it is this challenge of always reaching out beyond the last easel entry to search for more meaning... growth and learning. That too... is always what I discover in your work when I visit. Nothing is merely "pretty" in what I find. You always manage to weave together your two languages,... combining the two magically to create a rich visual and historical record of what you have seen ... heard and felt.

    I deeply admire you for those things... and your masterful watercoloring ability!

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

  5. Both are absolutely wonderful paintings Bruce!
    I don't think a day could possibly go by without some thought or reference to art. We artists are so lucky !

  6. Good morning Helen!... Thanks for stopping by and for adding your thoughts.

    "We".... as a family of common passion and effort are deeply blessed Helen. To be consumed in all of our daily life with beauty and the positive things in life... is as close to Heaven as any mortal may step... while being still here on earth!

    Happy Spring and Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  7. WOW!!!! these are incredible pieces of work my friend!! So, so beautiful and as usual your words add so much to the visuals. Thank you!

  8. Thank you Suz!... For your gracious and encouraging comments!

    I am so happy that my posts continue to add to and support your already incredible and successful journeys! I so admire your generous spirit... your openness and your incredible painting skills! Proud to have you as a friend and follower!

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