Monday, November 20, 2017

Autumn Interlude... The Universe Speaks

This post (sort of) follows the current pattern of events and my thinking ability lately... and might appeared scattered and lacking continuity. I can offer no apologies in this regard... it is simply "where" I am. That "where" even varies from hour to hour in the day. Focus is not easily maintained... even when I am painting. Intervals of painting enjoyment are short at best and vary in regularity greatly. "The Flow" escapes my every good intention... and discouragement bordering upon shame hovers menacingly over my head. Mental "quicksand" comes to mind... paralysis is yet another apt term to describe grief's impact.

Before she reluctantly departed for her winter home in Lancaster Pennsylvania, our good friend Margaret (Magsy) Keats-Jenne issued us an invitation to come visit her at her home soon. She had on several occasions in dinner conversation on Pine Island offered that same invitation to us. She well knew how special the work of NC and Andrew Wyeth was to me. They, as artists, and their combined work both formed a very strong base in my early development artistically.

The Universe reveals itself... KNOCK! KNOCK!....?????

Lancaster, located centrally in Amish country and the Brandywine Valley is a mere half hour away from the Brandywine Museum located on the very property that both of these American painting icons lived and worked in their lifetimes. Magsy offered accommodation and tour guide expertise that we could not resist this time. As well... the timing was perfect. Our gallery was shut down and we both were badly needing a getaway from the business and sadness that held us captive here.

Day One

On Monday, October 18th we found ourselves up very early and headed "south of the border" on Route 81 to a new adventure... and change in routines. Though the combined stress of travel through the many mountains and the overburden of too many heavy trucks sharing our route was tiring, we arrived safely at Magsy's lovely The Willows Adult Community "refuge" from the din and a wonderfully delicious and always special "Magsy-style" meal. I could feel the stress drain away from the moment that we arrived. Nirvana... can... and does exist.

Day Two

We headed on a purposely indirect journey towards our destination, The Brandywine Gallery, a scant half hour away. But our very knowledgeable and accommodating hostess and guide made sure that we had the groundwork and the landscape that would facilitate a truer understanding of what the Wyeths and their legacy stood for in this Amish backdrop.

We were certainly more than ready for what we would gorge ourselves on in the Wyeth World and its contents. It was for me unforgettably inspiring... uplifting... motivating and fulfilling. A lifetime of study, bordering upon admiration and worship was realized for me in one tangible experience... one off my Bucket List!

In separate galleries and studios I was transported back in time to stand face to face with "old friends"... who served as well as mentors who ushered me through my childhood and later life and who as well fostered my artistic vision and ability to dream and imagine Here they dwell and hung... where they were created. And I had an "audience"... without interruption or anything else to draw my attention away.

Here is but a sampling of the visual buffet I enjoyed from his vast and prolific output of illustrations for books and magazine covers:

In my early childhood, there was no television... or personal devices to entertain us. We spent countless enjoyable hours either reading or being read to by parents and grandparents. When I was four to five years of age, my aunt Dodie Leigh was an assistant librarian and invited me to come every Saturday morning to the Brockville Public Children's Library. Her love of reading and of children's literature in particular and sharing them with me has been passed forward by me to many generations of children... including my own.

The entire collection of "Kid Lit" then was housed in a very sacred and always locked glass bookcase. I was given the power... and it did feel like that... to open that cabinet and select books which she read to me. Amongst those... the likes of '"Paddle-to-the-Sea"by Holling Clancy Holling and "The Last of the Mohicans" , written by James Fenimore Cooper and illustrated by NC Wyeth. I have personal copies of each from that same publishing era. They continue to fuel excitement within me... even after the passage of all of these years.

Occasionally... we might have been fortunate on rare occasions to experience the magic of "technicolour". Looking back... those movies rarely provided a realistic or wholesome view of history and cultures.

Looking back now at the works of artists like NC Wyeth and Frederick Remington, their paintings still stand today as being more accurate and realistic (in terms of costume and character" at least) than early television and the "silver screen".

My tour with Magsy not only stirred my imagination and memory, It as well lifted my spirits enough to put me back into a creative state with a template upon which I could move forward with my portrait of Allison.

I wish to close out today's rambling epistle with a reference to the holiday that "magically" appeared this morning as a doodle on my Google Home Page. Today has been set aside as Children's Day 2017.

I am deeply blessed to have been given five children of my own to journey with me. They are... in order Lisa... Allison... Andrew... Liam and Bryn. I could not have imagined of my world or existence without any one of them, but life and the Universe have taught me a painful lesson. I savour every hour of every day now that I am blessed to spend time with any one of them. Life can be too short.

The United Nations first established this holiday in 1954 to promote togetherness among children across the world and to improve children's welfare. Listening to and watching the news this week and even today... you will see that children around the world in every corner of the globe continue to be victimized and treated inhumanely. Many do not have the bare essentials to sustain life.

I challenge all of the people who might read this blog to reach out lovingly to children in your own family and community. Hug them!...  Let them know that you love them!... Read to them every day... from books that they choose!

The time will arrive soon enough... and in my own tragic case... when they are no longer "with you". I will never again feel the warmth of Allie's hugs... or hear her joyous laughter ... or attend another of her magical lectures. Oh.... that I could. But in all truth... I DID! And those memories sustain me to continue on honouring her by doing my own good works. conclusion, but enjoy it for what is... appropriately... on Children's Day 2017. Back to my easel...

Here is a premature peek at my work-in-progress portrait of Allison. Even now... in its obvious imperfect state of finish... it speaks of my love for her. Stay tuned for the play-by-play... and conclusion, but enjoy it for what is... appropriately... on Children's Day 2017. Back to my easel...

Good Painting !!!... to All and rich Blessings!


  1. Good advice, Bruce. Reach out, connect, and give abundant love to a child. I'll make the rounds this weekend!

    Your portrait is already showing such promise! It really is lovely, and you have captured Allison's likeness! This is such a lovely tribute!

  2. Good morning Wendy Allison!... It is no wonder that we share so much in common... HA HA!!

    I think that one of the factors that draws us together as blogging friends is the deep sense of need and respect for children and family. I so enjoy hearing about and seeing your own healthy and consitant interraction with your own grandchildren... it is heart-warming Wendy!

    Yes... the portrait is gradually moving along, at its own pace. But not without its own set of challenges and bumps in the road. Since it is meant as an exercise to help me deal with the grief surrounding Allie's passing... I'm afraid that my creative juices still are put to the test... here in there... and out of no where.

    But I will see it it done... for my "Self"... "He" and I are in this together!

    Thanks for your visit and for dropping by to leave these encouraging words. They do help... more than you can realize!

    Warmest regards... and Blessings!

  3. The painting is really coming along very well. I like the way the separate threads are coming together in a very natural way and though hard for you to paint it is a very uplifting feeling that I get looking at it.

    As an aside, my little one is supposed to bring home a book from preschool for us to read and return the next time he is there. Yesterday there were four he had chosen in his book bag and each had to be read as soon as we got in and then again at bedtime. I think it is one of our favourite parts of the day.

  4. I am so happy you were able to see the great masters who have inspired you on this trip - and enjoy a friend who opened her home to you (knowing you needed it so badly at this time). Today I am Thankful (as it is our Thanksgiving Day here) that you shared this beginning of the portrait of Allison. Have a wonderful week, a creative week, and may the painting angels whisper to you as you stand at your easel :)

  5. Good evening Lisa!... Since you are already able to read the layers that I intended in the painting in this early unveiling... I am encoutraged then that I am on the way to accomplishing what I set out to achieve. I find the project paradoxically cathartic at times... and painful at others.

    Good for you Lisa for conducting this early on reading ritual with your own sprite. It is a practice that will evloe strong and lasting goos memories for you both in later life... never mind the giant step ahead it will provide for him at school.

    Allie and I would nestle in nightly in what she called "a snuggle". Oh that I could repeat that tonight... but I have those memories to grasp and holds on to of our special times together.

    Thanks for dropping by and adfding your own experience. I think that it is these connections that we make in life that sustain us in those difficult moments that we all must face from time to time.

    Warmest regards and Blessings!
    Good Painting and Print making as well,

  6. Hi there Rhonda!... Thank you for chewcking in with your thoughts and uplifting encouragement!

    The painting is in a wayan act of "thanks giving"... so very appropriate for your holiday celebration!

    The angels (and one in particular) are always present at the easel... and wherever I choose to look each day. Memories... and life are precious to me.

    Rich blessings and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family dear Friend!

    Hope that you enoy your hiatus and that you will return to your blogging refreshed and ready to share again soon!

    Warmest regards,

  7. Dear Bruce - your painting of your sweet one is looking like such a work of love.
    Even in your pain you are finding the essence of your daughter's spirit. Keep strong friend the journey for those who grieve is not easy but if we did not feel the sorrow we would not have felt the love. Take care - Hugs

  8. Good evening Debbie!... As is ever the case, your thoughtful words offer ever so much comfort and real spiritual insights.

    We share so many common aspects in our philosophies and our approach to life. So much of life and art is based wholly upon paradox. In sculpture... light cannot exist or be fully appreciated... without experienced presence of darkness. Form is dependent upon the coexisting presence of both.

    That is true in life as well. As your words so beautifully attest, sorrow cannot be felt except that we have felt love fully first. And as you mention, my portrait of Allie... even at this very early stage does reveal both feelings... but particularly my ongoing love for her.

    Thanks for dropping by and leaving these important words. I hope that others can come away feeling similarly.

    Rich blessings and hugs back!
    Warmest regards,

  9. Your portrait of dear Alison is looking really lovely! I like it! Keep on your journey Bruce .....

  10. Thank you Caroline... trying to take care of both the painting and the journey has been a test... will continue to do my best!

    Thanks for dropping by with your encouraging words!

    Good Painting...
    Waarmest regards and blessings,