Monday, January 22, 2018

A Canadian Camino... a beginning and an end

My thanks and gratitude to fellow blogger Caroline Simmill of Scotland for her generous presence and the encouragement that she sent for me to undertake this journey and this project.

                                                                Canadian Camino 
                                      " Il Camino di Allie" - oil on canvas 16 x 20 inches

                                         "No one who walks with you ever leaves you."

                                                   -Camino -Peter Coffman - pg 73

I recently had the good fortune to reconnect with two of Allison's wonderful peers/friends and artists, Peter and Diane Coffman at a book signing and speaking event in Kingston to launch Peter's newest book Camino.

Camino is a deeply spiritual and rich literary amalgam of his photographic and prose gifts.The book chronicles a quest that four modern pilgrims... Peter, his wife Diane, Peter's long time friend... musician/violinist Oliver Schroer and his partner Elena walked and endured together.The spiritual test twisted its way across a distance of one thousand painful kilometers. This ancient and well-travelled pilgrimage route is known as El Camino... or the Santiago Camino.

The medieval pilgrimage route El Camino sprawls and climbs high through mountainous regions and along flat dry plains, before finally spilling into its final destination at the cathedral of Santiago di Compostela in the south-west of Spain. Hearing Peter speak so passionately about his journey compelled me to purchase his book... which I could pour over at my own leisure... while listening to the hauntingly beautiful musical compilations from Schrorer on his titled CD Camino released in 2006. Sadly... Schroer would be stricken with leukemia and his violin would be forever silenced in 2008.

It struck me while I was reading this compelling account by Peter that strange parallels to the struggle that I was encountering daily in completing my portrait began to reveal themselves. Each stage of painting process.. the need to rest and the actual motivation for me to undertake this painting challenge became ever more like the physical pilgrimage that the four had completed.

Further to that uncanny sense of sameness was the actual fusion of the senses and the artistic gifts of both men. The interpretations of what they created together... and alone... during and after the actual journey uplifted my own artistic spirit.

What they achieved together underscores my constant belief that the arts,when unified together create a powerfully spiritual essence that crosses all borders, politics and religions. It embodies all that is good about humanity.

I had simply been "stuck." Paralyzed artistically and emotionally. Grief was that wretched thief which robbed Allison of her right to live. It as well caused me to falter in the continuance of many of my basic principles and goals... and creative force.

This book... a couple of family and true friends have unshackled the very things that I have shared and depend upon to exist with Joy myself.

I am greatly blessed!.... Thank you Peter, Diane, Oliver and Elana for having the courage to face the pain and uncertainty of your Quest. Thank you Peter for sharing your photographic essay and sacred thoughts to be woven so inextricably in tune with Oscar's hauntingly beautiful violin virtuosity.                                                                                 
I  have chosen to name this portrait/ode in memory of our beautiful daughter Allison, "Canadian Camino... Il Camino di Allie". I have conducted my painting pilgrimage in a rather altered fashion. I have chosen to reveal and share its conclusion, or final destination (the finished portrait)... to begin with.

I have decided as well that showing the work in progress afterward has value in bringing forward the similarities between El Camino and the journey to complete Allison's portrait. Visually... you can follow the actual steps along "the way". Some even clearly show the plodding nature and dead ends.

The final finished portrait emphasizes the message that an Australian aboriginal proverb offer me (via one of Sara Genn's recent Biweekly News Letters.

In closing out this post, I would offer that most journeys do work from a beginning to wards a desired end. However... it also holds true in my own spiritual beliefs that along with every end... there lies an opportunity for a wholly new beginning. Why else do we paint... or create????

I wonder..

"We are visitors to this time,this place
We are just passing through
Our purpose is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love... and then to return home."

My beautiful gifted and generous daughter that I commemorate here with my words and this "love painting" has most certainly returned Home. I choose to believe that... and continue to "Believe in miracles."

I love you forever Allie!

                         "Every time something is taken away, something else is given."

                                                            -Epilogue for:
                                              camino by Peter Coffman - page 85


Google camino - Peter Coffman for more details and price

Camino (the book) n- author Jeter Coffman
Available through: Wintergreen Studio Press
PO Box 75, Yarker,  ON K0K 3N0

Camino CD - Musician/Violinist Oscar Schroer (deceased)
Available through Borealis Records at:


  1. Lovely portrait and lovely post, Bruce. I saw a movie about walking the Camino (Martin Sheen and his son, Emilio Estevez starred) by a man who lost his son - he carried his ashes with him the whole way. A moving and life-filled movie. Apparently, Martin and Emilio both walked the Camino together, either before or after the movie was made.
    Our sorrows can shrink us or they can expand us. I think you are using your sorrow to expand. Best wishes always.

  2. Good evening Rhonda!... Thank you for your visit and kind words. I was of the existence of this movie but haven't seen it. It would interest me to do so. Shirley MacLaine walked it as well and has written her book "Camino" which chronicles its completion and contribution to her own Faith. This pilgrimage route has been very important to Christian and secular pilgrims for several thousand years... for many different reasons.

    I particularly am drawn to your own words, "Our sorrows can shrink us or can expand us." I totally agree with this expression. The creation of this portrait has been part of my own camino, or journey. The act of completing it has further strengthened my own courage and Faith... and has greatly helped me in the ongoing healing of my grief

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and times here Rhonda. I much appreciate them.

    Good Paintings... and rich blessings!

  3. A beautiful painting and a beautiful post. Best wishes and virtual hugs.

  4. Good sunny winter morning!... Thank you for continuing to share our continuing common "camino"... in spirit and in actions.

    You always uplifting and reassuring presence means great deal to me... especially when the journey is testing.

    Best wishes for rich blessings... and virtual hugs back to my beautiful fellow "pilgrim".

    Warmest regards,

  5. Hi Bruce I also saw the film that Rhonda mentioned starring Martin Sheen. A very thoughtful film. Thank you for the mention and for your lovely post here about your painting journey and inspiration to finish. Best wishes Caroline

  6. Thank you for sharing your wonderful "Idea" with me Caroline... for without it... perhaps I might never have undertaken the portrait or at the least... slowed my healing. It might, perhaps have never have reached the place that it has at present!

    I am blessed to share this space and "presence" with you... and those of us who share a common journey... albeit in different places.

    Rich Blessings and good painting Lass!
    Warmest regards,