The satisfaction I received with having completed the BIG project with a small and limited tool box had scarcely registered for me when I found myself already in the throes of thinking about another project... one which I had placed for too long on the back burner. The project itself was pushed forward and encouraged by a comment from my friend Keith Tilley in his comment regarding "the BIG." He readily recognize my underlying message and reason for undertaking this huge project.He commented, "You don't need a lot of fancy equipment to make good art." He got it!... and that was payment in full for me for the effort. I hope that some of you "get it" too... and take courage to risk taking on the BIG in you own lives. Dare to dream! Thank you Keith!
I finally decided to either dump this draft which has been circling around unfinished for far too long in my mind... or simply to delete its sketchy commentary and move on. Like a troublesome sketch or painting, not all starts deserve a finish. Some merit a good scrubbing off early on, as opposed to "saving them" or, putting a frame around them. Most of the time when painting in the field that decision and solution arrives very easily and painlessly.
However, in this particular post I kept finding myself drawn to a very cogent consideration before deleting the "idea". The post quite clearly defines how forcefully and effectively that music plays into my thinking and how important music has been to my painting process over the years. Though I am very eclectic in my musical tastes, my preferences tend to lean towards embracing a blend of classical music with Canadian folk traditions.
Another reason for "keeping the faith"is that it provides me a long overdue opportunity to thank two very special friends, Carol and John Philips of Midland, Ontario. Our bond of friendship stretches back... far into our "primordial past,"a simpler time in public school when school chums played marbles together in the schoolyard. During summer vacays,... we swam together during the seemingly endless hot summer days and played Red Rover until darkness ... or our parents' call summoned us to head home, bringing that day to an abrupt end.
Later in our adolescence, we danced our way through high school at "Teen Town." The local Masonic Temple was the Friday night (lightly chaperoned) hangout where Jivin' Johnnie spun 45's every Friday night along with his pal "Hat Badge" Ian Wilson. More than one "first love" was kick-started on that dance floor... mine amongst them.
Time and distance have thankfully been unable to separate us and we have remained friends ever since. So I would like to offer this post as a tribute to this couple o' blessings in my life. You Two... have truly made all the difference in my many and varying lives, Thank you BOTH!! I love you ... forever!
This blog's title derives from a blockbuster Joni Mitchell hit from the sixties. The melody and its lyrics speak to me still and never fail to carry my heart joyfully back to those simpler times and life moments.
All three of us have seen and experienced "Both Sides... of life, ever so clearly... to reach the Now. Mine arrive with Allie's passing and theirs... unimaginably, through their own tragic loss of two of their three children - both gone treacherously... and tragically too soon.
I could never understand how they as people and as a couple survived this tsunami of a continuous life time of grief. But they did and I bore witness throughout the ordeal. It has been their example... and their constantly joyous presence and their continous contributions to my life that has encouraged me to undertake my own journey to recover renewed purpose and Happiness. I owe them a great debt of gratitude for their generous and unconditional love.
Like most in my "Boomer Generation," Canadian Folk and rock n' roll music formed the main diet for our listening and dancing pleasure. I find that many of my compatriots remain locked into that tradition even today. Fortunately for me, I grew up in a family where all types of music was valued and played. My Dad was a local musician of considerable note, very respected for his unerring and willing ability to successfully "sit in" on piano in any musical genre. All Sherman's and their children have gone out into the world with music embedded deeply in their hearts... albeit in a variety of different ways.
"Both Sides Now" borrows from the musical spirit and genius of Canadian folk singer Joni Mitchell. I have deeply admired and identified with her on so many significant levels. We both share so many crossover commonalities in our values and lives. We both have performed music. Both share a rebellious nature and idiosyncratic traits in our persons and our thinking. Both of us share a love for creating art. A large difference between us in fame does not play into this from my view... nor does it matter.
Through her beautiful music... I have come to truly know and respect her on so many levels. I have chosen to share and expose you to a newer cover by Joni of "Both Sides Now," It is soft and mellowed out... minus the bopping care-free version from the past. I selected it to present to each of you... because it speaks so eloquently and intimately to the listener. It's worth the listen... start to finish in my view. Enjoy...
"Selfie" ... by Joni
Is this not "Me"... or "You"... or not everyone who has lived life... on "both Sides" of youth... and experienced life "from near and far"??? And still somehow "it's life's illusions we recall"... and if we are honest.. none of us "really fully knew ... [or understood] life at all"... till Now... in these later years.
A Time When Art and Life Become One
Novelist Jonathan Swift said it best with this quote
Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others."
I would contend that an artist is an individual who incorporates that vision with their own unique gift and hard work to bring it into reality in whatever medium they choose to work with. We all do that in our own unique fashion. Whether fame is achieved in the doing of that, or not... DO share your art with pride and conviction.
I found a Chinese proverb which I painted on the top of a side table gift that I gave to Allie to mark her under graduation. It read:
"One cannot hold moonlight... but may you always put your dreams in the Light... make visible what without you may never be seen."
"The Great Wall"... of Rockport
No... my reference is not to that iconic ancient wall that for centuries kept invaders at bay in China... it is rather my ironic and musing view that this wall here in Rockport performs rather the opposite function for the resident who has gone to the considerable expense to have it constructed. It is intended to keep out the influx of summer crowds of wandering visitors (many from China)... who do not respect the rightful privacy of residents and landowners in this very small village. This problem is more than annoying when the numbers expected each summer rise into the hundreds of thousand. No ethnic slur is intended ... just a revelation and reality check!
This year right through late fall and up until the first snow fell, I visited with two stone masons who were vigorously trying to complete the most beautiful dry point (no mortar) stone wall just as you enter or leave the village. Despite the deep cold, they battled with the elements and the very deep cold, showing no apparent regard for their enemy.
I could not... not stop to visit as I passed by on my daily walks. I asked, "Is this work not hard on your body and particularly your hands?" They assured me each time that despite the fact that neither wore gloves and both dressed very lightly... they were warmed by their work and the progress that they made. It was their trade... but at the same time it was their Art... and their passion all rolled into one. And that serpentine structure spoke to me... as strongly and clearly to me as it did to them.
On each occasion, I heard sweet music long before they came into view. Each day that source of music changed... according to which mason was laying stone down. I mused how strange... or maybe not ,.,, that their wall had a very strong visual musical rhythm of its own.
Hmmm. I wonder...
The wall was at last finished and they have long since moved on to their next project which... I've been told is in California, But their serpentine musical wall still commands my attention... my respect and demands me to paint it. And I have - twice already. I was very pleased by the result of my first wee 8x10 inch canvas. It really captured the afterglow of that winter day... as it played against the wall itself and Church of the Redeemer behind it. It definitely captured this very new... and remarkable modern piece of heritage. Here... two heritage traditions from different eras rest peacefully side-by-side. Out of annoyance and bitterness ... emerged beauty... and Art.
"Late Evening Light at the Wall and The Church of the Redeemer"
Oil sketch on canvas 8 x 10 inches
The wee oil sketch sat on the floor of our studio and each time that my eye was drawn to it, I was dragged into deeper thought, until one evening I decided to take my camera and visit the other side of the wall to see what painting potential, if any might lay there. My curiosity was rewarded and I uncovered what would become the very first painted view of this piece of heritage. It surely will not be the last, by any stretch of the imagination.
"Along the Wall to the River... and St. Brendan's RC Church"
Oil on panel 8x10 inches
Here in this quiet riverside hamlet lie the physical and remaining reality of a deep and abiding schism which split the Roman Catholic faith apart during the period of the Reformation. Though the deep anger... bitterness and even armed conflicts have dissolved over time, "the spiritual divide" continues to separate God's flock into separate places of worship - by choice. The two paintings... each done on opposing sides of a physical barrier... Metaphorically still a "wall" exists and whimsically reflects that truth to me visually. Just the Joni in me... humming along to the tune of... "Both Sides ... Now!
"Closing Time".... Thank you Leonard Cohen!
Good Painting... and my blessings... to ALL!