Saturday, April 21, 2018


As artists in any genre progress in their journeys, during the initial stages they depend upon teachers or mentors who encourage or provide insights which guide our search for knowledge and understanding for the act of creating.

They serve as a catalyst to fire our engine with  passion and they help create a deeper and more meaningful love and grasp of "fine art". They present possibilities and fortify and equip our tool boxes to move forward independently.

Often, we supplement direct exposure by taking classes... joining art circles and creating personal libraries of "how to" instruction. All of these resources do advance one's knowledge and confidence. However... at some point, learning comes down to the simple act of physical engagement and hard workdrawing... mixing colour and painting- for hours on end!

I chose to sketch, first in pencil and later moved to painting with oils directly on location... or en plein air as it is dubbed now, I discovered that my need to find "special subjects" to paint and to replicate them exactly taught me a great deal about composition, design and developing my own palette. At first, I was caught up with a relentless and often fruitless and frustrating search for the "perfect picture"... to copy slavishly.

Gradually, I came to realize that I didn't need that structure to make a "good picture." I discovered that Nature didn't always have it totally right either. That we could both benefit from that other's views and contributions to the process. It was indeed an empowering moment for me artistically to finally feel the freedom to truly create using my own imagination as the launch pad for my exploration and development of my own style(s).

A few of my earlier mentors had urged me to break away from a heavy reliance upon what's in front of me. I have since learned... and put into practice how to create a "new landscape" based more upon a cerebral and emotional interface... than a purely visual exercise based upon merely copying. I refer to this creative process as "Imagineering."

My last post included two small oil sketches, completed in the studio that were based upon that very practice. Judging from the responses that I received from those who viewed them, I achieved what I set out to achieve... with powerful results and a sense of "virtual realism"...  that was convincing and pleasing to the viewers... and myself!


I was first introduced to this term in my final year of high school... in an English class. The term was presented as a strategy that... when carefully constructed could be used to lift fiction convincingly into the world of reality. 

I was instantly captivated... not only by the notion of using a "flim-flam"strategy to conceal truth... but as well... I was totally in love with the musical tone that the word seemed to resonate with and that my ear was always searching for. In short... I am a"word junky"...   collector of words." To this day... I still love wordsmithing... cross wording... word finding. I am addicted to "the play on".. and
use of powerful word substitutes.

It is much like the daring and fresh new approach Picasso brought to a drab tonalist world of painting and a sculpture tradition whose very foundation was based only upon hewing out. He introduced and entirely new direction... a constructivist approach which is based upon an additive method. His ideas changed the course of Western painting and sculpture forever.


Verisimilitude... by dictionary definition suggests the quality of appearing to be real... while inferring that the opposite is true. 

It is the tension that is created within this sentence that offers one the challenge to take up the gauntlet and to put it into use whether in language... or on canvas... which is also my intent. To attempt it might seem easy. It's only lying.... EH??? HA HA!!

But early into the practice, you will soon discover that things fall apart rapidly when one is stripped of all physical references and devices... like cameras... tablets... monitors - the very things most of us have come to depend upon to make our pictures / paintings appear real.

Striving to achieve verisimilitude is not at all intended to report falsely.. or even to intentionally  mislead. Its purpose is to permit the artist to create using a freestyle approach entirely dependent upon a more personal interpretation. The interpretation is more largely based upon previous experiences and interior ideas derived fully from within.

The process is challenging and requires years of experience and practice in drawing and painting and must be combined with a solid background in painting outdoors if one wishes to play with it comfortably. The sum total of the three sources of gaining information is a strong visual memory... a library of unending possibilities and details and effects to draw from.

As I mentioned a few weeks and posts back, I had been "stuck"artistically... and spiritually. I found it difficult to undertake new projects after the large mural project was in the bag. The two small sketches in the last post opened up a floodgate of energy and ideas for me. One of those ideas was this very large canvas that had been kicking about in our studio storage area. I purchased it with a "sort of"... kind of notion of what it might be finally used for. But that was two years ago.

All of the time that I worked on the two smaller ideas... this mainsail glowered scornfully at me from my easel. Six days ago... I set sail with much gusto... hanging over the foredeck rail with anticipation and new energy. Here... still a work in progress for at least another day or two is the "New World" that I discovered.

Truthfully... I can't really say "Where" the landscape truly "exists".My only truthful response is that what now exists in the reality painted on the canvas owes its reality to the amalgam of visual details stored in my memory... and my heart.

"Winter's Sweet Surrender" - oil on canvas 36 x 48 inches

This landscape could easily be found here in the 1000 Islands... or the Georgian Bay 30,000 Islands District... or anywhere in Quebec or Nova Scotia... where I have painted continuously during my career.

What is more important is revealed in the title of the painting. I'll leave each of you to make what you wish of it all! I'd love to hear from you with your own interpretations though!


Stay tuned... I'll post it in its final finished state later on!

Good Painting to ALL!!... and Blessings


  1. Hi Bruce.The question of how truthful a painting should be is a debatable one. There is a section of the viewing public that takes great delight in finding inaccuracies,and think it a great compliment when they can say 'It looks just like a photograph'. My response to that is what's the point then, you might as well use a camera! The more important thing is to convey a sense of place, and if you can do that the details become less important.

    Your painting reminds me of the ones you used to make in the Algonquin region. Something about the light and the sense of space, I think. Do you go back up there these days?

    Keep on 'imagineering'!
    All the best,

  2. Hi Keith!... Everything that you have noted in your comments completely supports my own personal theory about painting. If I can achieve and create a "construct" of a landscape that is retrieved and remixed in my brain three dimensionally on canvas... then I have served my own goal for painting.

    The answer to your query that this "painting reminds you of the ones that I used to make in the Algonquin region" further supports when I have said above.

    Somewhere in all of my paintings there exist fragments of the Algonquin years. Further to that... both regions like within same physical Canadian Shield region of Ontario. Both areas contain the same land features, rocks, lakes and rivers, flora and fauna. One is simply the southern extension of the other.

    Good eye Keith... as always!

    "Imagineering" is not in any sense a form of sorcery or magic. It is simply an act of unfettered freedom of expression. You said it: pack away the camera... and play on!!! HA HA!

    Warmest regards and Good Painting!

  3. The sum total of experience...beautiful. I love the warmth of your snowy landscapes. My tuppence worth is that 'art' is about what you feel much more than what you see. This one 'feels' a lot and is 'your truth' and it is one that is very relateable which elevates it further.... a shared experience. I'm not very good at words so I hope this makes sense.

  4. Dear Lisa!... Your words are so perfect... and resonate fully with my own reasons for making art. Those feelings been with me... and have never left me... since early childhood.

    As "kindred spirits"... I suspect that your story is much the same. Your words ... and heart never fail to speak to me.

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts!

    Warmest regards,