Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Nostos - A Christmas Homecoming... of Sorts

Happy New Year... to ALL!

NOSTOS in literary terms is defined as the homecoming after a long journey. The contents in today's post in so many ways represents and describes clearly a journey... or an end to an important  chapter in my life. My painting journey in the many small hamlets and villages of rural Quebec created a genuine love and respect for Quebecois culture and its people. As I travelled about... painting as I went I immediately began to feel the "joie de vivre" that this culture so freely expresses. I began to understand more clearly than ever before why the French-Canadian population view themselves as a distinct society from the rest of Canada. And as an anglo... it does not offend me.

And all these years afterward... "je me souviens."

To open this post I have chosen this quiet and contemplative piece of music aptly entitled "Nostos" because it captures that peaceful world that is revealed to me by a landscape and the sanctity of our Creator's hallowed space. I felt it an apt backdrop for the perceptions I have chosen to share with you today. I hope that you enjoy the tour.

We both managed to hobble through the Christmas crunch with some help from my brother D.on who came to visit from Victoria BC and a welcomed visit from Bryn who was on break from his final year of undergrad studies at Trent University, Peterborough ON. We are both still searching for answers and solutions for the sciatica-like disruption to our schedule and health. Fingers crossed...

During my break from painting and need to be down flat and resting (with ice packs) I was blessed to discover a series of novels by the acclaimed Canadian author, Louise Penny. Her books are based upon a series of murder mysteries in the Quebec City and environs. All are based upon the central character... Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete police force in Quebec.

Each of the richly crafted plots and supporting characters more than filled my time and and provided me many hours of pleasure... and pain relief. What attracted me immediately to her writing style was her rich powers of description which made her people and the locations very personal to me. I felt that I was a character as well... and that the landscapes she skillfully portrayed and the rural villages she developed as settings were so authentic... that I was transported back in my painting life to those exact places where I had painted en plein air and exhibited for so many years ago.

It was indeed... a homecoming for me - one that replenished the "joie de vivre" that radiated from the Quebecois inhabitants and filled my own heart with Joy back then. I truthfully have never felt that sense of warmth and belonging in many other places that I have called home. Her rich descriptive language is every bit as visually expressive as brushstrokes laid freely but precisely by any master landscape or portrait painter.

Sadly... our blogging family has dwindled in number over the past few years. So many "followers" of the original group have sought other platforms from which to display and potentially sell their work. Their choice. However... I am satisfied to continue to post as I those who share my values and pour common desire to support each other and share our ideas.

After my last post when I revealed my interest in Penny's books and her richly crafted  novels, I had a comment from a dear Blogger Friend Rhonda Carpenter that she too had read one of Louise's books. She further offered that it made her yearn to perhaps visit the area in Quebec where the substance for the books was born. So rich was Penny's description of the Bistro and the foods served in "The Portrait"... that I picked up croissants and made cafe au lait to enter the realm!HA HA!!

I promised Rhonda... that I would dedicate my next post to the excellence of Louise's craft ... and to pique Ronda's interest to move ahead with a plan to visit the Charlevoix area. So Rhonda... as promised... this tour's for you my dear!!! Enjoyez!

A la prochaine... tout le monde!
Bonnes annees

                                                   "Evening Greeting" - Les Eboulements

                                                              "Bienvenue a Charlevoix!"

                         "La Lumiere d'Or - Notre Dame du Lac" -oil on canvas 20 x 24 inches

                               "L'Heure d' Or" - Les Eboulements - oil on canvas 20 x 16 inches

                 "A Midnight Clear" -  Farm Point, Gatineau Quebec - oil on canvas 20 x 24 inches

"Rue, Saint Vincent de Paul, Baie-Saint-de-Paul, Charlevoix" oil on canvas 20 x 24 inches

"Pas d-Essence Aujourd'hui" - Les Eboulements - oil on canvas 16 x 20 inches

                                      "Vers Baie-Saint-Paul" - oil on canvas 30 x 36 inches

                 "Cul du Sac Extraordinaire - Les Eboulements" - oil on canvas 16 x 20 inches

                                  "Les Eboulements... En Hiver" - - oil on canvas 20 x 24 inches

                 "Le Grandes Couleurs de Charlevoix en Automne" - oil canvas 30 x 24 inches

I hope that this we plein air sampling from my own enjoyment and interpretation of rural Quebec might transport your imagination... and perhaps even lead you seriously plan an expedition and holiday to Charlevoix. It will no doubt lead you into a whole new world to be explored and enjoyed Rhonda.

I believe that you might well find recurring similarities in the pictures that Louise Penny and I have painted of rural Quebec. The only difference is our medium... hers in words... and mine in paint. Both summon up a loving interface with the tiny, remote villages which dot the spectacular landscape of regions like Charlevoix and the Southern Townships.

You can check it out for yourself by simple Googling Louise Penny... or by browsing the internet sources to obtain a copy of her work. I would recommend the first of the Gamache series... "Still Life" as a great place to start. And yes... it does have an art focus in the narrative.

Thanks for motivating me to reach back and remember these "glory days" on my own painting
journey Rhonda.

Bonne chance ma belle amie!!


  1. So sorry to read that you and Deb have had such a painful Christmas. Sciatica really is awful and it is so frustratingly painful waiting for it to run it's course. You have my utmost sympathy and I hope that movement is a little easier now for you.

    Looking at your post today I wonder if you have thought about teaming up with or becoming a travel guide writer. Your local knowledge and paintings would make wonderful visitors guides. I feel like I have taken a stroll in a most enchanting place today.

    I wish you and yours a belated but very happy and healthy 2019 - gentle hugs.

  2. Dear Friend Lisa,

    Thank you for your uplifting thoughts and visit this morning. I can assure you that this wretchedly painful condition destroys not only one's ability to act or move... but it also removes one's ability to enjoy life and to create.

    In essence it reduces one's efforts to simply plodding through day to day living without purpose... and certainly without any sense of Joy. We are finding some easing of its hold through the intervention of physiotherapy and chiropractic services.Fingers crossed...

    The kind suggestions about a new direction for me in the tourism industry is surely received as a great comment. However... the greatest impact
    your kind compliment carried to my heart lies within your phrase:

    "I feel like I have taken a stroll in a most enchanting place today."

    Your words lift my spirits to soaring "above the surly bonds of earth.' Louise Penny achieved that same accomplishment for me....when I could not even walk a step. Charlevoix memories dulled the pain patterns and brought immediate relief...and pleasure.

    What I have come to understand through meeting kindred spirits like yourself... whether through my blog writing or my painting journey is that one's "voice" truly matters. Together when our voices are united... we become a choir.

    Lets' continue Lisa... "to make a joyful noise".... Together!

    Hugs back to you my Friend... and a Happy, Peaceful and Joy-filled New Year.


  3. This was a gift today! Thank you so much, Bruce. And I hope you and Deb are starting the new year without the pain. Stay well, healthy and happy - and when you must escape, I’ll meet you in Three Pines at The Bistro :).

  4. C'est mon plaisir Rhonda! The Bistro is such a grand distraction and comforting relief from the cutting winter cold... of Rockport and Charlevoix. It would be delightful to meet and spend a few pours there sharing the ambience and hospitality of this special place. It truly is magical and is everything that Louise describes in each of her spell-binding novels.

    I finally went to my physician for a cortisone injection to my hip. Fingers crossed for me!

    Happy New Year and Good Painting in 2019 Rhonda. Thanks for dropping by!

    Warmest regards,

  5. Having lived in Canada for a short time - in Oakville outside of
    Toronto - I am sad to say I never made it to Quebec. But your rich descriptions and those gorgeous and colorful paintings make me want to pack up and go. Perhaps some day! Thank you, Bruce. And I do hope you are well on the mend.

  6. Hi there Susan... So wonderful to hear from you again and to see you back to your posting! I truly missed your wonderfully animated and action-packed animal paintings.

    Glad that you enjoyed the Charlevoix plein air pieces that I pulled up. Whether you ever get back up this way or not... I can assure you that Louise Penny's magnificent novels transport you in the very same fashion that my paintings do. Her word mastery and rich descriptive prose is nothing short of magnifique!!! Treat yourself to a copy of "Still Life" the first of her Inspector Gameche series... and order in the croissants!

    It makes the winter blues fade to nothing!

    Happy New Year and good sales in 2019.

    Warmest regards,

  7. Good evening Bruce,

    What a delightful excursion "down river" to the countryside around Quebec. As usual your little collection has captured the flavour of these communities. I can well imagine how much pleasure you must have got from an area with so much character and history.

    I hope you are both able to spend a bit more time in an upright position by now!

    Best wishes,

  8. Thank you Keith for your visit... ans "up-lifting" Comments! HA HA!

    Yes, we are both feeling a bit better and more hopeful after visits to our doctor. I received a cortisone shot in the buttock... and that has resulted in an encouraging outcome... at least for now!

    Fingers crossed... that it continues to yield this result!

    The landscape changed overnight... morphing into its traditional winter ermine coat. The lighting effects at day's end created magical shadow patterns... adding further to my lifted spirits!

    Thank you for dropping by Keith. Google Louise Penny... her writing is as magical as any painting I have ever done. Leaves the artist in you restless... and breathless!

    Blessings and Good Health!
    Warmest regards,

  9. Hello Bruce, here I am arriving late to all of your lovely good New Year wishes! Loved the wee ice and water video, very pretty music. I wish you and yours a very good year ahead, may it be filled with happy paint filled afternoons and sunny mornings!

  10. Hi there Caroline!... The sme best wishes for you and your loved ones in the New Year. I hope that your healing continues to allow you to paint... as per usual and that your life if filled with life's greatest blessings - Peace ... Health and Happiness.

    Warmest regards,