Thursday, September 26, 2019

Stepping Back in Time... Part One

As I made my way around the village... in search of a new subject to paint, I suddenly became aware  and realized that while the village and its residences collectively were a step back in historical time... they were also step back views of my own life and time.

Changes were evident everywhere i visited to support my growing awareness of that fact. While the overall historical nature of the architecture visibly transports one back in time, so many of the buildings do reflect the changes brought by modernity. Nature itself has conspired with human change to blur past memories that I carry within me from my earlier experiences here.

I can illustrate this using this photograph taken a week ago to be viewed in comparison with a small oil sketch that I completed in 1990.

      Looking down Regent Street... A Stone... as it sits in its late September greens in 2019

The same stone home as I portrayed it in 1990.This smallish 5 x 7 inch oil sketch ... minus all of the shrubbery of 2019 reveals more clearly its classical, early twentieth century limestone origin and beauty.

Given this situation occurs throughout the entire village, as well as the call of the fast approaching autumn color pageant...  I am drawn by a competing need and desire to participate in both. I feel that both would prove equally enjoyable to each of you (from away) and uplifting for me to paint.

I have decided to maintain the village walkabout incorporating some direct plein air pieces like this latest piece... as I am able to complete them. I will add sites that I think present  a potpourri of the village's most prestigious homes and buildings.

Typical Ontario one an one half storey clapboard residential dwelling with central entrance to parlour with fireplace/hearth... summer kitchen to the side. Two slanted ceiling bedrooms located in the half storey.

Clapboard residence of Stephen Yarwood, Purser in the Royal Navy and Nicholas Cross Carpenter c.1830's - 44

I would suggest using previous Barriefield paintings from my past wanderings in conjunction with present day photos for comparison.

"Spring... Willowmere in Barriefield  Village  - oil on canvas 20 x 24 inches

"Willowmere" sits today much untouched in its Georgian stone beauty. It varies from its current use as a single residence from being a stage coach inn for travellers between Montreal in Lower Canada using the King's Highway to make the long journey to York in Upper Canada. Today York is known as Toronto.

As Willowmere sits today. Notice that the veranda and its railings sit below the grade of the road. When I first visited the village the road was lower, but was raised when the main highway (The King's Highway ) was diverted to draw heavy traffic away from the village to maintain a more "historic" appearance.

"Sunny Monday Morning Matinee, Barriefield" - oil on canvas 20x24 inches

This painting recalled the Monday wash day ritual of most households... where clothing was washed ... either by hand in tubs and scrubbed clean by hand on washboards. Or... it was washed in rotary washing machines and then run through the attached wringer. The final drying took place on backyard clothes lines... courtesy of the sun or wind. The smell of those fresh clothes is still firmly embedded in my memory bank. Obviously... the practice remains alive... well and still practised in rural or semi-rural households.

A frontal view of the same clapboard home.. again a typically simple center plan Ontario residence of the early nineteenth century.  Little or no filigree detail to jazz up the facade . Jaunty and welcoming  colorful doors are the norm in this village and do much to add charm and color to the simple homes.

I will take a small "lunch break" from the Barriefield tour at this point... begging your permission and patience while I self - indulge in some rapidly changing landscape subjects. The color change has become much greater than the "blush" that was present... if one looked hard. It has gained in strength and its presence summons up my annual need to pull out the cadmiums.

Stay tuned... Barriefield isn't going anywhere soon. I shall return to the tour in a few days. Its worth the wait to travel through time down Main Street... and to experience "Lilac Row" home by home.

Warmest regards... and Happy Fall Painting... to ALL!!!


  1. I have thoroughly enjoyed the tour my friend, I will top up my cup now and brace myself for the cadmiums. I can't wait ;o)

  2. Hi Lisa!

    Glad that this leg of the Barriefield Village tour was enjoyable!

    The fall awakening of color has just begun to "blush".. ever so shyly here and there. I shall indeed be "out there"... cadmiums spread... and ready to apply!

    Let the pageant begin!

    Stay tuned! ... Tea in hand!

    Warmest regards,

  3. Hi Bruce,

    I enjoyed this tour around the village. It is so interesting to see how the buildings have changed, and yet not changed: In so many places they might have been replaced by more modern structures.

    Looking forward to the next tour.
    All the best,

  4. Hi there Keith!

    Glad that you enjoyed the tour of Barriefield Village. As is the case in your world, these historic sites deserve to be preserved for those who follow to appreciate and understand.

    Time... moving forward does mandate some modernizing "upgrades." But not at the expense of historical appearance and appearance. There is a spiritual beauty one feels... only when the sense of time can be maintained and enjoyed.

    I feel that sense of Joy and Pride in residential ownership... wherever I go to paint. I am deeply blessed...

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,