Saturday, December 21, 2019

"Peopled"... Christmas Landscapes

What would a snowy Christmas landscape become... without children present? The entire concept of celebrating Christmas evolved from the the search... discovery and presentation of the newborn Christ child. Since that very first Christmas, the central theme and the very focus our celebration of Christmas has depended almost entirely upon the traditions created by families for their children.

Christmas represents the celebration of the unblemished and unfettered wonder of youth. It is a precious time in one's life when innocence, faith and optimism are not only acceptable to the adult world... but are encouraged and rewarded by it. It is hoped that this festive occasion prepares children to enter the next stages of human growth and development with an awareness and willingness to give... and to receive.

I will choose not to admonish modern society for its over-the-top lavishing of expensive gift giving... except to acknowledge its deepening presence. Our consumer mentality imposes a sense that we must fall into line to "keep up with the..." you know the drill!

I will not use another line of this post to pursue judging further. Life is really all about  individual choices. I have made mine. I will simply offer these painted "gifts" offered to my children to support some understanding about our concept of sharing for Christmas. Our focus is directed towards the very differences of each child in our family. We cherish those and offer small gifts which celebrate and reinforce our recognition and appreciation of those special traits.

I have created what I hope will turn into a personal annual tradition for each of the my three family groupings. It is my hope that each painting will be brought out and hung during the Christmas season in the homes of each son or daughter in alternate years. It will be the responsibility of last year's sibling to take it to the home of the next and to have a celebratory event to turn it over to the next home.

The cycle, (hopefully) will be repeated each and every Christmas. In this way, "I" hope to be present each year to participate in the Joy of their celebrations and to encourage family gathering. "River Spirit was created for Allison and Andrew. It hung last Christmas in Joan and Allison's shared home... even though Allison had passed away. This year it will travel to Rockwood to be displayed and enjoyed in Andrew's family home by his lovely and youthful family.

"River Spirit, Plein air Snowman" - oil on canvas 20 x 16 inches

This second snow man piece was created especially for Liam and Bryn to be shared back and forth in their living spaces. Same rules apply! This year, we look forward to them coming to our new home for a few days' visit. Catan and Crib board are at the ready. The menu has been stuck! Christmas is about sharing precious time, good food, laughter... and board games. Let the games begin! 

                       "Down East Vigil" - 24 x 20 inch oil on canvas.

This painting clearly captures our common love of Nature and the outdoors. Peggy's Cove, NS was always a favorite destiny for our treasure searches and beach combing. Winter cold and snow was never something that we cursed or dreaded. We gladly went out into it... fortified with wieners, beans, marshmallows and smores... all the while having a "shin-warmer" break to boost the spirits!

"When Winter Play was...  en plein air" - oil on canvas 20 x 24 inches

The final and most current edition of my River Spirit- Snowman based theme owes its creation to my many wonderful hours of "yard duty" as my teaching colleagues painfully referred to it. For me... it was never that. I called it "yard pleasure" because the children and I created activities that embraced that freedom and sense of unrestricted play which belongs unfortunately... most often only to children.

When the game of throwing of snowballs became prohibited because they were viewed and ruled as weapons"... the children and I took to rolling large snowballs... to "who could roll the biggest." The remnants of these Stonehenge- like white monoliths often lasted well into... or around April. Truth is... they stood as symbols of righteous rebellion against adult domination.

Ironically, but again pleasing to me, this painting found its way to the lovely home of my eldest gal Lisa. We share a very common view of the world and we both treasure our children and making and sharing our Art.The pure sense of irony rests in the fact that Lisa resides in the Barbados... where nary a snowflake can survive... or until now can likely be found . But hey!... Who can say never? LOL

Two celestial evening skies... one lunar... the other star struck. The final edition... the going down of the sun. Perhaps a fitting closing for this post.Children's play seems today to be either more controlled and defined by adults.. or dominated by technology. Simply put, children are being "left to their own devices" by parental guidance systems.Too bad... by my measuring.

In closing, I hope that this adds some Christmassy feelings to your festive week.
I will close out later i n the week with one last winter landscape. One to replace the Christmas card ritual that simply eluded me this year. These three personages were the basis for our last three years of Christmas card sharing. I have a definite theme in mind along these same lines for the next. But... am still dealing with... well you know. But I'm getting there. Change is change. It's also necessary... and encourages new growth of ideas.

Stay tuned...

Warmest regards,
Good painting... to ALL!


  1. Hello Bruce,

    I remember you mentioning this ritual before, and I thought then, and still think, that it's a wonderful idea. Not only is it something that the whole family can share in, but it also creates a new Christmas tradition that can carry forward over the generations.
    Also by moving the paintings around they stay fresh and never become too familiar.

    So I hope the new owners get a lot of pleasure from their "guests", and that you and all your family have a good Christmas.

    Best Wishes,

  2. I really enjoyed viewing your family snowman paintings. What a fine idea! I don't know if you have snow yet but here we have clear skies, sun and a frost! Have a lovely Christmas Bruce with your family. Best wishes Caroline

  3. Hi Keith!... I knew that you would identify with my motives for creating my Snow Spirit tradition. Family is such an important component of human existence and continuance. We are nothing... if we feel that we don't matter. People count above all else.

    Let's continue to put our hearts and hands together in the service of family and fellowship.

    Warmest regards... rich blessings and a Merry Christmas to you and yours Keith!

  4. Good morning Lass... So nice of you to drop by with your supportive presence an words. We do have some snow here. It seems to arrive... and leave quickly. However, there remains enough to create a mood and backdrop for Christmas.

    Wishing back to you the same wishes for a Merry Christmas and Joyous New Year.

    Warmest regards... and rich blessings,