Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tomorrow morning Deb and I leave for Algonquin Park. At 5:50 am our van will be headed north somewhere between here and Dwight...the West gate entrance to the Park. I hope to get one sketch in before I drop off my four pieces for the annual Mystery in the Park juried show at the Visitors' Centre at 2pm.
We will meet up with our friends David and Diane Kay and will spend time painting and enjoying our evenings together catching up.Apparently the colours are almost full...early for sure...and the weather forecast includes cloudy and rainy periods. That never has impeded having a good time...or making paintings for "Me". AS Woody Allen once quipped: "Showing up is 80 percent of success"!....and ain't that the truth! One can find any number of reasons not to face adversity or less than perfect opportunities in life...but from my own experiences...my greatest growth and success has come out of these challenging situations.
In any event...look for the work that I hope to complete in my next posts and on our web site www.thepaintboxgallery.ca .....soon to be updated! I am including the final version of the demo started at Geneva Park. It is final...I have signed it!
Good painting to all!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Today is officially the first day of Autumn! Summer has fled. Sugar maples have already begun to show their first flashes of change and the last wildflowers of the year...goldenrod and New England Asters dominate the meadows and roadsides of the Oro-Medonte. Flocks of noisy geese...now restless are spending longer daylight hours feeding in harvested grain and cornfields in readiness for their long trek southward.
Human activity has changed as well. A local farmer was over at the Hillsdale Auto Centre.... a hub of tuneup activity...with his John Deere-driven snow blower to ready it for the customary thirty inch snow "drops" that this area frequently receives throughout the winter. Moose hunters have their rifles sighted up, their bull tags in pocket and are readying their trailers, ATVs and canoes for their annual forays into their Northern camps.
Outdoor painters like myself have pulled out the dormant rich cadmium reds, yellows and oranges reserved for this time of year...along with long underwear, heavier socks, shirts,vests and jackets to provide the comfort necessary when the mercury dives overnight...and usually without warning.Canvases are toned...hiking boots are "Dubbined"...rain slickers are relocated. Algonquin Park beckons for me personally...it is close to me geographically....but more importantly...it is closer still to "Me"....Spiritually. I have made this pilgrimage annually for over thirty years. This experience never fails to leave "Me" uplifted...and in awe of the marvellous beauty of this part of Canada.
This High Holiday period...loosely wrapped around our Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend celebrations is both brief and tumultuous. Like squirrels and chickadees...I will be "out there"...(collecting my winter stores)...of sketches and digital references to carry "Me" through those long...grey winter months. But mostly...I will be savouring and giving thanks...for another opportunity to join in.
"I am blessed"!
Much Peace and good painting...all!
PS If any of my nine students are reading this blog... please take note! My directions NOT to simply copy the sketch were not for your ears...or considerations alone. As you can see from the finished product arising from my unfinished demo layin... "there are no sacred cows"! Risk change and work intuitively! You'll be surprised how much stronger and creative the Right Side of the brain can be in your painting process... when "You" bravely dismiss the Left... or at least demand that it takes turns! Hope you enjoy this! I did...in the "doing"!
Monday, September 21, 2009
I spent the past weekend with the East Central Ontario Association of Artists in this wonderful YMCA retreat and conference facility located on the shores of beautiful Lake Couchiching. I had been asked to present an oil painting workshop for this year's gathering last spring and had accepted because my name had been brought forward by my long-time friend and mentor Poul Thrane.
I must admit that teaching...anything since I have retired from my active elementary career of nearly thirty years is something I seldom wish to be involved in. It is not that I feel I am unable...or even unwilling to share my ideas...but rather, that I wish to make use of these "golden years"...or the autumn years of my own life to create...and to expand my own search for my "True Self".So much of my earlier time and energy was given unconditionally...and without any regret... to all of the children I faced over the years...and to the needs of my family and my profession.
This weekend's highly positive response to my workshop has led "Me" to the realization that my need to find my "Self" can indeed be accomplished by being in contact with and sharing my time to create Self-discovery for my Self and "Others" at the same time. It was uplifting spiritually...for EVERYONE...my Self included... to bask in the warmth of creating...laughing...sharing meals and time together.It has made "Me" rethink my future plans ...to provide(reasonable) blocks of my schedule to offer my services in this manner without feeling that I am short changing myself of valuable time to work on my own.
The focus of my workshop was: Super Size Me!...designed to encourage students to risk moving from smaller formats... to using a good field sketch to create a much larger and challenging studio piece. In this workshop,I introduced the goals and format by completing a one and a half hour demo/question and answer session from an 8 x 10 sketch panel to create a 24 x 30 inch canvas.Though I offered a "guided" passage using my own examples...I offered and encouraged participants to set their own courses.They did so bravely...and wisely. Each chose to follow their own painting theme. Many brought along their own digital images...so it was easy for us to discuss the merits of their "possibilities" and to choose one that best reflected and supported the strong interest and necessity to work from a subject exhibiting strong form, contrast and design elements to assist in treating the initial start broadly...most importantly...without attention to detail.
I introduced a simplified "grid" which was placed on top of the sketch and used willow charcoal to make a drawing on the acrylic burnt sienna toned canvas.This allowed students to create a free,loose...and easily correctable drawing...or "foundation" before commencing to "block in" the major large shapes,or masses of general colour. This stage was easily accomplished by all within the first half hour of the first two and one half hour session together.By lunch break time all had successfully reached the important preliminary laid in or blocked in stage.
After lunch everyone settled into their own "zones"...leaving me to visit each person often... either by request...or just to encourage or offer a second view point.By the session's conclusion...all had satisfying and exceptional canvases well underway...and a few even to completion.Those individuals already had another subject in mind for Sunday morning's short and concluding session and were busy toning the next canvas to get a head start.Talk about growth and enthusiasm!!!
During the evening "walk-about"...an after supper opportunity to visit the other sessions being offered... our session won rave reviews for our collection of fine work. How much more rewarding can praise and encouragement be... than to receive it from your peer group and fellow artists!
On Sunday we critiqued each other's work and the value of what each had discovered about their own work and processes. Each of us went our ways...sad to have the experience come to an end...but excited and enriched by our sharing...enthusiastic to dive into our own daily creative lives!
In closing ...I wish to offer my thanks to the ECOAA for this opportunity...the YMCA staff who made our time at the facility so pleasant and carefree...and most especially...very special thanks to each of my nine fellow artists who CHOSE to share "The Boathouse Studio" with "Me". My deepest thanks for making Geneva Park 2009such an enriching and truly unforgettable experience!Good painting!
Monday, September 14, 2009
I am dedicating this post this evening to my eldest son Andrew...a creative...gifted...intellectual and sensitive young man
who continually makes me proud to call "Him"...Son! We have shared many adventures together over our lifetimes, but the adventures that draw us forever together are each of the six canoe trips we made out into our beloved Thousand Islands on the beautiful St Lawrence River.
We camped,canoed,explored and painted together over the entire breadth of this magnificent waterway, sharing the beauty,sunsets, starry night skies and solitude as Father and Son in a very profound and lasting manner. Those memories will remain vivid within "Me" until my dying day...precious and indelibly etched into my soul.
He is at present,in the process of completing his Masters Degree Programme of Studies at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto,in the field of Biochemistry and Genetics.Despite towering over me now...we still share hugs ....laughs...and good times together...when he has time available from his and my own very busy lives.
I am blessed to have "Him" at my side...blessed to watch him grow into a solid,contributing individual who will leave his own mark on the world..... a better place because of his humanity and "Good Heart! Happy Birthday "River Boy"....from your ol' "River Rat" Dad XXXXXOOOOOXXXXX
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
September is a great month of change in Canada,particularly in the Canadian Shield Region in Ontario where I currently live and paint.The changes in the landscape are perhaps the most vibrantly beautiful in the world. Tourists from all over the world travel to view this spectacle year after year and to bear witness to the colour symphony created by the changing tree colours....particularly the crimsons of the hard and sugar maple stands which mix with the dark spruce and pines.This period usually continues well into late October.
It is my favourite time to paint....and usually is one of my most productive times to paint in the outdoors. The weather is most often crisp,cool and sunny in the first half of the season when the leaves reach their peak...then sullen and muted when the maples cast off their clothes.Softwoods like the birch turn golden and dominate this period...as do the coniferous tamaracks morphing into bright ochre attire...before their needles are dropped for the dormant winter period.
I love painting during both stages ...although the last stage brings colder and wetter weather that can be challenging...even discouraging to the outdoor painter.The woods in Algonquin Park...or the small villages in Charlevois where I travel to paint in this season...once overrun by "holidaying hordes"...blackflies and mosquitoes are mine alone at this time. It is truly a time for reflection and solitude ...which I crave at times. I feel so at peace with my "Self"....far from the din of modernity...to worship in my spiritual sanctuary...or Cathedral of choice. It is here when "I" am "One" with the Universe...and my Creator!Good painting to all!
"I am blessed"!