Saturday, July 24, 2010

As Time Goes By...

I'm getting ready to step into a new commission for a client's home in Toronto. It will be a large commission... a canvas 36x48 inches based upon a combination of an actual mill site as it exists today in conjunction with a "historic"interpretation based upon old photographs and a historic atlas representation.

Tomorrow, I will be painting on site... sketching and making photo references of my own... looking for "ideas" that "I' can stitch together to form the basis for the final composition. "I" am quite excited... and really feel that the clients and "I" are on the same page in what we're all looking for as an outcome. This is a project that "I" can accept without any hesitation or concern.

I will be busy for a number of days... and away from this site... but I wanted to leave some food for thought... to perhaps extend the "ideas" and directions that I expressed in the last posts. "I" was truly encouraged by the comments and positive responses to the last post. Those comments simply confirmed a common belief that we all are unique in some fashion... in our goal-seeking and our motivations to create. As well... we all agreed that we were working in concert in our efforts to express some aspect of our experiences... our joy... our passions... our creative Selves.

The word "speak" was used over and over again to express the notion that our work can communicate just as eloquently... passionately and effectively as written language to the viewer who "feels"a chord struck "within". I have selected a favourite painting of my own from my past... one which "I" feel best substantiates my ongoing belief that paintings create opportunities for conversation and dialogue.
While it required an unusually lengthy time to actually be resolved... I feel that it illustrates that process needn't be hurried or predictable as it is approached. Each painting has its own place in time and each is a stepping stone to the next.I have kept this painting for myself (for now) because it is a narrative of sorts about my journey and "I" do feel attached to it in so many ways. It is a large oil painting signed and dated 2006 as the completion point. The title is in fact... "As Time Goes By"

This title has three planes of reference. The "Idea" for this painting first emerged in the form of a rough, shorthand line "scribble" on a scrap of loose paper... referred to as "Post Graduate Study" in October of 1979. The "Idea" surfaces again in October , 2001... in a sketchbook where the compositional form and interior are developed further... but again are left unresolved.

During my son's swimming lesson at a local resort on July 9th, 2003... I played around with several ideas using ink thumbnails and finally arrived at the final window format and basic composition. The final push and commencement of the actual 36x30 inch canvas would not begin until November 3rd, 2003... finishing in fits and starts in August of 2006.

The space between the conception of the "Idea"... and the completion spans almost 24 years of thinking... rethinking... "playing" and then arriving at the point of distillation... where all parts were in place and "I" was certain of the path to take. I also had acquired more tools and techniques... like glazing for my toolbox in between that prepared me to deal with the satisfactory conclusion of this canvas... and "Idea".

"As Time Goes By" can be seen to be an appropriate title by itself. But if "You" care to "read" the elements of the painting... "You" might find yet another explanation for the use of this title. "I" will leave that to "You"... to further enter the "conversation"... or not.

One last extra fact. "As Time Goes By".... Casa Blanca... my Dad's favourite song... one that he closed out many dances he played at... over his 50 years of entertaining with his art form... his piano styling!

There are so many reasons and ways to make Art. Choose your own and ...

Good Painting to "You"!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Painting Is A Dialogue and Conversation

This post might seem "heady" at first reading... that's how my wife described it. "Too metaphysical for me!" she said. She's right in a sense. It certainly comes out of my head and thought... and it does address the process of painting from an unlikely perspective. But "I" most certainly am not under the influence of any illicit drug... and my mind's ... fairly lucid.

It is neither my wish to make anyone uncomfortable... nor to impress with my "ideas and knowledge in these posts. "I" merely offer an opportunity.. a forum where all can share and discuss differences in process and problem-solving and interest... so that all may gain from the "conversation" we agree to take part in.

"I" have always been drawn to seek out answers about how the process of creation works in others ... as well as in my own particular case. "I" have spent an entire teaching career watching how children create and actively taking part with them as they moved through the development of their own unique creative capacities. "I" fear that despite this lengthy interest and study of the subject... it still remains virtually a mystery to "Me". Nonetheless... "I" have made observations that perhaps others might find interesting... and useful in their own journeys.

The act of making a painting is in fact... a "conversation" and a "dialogue"... from beginning to end. From the moment we select a subject... whether in the outdoors, or in the studio... we "converse" with our subject. Silently... most of the time... we face each other... study... measure and reveal our essences and feelings to the other... in unheard voices.

As with a conversation between two individuals, the painting process... or "conversation" begins with a preliminary physical attraction to the subject... or "recognition" by the artist that seems to proceed to a kind of two way communication. The "conversation" usually lasts as long as each of the artist receives... is responsive and finds satisfaction in the event. When all avenues of interest and points for discussion have been aired to the satisfaction of the artist... the two way communication is abandoned... and the artist returns to his/her original plane of existence.

As with human discussions and conversations... there are those occasions when the artist will re-engage in that same "conversation"... or theme and continue to respond to the subject that continues to "speak" ... motivate and provide further "ideas"that result in entirely new extensions of the original "discussion".

This amicable parting is not necessarily the final outcome in dialogues and conversations between two people. Neither is it so with the conversationalists.... artist-subject relationship in the painting process. Often, one will try to overpower or control the "conversation"... or cause affront to the other's sensibilities... causing an impasse or "block" that often leads to the other withdrawing angrily out of frustration at the lack of "understanding".... or the "capacity" to finish. All of us... in our individual painting lives have experienced this very uncomfortable situation... when the "conversation" seems... for the lack of a better expression... "one-sided"... and our role in the "conversation" being diminished by the overpowering "voice" of the other.

To quote Ben Shahn , the famous American Social Realist painter and photographer:

"One must say that painting is both creative and responsive. It is an intimately communicative affair between the painter and his [her] painting, a conversation back and forth, the painting telling the painter even as it receives shape and form."

Shahn's comment supports my own belief that all artists... no matter their particular discipline are born with a compulsion to "speak"... "in conversation" with and to describe the world they live in. As well... they carry on an ongoing "dialogue" out of this strange and ongoing egocentric fascination and compulsion with the Self... using their preferred "voice" or medium/language.

This "communication" between the two cannot be viewed as a "hobby"... anymore than speaking with others could be interpreted such. It is purely out of a strongly driven inward need in artists to express themselves... to examine... and to "play" within boundaries of the worlds they find themselves in. One does not "speak"... except to be listened to... and "heard".

The last part of this conversation.. or dialogue requires another participant. The dialogue now becomes a "conversation" between the viewer... and the painting. Or should that read between the viewer and the artist? "I" wonder.... what do "You" think?

Get back to "Me"...

"I" would love to offer "You" an opportunity to join the "conversation".... about the contents of the post and the image... Mill Pond Residents, Ayr, Ontario... a first in a series of paintings "I" will be creating for the upcoming group show that "I' will be sharing with other gallery artists at Ayrspace.

The show opens Friday, August 6th, 6:00 to 8:00 pm... with a day long event for interested... and courageous gallery artists to paint in the small picturesque, rural village of Ayr... appropriately entitled: Plein Ayr... and that's a big YUP!... "I" will be there... joyfully... en plein Ayr!

Good Painting to All!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Arriving at Titles... "Coming and Going"

According to the view of the well-known and respected British portrait painter, Lucian Freud, "The only point of titles on the whole is to distinguish one painting from another." However, I do not totally share his sardonic view of this important part of the painting process... for my Self at least.

Assigning a title to a work... is in fact, the final act in the "play" that we artists fashion through our varying processes of thought and activity.... just as signing the work draws our explorations to a point of closure. The title can reflect a wide variety of considerations ranging from simply describing the subject as it is visually presented... through to humour... deeper spiritual, political, intellectual... or reflective motifs. It depends totally upon the thinking process that the artist undergoes... and develops to further encourage and engage the viewer.

In a recent visit that I made to the blog site of an artist, whose work I deeply admire... I was greatly surprised to hear that artist... so prolific and evocative in her children at the beach imagery admit that creating titles was an unpleasant and difficult task for "Her". I was surprised... because her beautiful passages of children at play... "speak" so eloquently and effectively... without any need for words being attached.

I left a comment to that effect to encourage "Her" to think beyond her usual "perspective" of the artist... and "to shift" her thinking/ perspective to perhaps that of the children she was depicting in her images. What would they "say"? Perhaps a wonderfully accurate and novel title might come out of that small "shift in perspective".

In my own case... "I" very rarely suffer from this problem. Often, "I" already have the title in mind before the work is underway... whether in the studio... or en plein air. On many occasions my paintings and their titles owe their presence to a poem... a phrase... or a quotation encountered during my reading. I collect title "Ideas" for future use as paintings or themes in my sketchbooks... so they don't get lost to Time.

On many... many occasions "I" actually pair a painting... with a poem and title that I have created as either a primary or secondary response to something "I" have seen or felt. Encouraged by friends... collectors and family members...I have gathered a number of them together and self-published them in a volume entitled "The Paintings and Poetry of A.W. Bruce Sherman". It can be previewed on our web site if anyone is interested further in learning more about that process.

This brings "Me" to today's post subject: "Coming and Going".... the title for the final product for my current and freshly completed 36x30 inch canvas which explored my ramblings and adventures in the ancient fishing village of Crail in Fife, Scotland. The concept of ..."coming and going " can be applied at so many different levels in relationship to my experiences in Scotland... and in regard to Crail in particular.

It was here... in this village... viewing "The Hen's Ladder"... that this "Idea" started to take form. My first sketch... or "impression" done on my first visit to Crail records "The Coming". My perspective was very low for this sketch... looking across and up at The Hen's Ladder". After completing the sketch, I worked my way completely around the harbour to the very base of this "ladder".... and in so doing... began to more fully understand why it had its unusual name. One mounted a succession of shallow steps that reached flat planes at intervals... allowing one's ascent/lift to this great elevation... to be more gradual and comfortable to climb.

Midway up... "I" was confronted by a rose-laden stone cottage... the visual impression fairly knocked the very wind out of me. "I" paused... sucked it all in... took some reference photos and then continued the ascent further. Wedged between an ancient waist-high stone fence and a wooden picket fence... festooned with leafery and flowers... "I" turned.... "shifted my first perspective"... from my earlier perspective below... and was greeted by the one-of-a-kind scene that is the subject... "Coming and Going".

"The Going" part of the title was created... when "I" turned my back on that beautiful site and made my way back to the bus stop and back to my B&B "digs" in St Andrew's. I was not to return to this place... though "I" vowed to. My main reason for coming to Scotland was to "be"... with Allison... to celebrate her accomplishments there. The remainder of my time would be given entirely to that purpose...... freely... and joyfully. We shared wonderful and memorable time together.

The excitement of returning to the place from which my Grandparents had come to find and make a new and better life in Canada made my "Coming"... worthwhile and meaningful to "Me".

My "Going" was made easier by the fact that the images... people... events and memories "I" would carry with "Me".... would sustain "Me artistically and spiritually... for the remainder of my days.

"Coming... and Going". We all come... and must go.

Life... full of paradox where one state cannot exist except with the other.

"I" am deeply blessed!

Good Painting to All!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Finding "The Flow"... and Freedom

As I previously mentioned... "I" am often paralyzed and overpowered by sensory input in a particular place or situation. Colour and too much visual information shuts down my ability to both process and act upon what "I" am experiencing... no matter how beautiful the subject may be.

In order to deal with this sensory overload... "I" reduce my expectations of my Self... use my sketching materials... either pencil or pens to record impressions... or the "Idea" that causes "Me" to look upon it as a subject of high interest. My camera serves to back up (not replace) my sifting through impressions... along with notes that "I" find interesting and that might trigger and recapture some of the initial excitement later in the studio.

This secondary approach to entering the painting "mode" or process usually results in my finding "The Flow"... as I' ll refer to it... meaning that state in creating when everything else around and inside you ... even Time... ceases to effect, or for that matter even exist. It is in my opinion, another plane of "existence"... a "place"where many artists spend time.... a place where they say that they "play" with their Muse.

It is this space... one of complete solitude and Freedom that "I" seek before launching into painting. Often it can be reached easily and can last lengthy periods of time. There are other times when it is difficult... even impossible to enter -EXCEPT... through the series of rituals and exercises that I have created for my Self to help "Me" slide into that state slowly... but surely.

My Scotland adventure was simply overwhelming for "Me" physically and spiritually. So many outside factors were "playing against" my desire to paint. By choosing watercolours and pen and ink as my tools to record ... "I" reduced the internal pressure and my own usual desire to become involved in adding detail. "I" made the activity free-flowing by lowering my expectation from "a painting" final product... to a journalistic "sketch". This allowed "Me" to gather ideas and data to support a much more finished record later in the studio.

Upon my return to Canada, it took "Me" a full week of looking at the sketches and reviewing my photo references to finally settle upon a direction for the first painting. A Crail subject was the obvious place to start... simply because that site most excited "Me". In that broad sense... "I" singled out the "moment" that "I" had recorded with my camera... high on the Hen's Ladder... looking down and out to sea as the most memorable moment visually. That prompted my preliminary watercolour/pen and ink sketch at the monitor.... which led a week later to the 30x24 inch toned canvas drawing in vine charcoal. This is the lay in stage after three hours of continuous painting shown in today's post. Canvas filled... nothing final... "possibilities" there for further consideration and development are there for the exploring in today's session... but it is from here that "I" am finally have the final freedom... "to create"... no maps... no sketches... no photos... no preconceived ideas. I have no idea where and when the painting will end.

Yesterday... "I" completed the ritual of setting out the palette of colour early in the morning... in preparation for the start of the lay in process later in the day. Before heading to the easel... I returned coffee in hand... to the reading of my new book; The Artist's Mentor, Ian Jackman , Editor published by Random House. Is is indeed a Mentor... in every sense of the word. I heartily recommend it to anyone needing... wanting... or open to new ideas... from a host of masters and major artists.

Here is a sample of what "You" might expect within its pages:

"The most precious factor in the creative life of an artist in any medium is freedom. Totalitarian, political, or national idelologues that seek to direct or channel the arts are pernicious; they can strangle the work of individual artists and cripple their own culture. They are not, however, the only things that hamper an artist's freedom. It can also be curtailed by commercial conditions of the theaters of aesthetics ordained by various groups, cults, cliques, or "isms". It seems to me that the most damaging restrictions on an artist's liberty are self-imposed. So often what may have begun as fresh thinking and discovery is turned into a routine and is reduced to mere habit. Habits in thinking or technique are always stultifying in the long run. They are also contagious, and when a certain set of habits becomes general, a whole art period can condemn itself to the loss of freedom..."

Food for thought ... for all of "Us"!
I'll post the final painting when complete. Stay tuned,,,,,

Good Painting to ALL!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Life .... anew after Scotland

My family and travel experience had multiple effects. Firstly... it elevated my emotional state both artistically and personally to a higher level. But as well... the saturation of all of my senses, particularly my visual sense... for a time seemed to be in stasis and "I" was unable to work on anything new.

Finally... on Wednesday, I forced myself to sit with my watercolours kit and pens in front of my computer monitor... to work up an "idea" from my visit to the tiny ancient fishing village of Crail.

"I"recognized right from the moment that "I" first set foot in the village that "I" had found a place of unusual interest for further study and work back in the studio. The saturation of my senses began there at that same moment... and prompted me to work only in pen and ink for the remainder of my visit. Colour puts my senses into "overdrive". One could safely say that "I" ... am a "colour junky".

The scene that "I" was most drawn to... was a view looking back down "The Hen's Ladder"... a cleverly designed series of gradual and alternating inclined planes that gradually lifted one from the harbour far below to the village level several hundred feet above. From the pinnacle of this zigzag structure... one looked over rusty red terracotta and slate roofs... studded with a multitude of chimney pot types... to the walled harbour... and beyond to the bluest harbour and sky... that one can imagine. It possessed all of the "Magic" of "Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang" and Harry Potter... combined!

An hour of "playing" at the monitor yielded the preliminary study/sketch... the place from which "I" would step into my first larger canvas. All that remained to be decided before actually beginning the canvas was the size... or format to be used. As strange as it might seem... it took another two days to arrive at that decision - square... or rectangular vertical format?

I had a toned burnt sienna toned 30x36" canvas hangin' about... so that went to the easel... and "I" simply dove into "exploring" with vine charcoal... to feel out a composition that worked for "Me". That part took a couple of hours... before I was finally satisfied with the composition and drawing enough to spray a coat of fixative to secure or "fix" the drawing and eliminate unwanted greying and blending of the charcoal and colour during the underpainting process.

The two jpegs in today's post record these two initial parts of my painting process for "Looking Down the Hen's Ladder". Note that the difference in quality between plein air sketches completed on location and the preliminary sketch or study developed in front of my monitor is really minimal.

I think that this fact supports my own belief that plein air study over years develops one's ability "to see"... and to work as one does when outdoors. There is no substitute for working from Nature. It is only "out there"... where all of the senses coalesce... and create an excitement that champions and guides individual artistic growth and development.

The experience and knowledge gained through this long term exposure to natural subjects and conditions formulates a confidence and ability to "imagineer" and recreate seasonal... lighting and colour effects similar to those on location... with more accuracy and truth. Just my thoughts... but perhaps... worth the effort to try. It works for "Me"!

Stay tuned for further development of the canvas....

Good Painting to All!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pausing... to say "Thank You"

My dear Mom Jean Fleming Scott (Birrell) Sherman passed away on July 6th, 2005 after enjoying 86 wonderfully complete years in this world. As is the case with most elderly individuals... it was not without its share of trials... tribulations and tests of her immense Faith.

Her passing left a huge piece of "me" missing and "I" did struggle for the longest time to reconcile her leaving . My struggle included many visits to her graveside... copious bouquets of her favourite summer wildflowers... as they appeared throughout the summer months. A daily journal devoted to both her and Dad... recalling in some detail remembrances of them which visited "Me" in my day-to-day life.
Her favourite flowers... field daises and black-eyed Susans (also my own)... were constant subjects that could be found on my easel. One could safely say... and accurately so... that I painted and wrote my grief . My painting and my music have always been vehicles for "Me" to diminish the sadness(es) of my journey and the periods of depression that visited "Me" regularly over my lifetime. These have been mighty blessings in my life and "I" am ever grateful for these gifts.

It was my Mom who took us (and all the neighbourhood pals) on Sunday hikes when we didn't have a car. It was also "Her" that bought and paid for our summer cottage "Shangri-la" on the beautiful and peaceful St Lawrence River at Narrow's Lane Road... working long hours as a cashier at a five n' dime store to pay for it. These gifts from "Her" were to become the underpinnings of the Self and artist that "I" have worked to become. Without "Her" and her gifts and love?.... Well "I" can't imagine!

So today... my sadness certainly is still present... but it is overwritten with Gratitude... Love... Pride... and a simple, accepting-without-proof and child-like Faith quoting from a family song favourite:

Well meet again...
Don't know where...
Don't know when...
Some sunny day!

"I" love "You" ... Forever Mom!....

................."Bushel and a peck... and a hug around the neck!"

Saturday, July 3, 2010

New Horizons... and Shifting Perspectives - Part Two

The Universe speaks (?)... through a Horoscope: Sunday, July 4Th

You might have a lot more to say than you think. Listen to a different perspective. A loved one lets you know that you are cared for. Spend more time with that person.

Perhaps the strongest "shift" in perspective for "Me" on my trip was realized through the reason that "I" had travelled to Scotland in the first place. It was easy for "Me" to set aside my art perspective and interests... to share in celebrating Allison's academic achievement and to share time with "Her"... as a family to do so.

As "I" had previously shared with you... Allison's Mother and I are divorced... but both of us love "Her dearly... and have contributed together in her early years.... then both separately... and now together for this very important moment in her life... and ours as well. This was certainly an awkward period for us all... but we all shifted away from differing personal perspectives and celebrated from one single view... to celebrate and acknowledge this pinnacle in Allison's academic journey.

This was accomplished with great pride... love and dignity for all. Even "the enemy" in former years can be seen in a different light... given that one is ready and willing to look at things from a different point of view. "I" personally came away with a sense of "liberation". My tolerance and compassion allowed "Me" to in many ways find forgiveness for my Self... for my role in the unhappy process we had all experienced."I" truly hope that "They" came away with some of that feeling as well...

Perhaps "You" might think this "too personal" to share in an art blog. "I" do not. It seems to "Me" that we are all human beings. We all share the potential to both experience and demonstrate feelings of anger... hatred... shame... unworthiness, etc directed at times towards "Others"... but at other times, we even project it on to our Selves.

The ability to shift perspectives... not only in our art... but in our personal lives and relationships as well is a mighty tool with which to dispel and control negative and destructive emotions such hatred and anger. Choosing to "shift" one's perspective is the starting point for developing a practice.... that just keeps building and building... one event upon another... to reduce and eliminate negative emotions and responses.

Instead of focusing most of our thoughts and energies upon the negative... or on the misdirected belief that "You" alone are suffering... or are hurt.... simply look about "You". "I" am always able to see a worse situation that allows "Me" to proceed more gratefully... and ready to address the problem... with a fresh... more positive ... "point of view".

Our mutual celebration... is "I" think... evidence enough to suggest that this can indeed be achieved.

Good Painting... and "shifting"... to All!

New Horizons.... and Shifting Perspectives - Part Three

This will be the last post dedicated to the "idea" of "shifting perspectives". "I" could easily push further with this topic. I personally find it to be an essential ingredient and tool in my own attempt to move forward. Examples for its application are endless... in either your artistic or personal lives. I will leave it with each of you to consider further should you wish to. I sincerely hope that the topic offers each of "You"... "food for thought" and application to your own lives ... if you see value in any part of it.

Yet another "shift"... this time in my sketching process. For the duration of the trip I decided to use only pen and ink as my medium. Employing the watercolour require extra time and consideration... and meant carrying along extra weight to support the watercolour process. I took copious photo references... and through the previous watercolour experience... "I" developed a "feel" for the environment... it's light and its colour.

I had been contemplating beginning this post from a very different perspective... but that "perspective"... has been "shifted" by a thought-provoking comment from Katherine in response to Part One. Her thoughtful comment triggered this "shift"... so Katherine... "Thank You"... for helping to constructively redirect and refocus my thoughts and my writing in this post!

Her comment read as follows:

"You're definitely going to come home with a slightly different outlook on the world after traveling so far from home. What a fun adventure!"

The key phrase... "a slightly different outlook" led "Me" to read and reread her comment until "I" responded:

"Travel... as I am suggesting in today's post changes one's own perspective about the worlds of "Others"... but more importantly, it "shifts" one's own (often smug... even arrogant) perspective by expanding one's tolerance and understanding of differences... and most certainly in my own case causes "Me" to reflect more carefully upon my own goals... my motivation... and the very rich blessings that exist in my "ordinary"... seemingly "everyday" life... at "Home".

Perspective can be defined as a change of vantage point... or a change of view. Within this definition lies a state of double entendre or intended meaning.

On a purely physical or concrete level... we, as landscape artists continually make use of the term "perspective" in reference to selecting a suitable place from which to paint a subject that interests us. In selecting this "place" or "view"... we usually go through a ritual or practice of looking over... or considering several possibilities before commencing the act of painting. One can then understand and accept that in the beginning... there exists several possibilities. What comes to the fore in my own thinking is the question. Why one vantage point or view over all of the others?

"I" firmly believed that these choices are based primarily upon one's preferences that are developed by previous life experiences... reading... pictures viewed over your lifetime.... outside influences amassed... analyzed... considered and used as motifs and compositional devices over and over again.

As well... there is a shift from the outward or concrete subject... to an inward "conversation" of sorts with the Self.It is through this spiritual interface that one is drawn to a certain point of view... or "perspective. That inner choice will again be tied to very personal interests in form... colour... play of light or mood.

Here lies my contention that one must constantly be ready to shift gears... to embrace the possibility of the challenge of change. To risk untried media... subject matter... techniques and influences such as plein air painting, figure drawing,still life, printmaking, sculpture and portraiture. In being willing to experiment... one grows and one finds an appreciation for the the infinite realm of... "Possibility".

Journaling With Paint is my own painting and literary device combined for "shifting perspective". The title itself is again a model of double entendre. The title and the focus of this blog is to demonstrate that we, as artists... are telling similar yet different stories using paint and also in words. We distill the essence of our very different worlds and perspectives we have in our separate daily existences into a common language that requires no Rosetta Stone to decipher. Each painting is a page from our lives that says who we are... what we feel and what we think.

Is there any failure in any painting made? "I" believe not! Only "You" are capable of creating that body of work... or journal... that says:

"I" lived and made full use of my Time given!
"I" ... am blessed and feel gratitude for that gift!

In closing this post... one last shift in perspective! Happy Canada Day to all Canadian Friends... and to my American artist Friends... a Safe and Happy 4Th of July!

Good Painting to All!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

New Horizons... and Shifting Perspectives- Part One

I arrived back in Canada on Monday... very enriched from my Scotland sojourn... yet exceedingly happy to be ..."Home". When "I" first arrived in Scotland... and was unpacking my luggage in my single room at the Yorkston Bed and Breakfast in St Andrew's... "I" discovered a decorative handcrafted envelope. It contained a beautiful and uplifting card designed and created by my Wife and Soul Mate Deb. It read:

Where we love is Home-
Home that our feet may leave,
But not our hearts.
-Oliver Wendell Holmes

These sentiments did not at all make "Me" feel homesick. They were in fact, uplifting words from Deb that both empowered and propelled "Me" forward comfortably and fearlessly... knowing that "Home" was in my heart... and that "Home" was within reach at any given moment. "I" knew too, that there was a warm Home and "Heart" awaiting my return when this adventure into a new... exciting and very different world was complete.

Despite being greatly fatigued after a seven hour flight... a 0445 arrival at Glasgow Airport... combined with a three hour lay over at the Buchanan Bus Terminal and a three hour bus coach trip to reach St Andrew's, I unpacked quickly and launched out into the university town of St Andrew's in search of adventure... and of course... painting material!

What awaited "Me" was indeed adventure and a virtual dream world for a plein air painter. Everywhere I looked... ancient and magnificently crafted stone architecture... cobbled streets... and students in university blazers... kilts... "coats/capes of many colours"... heading every-which-way it seemed. "I" was engulfed in a sea of new sounds... smells and faces... adrift from my usual surroundings... in a strange world (for "ME")... a world lying in description... somewhere between Fantasyland... and Harry Potter!

Purely "Magical".... in every sense of the word!

"I" toured about... purely exploring... feeling... seeing... smelling... never worried about destination...or GPS location. Much like hunter-gatherer societies... I "walked about"... discovering... uncovering resources that "I" could later count on for all of my needs. Restaurants... post office... art supply store... library (FREE Internet and email service)... water closets (toilets)... gift shops for souvenir purchases... bus stops and schedules to various destinations of interest...and most importantly... potential painting sites like the old fishing harbour.

All of these new influences left my head and my hands swimming in uncertainty... as "I" tried vainly to settle down to work. Just as the sudden eruption of bright rich fall colours seem to disorient my painting process... so did this strange new landscape and architectural plethora of exciting painting opportunities. Even the light and colour were very different because of the difference in geographical position. All of these changes presented the challenge of creating an entirely different "point of view"... or "perspective" for my Self... and "I" had to shift away from my usual process... and adjust to these changes... and with haste!

I found a convenient restaurant... ate and I retired to the quiet of my room and tried to digest what I had seen... to get a good night's rest and to formulate a plan to be followed on the next morning. Before turning in...I decided to get an early start and to head up the coast to Crail... a popular and picturesque fishing village located less than an hour by bus coach from St Andrew's.

The weather was perfect! Nearly cloudless skies... bright sunlight and cool temperatures made the trek enjoyable and productive. I managed to cram in many photo references and still managed to make the two nice painterly sketches... combining pen and ink with quickly applied watercolour washes that accompany this post. "I" was met with much enthusiasm and interest by both locals and tourists alike during the painting periods. It always seems that one meets the very best of people when one is painting on location. "I" personally enjoy the interaction with people "I" meet and feel little distraction by most. I consider I have a role to share my passion for painting with anyone who shows genuine interest. "I" also believe that knowledge is meant to be communicated... used and to be shared - not to be withheld for personal betterment alone. That's the belief that "I" work under - choices, "I" guess!

In closing Part One... "I" encountered my first real need to "shift perspectives"... while on the flight travelling to Scotland. Having left Toronto on a 5:30 pm flight... we had passed over Quebec and Labrador... heading on our flight path over Iceland just as the sun was setting on the horizon. How strange "I" found it... that the sun seemed to halt its descent at the horizon... and for the next couple of hours... it was again rising... with absolutely no period of night in between! What does such a phenomenon do to one's "perspective? Shifted it for sure! Within three short hours that perspective would be shifted yet again... by the new world "I" found my Self parachuted into... and with the very same degree of disorientation.

Stay tuned for Part Two... which will further describe yet more "shifts in perspective"... with the celebration of Allison's Convocation at St Andrew's College-my real reason for the trip to Scotland!