Sunday, July 31, 2011

Summertime Dreams...

"Summertime Dream is the title of a popular 1976 Gordon Lightfoot album and also a summer anthem/song favourite of mine. Back in October of 2002, I created a solo show for a prominent gallery around this title and a number of the cuts from this remarkable album.

Lightfoot captures the essence of being "Canadian" in my mind. His soulful lyrics embody my own personal feelings of pride for a beautiful and diverse landscape... and a cultural mosaic of immigrants seeking a new life and freedom in a tolerant land of opportunity and possibility.

Summertime is truly a time for dreaming... and dreaming belongs unquestionably to children who are free from the arduous demands of school classrooms... and parental work schedules. It is a time for outdoor activity without the burden of heavy clothing. It is the time for beach bumming... fishing... hangin' with friends... going to cottage and camp... and taking the much anticipated annual family vacation trip.

In short... Summertime is a time for Adventure. A time to catch fireflies... roast marshmallows... pick blueberries for free... a time hike and explore. A time for the Peter Pan in "You"... to let Tink outta your pocketand play... and be your own Child... if "You" dare!

We spend so much of our lives "acting our age"... and responding out of shame to: "Grow up!" In short... as adults we are expected to surrender too soon... the very most precious and innocent part of our lives to conform to expectations of an often dismal... demanding and discouraging world where competition... money... influence and status govern every aspect of daily life.

I have always valued my "Child within"... and protected it from rakes that would try to pry it away from "Me" or devalue it. I let that child out to play when I feel he is safe... and in the company of other like-minded individuals. I travel with Friends who remain so from my earliest life... and "know" immediately and embrace those who also dare to live by the creed.

The two large paintings that I wish to share with you in this post are special paintings for "Me"... and the Family who commissioned me to paint them. I was given some rather obscure photo references and the free agency to create them both as I saw fit.

The two places were favourite two favourite vacation places for these four people. Both are located on Prince Edward Island... and I had visited these places myself... so it was easy to create the ambience that would carry our shared love of these places.

Both paintings progressed without difficulty. They "painted themselves"... is the term I often use for this piece of luck. Right from the initial pen and ink sketches to form the composition from multiple photo images through to adding the final details... they simply revealed themselves without difficulty.

Upon meeting the two girls and their mother, I immediately felt the energy of my own "child within" resonate with their youthful exuberance and joie-de-vivre. Even the figures and the interaction amongst them seemed to summon and include "Me".

Both of these images appear side by side in my book "Two Voices-Paintings With Poetry of AW Bruce Sherman. Both are accompanied by a poem that I felt compelled to write and include to register my feelings about the content... and how they somehow applied to my own youth.

The first painting is entitled "The Shell Seekers" an oil on panel and measures 12x36 inches.

The Shell Seekers

Three kindred spirits


On a wind-swept shore.

Seeking shells...

No conjuring up fantasies of doubloons and lost treasure -


Three kindred spirits


On a path called Life.

Seeking meaning...

And a sense of connection -


Three kindred spirits


"One" with each "Other"

Their Creator...

And the Universe -


The second painting , entitled "Soaring" is an oil on canvas measuring 36x48 inches and pictures the two girls heading off... pails in hand to beach comb at their favourite summertime vacation haunt.


Clouds soaring...

Slip-sliding gulls effortlessly wind dancing

Spirits skipping -

Drawn to the storm-littered beach,

Heady with visions of filling pails with waiting buried treasure,

Pirate booty soon to be claimed as their own!

Free to explore a world beyond adult reach -

Free to learn lessons that only Nature can teach.

Free to be the children they're entitled to b

Free to be the children

We once used to be.



I was to discover only when the three came to pick up the finished paintings a truth in their lives that I had not imagined. The man in the Shell Seekers... so a part of their adventure and happiness was not their birth father. Their dad had been killed in a tragic automobile accident. The mom was overcome with joy that I had captured correctly the natural way that these girls and their new dad had grown together... despite the tragedy.

The Universe is a mysterious place. It often reveals itself in strange... but worthwhile ways. This was one of those occasions for all of us in this chapter. "I" am deeply proud of these two pieces... and that they will each belong to one of those girls later in life to recount these special childhood moments. Making paintings and Art is not always about money... or about perfection. Mostly... it is about capturing emotion and special moments... and sharing!

"The Pony Man"... another of my Lightfoot favourites was written for his children Freddie and Ingrid. Although they would listen to his songs... they were not "into" either his on-the-road- a-lot life or his lyrics. As Lightfoot so rightly puts it: "Kids don't really care what you do do; they just want to be with you."

These two paintings and the lives of these family members offer testimony to this important message!

Farewell to July!

Happy Summer to all!... and your Families!

Sweet Summertime Dreamin'....

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Putting Summer... on a Pedestal

"Putting Summer on a Pedestal" - 0il on board 24x20 inches -SOLD

The title for today's post and jpeg really highlights the feelings of most northerly-residing Canadians and Americans. Summer is a brief respite from the long winters of darkness and cold... and the necessary swaddling of the body in layers of clothing to simply carry on daily lives outside of the home.

Most of us expect a lot of this season and the warmth and sunshine it brings us. We plan long-awaited trips holidays around it. We plant gardens and crops...count on a limited number of frost-free days to bring our efforts to full bloom and harvest. Many of us look forward to hopefully endless days of sunshine and warmth to travel about painting outdoors. We truthfully do live... and look with "Great Expectations" to these few days to offset those many days of confinement and restriction. Little wonder that we place summer on a pedestal... despite the fact we have been taught ... even learned that such a practice usually turns into disappointment... and in the extreme cases... resentment.

This summer has been one of those summers which like a petulant child constantly has challenged our patience with its erratic behaviour and non-pattern turbulent displays. In many parts of Canada and the US summer has created havoc and disastrous conditions with hail... flooding... twisters... record-breaking temperatures and the distinct possibility of deep and lasting drought in some areas.

But despite all of the erratic displays... cruel and disappointing displays that we have witnessed during our summer here in North America... we need look no further than the helpless and defenceless inhabitants of Somalia in Africa... or the entire nation of peace-loving Norway to put an end to our feelings of being "hard done by".

Each of us should look deeply into our hearts and be thankful for the blessings that we continue to enjoy.. and if we are able... reach deeply into our pockets with whatever we can afford to offer to help offset the rapidly escalating misery of millions of desperate brothers and sisters... who are beyond being able to provide for themselves.

In so doing... we can perhaps truthfully put our summer on a pedestal for the whole world to "See"... admire and emulate. We can put a part... no matter how small of our summer harvest... on the tables of these unfortunates... to give them Hope!

"We" are greatly blessed.... and blessings are best appreciated when they are shared!

Rich summer blessings ... and Good Painting to ALL!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summer... In Transition

"Summer in Transition" - oil on canvas 24x24 inches SOLD

Summer seems highly unpredictable and extreme in most every part of the world at the moment. Here... as in many other parts of Canada and the US a " heat dome"has created abnormally high temperatures and resulting withering conditions for crops... livestock and people in both rural and urban centres.

We are desperately in need of rain in our area. Crops are stunted... hospitals are overwhelmed with critically ill patients who have been effected by prolonged exposure to this oppressive week of extreme temperature. Tourists are staying put and are wisely... not travelling about - as am I.

Nearly all of you in the blogging world who are suffering from this are finding your own unique ways to "stay cool". I have spent a good amount of time doing indoor jobs like cleaning up my palettes... neglected after a session of painting. Certain pigments dry overnight causing them to skim over... making them unsuitable for me to work... with even a day later.

I also finished up some of my gallery wrap canvases by painting them around and beyond each edge to extend the image in proper perspective. This eliminates a need for a frame... unless the client wishes one.

I also have gotten into reading some of the books I had started and had to set aside... in the cool of our air conditioned bedroom in the evening and the early morning before my walk. So ... I am busy and feel a sense of accomplishment... despite my absence... for the past few days from being at the easel.

I have learned from many years of being "out there" that the sun of today is more punishing to one's skin than earlier. My three trips to my skin specialist over the past ten years to have pre-cancerous basal cells removed... has lit up the warning on my dash board. Sun block#60 is what I run about smeared with... covered by long sleeved shirts and pants... a good hat and cover under a trusty shade tree to work under. Take heed!

My reading and listening to my favourite radio programmes triggered a couple of ideas that seemed to fuse together my thoughts about painting en plein air. You already know how very much I believe in the power of outdoor painting to enrich and promote one's artistic growth. The value gained through plein air strange as it might seem is revealed through the words of an old favourite sacred song from an old Presbyterian Hymn book:

This is My Father's World, and to my listening ears

All nature sings, around me rings

The music of the spheres.

This is my Father's world, I rest me in the thought

Of rocks and trees, of skies, of seas,

His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father's world, the birds their carols raise;

The morning light, the lily white,

Declare their Maker's praise.

This is my Father's world, He shines in all that's fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,

He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father's world; O let me ne'er forget

That though the wrong seems oft so strong,

God is the Ruler yet.

This is my Father's world the battle is not done,

Jesus, Who died, shall be satisfied,

And earth and heaven be one.

Though my own Spiritualism rests in no particular pew... nor in the hands of any earthly man... it rests in my heart and soul and in my belief in a Creator... and Creation. My Faith knows neither liturgy nor man-made dogma. It is pure... personal and allows for freedom of thought and practice that seeks no permission to be adhered to.

Like my own education and artistic process, my sense of spiritualism is somehow eclectic... borrowing from many sources in Western and Eastern religions. But most of my deepest spiritual thoughts derive from my interaction and observance of the Natural World... where "I" feel most that "I" belong and am at peace.

In "seeing" and understanding the mysteries of life on so many levels as they reveal themselves to "Me"... I have gained a non-denominational belief system that embraces birth... transition... death and renewal. The Natural World is my Cathedral in which "I" worship... give praise and thanks... each and every time that I am in it to commune and to paint its glory.

I see this pattern of living in every species... from humans to fauna and flora. I see it in the heavens and in the seasons. This reality is confirmed for "Me" in every corner of the landscape... in every country that I have been fortunate to visit. The Universe... and Life contain and describe mysterious yet magnificent cycles... ongoing dramas... beyond human control or comprehension... fortunately so in my mind!

The painting from the past that I am sharing today is entitled: Summer in Transition. The transition of summer in it is measured and is documented in time by the appearance of summer wildflowers as they appeared to me. The Summer season's passing can be observed and understood in terms of their appearance... within days... each and every summer. They are in fact, a floral clock measuring the hours of summer ... from beginning to end.

Human life can be seen to follow the same cycle from fragile birth... to the bloom and promise of adolescence... to the withering of spirit and body in age and in the earthly finality of eventual passing... to who knows where. What is important is Faith. Faith in your Self... your "work"... your Family... your Friends... and in "Possibility".

"I" choose to believe in the possibility of a continuance of life... in some form... beyond my comprehension despite having spent a lifetime searching for answers. "I" require no guarantee of "Life insurance" by strict adherence to one doctrine. I place my Faith in my own actions throughout my life... to live sharing... in service of my fellow man and my choice to live actively in the Now... in the present.

I have sought my own Redemption for my many misdeeds... by making right the wrongs... as I was able with those who were wronged by them. I seek no forgiveness beyond that... nor do I believe that I will be held accountable beyond my own private "acts of contrition".

Though this post does indeed weigh in more heavily with "lofty thoughts", I feel that perhaps given the posts I have lately read that seem discouraged with their lives... this post offers insight into how "I" find Peace and deal with the natural rhythm of the "ups n' downs of daily life. I offer its content as food for thought... and not ...the Gospel according to St Bruce! HA HA!!!

Summer is... and always has been a time of reflection about the blessings of my life and the richness of Creation. "I give thanks for these blessings - they are many and my blogging friends are amongst these! Thank "You"... each... for tuning in....

Happy Summer and Good Painting to ALL!

Stay cool...keep shinin'... and smilin'...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Heat Wave Here!.... No end in sight!... But some "Cool" as well!

We have been subject to an intense and unusually unseasonable July heat wave here in our area. Only a complete fool would venture outside to paint in these temperatures... even in the shade! I am now allergic to the sun... having overdosed in UV from years of painting in weather that was equally punishing. Fool hardy is the word that come to mind! Whenever I am out... I lather on 60 level sun block... and look for a large elm "umbrella" to set up under! HA HA!

Last Saturday evening... my large quadriptych... "The Magnificence of Algonquin Through the Seasons" - 6 feetx 12 feet (bottom jpeg) was featured at the Grand Opening for The Point Gallery in summer community Big Bay Point, located east of Barrie on the shores of Lake Simcoe. The owners Nicola Sammeroff and her husband Jonathan Cohen hosted a cocktail party for a special list of invited guests from the summer home and cottage community of which they and their family are long time residents.

They asked Deb and I to attend... and asked if I would entertain the idea of conducting a painting demonstration to introduce their clients to me and my work. I agreed... and after some soul-searching... decided to use a recent sketch as the impetus for that demonstration. I chose the recently posted "Summer Zephyr, Wolfe Island"... a 12x16 inch canvas (jpeg 2nd from bottom)... I felt that this subject "raised up" to a larger studio format that evening... would give an accurate picture of how I take my plein air studies to the studio format and higher level of focus and finish.

I selected a 24x30 inch black t0ned canvas and followed the same pathway as the quadriptych. I quickly laid in the preliminary linear "map/guide"... recording only basic and very roughly laid in essentials... and then jumped into the painting process... beginning by laying in transparently stained blocks of colour so that the black area took on a sort of stained glass appearance. I let that set for about ten minutes.... and answered multiple questions from the gathering of adults and children who stood watching. You guessed it! The kids offered the most challenging and interesting questions... they always do!

I then began laying in the heavier layers of pigment gradually to a point where the black canvas was all but opaquely covered in its entirety. I added a few of the details that I intended to add in a later session... to demonstrate how one reaches the next level of finish. I heightened the lighting effects slightly... but again not entirely... wishing to save that until I was alone to concentrate and work more gradually. The entire process from black canvas to final lay in... as seen in (2nd jpeg from top) began at 7:15 pm... and ended at 8:40 pm... just as the evening light was fading. A great time to bring things to a halt.

Although the quadriptych is as yet unsold... I had two seriously interested couples... who have both the money and the space to own it... should they wish to do so. But more importantly... the word "Magnificent" was uttered over and over again from adults who value fine art... and from children who respond truthfully and "call it as they see it". This validates my very reason for creating the piece. My painting created the very same awe on this wall... so very far away from Opeongo Road in Algonquin Park and the deep feelings of respect for this wilderness... as it does in me ... always! Sold... unsold... it doesn't matter. It's that it "is"... and has been completed!

The last jpeg shows the finished Painting entitled "Windswept July Meadow, Wolfe Island, Ontario -oil on canvas 24x30 inches....( as the jpeg shown at the top). You can note that this painting has been "revised"... intentionally. The sketch will remain in my possession... the painting will be on the block... and hopefully sold.

My painting... and Deb and I met new friends and gained a feeling that our combined vision and efforts are worthwhile. In this very sad and discouraging economy... any "leg up" sustains Faith and Optimism. We all need a large dose of that in these trying times!

Back to the easel!

Good Painting to all!

Friday, July 15, 2011


Aside from... and accompanying the before-mentioned gift and blessing of music that "I" was endowed with by my parents and family... "I" was blessed with the gift of "The Smile"... and the "gift of the gab." I say this without any intent to be funny... or to add humor.

These three gifts have carried "Me" siblings and families through each moment of all of our journeys, either as individuals or as extended family. These gifts have brought us together in joy... carried us beyond sadness and yielded acceptance for each one of us in the presence of unique situations with groups and situations that we meet in our varied daily existences.

I have grown to better understand the power and value of these gifts, as they have applied to my own journey up to the Present. We as a family are known... and I believe are respected and enjoyed as "people", simply because we enjoy... no revel in creating and taking part in opportunities that provide conversation/ discussion... story-telling... joking... teasing...performing... laughter and "all things good" on this planet - Art... Music... Dance... Literature.

Smiles play more of an integral part in daily lives... than frowns. Speaking generally... I would offer that we are each... in our own unique fashion... cheerful human beings... and that cheerfulness was inherited more likely more through Nurture... than through Nature.

We certainly did have our family "moments"in those early years as all families do... and we still do still do from time to time. However, I believe that all of us have found our own doses of Happiness... Success and Acceptance because of the gifts offered and modelled earlier in our parents' home.

"I" was truly blessed to have received these gifts. They have more worth and value to "Me" than "things or personal wealth. To live in one's earliest years in the midst of song... laughter and to know that your "Voice" matters and is valued prepares a child to commence his or her human journey filled with Hope... Tolerance... Generosity... Compassion... and Courage. These values form the value set that not only promotes Self-esteem... but as importantly, also the respect for the Self of "Others" as well.

An authentic Smile... capital "S" fully intended and heavy on the meaning of "authentic"... is a powerful tool and each of us, as Human Beings possesses the capability to create one. We are the only species which can! That smile has the potential to open closed doors... to bring joy.. even to disarm anger and fear. A simple... authentically given Smile along with Music and Art knows no borders... translates the same meaning in all languages... requires no intellectual or developmental capacity to be understood... absorbed... and passed forward!

In closing, I offer a few of my own images that make "Me" Smile.... and... the beautiful lyrics of a favourite song. It gives me comfort and Joy to share these images... and to posit... that these "Smiles"... on canvas will be smiling on someone... perhaps years after my own smile has vanished from earthy existence. Is that not at least some form of immortality? Enough for "Me"!

The Universe is mysterious and conspires to offer opportunity... if "You" listen and risk acting. Each of the selected paintings were purchased by clients who like "Me" and my family
smile and laugh as a matter of fact. I think that they were attracted by the "Smile" feeling that is imbedded in each of these pictures... more strongly than the subject matter itself. In any event... at present they each currently reside in smiling households! May that be always true!


Music by Charlie Chaplin, Lyrics byJohn Turner and Geoffrey Parsons

Performed in 1954 by Nat King Cole

Smile though your heart is aching

Smile even though it's breaking

When there are clouds in the sky,

You'll get by

If you'll smile through your fear and sorrow

Smile and maybe tomorrow

You'll see the sun come shining through to you.

Light up your face with gladness

Hide every trace of sadness

Although a tear may be ever so near

That's the time you keep on trying

Smile, what's the use of crying?

You'll find that life is still worthwhile

If you just smile.

That's the time you must keep on trying

Smile , what's the use of crying?

You'll find that life's still worthwhile

If you just smile

Hope that my blog and my paintings add a Smile to your life... as yours do to mine!

Keep on Smiling!... and Good Painting to All!

Jpeg#1 - Summer Reliquary-oil on canvas 30x24 inches

Jpeg#2 - Summer...Simply Stated - oil on panel 20x24 inches SOLD

Jpeg#3 - Things Go Better With Coke! - oil on panel 16x12 inches SOLD

Jpeg#4 - Lost In the 60's- oil on canvas 20x16 inches SOLD

Jpeg#5 - A Demi-tasse Filled With Summer - oil on canvas 16x12 inches SOLD

Jpeg#6 - Evening Greeting at Les Eboulements - oil on canvas 20x24 inches SOLD

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Something(s) Old... and Something New!

"Summertime... and the livin' is easy"...! "Summer breeze... makes me feel fine... goin thru' the jasmine of my mind..."! "Heard it thru the Grapevine..."! And the beat goes on!

Music has been an integral touchstone for "Me" throughout my lifetime.... but never does it tug more strongly on my memory and "being"... than in summer. I can practically reenact my entire lifetime through a treasury of summer anthems.... "Classics"... that continue to be replayed im my mind...and enjoyed as well... by generation after generation. These "golden oldies" somehow manage to bridge gaps... and more lately it seems... abysses that separate young and old.

Even in the constantly morphing and competitive music industry itself... these standards resurface continually with the newest spin or tempo. Take Marvin Gaye's "Heard It Through the Grapevine" as an example. Gladys Knight and the Pips... and Creedence Clearwater revival both successfully breathed fresh life into... no resurrected that Motown Magic for yet another trip on the musical merry-go-round. I heard it while painting... "the dory" this week... cranked up the volume and boogied my way around the studio the way I did "way back when"... a zillion years ago!

Most of "You"... young uns' out... most likely can identify with my silliness... and the strengthening of artistic spirit which music activates... and sustains. Music knows no politic... crosses all barriers and never fails the create deeply emotive behaviour. In short... music can become an artist's tool... as effective or affective as any subject... brush or painting surface. Music creates mood... and out of mood comes emotion... and through emotion comes connection... artist to subject... and subject and artist's thought... to viewer!

I am offering two "Oldies"... "Classics" I believe from my own archives... along with something "New"... but not entirely... because it has its roots in my distant past. The original "Idea" for this painting was created one languid and beastly hot summer day in July... while painting en plein air on Wolfe Island opposite Kingston on Lake Ontario. Plein air adventures can create the very same memory magic as music as well... for "out there"... can be heard the sweet soft woodwind sounds of sighing pines... water music... and the choruses of sweet birdsong that rivals any instrument or human voice !

So for all of you "jammed up" souls... get "out there" and "crank up the tunes! You'll be surprised how quickly depression and blockage disappears... when the dam bursts and your creative spirit is free... once again to adventure!

Happy Summer!... Happy Listening... and Painting to ALL!

PS Jpeg #1 is Summer Zephyr on Wolfe Island oil on canvas- 12x16 inches

Jpeg#2 is Morning Has Broken, South Stonehurst, Nova Scotia - SOLD

Jpeg#3 is Heard it Thru the Grapevine oil on canvas (Triptych) 18x36 inches - SOLD

Monday, July 4, 2011

"The Eagle Has Landed!"....."

A very appropriate phrase... for a mission completed... on this beautiful sunny 4th of July Holiday! My happy thoughts of good will are sent to all of my American followers who are celebrating... in their own significant ways across the United States!

Thanks to those who sent along encouraging comments when my drawing attempts "failed to ignite"... leaving "Me" in a circling orbit... and a bit discouraged and grabbing for straws to get back on course. Responses indicated that many of us were in the doldrums... and struggling with our separate creative spirits. Thanks too... for the many suggestions and strategies that many of you offered!

I did regain the groove... after my after supper plein air sortie to the 6th Line of Oro-Medonte. That exercise seemed to buoy up my spirits... and I have managed to complete the 24x 30 inch canvas today in fine style... with only a bit of reworking needed in the rock ledge behind the dory. I had it well lit and of a different structure... but it loomed over the dory and dominated the foreground... as shown in the upper jpeg.

I mulled it over in my mind overnight and made the final decision to make the changes shown in the lower jpeg. I think that you will agree... that the dory now has the prominence it rightly deserves... and especially after all of the suffering to make its lines authentic!

That rock structure more closely resembles the actual rock formation in Bell's Cove... layers of limestone dropping into the water. The daisies were there... the dory indeed is a well-weathered red... and the composition is... as it was or... as I care to remember it! HA HA!!! A few "licks and promises" are still to be added to tweek up values etc... but basically... done like dinner!

The title for the piece is "Morning Slipping Quietly Into Bell's Cove, Nova Scotia! I hope that you enjoy this Maritime Canada moment!

Happy 4th of July .... All!

Good Painting!... and Happy Summer!