Monday, December 31, 2012

The Sun... Also Rises!

Too much of the world's news in the past year has been focused, even in my own thoughts, upon the too frequent tragedies arising out of the 'extreme' events which have been occurring in both the human and natural realms around the world. It seemed impossible to believe further in "peace and good will unto all men." For a brief moment in my own journey, I became paralyzed... and much worse, so overcome by grief and hopelessness that life ceased to have meaning or purpose. In my own mind, I too had surrendered Hope and Optimism. Upon seeing and feeling helpless in the face of such immense upheaval and perverted natural and human events,  I found my Self locked into the depression and anxiety which seems rampant in every sector of modern society. I think I understood the "whys"... but as an individual, I felt somewhat hopeless in trying to affect any meaningful change in the course of this downward spiral... until

I have since refocused my all of attention and efforts upon the very part of the world where I most likely could more likely succeed in having some impact and measure of peace for my Self. I directed my energy... thoughts and my love towards my Family. As my last series of posts reveal, my own personal sense of Hope and Optimism has been at least elevated... and is sustained by the feeling of "belonging" which is first born... then is nurtured within this human structure. It is that core from which each human enters the world to commence their own individual journey... and it is here that moral values and principles are established which will help construct a map of sorts... to guide one on that individual and often perilous journey. Without this centre and in the absence of these values, one lacks a compass to maintain direction... and the courage to journey.

Being with my Family to celebrate Christmas, however  briefly, because each has his or her own separate Christmas path to follow in preparation for a Future (which I most certainly will never dwell in, or even perceive) has provided both Deb and I an immense sense of Peace and Joy...and has restored.... Hope! Time need not always be measured in terms of its length. The "best" of Time is more purely measured in terms of its quality... for it is within this parameter that memories are conceived... shared and retained... and by all members equally. In such a fashion... "The Sherman Christmas of the Wintry Solstice in Rockport in 2012" will be told and retold. It will most likely not be best remembered in terms of the gifts that were exchanged... though they were thoughtfully chosen and fully enjoyed by all present. But rather, it will most likely be remembered for the Family's communal efforts to overcome the adversity presented by weather and power failure.

A potentially "downer" situation and adverse conditions... which could have spelled disaster for our celebration... were reconsidered... reshaped and reshaped into an unexpected triumph and a true "Christmas Carol" for our Sherman Family. In my art... I refer to that process as "Imagineering" - daring to embrace risk and adventure to discover perhaps... a "New World." There always exists Hope... when there exists unconditional Love... at Home!

So... in closing out what has been a year of great change for Deb and I... a year that has brought forward challenges... anxieties... disappointments... elation and a whole new direction for our personal and artistic lives. I offer a portfolio of my favourite paintings to my Family and Friends in thanks for your presence over the year. I choose to salute the Past by "Imagineering" a Future... based upon these past successes. Some were created en plein air, whereas others were born in our studio. I will be "out there"as usual... but I will be painting and eager to share my work and my process with those who care to share my journey in 2013.

What best describes the term "artist" to me... is not necessarily the technical virtuosity of his or her work by itself. That is necessary... but only can arrive when time and energy have been expended. The strongest ingredient which is the "gold standard" in my definition (for what it is worth) is that an artist's work come from the heart. Matters of the heart... most always command the most attention and respect. 

In my own journey, I have made it my business to learn through visiting exhibitions and galleries... to "see" art and to interpret in my own mind how it was created... how it made me "feel"... face-to-face. I have on certain occasions been left in awe by certain works, but I will confess to you openly that I have more frequently and more deeply been left in a state of Joy... when I have been in a classroom... when I have been teaching classes and when I have visited the sites of Blogger Friends. It is in these "ordinary" places where the true spirit of creativity can be observed in action... unfettered by "rules"... fuelled by honesty and intuition - the REAL elements of a successful painting! So Paint!... Paint! Paint!

Happy New Year!... and Rich blessings of Peace, Joy, Health and Happiness to each of you!

Good Painting!.... Get "out there" Gang!
Warmest regards,

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Rockport... on Rewind... 2012 !

It seems almost surreal at times to be back living and painting here where my life really began and was shaped ... in the heart of  the Thousand Islands region. Our first year has slipped away unbelievably fast. The wonderful and still warm memories of  our hummingbird Summer and a bloom - filled garden... all staged against a vast and vitreous backdrop of ever-changing blueness, have within the space of a single month been transformed into winter whiteness against a wall of gun metal greyness. Within the past three days, Rockport... and the Paint Box Gallery Gang have found themselves quite literally knee-deep in Winter! 

Winter it would seem... has decided share our residency here in Rockport and has added... at least in one man's view... yet further beauty still  and the opportunity to make new, but changed painted views of the "New World" I discovered upon waking on December 27th! Pass the titanium white... get the winter gear ready... and where did I put those snowshoes since the move? Yes... shovelling out indeed leaves this old(er) set of muscles I carry about aching and more easily tired. But at the same time, being out in the crisp air and finding old shapes like simple masses of rocks transformed suddenly into snow sculpture somehow erases the aching. Strange... how we easily we often take the world around us... "for granite"! Winter brings wonder to children... why not adults... and especially for artists? Being "cosy"... is the easy route. But one misses what is the essence of winter... and can only be captured really by "feeling" it. 

Stay tuned!...


Who said... that snow is white? See the "River Spirits"... wispy remnants of lives lived on this magnificent River... released and set set afoot only by Winter's cold touch? Winter can become a vast and  limitless gateway to opportunity.. to the eyes of one who dares to ... "get out there"!

I will close this post out by offering what I consider are my best painting efforts here on the River during 2012. There certainly were others from other places like Algonquin Park...which could indeed have "best" attached to them as well. But I felt that it would be appropriate to highlight subjects which have helped to reshape my journey and to offer new horizons. I hope that you agree with my choices and my reasons for choosing each of them.I hope too... that you enjoy them for your own reasons. That should always be considered by the artist when he offers his work to the world he lives in!

Good Painting and rich ALL... in 2013!!!

"River Vesper" oil on canvas 30x24 inches  SOLD

This painting fully captures my feelings about and love for the River. The words Saint Lawrence and skiff used side-by-side clearly capture the very essence of the symbiotic relationship which  man continues to share with this vast River. This craft... shaped perfectly to perform so many functions in work and in leisure...  mimic the form of the First People's canoe and therefore pays homage to the original people's heritage and their presence in this special Garden of the Gods... "Manitouana."

I painted this 30x24 inch canvas en plein air on Canada Day... in my driveway... miles away from its "real" location..."The Devil's Oven" across the River near Alexandria Bay, NY. Deb and I had taken a sunset cruise aboard  The Rockport Boat Line's "Chief Shingwauk" earlier in the summer. I knew that this painting would be made... at the exact moment when it came into view. Everything was there to spell out clearly what defined the beauty of the Thousand Islands. Pristine water... the most ancient rock on the planet (Precambrian or Shield) rock and the iconic Canadian painting subject ... the majestic and wind-blown white pine which completely covered all lands on either side of the river. These features still remain the sole reason  why so many visitors from around the world choose to visit the Thousand Islands... literally in endless droves throughout each and every summer and fall.

"The Past... under full steam into the Present" - oil on canvas 11x14 inches

This smallish canvas depicts the fact that though we clearly live in the modern  Present. So much of who we are today is still dependent upon who we were... and where we came from. When we lose sight of this fact, we in fact diminish our accomplishments and surrender the opportunity and right to feel pride! The Empress reminds us of the fleets of such steam powered vessels that carried passengers and freight the full length of this vast river. The River was then in fact, the only highway. Today, this vessel carries its passengers in elegance sailing south-eastwardly down river.She begins her six day tour in Kingston, where the River leaves Lake Ontario... travelling slowly almost the full length of the River eastward to The Saguenay River end in Quebec and just shy its estuary, the Gulf of St Lawrence which leads into the Atlantic Ocean. (a distance of 1197 kilometers)

"Sunlit Path, Pine Island - oil on canvas 20x16 inches GIFTED

This painting was made totally en plein air on the island itself during a visit there during The Second Annual Plein Air Painting in Rockport event held in August of this past summer. The site is the small white framed writing refuge where John K Keats created his own wonderfully written masterpiece, "Of Time on an Island". The book chronicles the Keats family's love affair and residency on Pine Island... a residency that was bravely permanent throughout all seasons...for over a period of more than twenty years. The book led me to the Island... and the Island delivered me Fatefully into the Keats family's lives. Now... we are Friends... and this picture now hangs where it rightfully belongs... with the Keats Family on their beautiful and peaceful Pine Island! That greatly pleases "Me"!

 "Islands Sentinel" - oil on canvas 30x24 inches

A sentinel?... Simply because for well over a hundred years, this light has guided vessels safely through the maze of shoals and hidden rocks which  make this leg of the St Lawrence the most treacherous part of the River's shipping channel. As was the case with all lighthouses on the Great Lakes and elsewhere... these beacons were manned by keepers who lived either alone, or with their families continually on the island. Now... all have been automated and many are rapidly falling either into total disrepair, or worse... are being torn down. They are a link to our maritime Past... a part of the River heritage which draws the interest of tourist visitors.Is that not sufficient enough reason to preserve them? I wonder?.....

This is one of those subjects which is created in the most round about fashion for me. The original idea was recorded digitally while onboard yet another Boat Line Cruise and was re channeled into a painting indirectly during a teaching class in watercolour this past summer. In August... I again used the watercolour rendering as my reference for an evening demo for The Rockport 2012 Paint Out. I wanted to demonstrate the process whereby a larger painting can be made from information gathered from multiple sources... mediums and interpretations. Its success firmly underscores my belief that plein air and studio work can... and should work hand in hand. Much of this final stage was purely "intuitive"... pushing what "was"... into a purer artistic impression! The word "painterly" springs easily to mind!

"Dappled Light on Margo Miller's Home, Rockport"- oil on canvas 14x18 inches

This is an example of a rapidly painted plein air painting started by "blocking in coloured shapes"... as opposed to drawing. The idea is to work quickly because the lighting effect is fleeting and the light and shadow interplay is the whole essence of... and reason for making the painting. The painterly quality of the calligraphic brushwork clearly demonstrates the rule that... "a stroke laid... is a stroke stayed." The painting speaks about light and rich colour.  These are everything to "Me" in my painting process!

"The Grout's Magical Garden, Rockport" - oil on canvas 16x20 inches

This painting is "special to me for a number of reasons. Firstly... it was a "found" subject... one of those surprise experiences in painting when a subject that you have only looked at on a certain kind of day, or season... suddenly jumps out at you and begs to be painted ASAP! That occurred on a day early last summer when my painting pal, David Kay from Algonquin Park was here to visit and paint with his wife Dianne. I wanted to show David St Brendan's Church high on the bluff as a potential painting site... and so approached  the church from another pathway that I seldom use. It was along this path that I happened to glance to my right... and BANG! This is exactly what had been there...waiting to be "seen"! David loved the scene... so we both jumped into it eagerly... and this painting emerged easily... "as if almost painting itself"! I think that it captures a lot of my own joy which I shared with Deb in making our own lovely and much-admired garden at "Islandsview"! It also acused  me to reflect back to memories of my Mom's always boutiful yearly gardens at Narrow's Lane Road over fifty odd years.

"Bridging Summer, Little Hebrides Island" - oil on canvas 20x24 inches  SOLD

This painting was made en plein air as a demo for one of my classes. These classes were so very special to me. Through this experience, we have formed a larger circle of friends who now share a common passion for outdoor painting... which no doubt will be revisited next summer when they return. Ironically as well... a friendship from long ago resurfaced... out of no where. The lovely home on Little Hebrides was conceived... built and is lived in with this old Friend's wife and family. I came to discover... after he invited me over for a "get-to-know- each-other" drink and a tour of his home, that Fred Guild had been a student with his twin brother Lawrence... in grade six at Front of Yonge Elementary School in nearby Mallorytown. Both brothers are now successful business men... and share two island spaces next to each other. Neither is any less down-to-earth than they were back in the day! Good things... and folks never change... they simply flow on naturally... just like the River!

This painting was purchased by Fred as a surprise birthday gift for his interior designer wife... and now commands a place of honour up on the upper level of this beautiful modern Island gem! I am deeply honoured ... and  blessed! Painting creates so many unexpected blessings!

"Wind-swept Pine Island Retreat" - oil on toned Masonite panel

This painting was rapidly and intuitively painted at the very end of the day trip to Pine Island during the Second Annual Rockport Plein air Paint Out. I realized that I had less than a half hour before the sceduled water taxi pick up at 4:30 pm... and yet... this scene struck an immediate chord. I often carry out such exercises at the end of a winter painting foray. The cold and failing light demand a fast and immediate response... and often, one can fail to catch what one wants. But what's to be lost in trying ?????

This subject is a side view of John Keats's writing refuge... located "at the head"... as Grandson Peter Frost relates fondly. My view faces Rockport... almost directly in front of our own home Islandsview.... therefore the "connection" between the two symbolically entered into my thinking at the time! The painting again was formed by slashing in colour shapes... and then quickly with a rigger as last act knitted the pieces together with just summary amounts of essential detail to add interest and definition. "Simply"....Painterly!!!!

"Up Cornwall Lane, Rockport" - oil on 7x5 inch toned Masonite panel

I love this little "gem" for it stands for! It was painted in less than 15 minutes with one brush... pochade box in on a fence post... panel in left hand... absolutely no brush cleaning and surrounded by a throng of many visitors taking pictures and talking in voices that I neither understood... nor listened to. In the Zone!.... Alone!... Where does Time or the World disappear to? Why can't I paint this way... every time... or at the very least ... more often?

I wonder?.....

I would like to close out this post... maybe my final post for 2012 with the words which end John K Keats's marevellous language and experience-rich autobiographical novel , "Of Time on an Island". It surely sums up in a much richer and more eloquent  fashion and...  in words rather than pigment -  very much about how I feel about my own River journey.... Past .... Present.... and Future!

"All that has happened is still happening, together with all that is happening at this moment. Nothing has changed in this always new and infinitely old center of our lives. We never feel homeless in winter because we know where we live. We live in a house on a stone in the middle of a river in the center of the world at the very heart of time."  (p.245)

Thank you Keats Family.... Magsy, Vicky, Chris, Peter and Kelsey for the honour of permitting my presence on Pine Island and in your own lives! I am deeply grateful... and blessed!

Happy New Year!
Good Health and Good Painting... to ALL!!!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Putting "Presence"... Before Presents

Merry Christmas All!...and it is indeed a "White Christmas" here in Rockport! The newly fallen snow crunches underfoot... and crisp clean air have done so much to help cleanse away the sadness and the savagery inflicted viciously upon all of us who cherish Christmas... and our children! One needn't reserve plein air experiences and enjoyment to the act of painting alone. The Natural World is a cathedral for "Me" to pray... and to worship in my own fashion in. It is also is a place of healing for "Me." It is a place to think... sort out my thoughts and to renew my will and energy to keep going when Life throws me curve balls. The outdoors remains "my still waters"... and never fails to restore my soul.

Left to right - Dad.... Andrew... Deb... (squeeze in ) Lisa... and Allison
"Auto-clicked"... by Shutterbug Allison.... in the dark!

Our Christmas in Rockport celebration got off to a "rocky" start... pardon the pun, but it turned out to be likely The most memorable Christmas that any of us will likely enjoy, simply because of the unexpected circumstances under which it had to be celebrated. It will remain so for Deb and I for certain. What a joy it was to share time with and to have my children under one roof.

To listen to laughter and to feel swaddled in the warmth of just belonging were gifts enough for everyone... and yet, to watch the excitement and joy as each offered or received their small gifts, each one either hand made or especially chosen made me reflect in the moment how the Three Wise Men might have felt after their long and dangerous quest to find and attend Christ's birth. I got the gift of gold idea... but their other gifts always seemed strange to me as a young child. Yet today, they seem "special" because both frankincense and myrrh... both aromatic incenses would be gifts befitting a king for their worth and yet be practical in a time when animal and other unpleasant smells would be the norm in everyday life.

The Three Kings had absolutely nothing over the Fab Five in Rockport

Here is an album of snaps which clearly record the spirit of our gifting.... and giddiness!

Giddiness at its worst... is "Moi".. dancing for the folks in my magically musical Christmas Tree hat... gifted to me by Lisa!

Deb... The unwrapper.... easing her way through Lisa's braided rub basketful of items for Deb and I.

Here are Tilly and Maggie..... pretty portraits I made of Andrew and Melissa's canine children

Dr and photographer Allison "Jemima Puddle Duck"... biting into our bag of handmade goodies.

Andrew... The "Andyrewster" trying to unwrap the gals

Lisa... "Bo-Bissa"... showin' off her makeup magic kit gifted by Allison

What a PhD looks like after too much Italian  prosecco.... More than Giddy!!!! Brings a whole new meaning to the term... "stoned"! HA HA!!

The photographer jumps into action... and remember... all of these photos were taken assisted by candlelight in otherwise total darkness.

Monkey see... Monkey do!.... Lisa bejewelled... and Proceccoed as well!

Me... in my woolen Scott Tartan plaid scarf from Andrew... my Grandmother (Scott) Birrell's clan tartan

Will the real "Bajan Santa" Claus in Deb's annually growing Santa collection ... Please stand up??? From guess who???

"A Family Gathering" - oil on canvas 30x36 inches - SOLD

It seems appropriate to end this family post with a painting which in my other "voice"... recognizes and salutes the presence of the family tradition... even in the Natural world. Each family grouping comprised of elders... adults and youngsters shares a similar place of origin... and common traits which traits which identify each as a family member. This painting was painted on plein air a number of years ago... in response to a thought that struck me on that particular day about the obvious (to me) similarities shared between my family and this copse of pines. The memories of those now passed... remain as strong and meaningful... though they are but a shadow of their mature selves in their prime. Their "seed" carries on... as does Life... for the Living!

A Merry  and Fruitful Family Christmas to All!

And my enduring love and thanks to my Dear Mom and Dad... "somewhere over the rainbow...." I know that you'd be proud of your family and would be thrilled to see the seeds love that you planted... still flourishing at Christmas! God bless and keep you both in His gentle hand!

And my love and thanks to Deb, Lisa, Allison and Andrew... for making our first Christmas in Rockport so memorable and special!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Wintry Solstice

By definition, and expectation... Winter Solstice is the shortest day of light in the year... while the Summer Solstice is the longest. Both were observed and were celebrated by ancient peoples as religious rituals. In Western culture, our celebration centres around Christmas... a shortened up version of its initial high religious celebration marking the birth of Christ... Christ's Mass. Candles were first used to bring light to this dark part of the year in churches and then on fir trees in the home. Today "we live better... (and decorate our trees... homes  and yards) ... electrically.

Deb and I had decided before our move to Rockport, that our Christmas celebrations were going to be reshaped dramatically and would be centred closer to home. Time has grown our wee ones into adult and young men and women and they have begun to embrace and create their own traditions... some with their own wee ones now. We will celebrate Christmas here in Rockport simply this year... alone for "the Day"... and by choice. In the past, our Christmas has always centred (as it should)... around the presence of Children... the ritual of Christmas excited morning awakening and gift exchange... and the creation of the traditional Christmas turkey dinner. That... more or less could likely describe the way most homes go about celebrating this event.

Deb and I have declined the generous and thoughtful offers by members on both sides to come for Christmas... so not... "to be alone." My youngest family members, Bryn and Liam live with their mother in Aurora... a six hour journey away near our old home of Hillsdale. Liam the oldest (18 years) has his first job at Cineplex-Odeon... and must be on tap during the first part of the holidays to man his Yogen-Fruz station. So we will be celebrating our Christmas with them later this year from January 2nd through to January 6th... and that's as it should be... still centring upon them... and on their schedule of availability.

We planned very early on, to celebrate with Lisa, Allison and Andrew here in Rockport because all live in and around this area and all would be here to celebrate. We chose December 21st... Winter Solstice as the date to get together and celebrate "The Sherman Christmas." All drove... and drifted safely to Islandsview on the wings of a winter storm... a storm that caused Rockport to be stripped of power for almost twenty-four hours. Talk about throwing a wrench into the party plans! No lights... no stove... no electrical heat... and no "Plan B"! We had agreed to cook together... each bringing a portion to support Allison's agreed upon contribution of the "turkey substitute... Grandma Sherman's beloved and simple to make and yummy Tater Gem Casserole. All brought favourite celebratory "beverages" of choice and Andrew a dessert. Sounds like a makings of a potential flop and disaster... right? Not so!

I luckily had received my delivery of firewood on Thursday and had spent an hour kindling a goodly portion for later use ... when winter might appear. So the heat problem was overcome... when the hearth again became the centre of home activity. I simply fed the hungry fireplace for the entire evening... and I rose before the rest in the morning to rewarm the frigid interior. As Allison suggested: "Just like the pioneer days!"
The food issue was a trickier problem however... given that travel was out of the question because the roads were treacherously snow-covered and icy and the "main course" Tater Gem was out of the question as a "starter" in the game. Luckily, Deb had prepared hors d'oeuvres and two salads in advance... intended to launch every one's appetite before the main course was created on site.

So simply rebuilding the menu around what was possible... adding cheese and various snacky crackers and nuts and lowering the meal expectation happily in unison... the party re assumed its celebratory mood. The planned Christmas candy making and Catan board game was as well replaced by conversation... weaving itself between deep and shallow... evolving at times to giddy and gut -bursting laughter.

In short, a Christmas celebration that could have resulted in a huge flop and disappointment...  morphed into mirth and sheer joy.This Christmas will forever be remembered as the "Wintry Solstice" Christmas... a memorable time when Modernity took a step backward and Christmas Past came forward to save the day! Thank you all... Deb, Lisa, Allison and Andrew... The eastern branch of The Sherman Family... for making this Christmas so memorable and special !

Much Peace, Love and continued rich blessings to each of you!

Merry Christmas!



Merry Christmas to ALL!!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Love is... Hope!

"Love is..." acrylic on board - 14x11 inches

This small painting holds so much meaning for "Me"... as it did for my Mom. It hangs in my studio now and will be passed on to one of my children when I decide the moment. It was painted as a Mother's Day gift for my Mom when "She" was struggling so to adjust to her the "home" where  she would spend her final days with my Dad. For both of them... leaving their home because they no longer had the health necessary to continue on there independently was traumatic... for home was everything to them. It defined them ... and everything that they derived pleasure from on the journey. For them ... "Home" was more than a house... it was a state of mind... a bastion against the outside din of the world they lived in... a haven where they could actively pursue Health ... Happiness and Freedom. In every corner, a sweet memory was couched of Christmasses long since passed... the many evenings of laughter and conversation between friends now departed. A sofa "manger"... where every newborn grandchild was first presented and welcomed into the Sherman family.

My parents were hardly saints... for they made mistakes in raising their children... as we all have... simply because no manual for parenting... instructions for assembly was available then... or came with anything other than the wisdom of parents and their experiences. We had our share of bad moments as all families will... for as long as the human species still builds nests to rear their young. However... I am and will forever be grateful  to both of them for their unconditional gift of love.... many sacrifices and the "map".... values which I have used to help guide me on my own journey. I truly hope... that if I leave my children nothing more in the way of an inheritence... it will be the knowledge that I truly loved each one of them as unique individuals adn that "I" am proud of them all... equally for their uniqueness... and their differences!

While I simply allow most  of my paintings to speak for themselves... this one is special... and seeing it hanging this morning.... just to my left in our indoor basement studio space caused me... think and  to write these words to share with my Friends. The subject of this painting comes directly from a setting and year in my life which was to become pivotal to my growth and development as an adult. This was my desk at Prince of Wales School in Brockville in Grade five. My teacher and mentor in that classroom was Miss Evelyn Mott... a teacher both revered and feared for her dedication and her high expectations of EVERY child in her care. Ironically... in her eyes... we were all "special needs students" who learned in very different ways.

Despite the fact that she was required to dispense curriculum according to an educational document (aptly) referred to as "the Grey Book"... she somehow managed to tailor it to the needs of the thirty-odd members of her class. Memory work underscored every core subject... from the Biblical Beatitudes... multiplication tables... to the required recitation by each student of iconic Canadian poems like Wilfred Campbell's "Indian Summer":
"Along the smoky hills
A crimson forest stands
And all the day a blue-jay calls
Throughout the autumn lands."

I loved this woman as a second Mother... simply because I knew and felt everyday that although she had high expectations of me... she loved me in an unusual way. She particularly recognized and honoured my predilection to draw and paint and offered art lessons to all every Friday afternoon using materials and techniques which incubated an inner creative spirit and added further to its development. Her words to me when submitting this crayon painting to the Annual Public School Hobby Show were to become the springboard which catapulted me into my lifelong pursuit of art in my personal and teaching lives... up to this very day.

" Me at Miss Mott's Apple Orchard"- crayon on manilla paper (c.1954)

This "painting"... from memory as well could well serve as my introduction to plein air painting because it is exactly in a ten year old's view of his world what lay before him. Miss Mott and her brother Harry (whom she lived with) owned an apple orchard on the northern outskirts of Brockville. They harvested and sold their "Macs" each fall and I would spend my Saturdays picking bushels of windfalls for them. I was accepted as one of their family... though neither ever married or had children of their own. My mom was not jealous of my "love" for Miss Mott... rather she encouraged it. She made special gifts like a green apron with an apple for a pocket which made Miss Mott cry when she opened it. I was always on the lookout for a way of "gifting" and repaying her for the contribution she made to my life and sense of self-esteem.

Though most good parents do in fact help develop self-worth in their children... it is the unconditional and unexpected "no stings attached" recognition of a gifted teacher which can have such a significant and often life long influence in shaping a young child's life. My journey has been blessed with such gifts... from "Givers"... who gave their all! I have made it my duty... and honour to contact as many of these individuals as I can to simply say "Thank you." I have myself received those thank yous... and each time it warms my heart and offers a sense of self worth.

In Newtown, several such individuals offered the supreme sacrifice of their lives to protect those innocents in their care. I live too far away to offer thanks to their surviving  family members and peers. But over this week, I have written posts using more carefully chosen words and thoughts than is the usual case. They are sent to offer everyone in that grieving community the gift of my "presence"... through my words. I feel your sense of loss and grief. Your loved ones have not died vainly... if their going acts as the catalyst to our countries are driven by a public outcry and a demand ....that these too numerous needless and obscene tragedies end.

If  Heaven and God do exist... and my Faith and Hope continues to believe so... Miss Mott and these individuals lost far too soon and wretchedly will already be in Paradise... for no other reason than the fact that lived and died... embraced in Love. Therefore...  Hope and Forgiveness can survive and offer an epitaph that we must all remember... and honour in our daily lives!

Give Love a chance! I send mine... unconditionally and fully. Let... "Love lift us [all] up to where we [all]... can  belong" !

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Return to Light... As the Winter Solstice Approaches

Much of my personal and painting life revolves around set rituals. It always has. All of my children teasingly call me "the morning man." My habit of rising early each morning is something that I look forward to... for a number of reasons. This habit is a part of who "I" am... and it continues to offer me the opportunity to be alone with my thoughts... a time to sort out... think and to plan my day's activity... without interruption. I consider this time to be meditation... and act of seeking connection to one's spiritual core.

Since moving to Rockport last April, my mornings... usually commencing around five am have been particularly uplifting... given the ever-changing sunrise pageants which have occurred almost daily and without fail to date. No two sunrises have been the same. Usually, I find myself down on the riverside patio or dock to sitting... watching and listening to the sights and sounds... as each dawn arrives. Lately, as the days have grown shorter... and the sunrise arrives later... Deb is "up"... and  has joined with me to enjoy this spectacle... and the to enjoy the  clock work arrival of the winter birds to our feeders... together. Their lives too... are governed by light. This shared ritual is such a great start to our day!

Light is such an important part of my being. It is the essence of my artistic pursuit and affords me emotional and spiritual balance to go out into life... happy... and in peace. I have observed that light governs and directs most life... whether it be human... animal or plant. Watching our recently purchased amaryllis emerge suddenly before our eyes and rocket to over a foot in height and now a bloom... reminds us of the power of the sun's  light and the dependence of all living things upon this source.

There are so many blessings around us that we fail to recognize as such... or to embrace as tools to aid us in our individual searches to find Peace... Purpose and a Personal Perspective of Truth. The Natural World offers so many of these simple blessings. There exist special people whom we meet in our lives, who can help us to shape higher and more realistic goals, through their positive mentoring and advice. There are personally conducted activities such as reading, writing, music and painting which in themselves teach us more about ourselves... and capabilities which we never dreamed we had. "Light"... takes many forms and comes from many sources... if one opens their eyes to... Possibility!

Children are such a source of "Light." Their thirst for knowledge is a constant force. Their search for Truth and adventure is without inhibition or fear of failure. Those sad qualities will be "taught and caught"... mainly and sadly from adults as they journey. I derive great pleasure and hope from watching them learn. My own life force remains high... and open to their exuberance and optimism. We can serve as lighthouses... to encourage empower children in our lives to use their gifts and talents to become "the best... that they can be! Imagine your Self a human source of "Light." Christmas and Winter Solstice together create a meaningful and timely moment to share your own "Light."

Recently, we have born sad witness to seemingly hopeless and absolutely obscene tragedy that has unfolded in what could been in any home town or city in either America, or Canada. Newtown was an "ordinary" haven...we believed... where "the pursuit of Life, Liberty and Happiness"... was the unalienable right of all citizens and presented itself as a "work in progress." Today... twenty-eight innocents have grotesquely been robbed of their precious and lives full of now... unfulfilled promise... and these prescribed Constitutional rights. It was NOT the doing of one disturbed and twisted "killer... shooter... evil misfit"... acting  alone. Paradoxically... it was all of us in society... who by our silence and our pursuit of material things, allowed one victim himself to point that gun and render unimaginable... unforgivable savagery and endless tragedy.Oh yes... and no one saw it coming?????

Here in Canada, we are currently flirting with the possibility and spectre of this same tragedy occurring in one of our own schools. The current upheaval in our education system... driven by a stand off between provincial government, teacher unions and school boards has removed  both curricular and extra-curricular support for students in both educational panels. Students have undertaken "walkouts" to protest this travesty and disruption to their educational lives... their future... and ironically... our own! Until now, their actions are to be admired and encouraged. They have an unalienable right... to be educated in the best possible way our society can provide. Will that continue to be so?.... I wonder... and worry!

But I refuse to surrender Hope... or to remain quiet! The human mind, when coupled with the will and spirit to overcome can prevail. However, in this particular tragedy... "the gun"... was pointed back at a school.. and its innocents. Within "Me"... and I lived daily in a school where violence was a daily helping... heaped upon innocent children... there returns the rage that almost consumed me ... way back when... and forced me to leave the classroom... and my mission!

I cannot... will not... allow myself to fall back down into that black abyss... for I could never garner the strength to climb back out again. It is a simple act... to set aside gifting... painting... anything else and to email or write to your own government representatives to voice your wish for a change to gun ownership. As well, respond to actively ensure that your child's educational opportunities are maximized. Share your light... it takes but a few moments of time to do so.

Where there exists "Light"... there exists Hope! The "Power of One.... is real. Change begins with each of us... "You" ... in your small corner... and "I" in mine!"

"Let there be .... Light!"
"Let your Light so shine before your fellow men...." We cannot fail to act for our children! They have no one else... or the power really, to do so!

Good Painting to ALL!!!... Shine on!

Here are but four of the many morning sunrises I have experienced....



Lighthouse in Rustico, Prince Edward Isand - oil on panel 20x24 inches SOLD

This was the subject of an earlier Christmas card of mine. In its initial form... it was a pencil drawing completed on a family vacation to the Maritimes... then morphed into a pen and ink rendering on blue card stock with red colour here and there for accent and silver ink to add sparkle. One hot summer day in Hillsdale, I came across the card as I searched and cleared out files. I was immediately drawn to "have another go" at this subject. It so speaks again... universally... of the warm and comfort of a community... governed by "Light" and Peace.

It might have another go... on a larger scale in the New Year! I know that the current owner of this painting... and many more of my favs won't mind... because he loves lighthouse paintings... and John... "You" always have the "first right of refusal"! Do come and visit... we so enjoyed our suummer visit with Ann and "Special Girl" here in Rockport!

Good Painting to ALL!!