Friday, February 8, 2013

"Stick handling"... through my morning malaise

I awoke bright eyed and bushy tailed earlier than usual this morning... anxious to get on with my next challenge. It was by far too early an hour to make out anything other than the fact that a good deal of the forecasted  15 centimeter snowfall was already on the ground... and still falling heavily. That certainly would put a wrench in my plan to get out to paint... even in the van by the deeply snow-covered appearance of Front Street. Down to "The Bunker" I trundled to work out a Plan "B." I knew that there would be much more than just the sheer presence of that snow to get in the way of my planned trek. There would be that long driveway to clear by hand... before any attention could be given to the painting challenge for Day#8. Getting the jump on that depth of snow is important... while it is fluffy and light. As the load increase, the bottom layer warms and gets heavy, making shovelling gruelling... and dangerous for this ol' timer!

After breakfast, I hurried out and completed the shovelling and at the same time I brought in the firewood for tonight's "cracklin' fire" in our airtight living room fireplace. We so enjoy the heat from that new addition to our lives... and it will indeed reduce our electrical consumption in these heavy cold months of January through March. I had to mail out the portrait to Suzanne Berry and picked up Deb's "daily" and her crossword puzzle that she enjoys so much. End of errands for today... and not even a walk out into that weather again. It was whiteout conditions all the way to Lansdowne and back... schools and businesses have shut down - life in this part of the world has ground to a sharp halt... till this vicious winter storm relents.

I returned to the downstairs studio... grudgingly, I admit and  in a bit of a pout really. I was so looking forward to the site and an outdoor trip. What to do... was still far from resolved... and I was tired from the shovelling. Sooooooooooo... I laid down on the living room couch and surrendered quickly to the malaise and fatigue I was feeling. Fifteen minutes later... I awakened, totally refreshed and... with an"idea"for today's challenge. I had decided to use a strategy which often pulled my --- out of the grinder when my classroom was uncooperative and cranky. "When you're  having a bad day... it's time to play" would be the order of business. It never failed to resuscitate a bored or disgruntled class of cranky kids... and it had worked for this pouty painter on many other similar failed forays.

I decide to use the "stick trick" with pen and ink to kick start the session on an untoned pure white gessoed 8x10 inch panel. The challenge this time would be to create the painting by commencing with a loosely drawn ink rendering... using a simple twig... one end pointed and the other cut chisel-like for broader strokes. I chose as my subject, a very old Victorian boathouse... mouldering into the ground at Mallorytown Landing east of Rockport on The Parkway. Despite its deterioration, it retained a jaunty gaiety and still hung on after 100 years or more of riverside service - a fine subject for this intuitive undertaking.

My jpegs taken at the beginning and end best describe the process.. so I'll check out for now with the written commentary... and simply let you view the pictures. Keep in mind... that I am making NO attempt to make this an accurately rendered type of drawing. It is more a caricature, a kind of rendering which actually accentuates the ills, or as I like to call it... the character of the structure, which is the most appealing trait  to me as an artist.

Note the looseness... yet intuitive, expressive quality of the lines made through the use of this twig-pen. Necessary corrections or any desired changes can be made at will later... during the painting process.

 Ready for paint!

The paint is applied in a very transparent "stainy" manner... more medium (turpentine) than  paint. This simply establishes a colour  map of sorts and eliminates the white panel. Strangely... my wife loved the drawing ... "sans pigment" because of its jaunty... "contrasty" feel! I wanted what I had already "seen"... in my mind. Onward!... and in the end she agreed with my decision, so much so... that she has asked for it to hang in the house! Happy Valentine's Day Deb! HA HA!!

Almost at the finish stage... just some pulls and pushes... and small corrections to value here and there.

The Past... Hangin' on at Guild's Boat Livery", Mallorytown Landing - oil on panel 8x10 inches

In closing.. I am totally "over-the-top" pleased and happy with the final outcome of this challenge. I fully intend to push forward further with the technique. It is one which has baled me out of the doldrums before and always results in a good result and a lift in my creative spirit! I hope that you can get the idea that I am presenting. Creating is not a single street or path to be travelled on monotonously... until one hits the wall out of pure boredom. A creative mind must always be searching... looking for new ways to express original thoughts and ideas. Working motivated by themes... or as the case is here... in creating challenges where one must stretch... and push into new spaces and places.

There is no quick path to success... no easy way to become a creative individual. The feeling comes entirely from within. One can imitate... conjure up "reasons" for not hitting the mark... or getting down to work. In my own case... I have to shave every morning. When I look into the mirror... there is nobody else present to either to berate... blame... or feel deeply rewarded. It's "the man in the mirror"!

Stay tuned!...

Good Painting !... To all!


  1. I'm with Deb on this one, Bruce!! I love how this piece came out and wish I could perfect the power nap to rev me up like that!

  2. Go9od Morning Sherry!... Thanks for your visit and "plus"... with Deb on this one!

    Sometimes ... it is the power nap ... plus the power stick handling that adds a "short-anded goal"... when it seems all is against you!'HA HA!! Thanks for dropping by! Have a great weekend!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  3. Hi Bruce, I really like these "stick paintings". I expect it's because they look a bit like line-and-wash watercolours. They also have some of the look of stained glass, at least in the early stages, so I wonder whether that's why Deb likes them.

    All the best,

  4. Good Morning Keith!... I very much like and appreciate your insightful comments! I had never correlated Deb's sudden interest to this piece to her stained glass "eye"... but that is indeed a very logical insight to consider!

    The stick work initial drawing and introductory oil washes guarantees a fluid and less controlled and calculated approach to my painting process - a much more refreshing and creative way to bypass the tedium and ho-hum of my usual preoccupation with "sticking" to the game plan! HA HA!!

    Thanks for sharing your generous comments and good insights!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,