Sunday, May 26, 2013

Never Too Young... or Old to Learn!

" I pray every day that God make me a child, that is to say that He will let me see nature in the unprejudiced way that a child sees it."

-Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796 - 1875)
French Impressionist Painter

I share Corot's uncomplicated desire to go out to the world with the unprejudiced mind.... actions and heart of a child. I have always tried to do so in both my personal and artistic lives. I continue to work with that principle... and yet at every turn, I find it more and more difficult to achieve. While I can still manage to handle the unpleasant task of limiting adult intrusions with the pettiness and edgy competitive needs that are present around me... it is increasingly painful for me to bear witness to the the disconnect that is occurring between the world of adults and the children. At its worst... I bear witness daily to atrocities being carried out and directed at an alarmingly increasing number of innocent children in every part of the globe... including my own country. And yet still... there is Hope... and I choose to embrace... celebrate and nurture that Hope, using my gifts and my heart.

Today's post is dedicated to two very beautiful minds... already "artists" in their own right at such a young age simply because they express themselves without reservation... fear or rules which limit expression. They paint... draw... act ... and think with complete freedom - a Utopia which the rest of us yearn for and search for endlessly. We had it once... but we either chose,  or were forced "to grow up"... and to "act our age" and leave this kingdom of Joy and Mirth.

This post records their excitement... their joy and as strange as it seems... my own recovery from the sadnesses which have visited me too much as of late. I lovingly dedicate this post to you both... dearest Ava and Ella. Thank you for touching my heart and soul so. You never set out to do so... it merely happened without any of us realizing... and that is indeed the magic and blessing which comes only out of offering "unconditional love." I thank you too Spencer and Jody... for leading your Mom and I  "beside still waters" and allowing us to share in your beautiful children's lives. They speak so eloquently of the consistently loving parenting that you provide these wee souls daily. I can already sense the adventure and success that they will undoubtedly find because of your gifts to them.

Enough said really. I'll let the pictures do the talking from here on... and they surely do in my heart and soul!

 The plein air set up in our yard.... acrylic primary colours... a round... a flat  and a rigger brush... sun screen ... hats...clear recycling bag smocks... and plenty o' room!

Gramma's tender support... always an arm length away!!!

Notice any adults ... snoopervising???? Not required!

Ava yanks all of her subjects from all around her.... this one a robin nesting under the nearby eave of the Gallery

Colourful Ella loves to compartmentalize... then fill spaces with joyous colours that she choose and mixes. Perhaps another Gramma making stained glass! HA HA!! Could she also become a Piet Modrian??.... I wonder......

 An unexpected visitor.... Carl the Duck joins the fun. Interesting.... BUT....

.. Back to my easel!
See ya later Carl!

                                                           Subject # 1 - Robin Nesting

Subject number# 2 - Gramma's Garden Flowers... and as always... "Mr Golden Sun" right where he should be... tucked carefully into the corner 

This is our Cranbrook Marginson family. Spencer, Ava, Ella and Jody at Islesview. Thank you for the heart filled with memories Guys! Miss you!

In closing... a line from a favourite Mormon hymn which I continue to sing and keep in my heart:

"There is beauty all around... when there's love at home.

Here is a love letter... a "thank you"... an unconditional declaration of love left on our refrigerator door by Ava. Kindness does matter... more precious a gift than anything else we can offer or dispense. And yet... ironically... offering it costs nothing at all... except conscious effort and time. This will hang on our refrigerator for a very long time. But it is indelibly etched and will be carried in our hearts .... Forever! Thank you Ava!!!

 Love you Gang... "To the moon and back"...

Mom and Bruce

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Family Life and Art

Colour and beauty are a plenty in and around Islesview.The fragrant sweet smell of lilac permeates the night and morning air. There is a freshness... bursting forth and a swelling of promise in every corner of Rockport. My camera and I seem constant companions... whereas my paint box and easel stand quiet in the corner. I think... and am driven to work only in black and white... or not at all for the moment. This situation is not "the usual" for me. Usually, I will be painting up a storm... fuelled by this rebirth of greenery and the excitement... energized by the pulse of new creation laid before me.And yet... in the face of this glory... wonder and excitement, I am lethargic and unfocused. That is the paradox of the situation... the yin and the yang tussling to again regain and achieve harmony and balance.

A Sad Robin's Tale

I have followed a certain female American Robin through her spring nest-building ritual. I discovered her by pure accident as I mowed the lawn one evening. As I passed under the low hanging blossomed branches the noise of the mower caused her to flush anxiously... and in so doing ... revealed her nesting spot. It was a lovely round construction of braided grasses woven together... about the size of a salad or soup bowl. In it was a clutch of four robin's egg blue (an appropriate description for the hue). I immediately ceased mowing and left her to her sitting chore. To disrupt her is to guarantee her abandonment of the nest.

Mama on the nest.... eyes peeled... not stirring

Wee balls of featherless nestlings huddled together for warmth

The anxious mom .... waiting for me to cease and desist.... which I did.

I avoided finishing the lawn... but checked over the next few days and came to realize that she no longer flushed at my approach or presence near the nesting place and that meant one thing. She was incubating young nestlings... and could not leave. Warmth is necessary... since the nestlings are completely void of plumage. I watched her leave and assumed it was for food... so I quickly approached and took a peek. Here was the scene that greeted my eyes.What an honour to share this moment..

Three days passed... and though I watched diligently with interest from afar... I avoided getting close. I watched with my field glasses from the wash stand. It was early morning when I was out taking garbage to the rear of the house... when I flushed a too large black shape up into the nearby dead elm. A crow! I knew in my heart what that meant. Crows loot nests... foraging for food. Though they are listed as carrion eaters (usually dead and decaying animal flesh) they customarily follow adult birds to pin point the nests in nesting seasons and are unrelenting and cold-blooded nest robbers. I feared for my robin friend... and deep in my heart knew that no amount of interference on my part would change the probable outcome.

I parked the lawn mower with my red plaid mackinaw jacket and hat just below the nest site. But beyond hope...I knew when we left to do our necessary chores what I was likely to return to.

 Here is the last line in my Sad Robin Tale. For some strange reason... the sadness  has lingered longer than usual for me... though I had watched this drama act itself out many times. I readily accept that this is the way of the Natural World. Survival is based purely upon Fate...  and Natural Law in the Natural World. That is the intended way of Creation. Somehow... mankind arrogantly seems to regard itself as "exempt" from these rules. Perhaps it is our usually longer "hangin' around time" in this plane of existence which cultivates  and sustains such a notion that we are above Natural Order.

On Mother's Day a similar story unfolded... only this time it was related in human terms. I received a brief... disheartening and numbing email from long time and dear friends. That email revealed that their daughter had unexpectedly and tragically been discovered dead in her apartment. I will not add further details because that is a deeply painful private matter for them... and for me as as well. Let it be enough said to explain my absence from this site and a further block to my creativity. Creativity depends totally upon physical and spiritual freedom to move ahead.

I have moved ahead though, because the original focus of my post was based upon the aspects and importance of "Family".... and that is, as I have mentioned previously in this post ... not limited solely to the animal or human worlds. Fortunately for us, we have enjoyed a whole week of being with Deb's Cranbrook Family and her precious Grand Gals ... Ms Ava... aged seven going on fifty (she's definitely been here before) and her wee fairy-like sister Ella. How uplifting and joyful were their injection into our Rockport lives! Family to both Deb and I is everything... and Art supports that primary focus we have... as you will better understand in my next post... coming your way after the weekend!

I would like to close this post with words which I hope each of you will mull over... and consider whenever you are having your own "stormy day(s)"... as we all do. It is a second email from a most dear and precious friend... who has now tragically lost two of her own brood. I am totally at a loss to comprehend where her courage comes from to offer this to me and other friends who stand helpless by her side at this most terrible time.

"The outpouring of love and support from family and friends for us is overwhelming. It is truly wonderful to receive. And I want to thank each and every one of you and know that you are with us in our grief."

Yes... my post is about sharing my art. But more ... each post is a journal page in my own daily life in every sense of the word. I have learned that family... friends... children at large and our art are the very things which set us aside from other species who share this magnificent planet with us. Let us take care of all of these blessings in our life... in the order in which I have placed them!

Good Painting ... to ALL!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Life is never just black or white ... or "fair" - Part One

"Mistakes are simply the proof that you are trying" - A Tao Proverb

I have always been drawn to the sharp and strikingly strong visual contrast between black and white. I love to work loosely in pen and ink on a pristine and absolutely white sheet of paper. I find the exercise exhilarating and challenging. Sketching without guideline... working always on the edge of making irretrievable errors lifts one into a higher plane of awareness. In my own mind, such drawings are true exemplars of the Yin and Yang duality of life. They speak a pure  language without a need for colour to either add to or take away from the visual experience.

Last Saturday, I spent the afternoon sketching and rediscovering the quaint rural village of Delta... while Deb took part in a conference with her Frontenac Arch Biosphere group . It had been nearly two decades since I had last been to this village. Obviously, many changes had taken place. Some, as is the usual case were positive... while others showed the passage and erosion of time. Some resident buildings had completely disappeared.

The centre piece of this village, and almost every other early rural village in Ontario is a mill. Most were flour and feed, or grist mills for grinding grains. They formed the core for, or were the hub of the development of the economy of these small and often isolated farm communities. They attracted other businesses like hotels and mercantile stores and as well also encouraged institutions like banks and schools to be added. Such was the case for early life in Delta. As in all small rural settings however, when milling evolved into big business it was done in urban centres like Toronto, displacing small mills and thereby bankrupting growth in these smaller communities. Mills gradually became derelict and many reduced to just ruins. That was not the case in Delta.

In 1963, A group of trustees took charge of the mill and managed to raise funds through grants to completely restore the mill. That group is now called The delta Mill Society. They had the site site declared a National Heritage Site and have just celebrated their 50th Anniversary as a fully working mill. Each summer, the mill becomes an active interpretive centre for tourists, with local citizenry acting as guides and providing interpretive activities. The mill even grinding wheat on the original 200 year old grindstones. It is the centre of village festivities for The annual Delta Maple Syrup Festival and the annual Fall Delta Fair. Here is my "yin and yang" tribute sketch completed on site last Saturday.

"A Stepping Stone Back Into Time"

Strange... how the mind separates one from reality when one is fully engaged in "The Flow." The time fairly seemed to melt away as I played around the area of this sketch. Now finished... I can truthfully say that I can't remember where I began the process. I can say that I didn't work top to bottom, but rather played over the entire surface at will... making changes as I felt them. I added the border afterward, so that it is clear that the actual page was considered... rather than a predetermiend rectangular space which is my usual painting preference.

I like the loose and  fanciful feel that is present and the weight of the darks used to accentuate certain areas. It would make a great wood cut or lino subject.... but that's a story for another day. It's in the sketchbook... and thus the possibility for that to occur ... somewhere down the road on this wonderful journey.

In my reading, I came across this wee gem of wisdom from an unknown wise one which I feel describes my own yin and yang voyage.

I am on a journey
With my work,
And a few sad stories.
I travel with a suitcase full of outrageous blessings.
I am on a quest for Truth, Beauty and a Quiet Joy.
I am an Artist, a writer and an Explorer.

.... as are "You"

Rich Blessings and Good Sketching and Painting to ALL!!

Stay tuned for Part Two....

Friday, May 10, 2013

Spring Flutters in... on Gossimer Wings

This "Woodland Trillium Triptych"... consisting of two 16x12 side canvases with a 16x20 inch central canvas image speaks eloquently of the the natural glory to be experienced in most any shady woodland stand across the entire province of Ontario. Amongst the blankets of white trillium blossoms with their three dark green shapely leaves, one can find odd pockets of red trilliums which seem dominant to the eye... even though in terms of  their sheer presence alone...they certainly are vastly out numbered. I always conjure up an image in my eye of an enclave of Catholic cardinals... surrounded by a host of nuns in starched white hooded habits. Don't know why that is.... "Silly Bear"!

My most early memory of the trillium is a hiking sortie with my Mom at about seven years of age We came upon such a sight on that hike which deeply moved my Mom... so much so, that we returned home and came directly back... garden spade and clay pot to carefully dig out a clump to be place in our small quiet garden at the rear of our home in Brockville. That wee quiet space was my Mom's refuge before we purchased our cottage at the Narrows Lane Road near Rockport. It was a small, simple, but beautiful garden because of her naturally artistic eye and flair for colour. Despite being very small, she maximized the space and its visual effect by developing strength... through structure and colour. That strength was something that she taught me at that very early age and I learned through her passion and commitment daily to her gardening art form.

This morning on my early morning walkabout throughout the village, my thoughts continually shifted back back between my deeply seated memories of the past and "Her"... and then back to the present,  as I came upon currently blooming spring flowers of various colours and varieties. Each one... I could remember blooming for a time in her spring gardens. Here are some of those garden bouquets... each resplendent to the eye... each with its own space and all inviting the eye to light and enjoy free of cost...  the beauty of God's work and the creative effort of the hand of an anonymous gardener.

Bright hybrid tulips of every design...

Purple clumps of shy woodland violets... pushed up through a carpet  last years fade and  fallen oak leaves

Yellow tulips spiking above a cluster of narcissus

A trio of red tulip trumpets sounding their annual spring fanfare...

A quiet refuge of flower and structure stops the eye momentarily in the morning shadows

Bright star-shaped golden daffodils...

A quiet garden morning refuge... a wonderful place to drink in the wonder of creation and a hot cup o' java

Spring is firmly rooted in every corner of my world here in Rockport... as are sweet memories of my dear Mom. Her life long love of spring and flower and gardens is now mine to pass forward... and I have done so. My children, be they male or female share that love of the outdoor world. It comes from me for sure... but Mom as well shares a well-earned role in their valuing and finding joy through flowers.

So it seems fitting that this Mother's Day tribute and ode to flowers post be dedicated not only to the memory of my own dear Mom... but as well be spent with much love and thanks to all Moms... and Moms who graduate to Gramma. Without your special kind of love would never manage to exist... except that each of "You" tended your own gardens so well... and with such passion and compassion. Happy Mother's Day from "Me"... to each of you!

I will close out this post with a thought which came to me as I pondered this influence of Mothers as influences which shape the future and remain beyond earthly existence:

"Art is the Garden of Humanity. And we, as artists... are its constant Gardeners."

Happy Mother's Day Mom... wherever you are!

This painted tribute has marked the fork in the road... the arrow pointing towards Kerry Point... the right arm leads to our own summer Shangra-la on Narrows Lane. It was painted by a young cottager as a tribute to her own "Special" Gramma. Tragically... that little teen flower was tragically killed along the Parkway... not far from here more than a decade ago. Time has now forever united that wee child and  Gramma and Grampa. Despite their leaving... this sign has been  maintained... and tended... anonymously for more than a decade. One life can make a this epitaph reminds me of that Truth ... each and every time I pass it !

The Universe speaks mysteriously yet another time. One of Deb's beloved ruby Throated Hummingbirds has returned to her feeder... just in the nick o' time to give "Her" the best Mother's Day gift ever. Hope.... is in simply believing as only a child can. Sometimes hope can become a dream come true - if you simply believe enough ... to hang out a feeder!

Happy Mother's Day Deb... for helping "Me" to continue to Dream... Hope... and Believe!... "I" love you for these gifts that you bring to me.... unconditionally.... every day of my life!