Saturday, August 31, 2013

Facing the Landscape Boldly... One Strategy

This has been a rapid fire week of painting activity and posting. I apologize if its too much... but this blog site is what it is - a journal of my personal activities, thoughts and painting experiences. I have suddenly felt rejuvenated and less encumbered by personal responsibilities and was finally able to get "out there"... where my spirit truly soars and is free to think- where I do my "work". Plein air painting has been with me for most of my adult life. It is as essential to my well-being as are the other obvious essentials of any healthy lifestyle. I love and value human interaction greatly... however there exists a strong  part of "Me"... that requires solitude and time for reflection.

The greatest challenge for the plein air painter, no matter their previous experience is to overcome the overwhelming tsunami of visual information that the natural setting always imposes upon the eye and the mind of a painter. That state of feeling overwhelmed usually becomes amplified by the "visions of sugar plums... dancing in our heads"... that all artists enter into this intoxicating environment with. Often, in the past, with both of these two conflicting factors actively at work... I have driven around for the better part of the day... searching for that "perfect"  scene to paint. Discouraged, I  never was able to settle down to work. I was using both my eyes and brain to look for , rather than to "See" the endless possibilities and potential painting sites that I had driven by. Here are some strategies that I employ in my own process which you might find helpful when you head "out there" to paint the next time.

Scouting...Selection... then Composition
I am going to draw upon the experiences and process that I chose to work with when Janet Gaylord at the Eagle Point Winery to make my point for this strategy. The scouting part of the working process needn't be necessarily restricted to the day one actually goes out to paint. Often, I do this in advance, or stumble upon a suitable area with many possibilities at a time when neither the time available to me, nor the weather conditions are in my favour. Rather than trying to immediately decide upon the actual painting "Idea"... I wander about examining the area for multiple possibilities from which to choose.

Selection... infers the process of evaluating and taking from the whole landscape before you... a single area of interest that contains structure and high interest for you to build upon. That will not necessarily include all of the landscape attributes, but rather a few of its strongest elements upon which to build a strong underpinning or foundation which we could call  structure or Composition. Before getting the paints out... or into action, do a walk-about and consider for a short period of fifteen minutes which site appeals most strongly to you. Then mark the spot and return.... painting gear in hand... set up and get down to work. In other words... commit immediately to the Composition stage... what's in... what's out. Composing... simply put .... meaning creating. You hold the baton... and Nature follows your rules and tempo! Be ruthless - Simplify!!!

When I come back to that same area at another time, strictly to paint... much of the spade work has been done beforehand... and my foray then becomes direct and reduces wasted time in the field searching. In the case with Janet, I had walked the grounds myself a week earlier... for other reasons in preparation for yet another venture that is presently in the works for the fall at the winery. Another story... for another day! I knew exactly where we could begin to make possible the easiest and most potentially satisfying entry into plein air painting for a novice. That strategy worked in both our favours and made the day a success in every way possible.

While Janet was in the final stages of her painting, I purposely left her to her own thoughts and actions. I chose to wander about camera in hand ... just inhaling the immense beauty in the immediate area of our chosen site. I had no other intention than to simply explore... and enjoy the remainder of what had been a productive and joyful day en plein air. Here are some of the images I found, as I moved about... merely looking.

A still life possibility.... whenever??? They sure tasted sweet... right off the vine! Never taste that way coming from the supermarket... or in the studio!

A view down the road... not a strong enough tug on my creative heartstrings in this one... today!

 Down the road a bit further... the heart strings resonating better... BUT

Voila!... THIS is a distinct and highly engaging  possibility... High enough to email it off to Frank for a look-see! I never set out to look for this intentionally... it simply happened during a leisurely ... effortless scouting foray. I learned this trick from my Algonquin painting pal David Kay... who by custom and habit intentionally leaves his easel unattended part way through every painting... just to get his head outta his painting a--!!! It works!

From Possibility... Into Realty

Both Frank and I responded to this strong and unexpected gift from the Universe... but we did it on our own terms. Frank completed his version in his studio because of the distance away from the actual site, while I painted my version en plein air... well sort of. It was completed entirely outside our Gallery in Rockport a day later... because I had to attend to the Gallery while Deb was away for the day on business.

My first strategy was to print a copy of the jpeg. I instinctively felt a strong need to manipulate/play with the basic elements... and used a cropping technique (with scissors) to create a "jigsaw" version of the original composition in the photo. In so doing... I focused less on the barn structure... preferring to develop the creek aspect of the subject as my main compositional interest. The barn merely added an opportunity for colour and a barrier to stop the eye from leaving the picture plane on the right side of the painting.... and offered a more intimate and heightened visual relationship in the composition between the creek and the barn.

I then responded to the scene colouristically... pushing the seasonal feel more towards autumn. Having worked in the field for so many years, helped me build a strong visual vocabulary and complete understanding of how light, shadow and colour manifest themselves in all seasons. This acuity or intuitive response can only be developed after many plein air forays and canvases. Truly "Seeing" is the strongest tool in an artist's tool box... and it can be used either in the studio, or in the field at will.... with "painterly" results.

Here is my version entitled "Summer ... Winding Its Way Towards Autumn" - oil on canvas 10x12 inches. I feel that I captured the essence of what I "saw" and feel no changes will be necessary. Frank is, as well satisfied with his very different take on the subject. You can view that by visiting his blog site Blogging For Life at if you wish.

In closing... August has been a carnival of activities... feelings... "ups and downs." I guess one can just say... "It's simply Life - full of surprises"! As I swing the August page of my calendar over and into the Past, I move forward with new optimism... Hope... and Faith into September. The child within "Me" pushes forward with very much the  same degree of excitement and anticipation that I felt... ever so many years ago now on that first September day back to classes... carting with me my tools - those empty... but fresh notebooks, pencil, ruler, eraser and pencil crayons in hand. It was a bitter-sweet moment Then... still is in the Now. But I choose to embrace it for what it is:

"One day more... but paradoxically... one day less."

I choose.... the More!

Happy Fall and Good Painting.... to ALL!!!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The "Harvesting" Continues.,.. at the Eagle Point Winery - Part Two

The Eagle Point Winery was the site of another plein air outing last week with a female painting friend... Sorry Frank! HA HA!! I first met Janet Gaylord at our Annual Plein Air Paint Out in Rockport last year. A bubbly, friendly and searching individual... she is is enjoyable to spend time with. Her artistic interests and skills have centred... as it has for us all, on using pencils to express herself creatively. When one views her beautifully sensitive portraits of horses in particular, one can realize and well understand her capabilities... and reluctance to leave the pencil for paint. Oh yes... and if that is not enough proof of her unusual desire to discover her Self... she is also holds Captain's papers to operate large tour boats. I deeply admire her independent spirit and willingness to risk and discover new facets of her potential.... and to risk being "different."

We finally managed to put together a day for us to paint together en plein air last week. She was a bit apprehensive at the thought of giving up "pushin' a pencil" for a day... but truly wanted to add colour to her expression. I decided to take her to the Winery site... because I knew that it would be quiet with no distractions - or an audience to further increase her anxiety. I knew also, that we would require something structural to offset the "dreaded summer greens" that keep keep even the most seasoned of outdoor painters at home during the summer months. I revisited a scene which I painted two years ago late in September... after the frost had done its work.

Here is a photo reference for the subject of the day. There is clearly a definite centre of interest... the barn supported by a solid foreground ... middle ground and background structure - all the necessary elements to create a strong and successful landscape

To overcome Janet's reasonable "fear of flying solo"... for her first plein air experience, I suggested that we set up "side-by-each"... and simply play follow the leader. In that way, she could more quickly come to understand the approach to painting outdoors... without needless discouragement caused by inexperience and her thin tool box of painting skills. From the very start, she demonstrated quickly that her tool box had more painting tools than either of us had suspected.

Our mapping start capitalized on her already proficient compositional eye and draughtsmanship, allowing her to achieve a truly better beginning than my own. I was envious of her simple and very direct preliminary sketch or map .With that success under our belts and her confidence on the rise... we launched into a rapid lay in, using colour only in stainy washes to explore shapes and colour. That moved along with the same rapidity and success as the earlier mapping start. In less than a half hour, we were exactly where I like to be whenever I paint en plein air. We took a quick break and stepped back a dozen paces to discuss our results... and to plot a course deeper into more clearly defining values and hue.

Quick and stainy. Too quick perhaps.... and too much in the middle of the panel for my liking

You have good reason to smile Janet! "Simply".... Perfect!... Bravo!

Here is my lay in dash. Note the focus and attention to where the central subject... the barn is. Place the strongest light where you need it (on the facing side of the barn) in your final version... before it's gone. Most of the rest of the painting is about middle values and can be modified or changed at any point later on


Janet stepping into the same area of her painting to "catch the light."

My lay in advancing... but temporary decision-making is still the  game!

Janet.... dueling with the sun. Time to move the easels... by the look of "My Fair Lady's" new lobster look! 

Lay in complete. Now for the fun part!

Janice follows suit.

"Just Before Harvest" - plein air oil on panel 10x12 inches

Janet's remarkably attractive first plein air painting... note that wonderful bar of sunlight in the foreground and the really believable lighting on the barn face! She's hooked... I think. Only ingredient that needs to be added to her tool kit for the next plein air adventure?... Number 60 sun block!  HA HA!!! A great day "out there"...with a great gal!

Judging from the grapes on Janet's foreground vines... it should be a bountiful harvest at Eagle Point Winery! The two clusters that we sampled at the end of our own harvesting sure tasted some good! Great work Janet!

Thanks to the Friendly and supportive folks at Eagle Point Winery! Looking forward to our upcoming joint harvest adventure at the Winery! 
Stay tuned all...

Good Painting!!... to All!

Monday, August 26, 2013

August... Summer on Rewind!

As my post title suggests, August is a month of reflection... or a looking back over the events and activities which define Summer 2013. For Deb and I, it has been a busy summer in the Gallery. We have unbelievably... reached the middle point of Summer, as the rapidly decreasing light in both morning and evening reveal to us.Children are now becoming like the new Canada Geese... anxious to move on from the sedentary summer lifestyle. School... and getting back to school chums is even a welcome thought. The air has changed as well. It is colder in the morning and evening... and smacks of ripening and harvest. There is decreasing pleasure boat traffic on the River. It increases only slightly on weekends. The water level has dropped a full ten inches in its usual fall cycle.Change is in the air... everywhere about us!

We certainly have been rewarded with decent sales in all areas of our combined creative efforts. My painting sales have been steady and gratifying. All but two of my February "Painting a Day" 8x10 inch panels are gone out the door... as have several larger major paintings. Our new box sets of tourist-directed Souvenirs of Rockport and Cruising The Thousand Islands greeting cards have sold well in the Gallery and have greatly exceeded our expectations at the General Store Gift Shop operated by The Rockport Cruise Lines. The new series of 5x7 and 8x10 inch plaque mounts featuring my larger river subjects (Deb's pet project) have yielded good returns as well. Our combined energies and commitment have been well rewarded!

On Deb's end of things, her gift cards have fled the shop en masse throughout the entire summer. Her unique designs displaying a blend of her whimsy and artistic flair have combined to attract much attention... a lot of laughter... and phenomenal sales revenue! Her stylish jewellery and small stained glass sun catcher "souvies"enjoyed the same retail success... adding another "black plus" to the ol' ledger each day. Her stained glass church window commission... now placed and dedicated at The Church of the Redeemer continues to bring her  well-deserved attention and praise from clients who have seen it in situe. All in all.... Summer 2013 in The Paint Box Gallery has been gratifying

In an economy, where so many artists and larger commercial galleries are floundering... some even failing, we are more encouraged and determined more than ever to continue follow our current path and five year business plan. We do so in Faith, and in the knowledge that our ideas and commitment will simply grow and mature further - if we continue to continually re-evaluate our products and directions continually.

We feel deeply rewarded... and blessed with these gifts.

On another area of personal reflection, I am thinking of my Mom and Dad, whose birthdays we annually celebrated together as a family in the month of August. Both have passed on... as has the intense sense of grief and loss that I first felt in those initial years following their deaths. But I still have those "missing you moments" nearly every day. Deb and I placed flowers on their grave yesterday, a small gesture of my continuing love and gratitude for their contributions to me and my children.

I have tried to replace the understandable grief which one feels at such a loss with a more palpable and positive substitute. I choose to reflect upon special the times we shared and those smaller daily blessings... which at the time seemed ordinary. However... through the passage of time, they loom far more important and remain... despite their physical absence as fresh in my memory now, as the fine china settings...wildflowers... peaches... corn... melon that we enjoyed and shared together each and every August in my memory. I celebrate those embedded precious memories when I savour those tastes of yesterday.

So, I have chosen to remember them this August with a still life - a frozen visual moment in the space between both birthdays... using these summer harvest delights we enjoyed for so many happy Augusts as subjects. However, it has been difficult to carve out enough free time to completely wrap my head and my heart around its completion. Perhaps... it was grief intervening still... in this month of ripening and transition. I seemed somehow blocked and avoiding it on the easel.

On last Thursday evening after supper, I decided to use my usual strategy of throwing caution and the comfort of  my usual painting process to the wind and to "seize the day." I went to the nearly laid in canvas and attacked with a medium sized painting knife... choosing to more randomly block in texture... lights and darks all around the still life composition to find freedom and inject life where it seemed too "still." By the end of that one hour session... I had regained the Flow and the excitement so necessary for creative success. Later the next morning, I used a stencil technique using a paper lace doily to recreate the fussy lace work. I think it works successfully. It gives an impression of that textural quality and detail without the usual  pains-taking and hours of fussing I get into. It simple... "is"... but a small part of an entire whole.

I am a plein air painter by nature... motivated more by the complete freedom offered by spontaneity and flexible decision-making. Risk is always a part of my process. In fact, it is the engine and catalyst I depend upon to fuel my exploration and sense of accomplishment. Other genres like still life, or figure work require an added spiritual or inner "calling" to inspire, or connect me to them. In these genres, my brushwork seems less "painterly"... too quiet and calculated. In short, these subjects seem to restrict and impede my inner spirit... in the same fashion that denominational worship does... and I usually avoid them.

My mantra however..."Don't give up the ship" always prevails. So here is a "play-by-play"... or the building process for your interest and perusal. Enjoy!

Rough lay in stage... imperfectly recording  first observations... covering the toned grey canvas

Working up light... adding new highlights and detail.... building around the composition

Time for a rest... and just looking

"August... On My Mind" - oil on toned canvas 24x18 inches

Finished... more or less... just some tweaking... "push n' pull

Happy Birthday Folks! I love you BOTH... Forever!

Good Painting... to ALL!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Days of Winery... and Roses - Chapter One

Summer is see-sawing and shape-shifting as she always does during the month of August. One day is humid and typically summer... the very next is cold and fall like with impatient September hovering on the wings ... awaiting her time on stage. It is indeed that fretful and uncertain moment of Transition in the pageant of summer... where all Creation seems simultaneously on the move... in all directions. It is both a time of energy... and decay - paradox!

"Transition" - oil on gallery wrapped canvas 24x24 inches - SOLD
A creative project from the past... but it describes exactly, the time that I am speaking of in this post... in terms of wild flowers

Thankfully... I have been able to return once again to my preferred plein air mode again. On Tuesday, I joined my long time friend and painting pal Frank A. Edwards of nearby Kingston for a day of painting on location at Eagle Point Winery. It is a quiet place these days, just before the upcoming busy harvest season in October. We pretty much had the run of the place. It was wonderful to paint together... uninterrupted under the shade of an ancient maple... with summer spread out beautifully before us. It was a time of painting... laughter... teasing and sharing company again. Our lives and spirits are so entwined after more than thirty years of plein airing together... that there seems no need to catch up. We simply pick up from where we left off last.
"Summertime... and the livin' is easy..." And on that day... and on many others it has been... with The Loner (Frank) and Tonto Me)... sharin' our painting trails of adventure.

"Summer ..... Spread Before You" - Eagle Point Winery, Escott, ON - oil on acrylic toned panel 10x12 inches

 My right side of the stage view,  expressed... as I "saw" it. I revel in the playing with the multiple greens that summer offers. I simply add a small focus to wrap the greenery around. In this case... "a tomato in my summer salad ... HA HA!! Works for me .... every time!

"Touched By a Late August" - oil on an acrylic toned panel 10x12 inches

Frank's technicolour version of the left side... leaning towards fall rendering... completed literally with a rigger. He hates the greens of summer... hence the "global warming" of  his palette. Works for him wonderfully. Both paintings stand on their own individual merits and visual interests.

Frank and I both have maintained very distinct and differing methods for plein airing. Our training and our goals vary greatly... but our passion and desire to share the trail remain constant. We are... both of us, in many ways,  the brothers we were each lacking in our personal adult lives. And that has made a HUGE difference for both of us at certain difficult points in our separate personal lives... when life was less than fair.

The roses part of the title for this post?????....
When rose bushes... and many other perennials are tended lovingly and "dead headed" after the initial blooming... they offer a wondrous and often more spectacular second blooming. Could that be true for Friendships as well?

I wonder.... Stay tuned for my second winery adventure... comin' at ya' .... SOON!

Good Painting.... to ALL!

Here's a small reflective thought  from the hit song "Morning Glory" by Oasis that I feel suits the post topic and sums my own personal feelings.

All your dreams are made
When you're chained to the mirrror and the razor blade.
Today's the day that all the world will see
Another sunny afternoon.

Walking to the sound of my favourite tune
Tomorrow never knows what it doesn't know too soon..........

What's your story.....Morning Glory?

This post is... but part of "Mine"!

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Art... in Tying of Knots!

This upcoming weekend will be a hectic one for us here at The Paint Box Gallery. There are many events and festivities around Rockport which should draw many visitors to the village. We have an annual River Rib Fest slated for the weekend in Brockville and a Brockville-Gananoque Poker Run Power Boat Charity event which will fill the remaining space in the village with ear-splitting noise as it passes in both directions. Not my cup o' tea... but it does raise $$$ for charity... so I ease up on my gas pedal of criticism for the small discomfort it brings me ... on MY River! HA HA!!! Should be good Gallery traffic at any rate!

From Monday through  to Thursday, Deb and I enjoyed a wonderful four day visit with Bryn here and we certainly made great use of that small window of being together. We shared quality time at  play... making food together ... watching movies and conversation. It is not the quantity of time one spends with loved ones that really matters... but rather the quality of that time spent together. We all certainly enjoyed that "AAA"quality time spent during this uplifting family sojourn. Hope to add another visit... before the busy schedules and the dreaded September school bell (w)rings out time available for such visit.

Argggh Mateys!... Shiver me timbers Lads! Four Mini Putting Pirates at Clayton NY... putting away a fine summer day!

Bryn in the preparation mode... putting together a sumptuous summer meal for us

The Paint Box Gallery's own Iron Chef... Grillin'... n' chillin on the patio!

Marinated chicken... and double-baked potatoes... Sizzlin' Good!

Does the summer life get any better??? A fine tasty meal... lovingly prepared by your son! Made our day Brynner!

This afternoon, Deb and I are on the way to Brockville... to be present at the wedding of our painting friend and Landsdowne business owner Isolde Van Jaarsveld Paul's son, JD and Lisa Watchorn. We met Lisa... a vivacious, intelligent and articulate gal... in her managerial role at Isolde's restored, art filled treasure house
dream, Country Living in the small nearby rural village of Lansdowne. It is well worth the visit to that village alone... just to browse the handpicked art and artisan items which fill this heritage site to the rafters!

JJ and Lisa's classy invite

Friendships and relationships are both knot-tying activities of sorts... in that two separate "lines" are joined together with mutual consent and cooperation... in a special way to conjoin those separate entities. How long the "knot" holds... is dependent upon many influences, both internal and external. But mostly, these are sustained by the internal effort and integrity of the two "pieces of rope." So describes the "tying the knot" idiom  in marriage. Keeping the Family tied together is another knot as well. As children move out into their own brave new worlds... it takes genuine effort and a willingness to share common values and to pull together... against the external pressures that might tear the two apart.

Lisa much admired my demo painting of "Sunken Rock Lighthouse, Alexandria Bay, NY"... completed at last year's Annual Paint Out in Rockport. Sorry Lisa... it was sold in July. But perhaps this recent "Rock Island Light- Clayton, NY" plein air piece will suffice as our wedding gift to celebrate your wedding. Let us hope that our knots tied in friendship hold us fast... so that we can enjoy many more years of happy occasions together! Our combined congratulations to you both come along with our best wishes for a long voyage of adventure and good health together!

Art can tie the strings of the heart inextricably together... even though... it is offered with ... "no strings attached"! HA HA!!!

"Summer Breezin'...Rock Island Light, NY" - oil on canvas 16x20 inches

Tomorrow... Deb and I are planning (after our day of Paint Box Gallery responsibilities) to celebrate her 64th birthday,  in the same fashion that we choose to live our lives together. Quietly... sharing the creation of a meal and an evening of Scrabble.Ending with a joint movie pick from Netflix... in the complete privacy of our wonderful "Islesview" home in Rockport. A simple celebration... no hoopla!

"Cruising down the River..." of Life ... Together!

We are deeply blessed. Our "knot"... is binding in each of our hearts for certain. But that knot was willingly... lovingly and with fore thought tied ten years ago. Though distance at times does separate us... the knot and two lines remain... as "One"... by choice! Happy Birthday Deb!

"I" love "You"... "to the moon and back"! 

In closing... I offer these Knotty Nauticals that I have found interesting and have "saved for a rainy day". You get what I mean Guys! "Art" lies all around us in our every day lives... if we choose to slow down... and "See"!

Neat Freak! Cleat hitch... with a trip proof safe spiral

Not pretty perhaps... but purposeful...

Covering all the bases...

 I'm an ordinary...regular kinda guy! The common...Simple "Cleat Hitch"

 Knot  aficionado at play..... A "doubled up" double turn with two half hitches... I think! A no-nonsense..."Snug as a bug in a rug" docking knot!

Spaghetti knot... I'm in a hurry

Show off!

Hope that you enjoyed my "Knotty... but nice" ending for this post!

Smooth Summer Sailing... and Good Painting .... to ALL !!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Mid Summer Dream

I enjoyed the unexpected privilege of beginning a new friendship ... and sharing a painting session with a talented... and budding artist. The visit was not quite unexpected because the artist's Grandma had earlier inquired about having this artsy-minded grandchild "come for a lesson" with me... as a part of a surprise birthday gift she had planned during the artist's summer visit with her. I knew only two facts about this young lady. Her name was Hana... and she was just turning ten years old. Not much to go on... to insure a meaningful experience for either painters involved.

I let my intuition... and  my many years of experience working with exuberant, young people in this pre teen age group to (hopefully) guide my planning for optimal enjoyment and success. Not knowing her previous experience and interests was in fact worrisome to me in the planning process. But as the hour of reckoning drew nigh, I decided that the "go word" and process that I would depend upon would indeed be Intuition. Children and I love to day dream... and "let it all hang out." However, even when employing an intuitive process... planning is still essential to success. Hiking can be a wonderfully fulfilling experience... one which arouses adventure and creative juices. But a route must be planned... and necessary preparations made beforehand to insure maximum comfort... enjoyment... and safety. Hiking and wandering in wilderness conditions are akin to driving and drinking under the influence. Neither experience should be undertaken. The same is true with painting in my experience and process.

Prior to Hana's arrival that morning, I had arrived at the idea of a purely intuitive approach. I then decided upon an obvious summer leaves element as a thematic guide for our brief two hour artistic journey. I took my morning coffee and tripped around the village gathering several leaf specimen "possibilities"... that offered differing characteristics and variety. With the subject matter taken care of, I had then to consider offering a variety of applications or treatments.... mediums and tools/materials to support this exploratory venture. This process for me had the teaching ring of preparing lessons again... and indeed... it was just that! HA HA!!

Experience has taught me never to stand unprepared in front of ten year olds.The experience can only leave you naked... and embarrassed... even in the short span of a forty minute skirmish! Preparation is essential for potential success and enjoyment in any activity!

Here is a list of the materials that I made available to Hana:

acrylic paints - limited to primary colours plus white
brushes three bristle brushes of varied widths -  one half to one inch widths and one pointed
two large styrofoam meat trays for palette and mixing
two large bottles of water - constantly changed at intervals to keep colours from muddying
one sheet of Canson 140 lb watercolour paper- taped and mounted on a wooden sheet
a printing brayer, salt shaker, strings, piece of paraffin wax, pointed Sharpie marker, primary style pencil, toothbrush (for spattering)
leaf resources - varied sizes of maple, white and red oak, fern, ginkgo, dandelion, lilac, grape, willow, sumac

The Start

Since neither of us knew the other... and the fact that Hana had no inkling of her "gift" until she toured the Gallery, it made sense to informally chat and find a common base to work from based upon her interest and comfort zone. It became immediately obvious to us both... that we had a "connection" and therefore a readiness to "do work" together. Exit Grandma for the next two hours! See ya at lunch!

In telling me about her home and school life... it was obvious that she was encouraged artistically in both places and her grasp of basic painting knowledge and vocabulary to more than strong enough to begin painting. I described my ideas surrounding a possible leaf theme and she seemed to be totally on board... and genuinely enthusiastic to proceed with my idea rather than any other theme that she might wish to pursue. A Theme now agreed upon... we then discussed Direction.

We both agreed that laying out a few varied leaf shapes within the image area would help stimulate creative compositional decision-making... yet not lead to unsatisfactory dead ends too early on in the process. That proved to be a very strong and helpful choice and the Play got under way. Within minutes, Hana decided upon a place and leaf that she felt strongly about - the sharp lobed red oak. She... without even hesitating added... "I think that "I'll repeat it in another part of the painting later... sort of an echo effect!" The image in my mind of an adult, working with a "child" disappeared at that very moment... and remained so right to the end of the paint out! In many ways... it seemed to me that the roles were reversed... and I became more of an Observer... and an Equal Learning Partner... and that felt good!

Getting underway.... slowly... thoughtfully

Note the tonal structure for orange that she has arranged on her palette beforehand... and how she is in the process of grading those values in various parts of her composition

Note that she uses shapes that travel beyond the picture space - her idea!

From time to time... I would draw to her attention other resources that she might want to consider... and how they might be employed. And so entered the salt... the brayer... the marker... the string and the various brushes...and "spatter" technique as she decided upon using them. It was simply joyful for me... to watch her unbridled confidence in making decisions that I would walk away from... and to see them emerge as a strong compositional element. To see her automatically use colour values to push leaves forward and back... knowing that she had the ability to do so... without my interference was only one of those very joyous moments of learning that I gleaned for my own thought and even future application.

There was no indecision at all as to when she should stop... and as to when the painting was done. She quite simply and unceremoniously stated, "I think that is all that I have to say really!... What do you think?"
My answer was direct and immediate as well. I said "Does what I think matter Hana?"
"Not really... I'm quite happy with it." Lesson finished?.... Well sort of. I placed the painting to get a shot of it in a horizontal position... my choice.

It is rather "blah looking".... rather ordinary and elementary looking in comparison with...


"Hana's Pride" - "her way"
When I asked her to hold it in a nicely posed but relaxed position so we could record her tenth birthday bash at The Paint Box Gallery... she immediately held it in the vertical position without missing a beat. Further evidence again... don't you think... that this girl is an old soul... exceptionally creative already, despite her young years. Note the dynamism... as the leaves in the painting seem almost to tumble downward... and in layers of space created by her intentional choice of complementary colour hues and values.

Given future encouragement... and space to grow her Art independently... Hana could well find her way through life... journal ling her way with paint! I believe it possible... but life is all about individual choices! She is talented for certain - BUT has yet to become an artist. That will be a long journey... but she has all of the ingredients, even at this very young age to begin that life long adventure.... should she choose to do so.

The term "Artist" is so bandied about... and in my mind abused these days. This term of entitlement in my humble opinion is reserved for the very few who choose the "road not taken"... and over a life time build a body of work and a reputation that separates them from doodlers and hobbyists who work at it as a past time pleasure. An artist is driven by compulsion... passion and an unusual desire to work hard... despite the promise of receiving less money. They are willing to fore sake security of a full time job in the main stream... and live humbly from the sales they make from that avocational choice. In most cases... "Artists" are folks who forsake growing up... preferring to listen to their child within to light their way. If you get to meet one such person in your life time... hold... watch... listen and learn. Such people inspire the creative spirit which abides with us all.

In closing... I do not consider myself an artist because my journey to become one is still underway. I have stood  in awe and humility before the work of art like "Pieta" ... and the supreme "David". I know the difference and feel like I am yet .... "playing with crayons"... with far to go and much to learn. Yet perhaps... in fairness... the artist feeling is for all of us, our desire to belong because we share the passion and love of art... within each of our hearts. Let's hold that sacred and continue to believe that someday... we might arrive.

"Time is the only critic." The words of  Canadian Artist AJ Casson (deceased)... Canadian Group of Seven member. I accept that... and just choose to keep painting!

Thank you friend Phyllis... for bringing Hana to paint with me! Thank "You" Hana... for generously sharing your own Light and considerable wisdom with me! Happy Birthday Sweetie! See you... as you wished for... next summer on your 11th Birthday! 

"You" are quite simply beautiful... inside and out!

Good Painting... to ALL!