Thursday, October 24, 2013

Finding A Rainbow In the Greyness of Late Autumn

A painting friend recently commented that the "good fall colour" was already gone in his area... and that it was getting cold. Both observations are indeed correct... to a degree. The high rich red colour of the annual maple magic has been clawed from their crowns by the rain and vicious winds. But that is the usual case for the end of October. Yet pockets of rich colour can still be found to enjoy and to paint... if one searches them out.

We finished our important chores and winter preparations around the house and Gallery. Our outside Gallery officially closed for the season this past weekend, so we brought all of the works and gift ware inside, hanging many in our full studio in the basement. We will entertain "come-by-chance" visits, or appointments when requested... but those are rare. The "high" summer season has passed.

Autumn is indeed a bitter-sweet moment for most of us. We relish the rush which the rich colour and warmth only found in these too few days of Fall. Perhaps it is this "fragile truce" between Summer and Winter that we call Autumn which animates all living creatures and things into a state of restlessness.Perhaps it is that same influence that drives artists into a frenzy to squeeze out as much of the colour to perhaps retain it somehow... if only on canvas.

When we departed to do grocery chores and a few other odds and sods, the sunlight... the azure blue of the sky and pockets of remaining colour triggered my painting impulse. I readied Deb for the fact that I "might" head out painting when we returned at lunch time. I find that painting helps to balance out my bitter-sweet... butterfly feelings. Other fellow Canadians, referred to as "snowbirds" have at least packed their bags in restless anticipation of their annual escape from long and cold Canadian winters to southerly places of choice.

The archetypal Autumn day rapidly disintegrated had all but disappeared during our quick lunch at "Islesview." But I decided to press on with my painting plan struck earlier in the morning. I would head out to a nearby... now fully vacated and empty Ivy Lea Provincial Park. It is my painting "Honey Pot/Tree", as Pooh would call his source of comfort! "Still waters..."

I heard this gaggle of very noisy... mostly bachelor mallards...  feeding and talking anxiously about something long before seeing them. I paused... unseen... just to watch and I marvelled  at the newly acquired sheen of the drakes now iridescent winter plumage. It would be this change of male attire that would fuel the Spring mating frenzy after their migration southward.

Here... they rest and drift..."tipping up" as one can see at the rear of the main grouping to feed on vegetation in the shallows below. Might that be their version of.... Thanksgiving? I wonder.....

Follow me ... as I tour about this pristine... ancient and sacred place.These are but a few of the views... just to whet the appetite... before settling down to paint. There is quite simply no shortage of varied subject matter to paint... but I know exactly where my set up place for the afternoon will be! Stay tuned....

Solemn stillness...

Unexpected emerald waters... This unique environmental  habitat has many unexpected micro features to ponder scattered throughout it

 Gloomy?... Not to my eyes and heart!

 Bold jagged "erratics" (various sized rock slabs and pieces) composed of  metamorphic and igneous (volcanically formed) rocks covered by sparse soil... left unmoved for countless millenia. These were deposited here as the great glacier melted... receded and formed the St Lawrence River and the Great Lakes. This Park and the Thousand Islands form the point where this immense geological formation... which covers half the area of Canada thrusts its way southward from Hudson's Bay in the far north to more southern reaches in the United States. The Thousand Islands are merely islets left to reveal  the eons of erosion by the strong river current on this band of the oldest rocks on earth. Lucky for us!

 No colour...  maples gone? Pshaw!

Vacant... vibrant campsite patterns.... everywhere!

Unusual species of trees... this one a jaunty yellow leafed tulip tree. Wonder where they got the name? HA HA!!!

Fungi Fantasia!... Every shape and colour... Fun to look at! Strangely and exotically... and likely toxic-ally beautiful!

And here we are! This is my intended painting site. I missed doing it last year... I was in Algonquin Park... but that's another story... already told. This is today's story. Here ends my wordy description for this post. I will let this scene... and my response speak for themselves. Imagine what you will... but enjoy!

The mallard flock and the cold breeze continually etched and reworked the water area... seen so calm in my photo. I liked the disturbance they caused ... and the fact that it was not man made.

"October Opus... Composed at Ivy Lea" oil on canvas 11x14 inches

This is my "Rainbow". See the gold?

I will close my post today with a stanza from a song "Rainbow Song" made popular in the early 2000's by the Philippine Pop group South Border. It summarizes the content of today's post and my belief system... expressed both in print and visual terms. Food for thought!

"Take a little time HONie
See the butterflies colour
Listen to the birds that were sent
To sing for you and me
This a wonderful place
Even when there is pain
Everything would be all right
For as long as the world turns
There will be night and day
Can you hear me
There's always a rainbow after the rain.

Forget those "Rainy Day Feelins." Look up!... That's where more most rainbows can be found. If one's not there ... then look around you. Sometimes there's a rainbow on the ground! Get out and paint it!

A Pine Island Rainbow Evening

Good Fall Painting!... to ALL!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

"Rained Out"... say You?... " Nay!"... said They!

Winnie the Pooh, to Christopher Robin:
"Christopher Robin! I think it would help with this deception, if you would kind of open up your umbrella and say, "Tut-tut, it looks like rain."
- A.A Milne

As the Toronto Weather Gods had forecast throughout the week... rain and gloom crept into Port Perry just a scant two hours behind me. Oh dear! My worst worries and thoughts suddenly became reality. Not a peep of blue sky... or sun for the entire day. The "teacher" in me... the one who feels responsible for all of his charges was mulling strategies to deal with the cold... [real cold] reality that lay ahead.

Six enthusiastic individuals had paid Meta4 Gallery for the pleasure of my company for six hours... hopefully to introduce/encourage each of them to paint outdoors. I knew only two of the participants and only one of them had plein air experience. It turned out that another had equal outdoor experience as well. So, we were to be problem-solving our way through a rather gloomy prospect for plein air success. Given my recently acquired knowledge at the Eagle Point Winery event and my prior scouting results... I headed into battle with my "umbrella" opened wide... hoping that it would offer shelter and encouragement to the newly-formed... Port Perry "Group of Seven"!

"The human mind is like an umbrella, it functions best when open.
-Albert Einstein

My "umbrella" is my passion for outdoor painting... in all seasons. When combined with my years of plein air work in every season... the two never fail to create an environment of possibility... a perspective from where I can always create paintings. For the novice plein air artist, it is what lies immediately in front of them that they feel they must record. On this particular day, they were looking for inspiration in an empty lakeside park swallowed by gloomy greyness, but as yet... minus the dreaded rain.

I assured them that we would be able to complete a painting, given the two hour weather respite... but only if we made use of the rain-less window of opportunity with determination and utmost speed. We began the session with a brief explanation of my carry in kit, followed by a selection of site [scouting detail] and then the two minute set up. What followed was a "flash" demo on a 12x10 burnt sienna toned panel. All of this transpired over the short span of fifteen minutes.

This is a modern view of The George Currie Grain Elevator which dates back 125 years into Port Perry's illustrious past. I felt that its presence not only had heritage value, but in painting terms, it could serve as a strong structure in a composition.

The Demo:
During this brief ten minute demonstration, I emphasized the importance of line... structure and shapes to create a strong composition of available elements. I stressed as well... that a "push n' pull " approach should be employed during this part of the process. In other words, draw in elements that you like... and push those out those that cause distraction, or bother you. In short....Completely own what you select to paint... right from the onset!

I chose the vertical format because it emphasized and echoed  the central mill form. I used the "half" garden foreground element to anchor the foreground and to add some colour and brightness to the otherwise dull and gloomy atmosphere of the grey day and mill behind. I used the still dark foliage of the maple to the right to add a contrasting shape... and  to stop the eye on that side. I moved the telephone pole from the actual centre of the site, choosing to use it to stop the eye from drifting off the page on the left. I added the yellow clad small maple... to break in front of the mill, thus making the mill less dominant. The bench held no interest for me... in this composition. This was totally about the mill... in relation to this peaceful park landscape setting!

Lay in reached roughly ten brief minutes start to finish. Now their turn. Choose your site... not necessarily the mill. Set up... all within ten minutes. One half hour until lay in is complete. Given the sky conditions... that is about as long as we will be able to stand unprotected from the rain that IS approaching.

Pitter-patter.... Let's get at 'er!

Despite their trepidation (and mine) about the time constraint and the imposed speed limit... all successfully reached the hoped for lay in stage within the time frame set... and just as the first drops of rain made themselves known to us. Whew!

We each quickly dismantled our painting kits and placed our gear and the paintings safely in trunks of our vehicles parked nearby. It was a short trot up to our lunch stop... "The Piano Bistro"... an elegant and popular eating establishment that the Meta4 Gals had prearranged and had included in the fee. We were ushered into a quiet room unto ourselves where we talked shop... shared experiences and simply go to know each other better. That warm homemade bowl of soup, served in tandem with a wonderfully hot... healthy and delicious slice of mushroom quiche prepared me well for the rest of a very [all afternoon] rainy session in the park. Given the option to paint in the indoor warm, dry ample studio of Meta4... all elected to head back to our bandstand cover in the park. And it worked out wonderfully!

A "bluebird day"... in another visit to our luncheon destination.The Piano Bistro could perhaps be considered the linch pin in the succession of  High Victorian architectural gems which comprise the entire downtown Port Perry business district! It remains a very rich and vital community commercially... yet retains a special welcoming friendliness and an artistic flare and panache,  rarely seen anywhere in my travels in Ontario. It is quite simply.... quintessentially Ontario living... at its very best! Also, I must add... Met4 and her creative lady force are one of leaders...the drivers and spark plug in that revitalization of the downtown core! Don't simply take my word for it. Visit it yourself... if ever you can. You are in for a shopping and dining thrill! Bravo Gals!

Our afternoon Bastion... The local bandstand pavilion! "Picture perfect" itself... I'd say!

So did "Foxy" Karen... a member of elite Seven who braved the entire day of rain... truly... en plein air!

Was it worth it Folks??? Karen's lovely smile says so! Does it matter who else does?... Bravo Foxy Friend!

Her finished effort en plein air... Says it all Folks! Warm and inviting!

Local artist and painting friend of Karen...Harvey "holding court" with a couple of the many interested townspeople who bravely ventured out on a nasty day to see us work!

Over Harvey's shoulder at the start...

Back again... nearing completion. Another Group Winner!

Laurie... pondering her way through the lay in! A great start Gal!

Laurie entering the flash finale stage for her first ever plein air painting... everything is in place and her result was SUPERB!!!

Alma... in her quiet comfort zone... painting her horizontally formatted  subject with brushes (outside that comfort zone). She asked, " Can I possibly use my palette knife?"... Silly Bear!!!

Knifing her way through to finish... comfortably... and dry... still sitting!

Warmth... texture... serenely quiet and peaceful! Good deciding Alma!!! A gem! Totally en plein air...and you were there Alma!

Neophyte Plein Air Painter Paulette's first ever plein air painting! I celebrate your triumph over the fear factor  Paulette. C'est magnifique! Bien Fait... et... Bon Voyage! Enjoyez-toi les aventures du futur... en plein air!!!

I did it!... Says the SMILE-Y FACE! ...   : )

Then there's our final Groupie... Bill. Affable... witty and with his own way of doing things! I particularly enjoyed watching him shift away [in his unique painting style] from a purely impressionistic bent like the other six of us... to a combo abstract that rolled the impressionistic into it. It appears so wonderfully geometric in its hard edged construction and pastel restraint in his palette. They work to create his unique and interesting view!

"I got a feelin' that there's something any ideas????"

 "Would a few darks and deeper values destroy what you wish to say?" I wonder????.....
Look at the dynamism and tension that he creates using line and highly directional brushwork!
There's room for all creatures in this Ark Bill!

"Fall Flash Dance at Currie's Mill, Port Perry" - demo plein air oil on panel 12x10 inches

It seems fitting ... that since my demo lit the initial fire, that it should be used to punctuate the closing to this already lengthy epistle. I have finished my demo under the same terms that I asked them to consider when they started to paint. Own your painting... from the start to the finish. This is my finish. Hardly the "Blustery Day" during which we shared time together. But it does, I think, speak to my total ownership of the process and most certainly reflects the brightness of spirit and warmth of friendship that we, as a group have forged in a single grey and unpromising Fall day! 

As well... I have intentionally recreated a more historic and romantic view of Currie's Grain Elevator. I believe that a healthy respect for the past nurtures a sense of pride and hope for the Future. Perhaps... someone might see this wee demo painting and be inspired to fight to retain its presence in Port Perry! I understand that this question is being discussed and debated locally at this moment. Hang on to every morsel of the heritage that is so obvious that makes Port Perry so special! 

I wish to say a special thank you to each of my Port Perry Group of Seven members for creating such an enjoyable and uplifting day! Thank you to Birgitta and the Creative Meta4 Gals for creating this opportunity! Happy Fall ... to ALL!!! Hope to meet... and paint together again!

I will end today's post with an appropriate quote from a poet that I much admire and enjoy, G.K Chesterton.

"And when it rains, look up rather than down. Without the rain there would be no rainbow."

All day Saturday... the Rain... was our friend and we played outdoors and everywhere together. And oh...  what fun we had!

Good Painting !... to ALL!!!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Reverie... to Reconciliation!


Reverie is a word that best describes my current state of mind. Such a state is defined in the dictionary as "an absent-minded day dream." In some fashion that is indeed true. Bearing witness to the colourful spectacle... pomp and pageantry of Autumn in Canada... does in fact take one's  mind beyond the normal realm of awareness and reality. It is for me... an altered state... indeed a dream world... where Time stands still and the world breathless in the face such beauty. To quote one line or two from "High Flight"by John Gillespie Magee, Jr, a long held and loved favourite of mine, it is that exact time for "Me" ...

" And while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand,
And touched the face of God."

While Magee's poem places him in a fighter plane soaring leagues above the earth and "I"... both feet on solid earth in an Island rich region of Ontario and richly coloured hardwood woodland... the state of reverie is basically the same. Though our journeys are vastly different... our common appreciation and gratitude are shared across space... and Time itself. We live... momentarily "in parallel" in our thoughts and sense of rapture.

My question to you today is: "When did you last feel a sense of reverie... rapture... in any moment of your daily life?" If you have to think too hard to answer that question, then you are not fully living your life. All that it takes to achieve such a state of goodness and well-being, is to make time somewhere to be alone in the majesty of wherever you call home... find a quiet place... and open up your senses to that space. See... smell... listen and taste it fully in the sanctity of your Self... and your Creator. Give thanks... that "You"... are FREE to do so!

I guarantee an instant and healthy "high"... one that you will learn... can be returned to... tapped into... whether or not you carry a painting kit or camera with you. Record it in labyrinth of your memory for rainy, grey and not-so-fruitful days!

I wish to share with you further a small sample of those things which caused me to offer these words and thoughts to you... a potpourri of recent photo images and paintings from other fall painting trips. I hope that they encourage you to seek out the beauty of your own worlds... in the hopes that it encourages you to feel blessed... as I do! Enjoy! I'd love to hear back to you about those beautiful places and raptures that you might have experienced!

Reconciliation comes out of  ... Harmony and Acceptance.... and with it Inner Peace!

I will close this post with a few lines from Robert Genn's Bi-weekly Newsletter that I received and read this morning. I have long admired both his painting and his writings... his "Two Voices"....

"I vowed no matter how corrupted or commercial I was to become as an artist, I would always put the simple love of painting before all."

Over my life time, I have tried to follow that same path in my own journey with my family... my friends and my students. Tomorrow... I journey to Port Perry, Ontario to conduct a plein air session in what is predicted to be cold, rainy and uncomfortable conditions. I will carry forward with me my own simple love of painting... hoping that those who have elected to attend will see it... and learn something that they can apply to their own painting lives... outdoors! Stay tuned...

This shot taken of "Me"... alone at Lake Opeongo in Algonquin Park.... cactures my moment reverie. Is it obvious... even without seeing my face???... "The face of God"!

Reverie can be shared! Bryn and I ... together on Thanksgiving Sunday at the highest point on The Thousand Islands International Bridge... The Islands lay before us for miles and miles... the waters of The St Lawrence .. a hundred and fifty below us. Pure reverie!

These woodland places are amongst the most deeply moving and sacred for me. The acrid caldron of woodland smells....  leaves on the ground ... moss and fungi and the pervasive dampness wet rocks are intoxicating. The silence is deadening... broken only by a patter of leaves striking the ground gently... and an odd bird migrant.

A precious meadow moment... lush in light and colour

An unexpected  rainbow moment yesterday... looking out at Cleopartra Island on my evening walkabout

"Signalling Autumn"... an 8x10 inch plein air sketch from the Oro-Medonte Hills

"Drying Out at Rose Bay, Nova Scotia" -  24x30 inch plein air oil on canvas

 "Bienvenue a Charlevois!" plein air oil on canvas 36x24 inches

"Drying Out in Whitney" plein air oil on canvas - 24x30 inches

"En Souvenir de AY Jackson" plein air oil on canvas 48x36 inches

" Leaning towards Autumn - 24x30 inch studio oil on canvas

 "Autumn Quietude, Round Lake" plein air oil on canvas 30x36 inches

"Church of the Redeemer, Rockport" - plein air oil on canvas 20x24 inches

My Reverie...

Moments  found alone... or shared with special people.
Moments of bliss
Moments of introspection
Moments of uplifting spirit and inner Peace
May they now be yours.

Good Painting to... ALL!