Monday, March 30, 2015

"Spring" - ing Forward..."

Spring continues to show more of a presence here on the River, as larger and thicker pans of ice drift continuously toward the east. The quiet groups of robins just arrived a week ago have swung into their noisy... boisterous and aggressive territorial pursuits which signal the mating season and the lead in to nesting. Trumpeting Canada Geese do continual flybys along the edge of the river ice, while squadrons of returning turkey vultures circle their way northward on their annual migration trek. Many can be seen lunching on the plethora of inexperienced winter born young of squirrels... raccoon and skunks... now lying as fresh road kill to satiate the vulture's ravenous hunger resulting from the huge energy demands of their long migratory journey back.

Shards of ice headed downstream towards Tar Island... where the current will whisk them to the outer channel and down river along Grenadier Island and into the main Seaway Shipping Channel.

Sea Prince... fully inspected... and "at the ready"... to "heave off" on her inaugural 2015 voyage this Friday. Rumor has it that she will carry over a thousand Asian visitors over this weekend... providing the weather holds... and the ice presents no shipping danger.

In the bird feeding area of our yard... winter residents must now compete with newly arrived red winged black birds, starlings, emerging chipmunks and night time masked bands of resident raccoon... fresh out of hibernation and anxious to find their share of the booty. The yard echoes with the challenges and squabbles of a variety of voices... new and old. Even the familiar soothing smell of the once covered grass and soil can be detected. Spring is indeed... in the air!

Mourning Doves preening n' pecking... courting is under full steam!

Anxious irises... poking their heads through the still frost-filled soil and ice to retain their crown as first to emerge in our garden

On a personal note, we can now divert our energies and attention to preparing for the opening of The Paint Box Gallery in early May. Withe my solo show in Kingston successfully out of the way this past weekend... I can resume my own painting journey attending to themes of my own liking and interest. I very much look forward to being able to get outside more regularly... since the cold seems to be relenting.

While the show was not what I had hoped for in terms of attendance or sales at this point... it has already accomplished the goals that I had intended to achieve in accepting the challenge to produce it. I have created some of the very finest work that I have produced and I know from my years of retail experience... that openings are hardly the measure of the overall success of a show. Many factors play into opening success... and those factors are beyond my ability or responsibility to control. I am after all... only the painter!

Curator Kate cruising the early visitors at the show

My talk was well received by those present and it offered me an opportunity to reflect and deliver a precised overview of my journey and process. Judging from the interest and the quality of the many questions asked of me... my talk was indeed a conversation... that is... a successful invitation to discuss and share opinions and ideas. Mission accomplished!

"Me"... giving my talk... while couched comfortably in the warmth and ambiance of the artisan glass wood and pottery.

Kate Ducharme, the gallery curator did a splendid job and completed the hanging job flawlessly.... articulating a flow and artful interaction between my work and the many other creative pieces in the gallery space. Thank you Kate... for all of your hard work!

A  full wall housing a nice cluster of four landscapes... depicting the four seasons

A trio of River landscapes... fronted by a tiered grouping... blending beautiful and varied hand crafted pieces.

"River Dance"... the tour de force in my mind for this show... nestled between two very different landscapes and fronted by some magnificent glass,,, wooden bowls and pottery. A spectacular looking natural wall.

 My son... and supporter Bryn... admiring some of the glass.

The small "Time Stands Still... on the River" triptych tucked into a small alcove in concert with the warmth and natural quality of these salad sets and delicate glass.

"Tangled Garden"... standing tall and alone... above the elegantly sculpted trio sitting colorfully below.

These three River scenes blend ever so naturally and handsomely with the bevy of handmades on the shelves below. Bravo Kate!

Deb and I are ready to sit down together this weekend to fully review our inventory of creative offerings that we stocked throughout last season... to facilitate re ordering... or not. It also will be the time where we will determine what new products and projects each of us will undertake to create new and exciting additions in the Gallery for Summer 2015.

It is a wonderful and exhilarating feeling to be thinking summer again... and well before it is actually upon us. While we have worked continuously downstairs in our shared winter studio space... there is a sense of freedom gained by visualizing the end of the confinement which winter brings here in Rockport. Many of the resident winter "snowbirds" have found their way back... and human activity has once again returned in its usual gradual fashion. It is rumored that the first boat cruise might head up River under the International Bridge... as early as Friday... despite the existence of a lot of heavy river ice. Spring ... is on the water as well!

In closing... I hope that you have enjoyed my offerings of a few jpeg glimpses of the show opening. Hope that these provide you with some insight into the space and the presence of paintings there. Certainly... a "jump start" for The Paint Box Gallery for Summer 2015! I am pleased...

Good Painting... and Happy Easter Egg!... to ALL!

A "Sweet Taste of Spring"... to All!! Happy Easter from The Paint Box Gang!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Introspective and yet... Retrospective

A strange title at first glance perhaps... but let me try to explain its use and validity given my current situation and perspective.

I have been giving time and thought each morning to the task that I have been given... to deliver a short talk to those invited to the vernissage this Saturday at the Kingston Glass Studio and Gallery. Kate has asked that I try to encapsulate my thoughts and ideas in preparing this exhibition on the agreed upon theme: On the River... A Homecoming. As well... she asked that I share my personal and artistic journeys and if possible .. to discuss my process and approach to my painting the landscape in particular.

 In reflecting upon her requests... most of what was asked is hardly unusual for me to answer... because I am often asked about these aspects of my life Biography and geography provide answers to the River and Home Coming parts. I was born in Brockville on the banks of the Saint Lawrence and summered with my family for fifty odd years at "The Narrows" located between Tar Island and the mainland about  a stone's throw eastward from Rockport. Hence the River is indeed... my true Home.

I have lived in Toronto briefly... with longer stays in nearby Camden East and Kingston. My travels have taken me to Nova Scotia for a six year stay and then up to the Georgian Bay area... before finally arriving ... "back at Go"! I have painted in all but one Canadian province (Newfoundland/Labrador)... Italy... all of the British Isles... Germany... the United States and the Caribbean. All of these richly beautiful and diverse places piqued and enriched my landscape painting interests.

However... it has always been my dream to come back to this area to finish up. Though my travels revealed untold beauty and adventure... I never felt better painting the landscape... than in this idyllic Thousand Island archipelago. It has been... and remains... the cradle of my spirit(s) - my Soul and my restless creative spirit.

In discussing the theme possibilities with Kate beforehand, I attempted to relate to her how my life and work had changed... rather recently and especially after moving back to Rockport. Even my concept of what constitutes a landscape has changed drastically. As with all of us... we are taught and conditioned socially to adopt certain realities and perspectives in order to communicate and operate within the parameters of the group that we live... and play with. The same holds true with art education.

Much of my life has been spent playing with... and being in the company of young people. I believe that in so doing... I have been reluctant to assume or cave in to social pressure. I haven't lost my joy ... or my desire to "get down and play". I have always been an independent learner throughout my life... and have encouraged and enabled that goal and choice with the people... young or old that I choose to share time with.

At this point... to make this too long story... short as was my intention... I will cut to the chase.

The most striking change that I discovered in my introspective moments... was that landscape need not merely imply... as we are taught to believe..  an interpretation of impression of a  part of the natural world about us. It can be viewed and painted in terms of other equally valid perspectives.

Landscape paintings can be made... even created, be focused and attributed as cultural or heritage landscapes. These paintings tend to focus upon man's influence and his use of the natural landscape. That can include significant architecture... and even people actively engaged in specifically related activity.

A third kind of landscape, in my opinion depicts a spiritual landscape. Such landscapes evoke a spiritual connection and can even be constructed and manipulated to exact a spiritual connection with the viewer. These landscapes can take the forms of figure drawings... still life subjects based upon related inanimate objects... or again focus on the natural landscape in a mystical way... or the responsibility for assuming stewardship.

No matter which form of landscape a painter chooses to paint... he or she is attempting to establish a conversation with the viewer... using a painting as a narrative device. That attempt, or opportunity to establish such a conversation is always preceded by a prior conversation that commences internally within the artist in response to the outward stimulus from the Muse.

I maintain that an artist only presents his... or her finest art when it has its origin within and is fueled by passion and a compulsion to share the experience. To me... Art is yet another Voice... one which is just as expressive and valid as the spoken voice. I would add... that this second voice is more powerful as a tool to encourage conversation... simply because it allows freedom of interpretation and response... without judgement.

I feel that my collection of twenty paintings for this exhibition includes samples of each interpretation that I have put forward. I feel that they reveal an introspective look inside me to reveal how I feel and think about the world I live terms of Today... and Yesterday... in my own journey. A couple of the paintings that I have chosen to include which belong to me clearly demonstrate the breadth of my own unique journey.

While my art is in no way unique... or let's say innovative in itself... it is none the less totally unique because... like you, I created it with my mind and hands. I did so to share it with others. Withoput my actions... that voice could not be heard. Those are the Metrics upon which I base my success as a painter. Even this blog is based upon this same creative template - sharing ideas in a safe and encouraging forum. I truly hope that this is so... and that you feel free to comment and share your own ideas.

If I can lay claim to any notion of being unique... perhaps it lies in the great fortune I have been blessed to have been given. I have been able to integrate Art into my family... teaching and creative lives... so that scarcely a day has passed that I couldn't involve myself in some way with my passion and a pursuit of Art. I have been greatly blessed...

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

PS Here are some samples of this week's small Spring "landscaping" projects. You decide in which category I might have been working! HA HA!! Enjoy!

"Spring... Is Just Around the Corner" - oil on cradle board panel 8 x 10 inches

"Sap's a' runnin!... Full Steam Ahead!" - oil on cradle board panel 8 x 10 inches

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Winter's Back... Is Broken

Show opening... a ray of  renewal... and Sunshine!

Everyone welcome to attend if you live nearby! See you there on Saturday, March 28th -  2-4:00 pm

The title of today's post "Winters' Back... is Broken"... clearly reflects the conditions here on the River and in Rockport. Winter has indeed lost his deeper-than-usual icy grip on the flow of this majestic and timeless body of water. The River has visibly resumed its never-ceasing journey eastward towards the Atlantic Ocean. Large pans and floes of ice pass like seasonal seaway/river freighters soon will... with apparent ease and determination. Along the shoreline... the cracking... booming voice of the thick river ice caused by ice pressure during the deep winter months is no more. That eerie and often unsettling sound has been replaced by the constant rattling of the broken shards of clear, glass like shoreline ice caused by wind and wave movement. Spring and its sounds are in the air both on... and around the River!

On land, even out our front window... bird sounds and behaviors have shifted dramatically from those driven primarily by hunger and winter survival... to new and more aggressive, audacious and audibly different pitches. One can easily tell that this change is for an entirely different purpose. These reflect territorial interests and disputes, as well as specific spring body language; dance-like in many cases to denote Spring nesting and courting interests. All the world's a-Twitter and a-Tweet... just like the current interest surge in social media postings! "Love is in the air..."

Creeks and small streams have lost their pristine and icy silence. At least they show that orange -green color that denotes underlying and as yet unseen change and rot is well underway. Soon that will give way and the dark melt water will feverishly and noisily rush with full and unabridged fury and abandon towards the main rivers... now open and ready to receive it.

Trees everywhere sport a fresh pinkish-red cast in their crowns... especially in the fading afterglow of the greatly lengthening end of day light. The maples have just released their sap on its annual voyage from the winter storage safety in the root system... up the trunk and skyward to trigger and to encourage the budding into the next stage - the blooming of leaves. This accounts for the sweet smell of Spring maple production which permeates all bushes in the heavily covered hardwood stands in this area.

All of these changes help elevate a change and shift in my own inner spirit and painting process. I am drawn to get "out there" to become a player in this brief annual pageant... or Natural Nativity! Stay tuned for scenes like these to come to this blog station. The run is now heavily underway!...

I'm outta here!...

Good (Spring) Painting!... to ALL!!!

"Winter's Grasp... is Broken" - oil on panel 12 x 16 inches SOLD

"Sweet Taste of Spring" - oil on canvas 20 x 16 inches SOLD

"The Real Team Canada" - oil on canvas 5 feet x 7 feet SOLD

"One Bucket From Home" - oil on panel 12 x 14 inches SOLD

"Sun Bathing at Smail's Sugar Bush, Groveton ON watercolor on Arches 300 lb paper 11 x 15 inches SOLD

" Afternoon Recess, Sunderland's Sugar Bush Kemptville ON Watercolor on Arches 300 lb  paper - 16 x 20 inches - Gifted

 "Sugar Moon, Sheppard's Bush  Aurora ON - oil on canvas 18 x 14 inches - Gifted

"Three Bucket Maple" - 22 x 30 inch watercolor on Archers 300 lb paper - Gifted

Afternoon Recess - oil on canvas 36 x 36 inches - SOLD

Fresh Snow... McCutcheon's Sugar Bush - Horseshoe Valley oil an canvas 24 x 20 inches SOLD

Into the Evening Shadows, Madoc ON " oil on panel 24 x 20 inches - SOLD

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Sharing a Gift..

The purpose of this blog forum has always been to openly share ideas and painting processes with kindred spirits... to build a community of passionate and creative individuals who can offer an alternative to the darkness that seems to engulfed the world around us. But tonight that gift of sharing comes not from me... but from another source.

I have always believed that the greatest contribution that a society can leave behind to guide future generations is to be found in the Arts. For this reason... I have dedicated my entire life to carrying my own creative message of Hope through my art to be shared with children and teachers of children. I believe that children and education are the bastions of Hope for our current generation. Perhaps... that was always so.

Tonight... I would like to pass forward to you an uplifting manifestation of proof for these beliefs in the form of this You Tube video that my long time painting pal Frank Edwards shared with me this evening. I cannot tell you the impact of this performance on me personally. Watch it yourself and you be the judge. Pass it forward and share it with those in your own life... who might understand the power of this message... and its effect upon their own thinking and journey.

"Oh I have slipped the surly bonds of earth..."... on the wings of this nine year old angel of song. Turn up your speakers... and be prepared to be carried heavenward! Enjoy!

Peace and Hope can triumph! The Arts unifies and inspires the best we can aspire to as Humanity. This video validates this belief fully.

Good Painting.... and Listening... to ALL!!!!!

Amira Willighagen... is a nine year old Dutch musical prodigy... with a voice that comes from... God only knows!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Beyond Words...

My post this morning will not be taking its usual form... in that I am not going to offer  my usual column or "treatise" to express what has been occurring in my "Universe". I am rather... going to post the pictures that will make up the soon to occur exhibition at The Glass House Gallery and Studio... opening on Saturday, March 28th, 2015... between 2 and 4:00 pm.

In so doing... I hope to demonstrate my continued belief and contention that "making pictures" is yet another ... equally valid way of expressing one's self. While this "voice" is mute... when compared to the other, it is equally capable of stirring thoughts... and emotive responses such as passion. Like each of you... I simply live to search for better ways to improve this voice because you see... I choose to believe that my voice is unique. But then again... so is yours!!! Each of us quite simply sees the world through a set of eyes and with our very individual and complex brains try interpret and record in paint our impressions.

What I have to say may not be totally unique from the others who journey beside me, but what I have to say has always come from inside me alone. It represents my view of my inner "Universe". Through my paintings... my other "voice" I invite you to visit and to better understand my journey. Take what you will from what I show you. I offer it to all of you to enjoy and perhaps find who some worth in it that might inspire or encourage you.

Enjoy this current chapter which "journals" this newest chapter in my painting and life adventures.

Good Painting... to ALL!!

"Winter Warmth" - oil on gallery wrap canvas 20 x 24 inches

"Wind.. Water and Rock" - oil on canvas 8 x 10 inches

"TimersStands Still in the Islands" - three canvas triptych oil 6 x 36 inches

"Sunscape" - oil on canvas 20 x 16 inches

"My Tangled Garden" - oil on canvas 30 x 24 inches

"Comes the Morning, Delta Mill" - oil on gallery wrap canvas - 24 x 30 inches

"Quiet Waters" - oil on canvas 12 x 16 inches

"January Thaw, Rockport" - oil on oak panel 10 x 17 inches

"Spring... on the Run" - oil on canvas 24 x 20 inches

"Just Before the Run" - oil on canvas 8 x 10 inches

"Sunlit Point" - oil on canvas 11 x 14 inches

"Between Showers, Smuggler's Cove" - oil on canvas 16 x 20 inches

"First Ice, Smuggler's Cove" - oil on canvas 10 x 12 inches

"January Thaw, Oro" - oil on canvas 20 x 24 inches

Fred Guild's River Grandeur - oil on canvas 16 x 20 inches

"Island Belles" - three canvas triptych 12 x 34 inches

" As Time Goes By" - oil on canvas 36 x 30 inches

"River Dance" - oil on gallery wrap canvas 40 x 30 inches

This large canvas is the "tour de force" for the show. It represents all of the joy and majesty that the River offers each of us blessed to be raised on its shore. It really is a landscape
 that can be found in so many places within the Thousand Island Archipelago. As well, it is a site which indeed repeats itself throughout the entire Frontenac Biosphere Reserve... from Algonquin Park through to the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York.

The playfulness of certain of the forms in direct contrast to the more realistic treatment of other forms I believe, demonstrates the varied ways that the landscape can be interpreted and painted. Despite the tension that this situation creates, the composition weaves it together in harmony and warm color.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Follow Me... If You Wish...

I am at last reaching the conclusion of a long haul to fulfill my obligations to the The Glass Studio Gallery to deliver an exciting collection of new paintings. These (hopefully) reflect my thoughts and impressions upon my return to my place on this magnificent River and its 1000 Islands.

It has been a long and arduous journey I can assure you. But I can also assure you that the gain that is to come out of this undertaking will not be measured solely in its potential for success in dollars alone. Though I firmly believe that will occur... at some point... the greatest gain to have been made will be for "Me" in finding an exciting new direction for my work.

The strength of this show is that it marks a clearly pivotal departure for me in my approach to making landscape paintings. More importantly... these paintings consolidates a fresh view (in my mind) that summarizes where I have come from in my painting journey... and where I wish to conclude it. Therein lies the newest blessing in my already full and rewarding life!

After so many years of paintings landscapes in many different places... depending always on the Natural world as my my Muse and mentor, I began to tire of facing yet another "pretty picture" painting opportunity. That repetitive scenario no longer fuelled the passion that had previously carried me and my paint box out into the landscape in search of another adventure. That sense of adventure was flickering... and even lately...fleeting at best.

This harsher than usual past winter that is just on the the verge of giving up the ghost removed any realistic and comfortable opportunity to paint en plein air for me. I continuously awaited a break where I could escape the overwhelming feeling of confinement that I felt in our shared downstairs studio. The space is large enough... bright enough and Deb's company is always enjoyable. But it is the solitude and presence of the external stimuli that the Natural world has always afforded me that was missing. That is an important ingredient for me in making successful and evocative paintings.

Ironically, it was this very problem that paradoxically led me on this new path and new way of thinking... and "seeing" the landscape. The situation forced me to sit down and to more clearly define..... what the term "Landscape" actually meant to me. My final conclusion arrived ever so slowly. But today... I look and at a new and inspiring realm of "possibility" for the way I will approach painting the landscape in the future. I believe that "difference" is clearly evident in each of the paintings that I have made for this upcoming exhibition.

Here is an abbreviated view that I wish to share with you about my discovery;

I had always embraced the commonly accepted working definition for the term landscape - "an extensive piece of inland scenery seen from one place... or a picture made of it." Fair enough... and that was the model upon which I had primarily based my thinking and process up to now.

However, I now see the term as possibly meaning many things... and something quite different... at least in my own terms and usage. I believe that we all began our search with the same working definition, simply because... that was what was presented to us as the "acceptable" model upon which to base our beginnings. We all pass through the process discovering and applying new views and methods to experiment with further. Most of that new data we apply comes from the perceptions and experiences of those around us whom we deeply admire... or whom we view as "successful".

I have come to discover a new path for "Me"... and it comes from within me. It has always been in there. The term landscape, in my thinking can mean many things... and can be looked at and thought of ... "outside of the box" we have unwittingly built around us. Consider these "possibilities."

Could the human mind not be considered a mysterious and incalculably vast landscape in itself? I firmly believe that it indeed is that. It is a vast landscape composed of an immense personal library of memories and thoughts that is ever-changing... and... unique to every individual. Could that not become one's sole Muse... if one chose to make it so? Abstract painters customarily rely upon this intuitive response mechanism to make their expressive paintings come to life in their usual painting processes.

Another facet that I think reflects a sense of landscape... is to consider the actual physical landscape including the presence or the effect of man... or animals upon it. That notion can even be further extrapolated to include the cultural and historical change and development of this change in land use and development. Add to that a landscape perspective which focuses upon either an urban or rural setting. All are still landscape forms. The list is endless.

But the element of landscape that I am choosing to embrace from here forward borrows a computer term -  cut n' paste. I have the very enviable position of having spent most of my painting life in the outdoors. I have always maintained... and will continue to advocate the practice of learning in the natural classroom through painting it... in all seasons.

Therefore, I have had enough experience and made enough paintings in that situation... to quite frankly paint right off the top of my head... if that were my choice. It isn't ... by the way! Becoming a better painting is a life long avocation and pursuit.

However... it does afford me the free agency to "Imagineer." That is my term to describe the freedom to paint intuitively from reality... all the while adding or removing at will what I have no use for. This approach allows me the opportunity to include ideas... that upon first glance appear to demonstrate incongruity. They do however... take the physical scene to a spiritual level dictated by my own personal feelings and passion for what lies before me.

This is a brief attempt to share the thoughts and ideas that I have been considering to help me determine a new personal vista and view for painting the landscape. Perhaps it seems not to be applicable... or even sensible to your process and thinking. That is okay
 I should like to close out today's post with this thought.. I offer it as always as ... "food for thought - eat or not."  That is should always be the question!

I would like to close out today's psst with this thought. I spend a great deal of time preparing for and writing each and every post on this blog forum. I do so... ALWAYS in the hopes that the content will inspire others to reach out... risk and discover their own adventures and truths. I DO NOT in any fashion purport that either my words... or my beliefs and practices reflect any unique revelation or template for the success ... or the failure of others. Were that to be construed as the case... I would cease writing this blog immediately if I thought that it bashed,,, dashed or discouraged the journey of another.

With some of you... who regularly seek me out ... to visit and chat... or ask direction, I do try to impartially, but fairly reach out to you as a mentor of sorts. If that is the case, be aware that I never hand out false praise... or "back slap" to encourage receiving one back. I do not surf... simply because my passion and my task is to paint. "I" am principally responsibly for my own journey and outcomes. The praise and the joy that I receive comes primarily to "Me"... as it should... from within!

I offer the first today... of my landscape views... this one from the past. But it is as relevant to this post... and perhaps merits a place in the upcoming exhibition (still to be discussed). It is unquestionably a very personal still life - an insight into my past... and into my memory trove of images which are my life. But it is as well a landscape measuring the breadth of my own life. It is a "Universal"... because this same "landscape" does in fact run in parallel to similar life landscapes that I have yet to...  nor likely will never view. Just a thought...

Good (Landscape) Painting!.... to ALL!!!

PS I will on fact post a slide show of the paintings for the exhibition for those of you out of the loop geographically later in the week... just for your interest.

"As Time Goes By" - oil on canvas 36 x 30 inches

This personal canvas pans across the very breadth of my own journey. 

Admittedly... it is a total "construct"... "Imagineered" using my imagination and thinking. From my childhood toy soldiers.. through my jive champ trophy earned with my "first serious" love, Mary in a dance-off competition at the Gananoque Canoe Club (now the Thousand Islands Playhouse). U Moving up to my earned football jacket... which to this day still represents the standard upon which I was able to lift my Self... to feel self-esteem in a school run by the elite of our community.  And outside... and high on the horizon... with a sinking sun... lies a favorite painting subject of mine -  a red barn. This represents today... not a "final resting place."

This painting, though painted in 2006 has yet to exhibited. For the reasons cited... it remains with me and my family. I think this a perfect time to include it in this exhibition, which as well as reflecting my return to the River and my roots, where the journey began... it speaks to the title (which was the song that my Dad ended each and every one of his dance is with). 

"AS Time Goes By"... for each of us... we leave behind a trail of significant memories which in total say..... "I was here"! 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Beyond Failure....

The word "failure" carries with it the implication that no success has been achieved in the act of what has been attempted. It has always remained my opinion that such a definition in itself... is more accurately a true failure. - a failure to incorporate more than one standard upon which to base success or learning in the process.

In my classroom, as in my own life... I have tried to view each "failure" more as a "learning opportunity." Hence, at the conclusion of the initial process one's duty is to evaluate what was learned, both positively and conversely... negatively. In subsequent attempts to improve, one can use both components learned to elevate performance and improvement... based more upon one's own standards and expectations.

I put this theory into practice within my painting process as well. As with all creative projects we undertake, our goal is to succeed. That is, we hope to end up with a product which lines itself up comparatively close to our original vision. In my own experience, complete perfection is a rarity... and a "pleasing painting" is most usually the general result to be expected.

Then... there are those frustratingly dark days of painting. Those discouraging days when nothing positive seems to happen. Or... the product is but a blurring resemblance to the inner vision in the end. I used to call them "Frisbees"  because... quite literally, Frank and I would simply Frisbee them (no signature)... to their final plein air final resting places. A good number of them even today... await re-discovery in many remote areas north of Kingston.

I no longer continue this negative recycling practice. I save them... turn them to the wall, so that I can forget them. I occasionally sand them and paint over them. But for the large part, I find that I "rediscover" them... and when I do, most of the original disappointment and angst over the perceived failure to hit the bulls eye has disappeared. It is then that I find myself inspired to come at the original "Idea" from another angle.

The process that I employ... I fondly call "Imagineering". By that, I mean that I totally ignore the original concept... choosing only certain strong aspects of the painting that I believe have merit and could lead to a better solution and outcome. It takes courage to risk "wasting time" on a failure.... but in my teaching career... some of the many perceived "failures" who landed on my doorstep along the way turned out to be the benchmarks of success (their own) because they were able to be encouraged to "imagine"... and then commit themselves to work towards another reality.

My artistic rationale for reversing perceived failure is based upon that same template for success. Give everything your best shot. If you lose the pathway... take a break from it. Do something else. Then return... re-evaluate... re-vision and work outside of the box that you created for yourself in the first run.

I have chosen such a project to share with you today that I had great hopes for... even prematurely posted (in all its ugliness) on this site. I can't relate to you the embarrassment that I felt when I noted one day in the gallery that several things didn't add up... even visually make sense.

Here is the process that I just completed to recover my dignity and a true sense of joy in creating what I feel is a very good oil study. Trees have long been a strong subject interest in my plein air work. We can learn so much from trees... and about how they interact in the landscape that they share. They are elegantly dressed... ever-changing in appearance and firmly rooted in life. Even in death... they defy giving up and maintain dignity. I admire all trees greatly... and love to study and paint them.

This particular winter willow study had its origin in a jpeg that I had garnered just down the Parkway. It touched a nerve in me because our summer cottage had a humongous and ancient weeping willow that afforded our family gatherings shade  and a place for children to climb and dream. Sadly..., it is no more.

Here is the digital image upon which I based my version of "Winter Willow" on a 24 x 20 inch canvas. The reference photo was rather ordinary... without character... or worse interesting detail.  I began using the process of "Imagineering" by cropping the original image and zooming in on the trunk and ground area. It helped (some) to gain a starting point.

This is the end result of my first attempt to create a painting. At first glance it might appear to have been reasonably successful. However... closer attention shows glaring assumptions and unresolved visual miscues. In the trunk of the willow itself branches appear to cross over front to back awkwardly. The tree more closely echoes a snake-like Medusa... and less a lithe willow personage. More myth than truth.

In the background... young fir trees create an impression of an iron gate marching in equal intervals and thicknesses across the very shallow and indistinct middle ground. In summation... the painting violates too many necessary truths to remain believable. An embarrassing disaster for certain!

During the past week, I was preparing to go upstairs for some lunch when the painting caught the corner of my eye as I passed. There was "something" that resonated for me... so I set it beside my easel while I completed the current project. Upon completing that painting... I placed this "loser" on the easel and decided to "putz away" at it using the last paint on my palette... just for the fun of it. This is what appeared out of ... I don't no where... Honestly!

"Winter Sunscape"... now presents a white pine against a more clearly defined and open middle ground field of snow covered granite in shadow. The richly lit white pine trunk against the muted blues and purples creates a greater sense of depth. Gone is the incongruity cause by the flailing arms of the earlier willow.

 I believe that this painting better represents the feeling and mood that I wished to convey previously.

Did I fail initially... or did I simply build upon and eliminate the earlier flaws and make better use of the stronger elements of composition that are still present in the second effort? You be the judge. I am satisfied with the new version and will include it in my fast-approaching exhibition. I believe it worthy of inclusion.

Hopefully, my experience here will encourage some of you to give some previous "failures" a second look. I will close this evening's post with a relevant quote from the American existentialist philosopher Rollo May which I believe lends itself to understanding the value and the importance of overcoming failure by further searching and risking... and not in simply giving up.

"There is a curiously sharp sense of joy - or perhaps better expressed, a sense of mild ecstasy- that comes when you find the particular form required by your creation."

Taken  from: 
No More Second Hand Art / Awakening the Artist Within 
by Peter London

 May you feel the true joy of creation by your own hand...
Good Painting... to ALL!!!!!!!