Thursday, December 31, 2015

"Let there be Light..."

The close of every year brings about moments of reflection in all of our lives... as we weigh out the events ... happenings... challenges and blessings that we each have faced during during the now rapidly closing out cycle of twelve months.

Being an unabashed romantic and eternal optimist, my own personal thoughts generally tend to lean towards focusing upon the blessings and achievements... and my gratitude for those life gifts. That is my intention again for 2015, though I must truly admit that it is not nearly as easy as in other years this time around. The life challenges for our family have been immense this year... and my spirit has been greatly challenged.

I believe and maintain that Faith... Hope and Generosity collectively form the underpinnings and foundation for Peace and Happiness. This applies to both personal and creative living. In my humble opinion, they are inseparably one and the same. This coffee cup logo points out my agreement in a sassy ... tongue-in-cheek kinda' way... HA HA!!

It has been very difficult... even nigh unto impossible many days this year to maintain Faith and Hope in the face of the world events. In the very face of the most deplorable of human acts and conditions... even generosity seemed unobtainable to lessen the pain and suffering of the unfortunates who faced daily oppression.... hunger and terror in their displaced lives. A state of Darkness seemed to mantle the entire globe.

 But in the face of this all.... Let us each of us with our unique Spirit choose to promote Peace and Sharing... as we do through our blogging. I know that the Light emanating from many posts that I customarily visit... rekindles Hope within my heart. And I thank all of you who contribute that gift so unconditionally for your caring and sharing

Being a "River Boy"... I have always been drawn to Lighthouses... not just for their unique architectural traits. I have always been drawn to the symbolism and the real purpose that I associate with them. As in art... "beauty" must always be in concert with function and purpose. That marriage insures that the viewer be involved in a dialogue of sorts with the subject matter ... and the artist.

When one examines the evolution of the Lighthouse in marine history... one is brought face to face with the fact that the underlying role of the "Light" remains the same today... but that the architecture itself and the role of the "Keeper" have all but disappeared. Most lighthouses are electronically controlled... and are no longer manned. Only in a few very remote and specific sites.

Though the Artist-Romantic within me  rails at the loss... the Realist knows and recognizes that the Light continues to offer safety and service... but in a changed way. I continue my journey content in the knowledge of this fact. BUT... still I still busy myself at recording the remaining presence of those that I can discover here in the Islands and The Great Lakes... with a few Nova Scotians and West Coastals thrown in for good measure.

I would like to share some of these magnificent structures from Canada's Maritime past that I have had the privilege to visit and paint. In choosing them as a subject for this last post of 2015... I challenge each of you to be a "Lightkeeper" in your own existence and art.

Share your "Light" generously... unconditionally and regularly in 2016... Shine on!!

                    "Maritime Monarch, Peggy's Cove Light" - oil on panel 14x12 inches   SOLD

                    "Mare's Tails O'er Ironbound Island Light", NS - oil on canvas 30x36 inches  SOLD

                                 "Nocturne, Rustico Harbor, PEI" - oil on panel 20x24 inches   SOLD

                                       "Deep Cove Light, NS"  - oil on panel 16x20 inches     SOLD

                                  "Winter Watcher, Prescott ON - oil on canvas 16x20 inches  GIFTED

           "River Sentinel, Sunken Rock Light, Alexandria Bay NY" oil on canvas 30x24 inches"  SOLD

                  "The Way Things Were, Salmon Point Lighthouse - oil on canvas 16x20 inches  SOLD

                          "Pulling in Winter, Point Traverse Light - oil on canvas 12x30 inches  SOLD

                           "Silent Sentinel, Squamish Light, BC" oil on canvas 30x36 inches   GIFTED

It seems so very appropriate to end 2015 on my blog by offering my thanks publicly to my partner in Life and Art, Deb. I should like to acknowledge her constant presence... and her magnificent artisan-ship here at The Paint Box Gallery. Without her love... guidance... business acumen and artistic contributions there would be little or no success at the Gallery. She is ... The "Lightkeeper"of my Soul... and "I" am greatly blessed to have "Her" at my side!... Love you Babe... and Thank you!

                 "Sunken Rock Light" 24x18 inch  stained glass design in an oak frame

   "Georgian Guardian, Brebeuf Island Light, Georgian Bay" stained glass  24x30 inches  SOLD

"Ring the bells that still can ring
 Forget your perfect offering
 There is a crack in everything
 That's how the light gets in."

from Anthem - Leonard Cohen

"We can easily forgive a child that is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light"

Let us shine our love on the world together... to make the world a better place!

Good Painting!... to ALL!!... and Happy New Year!!!
See you in 2016!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Simply... Peace on Earth

It snowed "a skiff" overnight... just enough to provide the hope for a traditional white Christmas. Though I could feel the more intense cold from the very moment my unslippered feet touched the floor... the ermine coat that greeted me on the lawn startled me and took me completely by surprise.

It did the weather folk as well... for there was no mention of this in their prognostications. Surprise... but not. The only thing that one can predict about the weather in these parts in any part of the year... is that it will surely change every within twenty minutes!

Yesterday was tree trimming day for Deb and I... and it went off with only minor hitches. The light arrangements always add "color" to the festive language... but eventually we sorted them out and got on with the tree decorating ritual.

Out of Pandora's Christmas chest leaped memories of many Christmases passed. Many of the ornaments are handmade... dating back to primary school days for the children. Others bear dates and names of those who either created them or gifted them to us.

I particularly love hanging the dozen or so very primary looking candy cane ornaments. They were the products of a project that Liam, Bryn and I made to decorate one very sparsely-decorated (taken from the wild) Charlie Brown Spruce for our first Christmas together in year one at The Paint Box Gallery apartment in Hillsdale.

They consist of one red and one white pipe cleaner intertwined with each other to form the candy cane shape.They remind me ever so clearly how much can change in one's life... if there is love at home. Home for me is not just a house. It is a place where hearts live in love and harmony. Money plays little part in the presence of those two important home furnishings.

The Order of Good Cheer... Peace on Earth... Christmas 2015

My daughter Allison will arrive later today with her Mom Joan to commence our "Good Order of Cheer" festivities. We will put together my Mom's all time fav "Tater Gem Casserole and make her much loved peppermint and wintergreen flavored hard Christmas candy.

We will spend the time... and NOT... the $$$... to bring us together to celebrate this joyous family season. We have learned first hand during this last challenging year for our family... just how very precious our Time and our Family members are in our lives!

The two lads will join us here at Islandsview for a three day sleepover. Good food... fellowship and board games galore will form "The Order of Good Cheer" at our Rockport "Habitation". During the endless deep Canadian winters of the 1500's, this celebration was formed to lift the spirits of his isolated men by Samuel de Champlain... the Father of New France. He created this merry diversion to help overcome the terrible loneliness and deplorably frigid conditions when Canada was a fledgling French wilderness colony.

Our 2015 version of his "Order of Good Cheer" will melt away the remembrances and pressures of late night College study sessions... quick intakes of Kraft Dinner and assignment deadlines. Our "Habitation" will offer times for relaxation... sharing laughter and stockings to be traded. Gifts are not on the radar. Even the traditional turkey will be spared this year for us. Other arrangements are being undertaken to change traditional expectations ... and thinking.

My personal Christmas tasks are completed. Cards are in the mail and on the way to their various destinations. The yard and deck decorated. My annual Christmas painting has been completed. It will be presented to the boys on Christmas day... to commence its planned annual exchange between their houses each year forthwith. It depicts the relationship as it existed in Nova Scotia... "way back when". That relationship remains unchanged at this moment. The painting speaks its own words:

"Down East Vigil" - oil on canvas 24x20 inches

Last year's version""River Spirit" will be carried by Allison and her Mom to spend Christmas and 2016 at the home of her bro' and my son Andrew, Melissa and wee Mac in Rockwood, Ontario. And so... the beat goes on. 

                                                "River Spirit" oil on canvas 18x14 inches

Much love... to ALL Sherman Children... from their Snow Santa Plaid Dad!!!

In closing this post... I wish to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to all of you who have shared visits and thoughts here on my blog site. Each of you do much to inspire and encourage me in my personal and artistic lives. As a measure of my deep gratitude, I offer this blog image version of this year's annual card to each of you and your family members.

                                     "River Dance" oil on gallery wrapped canvas 40x30 inches

Merry Christmas... to ALL... and hopefully... more Peace on Earth!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Boy's Christmas Covenant

"Not a Creature Was Stirring..." - oil on canvas 16 x 20 inches  SOLD

The current
Christmas 2015 preps get underway...

The current weather and projections for the Christmas celebration just ahead closely mimic the Hillsdale landscape in my 2007 Christmas card theme. Just as the weather has see-sawed throughout December between the expected to the unseasonable... so do my thoughts... day-to-day during every Christmas season.

I find myself busied with preparations for the Christmas Present... yet predisposed to following decades old rituals that connect this 'boy" as far back as my early childhood. Let's call the concoction a "preserve" of sorts... anticipation pickled in nostalgia! AWB... the capital "R" Realist - Romantic!

Early Beginnings...

I was blessed to have had loving and creative parents who developed annual family rituals that began early and ran throughout the entire Christmas season. Christmas began in mid to late November when we headed out in search of chains of creeping cedar... used to create long chains to decorate staircase newel posts and rails... as well as the mantel of the... orange crate faux fireplace that we built with Mom's guidance.

The boy marveled at how real the red brick crepe paper looked with its crackling fire of birch logs and tissue paper flames... topped by a wooden plank mantel bedecked with sheets of white cotton snow... dotted with well placed imitation fir trees. All of this finery couched the ever-friendly village collection and of course...  a larger-than-life Santa and his string of white plastic coursers. Little wonder that my still fertile imagination still runs wild today. It was first planted... "way back when"...

Creche Creation and its significance...

Uncrating and creating the Nativity creche was a children's affair. All helped to put the various Christmas cast in place on the  long oval table that straddled our front living room window. New angels appeared in the heavenly skies each year. One year, I crafted a foiled star of the East to hover and keep watch on a thin strand of copper wire. Christmas carols were sung as the activity moved along... our favorites: O Little Town of Bethlehem... Silent Night... We Three Kings... Away in a Manger... Oh Come, All Ye faithful... Joy to the World

"While Shepherds... washed their socks by night ... all seated round the tub. The angel of the Lord came down and taught them how to scrub" delighted us gleefully each year... but drew the wrath of my Mom. I did catch her smiling quietly to herself though. Down deep inside... she knew that our family did indeed "put the Christ in Christmas"... reverently with Santa. That tradition continues with the same zeal in my house.

Spreading Simple Joy... via Canada Post

The Christmas card ritual was conducted by my Dad. The process stretched itself out methodically throughout the month of November and this first stage was dedicated to the sending process to all who responded in the previous year. The second half of the process involved transcribing this year's card senders onto the list for next year. Cards received were placed each Christmas in a wicker basket beside my Dad's chair... where they could be read and enjoyed over the Christmas season

In their declining years, it was obvious that the tradition could not be maintained by my Dad from their nursing care facility... though I had long followed my Dad's card tradition throughout my own adult journey... and in my own fashion. I offered to be the "ghost writer" for my Dad's Parkinsons- shackled hand.

It was a joyous activity which enabled their own participation and and personal contributions to friends still living in a world they could no longer be a part of... or reach out to. The memories from that venture linger in my heart... and refuel my own determination to keep the tradition alive in my own world. I still send the odd card out to remaining members of my Dad's card list. The beat goes on... and the sands of Time continue to drop in my own hour glass.

 Each card envelope has its own unique caricatured and colored and inked image

Some gently poke fun...

They are my way to recognize long friendships and shared experiences

Some even make use of the Christmas postage stamp to poke fun at Canada Post.

Each year I do question the use of my time to continue this practice in this fashion. I have watched people take the card out of the envelope... and without hesitation... crumple up the envelope ... and simply throw my gift (and my self-esteem) in the trash bucket. The temptation to simply "throw in the sponge" is great... momentarily. 

But then... I receive my "annual" simple card from Liam and Bryn's three aunts... aged 101... 97 and 94 expressing their joy... and thanks for receiving my annual card to each of them. Only Auntie Rose remains in her own home. Lil lives with her nephew and niece near Rose and Sis in in a nursing home... confined to bed and legally blind. How merry can that be? But in the face of these life -crippling losses, she remains... "merry and bright".

All of these magnificent elders retain their will to be included in Life... and a huge sense of gratitude for their life... family and friends. My card is a small gesture that our tie is still there... even after a separation that lead to tumultuous life change(s) for me personally. Do not treat success in isolation based upon a too small sampling. Love... Generosity... and Faith will always prevail.

Rose's envelope this year bears a message that is as eloquent as any decoration I could send. Its humble message touched my heart greatly... and speaks to the underlying principles which join us in love and friendship. The phrase very succinctly underscores my philosophy about the enjoyment of one's life.

Thank you dear Rose!... It is indeed the ability to "Delight in the little things...." that form Life's greatest daily blessings! Merry Christmas... once again to all three aunts!!!

"I"... am greatly blessed!

Keep your own covenants... whatever they may be. They will bring unexpected and overflowing Joy... and Glad Tidings to your door.

Good Painting... and Merry Christmas... to ALL!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas Check List...

I vowed not to take in any commissions to complicate my traditional Christmas pursuits... and succeeded. "Not a creature is stirring..." in that camp and oh... what a relief it has been! All household and yard tasks have been dealt with as well. The outside gallery has been delivered inside to the downstairs storage area for the winter. The inside studio is tidied and ready for our winter works program. The firewood is stacked and stored safely... and kindled. The yard work is done... gardens put top sleep and leaves bagged and delivered to the local waste site. We are ready... to batten down the winter hatches... and to prepare for Christmas celebrations.

My first winter works item was to create another personal heirloom piece for my children. You will recall that River Spirit was sent off to Allison's home for Christmas 2014. This year she will deliver it to her bro' Andrew's home... where it will hang for Christmas 2015. It will be present for their joint celebrating... and "I" shall then be present. That is already in the planning stage!

This year... I have been kicking around the "Idea"... or painting theme which would relate to Christmases passed that I shared with Liam and Bryn. My fondest memories were obviously spent with them in Nova Scotia... where we "lurked" together constantly. Just so you understand their term "lurked"... the equivalent is beach bombed. Peggy's Cove Light was a favorite haunt... in every kind of weather... even during gales.... winds and glee and laughter!!

We went ever day in search of pirate treasure along the many nearby ocean side beaches. Visions of doubloons danced in all of our heads. But we settled for shards of sea glass, china and a variety of seashells and float-some that ended up in their garden shed "museum".... shelves and all! They were halcyon Never Land adventures that still linger as fresh as the salty sea air in our nostrils and hearts - Forever!

Here is the image that has emerged to celebrate those memories. I think that this image closely and honestly captures my feelings. I know it will theirs too! Time is something that we all are given. It is meant to be used for our own goal-seeking and pleasure... and wisely used too. However... it is meant to be shared to... especially with our children. It is this unconditional connection in their early lives that will shape and produce generous adult "children". I am proud to note... that I am very blessed to have five generous children... who possess beautiful minds... intellect and generous spirits. This painting visually confirms our connection... Then... Now ... and Always!

Merry Christmas Girls and Boys!!!.... We love You Guys dearly... "To the moon and back!"

"Down East Vigil" - oil on canvas 24x20 inches

Allison and Andrew's version "River Spirit"... speaks of our common early childhood of River memories and plein air paint outs together in "shallow waters"!! Merry Christmas K'Town and Rockwood!

"River Spirit! - oil on canvas 20x16 inches

Good Painting!.... to ALL!!