Monday, November 20, 2017

Autumn Interlude... The Universe Speaks

This post (sort of) follows the current pattern of events and my thinking ability lately... and might appeared scattered and lacking continuity. I can offer no apologies in this regard... it is simply "where" I am. That "where" even varies from hour to hour in the day. Focus is not easily maintained... even when I am painting. Intervals of painting enjoyment are short at best and vary in regularity greatly. "The Flow" escapes my every good intention... and discouragement bordering upon shame hovers menacingly over my head. Mental "quicksand" comes to mind... paralysis is yet another apt term to describe grief's impact.

Before she reluctantly departed for her winter home in Lancaster Pennsylvania, our good friend Margaret (Magsy) Keats-Jenne issued us an invitation to come visit her at her home soon. She had on several occasions in dinner conversation on Pine Island offered that same invitation to us. She well knew how special the work of NC and Andrew Wyeth was to me. They, as artists, and their combined work both formed a very strong base in my early development artistically.

The Universe reveals itself... KNOCK! KNOCK!....?????

Lancaster, located centrally in Amish country and the Brandywine Valley is a mere half hour away from the Brandywine Museum located on the very property that both of these American painting icons lived and worked in their lifetimes. Magsy offered accommodation and tour guide expertise that we could not resist this time. As well... the timing was perfect. Our gallery was shut down and we both were badly needing a getaway from the business and sadness that held us captive here.

Day One

On Monday, October 18th we found ourselves up very early and headed "south of the border" on Route 81 to a new adventure... and change in routines. Though the combined stress of travel through the many mountains and the overburden of too many heavy trucks sharing our route was tiring, we arrived safely at Magsy's lovely The Willows Adult Community "refuge" from the din and a wonderfully delicious and always special "Magsy-style" meal. I could feel the stress drain away from the moment that we arrived. Nirvana... can... and does exist.

Day Two

We headed on a purposely indirect journey towards our destination, The Brandywine Gallery, a scant half hour away. But our very knowledgeable and accommodating hostess and guide made sure that we had the groundwork and the landscape that would facilitate a truer understanding of what the Wyeths and their legacy stood for in this Amish backdrop.

We were certainly more than ready for what we would gorge ourselves on in the Wyeth World and its contents. It was for me unforgettably inspiring... uplifting... motivating and fulfilling. A lifetime of study, bordering upon admiration and worship was realized for me in one tangible experience... one off my Bucket List!

In separate galleries and studios I was transported back in time to stand face to face with "old friends"... who served as well as mentors who ushered me through my childhood and later life and who as well fostered my artistic vision and ability to dream and imagine Here they dwell and hung... where they were created. And I had an "audience"... without interruption or anything else to draw my attention away.

Here is but a sampling of the visual buffet I enjoyed from his vast and prolific output of illustrations for books and magazine covers:

In my early childhood, there was no television... or personal devices to entertain us. We spent countless enjoyable hours either reading or being read to by parents and grandparents. When I was four to five years of age, my aunt Dodie Leigh was an assistant librarian and invited me to come every Saturday morning to the Brockville Public Children's Library. Her love of reading and of children's literature in particular and sharing them with me has been passed forward by me to many generations of children... including my own.

The entire collection of "Kid Lit" then was housed in a very sacred and always locked glass bookcase. I was given the power... and it did feel like that... to open that cabinet and select books which she read to me. Amongst those... the likes of '"Paddle-to-the-Sea"by Holling Clancy Holling and "The Last of the Mohicans" , written by James Fenimore Cooper and illustrated by NC Wyeth. I have personal copies of each from that same publishing era. They continue to fuel excitement within me... even after the passage of all of these years.

Occasionally... we might have been fortunate on rare occasions to experience the magic of "technicolour". Looking back... those movies rarely provided a realistic or wholesome view of history and cultures.

Looking back now at the works of artists like NC Wyeth and Frederick Remington, their paintings still stand today as being more accurate and realistic (in terms of costume and character" at least) than early television and the "silver screen".

My tour with Magsy not only stirred my imagination and memory, It as well lifted my spirits enough to put me back into a creative state with a template upon which I could move forward with my portrait of Allison.

I wish to close out today's rambling epistle with a reference to the holiday that "magically" appeared this morning as a doodle on my Google Home Page. Today has been set aside as Children's Day 2017.

I am deeply blessed to have been given five children of my own to journey with me. They are... in order Lisa... Allison... Andrew... Liam and Bryn. I could not have imagined of my world or existence without any one of them, but life and the Universe have taught me a painful lesson. I savour every hour of every day now that I am blessed to spend time with any one of them. Life can be too short.

The United Nations first established this holiday in 1954 to promote togetherness among children across the world and to improve children's welfare. Listening to and watching the news this week and even today... you will see that children around the world in every corner of the globe continue to be victimized and treated inhumanely. Many do not have the bare essentials to sustain life.

I challenge all of the people who might read this blog to reach out lovingly to children in your own family and community. Hug them!...  Let them know that you love them!... Read to them every day... from books that they choose!

The time will arrive soon enough... and in my own tragic case... when they are no longer "with you". I will never again feel the warmth of Allie's hugs... or hear her joyous laughter ... or attend another of her magical lectures. Oh.... that I could. But in all truth... I DID! And those memories sustain me to continue on honouring her by doing my own good works. conclusion, but enjoy it for what is... appropriately... on Children's Day 2017. Back to my easel...

Here is a premature peek at my work-in-progress portrait of Allison. Even now... in its obvious imperfect state of finish... it speaks of my love for her. Stay tuned for the play-by-play... and conclusion, but enjoy it for what is... appropriately... on Children's Day 2017. Back to my easel...

Good Painting !!!... to All and rich Blessings!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

"Lest We Forget"...

The words in the title of this post have always played a significant role in my life every November. November has always been a difficult month for me physically and emotionally. The huge transitions that nature imposes through drastically decreased periods of light daily and the overwhelming absence of color and new greyness of the landscape really effect my mood and spirit.

The concept of "loss" is magnified by these natural changes and unfortunately for me... and the rest of my family members  the observance of Remembrance Day on November 11th will become more difficult and painful than usual.

I have decided to attend the Remembrance Day ceremonies in Kingston.That action is appropriate in a meaningful way because that is where Matthew Dawes sacrifice will be honored and Andrew will be unable to attend. It will also be appropriate because the ginkgo tree planted to remember and honor Allison's life is mere meters away from the War Memorial site. After the crowds clear away, I will make my way over to spend a few moments remembering our Allie.

I have already undertaken this task of remembrance this week by finally adding my first thoughts and scratchings which I hope will lead to a finished portrait. That first hurdle was very difficult to get over. Getting past having to spend endless and painful hours searching for just appropriate photographic reference image has finally been accomplished.

The next step was to choose which backdrop would be best suited to my thinking. From the outset... I felt that a flat wash of meaningless tone would not suffice. Such an approach to me suggests an aloofness from a knowledge of the sitter. I wanted the background to say something extra to engage the viewer and offer up more insight into her as a person... and my relationship to her.

It came down to a choice about the two environments that she loved and thrived upon. The River... and Venice. Which would be better??? Someone I admire casually offered; "What's the problem here? Why not include both?" Those words linked up with a recent experience I had which offered an unexpected clue that made everything else fall into place. But that story is for another day... and post!

I have included the initial "scratchings" which form the format and direction for me to proceed. Perhaps you can already"see" the finished portrait that I have in my mind. Time will tell the full story. Stay tuned...

As rough as it is here... this outline clearly defines the three levels necessary in any landscape to depict depth. The color will be of my choosing. I need only nestle Allison's image into the landscape to make the painting complete

Love you Jemima... Forever!... To the moon and back!XXXXXOOOOOXXXXX  Mom Andrew Dad and Deb

Captain Mathew Dawe... gone too soon... but NEVER forgotten! Always in our hearts Matt!