Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Life's About Family

I must apologize for the delay in posting this salute to the other members of my family... who have contributed to the success and joy of my life since they entered into my family circle. Each of them brings their own sense of uniqueness and specialness to our lives. Our lives would be so diminished and hollow in their absence... were that to occur. I pray that it never does... again!

So much of my time, energy and focus... even here on my blog has been directed towards trying to make sense of and to come to grips with the sudden and tragic loss of dearest Allison on April 24th, 2017. I think it unnecessary to apologize to them from the oversight that I bring to you here on my blog site. I feel that even for the ardent members of my blogging family, I need not apologize for any feelings that I have displayed or spoken about. You simply understand... and I read that from your continual presence and uplifting words of love and support.

Monday, February 19th, 2018... just passed was the perfect moment to acknowledge the gift which these family members are to me. It is the day set aside in Ontario... and other parts of Canada as "Family Day". Families lucky enough to be located nearby each other attend functions created by the family itself, or the community where they are located In many cases... those events are held outside... such as skating on the world's longest skating rink... on the frozen Rideau Canal which is groomed and maintained for that purpose. Thousands of individuals strap on their skates and wend their way along the miles of ice surface... stopping for a warm up coffee or hot chocolate and a taste of the iconic sweet "Beaver Tail" pastry. Quite a party that we as a family have enjoyed....

So this morning... I humbly and gratefully reach out to Lisa (in the Barbados).... Andrew, Melissa, Mac and Whitney (in Rockwood near Guelph in S. Ontario)... Liam (in Oakville west of Toronto)... Bryn (studying at Trent University in Peterborough)... brother Don ( sort of retired in Victoria, BC and Joan Allison's lovingly lovely Mom in nearby Kingston).

Life would be unbearable and meaningless without the presence of each of these family members in daily life. You are each strong ling links in our family chain that Deb and I hold on to and depend upon. Deb... you fuel my daily life with Hope... Joy and Laughter. Without those magical and necessary elements of a happy life it would not be possible to continue "Believing in miracles"... which is what our beautiful celestial being Allie challenged us to carry forward in our daily lives for her.

Let us do that together... as a family!

My undying love and gratitude to each of you! Rich blessings of Health ... Happiness and Joy!

Cribbage and other board games are REALLY BIG in our family!

The first brood of Sherman Grand Chicks... dining in Toronto
(Lto R- Braden... "Two Amigos"... Lisa ... Ryan and Mica

Melissa and  our newest "Sprite/Sprout"...Whitney

The Homecoming... Andrew and Mr Mac 

Deb... "beside still waters".... Algonquin Park 

The Grand Gals (l to r) ...Ella Sophie and Ava Marie... the apples of Gramma's eye!

Snow Bros... l to r ... Don and Bruce

Four reasons to give thanks... (l to r) Bryn... with Gal Suzie Plamondon... Liam and Chefette Deb

                                    Gramma Joan with Mr Mac at the Cataraqui Sugar Bush

"Let your Light so shine before your fellow men (and women)... so they might see your good works and glorify your Creator..." And she DID!!!

We love "You" FOREVER Jemima Puddle Duck... to the moon and back!... and miss you every day!!


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Finding Love... in the strangest places

                                                              Scottish Seashore Heart

                                                         Asphalt Heart in our driveway

                                                    Heart peeking out through winter ice

"Damaged" heart

                                           A small segment of Allie's Garden of hearts

                                                                     Pothole Heart

Sea Glass Heart... from the Barbados

Brick shard heart from St. Andrew's, Scotland 
Gathered on my visit to celebrate Allie's PhD Grad

                                       " A little love... on the side".... OOPS! ... Naughty Bruce!

Bird Feeder Heart

Love... going down the drain... Unstaged! Really!

Love... in the making.... in the dead of winter!

"Foamy" hearts... from the tin... every time I shave! 

Our beloved Mr Chips says it best Folks:

"Home... is where the Heart is!"

Humankind ... and particularly lovers fete Valentine's Day with profuse heart offerings to openly profess their love on a single day each year... February 14th. The Natural World celebrates using the heart ever so quietly... almost everywhere on the planet and in every season of the year.

Little wonder that the creative minds of musicians, poets, artists, artisans and architects latched onto the heart as a template for recreating harmony and whimsy. The heart trumpets its magical presence and the power of love in its very form... as no other geometric shape does.

I spend so much "quiet" time with Nature that the discovery of a new heart... in a new place, in itself is not surprising in any way to me. However, each discovery '"touches my heart" and beckons to me to share the experience and object with those whose "hearts" are open to the mystery of its creation... and my finding it.

My dear daughter Allison and I had a ritual that lasted right up to her passing. On each and every visit to see/be with her... I delivered a heart that I had found on the way to that visit to her. It was a ritual that led to her window ledge becoming the "heart depository."

It is a ritual that I have continued on my nightly walks. Every night I return with an example of s heart to add to our growing garden display. Visitors have made it a special site to photograph... and I am always anxious to share the Heart Story with them. "The beat"... goes on!

Hearts appear even during winter... on frost-etched windows,stone walls, grassy areas in the snow of our bird feeding stations.

Finding  a Story of Love... within Sorrow and Loss

Yesterday afternoon, Deb, Joan and I met in Kingston to celebrate my (??th) birthday. After a delightful birthday brunch treat at the Toast and Jam Eatery... we went down to Allie's Ginkgo tree memorial and hung lovingly crafted "heart gifts" created by Deb to brighten a colder than usual  February 14th Valentine's Day. I thank Deb for taking time  (on her own initiative) to provide this colorful and uplifting tribute for us all. We all departed feeling better about our lives and the blessing of life that was ours to share.

                                                              A Heart ... within a heart

                     Even Love.. in the smallest doses counts... in the big picture

                              Hearts can be warm... even in the cool shadow of winter

Love... lifts me higher

                                              Hang in there everyone! Share your love!

So on this very special Valentine's Day, I send along to all of you my,,,heartfelt" wishes for rich Blessings of Health, Joy and Happiness.

Good Painting ... to ALL!... and ...Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Yesterday (Something old) vs Today (Something new)

So often we reject looking back as being a negative, and throw about derisive platitudes such as, "You can't live in the past." While that is true for many things, you will discover that in most human endeavours and activities, it can be readily seen that repetition over many failed attempts actually can lead to a superior  process and result.

As a plein air advocate for most of my painting career, I prided myself upon creating a number of paintings... start to finish... on each and every outing. I must admit that I felt a sense of failure if I didn't fulfill that 2-3 finished works result. Even size didn't enter into the formula. I often brought back one or two larger scale paintings.

Looking back on the practice now, I realize that the strategy offered both pluses... and minuses. On the plus side, I learned how to make decisions rapidly and to accelerate the speed of my brushwork. This did indeed result in "loose and painterly" results... which were the "go words" in the painting world at that time.

All the "how to" books of a generation of artists preached and pitched that approach religiously. Galleries chimed in using it to ramp up their sales and interest in specific members of their stable of artists. It reached cult proportions in the seventies and eighties.

On the minus side... many dashed off works lacked a full sense of understanding and cohesion... if one looked carefully and honestly at the works. Glaring mistakes in tonality, composition and lighting often diminished the overall effect and quality of the work greatly.

Something Old.... from Then

In the west corner of my studio space sits a number of what I considered were derailed plein air train wrecks. Not everything that we paint should find its way to the wall immediately, or in some cases never!

Lately, I most often set a new work aside for a period of time and glance at it occasionally... hoping to discover a glaring weakness needing resolution ... or a previously missed redeeming feature.

In years gone by such time for reflection was rarely, if ever was possible. When I was producing work for sometimes up to eleven well-respected galleries across Canada, the need for a constant flow of work to send off to satisfy the demands imposed often exceeded or pushed hard upon my ability to deliver.

Hence time became the governing factor an a focus upon quality more often than not took a back seat. Paintings were often barely dry and some, in my opinion today were even "weak-kneed" when they were shipped to galleries.

Today, I regret that reality greatly. However, it was a time.. when being a "market painter" was essential to maintain a livelihood and became the norm in the art business really. Only a few of the older and better established artists enjoyed a sense of free agency and personal control over their work.

My only solace today, lies in the fact that my collectors then were very much aware of my "emerging artist" status and that they felt that they were receiving decent dollar value for my work and that my work met the criteria they themselves decided upon to purchase and form collections of my work.

I thought it might perhaps be an interesting exercise to take one "failed" sketch from back then and to work it up from memory only... making use of the a mix of remembrances and feelings about the scene.

This exercise might highlight my growing belief that though plein air provides a certain freshness and dash... it as well contains areas that should be reconsidered and built upon to create even stronger landscapes.

Plein air painting presents a great opportunity to learn directly from the subject. Perhaps if one is fortunate as I was, you might find mentor(s) willing to share their experience and knowledge. The process offers a wonderfully stimulating classroom to learn about your own painting abilities and interests.                .

Last Light, Gould Lake - oil on canvas 11 x 14 inches

This sketch was produced back in 1996, a time when my paintings were mostly small sketches and completed "in one go." Most were signed right there on location... or rubbed off immediately if painfully bad. I specifically remember this scene out on the Gould Lake Road, north of Kingston. My painting companion and I had decided to stop at this site... have a quick bite of lunch and a coffee before beginning to paint. What was so impressive and attracted my interest was the intensely warm light and shadow interplay. It was truly a golden moment!

We were no more than into the actual painting process when that light disappeared completely for the rest of the afternoon. It never did return... nor did I "catch" the spirit and the elusive golden lighting effect that had drawn me to this landscape in the first place. Deflating!

Good structure... and compositional elements. BUT... where's the light??? A very flat and two dimensional space that lacks drama and verges totally upon very ordinary. The whole raison d'etre for making the painting in the first place was lost in translation. It was, at most a poor copy or representation for what was there.

Something New... from the Now

This week, I decided to use my memory of the day and experience to revisit the past. For the sake of a better word... let's call the process "Imagineering"...

I spent an afternoon leisurely searching for areas of the painting to introduce stronger light and colour. At first, it was difficult to let go of the past. The fear for disturbing what had been the recording of a long lost moment in my life was at first disconcerting. As new passages revealed improvement that was pleasing and stronger light, the momentum to complete the exercise grew quickly.

Here is the final take on the result of this experiment. What do you think?

I wonder... Let me know how you feel.

Note additional elements added to foreground. Every "newbie" painter... whether painting from digital images, or en plein air encounters difficulty with the foreground area. Many times, as seen in the first version... the road or water simply sweeps unceremoniously forward engulfing the immediate front area of the painting with... nothingness.

Here in the final edition, the combination of light and shadow plus the addition of the dark puddle creates something to stop the eye... and to make a statement which adds to the composition.

Just some food for thought... from one "old(er) painter passing through." Maybe... an idea to think about in your own work!

Much Joy... Rich Blessings and Good Painting... to ALL!!