I was pleasantly overwhelmed by the responses to my "Games People Play" project. Mainly because it bore little resemblance to my other interests involving landscape and still life. As is the case in the television and movie business.. we sometimes typecast ourselves by limiting ourselves to one genre. It can be greatly inspiring in the early stages of one's career... yet lead to repetitive boredom in the long haul. In our heavily burdened technological society, public interest is short-lived and finicky...at best.
In a leap of faith, I have decided to journey back into my earlier interests now recorded but nearly lost in the meat of my numerous sketchbooks. I hope to seeking out and rekindle my creative spirit based upon "old" ideas which were of interest to me earlier on in my artistic journey.
Many of those ideas were recorded when I fully intended to save them for future use in a time of artistic drought, or uncertainty. Twenty-five years later, time urban sprawl and development swallowed many those pieces of Canadian heritage... especially barns... homesteads and other agrarian enterprises. They exist... many of them, only in my sketchbooks.
I have always enjoyed taking on subjects and projects that no one else wanted, or valued. Even during my teaching years, I chose to work with students who others saw no valued, or believed in. Their life challenges became my own. Their failures mine. Their successes and triumphs became my motivators. Likewise in my art, I realized and accepted that not all ideas and work is destined to succeed - on a given day. Sometimes, one had to wait to see it ripen and flourish in its own space and time.
In the Blink of an Eye
This phrase is an example of a literary device called an idiom. An idiom is an expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its constituent parts. For example: "kick the bucket" which in terms of its idiomatic use means dies. Or for the above idiom "in the blink of an eye" suggests an imperceptibly quick movement beyond possibility : "We lost our entire way of life, or fortune in the blink of an eye."
What do you "see''... in one fleeting glance... "or the blink of your eye?"
In today's post, I hope to investigate and play with that question using a rather unique approach to actually try to measure my own ability to respond to that question. Commencing the task did not seem particularly daunting in itself to me simply because I have habitually employed that strategy for many years when I have painted en plein air.
Generally speaking, most of my small to mid-sized outdoor canvases are totally completed within two and a half to three hours. Stepping up to the easel and painting almost spontaneously during that time frame is very comfortable for me and generally provides me ample time to get down what I see... or want to say about the subject in front of me.
In the beginning, it was a huge leap of faith and challenge to leave the comforts of a studio to embrace this new kind of on site painting... on location, or plein air painting as it is called today. Working materials, methods and even clothing had to be adjusted to weather conditions and terrain. But learning was gained gradually over time to create a whole new approach to painting which provided greater realism and joy for the participant.
The most important piece of learning for me personally was learning to quickly construct a basic composition using strongest form and color to create a road map to guide an impression - NOT a copy. That ability has remained with me and is as valid today as in the beginning.
I decided to use this reliable tool to fuel my recovery and return to painting after too many months without a brush in my hand... or art in my heart. My heart had been broken by Allison's untimely and tragic death.
My body was physically weakened by the constant painful effects of sciatica to a point where I felt there was little chance of returning to painting. To entertain such ideas was wistful and wasteful thinking. But time and perseverance has prevailed! I am underway again... ready for new painting challenges.
Today's post and project was conceived aboard a rapid transit train journey... coming and going between Kingston, Ontario... our home and Toronto Union Station in the heart of metropolitan and downtown Toronto on October 10th, 2018. We had a scheduled medical appointment for Deb at Toronto Western Hospital. The early morning scheduling for that appointment made a safe and guaranteed arrival time almost impossible, so we elected to travel by VIA Rail. A great choice!
The travel time is slightly more than three hours ( on a good day). So there was ample time just to sit and look out the window at the passing countryside during the trip. I am a poor "looker". So that ten minutes into the trip found me cradling a small, empty sketchpad, a sharp nib ink marker and my trusty india ink brush/pen in hand... and searching for something to"busy my hands"... and mind occupied for three hours!
I decided to title the exercise :"VIA Views" from VIA car 5103.... with these parameters to add challenge:
- a quick sketch experiment to arouse instant recognition and quick memory response times
- to rapidly create a black and white expression of ideas based solely upon masses and shapes
- 1-2 minute time limitation per sketch/theme/idea
Below rare shown the sketches that were completed in the suggested time frame
#1 Densely Wooded Landscape - 9:40 am just a few minutes west of Kingston
#2 Broken Field Patterns - 9:45 am
#3 Sweeping Road and Barnscape - 9:50 am
#4 Homestead (grey) - 9:55 am
#5 Another Destination - 10:10 am
#6 Summer Baled 11:00 am
#8 Barn With Cupola - 11:20 am
#9 Foreground Sumacs 11:25 am
#10 Trees and Trackbed 11:30 am
#11 Flooded Wetland Marsh - Cobourg 11:36 am
#12 First Glimpse of Lake Ontario - 11:45 am
#13 Cobourg Railbed Crossing 12:06 am
Overall...What does your eye see???
The first two sketches reveal my drawing rustiness... or perhaps my inability to quickly focus and record the information as it passed by my eyes and brain at lightning speed in a very densely wooded landscape. No chance at a rewind! Make do... is what appears to be the order of the hour in these initial attempts.
From sketch three forward to the very last subject, I see a more confident and capable hand and eye working together. The compositions look bolder and bolder - more like what I would expect. I truly enjoyed the experience as it revealed itself to me... setting after setting. Any one of these "quickdraws" could be made into decent oil painting subjects.
"Do you see what I see?"
I'm excited to share my discoveries... in COLOR!!!!
Good Summer Painting ... to ALL!!!