Saturday, August 31, 2019

Adieu... to August... and Summertime Dreams

It struck me today in the darkness of my pre-dawn vigil that summer's strength and vigour was rapidly declining. Not just in the later appearance of morning's light which was so visibly obvious... but as well in the other sounds and aromas that accompany summer.

There is is a certain sense of increased "ripeness" in the fields. Young maples have in many places already begun to show the rich color which all maples attain each fall. Now golden grain crops in the fields already have begun being cut and harvested. Hay is resting in bales... awaiting transport to the barns where they will await their winter use as fodder for livestock.

At first light this morning, I was joined on the balcony by the usually shy and suspicious hummingbirds. I suspect that they were forced into risking contact by the growing scarcity of flowering garden plants that they are customarily drawn to... either in the open fields... or in nearby  private gardens. We know from many years of enjoying their presence in our gardens and at Deb's feeder stations that there is sudden surge in their feeding habits in late August.

This event signals their knowledge and memory of their long southward journey. They are forced by instinct to set aside usual timidity and to give over to a feeling of necessity. This impulse seems to replace whatever safeguards they usually observe and practice. We will miss them... but Deb remarked that they at least found us in our new home. Almost certainly they seem to return to safe feeding havens each spring.

Cooler night and morning temperatures certainly alert one to "changes in the air". I enjoy this period of transition. It offers me the opportunity to adjust my painting activity and thinking about new themes and ideas. I am happy to know now that I am able to regain my plein air preferences.

I edged back into being outdoors during the past week... carefully at first and limiting my speed and scale of work. I will continue to build gradually... knowing with certainty that my body and gait are certainly weakened and require more rebuilding and time to heal. I work in the outdoor pool every evening... where I have it to myself almost every evening. The workout is less demanding because it is not weight bearing. But all muscles do receive full benefit from the activity.

I chose a nearby location where I [believed] that I could  maintain some essence of quiet and undisturbed solitude. Misjudgment... but not wholly so. Just kept my head down and painting. I took the painting to a lay in stage and decided to bring it back inside to consider what it lacked... or needed added for a second run. It certainly lacked "finish"... and polish.

This afternoon, I decided not to return to Kingston Mills Lock to complete it. I felt that it had enough in it to drive a strong finish based upon what my memory and recall could work with. The on site work was very loose... to the point of being "iffy". The inside treatment tightened things up. But I feel that the final outcome incorporates the best of both approaches.

In any event... let's call it "done".

                                               "Inspiration... alongside perspiration"...

I felt that the idea contained within my words in the title for the post cover the feelings that I have tried to express about August... and Dreams. Summer is fleeting at best. So are dreams. Dreams represent cherished hope. While Summer and Dreams share a vision of limitless time. Life says otherwise.

"Yesterday's Dreams" - oil on canvas 10 x 12 inches- Kingston Mills Lock

I chose this tiny summer retreat... perched forgotten on a granite finger reaching into the languid, lily-choked inlet on Colonel By Lake,  just above the Rideau Canal Locks #45 and 46 at Kingston Mills. I have customarily visited... and on occasion, I have even painted this jaunty, but neglected summer relic. Never... in the thirty odd years that have passed can I recall any sort of flurry of summer activity, or excitement there.

Surely... it must have enjoyed its 'day in the sun'. Somewhere... someone must have shared precious summer moments and memories within these walls and along its quiet shores.

I wonder...  Maybe next year????

Stay tuned...

Good Painting to ALL!!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

August... on my Mind

Fifty years ago today the youth of America sang out in a single, clear and united voice in opposition to the Vietnamese conflict which had claimed the lives of so many of their brothers, sisters and friends. So many of those performers and their music set the future course for music in America and the rest of the world... and did in fact coalesce the Youth in America to bring pressure upon their leaders to end this vicious and senseless conflict.

One performer in particular represented to me the spirit and the power of the singing voice. Still today, her words guide my own personal mantra for conducting my own life. And since Allie's tragic passing it has meant even more. I thank Joan Baez ( and creator) Willie Nelson for this anthem of Hope. Here is the version that Baez shared at Woodstock.


I created this `16 x 12 inch canvas "Thank You for the Music!" to honor my dad for his gift of music over his lifetime to me and countless others. It created such a great influence in my life. Ironically... or perhaps not... my Dad's birthday falls on August 16th.

                              Watercolor Tribute to Dad's 100th Birthday... "Keep Smilin'"

 This song by Joan Baez has done the same for me in my own life. I have learned to live and dream one moment at a time... and to feel deeply blessed to be given these gifts.

My Mom brought Faith and an appreciation for family and natural beauty into my life continuously over all of the years that I was blessed to walk with her. Many of my paintings attest to the deep influence her teachings and Faith play in my life. If I am an artist... it is because of their combined gifts to me. I am deeply blessed.

                                       "August on my mind" oil on canvas 24 x 18 inches

"Summer in Transition" - oil on canvas 24 inches x 24 inches

                           " A Demi-tasse Full of Summer" - oil on canvas 16 x 12 inches

The "flower power" that united the 70's Anti War movement  was spearheaded by a single song anthem of unification by the legendary folk trio Peter Paul and Mary. "Where Have All the Flowers Gone." Its hauntingly beautiful melody and lyrics immortalize the moment in time when Young America spoke out... and acted. Some in violent ways... others with refusal to serve or to be told what to be believe. They changed the course of American and World History.

Peter Paul and Mary - "Where have All the Flowers Gone"

August  21st...  my Mom's birthday... and flowers eternally remind me of the Peace... Faith and the blessings my Mom bestowed upon me.

August 10th marked the 70th birthday of my lovely and creative wife Deb. She has brought with her much Joy and support for me and all members of our Sherman family. Her creativity manifests itself in so many ways and mediums. But her artisanship in creating her stained glass magic proves that she is "one cut above"all the rest in that field. Here is a sample of that craftsmanship that validates my feelings about her skills.

These projects are but a few of the glass magic that Deb has produced. Her talents, determination, inspiration and generosity endear her to all and value her her as my friend, kindred spirit and love of my love. Thank you for just being ... "You"... for "Me" and for choosing to share your life with me.

"You are... my Forever and Always."

Happy Birthday Sweet Heart! I am greatly blessed....

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Life... Isn't Just Black ... or White!

The first leg of the VIA train adventure was rendered in pen and ink. Each of the fourteen black and white images were completed within a one to two minute time interval. Needless to say, none were completed with any significant detail to make them highly realistic. Basic large forms were recorded to assist in creating a framework. The rest is left up entirely to the vision and imagination of the viewer.

At first, I felt direction-less. Uncertain as to how to proceed with the application of color. Then an idea came to mind. Why not proceed with the application of color using the same framework of a limited time interval. The choice of medium seemed straightforward and logically sound too. Watercolor as a medium would allow me to to apply color quickly and broadly to record a quick impression to support... but not take away... or overstate the underlying ink rendering.

Allison and I had always shared gifts at times when we were apart, or travelling. I had purchased a portable field set of Winsor and Newton watercolors for her to use in her Venice adventures. She however... seemed to never have enough time in her busy studies and teaching to really use it as fully as either one of us had hoped.

Since she passed in late April of 2017, many of our mutual gifts to each other have found their way back to me. At first, I found their return painful... so I merely set them aside ... hoping that a "right time and opportunity" would arise to put them to work.

I now view these returned gifts as blessings in my life. It has become my duty.. and my great Joy to put them to work for us both. It brings to mind a very appropriate saying that I received just recently from the eulogy of  a dear family friend Nancy Weinrich. She was the mother of Allie's Venetian soul mate, Jill Heinrich-Luppi. I feel it a very appropriate occasion to share it with you here:

"Love doesn't die. People do"

It seems everywhere that I travel in my daily life the common symbol which has always enjoined me with Allison mysteriously appears. As I climbed the stairs to go down to the entrance of the cottage on the River where our family was meeting for a meal and evening together... there appeared this very distinct heart gift.. embedded... who knows by whom ... or how long ago. But on this particular occasion it served as a roadside reminder (to me at least) that Allie would be present.

So in the spirit of that love... let us continue the next part of this journey without tears. Let us celebrate their continued presence through the countless memories we hold of them in our lives.

"Choose love." ... Allie's tarot card read during her chemo sessions. Chance say you???... Me chooses to think... NOT!

I have learned (with support and encouragement) to absorb pain and adversity and to use them in positive ways. In this case... I am choosing to take stark black and white imagery (with its own beauty)... and to blend it with watercolor pigments Here's what I managed to bring forward to share with you... in whatever way you choose to view and value it. It's up to you and your eyes!

PS As you read these words we will again be aboard VIA train # 45 headed to back on that earlier trek to Toronto. Enjoy!

Stay tuned...
Back home Thursday... and back to the next project!

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