Monday, September 30, 2019

Summer... Slip-slidin' Away

Autumn has officially arrived and not just according to the calendar. The air has undergone definite change with cooler morning and evening temperatures. Birds are "fidgeting"... gathering in noisier -than-usual flocks... anxious to depart for their southern destinations. A fall palette of yellows, ochre, reds and oranges quietly reveals itself. Almost seeming to blush into view amid the verdant and varied greens of summer.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am drawn to paint on location myself... outside in the quiet places now surrendered by often noisy and active vacationers. It is this solitude that draws me to these sanctuaries - places where the soul can bathe... medicate and meditate. The perfect cocoon for creative thought and activity. Even the pesky insect pests of summer cooperate.

Grass Creek Park is such a place nearby our present home. Because it is frequented only by dog walkers and their  contented canine counterparts, there can be found numerous sites for the artist to set up and paint virtually unnoticed. Some sites even provide the added luxury and excitement of offering a view of the Saint Lawrence River. 

My painting site for today's post is just such a place. While it is hardly tucked away in a secretive, inaccessible place... the time of year greatly reduces the usage of the park. An odd car or sedan gawked its way slowly past from time to time. However... most passed offering at most... a pleasant and cheery "thumbs up."

Here's the view that we shared on this late September afternoon. Can you see why I was attracted to this site and its composition? What catches and draws one's eye about here? Is there enough to attract attention  and hold it... on canvas???

Note the simplicity of lines and masses, or shapes. See how they interconnect and harmonize... using the limited strong color to draw disparate elements together?

Step # One is to capture and maintain that simplicity during the lay in process

Step # Two is to look for strategic places to insert missing elements of "color surprises" to help guide the eye around the composition.

Step # 3 This step was conducted away from the site after a few hours (and a discussion with Deb) regarding what was not present in the site itself and needed to be added. In a few words... applying "artists' licence" - something from the soul that makes the creation your own!

"Summer .... Slip-slidin' Away, at Grass Creek Park" - oil on canvas 11 x 14 inches

Red is a color one that the artist should never shy away from. Rarely, however is it used in a purely "raw from the tube" application. Fall colors especially... bear the presence of both the greens that is being replaced... and the reds emerging. That makes the resulting new red muted.

The greatest need to bring this picture to a successful conclusion, is to recognize the absence of a strong, interesting and believable foreground. What better than to add a potpourri of fall flora that is on display directly behind you! Use it and arrange it creatively...  as you please.

Search... and be aware of objects and momentary "visitors" within the frame of view that you have created. What did I add to create yet another source of visual interest?

Hope that you enjoyed sharing this "plein air" outing near Kingston, Ontario!

Good Fall Painting... to ALL! Get "out there"...wherever you live!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Stepping Back in Time... Part One

As I made my way around the village... in search of a new subject to paint, I suddenly became aware  and realized that while the village and its residences collectively were a step back in historical time... they were also step back views of my own life and time.

Changes were evident everywhere i visited to support my growing awareness of that fact. While the overall historical nature of the architecture visibly transports one back in time, so many of the buildings do reflect the changes brought by modernity. Nature itself has conspired with human change to blur past memories that I carry within me from my earlier experiences here.

I can illustrate this using this photograph taken a week ago to be viewed in comparison with a small oil sketch that I completed in 1990.

      Looking down Regent Street... A Stone... as it sits in its late September greens in 2019

The same stone home as I portrayed it in 1990.This smallish 5 x 7 inch oil sketch ... minus all of the shrubbery of 2019 reveals more clearly its classical, early twentieth century limestone origin and beauty.

Given this situation occurs throughout the entire village, as well as the call of the fast approaching autumn color pageant...  I am drawn by a competing need and desire to participate in both. I feel that both would prove equally enjoyable to each of you (from away) and uplifting for me to paint.

I have decided to maintain the village walkabout incorporating some direct plein air pieces like this latest piece... as I am able to complete them. I will add sites that I think present  a potpourri of the village's most prestigious homes and buildings.

Typical Ontario one an one half storey clapboard residential dwelling with central entrance to parlour with fireplace/hearth... summer kitchen to the side. Two slanted ceiling bedrooms located in the half storey.

Clapboard residence of Stephen Yarwood, Purser in the Royal Navy and Nicholas Cross Carpenter c.1830's - 44

I would suggest using previous Barriefield paintings from my past wanderings in conjunction with present day photos for comparison.

"Spring... Willowmere in Barriefield  Village  - oil on canvas 20 x 24 inches

"Willowmere" sits today much untouched in its Georgian stone beauty. It varies from its current use as a single residence from being a stage coach inn for travellers between Montreal in Lower Canada using the King's Highway to make the long journey to York in Upper Canada. Today York is known as Toronto.

As Willowmere sits today. Notice that the veranda and its railings sit below the grade of the road. When I first visited the village the road was lower, but was raised when the main highway (The King's Highway ) was diverted to draw heavy traffic away from the village to maintain a more "historic" appearance.

"Sunny Monday Morning Matinee, Barriefield" - oil on canvas 20x24 inches

This painting recalled the Monday wash day ritual of most households... where clothing was washed ... either by hand in tubs and scrubbed clean by hand on washboards. Or... it was washed in rotary washing machines and then run through the attached wringer. The final drying took place on backyard clothes lines... courtesy of the sun or wind. The smell of those fresh clothes is still firmly embedded in my memory bank. Obviously... the practice remains alive... well and still practised in rural or semi-rural households.

A frontal view of the same clapboard home.. again a typically simple center plan Ontario residence of the early nineteenth century.  Little or no filigree detail to jazz up the facade . Jaunty and welcoming  colorful doors are the norm in this village and do much to add charm and color to the simple homes.

I will take a small "lunch break" from the Barriefield tour at this point... begging your permission and patience while I self - indulge in some rapidly changing landscape subjects. The color change has become much greater than the "blush" that was present... if one looked hard. It has gained in strength and its presence summons up my annual need to pull out the cadmiums.

Stay tuned... Barriefield isn't going anywhere soon. I shall return to the tour in a few days. Its worth the wait to travel through time down Main Street... and to experience "Lilac Row" home by home.

Warmest regards... and Happy Fall Painting... to ALL!!!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Simply... "Just across the road... or around the corner."

My blog post today, I hope records some awareness that has been fuelled by our moving (back) to Kingston... and away from our established life in Rockport. Moving was physically in its own right a challenging hurdle for us both. However, that worry was removed from our struggle through the generosity of four neighbours who took the lead and made things happen rapidly and seamlessly from one site to another. We will always be grateful for this blessing offered to us only out of a genuine act of friendship.

As I write, Deb is combining her own artisan ship skills and business acumen to combine with our longtime friend and web designer, Brenda Stanley at The Heart of Business located in Barrie Ontario. Their combined goal is to create a very new and updated Paint Box Gallery website. This time the site is being designed to replace the physical brick n'. mortar gallery and will be operating as an e-commerce site. Complete with its online shopping cart capabilities for our clientele.

In the meantime, I am out plein airing... panning for gold. A new website and gallery search require new materials that offer change and a fresh look as well. I am fully committed to that task at the moment. The cold, frosty fingers of winter are present during morning hours. That feeling... along with the obvious first "blushes" of autumn color remind one... that this much anticipated magical technicolor pageant... although breathtaking is so fleeting.

"Carpe diem".Well stated... and totally understood! So I am dedicated to delivering my contribution to our new chapter and art journey.

Stay tuned... for some new landscapes with "color surprises", as Emile Gruppe called them.

Places... Just across the road and around the corner

It is again a blessing to have been given this second opportunity to visit, retrace and paint in Barriefield Village again after so many years. Already, this quaint historic village presents unlimited painting material to motivate and excite me as creatively as it did thirty odd years ago. The village and its historically preserved homes are cared for by villagers who value its past. It is truly a vantage point from which the artist can view Kingston in its earliest years of settlement.

This heritage plaque provides all of the necessary lead in information to explain my connection and strong need to make paintings here. The opportunities to make good paintings within this small space are limitless.

I love to work using a thematic approach. What a better place ... "Just across the road and  around the corner from our new home." I will commence my introductory guided tour with one of my favourite Barriefield homes. One where I often was invited for tea with its owner then, Rollie Huegel. Rollie was a noted  and celebrated Shakespearean actor who worked in productions from our own famous Stratford Theater to New York Theater  productions.

In its beginnings in 1830, it was owned by David Morton who operated the premises as an Inn for stage travellers between Montreal and Toronto.

                                                           David Morton's Inn (1830) 
                                       "Couched in Summer... Nestled in Safely for Winter"
                                                        Oil on canvas - 10 x 12 inches   SOLD

All of the summer floral warmth and garden grandeur surrounding the red door which bid us to enter and to bide a while. Wasn't that exactly what the garden and its jolly entrance has done throughout its history? Seemed a propos to use it in my composition as simply an invitation to enter.

I hope that you share my feelings about my choice... and that you will stay with me on this village walkabout. Anxious to share this village with you. Like the River... its very much a part of my feelings of home... and belonging.

Warmest regards... and Good Fall Painting ... to ALL!