Friday, February 28, 2020

Sugar Moon = Spring Tonic

                                                        Sugaring Off

                             "Sugar Moon" - oil on canvas 22 x 18 inches

We are entering that magical and long-awaited time of year - Spring. Daylight arrives earlier each day... and lasts longer before giving way to darkness. Bird and squirrel behavior suddenly takes on overtones of chase and mating. Dormant trees show flashes of pinkness in their canopies and budding at the tips of each branch.

The waiting game imposed by winter's cold loses strength... thawed by the increased warmth of longer days and more direct sunshine. Spring has announced her short, but grand entrance bringing new hope and promise to all living creatures - even to humankind.

The moonscape, "Sugar Moon" shown above truly captures the magic of this season of change. It captures ever so eloquently the annual rite of spring which we celebrate here in Canada. A rite which has faithfully played itself out since the indigenous beginnings of settlement.

Later arriving European settlers learned the techniques from First Nation gatherers and have carried forward the ritual right through to the present day, introducing production and quality to higher levels.

As a plein air painter, I have been privileged over many springs to join in to this spring activity in many maple bushes around rural Ontario and Quebec.  It signals a sense of renewal for me as well... and confirmation that Hope lives on in my own heart for the planet  and for the survival of such natural wonders of "maple magic."

Plein Air Painting

In so many ways, plein air painting mimics the process of gathering maple syrup. Both activities are carried on in the outdoors in winter... both "tapping" the energy and resources found only in the natural world.

Sap is gathered from the spiles driven into the maple trees in the bush. It is gathered into buckets... or relayed by a series of plastic hoses back to a central gathering shed called a shanty. Here it it is fed on to pans, or into boilers for several hours. This reduction of water content, or boiling down creates a thicker refined sugary form we call maple syrup syrup... aka "Canadian liquid gold."

As plein air artists, we follow a similar pathway outdoors to gather information that we find "sweet" to the eye and imagination. We reconstitute the forms, contours, planes and colors which lay before us into a rough, sketchy outline which we usually carry back to the studio. Here we can adjust reality... to suit our tastes... "warming it by adding our own flavor/style. Sometimes... we even use this sketch to create a much larger and more powerful statement or record.

On Thursday, my long time plein air painting pal, David Kay arrived with his lovely wife Diane for a visit... and painting trip to my neck of the woods. We packed our gear into my van and headed to a favorite location of mine... "Smuggler's Cove" located at Ivy Lea Provincial Park. The site is a fair way off road, so we had to pack our gear in and out over a distance on snow covered trails.

                                                  David at the easel

AWB... in full winter armor... oblivious to all else save what lays silently before me.

I will leave the language path here at this point and will leave you to enjoy the pictures and paintings we made to record our activity. You can be the judge of our success. I will end by simply adding, "Though Mother Nature did her very best to challenge our enjoyment and mettle... both David and I reveled in the warmth and pleasure of each other's company... and the deep silence in "Manitouanna" - God's Garden of Eden."

"He leadeth me beside  still waters... it restoreth my soul."

And it truly did! A veritable "Spring Tonic" which my generation applied at winter's end to regain new energy and vitality.

Stay tuned for the adjusted final edition...

Here's my subject source...raw to the eye... accompanied below by my interpreted field version.

               "Spring...Carving Into Winter" - oil on canvas 11 x 14 inches

Plein airing in winter can be as pleasurable as in all of the other seasons. The trick is to be dressed or the weather that presents itself... and to be in the company of that special friend with whom you can share it. In this case... I had chosen well.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Ti amo Allison!

Today is Valentine's Day.. the day when one reaches out to those individuals who bring the most Joy and Happiness to you in your daily life. Today, I dig deeply in an effort to embrace the contributions of those in my life who make me feel most complete.

There lies little question in my mind that I am indeed blessed to have a host of cherubs and angels who continually offer me their unconditional love and support. My own children and my beautiful Deb and several special friends are such examples.

In spite of these continuously supportive and important presences, today is tinged with deep sadness. A part of my heart is empty and I realize that no matter how hard I try to replenish that space... it will remain empty forever.

I even try to convince myself that I am ungrateful and should feel shame for this feeling. But I have learned over time not to feel so. My grief belongs to me alone and I am entitled to express it as I feel necessary and without feeling a need for apology.

I try not to inflict it upon people at will. And I choose who to share it with. Only a few .. and when it is most appropriate.

I wish to share a card sent to me by a "significant" blogger Friend with whom I share a similar sense of deep loss. I choose to share the card she sent my way to encourage my healing. She included with this special card two magnificent portraits of Allison. One hangs in our bedroom... the other on Allie's mom Joan's mantle piece. I cannot begin to express the Peace and the Joy that these gifts continually offer we Sherman's.

This beautifully crafted computer-cut card is by itself a powerfully poignant
Valentine sentiment... but I will include a few of the handwritten words that my wonderful Friend added:

"I think this card is perfect as it symbolizes hearts joined as one. And even tho some of the hearts have fallen from the tree, they are still very much part of the whole. In time they will be rejoined. But until then, the emptiness can be shattering - if we allow it. And sometimes we must if we are to begin healing."

A one line "Valentine" arrived in my Inbox this morning ... via the Twice Weekly Newsletter from Robert and Sara Genn to which I subscribe. It read simply... but powerfully:

"To be free of fear is to be full of love."

- Adyashanti (Spiritual Teacher)
  Way of Liberation

This liberation is accomplished through following teachings which come directly to you through one's own experience.

As strange as it may seem... though Allison's tragic and shattering passing has left confusion, sadness, grief and even a sense of hopelessness within me at times. It has as well stirred significant spiritual growth and a lesser feeling of fear for death.

I accept them as legitimate emotional expressions. I am not ashamed of them. I choose not to wallow in them either. Allie taught me that during her courageous struggle with the wretched disease within her. I try to work through them and to learn from them...  as they come to me from time to time.

She pulled this tarot card for me which directly follows the teaching of Adyashanti:

 "Replace fear... choose  Love!"

Joan and I meet as the need arises to reach out and share some of the gifts that Allison created and left with us. As well, we share some of our gifts that we shared lovingly with her while she was with us. We are sending this next painting "valentine" that I created specifically for Allie.  This oil  painting that I sent her for Christmas, 2006 recorded the familiar view from a bridge that I crossed every day during my own eight week adventure in Venice.

My own adventure zeal that I experienced there would propel Allison to search and follow her own camino in many subsequent trips to live, study and teach in many parts of Italy. Venice captured both of our hearts. We were.. and always will remain kindred spirits under her spell.

I am proud to say that this small painting will arrive this week... close to Valentine's Day at the door of her "bestie"/soul mate Jill Weinreich Luppi.

We are indebted forever to Jill for spearheading the massively successful online fundraising project which helped fund Allison's trip to Austria to receive advanced cancer treatment. She also deposited some of Allie's final ashes into Venice's historic Lagoon... thus a part of her spirit remains in her beloved city.

I know that Allie would share our excitement and joy to send this Valentine oil gift to Jill for her home. It rightfully belongs with her!

"Campo Santa Maria di Formosa"
      12 x 16 inch oil on canvas                                                                       
I have embraced Allison's wish the I "live my life fully... in her honor."
It is my honor to do so... to the best of may ability.

On Sunday, my painting buddy David Kay and his lovely wife Diane will arrive  to share three days with us here at The Barriefield. David and I have painted together for several decades in his home turf, Algonquin Park. We will spend most of those three days plein air painting together in my special places here.

Got the winter garb and thermals at the ready! Stepping away from my Lunar Landscape theme for a bit. Let's just call this plein air junket into this current -23C "winter wonderland"... "Pure Lunacy"!    LOL

Stay tuned...

             Happy Valentine's Day... to All!!!

                            Ti amo Allie... Forever!