Saturday, 4 October 2014

Friday, 12 September 2014

Observation # 16 Sept 01 2014

                     Oct 4 2014
    I know not what this form of correction should be called, for it is 'out' of the order in which such changes are likely done. (of that I know not as well)-Just call it a correction-
That correction is of the titles of the Attic paintings.While doing them, I was reading Alexander Pope-different things by him. I came across a sentence which seemed to sum up,for me, what those paintings had to say.
     Seeing many of those objects in my initial experience in the Attics -the treasures and 'junk' collected in a lifetime of the possession of things, seemed to suggest that attitude than people retain, even over an extended period of time, that should enlighten them, namely that one can 'go back', that one can and may ring that bell again, or put on those shoes, or read that book. Alas we seldom do. We do not know what the future holds
but it seems that some hold out a vague hope that those objects which once brought them pleasure  may do so again.Alas they seldom do. 
     The line in Pope's work :"heaven from all creatures hides the book of fate" seemed like a good title, so I borrowed it. For some reason while getting things ready for the Co Op display I completely forgot that I had borrowed that title. 
     By the way Pope considers it a gift from God that we do not know the future.

  As of today (Oct 4) the pictures (I like calling them that -it seems to remove all pretentiousness!) are all hanging and I am left to wonder how others see them-just curiosity- I have long ago given up asking others to note their comments... I will jump to the end of this post to put in a few Pictures of the wall at the Co Op.

               Today, the first day of September, feels like the hottest day of the summer.
 I'm returning to this little game because I have made a significant change  to Post #11's Barn.
   That change came about after I returned from a visit to a couple of old Art College pals. I visited with Al
and Dave and on the first day of our get together I did a painting Pleine Aire (on the spot).
Of course I didn't finish it- but when I returned home, the small landscape, done near Stirling (which is near Belleville), seemed to be worth tinkering with- so I did, and am not displeased with the results.
               The next day- that would be two days ago as of today-Ruth and I stopped at a garage sale and I got 6 slightly used Picture frames-they are the sort of old fashioned things with a canvas liner and a gold line around the inner edge. I know they are not fashionable but I don't really care- they work for me.
        On the same day I held up the Barn in Blog 11 and thought :"why not? " I can cut it down and rework some of the parts I find  poorly done and put it in one of my new old frames and partially solve my problem of what to put up in the Artist's Co Op Gallery as the Guest Artist for the month of October.
      Until that moment I had no idea concerning what I would offer the Co Op gallery to display. Now I do.
It will be 5 or 6 small 'framed' barn paintings-one big one(the one seen in another blog), and the painting of the 'Round Barn' which is in well, the two 'Attic' Paintings.
     Also, I'll include the Pleine Aire work from Stirling (which has a small very distant barn in it!).

So now to work at the three new works for the next 3 weeks. I will post them here but I will not be spending too much time making written Observations. We are heading for Ottawa on the 23rd and I have to have 
works ready for the Gallery by Sept 30.
                                                Original...I forget what I titled it-
                               was it Barn #1 2014? with 'hard 'edges to the white clouds
the re-worked version with the cloud edges softened
and some colour adjustments.

This is the location of the on the spot study near Stirling 

after some additional work and a reduction in size...

this detail is closer in colour to any of the others,and shows the 3
small trees (bushes) in the bottom left that I thought pulled the eye out 
of the bottom

I painted them out -presto -gone

The final thing-call it: Barn near Stirling

Drawing in a reddish Purple colour on Panel for: 'Barn #2 2014'
some colour added
some Value 7 neutral gray added
with mostly values 7 and 8 added to light areas
both of these are poor indications of the colour- 
some local colour added..... contemplating what to do with the sky....
 some blue and violet added to sky area

there were a lot of changes made in the two weeks I worked on this(while working on the other 2
which are coming up)-but this is fairly close to what it looks like in the frame

Call this one 'Barn #3 2014' also on 11 X 14 masonite panel
When I started to put some warm washes over the drawing I was reminded
of the hand tinted Black and white photographs I experimented with using oil paint-
that feels like it was a life time ago!
...and I resolved to make this one Monochrome.
once more the colour is ... about half way between these two
and yes... it's not quite monochrome
thew slight haziness is due to the layer of varnish-  guess I should get a filter to avoid that

The final one is the same barn, same size, same materials -just a different season-
the grass showing through the snow is not nearly so warm in colour
Yes, I forgot ,by this time to take pictures, -started to seem rather unnecessary but
 "you get the Picture" (sorry)

The last photograph 'was' going to be the last-but I might as well add some other not very good pictures of 
some works that might be in the Owen Sound Artist's Co Op Gallery in October.

This is from the Big Barn door in the barn at in Minto Glen, before we made it into a
 Studio for Ruth's Pottery  

Attic#3 with Trap Door(yep that's the Title) 

                This one is another attic in a series of the interiors of old buildings. I really did find these places
and started with the structures seen here but added stuff over the years-I used to think of these places as Stage Sets and they would have made great ones-the Ghosts were the silent actors and I, the Observer-
the audience of one.This one is titled  :Attic #4 with Window                                            
 I guess that's it for now
-Now back to my Uncle's War Diary Project -  the text is from about 190 Diary entries that were taken from the 528 entries Mike made over the years he kept the Diary.
I will not be  putting the progress of that project on this Blog- it is too time consuming
to you who enter here- all the best 

this is the corner of the space in the Co Op Gallery
this is the entire space.....
and this is why it is almost 'silly to hang something
with it's center about nine feet above the floor.
...impossible to find Pope's quotation written in the Book of Fate in the lower right corner 

Friday, 28 March 2014

Observation #15- the resurrected Sleigh

During this prolonged winter of my prolonging new work,(aka procrastination) this 'older work of a little sleigh in the weeds seemed to be worth trying to save. It was one that just barely past the cut when we moved to Owen Sound.
When we moved I tossed out a few works and gave away a few more-this one I was unsure of...
     The canvas had already been part of a salvage process-that is my having taken a large 'magnificent failure'
and cutting it up to make what might be 2 or 3 works worth keeping.(OK maybe it wasn't magnificent -I just like the expression) -it WAS big- 5 feet by 7 feet
  The Three Crows was the lower left side of the large original

The Crows Flying up the Valley was the upper section
This was inspired by a real experience of surprising a murder of crows(something I have seldom done)-I guess their watchman was asleep- they flew up that break between the trees into the setting sun.
The remaining area of the original(the bottom right) is the one I have been  reworking  and have now after only a week have concluded is worth keeping
The fence the crow is sitting on above is continued to the left in this, the final one with the Redeemed Sleigh.

After a few days of working mostly balancing the shapes and increasing the contrast, this is  what turned out
This is fairly close to the final colour but the rusted reddish metal parts are not so
warm and the upper right corner is not so hazy 
The weather has not  been favorable for taking photographs of paintings -either too cold to take outside and my light in this studio room is too uneven and today it is raining.

by sheer luck I found this photograph from July 2010-the source of the above three canvases-
it was so big I had to construct a folding stretcher to transport it  that explains the curve in the edges
I'm rather glad this does not exist any longer...
...makes me remember Al Purdy's Poem  on admitting he has written some bad Poems.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Observation #14 Followup to Old Joe's Barn

March 23-spring ? still winter here                                                                                                             
This 'should ' conclude the painting- of Old Joe's Barns. It has taken longer than I thought -and although the photograph of the finished work may not look a lot different than the original, I assure you it is ....
This shows the first step in eliminating  that fuzzy edge and the first step in reducing the size  of the bit of                                                                              hanging red vine.
this may be the solution but it still seems too large....
                                          paint it out and put in something smaller Other changes
                                         may be seen but It would take too long to mention them all.
                        Its been so long since I did this I have the feeling that I have already included this one.
...if so here it is again....
with more shape changes....the rail brought in from the edge of the canvas
adjustments to the green were next
there has been changes to both roof areas and the sky

During these long cold winter days Ruth and I have had a few games of scrabble/
 I have only used all the letters a few times in the 47 years we have been playing the game so this game was an unusual one with two occasions to use all 7 letters-in one game!
To be fair  on the same day in another round,  Ruth used all her 7 letters -but only one time !!
-she won that game handily.....

back to what is close to the end. When I was thinking about lightening up the foreground and adding more contrast I painted some not quite opaque white over parts I thought could be lighter.

at this stage I lost the edges of the rails on the ground so...notice at the end they weren't quite so obvious.

Finished (for now). Ruth says she thinks this one 'could sell' (a rare compliment) she likes it !

a sense of the scale (size) 3 ft. X 4 ft.

a look at Tonal Values

There have been lots of changes since I started to work with the camera beside me but they didn't seem to be worth mentioning .That's it for now. As usual I feel like I have had enough of whatever the subject was-
-more than enough in fact-but knowing as I do, that that feeling is only temporary, I now just wait for the
dust to settle, -the dust of my realizing how far short of my goals I fall. So far some friendly Muse 
has always come along and landed on my shoulder. After 6 weeks of this I don't know what's next.
Maybe more landscapes , maybe Inglis Falls, maybe something from Leith, maybe some straight Drawing-
It would be a treat not to have to struggle with colour  ...I'm looking forward to seeing new work by an old friend Barry McCarthy April 26. If it's not snowing I plan a trip with my son Dennis to Barry's exhibition at the Loch gallery in Toronto. His work has always inspired me- google his name...
...maybe Spring .

Friday, 28 February 2014

Observation # 13 -follow up to #11

                         If I am to keep things in order this is # 13 but it should be numbered 11.1                                                                           It is the last day of February-the cold persists...
          If anyone remembers, I claimed that there was one major aspect of that first barn painting in Owen               Sound that I  thought was 'off' ...well there were probably more 'off' parts than that...but never mind....
                                Here are the before and after photos showing the change(s) I made
this is the way it was the last time it was seen-the fence seemed too white 
a pure stark white probably looks OK on the screen bit trust me 'in person' it was too white
(sorry these photos should have been taken under the same conditions...alas...)and this painting IS better in person- aren't we all!
        ........... so about an hour ago I dug out the mars black, Payne's grey, titanium white and burnt umber
          and proceeded to  reduce the intensity of the white -to almost a middle value grey in some places.
I had to use pure undiluted paint  because of the rule "Fat over Lean'   which refers to the necessity of never putting a lean or diluted paint over a thick heavy application of paint-----could cause cracking  down the road......Now, if this had been done in Acrylic it would have been much more simple just to put a light wash over the too light parts
                      This little experiment is now over. I'm not sure if I'll continue with oil or not-I appreciate all the  qualities about Oil paint that in many ways make it superior to acrylic. If I do another I'll try  cotton                                                           canvas-a much more flexible surface.
                       One of those superior qualities of Oil is that nice luscious texture one can get.
            If you ever get a chance to see an original A.J.Casson,1898-1992- one of the Group of Seven, check out his textures. His work is much more 'labored' than Thomson's. Remembering the surface of a               Thomson sketch in oil on an 8 X 10 makes me think my own brush handling in this barn is not very                                                                                 thoughtful.
I might never get a chance to 'name -drop" Casson's name again so- what the heck : I met him in 1970 in the     St Thomas Art Gallery  he was one of the jurors and told me the night of the opening he liked my work. 
            (I was 23 he was 72, he was a kind fellow). I met A.Y. Jackson about 1968 in Kleinburg
at the McMichael Collection. It was a chilly but sunny day and he was sitting outside wrapped in a blanket                       He had a stroke a  sometime earlier- but was smiling and saying brief hellos. 
     Every now and then I drop out to the Leith Cemetery and have a chat with the guy who inspired them             both- Tom Thomson....I imagine Tom to be there even though he's probably up near Canoe Lake in
                                                            Algonquin Park
              The last photo here was taken with a strong raking sunlight-showing the brush work
              -next step- in 6 months-apply a final varnish.-I haven't done that in a long time

Observation #12 another re-working of a BARN

 It is Feb 28 2014 .
The snow has returned after a few days of relief.
                       Here goes again with another sort of  step by step set of alterations (changes) to an 'older' work
           Sometime, years ago, I did a careful drawing of the following setting in an abandoned farm yard. I did it on unprimmed cotton canvas-it was a sort of experiment and I've told myself not to do it again.-and I haven't.
          The paint (acrylic ) soaked into the canvas and while it was a nice surface to draw on, painting on it was not easy to do because it was so absorbent-so I left it at a stage where I 'thought 'maybe someday I would put a thin coat of Acrylic medium on it and finish it-paint over it some more.
      Well one thing led to another, the years slipped away and I never really gave up on it, but other work seemed more interesting- more importantly my brother actually bought the  thing- then years after when he and his wife downsized -to less wall space-they gave it back to me
                           The buildings were really great to draw and paint both inside and out. Inside the distant barn was a great setting of an old traditional barn interior with things from an other era of farm life. I found some eggs in the chicken roosting nests that were at least 10 years old- vitrified and lots of that evidence of a quick abandonment of the place.Maybe I'll put those on here sometime...
         ( I really should take the time to at least make these  photographs less crooked -maybe next time)
                       the following is the Painting back in the early autumn of 2013- it is 36in X 48in.

After living with it for awhile I decided to make some changes .I had just planted a young maple with large leaves that were just changing their colour so I drew in two leafless small trees-in places where I thought their shapes would improve the composition.
I also decided to make the two cedar fence rails in the bottom more prominent so I lightened them, thinking I would later  bury them in grass and weeds- still leaving them more obvious.
considering the location of the trees with some green tape 

Lots more changes took place to do what I thought would make this painting better-
What's Better?
I the past when I showed anyone a painting that 'to them ' looked finished , I would hear :"oh don't do anymore to it ................."Maybe that was good advice sometimes but usually I ignored it and never felt that I had the time or the listener really wanted to endure the explanation of  those principles of design -the stuff of balance-eye movement, the sense of space(overlapping shapes -of light, of colour trying for a unity of colour.... and those are just some of the aspects of (for me) making a painting successful.In this case 'better'
This time, unless it's really not obvious, I think I'll just put the photos up - some show obvious "before and after effects". Some of these may be obviously out of order 

Perhaps I should look again at Alex Colville's moonlight paintings  -no not this time

Making the branches lighter  -too light to start- will tone down later

I have to say a bit about this next image ,because as I was thinking about what to do in that central part where that original large dark green "black hole' at the bottom of a rather featureless wall seemed to create a sort of dead space, I received a letter from a friend in Australia. The letter included a poem by Norman MacCaig-called:
   Summer Farm    I'l quote just the first verse
"Straws like tame lightnings lie about the grass
And hang zigzag on hedges. Green as glass
The water in the horse trough shines.
Nine ducks go wobbling by in two straight lines.

A few years ago when I was prowling around near Kingsbridge  I walked through a field on my way to Lake Huron and noticed an old farm that I have vivid childhood memories of.
I made a detour and after an hour of  memory making- picture taking. I was just about to continue on when I noticed a horse trough. It was all overgrown with weeds growing out of it's dry form,and I remember seeing gold fish in that cement I took some shots of it ...never knowing when they may come in handy and  now 35 years later MacCaig's poem  awoke those memories.
 Thanks Shell for sending it to me .
while I was at it it seemed that the rail on the left of that group needed a new angle. with a value 7 grey ..well you can see what happened next-

further changes to the vine and the size of the wooden rails...

 A horse tough from that era was usually a cement container sort of like a bath tub.I have seen them under  the downspouts from an eaves-trough, or close to a windmill or a hand pump.After decades of use the 
    edges became rounded and water freezing in them in winter would sometimes cause cracks in the cement.

This was the state of affairs at 4:30  on the last day of one of the meanest Februaries I can remember- All roads in Bruce County closed yesterday to day? .With the exception of some more texture in the foreground and maybe breaking up those large flat green roofs on the distant barn I am almost finished-maybe another 2 long days .Then it's back to the Old uncle's Diary.
I'm always aware of the possibility of tickling a painting to death.It can happen easily if you don't keep your eye on the big picture-Sometimes as you go along pushing this back, sacrificing one part for another
adding -subtracting -when you take a step back it's an : "OH NO!"

 think I'll call it done for today -maybe read this over tomorrow and 
post it -then finish it -post that -then start something new.
It's OK going back like this -sort of satisfying to do a Lazarus
kind of thing,  and I know for sure this work is a lot better than when I left off
working on it all those years ago
 just noticed that hazy brown-yellow light area just behind the barn-take a step closer and it looks like yellow         ground fog-  I kind of like the 'feel' of it but........
Till next time...........................Brian