News / New Work

  • Just Paint

    I can't recommend enough visiting the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, for any Visual Artist, especially if they need some sort of boost to lift their painting spirits. Most Artists will tell you that there are peaks and valleys for us all. No two years are the same, there are ups and downs. We all have them. Seeing in person the Masterworks of Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, Matisse, Degas, The Group of Seven, O'Keeffe, Dali, etc., makes the hair on my arms stand straight up. Those paintings have incredible presence. Taking your time to admire Masterpieces up close in detail, the brush strokes, the layers of paint, surely will make any Artist want to run to their easel. I'm sure it's also hard for most Artists to choose a favourite from what hangs on that beautiful building's walls, but for me it's not hard, it's Robert Harris. I was introduced to his paintings at a young age by my Dad at the Confederation Centre of the Arts. Robert Harris showed me that a painter from my small town could make it as an Artist. You could create art that would be revered forever, and it made me dream of one day maybe being an Artist myself. I just love his style, and so many of his works, but I think "A Meeting of the School Trustees" holds a special place for some reason. Maybe it's because it hangs along side all of those other Masters. I don't know, that's what great art does.

    I looked for it room after room, until I turned a corner, and there it was. This is the second time I have seen it in person, and I've admired it in books for years. It makes me feel as though I'm walking into that room, and one of the figures is about to move. It's an intense energy. The size was shocking again, it's larger than I remembered. This was the first time I've seen the masterpiece since it was freshly restored two years ago. The treatment was performed by a fellow Islander NGC Assistant Conservator of Paintings, Tasia Bulger, and she did an incredible job. The removal of the thick, discoloured varnish layer, restoring the overall colours and tones of the work as it would have appeared 134 years ago.

    Varnish removal also revealed an inscription on the slate, which hasn't been visible since it's last restoration in 1923.
    It reads: “ool Trustees” (likely “School Trustees”) “Meeting” and “day next.” I just love those kind of details.  


     2019 marks 100 years since we lost Robert Harris, but his legacy will live on forever in his work. I truly hope there are young Artists still being inspired to paint by him in another 100 years, as I was 45 years ago as a boy, and I was again last week. His aura is still all around his work. Artist or not, if you visit The National Gallery, or your local Gallery, and really take a good look at any of the Masters, it will lift your spirits too. Harris faced his challenges as well in the 1870's in the Art world, but he kept on painting. I cannot wait to stretch some linen, to mix and move some paint, to create something new, and create my best work. Thanks to The National Gallery of Canada and Robert Harris, I'm rising to the easel out of that valley, and I can't wait to see what's on the other side. 

  • I Hear Her Calling Me

     I hear her calling me. It's usually in just a normal voice. Sometimes it's soft whispering. But, sometimes it's loud, almost screaming. Sometimes in the middle of the night. Sometimes on bright sunny day dog walks. I hear my empty easel calling me. I see images coming to life in my head. I see little scenes, usually interlaced by me changing the easel height, mixing colours, and cleaning brushes. Sometimes it's dark images that visit me, like shipwrecks at sea, or of grand trees being cut down, or funerals of people gone way too soon. Dramatic visions. But mostly they're of happy, peaceful scenes that make me feel good in a certain way. Ones that I like to stay in for a while and just hang out while creating them. Ones I can re-visit years later and have fond memories of, and have friends visit it with me too. Soon I will catch my escaping days. I am closing in on it everyday. I know I'll hear those calls more frequently until I do. Until I return to her, and we can talk. It will come soon, it's just not time. I don't know what the subject or what those paintings will be yet. I'll happily paint whatever it is she calls for. I look forward to that day of clamping a blank canvas on my easel again. I look forward to the day when she and I both will no longer feel so empty.  



  • Art for Mom

    The first Art I can remember creating was with my Mom. She was a great drawer. I loved seeing all of her doodles as a kid. She would always draw fashionista type models just like we would see in the newspapers. I remember asking her to draw the character
    Rocket Robin Hood for me, and to my total amazement, there he was on the page looking exactly like he did on TV. Wide eyed, Robin came to life right in front of me, through my Mom's hand. It totally blew my mind. It would have been around 1970-71, and I'd be three or four. It inspired me to try and draw him just like Mom could, and I practiced, and I practiced. Read on...

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