A shaft of sunlight meets the day on our couch in the sun room these mornings; a welcome harbinger of warm spring days as we struggle to get past COVID-19. The gift of light has a special place for artists as we learn to appreciate the incredible sunlight spectrum reflecting from everything we behold as colour. Like dogs and cats sleeping in the sunlight, we draw on the light for a sense of well-being and inward pleasure.
I have watched the sun’s rays gaining strength day by day as we move into April. Out in our sun room, I look up from my book, to see the light reflecting across the couch and pillows and glass tabletops. I am moved get my sketch book. As I start to outline a composition, I perceive evidence of the effects of the light on a vase of flowers, the pastel shades on fabrics and glass surfaces. These are the elements that put life into a painting.
I am pleased with my recent website make-over. I wanted to update my Weebly site that many know at www.cspratt.ca rather than start afresh. I have been managing my site for years including Charlie’s Blog, Art News and my paintings. Don’t need any more systems than necessary.
Janet Watson, Mejan Graphic Design in Merrickville was recommended to me and the result is more than satisfying. Thanks also to Paul Powers for the photography and Ottawa author, Barbara Robson for editing my CV information.
On a frosty morning in February, following several days of snowfall, I pulled my van over and stopped to admire the sunshine finally breaking through heavy clouds. The effect of sunlight warming the laden boughs, gave me a strong impression that all was right with the natural world. That this Covid 19 pandemic will just be a memory soon.
It was far too cold to paint with acrylics outside. But, from the warmth of my vehicle, parked safely and with a canvas propped up on the steering wheel, I was able to get the essentials recorded enough that some finishing touches, under studio lighting, caught the effect I wanted.
Respite 24x24 acrylic #221969
It’s cold this February and the wind, ever present, is driving the temperature down. Worst still is the thought that we could be basking in the sun somewhere south if it wasn’t for Covid 19. Bundled up and taking our usual walk along the Poule Creek path we stop for a break and an opportunity to take in the beauty one only finds in a northern winter.
Pausing on the footbridge, we see the vibrant blue and deep purple shadows with the afternoon sunlight reflecting on the frozen surface of the creek. In that moment, in the calm and the peace of the forest, I felt a release from the ache of cold and the ubiquitous Covid tension.
Fortunately, I had my camera with me. I call the painting Respite.
Respite is one of twelve C.Spratt paintings that will be showing in an exhibition at the newly renovated Amberwood Gallery, in Amberwood (Stittsville) for the month of April.
CORRECTION Due to the Covid 19 pandemic the Amberwood Gallery will remain closed for now and the exhibition has been postponed until later this year. Charlie Spratt March 13, 2021
February 21, 2021
Last Snow Lanark, ON 10 x 12. Painted in 1985.
A few weeks ago, I received an email from a lady living on the West Coast. She was pleased to have just purchased an original painting that she admired and was inquiring if it was one of mine. She had inspected the back of the small oil and found my name and a catalogue number. Digging through my records, I found an entry for a painting with the same catalogue number, showing that it was painted in 1985. I asked her to send me a picture of it, which she was happy to do.
From the catalogue number, the painting date, and the image she sent me, I assured her that it was, indeed, one of mine.
Afterwards, I recalled that I had painted it in early spring in Lanark County. I would have been painting then in oils. I am fairly certain that Grant Tigner, artist and mentor, was with me when I set up and painted that day on a favourite back-country road, one that we had visited on a number of occasions.
Memories of painting on back roads go back so many years - great friends, wonderful adventures, and memorable painting experiences. The journey, starting with my first night class at the Ottawa School of Art in 1980, continues thanks to family and friends making it all possible. Forty years later, I still enjoy painting back roads - closer to home – with friends. I can’t wait to be going out again in the spring, hopefully, when this Covid - 19 is finally under control. In the meantime we hope everyone can stay healthy.
January 22, 2021
Transition 20x24 acrylic #221966
I turned off the March Road one cold December day onto the Peter Robinson Road to check out the heritage buildings on the west side. Nothing grabbed me. However, turning around, I gazed at the ancient creek, dusted with snow and frozen over, the broken sky reflecting on the clear ice. It was a peaceful scene yet disquieting to think that the creek and low area are in a state of transition. Just as we are, I suppose. I discovered that the creek is called Coody Creek.
On country roads I see large tracks of farmland being taken for new development. This meandering creek, part of the natural drainage system flowing northward to the Ottawa River for thousands of years, will eventually succumb to the Big Plan. “That’s life”, I tell myself – ever more conscious of the fragility of my own time here.
So, let’s capture the momentary beauty of this amazing old creek frozen in time, I decide.
The weather is too cold for acrylics outside - and for me too - and there is no safe place to park my vehicle and paint from inside. So, after four trips back to the area on days with varying weather patterns, and several accumulated photographs, I decide to make a stab at the painting in my studio. A 20 x 40 canvas is unwrapped and placed on my studio easel.
Two weeks later, after many adjustments and another drive-by, I feel that I have accomplished what I set out to do. The painting speaks to me. And it feels very satisfying. I call it Transition.
January 3rd, 2021
Amberwood Village Golf Course and Area
I painted a number of paintings near our home in the Amberwood Village Recreation Area (AVRA) this fall.
Birches on the 2nd Tee was painted on the 2nd tee of the Amberwood golf course (closed for the winter) looking west towards the small lake, close by.
Poole Creek Late Fall was created from a sketch I painted on the pathway, just across Springbrook Dr. from the course.
They are part of a series that I started two years ago when I was part of an artist paint out and sale fund-raising event in aid of the Ross Connor Japanese Garden located at the start of the path.
With the oncoming of snow, just announced there will be more opportunities for paintings of the meandering creek, and unique nine-hole golf course.
Evidence from our Past 12x16 #220961
Early November 2020
At this moment, we are experiencing a week of beautiful warm sunny weather: not unknown for this time of year but so very welcome, knowing that winter is eminent. For plein air artists its an opportunity to be outside luxuriating in the winter sunshine, enjoying the last remnants of fall. The atmosphere is heavy with the poignancy of passing years and anticipation of renewal.
On this day, when I am in Carleton Place down by the Mississippi River, armed with easel and paintbox. When I came across this scene of rusting mill machinery by an ancient woolen mill juxtaposed with the stone wall, I was immediately taken. Later, I learned that the mill buildings are in the process of preservation and reconstruction for a major planned living development. The concept was, pleasantly, not lost on me.
I was recently invited to paint on a friend’s 100-acre property situated on the Carp Ridge. The drive along the Carp Road going west from Carp reveals fascinating topography where you find granite outcrops meeting farmland and woodlots of pine. There are evidences of renewal wherever you look. On this fall day, the ancient hardwood maples are ablaze with colour, mixed with stands of white pine many of which are entering the final phase of their life cycle. The sumac reds are turning to rust while new growth is everywhere with bright yellow and green foliage punctuated with young maple leaves.
I too, feel part of the larger plan. Watching my grand kids growing and experiencing life. So grateful to be part of it on this Thanksgiving weekend.
Cycle of Life 30x24 was painted from two sketches: the first done near Algonquin Park two years ago, the second one, last week on the Carp Ridge.
Cycle of Life Thanksgiving 30x24
My friend, Eileen Hennemann, and I arranged to meet at the Mill of Kintail, home to the Dr. James Naismith Museum, near Almonte one August Friday morning. Eileen is a wonderful artist, photographer and professional graphic designer who with her husband Allen, operate Hennemann/Stanley Design.
We set up our easels down among the pines where the Indian River flows past the historic grist mill that served as Dr. R. Tait Mackenzie’s studio, just in time to experience the light effects as the stone walls changed, dramatically, from deep shadow to full direct light.
When we finished up, Eileen snapped a picture of me with my work. I knew my painting needed some studio time, but I was excited about the progress I had made even in a couple of hours.
The Art of Charles Spratt