Melancholy dressed in a mantra of regal tapestry.
Bittersweet dreams. A time to rest and a time for thanksgiving,
closure; knowing that peace will come with the sleep of winter.
We paint the glorious colour with a palette of time passing, brushwork
that yearns for another day and a canvas of memories.
The Art of Charles Spratt – Painting the Seasons and selected essays, 1994
Those words, written 29 years ago, still resonate with me, as I stand by my easel, pausing to breath deeply in the cool fall air, letting the memories filter down; recalling places and adventures and the euphoria that comes with a successful painting when I am least expecting it.
The sugar maples of Eastern Canada are ablaze with reds, but it is the soft shades of rust and vermilion and ancient grasses signalling that nature is preparing for another winter, that calls me to paint. I am forever grateful for a long life, still enjoying plein air painting and the challenges of interpreting reflected light.
Back at my studio, after a day of searching for a motif and the fury spent struggling to project my inspiration to canvas, I relax in my chair with the canvas before me, searching for evidence of the energy I felt when I was out there. I find, at times, that I alter the work until the freshness is lost and I discard it. (I keep a roll of double-primed canvas ready to cut and re-stretch for the next outing). If the original sketch sings it’s way through the inspection stage, speaking to me of the great painting day and exciting results, then I have a keeper and I will most likely sign it.
Each time I put my name to a painting, the memories of years painting with so many great friends come flooding back. Without them I wouldn’t be a where I am to day. It’s impossible of course, but I would be so proud to show them my work. The truth is that I only have myself to make the final assessment based on my experience and the evaluations of others. That is why art shows such as the Ten Collective are so important.
Charlie Spratt, November 2023
Our last MAA Plein Air outing for 2023 was held at Stewart Park in Perth followed by lunch at Fiddleheads. This marks the end of 17 Thursday morning sessions starting June 1st . For some artists, the program was an opportunity to try plein air painting for the first time. For the rest of us, being outside, meeting friends and becoming immersed in painting in a different setting each week is great. Catching up on the latest news while lunching in a local restaurant is a nice bonus for some after painting all morning.
I enjoy getting out and painting with others as much as anyone. More than that though, I get a big kick out of watching artists trying new techniques and progressing in their painting efforts from week to week. I don’t offer formal instruction, but I am happy to give my suggestions when asked. After all, plein air painting should be all about getting absorbed in our surroundings and learning how to develop a composition: defined in my books as ‘learning by doing’: a philosophy that was grilled into me by successful artists, when I was eager to learn all I could.
I look forward to repeating the program next year. I thank my helpers: Anne Robinson, Patti May, Jim Moran and Paul Powers for their advice and being there when I needed them. A special thanks to Paul for being our photographer.
The painting "The Call" is an example of one of my own paintings created during this years MAA Plein Air Program at Blakeney; AFTER it had been reworked in my studio.
The Art of Charles Spratt