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
The Art of Charles Spratt