It's a rainy day at our cottage, two hours drive north-west of Gatineau. The grand kids are busy with crayons and papers flying everywhere. You can barely see across the still lake. The dog wants in. . . Again.
Why don't I just go out and paint something? I can see that the greens, upfront, are vibrant and intense, the hills beyond are blue, fading to grey sky. Still, it's hard to get excited I tell myself, resorting to familiar excuses: I'm getting old, done that before, more boring repetitions, who cares?
Wait a minute!. . . There's a break in the clouds - I can sniff a change in the air. Maybe, if I can find an 9x12 canvas? . . I knew some friends, my age, that gave up painting all-together. I couldn't do that. Much of my time is wrapped up in art-connected activities: outdoor painting, assisting artists, meeting clients at art shows, writing blogs like this one for my website and savoured quiet studio time – reworking old work or finishing new canvases while a jazz fm station grooves in the background.
Where does this enthusiasm come from? In 50 years of painting I've see a lot, from attending workshops and giving them myself, painting trips and gallery shows. I couldn't be criticized if I decided to retire at this age, right? The courage to paint comes from good health and a caring partner, for which I am grateful every day, and a fountain of wonderful memories. Memories of trips to places like Charlevoix, Gloucester, the Maritimes accompanied by exceptional artist who became life-long friends: Artists that supported my dreams with fresh ideas and mutual high praise, urging me - instilling me, with the drive to go on.
Many artists that approach me, these days, are looking for quick solutions to painting problems. I find that I have lost faith in the short answers that I could serve up years ago. Instead, I find words of praise and offer suggestions, offering ways to find courage, practice observation and paint regularly.
Reaching new plateaus in one's work comes slowly and in little steps that often go unnoticed until days or months later. I take great pleasure in trying to improve my own work, accepting both good and poor efforts as par for the course. And learning to recognize the difference! Occasionally, I am shown one of my paintings hanging ion someone's home. I am always struck by the professional look of painterly skill and presentation and I feel so glad that I have always sorted and sold only my best work. That moment is an award all by itself!
“Hey, the sun is breaking through dark clouds. Let's get out there and see if I can put a different spin on today's work. The roadside flowers are particularly beautiful this summer, I've noticed.”
The Art of Charles Spratt