Saturday, 7 July 2012


 A sketch is a sketch, is a sketch. It’s an idea, a thought. Expressed the sketch represents possibility. Unexpressed it is lost.

Sketching, or drawing, from nature teaches one to see. A photograph deals with reflected light that more often than not records shadow filled with mystery. A sketch made while exposed to the elements is remembered forever. A photograph becomes but a blurred memory, a jumble of thoughts difficult to pull together.

The downside of sketching from nature is the elements, rain, snow, heat and cold. Then, there are the critters and creatures. Over the years we’ve had our run in with many critters and creatures from biting insects to moose and bears. The upside is we’ve used the excuse to sketch as a reason to travel. We’ve been privileged to travel throughout Canada and the American Southwest in the name of art. Thinking backwards I’ve come to believe that having been able to travel to sketch was, perhaps, the most wonderful thing to come out of 30 odd years of working at becoming an artist. As for my sketches they're all very precious. Good, bad, or indifferent, each one a memory with a story to tell. 

June 21, 1998: A wonderful day sketching in Algonquin Provincial Park. -
It was a beautiful day in the Park albeit very warm. The temperature was around 30 degrees Celsius. When we arrived at Opeongo Lake I debated, because it was so hot, whether I would sketch or not. Having driven so far I decided that I must do at least one sketch. I chose a place in the shade. One sketch led to another and despite the heat, black flies, and Whiteface wasps that continued to land on my sketches and the ants that crawled up my pant legs I persisted. Later these sketches would help to complete a large painting, as well as to serve to help me to vividly remember my day of sketching at Opeongo Lake.

Opeongo Lake - Algonquin Provincial Park   Pen & Ink Sketch 1998

Opeongo Lake - Algonquin Provincial Park   Watercolour Sketch 1998

Opeongo Lake - Algonquin Provincial Park   Watercolour Sketch 1998

Opeongo Lake - Algonquin Provincial Park   Watercolour Painting 1999

October 1999 - Six Mile Lake Sketches - David Milne

Midland, Ontario, is known as the gateway to the 30,000 islands of Georgian Bay and in years gone by was frequented by the likes of Franz Johnson and A.Y. Jackson, founding members of the famous Canadian Group of Seven painters. Another artist, David Milne, a contemporary of the Group of Seven, isolated himself at Six Mile Lake located at the northeast corner of Simcoe County near to Midland. I was a mere boy when these artists were active. It was not until mid career as an artist that I discovered these famous painters. They inspired me with their accomplishments and tenacity. I’ve since visited many of the places where they stopped to paint and made my own sketches and paintings.

On a cold October day in 1999 I traveled up to Six Mile Lake. The lake was quiet. All the summer cottagers had long since departed. In David Milne’s time there were no cottages on the lake. He built a crude cabin and lived there in isolation plotting his destiny. He’d pick up supplies from Big Chute a few miles away then paddle his canoe up Little Go Home Bay to a small outlet and portage his canoe into Six Mile Lake. A small dam controls the water to the outlet these days. While I sketched I tried to envision Milne paddling alone in his canoe stocked with provisions

Six Mile Lake - View from the control dam.  Watercolour Sketch 1999

Milne's Portage - Pencil Sketch 1999

Milne's Portage - Watercolour Sketch 1999

Six Mile Lake Island  Watercolour Sketch 1999

Six Mile Lake Island - Watercolour Painting 2000

Six Mile Lake Island -  Graphite Drawing 1999

To be continued...........

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