Sunday, 29 December 2013



When, with that first cry we make our presence known, a deposit is made in our names in the Bank of Time. How we choose to spend this precious substance, a substance of incalculable value, is our personal choice. We may be influenced by others regarding our spending habits, but as its worth diminishes we must accept the fact that we, and we alone, were responsible for the value achieved.

How quickly time passes. Soon, it will be a new year, another year’s worth of time withdrawn from my account at the Bank of Time. One can only hope that it was time well spent as, from my rough calculation, it would appear that my account balance is nearing the point where it's in danger of being overdrawn. Of course, we all know that there’s not much of a chance of this happening.

It’s quite amazing how quickly one can spend through what was once a fortune. When you’re young it’s easy to spend a day here, a day there, perhaps even a week, or two chasing silly desires and ambitions. Of course, when you’re young with a lot of time in the bank it’s easy to throw caution to the wind opting to spend more wisely tomorrow. And, then, one day you realize that there aren’t a lot of tomorrows in the bank, just a lot of hours and a few desperate minutes and seconds.

So, if this older person can share a bit of advice, make the best of your deposit at the Bank of Time and live every day in every possible way because, you can’t always count on tomorrow and tomorrow.

Winter Friend - Chickadee                      Hand-coloured Etching

Downy Woodpecker    Hand-coloured Etching

My studio in Horseshoe Valley had a large old maple tree beside the window where I often worked. Woodpeckers and Nuthatches would visit the winter suet feeders and after filling up would climb the tree and cling motionless awaiting another opportunity to visit the feeder.

Red-breasted Nuthatch  Watercolour Painting

Another window looked out on pine trees. Chickadees and nuthatches would take a seed and fly into the pine branches where they'd crack it open and remove the nut. The pines offered protection against predators, such as Sharp-shinned Hawks that visited the feeders on a regular basis searching out a meal.

White-breasted Nuthatch           Graphite Drawing

Monday, 23 December 2013


I recall that the business of art gave a little sigh and became very quiet once the Festive Season was over, and we slid into the long winter. With the quiet there came a time for reflection.

Making art is a difficult business that requires commitment, and dedication beyond belief. There are difficult years, years with few sales, years that cause artists to question the merit of continuing to pursue the dream. But, somehow through the long winters one would renew the challenge and explore new ideas, and hope for growth that would lead to success.

I had this thing for birds way back when. Come winter we’d put out a number of bird feeders attracting a number of different species including woodpeckers, nuthatches, blue jays, and chickadees.  Several feeders were close to the studio, and through the window I’d watch their comings and goings, and was often inspired to make drawings and paintings. Watching and drawing birds would help me to move beyond the funk of the past season, and inspire me to continue on.

As the years came and went, who knows to where, I moved away from drawing and painting birds and now find solace in painting the Canadian landscape. Still, come the long winter I’m reminded of different times and find myself  searching out the old drawings and wondering..........

Hairy Woodpecker clinging to suet ball.
Graphite Drawing

Hairy Woodpecker taking flight from Maple Tree
Graphite Drawing

White-breasted Nuthatch  on winter American Beech
Graphite Drawing

Downy Woodpecker on winter Cattail
Graphite Drawing

Black-capped Chickadee on Birch stump.
Graphite Drawing

American Kestrel  (Graphite Study)
Interesting about this drawing. You'll notice that it's not finished. I recall that at this point I decided that rather than continue on, knowing that I'd probably find no market for the finished piece, I used the study to help to make a large watercolour painting, that did sell.

Heading South    Canada Geese
Graphite Study
This detailed drawing, or study, was used in the making of a aquatint (etching) the edition of which was used to fund raise for the Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie, Ontario, Canada

Friday, 13 December 2013


I’ve just finished reading several newspapers on line.

Global warming is a huge topic these days. It seems that just about every natural disaster is blamed on global warming whether it be windstorm, flood, or earthquake. We’re told that if we stop burning fossil fuels and switch to a greener energy source that the problem will go away. But, it won’t. You see, the problem that we face was set in motion long, long, ago, and it had nothing to do with burning fossil fuels. It had to do with the planting of a single seed of grass.

Going back several thousands of years ago we were what was referred to as hunter gatherers. We wandered here and there killing animals, and gathering various fruits for food. When animals were scarce, and plant crops failed, we starved. Only the fittest survived. Not unlike other pack animals there would have been an alpha male, and an alpha female, the fittest and strongest members of the pack. Only the alpha members of the pack would breed. No one would have survived to what we now refer to as an old age. Pack size would have remained small numbering no more than a dozen, or so, adults with but a few children of varying ages.

And then, one of our species observed that a grass seed stuck in the ground sprouted and matured and produced more seed. Agriculture was born. Now, with the planting of seed crops food became plentiful. Life became easier. We no longer had to wander. The alpha members decided that additional pack, or tribe members were necessary in order to produce and protect the food supply. Everyone was allowed to procreate. Our species grew larger in number requiring more food. More land was required to produce more food resulting in endless conflict with other tribes. Eden as we refer to it was lost, and never ending war and conflict with its suffering has become our reality.

There’s no solution to the path that we’ve chosen. There’s no turning back. The stopping of the  burning of fossil fuels will do little to offset the damage that the  planting of that first seed set in motion. Endless good deeds and charity will not change, nor stave off our destiny, only temporarily ease suffering. Major religions are unable to help. In fact some religions appear to view additional chaos and suffering as the gateway to salvation.

Will we survive as a species? It’s not likely, not without some ghastly intervention that serves to reduce our number, and turn back the clock. And then, in all probability knowing our species, we’ll probably mess things up once again.

So anyway, back to reading the paper. Perhaps, there’s some good news tucked away on the back pages?

Often when travelling on a busy stretch of highway throughout Northern Ontario you'll catch a glimpse of a small lake tuck way back in the woods. There's no time to stop, and often there's no shoulder to speak of to pull safely off of the highway, so you make a mental note and promise yourself that when you get back to the studio you'll remember the scene and make a painting. This watercolour painting is one of the scenes, a composite of many impressions experienced while travelling in Northern Ontario.

Stormy Weather - Lake Superior  Watercolour Painting 2013

We love to get up to Lake Superior Provincial Park in late September, early October, when there's still a bit of colourful foliage left on the trees. The weather at this time of the year is always a bit of a gamble, however. Still, inclement weather does have its benefits resulting often times in dramatic lighting out on the lake. Lawren Harris, a member of the Group of Seven seemed to relish this type of weather as he made many paintings of Lake Superior employing this type of dramatic lighting.