Wednesday, 29 July 2015


In between scanning old drawings and sketches for my new book I wander outside to enjoy the flower garden, and think about cutting the lawn. Key words here are “think about cutting the lawn”, as its been very hot over this way these past few days with temperatures in the low 30s Celsius, and the prospect of a sun stroke is a real possibility, at least that’s what I tell my neighbour who frowns at shaggy looking lawns. It’s almost always very hot here towards the end of July into the middle of August, and almost always hot, hot, hot, during the August long weekend, which is this coming weekend. Reminds me of when I was starting out to become an artist, a long time ago.

When I was starting out to become an artist, and not all that confident about the quality of my work, I’d search out various festivals, and group showings. Summer was the time of out of doors festivals. Generally, this type of festival is put together as a tourist event by a community more interested in making a profit from booth fees than being concerned about the quality of the art work on exhibit. Most of the work at these festivals range from very amateurish to a few high end artists, with a lot of questionable craft work in between. However, we all had to start somewhere, and for me it was a large outdoor festival in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, known as Kempenfest. Back then it was a juried show, albeit the standard couldn’t have been all that high as I was allowed, having paid my exhibitor fee, to occupy a space and exhibit and sell my art.

Exhibiting at an outdoor festival is quite a challenge. You’re assigned a space in which to exhibit and expected to exhibit come rain, or shine. And that first year, rain and shine it did! The exhibitors of today have elaborate tents, and so on to protect their work. Back then, most of us didn’t, so when it clouded over and began to rain cats and dogs, there was a flurry of activity as we rushed to cover our work with sheets of plastic, and whatever else was handy. The clouds would pass and the rain would stop, and once again out would come the scorching sun. If you were exhibiting watercolours, or prints, under glass the space between the glass and the artwork would steam over, then clear as the sun warmed things up. By the end of the day with the fluctuating temperatures your watercolours and prints, works on paper, would be all rippled, or warped. Disaster.

Most outdoor festivals are held on long weekends, and by day three one’s enthusiasm was usually beginning to wane. Of course, with the scorching heat one had a tendency to suffer from a bad sun burn, but back then the sun, we’re told, was not as damaging as it is today. Sales ranged from bad to very bad. But, at the end of the last day you managed to somehow convince yourself that things could have been worse, and you begin to look forward to next year when things will surely be much better.

I did manage a second year at Kempenfest. It proved to be worse than the first, and I convinced myself that there had to be a better venue, something less painful in which to exhibit my work…..and there was! In the course of the following year I was juried into The Buckhorn Wildlife & Art Festival, a very classy festival having extremely talented artists. I was fortunate to be accepted as a exhibitor at this festival for many years, and made many friends who would be helpful in steering my career in what I believe was a right direction.

As mentioned at the beginning of this posting I’m continuing to pull things out of folders to be scanned for my new book, should I ever get time to sit down and finish putting it together. Actually, going through the folders I’m quite amazed at the amount of work that I’ve done over the years. Some of it’s not so bad, at least I think so. Memories much of it. Here are a few of my recent scans: -

Chickadee on Milkweed   Pen and Ink

Chickadee  Pencil Drawing I

Chickadee    Pencil Drawing II

Daisies   Watercolour Painting

Dead Chickadee   Pencil Study

Immature Barn Swallow  Pencil Study

American Kestrel Mantling   Pencil Drawing

Belted Kingfisher   Pencil Drawing

Mallards - Algonquin Setting    Graphite and Watercolour

Mature Barn Swallow   Pencil Studies

A footnote to my comments about my exhibiting at Kempenfest. I mentioned that it almost always rained, or was quite hot, creating a trying experience for the exhibitor. Well, this year was no exception. On Sunday, August 2nd, 2015, the area area experienced severe thunderstorms delivering strong winds and torrential downpours. This morning, August 3rd, the rain and threat of more thunderstorms continues....Pity the unprepared exhibitor.

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