A Good Mother. (by Jann Arden)
Let's talk about a Good Mother. I have one. I also have a Good Father. The basis for a good life, confidence, determination and strength. A part of society so sadly missing in so many homes.
So true that a person can do well and not just survive even without that strong foundation, my Mother did it. Born in a family of ten brothers and sisters, a father who thank God at least brought home his pay cheques, but for the most part lived for the bottle. That entails many stories not to be told here but in the face of it my mother and her siblings survived and all did well. They had a strong Mother.
How many times in your childhood did you resent your mother for thinking she knew you better than you knew yourself? Wondered where she got off thinking she had any idea what YOU were really feeling? Then as you grew up you began to recall each and every one of her bit's of advice, bit's of direction crammed into every possible crack of your childhood.
Like echos in the cavern of your soul her voice is always there... her words..."Her voice is what keeps you here".
I have a good Father too. His voice is what keeps me on track. "Feet on ground, Heart in hand, facing forward, just be yourself". Now memories of him challenge me to be a Good Father. I see it every day, my three children wonder who I think I am, how it is that I think I know them so well. Makes me even wonder myself if I know what I'm doing, but I hear the voice, recall the memories. I know what I have to do.
I thank God every day for a Good Mother and a Good Father.
Thanks also to Jann Arden for her great song.
The "No Name Blessing"
Let's talk about money for a minute. For years I worked in an environment where money was pretty present. The stock market has all kinds of characters with all levels of deep pockets. Funny thing is the door to the stock market is always open. Open because there are always newcomers entering and looser's leaving. But no doubt there is some significant dollars walking around and always looking for places to park it, preferably in an upwardly growing vehicle, to use bankese. Oh yes, I can speak bankese very well, I had 12 years to learn it thoroughly. One of my fav lines they used to use was "going forward". My bosses would say; " Going forward, Robert, we would like to see you advancing in the area of...". Well, enough of bankese.
Of course the banking and corporate world has one mandate and only one, to increase profits and satisfy the all mighty shareholders, a fact that plays into the role of CEO's who have very little room in a multi billion dollar budget for helping the less fortunate. Of course in such a case where a handy tax write off is available there is all kinds of money available, oh, and let's not forget that potential for the corporate name or significant donors name to be emblazoned on the front door of the high rise or the maine foyer...always helps motivate a little bit of generosity.
I do, for the record take advantage of tax write offs. As any prudent business operator should. However when it comes to helping and charity we in the business world have to look at how we use our wealth. I am a firm believer in the anonymous gift and giver. Now for certain my writing a blog about it makes me not so anonymous, true, but I am trying to make a point and encourage something important: The anonymous help, gift, support, etc. The No Name blessing.
When you give without expecting return. When you share because you want to not because you need the write off. When you do it in a way that no one, not even the recipient knows who did it and never will. There is the challenge.
There lies my challenge to you dear reader. Random acts of kindness to those who are really in need. Someone close to you, someone you see often and know their need is for real. Their need is for real and so is your money...what a coincidence! Let's do something in the world that we live, in the circles we move within. May not be a homeless person, may not be a food bank (even though I support those totally). It may just be a co-worker who is having trouble making rent this month. May be a child who's Mom and Dad cannot afford a tutor to help them achieve great things in the future, may even be an elderly person who cannot afford the medication they need to bring them some basic comfort.
You stand challenged today, and so do I. Let's rise to the challenge. If you want to tell what you did without assigning your name then I welcome your story here on this blog. What a great encouragement you will be! How good you will feel deep deep down inside.
One last thing: no medicine will cure your heart ache better than an act of anonymous kindness.
Recently I have been using a great photographer in Toronto for my reproduction work. The photographer happens to be the sone of one of the most wonderful artists I have ever met, Eric Dzenis.
I was there to have my work photographed but all around me is the wonderfully detailed and moving work of this truly remarkable artist of the truly classical portrait style. Every detail, every shade of the muscle, every hair on the head and the eyes! Oh my goodness! those eyes he portrays, glitter with that light that catches your eye and makes you draw closer.
From his portrayal of countless Corporate Executives to the soft and delicate presentation of the one and only Karen Kain, his movement and flow just mesmerize me.
I have been in the presence of greatness, if never before certainly now. Now that I have met and rubbed shoulders with mr Dzenis.
(you can read more about Eric Dzenis at http://starportraits.ca/season1/artists.php)
The Call of the Canvas
There are times when the voice calls. When approaching the canvas makes the fingertips tingle with anticipation of what lies just ahead, not knowing for certain as if reading a book for the first time...but in that same way the artist cannot put down the brush. The call is far too powerful. The pull is far to magnetic. I am falling, I am becoming entangled in the grips, in the grips of the painting waiting to be born.
What is important?
What is important in life? Yesterday I visited a friend in Toronto in one of the highest income neighbourhoods. As I drive down his street it's getting dark and now you can see inside the windows of all these swanky many thousand square foot homes. You know they want you to see inside because they leave the shutters open and all the interior lights on. Another side to all this, as I see it, and from the many large (10,000 square foot+) homes I've seen is the unused spaces. Just like you and me they come home from work, use the kitchen, use the bathroom and then go watch the news or whatever. Most of the time all those additional rooms rarely get used. So what's the point?
What's important here? I suggest if you have that much disposable money lying around how about using it to provide rooms in some other building for the less fortunate? Why not make it useful to someone who could really use your help.
That's what's important to me.
On a Hill
A departure from my usual subject matter; On a Hill presents a concept I have wanted to depict for over a year. The rocks where Christ was put on the cross outside of Jerusalem were and are very barren. Very rugged and jagged. I have often wondered as I look at so many depictions of the three crosses how they would look, how would the whole scene look if it were shown in a typical Canadian Shield type of geography? So, since I am an artist and can place it how I choose, I decided I would do such a painting.
This painting represents to me the message that it IS finished, and it IS done and because it is we can all rest in the assurance that we are forgiven. Therefore we can have hope. Hence, this scene is both rugged and peaceful. Strong yet relaxing.
Not as commercial as my main body of work, I agree, but this was not about a sale but rather about one of those things you just have to do just because. Just because. :-)
Who buys Robert McAffee paintings?
This is a question I am asked from time to time; who are the typical purchasers of my paintings? It's always assumed that it is high income professionals with a slant toward investment. In truth, and in my experience the buyers of my art are people who love it. Or rather, who fall in love with something I have done. They may not fall in love with everything I do, no, rather, they fall in love with a piece I have done. They love it because it connects with something in their lives. It speaks to a part of who they are.
There are many reasons to buy paintings. Some buy for decor, some for investment, some as a gift, but those make up less than 5% of the total buyers. This means that the one who makes the call, comes over for an appointment to view a particular painting and ends up taking it home is a person who may or may not be into high priced art, they are most likely a person who see's a piece they simply have to have and cannot allow it to go to someone else. It expresses something they identify with and like buying a car or some other expensive item they find a means to acquire it. Payments are an option which some explore as a means to be able to own the one they love.
It's almost never about the money. It is almost always about the love.
On that note I have to say this is one of the most rewarding experiences for me as an artist. To see my work being sought after by someone who's heart has connected with mine through the paint I have applied to a canvas with some brushes. Someone who feels what I feel when looking at the scene. When experiencing the colour, the movement, the drama!
That's who buys a Robert McAffee painting.
Every day as an artist
This is a short blog post. I just want to say that every day that i wake up and contemplate my day of painting pictures on canvases, every day that I spend my working hours putting my passion on canvas, every day that I don't have to listen to or worry about a self centered boss who is only worried about his/her budget and how expendable I am, every day that I can forgo the miles of traffic and highway 401 nightmares, every day that I see all those cars heading south to the train station and the hour long trip into the city that I am (THANK GOD!!!!) no longer a part of, every day that I am able to do and be who I am and what God made me to be...
...is a day that I thank God in heaven for this wonderful honour I have of being a full time artist.
I am thankful.
I am truly thankful.
Waiting for the best part.
In painting as in life, and painting is so much like life, one sometimes has no choice but to wait. There are times when you can fly though things and be done with it asap. Most of the time the result is a painting which is good.
Now for the patient part. When you think a painting is done, finished, complete you are going to hang it, shoot it, post it, etc, etc. But later it hit's you, it's not done! You have a wave of what I call Post inspiration. This is where you see your painting from totally objective eyes. You notice things you didn't notice the first time around. Such was the case for "Changing Colours". The second wave of inspiration didn't come for three years! Without a doubt I truly feel satisfied now with this painting and the work is done. Finished, complete.
So Why the Change?
The robertmcaffee.com website began as a simple Weebly supported one page blog post with a single image of my painting. Then I added another then another then another image of my work until it needed to be broken into sub pages with headings: Water, Forest and Trees, etc. To date it has over 30 pages, some not visible in the navigation yet.
I have always been innocently pleased with it through it's various evolutions because I have never stopped being happy just to see my work up there where it can be seen by so many.
You see, being seen is the key to the successful artists career. You cannot sell if no one see's your work. For years I struggled with galleries who do not make any effort to promote or present up and coming artists in favour of sticking to the already established names. Could say tons more about that but it just makes my blood pressure rise. No need for that. There are some galleries I have found in recent months who have proven themselves to be more than worth their salt and do all and beyond what galleries should do. To them I happily give my work and happily entrust them to get them seen by many. After all it is the key.
In todays art market the web cannot be ignored. I have grabbed on to it with a tight grip. Robertmcaffee.com has become the center for all that I do. Even the galleries link to it to showcase my work on their own websites. This is my point: Robertmcaffee.com has to represent me wholly and and accurately. To date one thing it has missed out on has been the truly Canadian aspect of who I am. While I can sing the praises of breathtaking American, Scottish, German and many other geographies, I am as they say, "I am Canadian". So Robertmcaffee.com had to embody that sentiment more deeply. For a few weeks I worked and reworked my Logo image and thought all the various aspects of my artist life. Travelling this great land from coast to coast, lake to lake, and in some cases pond to pond. One needs basic tools. Brushes, compass, pencil and a good map, although we tend to use GPS now. The picture/graphic you now see on the welcome page of this website is the final product which holds all of those elements. The obscure but very important feature is the emblazoned O Canada lyrics wrapping around the entire image in both English and French. Close to my heart. Makes my eyes wet with pride every time I hear the song being sung or played. It is that land that I paint.
Painting Canada one canvas at a time.
The Artists Journey
This is my blog page and it is where I get to be the opinionated man that I really am. The views are my own.
I invite your replies and comments, on my virtual welcome mat.
This sketch above became this finished painting below
The Pine Tree Painter.
How did I become known as the Pine Tree Painter? You could say I paint a lot of Pine Trees, that would be true. I paint a lot of other things too, but Pine Trees, Spruce Trees, Birch and others seem to be a continuous string in what i do. I just like the way they stand there like a custodian of the land. or a greeter to nature. So, I continue down the path with the Pine Tree Painter name on my head, It's ok.