Moonlight on Canoe Lake
5"x7" oil on wood, signed on back
Every now and then it's ok to go totally dark. As an artist I am constantly moved to bring light into my paintings. To demonstrate the effect of light on objects. Darkness, however, is most dramatic when shown against light. How is that possible? This painting, Moonlight on Canoe Lake is an example of just that. The dark of night, the even darker waters, cold and threatening. The moonlight, however, becons. Calls to you and invites you to stay. Assures you that it is safe to drink in the beauty of the moment.
36"x48" oil on canvas
current status: Available for viewing in the West Vancouver area.
This artist has seen Canada far and wide, north to south and in many very remote locations. One place has escaped me and I the desire to go is growing with each passing week. Vancouver.
Some would say Shame on you Robert! Some would say I have saved the best for last. Some would say my life is not complete. Wow, I know, I know.
Some of you have been sending me your photos of your own impressions of the Vancouver area and some of those have become paintings. I'm thankful for one particular traveller who happens to live in Vancouver and rides her motorcycle all over the coast. Everywhere she goes she snaps pictures and sends me jpegs.
While nothing can replace actually being there I must say your pictures are very inspiring to me. This is my open invitation to go right ahead and send as many as you like to me. I appreciate getting them. Who knows, you might even see one of them as a painting on www.robertmcaffee.com
Recently while in Times Square in Manhattan my daughter left an item that was precious to her in an American Eagle Outfitters Store. Here is what transpired:
Wonderful customer service/human experience:
I simply have to write to you to express my appreciation for the way that my situation was handled by one of your associates in the Times Square Store in Manhattan. My wife, three kids and I were visiting Manhattan from Toronto Canada. we made a few visits to the American Eagle Outfitters store in Times Square over four days but on the last evening before our early morning departure we were spending our time in Times Square. We decided to drop into the AE Outfitters where we spent another $600.00+. My 13 year old daughter, Ashley, is a big fan of your clothes and she is also a passionate writer. She carries her journal with her everywhere she goes.
On this evening she was so happy with her new purchases at your store that she forgot her Writers Journal (dairy) in the store. It was not until that night while we were packing that she realized it. As well as the regular daily entries she makes about her daily life events, she was half way through a 50 page lengthy letter to a dear friend. That letter was also inside her journal. Ashley is a tough girl but on realizing she didn't have the journal and that we had to depart before the stores were open the next day, she immediately began to cry. Our train ride back to Toronto was great for all of us except Ashley. She was utterly sad the whole way home.
Of course I began calling every store we had visited the evening before as well as the Olive Garden Times Square. No one had seen her Journal. Then with one call to American Eagle Times Square I reached "Bracy". As soon as he heard "Green Journal" he said he had it right in front of him. I almost cried for my daughters sake!
This is just the beginning.
Bracy was more than happy to take my address and ship with FedEx to us and I offered, of course, to cover any charges related.
The next day Fedex arrived and as per incorrect paperwork (my fault) they could not take the package. I corrected that and the following day they came again. They simply could not wait for Bracy to fetch the package from his office and left (that was poor customer service on Fedex's part).Then Bracy emailed me and said that one of his associates would take the package in person to the local FedEx depot and insure all paperwork was correct and see it through.
Oh my goodness! I am already embarrassed for the hassle I am putting Bracy through but he is so determined to help!
In this case he clearly caught the ball and ran it through the end zone without missing a beat. A touch down in the finest way. A slam dunk from the opposite end of the court, a real hole in one.
So I wish there were a way I could reach out my appreciation to Bracy, I am certain you have policies against monetary rewards, I understand that. Would you please acknowledge his service as beyond the expected and let him be an example of what it's really all about. He didn't have to but he did.
Thank you Bracy, thank you American Eagle Outfitters! we appreciate you so much.
Artist, Father of Ashley McAffee
Ok, let's face it, life is hard. Day after day you gotta get with it man. Go go go! Crappy news, Politics bugging you, office politics compounding the matter, Bills coming in faster than rain, and you just can't see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Lighten up for a minute, enjoy a great song and have some fun, if just for this moment. Here's a great song to help you get the stress out: http://youtu.be/Rbwz532EQw8
or try http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rbwz532EQw8&feature=related
This ones on me.
Just for fun.
For years I looked at the lives of successful artists who were not just proverbially but actually tortured. You know the ones; Van Gogh, Rothko and many others. Musicians as well. Names like Cobain, Winehouse, etc, etc. I looked at them with a question; how can someone so successful be so miserable? Imagine, you work your whole life at mastering your craft, you endure your share of opposition and you come out on top. As well, your work continues to improve and people keep buying it. Even more, you are making a good living from your work, so what's the problem? You're living the dream, right?
I'm turning 50 this year. Artistically I have spent the first 4+ years of my creative life trying to be all of those things. Successful, earn a living from my craft, etc, etc. Only now as my life passes the great 50 year mile stone I am only now beginning to realize what a truly wonderful gift I have been given. Not taken lightly by any means whatsoever and not unappreciated. I will never forget my years as a low paid over stressed under appreciated employee. The freedom I have now is pretty remarkable and I am humbled daily by the mere thought of it.
So what's my problem?
What tortures this artist is fear. Fear that I may never sell another painting ever again. No kidding. No joke intended.
There is not a day I don't think about it. Oh sure, I know what you're thinking; "Robert, you know that's not going to happen!" I wish I were so confident. I do get a bit confident after a few have gone out the door but there is always that monster around the corner waiting to taunt me again, those words that keep ringing in my heart...You'll probably never sell another painting again and you'll have to go punch a clock again for next to no pay. You won't be able to paint as much because you won't have the time. Maybe it's all over.
Yes, that's my torture. Every day. Mostly in the morning.
In an ironic sort of way it is also what drives me to my canvases, makes me keep working, makes me strive to be better, to improve, to reach the next goal, to achieve better than before. It's a blessing in disguise. This curse, This torture. when combined with a sheer love for paint and colour and movement of nature it provides the engine I need to keep on keeping on.
This is my heart on my sleeve, my friends. This is my very soul out there for all to see.
And there you go.
The Far North. Far from here but close to my heart. I have been contemplating it quite a bit lately. Till late last night I watched a documentary on TVO that really drove the longing home. The Scottsman, carrying his banjo and a camera crew venture north from Nova Scotia to Baffin Island. There they become awestruck by the big skies, turquoise waters and sheer loneliness of the barren but beautiful landscape. I felt myself drawn in ever so much deeper than before. Not only wanting but needing to be there. Feeling so much emotion that my eye's were damp with passion.
I love the far north. The lands are mostly undiscovered and what has been discovered is far from danger.
The colours, the light, the massive sky. I want to be there. I need to be there, I need to paint it.
Crossing the great Niagara Gorge aboard the Amtrak Train from the U.S. to Canada
This past week I took my family aboard am Amtrak train to Manhattan, in New York City. Among all the great and wonderful things we did was the must do on any visitors list: Visit Ground Zero to the 911 Memorial. (More on that in another blog post to come). Having experienced 911 Memorial emotions and security one cannot but appreciate the need for international border security. Americans and Canadians have much to protect and so strong measures need to be in place. No question about it.
This leads me to what I call silliness compounded.
Let me explain;
When my family and I were crossing from Canada into the United States our train stopped just inside the American Border. There the U.S. Marshals boarded the train and carried out their duties. One by one questioning each and every passenger on the train. There was a dog available to them but they did not bring it on the train. Of the many passengers they only removed four or five for further and closer examination inside the Customs office, which was at train level and within access of the train door. Cool! Not for one second did you even think anything of the process as of course you fully respected the reasons.
Then there was the Re-entry into Canada a week later.
Amtrak train stops just inside the Canadian Border. Train shuts down. Canadian Customs officers board the train and ask all passengers to de-board the train with all personal belongings. Ok, I get it. We will be passing our bags through scanners and we will be scanned ourselves. Cool. Totally fine. Very inconvenient but fine never the less.
So there we go, belongings in hand, every passenger, young and old, strong and feeble, making their way off the train. Then the officials direct us all into the customs processing office where they send us through a typical customs kiosk where we are asked the usual questions. No luggages canners, no body scanners, not even those scanner wands as seen in air ports. all passengers are passed through and directed outside the building and in stead of being led onto the platform, we are all sent around the outside of the train station, along the street sidewalk and back into the normal passenger waiting lounge. No air conditioning, no water to drink and can I tell you reader, it was pretty blazing hot in that little lounge with over a hundred impatient passengers standing, sitting around. 45 mn passed. Then very matter of fact like, a train station officer opens the platform door and announces "Ready to board!". We board, luggage in hand and flustered every one of us. The train pulls away and off we go.
Far be it from this artist to express any political views on this blog and I'll leave the conclusions up to you my faithful readers, but suffice to say there were some seriously silly aspects to this process and it left a very sour taste in the mouths of most of us passengers. Sort of like being processed for incarceration, or something like that.
Love to have your feed back on this one. Love to read your nightmare stories.
Various works by Mark Rothko
There was a time just over a year ago when I painted with a lot of red. Truth be known I enjoy painting with red a great deal. This comes from my early influence by the American abstract artist Mark Rothko (Marcus Rothkowitz (September 25, 1903 – February 25, 1970), was a Russian-American painter. He is classified as an abstract expressionist). Rothko thought nothing of completely covering a surface in nothing but red, done with broad strokes and soaking wet paint. That took some serious liberty as an artist. To do this and then be happy enough with it to then just release it to the world as is. Without following the temptation to "develop it" more.
Develop it more. Yes, a term I am very well acquainted with. For years as a watercolour artist I could never break that cycle. The cycle of getting more and more detailed. Yes I know it is fine to do detailed paintings, in fact many artists pride themselves in the photographic reproduction element of their unbelievable detail work. Not I. I do not hold it against such artists, no, in fact a very good friend of mine is a painfully detailed painter who's work I greatly admire and appreciate. For Robert McAffee though, I fight to rid myself of such a burden. I want to get to the broad strokes. To tell the story in as few details as possible. To say it with colour and composition but not with endless detail. I want to bring you there with passion and excitement and still give you lot's to look at over the years as you visit the piece you have acquired.
I don't imagine myself ever moving to the red only blocks of Rothko but I do greatly admire his tenacity in comiting to this and so I have allowed myself to be a bit tenacious.
I may apply the principle to other colours as well, Blue, Green, Yellow. Let's see.
Down to the Lake
30"x30" oil on canvas
There was a time when this artist, much younger and more snow ambitious would think nothing of pulling on all the layers and boots to go out for hours of sliding on a hill or playing hockey. As time went by that ambition calmed down a bit as I was satisfied to watch my kids play in it and maybe slide a few times with them. Now, as I venture into my 50th year I find myself quite happy to admire it's beauty from behind a window or from in the car. Not sure what happened, I know for certain that if I lived in a snowless place with hot temps all year around I would most certainly miss the white stuff. Probably even be one of those guys who takes trips to snowy places just to enjoy it for a moment.
These days I watch with some anxiety as the snow begins to fall and the temperatures threaten my ability to plunk my stool down on a rock and spend hours painting or sketching the forest or the lake. Almost like a door that slowly closes and restricts me from doing what I love to do so much.
Thank God for the kids in my house who love to play in snow so much, who always need reminders to bundle up and "get that scarf around your neck" as they rush to play outside in sub zero temps. Those reminders of the fact that it is not all doom and gloom but rather a joyous time of fun and memories.
But for now I long for the sun to return, for the clouds to part and the tree's to green up, I will be out there. You may see me or you may not. My routes are often off the beaten path where foot paths have not been made. You will see me though, in the colours I paint. In the vibrance that I put into my paintings because they are where I can make it happen all year round.
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.