Opened the paper this morning and there he was, again. The one and only, the truly iconic Conrad Black.
So what's your position on money? I mean, do you blame people for making money or do you celebrate that they seem to have a God given talent for doing just that? Do you despise every Mercedes Benz or Jaguar that you see rolling blissfully down the highway with a driver that seems to have everything you ever wished you had? Does it ruin your day when you see money moving around in expensive cars, living in multiple residences and socializing in all the "right" circles?
Do you ever drive down Post Road and wonder how evil and crooked these people must have been to get they're hands on so much wealth? "Ahh, it's old money, for sure" you might think.
One such resident of the money set is the well known and in fact Canadian Icon, Conrad Black. How many people do you know who can sustain years of legal battles, ending in loss after loss and then ending up in prison for a few years, and still emerge seemingly unscathed (financially) carrying on as if nothing happened.
This was the image I saw when I opened my paper over breakfast this morning. There by the side of Huffington Post founder, Arianna Huffington and Toronto Sun editor, Peter Worthington was the one and only Conrad Black. To make my point here one only need ask him or herself, who was happier to be standing with whom? Was it Conrad who felt relieved to be accepted into the old boys club again or was it Arianna Huffington and Peter Worthington delighted by the coverage this pose would bring to their respective publications?
Well I say that Conrad made the effort to re-establish himself with the in crowd by being there, but he was certainly doing them all a favour by being there as well.
Conrad Black is and always will be a major Canadian Icon. Citizenship or not. True he did grow up in the pocket of old and very established Toronto money. True he has the Upper Canada College crest firmly tattooed on his heart, but lets not make any mistake here. Conrad Black had and still has the fortitude to birth incredible plans, initiate their existence and see them through to great and profound success, on a grand scale. By his own direction something simple and relatively unknown can be turned into something of a household topic or name. I suggest we haven't seen the last of Mr Blacks work.
Here is a man who is defiantly unrepentant for the crimes he was convicted of and actually spent time incarcerated for. I believe he will continue to be the news magnet that he has always been.
How do I feel when I see guys like him moving in the deep wealth he is so well known for? I say he has taken the risks, made the tough decisions, asserted the commitments and stayed the course regardless of the circumstances around him, even at the cost of loosing his freedom and some of his reputation. He really is a man with a mission and men with missions tend to become very very successful.
Some say pompous. some say big headed. Some say head in the clouds. Yes these could be things correctly attributed to Mr Black. I suggest, though, that incarceration along side of societies forgotten and even cast out and public shaming by the very media that he once owned have changed the way this man see's the world around him. My bet is that he is gentler. Calmer. More resolute. More determined and above all else, a little more skilled at covering his tracks going forward.
I won't be surprised to see Conrad Black involved in serious philanthropy and personal association with those in need as he morphs into his new roll on business and society. Even for the mighty and seemingly unshakable Conrad Black, I believe there have been some sincerely personal changes take place during his stay in U.S. correctional facilities.
Where he seemed cold and ruthless before I believe we will see warmth and forgiveness now.
Welcome back Mr Black.
May 28th, 1962. That's the day and the year this world welcomed a new artist. Born to a young mother and Father in the High Park area of Toronto and moved when I was one to Etobicoke, a new and thriving little suburb of the fast growing city of Toronto.
I know for many of my readers 50 was a bench mark passed long ago. A kid, they would call me.
Well, in many ways A kid is how I feel. I've grown up knowing that maturity was supposed to be when you slow down, settle a bit and people respect you and call you Mr a lot because of your grey hair. My body is slower, that's for sure. My head is telling me to settle a bit, and for certain people do call me Mr because of my more and more present grey hair. But my life seems to be in a higher gear than ever before.
It's true, when you work at a day job you always dream of the prospect of being your own boss, being self employed. Taking days off and enjoying life more. I admit I had those mythical images in my head when I was dreaming of becoming a full time artist. But then a funny thing happened. I did become a full time artist. I also stepped onto the treadmill of business. Oh sure I get to do the occasional sleep in thing and bug off to the lake for fun, but most days are busier than I have ever been while I had my day jobs.
No longer do they paycheques get dropped into my bank account every two weeks. No longer does my taxes get deducted by some remote HR department. And no longer can I just punch a clock and go home and forget about work. Don't get me wrong, no one in this world could love their work more than me, no sirreeBob. It's just that entering the world of husseling for your pay has changed how my life is structured and how things are acquired. Now, in stead of being lazy and spending all your money, you have to save because you never know when you might have picked the last apple off the tree. You have to prepare ahead for rainy days and there are some that come pretty unexpectedly.
50 years on is a new experience for me. I welcome it, it's the best time of my life. Beautiful wife, three smart cookies for kids, a black cat and a white cat, fishies in the tank, great and true friends around me and many many more blessings than I should list here.
I am blessed. I live every day as if it were my last. I live every day as if I may never get to sell another painting again. i am thankful to God every day for all that he has given to me.
The Foster Robot
When you give the sky to a kid and say "Go create!", you might just be amazed at what transpires.
My Son had a school project to produce a model of a robot. Had to be fully three dimensional and detailed. Had to have significant function as well.
I was getting a bit concerned when he started asking for drives to Home Depot, Canadian Tire and other hardware stores. The costs were starting to mount for a run of the mill school project, as they tend to go. One thing I know though, is when a kid has resources they can amaze you with their plans. So was the case for my son Fosters Robot. Little did I realize that out there in the garage was a fully functional robot that he would wear and become. He never let us see it till we came to his school for the science fair presentation. When I did arrive I was greeted at the main entrance by a life sized silver robot who was in fact my 12 year old, Foster. He was the star of the show. As he walked through the halls and around the other exhibits he drew crowds of fascinated onlookers.
I'm so proud of him. All of my kids amaze me with their creativity and this was Fosters turn at the bat.
I seriously loath the dreaded "Performance appraisal" that your boss/supervisor subjects you to to determine if you are elligable for the 1.28 percent raise that they are giving everyone across the board anyway, but let's do this performance appraisal just to make you grovel for some respect.
Never was my fav aspect of corp life.
At this moment I happen to be sitting next to one happening now at my coffee spot. Poor guy.
Sucking up to a boss who clearly enjoys it. And you know what the funny part is? The boss really rarely has any influence on what the raise will be anyway, it's usually preset by the HR department generically to meet corp budget guidelines. Wow. Remember that next time you are invited by your boss to your next "performance appraisal".
Time for change
The new and final
Return to Canoe Lake
(formerly : Across Canoe Lake)
36"c48" oil on canvas
There are times when you have to face up with a situation and make the hard decision. Such is the case with two paintings that have dogged this artist for over a year. Across Canoe Lake and Low sun on pine tree. (pictured here)
I know every painting has to breath it's own breath and have it's own expression, but every time I look at these two there is always something calling out for change. I don't mind revisiting paintings for small accents or touch ups but to me these two are calling for a total makeover, so to say. In fact, by post time of this blog it has already begun. The skies are different, the water has changed colours and the general yellow tones are now more earthy and "cozy", I am feeling better about them. Very radical changes in deed.
This has happened in the past, and when it has it is a bit uncanny how then and only then does someone surface saying "ah but I was about to buy it the way it was...".
In the end I have to follow my own soul on it. I have to do what I feel is right or I'm cheating you and myself. It has to be said that in a selfish sort of way I do paint for myself first. I must feel pleased and fulfilled with it and it's message. So let's see where it goes with these two. Stay tuned. I promise I will post an update to this blog when they are done so you can see them in their final state. I'll be interested to read your comments if you have any.
Sara Lynn Morgan Reichtmann
Feb 14 1944-May 2 2012
It was a very hot Saturday afternoon, July 18th 2010. I was set up to do my very first out door art festival at the Briar country Club in Jacksons Point, Sutton Ontario. I didn't know enough to try and book a spot in the shade and there I was baking in the un bridled sweltering July Sun.
Attendance was good at best, most people would rather stay inside their nice cool air conditioned cottages along Hedge Road on lake Simcoe's south East shore, and most did that day. There were a few brave souls who ventured out into the scalding heat to pay some tribute to the poor starving artists sitting out there hawking their wares, thank God for them.
Then there she was. Tanned dark skin like leather, gold jewelry accenting her neck and wrists, wearing black shorts and top, marching across the wide open lawn right over to my humble little canopy tent. No hesitation, just walked right on in. Most people are a bit shy to enter but not her. She looked closely at each and every painting, as if to measure and absorb every detail. Then she turned to me, reached out her hand and introduced herself:
"I'm Sara Morgan-Reichtman, we own condo's around the distillery District, Canary Warf, and many other properties around the world. I like your art!"
Then she asked me this question:
"Would you mind, I mean, I don't want to be an affront to your work but if I may I'd like to give you some advice that I think you would do well by?"
She began to describe how to use outlines and edges on my foreground strokes that would create the impression of being detached from the back ground and giving my paintings a more three dimensional effect. She went on in great lengths and I soaked up every word. It just made sense. She seemed to know exactly what she was talking about.
She certainly did know for what she spoke of. It would be the beginning of a very wonderful and colourful friendship.
Before she left that afternoon Sara invited me to visit with her in her home on the waterfront and I did. Conversation there was brief as she made a point of introducing me to her already present guests. "This is my friend and an artist who will be very well known one day soon". She believed in me.
As one mutual friend puts it, "Sara was a person who once you met her you never forgot her, and she always made an unforgettable verbal impression on you". Those words could not be truer.
Over the next and last two and a half years I had the honour of becoming one of her closest and most trusted friends. She confided in me about her most personal cares and concerns. She trusted me and to that end I trusted her no less.
Sara's insight into business and how to best avoid pitfalls and to take advantage of opportunities continually encouraged and educated me as I began on my own road as a full time artist. I honestly do not know where I would be today with out her input and most of all her faith in me and my art.
I painted a painting for her. I specially entitled it to her name. It is called "Sara's Bay" (see below). I had no idea that just one year after giving it to her that she would be leaving us all.
For the record anyone who knew her would say that she was a grand story teller. You had to be on your toes to tell what was fact or fable but she made each a story you could not forget. That was just part of her very colourful and interesting character. And a character she certainly was.
Her body bore the scars of a very hard life lived. Sara's life, while existing in and out of wealth was one of extreme ups and downs and she knew what danger looked like. She also knew what trust looked like and who to and who not to trust.
I count it a real honour that she chose to trust me. To share her life with me, if just for two and one half years.
I am greatly saddened by her loss. I know I will carry that sadness for a long time to come. Jacksons Point will never be the same. Every time I pass her home, or stand on her dock I will shed a tear for not being able to share more time with her.
Good bye my dear friend.
Good bye Sara.
Jacksons Point, Lake Simcoe, south east point.
24"x36" oil on canvas
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.