Rainy Days and Mondays
Remember that song? Karen Carpenter sang those words, "Rainy days and Mondays always get me down", and we all sang along. Perhaps, maybe not all of us, may just those of us over the age of 50. Those of us who loved those harmonies and sweet sounds by the brother and sister duo.
There was and still is an irony in that sentiment, and I draw your attention to the feelings we have when we bundle up for a stroll in the forest or along the shoreline on just such a cloudy breezy day. It may be grey but do we ever love the feeling, all bundled up, the cool breeze on our face and looking forward to hunkering down afterwards with a nice hot coffee or soup and freshly toasted bread!
Such is the vibe around cloudy stormy paintings. It only takes a click or two around robertmcaffee.com to know that yours truly gravitates to these kinds of scenes. As an artist it is easy, perhaps somewhat normal to just present the sunny skies, it's not about the storm but more so about the rescue, the comfort that comes thereafter.
Many times as I travel the rugged northlands of Ontario and the Maritime's I choose September and October as my go there season. It's cooler, windier, stormier, cloudier, etc, etc. You know what I'm saying. The drama flows over the crests and through the trees. The sketches done on small canvases and birch boards are usually rendered very quickly for all the above reasons, lol, get it done and get back to warmth and safety. Those little sketches are usually rushed and simplistic, capturing the very essence of the scene. The details and fine tuning can be accomplished later in the studio.
I ask you, isn't that ruggedness the very thing we so love? When you can almost smell the wood, the green moss, the morning rain? If you focus even on the tiny sketch you can envision the brush, the branches rubbing against your shoulders. That's my goal, to allow you, the viewer of the art to experience with me those essential elements of being there in the charm of the moment. Consider, if you will, that a Robert McAffee painting is not just a painting of trees and lakes, it's actually your very own personal window, a portal to places you have been to or wish to return to from wherever you may be at this very moment.
May you breath the air, feel the breeze, and all while you sip your coffee or other warm comfort beverage. As you retire for the evening and begin to relax, this is that moment that happens as you settle on the side of your bed, contemplating the glorious sleep that is moments away. There on the wall in front of you is that moment that sets your dreams in motion. Your very own small, medium or even large McAffee filling your mind with peace and rest.
This I hope is the case. For those who have their own McAffee, I thank you. For those who are considering, I invite you. Join the family, enjoy the essence.
To create freely or to become restrained for life? That is the question, or possibly one could put it the way so many artists and front line entertainers have put it: To be true to yourself or to sell out?
Which will it be? Tom Thomson is known for his loose unorthodox rendering, quick sketch like finished works for which we all deeply love. Lawren Harris is instantly recognized for his abstract structured and heavily layered images. Mark Rothko, one of my most favorite artists, clearly screams out his own name with those iconic big singular coloured squares and rectangles. These artists resisted the temptation to fall on the one that sold fast, the one that got the highest price. They followed their hearts every step of the way and became the ironically respected giants that they are because of it.
Let's divert a little for a moment, let us consider the early development of an artists methods. In music as well as painting or any creative field, we all have our hero's. As a drummer growing up in the sixties and seventies and I was most influenced by my favorite drummers, Neil Peart of Rush and, of course, John Bonham of Led Zeppelin. For certain I wanted to be just like either one of those giants. I even set my drums up just like them. Grew my hair long like them, and my fills and licks definitely would tell you who were my idols.
As I matured in drumming I gradually moved away from those images and my very own style and look began to emerge. To this day I still employ certain Peart and Bonham methods in my playing but I know that I have moved significantly in my own direction.
In my view this is how artists should evolve. We all bring different influences into what we do in our current work, and it's all of those influences that shape us and make us unique in our own respect. As we develop over time our own methods evolve and we become known for what we do. All of those influences make the cake taste the way it does.
If you are a Canadian landscape painter, as I am, you are inevitably going to have people say to you how much your work is like the Group Of Seven. I always have an internal chuckle over that one. Truthfully I have to thank each one for that very high compliment, Theres no way I come even close to any one of those masters! I realize it is just the easiest way for people to say they really like your work. We all grew up studying Group of Seven paintings, we went on class trips to the Art Gallery of Ontario, The McMichael Collection, etc, etc, and we all know the groups work so well. They were most certainly pioneers and masters of the genre and I kiss the ground they walked on. Greatest possible respect for certain. When I began painting in oils I most definitely employed those characteristics.
Even before I had any idea who the Group of Seven were I had a hero in my very own family. My late uncle Jack Reid. His watercolours were my first and greatest influence by far.
Here we are so may years later. I like to say my work is a conglomeration, a recipe list of all of those amazing artists and influences, but I know that I am comfortable in my own skin. I follow my own heart and move in directions that feel right and free for me. There are certain images I have painted that I know I could repeat at nauseum, just because I know they sell quickly. It's a rampant problem out there today. Those artists who do that, in my own opinion, have sold out to a more commercial business model. Sacrificed their own creative gifts and given in to the all mighty sale. The proverbial cash cow. "Wow, that sold fast! I'll do another one, and another one", etc, etc, etc. It's sad, and it's a real indication of insecurity and lack of self confidence. The worst aspect of repetition is that it severely limits an artists natural evolution, exploration of new techniques, methods that might well bring many new rewards to an artists career.
There's always always something new and fresh in the world to paint. There is always some new story to tell. Our souls are made for it, to breath it in, absorb it, and artists are made to paint it.
Be brave, be bold! Let your brush live and breath. Allow your work to ebb and flow in whatever direction it chooses. Celebrate creativity, give way to freedom, create as your soul desires!
#rothko #markRothko #lawrenharris #jackreid #art #arttalk #artchat #create #Genuine #freedom #sellout #expression #impressionism #impasto #texture #boldbrush #colour #colourpop #canadianart #canadianartist #groupofseven #artgalleryofontario #AGO #McMichaelGallery #mcMichaelcollection #mcmichael #robertmcaffee #robertmcaffeeartist #artistrobertmcaffee #robertmcaffeeart
The Solemn Tree
This tree means many things to many people. This image of solitude, image of survival.
I knew someone who believed that life was all about the effort, the work you applied to each day. If you just plan and follow through, your life will turn out well. At times I began to believe that, pouring myself into work and diligence with passion and unfailing drive.
What is wrong with that philosophy? I quote Robbie Burns with this answer: “The best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry”. A lost job, a failed marriage, an illness that takes a toll, so many ways that life, in spite of all our best efforts can cause our plans to melt away like sugar in hot water.
I lived my life amid that panacea of work hard and do all the right things. Even in those times I looked upon the homeless as I passed them on the streets, pity, but never knowing how close anyone of us are every single day to becoming one of them. A string of unfortunate events that no one has the ability to avoid can befall us at any time, how fragile we really are.
I am not homeless. I am healthy. I have modest things, I am present. By the grace of God there go I. In his grace we live, eat, walk, breathe. Those that choose not to believe, it is theirs to make that choice. For me is faith that Gods grace is sufficient for all of our needs. My life is a living testament to that.
This tree, this solemn powerful tree is rooted well and survives all storms and powerful waves. God cares for it.
God cares for you, and me. Even through our darkest moments in life, he is ever present.
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it
Red Algonquin Sky
8" x 10" oil on canvas
Photograph compliments of Elizabeth McLoughlin
The proverbial treadmill, I have a real one and I should use it way more than I actually do, however, the treadmill I'm referring to is the one we all are on every day. Maybe not everyone, I know some have a pretty good life, but for most of us the demands of life have us running on a proverbial fast paced treadmill. From our responsibilities to others, to family, to the mountains of useless stuff we own and not the least are the responsibilities to our very own selves.
When I was a child I admired artists who made their living from their craft. I grew up dreaming of becoming a career artist but I had no idea what such a life involved and I would learn surely enough. Artists become aware soon that they must not only become a creator, also a marketing expert, a web designer, also a distribution expert and so on and so on. Not to mention the more important responsibilities of family and personal care.
The pandemic came along, as soon as that broke out things began to change rapidly. All cultural events halted, the ability to show art face to face came to a sudden stop! I remember thinking artists were dead in the water, that I would be forced to take a break from this treadmill that was my life. Until yet another curve appeared. To my utter surprise shoppers of all types began shifting to online avenues. My web traffic exploded and suddenly people who were previously hesitant to commit to buying art online began emailing with their requests. It was the most pleasant surprise. The treadmill continued.
One year stretched into two and in the process I began to realize that I wanted to take greater control of my path and life. I made the conscious decision that once shows and events began to happen again, that I would take a step away from them and would focus more on my own personal health and wellbeing. Me time, I suppose you could call it.
There were other changes that seemed important to me during that period and I have gradually been implementing them.
Today I find myself painting most days as always, but the busy life that was mine before the pandemic is for the most part, no longer the way for me.
What is important in life? Each person must answer that for themselves, for me I believe my faith, my family and my health come before all else. I thank God for this wonderful privilege I enjoy of making my life and living around the art that I love. I have been so remarkably blessed.
As long as I have breath in me I still live to paint this beautiful land we live in here in Canada. I still wander around on day trips for my art, it's what I refer to as my Research & Development department. The only way to properly paint the land is to actually experience it. My travels happen randomly, very little planning, just an impulsive get up and go life style and I couldn't be happier. When I travel I generally set out a plan but along the way if a right or left turn seems more appealing, off I go!
Life still has it's treadmill moments, for this artist I have chosen to step off and to release myself of its demands. I have chosen to follow my heart and paint for the love. How honored I am to see that you continue to seek out my work and add them to your welcoming homes.
Let's see what the future brings, every corner offers adventure and challenges. I'm here for it, I'm built for that.
Sunrise at Canoe Lake
10" x 8" 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.