Monday, September 15, 2014

Long Time No Blog

I haven't submitted anything to this blog in a long time - it's high time I explained what's going on:

Since about the beginning of the year I've not been feeling all that well. In the late spring it got worse and by early summer I was a bit of a mess. I finally went to a specialist and discovered that: 1 I'm allergic to Solvents;  2  I'm allergic to Mesquite trees;  3  I'm allergic to Jacaranda trees;  and a few other minor things.

So, this being the case, I've reluctantly dropped oil painting; at least in-studio oil painting. I'm currently thinking about taking up watercolour again (it's been about 30 years), and am actively experimenting with acrylics. I still plan to paint plein air but I'll have to select locations that are out of range of some of these deadly trees! A few months ago I was painting with a group down by the lake here in San Miguel. We selected a place under the shade of some broad mesquites. After a couple of hours I had a severe headache, trouble breathing, and ear drums popping and fluttering for no reason at all. I could hardly speak. That was the episode that drove me to the Doc. I tried it again a week or so later, but still was too close to the infernal arboles. I'll have to be especially careful when they're in flower.
 I'm on anti-histamine injections (self administered - ugh) and the doctor promises I will be all better some day. I have no idea where this came from because I seemed to be fine with the said flora in the past. Anyway, that's how it is, and I will post something, most likely water based, in the near future.

For the present, here's something interesting:

"Title Lost to All Concerned"

A Mr. Frost sent me this photo of a painting signed (a little clumsily) Tom Dickson. He's been trying to track down the history of the oil painting and the arteest responsible. He knew it had been in the family for at least 40 years but had not a lot of knowledge about it's history, other than his father had purchased it, way back when.
What happened was this:  I was about 13 years old as I recall and my father and I had both put paintings in an amateur exhibition, in downtown Toronto. A mister Frost was interested in the one of mine and commissioned me to do another, " JUST LIKE IT. "  I think it was the 2nd commission of my life, and I was already wary of commissions. Even so, I imprudently, decided to exercise a little artistic license - I drastically changed to another scene - it was still very Swiss (the calendar I had used as inspiration for both pieces was cover to cover yodeling Swiss) mountains, mist, bright sunshine and all, but it bore little resemblance to the composition that had inspired my collector to place the order. It took some time to complete. It was more challenging than  the other - probably about 4 times as difficult - but finally, one night it was ready, dry and varnished, and we, (dad and I), went on delivery. Mr. Frost wasn't happy. He didn't like it! I couldn't blame him - it wasn't what he had ordered. I was embarrassed and disposed to leave with the painting when Mr. Frost relented and with obvious reluctance handed over the fifty bucks. We parted on none too friendly terms. I was the least agitated. My father was a guy who required a lot to get him upset, so I was surprised to see how annoyed he was. I think dad may have been under the delusion that I deserved more credit than I did. He was an amateur painter himself and seemed to think everything I painted was wonderful. I appreciated his support (still do) but I could certainly empathize with the collector, burned over the lost 50, and who knows how many weeks wasted in anticipation. Dad didn't want to see my feelings hurt after putting so much effort into the thing. I, on the other hand, knew I'd stepped over the line and wasn't surprised at some dissatisfaction in the air. I learned a lot about commissions that night.

Years passed. Years and years ... about 54, if I'm not too far off the mark. I never give much thought as to what has become of most of what I painted in my teens, but this one would surface in my consciousness from time to time. A business deal gone sour - emotions had run high that dark night. I had assumed for most of those 54 years that the disappointing work had ended up in an attic, closet, municipal waste dump, or something. I often wondered whether the painting was half decently executed and had any merit aside from the bad fit at "point of sale". 

Well, you can imagine my relief when after all this time, the current Mr. Frost informed me that the painting resides on the "best wall" in their dining room. "All's well that ends well". Now, I can sleep easy.