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Don Graves
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A New Feature: Don's Monthly Art Blog

December 2012:

What is Donís blog? Itís my attempt to keep you somewhat up to date on what Iím painting, where, upcoming show details, what Iím learning. I suppose itís a bit like my painting travelogue complete with trips, people and lessons learned.

To start with, itís obvious that I needed a plan to pick up the skill, the practical technique of putting paint on canvas in some order that would achieve my goal of having you experience something of what I felt when you look at one of my paintings. The expression, lifelong learning has been overused, to say the least. But it fits the circumstances here.

As a teacher of many years, Iíve come to believe that good teachers appear when the time is right. Iíve had it happen to me as a student: when I was studying voice in Montreal in the 60ís I worked with a teacher who forced my voice and I ended up suited as one of fog horns in the St. Lawrence River. When I was in a show doing 4 walk-ons in French alternating with 1 good part in English, I came across an English tenor. He urged me to take a break, just sing, conduct and drink and come see him in a few months. I did and he was there when I was ready. Heís still alive, pushing 90 and still teaching and directing. I believe that developing craft and understanding in the arts happens when the student is ready to receive it and when the teacher recognizes that. A partnership.

This sense of the learning partnership at the right time has happened to me again. My work with John Stirling, a Hamilton artist is my case in point. He knows when to pick up the brush and when to encourage a solution. He offered me foundation and pointed the way to connecting with my passion for the Canadian Landscape. I work with John whenever I can and walk away from the studio the richer for it.

And when I was ready this past June, I worked with Ottawa Landscape artist, Gordon Harrison in his New Glasgow studio. It was an exhilarating and exhausting week working with a new colour palette, prepping canvases in a new way, new brush techniques and a dialogue that still plays itself back to me 5 months later. I left with the answer to another question thatís been on my mind for some time. Painting the Canadian landscape is something Iíve been looking for and with John and Gordonís Ďbeing there when the time is rightí I found it. My week in Ottawa was a transformative experience, one Iím looking forward to repeating in 2013.

The winter is shaping up: a show with 2 fellow artists at 337 Sketch Gallery sometime in February. Iím working on a series of vineyard paintings in Niagara and on the Bench: completing 2 recently acquired commissions and beginning a series on larger canvases.

I intend to update ĎDonís blogí once a month and I look forward to your comments. You can reach me via email or Facebook.