Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2014

Silent Retreats and Painting

This early morning, I'm sitting in front of my wood stove that has been burning non-stop this winter, as I look out onto a fresh blanket of snow in the woods behind my house.  More snow is swirling through the branches and there's the promise of more to come.

It brings a profound silence that sound-absorbent layer of snow. I'm thinking about the power of silence and the Silent Retreat I did last weekend at Loyola House, the Jesuit Centre in Guelph, Ontario.  There were nearly 50 others in the retreat.  We had pleasantly cozy single rooms with carpeted floors, a desk,   a sink and a big comfortable chair.  We didn't speak at all for the weekend, not in hallways, by the fireplace in the lounge or at meals.  Having the limitation of silence made time expand. The retreat centre holds a sense of the sacred, and there is something deeply profound about sharing that space with others in silence.  The social conventions are gone-smiling and nodding at people in passing,  enga…

Coping with Difficulties: A Conversation

This blog is another in the series of co-blogs between myself and Rebecca Crowell. We are good friends who often discuss issues about art and painting in our private correspondence. In the hopes that sharing some of these thoughts would interest and engage others,  the idea of a co-blog was born. To read our first co-blog, which we posted almost exactly one year ago, please click here.
Rebecca: You and I have had a few emails back and forth lately about the need to develop a "thick skin" as artists in order to deal with some of the difficult things that come our way. It's funny, I can recall in detail quite a few negative things that have been said or written about my work, but if you asked me to remember even a few of the (far more common) positive remarks I've received, I'd be quite a bit more vague. Recalling negative experiences more easily than positive ones is apparently part of the human condition. See this NYTimes article. Yet as artists we will always run…