||Born in England in 1943, my family emigrated to Canada in 1957. I attended Northview Heights Collegiate in North York, Toronto, until 1962 and then attended Victoria College, University of Toronto, to major in Fine Arts from 1962 to 1965. I then attended teachers college during the summers after starting my first job at Wexford Collegiate in September of 1965. Over the years I upgraded my degree with courses from the University of Waterloo.
In terms of family history, I emigrated to Canada with my mother and father, Nancy and Stanley, and my younger brother Roger. My older brother Roy emigrated to Canada with his family about ten years later. In 1965 I married Margaret Wendy Palmer, and that marriage lasted 28 years until 1992 when she died of a pulmonary embolus, a blood clot in the artery to the lungs, at our cottage on Little Whitefish Lake, near Parry Sound. We had three children, Bradley, Rebecca, and Clayton, born in 1965, 1966 and 1968, respectively. Both my first wife and my children were a great support to my practice of painting. I remarried in July of 2000 to Wendy Jones. Since Wendy was divorced and had a daughter by her first marriage, I now have a step daughter Roxanne.
After three years of work at Wexford Collegiate, a brand new school at the tiem, I became the Head of the Art Department. When the Scarborough Board of Education decided to build a new Visaul Arts Centre at Wexford, I became the Art Director in 1972. Apart from a year’s leave of absence from the position in 1986, ( I was still teaching at the school but needed a break from being the Director) I remained as the Art Director until 1998, when I retired from teaching. I am very proud of the Art Centre which my staff and I created over those years. It is an outstanding art facility that caters to the needs of aspiring young artists who are heading for the fine art or commercial art world.
I have painted since I was a teenager, when my high school teacher Charlie Joliffe used to assign me to paint the scenery for the plays he produced at Northview. By grade ten I was determined to be both and artist and a teacher and have folllowed that course since then. I have taught evry segment of art you could think of at one time or another, and I have enjoyed all of my students over those years.
Early in my career I held one-man shows, as they were called the, at Wexford Collegiate and other locations, like Albert College in Belleville, and The OSSTF Gallery on Mobile Drive in Toronto. I have painted on three basic themes for most of my life. Although Canadian landscape painting is considered by most the backbone of my work because most people relate well to representational images, I have also clearly be experimenting with non-representational and abstract ideas. Although I am not what would be considered a ‘way-out whacky’ kind of artist. I am most sincere about my experiments in both thee fields. My non-representational work, right from the beginning, has dealt with the swirling forces of the universe, thoughts and physics rolled into one, to produce a dynamic image full of colour, texture, and brushstroke, to excite the mind to think in abstract ways for personal interpretation. My third theme has concerned itself with the perils faced by our natural environment, and I have interpreted that with images that range from very realistic to very abstract in order to make my point. The point tends to be repeated over and over in different ways in order to say “Hey, wake up! We are wrecking this beautiful place!”. My most recent works are named either, “Have a Nice day!” or “Sleep Well”, day or night scenes that are rendered in the simplest of brushstrokes, with a pure expression of the medium, and little red dots, or coloured dots, scattered throughout to indicate the constant problem of pollution. When people understand the meaning of these works, even if they were initially drawn to them by their spontaneity and prettiness, they seem to back away. People want a ‘pretty picture’ it seems and don not care to deal with art as a way of thinking and expressing contemporary times. I suspect the uniqueness of these images will be lasting as compared to the deftly rendered realistic landscapes that I paint. Only time will tell and I will not be around to find out. One has to have patience and a long view to paint with conviction!
Even though I have had a poor year with my health for the first time, in 2001, now that I am retired I am finding more time to do my painting. In 1997 I was elected to the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour, and during this past week, October 2001, I have been elected to The Society of Canadian Artists. I am hoping to do more painting and enter more shows now that I have the time.
I must mention that I assigned myself to teach Sculpture and Ceramics for the last four years of my teaching career because no one on my staff wished to teach the subject when I lost my Sculpture and Ceramics instructor. Through that route I have become an avid ‘raku’ potter, and have a small studio in my house where I produce some generally large and interesting vessels thrown on the wheel. It’s a nice break from painting, and in these days of technology, digital images, and electronic worlds, it keeps one in touch with our most basic ingredients. It also is a constant reminder of the very three dimensional nature of form when painting on a two dimensional surface.
In closing let me say that I was a Municipal Councillor for the last 12 years in Seguin Township where my cottage is located. I am glad that I have retired from that position because the driving was killing me and it is a thankless public service job. I did learn over those years that there is appalling understanding and support for the arts in government. In government the money is always there to be spent because it is collected in taxes. The commitment, as to how it should be spent, is decided by consideration and debate. If the debaters, politicians, have little understanding of, or appreciation for The Arts then it is not likely that money that could have been spent on The Arts will be moved away from roads and sewer pipes. In the last ten years this myopic way of thinking has affected all levels of government at great cost to The Arts, especially in Ontario. The strange thing is that most people love The Arts in all their forms. Who we elect has a great effect on our arts and culture milieu.
Goodbye for now. It’s time to do some painting!