Sunday, 21 June 2015

MY SKETCHBOOK - Pages 11 through 20

Old sketchbooks are in many ways like diaries, reviving memories of events long past. I've mentioned in other writings that when I view an old sketch I actually relive the moment. Perhaps, it's true for you, as well? 

The Copeland's Bush later renamed The Copeland Forest was owned by the Copeland family out of Elmvale,  Ontario. They operated a a sawmill in the forest for years. There used to be a small village for the workers and a railroad siding off of the main rail line. When the sawmill burned down in the 1970s the Copelands quit logging the forest and used the forest as their private preserve, building a small log cabin for overnight stays. As the forest was located only a short distance from our property at Horseshoe Valley we used to sneak into the forest and hike the old logging roads. Eventually, the family sold off the forest to the Province of Ontario for a bit of cash, and back taxes. All signs of the village, mill, and rail siding, have been erased. It's presently administered by The Ministry of Natural Resources, and is now designated for multiple recreation use. A bit of history that's been lost to, so called, progress.

Awenda Provincial Park is located not too far away from Penetanguishene on the shore of Georgian Bay. I've been going up that way since I was a boy, long before it was designated Provincial Park status. It's history reads much like the Copeland Forest. There's a lot of history involving this piece of Ontario, logging efforts and attempts by various families to live a remote existence. Fortunately, the history is being archived by the Provincial Government and will be available for future generations.
An interesting aspect of my Awenda shoreline sketches, something that occurs unintentionally in my sketches, is a record of the water level of Georgian Bay. When I was a boy the water level would have been almost up to the trees. Georgian Bay's water level has since my grandparents time been considered cyclical. Some say it's a 10 year cycle, some say 7 years, between the high and low level mark. In recent times the cycle seems to have been broken. Milder winters and more water being drawn off by municipalities situated around the Great Lakes could be the cause of record low levels. Fortunately, a couple of severe winters have seen the water level rise.

I recall this moment.  It was very early spring. I had just gotten out of my car and was proceeding across the parking lot on my way to hike the marsh, when my attention was attracted to the call of a shorebird in the adjacent ,freshly ploughed, farmer's field. On thinking back I believe that it was a Killdeer, and it struck me that here was an idea for a print, or painting. I very hurriedly made a sketch and carried on to the marsh. Some time later I made a print, a drypoint, but apart from pulling a couple of proofs I never took the idea any further. Somehow, on paper the idea just didn't possess the magic of the moment.

Come the mid 1980s I'm involved almost full-time making waterfowl paintings and intaglio prints. Not all of the drawings and studies became finished works. This particular sketch/drawing was more of an attempt to graphically work things out before committing to something more finished. Best to work things out before spending days making a finished piece, and realizing that graphically it doesn't work. Here I've cropped one of the mallards thinking that this might work. It didn't, and I never went ahead with the finished painting. Today, with technology the way that it is one can simply play with this and that and almost instantly determine what it probably took me a couple of hours to realize.

There are lots more sketches to scan, but we'll give it a few days before continuing........

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