“Mel’s Tearoom” — Finished

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Brett Lockwood, “Mel’s Tearoom, Sackville, N.B. (2015)

(Acrylic on Board, 32″x 48″)

In the recent past I’ve not picked up my paintbrushes as often as I’ve used my ever-dependable Nikon.  But something about the vintage neon sign hanging outside the Mel’s Tearoom diner in  Sackville, New Brunswick and the photo (below) that I snapped of it a while back (earlier post here) inspired me to translate that image onto canvas — with some usual artistic license along the way. Perhaps seeing Toronto artist Andrew Horne’s marvelous takes on classic signage from bygone eras both online and at his Flying Pony gallery in Toronto contributed as well.  In any event, the result is above (photo is a bit crooked), which I’ve happily finished and wrapped with a handmade floating frame.  Efforts at painting like this are good meditative exercises and always enhance my appreciation for the skill and creative expressions of professional artists.

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Inspiration Photo for Painting

“Having a swell time . . .”: Vintage Hospital Postcards

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Postmarked 1913.  A cozy looking place.

Hospitals seem a peculiar and dreary subject for postcards.  But back in the day — before routine outpatient procedures and hospitals speedily freeing up beds — time in hospital (as patient or visitor) regularly spanned several days or longer, so penning a brief note to update absent friends or loved ones was probably not so odd.  And what better way to do it than with one of the colored cards conveniently available at the hospital!

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 Postmarked 1945. The note starts out: “Having a swell time.”  Love those roadsters!

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About 1948.  Yikes — looks more like a prison!

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About 1910.  Regal digs.  Notice horse and buggy to bottom left.

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 Postmarked 1935.  Street car or bus passing by.

Quiet Autumn Sunset, New Brunswick

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Near Sunset, Looking Across the Lubec Narrows, Campobello Island, New Brunswick

“The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens.”

                                                                                              ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Love These Vintage Neon and Bulb Signs!

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Mixed in among modern urban streetscapes, the look and feel of the rare classic neon and bulb-lit signs are distinctive. I spied these in Toronto and one in New Brunswick (the fabulous sign for Mel’s Tea Room!), which happily stand the test of time.

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Moonlit Views of Yesteryear Canada

Chateau-Frontenac----Moody

While thumbing through a large group of vintage Canadian postcards at a local antique shop a half-dozen or so among the thousand-plus cards stood out because each featured a highly stylized moonlight view of their subjects, giving each card a dark and moody feel.  Most were from about 1906 to 1908, with one as late as 1919, and all but one were marked as being printed by Valentine & Sons, a noted Scottish postcard publisher of the time with offices in Toronto and Montreal.  A little online research revealed that the cards were collotype photographs taken in daylight with a full moon, clouds and lighting effects layered on top, after which the images were hand-tinted.

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Greenbank----Moody

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Halifax----Moody-Mag

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NB----Moody-Mag

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Rideau----Moody

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St.-James-Cathedral----Mood

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Windsor-Hotel----Moody

Similar posts on O’Canada:

•  Vintage Postcards:  Canadian Churches

•  Vintage Canadiana:  Canadian Home Journal

•  Vintage Canadian Apple Crate Labels

Artist to Appreciate: Christopher Pratt

C. Pratt, Placentia Bay in Winter (1995)

Christopher Pratt, Placentia Bay Boat in Winter (1995)

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Christopher Pratt is justly considered one of Canada’s most significant living artists.  His realistic art focuses on Atlantic Canada, particularly his home province of Newfoundland and Labrador.  Pratt’s compositions are usually quite spare and many convey a notable sense of melancholy and reflective quietude, whether of outport cottages and other simple structures with strong architectural lines or his sweeping coastal landscapes. While his style is distinctively his own, the subdued moodiness of Pratt’s work brings to mind that of Edward Hopper and the realist paintings of Alex Colville, another Canadian master who taught at New Brunswick’s Mount Allison University at a time when Pratt was a student there.   Mount Allison is also where Pratt met his now former wife, Mary West Pratt, an equally noteworthy Canadian painter in her own right.

In 2013, the always brilliant Canadian publisher, Firefly Books, released Christopher Pratt: Six Decades, which provides a comprehensive overview of this artist’s work.  (Coincidentally, in 2013 another excellent Canadian publisher, Goose Lane Editions, went to press with Mary Pratt, a beautiful retrospective of Mary Pratt’s amazing artistry.)

C. Pratt, Blue Iron Door (2013)

Christopher Pratt, Blue Iron Door (2013)

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C. Pratt, Woman at Dresser (1964)

Christopher Pratt, Woman at Dresser (1964)

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C. Pratt, House in August (1968)

Christopher Pratt, House in August (1968)

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C. Pratt, Ingornachoix Bay -- Long Shed (2007)

Christopher Pratt, Ingornachoix Bay — Long Shed (2007)

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C. Pratt, Spring Coming Over Trout River (2009)

Christopher Pratt, Spring Coming Over Trout River (2009)

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Similar posts on O’Canada:

•  Artist to Appreciate:  Mary Pratt

•  In Memory of Alex Colville

•  Artist to Appreciate:  Michael E. Glover

Colorful Coastal Collections

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Whimsical Tractor Seat Display (along the road to New Brunswick)

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Brightly colored fishing buoys and other items with vivid hues dot the coastal landscape.  These photos highlight a few collections of such items spied not long ago around Canada’s Atlantic coast.

Buoy Display, Campobello Island, N.B.

Buoy-Adorned Cottage, Campobello Island, N.B.

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Buoys and Floats, Delaps Cove, N.S.

Pink and Orange Floats, Delaps Cove, N.S.

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Cozy Chairs, St. Andrew's By the Sea, N.B.

Cozy Lounging Chairs, St. Andrew’s By the Sea, N.B.

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Buoy Signpost, Neils Harbor, Cape Breton, N.S.

Buoy Signpost, Neils Harbor, Cape Breton, N.S.

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Buoy Display, Shelburne, N.S.

Buoy Wall Display, Shelburne, N.S.

St. Andrews By The Sea, New Brunswick

View Across the Bay, Celtic Cross Park, St. Andrews By the Sea

View Across the Bay, Celtic Cross Park, St. Andrews By the Sea, N.B.

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St. Andrews By the Sea is a historic town located in the southwestern corner of New Brunswick (about an hour west of Saint John) across the Passamaquoddy Bay from Maine.  Established as a Loyalist bastion in the late eighteenth century, it is now a resort town featuring magnificent bay views and many well-preserved buildings showcasing early architectural styles.  These photos are from a late Fall visit.

Artist to Appreciate: Mary Pratt

Mary Pratt, Cold Cream (1983)

Mary Pratt, Cold Cream (1983)

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Born in Fredericton, New Brunswick and living in St. John’s, Newfoundland for most of her life and career,  Mary Pratt is one of Canada’s realist painters of the highest order.  Her subject matter ranges from luminescent jelly jars and other domestic still lifes to pensive nudes and fleeting dramatic moments (such as a fire blazing in a steel barrel).  Pratt’s artwork is as much about the intricate interplay of light and color on her subjects as anything else.

In conjunction with a traveling exhibition of Pratt’s paintings organized by the The Rooms of Newfoundland and Labrador (May – Sept. 2013) and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (starting Oct. 2014), Goose Lane Editions recently published a beautiful new book, Mary Pratt (2013), which showcases much of her work.  The book features a wide selection of her paintings as well as remarks by Pratt herself and thoughtfully written essays by several leading Canadian art writers.

Saint John’s Transcendent Old Loyalist Burial Grounds

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Weathered Tombstone, Old Loyalist Burial Grounds, Saint John, N.B.

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Cemeteries are places of transcendent reverence, contemplation and connectedness.  I’m particularly moved by final resting grounds that are situated in locations that cause them to be part of a people’s day-to-day lives.  One of the best and most visually gorgeous of these is the very old Loyalist Burial Grounds in Saint John, New Brunswick, which, like Halifax’s Old Burying Ground, is in the heart of the city’s downtown core.  These pictures from a recent trip on a brisk November morning makes clear that the majestic tombstones dating to as early as 1783 are very much a part of the urban environment built up around them.  With its winding walkways, inviting benches and vast shade trees, the Loyalist Burial Grounds is as much a frequented park space as it is a place for memory and serves as a peaceful oasis amidst the surrounding hustle and bustle.

Barns and Cottages of the Maritimes — Part 2

Rusted Roof Barn, Evangeline Beach, N.S.

Rusted Roof Barn, Evangeline Beach, N.S.

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Following Part 1 on this subject, here are some more scenic views of barns, cottages and sheds of the Maritimes. (Click image to enlarge.)

Barns and Cottages of the Maritimes — Part 1

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Rustic Red Barn, Near St. Croix Cove, Nova Scotia

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Scenery does not get more picturesque than a rustic barn or cozy cottage situated against a body of moving water or a lush green field.  While hues of red seem to be the color of choice for barns and barn doors along the maritime coast and nearby farm fields, shades of grey, blue, yellow and a few other colors sometimes sneak in.  These barns, sheds and cottages from around Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are typical of the serene coastal and rural scenery throughout the region. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Scenes of Campobello Island

Toward Sundown, Campobello Island Lighthouse, New Brunswick

Toward Sundown, Campobello Island Lighthouse, New Brunswick

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Campobello Island is nestled in a scenic pocket of southeastern New Brunswick and is accessible on the U.S. side from the charming village of Lubec, Maine. The island’s Roosevelt Campobello International Park is jointly administered by both American and Canadian authorities, making it unusual for that reason among parks on either side of the shared border.  It’s quite a trek to get there but its tranquil scenery is well worth the effort.  These are from a recent brief visit.

Colorful Cottage, Campobello Island, N.B.

Colorful Cottage, Campobello Island, N.B.

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Fall Sunset, Campobello Island, N.B.

Fall Sunset, Campobello Island, N.B.

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Red Berries, Campobello Island, N.B.

Rose Hips, Campobello Island, N.B.

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Floating Cottages, Campobello Island, N.B.

Floating Cottages, Campobello Island, N.B.

Abundance at the Saint John City Market

St. John, N.B. City Market

St. John, N.B. City Market

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Americans celebrate Thanksgiving later this week, about a month and a half after Canadians mark their own similar holiday.  A trip last week to the picturesque City Market in the heart of downtown Saint John, New Brunswick — filled as it is with vibrant colors, numerous tastes and smells, all manner of local and regional food offerings and friendly vendors — brought to mind both country’s annual Fall celebrations.   These images taken during that trip provide a small sampling of this wonderful local marketplace.

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