The Summer Lake Series began with a watercolour that I painted one summer’s afternoon, while seated on a beach by a lake. The small painting seemed to capture the essence of this favourite place of mine, a typical summer retreat where people go to swim, sail, and relax in the sun. I created a few canvases from the watercolour during the week I was there, and then I brought the preliminary works back to my studio in Vancouver.

Some months went by before I realized that I wanted to carry on from that beginning. I planned to take the theme of the same lakeside imagery, and play it as a jazz musician would repeat a riff --- over and over again but with different hues and subtle modifications. I anticipated the liberation of getting away from local colour, improvising on chromatic themes but still reflecting the nature of the inspiration.

In a similar way that an abstract painter might, I began with an overall ground of an unexpected hue, and on it I superimposed the boats, docks and other scenery. Although challenging somewhat the notion of conventional landscape painting, the colour of these items flying around the canvas has to be right; depending upon the initial start and their relationship to each other, the intensity and hue of each is adjusted. Also, the shape of the marks matters. A sun in the sky might not look right because it is too round, so it becomes a moon. Some days you can indeed see the moon in the daytime, but day or night, such things are not my concern.

A familiar subject like a lake in the summertime, surrounded by trees, cottages, a beach and some boats, does not have to be detailed for the viewer to recognize it. The simplest clues identify the setting. With a light motion of the brush, you can have a yellow moon in the sky; with another quick gesture, there is a canoe in the water; and so on. It is much more exciting than fussing with tiny brushes perfecting minute details. From their imaginations, people fill in the missing parts. My hint of a canoe becomes a canoe that they saw in their childhood somewhere on a river or the sea or a lake; or the cottage becomes one in which they once stayed.

Some of the artists I look to for guidance in this process are Dufy, Frankenthaler, Milne and Avery. Besides their fresh sense of touch, there is a wonderful light in their paintings. From Dufy I draw joy and liveliness; Milne demonstrates fresh drawing and composition; Frankenthaler and Avery have a fearless unity and directness. With these seemingly simple but actually very complicated successes, they offer me a challenge and inspiration.

As I observe a situation with my eyes, I unconsciously assimilate much more than the visual reality. I gain a deeper appreciation, based upon my experiences, the smells, the tastes, the warmth of the sun, and the pleasures encountered there. With this series of canvases, I am trying to convey the multiple levels of my feelings for somewhere that is special to me.