Grade 8 Graduation

GR8farewell

Parenting doesn’t come with a play book. Things happen unexpectedly and I try to be pretty close to right more often than I screw it up. The jury is still out on whether I’m succeeding or not.

So was the case tonight when we were faced with the request from our daughter to join friends who’d invited her to dinner in advance of the grade 8 farewell party tomorrow. While my wife and I hadn’t formalized plans together or as a family, we’d both separately had it in our minds that we would have a family dinner after which my wife would help with any hair drying and styling needs, we’d take the family photo to capture the moment and then head down to the school together.

So, like the true rookies we are in these days of teenagers and digital planning, we fumbled. We first said yes, then reflected on our disappointment that we wouldn’t be having the dinner we imagined, then rallied to support the idea that there is a peer group that included our daughter, then doubted ourselves again over the reality that our child only graduates from grade eight once, until finally the confusion on our faces led our astute 14 year old to ask us what we were really thinking.

It may seem quaint we said, but the celebration of graduating from middle school and the traditions that go with it carry an emotional side to things that we were only just realizing at that moment. We reflected on our own grade eight graduation (my wife’s with jewelry from her parents and grandparents that she still has today and plans on wearing tomorrow night, and my own memories of being dragged out to Tip Top Tailors to buy stiff and scratchy grey flannel pants and a blazer that I’m sure were only worn that one night, and my mom crying at the playing of Pomp and Circumstance). Graduations like this may in fact be more for the parents than the actual participants because the importance of the moment can’t be fully appreciated without the benefit of time. It’s lunacy really, that as parents we work tirelessly to raise our children to be confident, independent and thoughtful people, only to feel a palpable sadness when they start to demonstrate those very qualities that we’re hoping they’ll attain.

In the end, we all felt better and agreed to let her enjoy the dinner and preparation with her friends but we made her promise that the moment we got the chance we’d be making a great fuss over capturing the occasion in an awkward and sure to be greatly treasured photograph.

Happy Father’s Day!

To go

I saw a scene not far off from this at a local coffee shop the other day and I was reminded again of the bravery of parenthood.

To all the dads out there, Happy Father’s Day.

Dinner is a time for frank conversation

Boring yawns

He never beats around the bush. I like that.

 

 

 

Hi, I’m back.

toonbox

Happy Wednesday! My apologies that I haven’t been posting lately. I was lucky enough to work with a team at Toonbox Entertainment on a new feature film that took up almost all of my time. Contractual obligations prevent me from saying anything about it (really, I can’t say anything or post any of my work until the movie starts to get marketed!) but it was great fun.

What little time I did have was consumed by a recent passion of creating pastel paintings of Bison. After a 150 year absence, the prairie bison have been re-introduced into Banff National park and I’ve been creating pieces to commemorate that. Here’s a quick sample from my Instagram feed:

Finally, I did a little re-design and freshen up of the site. Anyway, I’ll be back at it with more crazy family sketches. See you soon!

Indoor stair climbing championships and send your pic challenge!

indoor stair climbing

My mom had an expression: “Never go upstairs empty handed”. This also included downstairs, outside, inside, into the garage… you get the point. Family living means things get left, placed, intentionally situated, all over the house. How long they remain in that spot is directly proportionate to your family’s adherence to the “never go anywhere empty handed” protocol. In my house, adherence is spotty at best. My tactic has been to place items that need to be taken to people’s rooms, the bathroom and linen closet, in the middle of the stairs that lead up to those rooms. Despite going up and down countless times these items can remain fixed on the stairs for days. Clearly I need to change tactics. If there is a world championship for indoor stair climbing my team would be in the final round.

If your home is also nurturing future stair climbing champs, send me a pic of your stairs full of stuff and I’ll pick one to draw an Art of Dad original!

Wicked!! I’m on thedadwebsite.com

Screen Shot 2017-04-27 at 9.17.13 AM

Daniel Lewis is one of the co-founders of an outstanding online resource for dads and parenting, thedadwebsite.com. I was delighted when he contacted me about an interview on my life as a dad and an artist after coming across my work on this site.

Please check out our chat at the following link: TheArtofDadInterview and spend some time on Daniel’s site, it’s fantastic.

A painterly look at Maui

Over the extraordinarily long spring break in the Rocky Mountain School board system, we were lucky enough to pull together a family holiday in Maui. When I lived in Toronto Hawaii seemed like it was on a different planet it was so far away. It’s a popular destination for people here though so we were excited to make it happen. It is a stunning place and we were gifted with perfect weather which made for some nice painting opportunities. The following are some painted sketches from our time on the island.

pineapple

There was a funny incident right off the bat when the customs officer at the airport confiscated my apple. Why? I’d washed it and taken off the label. My kids had not washed theirs (no surprise) so the “Made in the USA” sticker was evident and they were able to bring them on the plane. So I was hungry and they got to rub in that cleaning one’s fruit isn’t good after all…

apples

We rented a condo in the Honua Kai Resort in Kaanapali through VRBO. It was a ground floor unit with two bedrooms and a pull-out couch and it was awesome. Friends advised us to hit up Costco but our late flight arrival didn’t allow for this so we visited the Safeway in Lahaina the next day. Here’s a tip, sign-up for a Safeway members card (they just need name and home address) and you get 10% off each shop! We hung out all day at the resort and were treated to incredibly high winds, breaching humpback whales with their calf and delicious SPAM flavoured macadamia nuts (mistakingly purchased despite the word SPAM being the largest font on the package… and is SPAM even a flavour?).

first day

Banana bread is all the rage in Hawaii. Julia’s is apparently the best in the world. To get there one must drive a beautiful but incredibly twisty road that slips unexpectedly into one lane roads at various times. When you do arrive at Julia’s you’re greeted by an incredibly sweet person in what is effectively a tree house. The bread was delicious (not sure yet if it’s the world’s best), but like everything on the island, was very pricey at $9 a loaf. We still came away with three.

Julias

On the way back to the condo we stopped at Nakalele blowhole, a person sized hole in the lava rock that spews out sea water. It was cool but my favourite part was the hand-painted sign warning people not to get too close (apparently it gets ignored as we were told people die here every year).

Nakalele

There were loads of birds that I’d never seen before but they looked really cool so I decided to paint a few.

birds

Hamoa beach in Hana has been voted as one of the top 10 beaches in the world. I’ll admit, it was beautiful. Even better were the constant and consistently awesome waves for body surfing. You have to endure the legendary Road to Hana complete with 601 turns and 56 single lane bridges to get there but it’s well worth it. The road is marked mile by mile and there are loads of neat stops along the way.

hamoa

Every day at 4:30 should be Mai Tai time.

mai tai

We saw loads of long, thin furry animals that we called pine weasels until we finally asked a local and found out they are mongoose. A walk underground in the Hana lava tube (well worth the visit) revealed the rare Hammerhead worm, no joke, that eats other worms. A quick trip to Costco on route from Kaanapali to Hana for snacks included pressed fruit which I loved but every one else thought looked like scat molded into a granola bar. Their loss.

threethings

I’m not a regular yoga guy, though I wish I was, but while staying at the Travaasa Hana there were regular morning yoga sessions which confirmed just how inflexible I am. During one session the instructor told us to “…bathe our eyes in the natural beauty”. I thought that was a quote worth remembering.

bathe