November 28, 1916
I knocked a few frames together. A few big ones and several smaller ones. The others like to buy theirs ready-made and stretched at the shop but I like making my own. It’s a good feeling to paint on something you stretched yourself and if there’s anything wrong with it, you’ve got no one else to blame except yourself. And if a painting doesn’t go the way you expected you disappoint no one except yourself when you break it up and burn it in the stove.
I managed to get a roll of linen that was left behind from Harris. Some of his stuff was left in the Studio Building and I asked the others if I could take the line. Not an issue because I’m the only one who can make the frames to use it. I promised to make a few extra and bring them back up.
The stretchers I buy from the art shop, only because I don’t have the right tools to make the grooves and get the angles right. I’ve made some frames with framing lumber, but they warp when they stretched so I stick with the ones from the shop. I stretched 3 large canvases. Almost 5 feet by 5 feet. I decided to make them more in the proportion of a square than a rectangle. With the large size, I wanted a canvas where I could reach as far up and down as I could from side to side. With the size of these I had to add some supports to stop the flexing. I need to put the ground on these canvases yet, but I think I’ll stretch a few more before I put it on.
I was looking through my sketches to get a better idea of what I want to put on canvas. The pines I painted near Grand Lake are good candidates to I’ve put sketches over by the wall behind the easel. I’ve got in my mind to paint some pointer boats. I like their shape, their colours red, and they look majestic together in the midst of timber run down the big rivers (Petawawa and Ottawa R.). I didn’t have the occasion the sketch the scene (I was fire-ranging) but I remember a lake full of timber, a half-dozen pointer boats with pole men all set in front a lakeside hill of fall blazing alders and pine. The cloud were what the weather folks call cirrus (thin and wispy) making the whole scene like a dance vibrant dotted of colours. I’ve seen some of Seurat’s paintings and I may try using complementary colours and dots to create the effect of what I saw.
I went out for a bit later in the afternoon. The snow from the previous days has made a misery of the side streets that aren’t paved. I went to the grocer to buy some potatoes, ham and a few other things for cooking. Food prices have gone up terribly, so I’ll have to cut back on the luxury items. I walked through the ravine and managed to find an old chair that was in decent shape. People dump their trash wherever there is a steep incline off the road. Not far from the better-off neighbourhoods you never know what you’re going to find as being useful off to the side of the road. Last year, I found an elaborate base to a spinning wheel (minus the wheel). It was the perfect height to serve as a workbench beside my easel.
I wrote a letter to my Father tonight, as well. I feel bad that I didn’t make it back to Owen Sound. The prodigal-son feeling is coming on strong again. I can only get rid of that feeling when I visit, but then it comes back again. The reminders in Father’s letters of my brother George’s constant success and ongoing family devotion doesn’t help either.