November 29, 1916 Unbearable Gray

November 29, 1916

I’ve been back for two weeks now. It’s been a haze for me and I’m just getting out of it now. The city is an unbearable colour of gray. The fall colours, if there were any to begin with, are now are gone. It’s gray upon gray upon soot-black.

It’s now time to work on my canvases. Painting a canvas is different than a sketch. A sketch is spontaneous – you never know what you are going to paint when you are out there, it starts from the outside, but a canvas begins in your head. When preparing a canvas I get the butterflies in my stomach, like getting ready for a stage performance.

In the morning, I helped Jim MacDonald move some of his heavier stuff from the top to the studio Jackson and I had on the ground floor. He’s in ill health, and going up the stairs makes him winded and dizzy so he decided to move down. I know he’s having a tough time of it up in Thornhill. To help with the costs, Lismer and his family moved in with them, but they’ve gone on to Halifax. Jim’s wife Joan, doesn’t like it in Thornhill and wants to move back to be closer to church.

In the afternoon, I stretched some  canvases and looked through my sketches trying to decide what to paint. I have some good ones from the log run down the Petawawa in late September. The colours were turning in the hills, making a nice balance with the logs in the water. I may try some ideas from Seurat – instead of mixing the colours on the palette, I’ll keep them separate when I paint and let the mind mix them into the right colours.

I wrote letters to my brothers George and Fraser.