Wednesday, December 6, 1916
The truth to painting is that it can be thankless, frustrating and downright degrading. On the other hand, it can be illuminating, exuberant and uplifting. But it is never anywhere in between. If it was, painting would be no more meaningful than painting the side of a wall, only to hide the stains of smoke and wood fire.
I have not been well the past two days. I felt miserable and spent most of the day in bed. I had a headache, a toothache, some fever and chills. I wanted to keep painting but I felt so ill that all I could do way lay down. It took all my strength to climb into my bunk that I took a bucket with me so I didn’t have to make the trip to the privy to relieve myself. Laying there, my mind started wandering to things to worry money. Money – I had enough to get myself by, but not enough if I had to go to the doctor or dentist. My clothes – they are chiefly old things now. Many of my finer clothes I left behind and all I have are shabby clothes that have brought through the bush and back. And dabbing in the paint, it is difficult to keep them decent. My overcoat is still fine, but my daily clothes are wearing themselves to shreds. My boots, it’s the same, they are wearing to shreds. The soles are nearly worn through and I have put newspaper inside to keep the in warmth.
If I could only keep working hard to keep my mind off things. That was not to be for the days I was sick and the thoughts in my mind were like unbroken wild horses. Today, I was feeling better, not well, but better. During the day I was feeling both sides of the end, but went hard at it and finished my painting of the pointer boats. At the beginning of the day, I was like an invalid, I dragged myself to the easel, but by day’s end, I was exuberant, I could feel the red blood flowing again. It has turned out to be a fine canvas.
My appetite came back. I had bread, baloney and tea to reinvigorate me, but I needed some fresh brisk air. So after dusk, I walked down Rosedale Ravine to get another view of the Viaduct. Every time I see it, it’s different. The Viaduct is all lit up during the night looking like two mechanical behemoths reaching across the darkness to touch each other. The men work up there non-stop – the day crew, the night crew, and the Sunday crew. It’s a sight to behold, a march of progress. Soon the Danforth will be joined to Bloor making new neighbours. I overheard the other day that the folks in Rosedale are worried about rats coming across the bridge to infest the neighbourhood. Rats are already in Rosedale, I wanted to say. But I decided to say nothing. Rats are everywhere in the city, but the rats in Rosedale have more places to hide.