Saturday, November 17, 2012

Blaine Rancourt's Journey Through Life and Art

             I was born July 15th 1960 in North Bay Ontario Canada, only to move to the small town of Powassan just south of North Bay. We were a poor family first living in a one bedroom tar paper shack on my uncle's property. I can remember my bed being in the hallway near the front door. We moved from here to my mothers family farm when I was five, it wasn't a working farm anymore all of the family had moved away and Grandmother let my parents live there in lieu of taking care of the property. It was the greatest place in the world to me two hundred acres of fields and bush an apple orchard and a gravel pit not to mention the streams and multitudes of beaver ponds.

        My father worked in the lumber camps most of his early years, he was a real outdoorsman he taught me to hunt and fish and help tend his trap line in the winter months. My mother was a homemaker and a referee between me and my two sisters (later to add two brothers).

       I remember my 8th birthday like it was yesterday, all I ever wanted was a BB gun. All the boys on the nearby farms had one and I was the only one who didn't ( we were poor).

        I waited all day for my father to get home I was sure he would have  my long awaited gift. When he got home he sat me down and told me he couldn't afford the gun, he pulled a piece of wood from behind his back and pulled out his old jacknife from his pocket and said  '' It can be anything you want it to be'' .....I cried.

         I attended South Himsworth Public School it was here that I had my first glimpse at art, but it wasn't till grade 5 we had a new principal who happened to be our teacher as well, he was young and cool he even drove a Mustang fastback, he taught us all our subjects but the newest one was art. Up till now all you ever had to do was colour inside the lines, he had taped a large piece of paper to the chalkboard and started to draw a tree. As he was drawing a few simple lines he kept repeating out loud "Draw what you see,not what you think you see" and in a few well placed lines emerged a tree, I was hooked. I started drawing everything I saw. Mr. Millard helped me along the way teaching me proportions, and perspectives along with some shading techniques.

       In a few short years we had moved off the farm to North Bay. I was devastated with the move and left my art until I entered high school. Here I discovered paint and freedom, but not in the classroom I was ostracized  in class for not conforming with class projects and for skipping art history courses, I could think of no reason why I had to learn about Micheal Angelo,Van Gogh or Gauguin they were the past.(not so smart back then) And just because people had asked me for my work and I gave it to them instead of handing it in to be marked, I was failed.

      I had a whole other world outside of school, I was now painting concepts for album covers and painting landscapes for family and friends. I still had no money to buy canvas or paint so I would go out night and cut canvas tarps from transport trucks(sorry guys) and stretch them on frames that I had made myself, paint was supplied by the school for the most part. Ok so I could draw I could paint I could mix colour my only draw back was that if I couldn't see it. I couldn't paint it. I mean I had to visually see what I was drawing or painting,  I longed to paint abstract or impressionism to look at they seemed so simple yet I could not accomplish this.

At this point I was sixteen and decided to quit school, when I told my father he told me that I had better go get a real job that I wasn't going to make a living painting.

It would be twenty seven years and a whole world of hurt and disappointment before I picked up a brush again.

      I did manage to curb my attention to music. I played and wrote music for the next twenty some years until I lost my hearing in my left ear, not only did I lose my hearing but I  lost everything. Years of hard living and addictions had taken their toll. Through the last few years of my music endeavors I found myself crossing paths with a minister who had recently moved to North Bay. I did a couple of sound productions for them for conferences they would host. Each time he would see me he would say ''How many times does God have to tap you on the shoulder?"  I would smile and turn away. Eventually, I ended up living in their church, I had no place to go. One day, sitting,talking to his wife (she is a pastor also) about my hearing loss and inability to play music any longer she out and said ''maybe it's time you started painting again''. How could she know?

    They gave me the use of a utility room in the church.  It wasn't much,  in fact,  we laugh about it now (because I had paint everywhere) how the water heater was twenty different colours.

     I was painting again.  It was like I had never stopped except that now I didn't have to see it to paint it.
Since then I have moved just north of Toronto to the small town of Mount Albert,I live here with my fiance Darlene (Dar was in my art classes in highschool) and our blended family of seven children.

       For me the love of painting is in the process not the outcome, after a painting is finished I have little use for it.  Most end up being painted over when I am out of fresh canvas and I get that need to paint. I have had no formal training in art through the years and consider myself blessed to be where I am today.

 I have had the joy of exploring  many new techniques and formulas some are successful some are not, but all begin with faith.

     I normally have no preconception of what I paint, I tend to spend more emphasis and detail on the backgrounds and less effort on focal points.

    My father passed away just over a year ago and even though we were never close after we moved from the farm I would love to let him know, that  that piece of wood is now my canvas and his knife is now my brush.

To view more of Blaine's works, please click here.

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