Wondering while Wandering…an artist’s limp toward finding ‘Radiance Through the Rain’
‘May the Rain of Suffering Soften Our Hearts, Seeping Radiance to Our Thirsty Places.’
J. Douglas Thompson© 2022
About:So let’s Meet this Artist
It all began long before my birth on the western shores of Scotland. My great-grandfather, infused with long given artistic genes, put paint to canvas. His place of artistic endeavour was in the southern glades of Scotland where he owned and operated a gallery in the town of Girvan. Off in the distance, the granite half circle island Ailsa Craig rises ten miles to the west. It is here my Scottish roots began with the Douglas and McJarrow family trees.
My genetic predisposition to northern wild landscapes also comes from across the channel in Ireland on one side, and on the other, my more romanticized view of things from France via the Acadians.
My father was a painter also. Often Sunday afternoons were his retreat from his chosen world, and I would peek at his work close at hand while he focused intently on his paintings. The raw smell of turpentine and oils triggered my young mind and opened my heart to what might be found beyond that door of expression.
During these early years, the high skies and grand landscapes of western Canada burned into my soul. I would wander alone across miles of prairie, wonderstruck by the vast dome of blue where one could see multiple distant thunderstorms move like actors across a vast stage. We made an annual trip back to Vancouver. The mountain mists weaving between giant Douglas Firs, rolling up from valley floors, stirred my melancholic soul. In later years I found their Scottish connection. These influences lead me now back to my canvas over and over.
When I was fourteen, we left that place where I had experienced ongoing abuse and trauma for most of the eleven years there. After my two years of illness and seclusion, we arrived in Toronto. I ended up in a large high school feeling alone and lost.
An art teacher after seeing some of my early drawings recommended that I go to the Guidance Department, as he knew of a few specialized art schools that were in the Toronto area. It was a life-saving meeting as I transferred immediately to one of them. We were given thirty periods of art per week with up to five art teachers per day. All the other courses were geared towards a career in art. It was like art-college in high school. I’ll always be grateful. I furthered my art education after and then began a career in art that has stretched five decades. My first gallery representation began at age seventeen and has been part of my journey until now.
I ended up owning and running a small virtual ad agency, where I created and then art directed freelancers to produce the final work. It lasted twenty-five productive years. Simultaneously each night and weekend I pursued my craft of painting and showing my work.
The following, from my book furthers this introduction.*
My life feels like tires, blue burning in wanton squeal, flirtatious joy skidding back roads curved. Life lived, foot to the floor! There has always been risk, always passion, but viewed aside, almost like it was another’s life. Decade’s reality of neck bending paranoia, tires air flat, garage bound, dust-covered, tarp tight, held dark down hard in legalistic bondage!
Lately, truth breezes have begun to blow at life’s edges revealing more of my true playful, expressive side, who sensually inhales and resonates with deep feelings all of smell, sight, sound, touch and taste. Emerging from crusted soil is a melancholic introvert, writer, poet, artist, photographer, who loves and feels passionately. As said, I have been a risk taker—a wanderer, individualist, and loyal friend to a few who choose to dive life’s depths with me. The others, are, well, just good enough!
As a young man I prayed for only one thing, like David’s son, wisdom. The truth is that has not always been achieved and for those that I have caused hurt, I apologize. I do, however, trust that integrity will ultimately win the day! I am a man of private passionate worship, yet full of frequent foibles. I think I understand idolatry and certainly redemptive grace.
I have human bent, sure, but don’t want, in selfish consummation to look at loveliness as a container to be drunk and then discard as empty trash. No, I want my life to lean into reflecting true authentic love, the face of God expressed through his exquisite masterpieces.
I love when shoreline mists kiss my face cool…
Warm sun that drenches my aching body and soul…
I slam brakes to watch an eagle soar or gaze intently at gnarled trees that tell tales of endurance long.
I love reflected light on wet city streets where, with couples, warm in windows glow, kiss and laugh. Warm pubs, sad romantic love songs, deep-pooled eyes, long tender hugs, touches of affection and tenderness make my soul alive. Jazz bent melodies—wailing blues—smoky clubs under wet city streets—the aroma of fine cigars and curling pipe smoke…these red earth ‘adamic’ stimuli lead me to my brushes. The gravelly earthiness of soul singers, rock n’ roll, new country or the sweeping sail of a Baryshnikov ballet glide and all classical genre bring me to my feet. Left bank Parisian accordion music wrapping romance warm and provocative Latin dances like fine pencil drawings inspire with their long drawn elegance—Eclectic says it all.
Live theatre and movies trigger my depths as I become part of the story. Books allow my mind to wander former places visited, joining others imaginations while remembering the sights and smells of sixty-five plus countries.
Vast vistas move me—high cumulous clouds in constant dance opine, don’t pen me in. Quiet rain tapping tin roofs and log cabin crackling fires sing it is well with my soul. The crunch when atop crusted snow or fallen leaves, each season’s worth the journey!
Having a high spirited stallion under my legs…
In stirrup standing—laid flat forward…
Galloping, no holds barred…
Hands entwined and tight in mane…
Hair massaged like maidens hands as wind strong across my face blows freedom.
I sit silent in worship, whether cathedral large, chapel small, galleries fine, before grand vistas and rocky shores alike—walking beaches south, toes curled in sand baked white—and sculpted beauty whose form in magic light comes directly from heavens mind and I know my Redeemer lives and will restore!
I’ve taken wild risks of high mountain and amazon adventures. Nature points me to eternities hope where lazy rivers with promises forged in crucibles gold will engage eternity long in intimate rest and active co-creation.
Wandering Monaco’s elegant vistas and perfect Mediterranean yacht havens are just plain fun and architectural wonder, in far-flung cities reflect designers joy thinking.
I love dogs, especially the little black and white, Gizmo, that began the journey in saving my broken soul.
I have a gift of artistic freedom, savouring what Jesus dreamed up whether chiseled maleness or the long curves of perfect femininity and all the similar design features infused throughout his creation—just take a moment with an orchid and all is clear—Jesus is behind all wild perfection!
I am a garment sewn blue male yet intertwined with the pink of an unashamed feminine side—and yes, I’m a hopeless romantic.
I enjoy sculpting alive through words, paint or camera lens. I see often ‘what’s missed by most passing same the scene,’ and find joy bringing awareness bubbling to surface.
I have a bright, dry sense of humour that, being tied up for so long needs much further unwrapping. For those decades of sad depression I never laughed—not even once! I still am always surprised by the sound of my recent free spirited gurgling and wish I could hear it more often.
My life has attempted being a portrait of ‘long obedience in the same direction’—and yet, as previously said, has seen the true colours of darkness and intense disappointment, even in formal ministry experiences.
The fantasy, spiritual truth and layered depths of Tolkien, Lewis and more recent Christian mystics, Henri Nouwen, Brennan Manning, Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, and John Eldridge bring me toward Abba’s smiling face. Tim Keller, Philip Yancey, N.T. Wright and Eugene Peterson make me think that hope is not just a myth. I’m on a journey towards all the mystery.
I have found recent authenticity and vulnerability. Tears, pent up from decade’s pain and without the previous dam of shame, now flow free. I realize that I am worthy to be loved and to love.
I disdain in-the-rut thinking.
I am a proud father, grandfather and grateful for my wife who gives unconditionally to me and has for many decades. I’m grateful for my few rescuers and true friends.
I am a mix of Scotland, France, with just a pinch of Ireland all mixed up into a wild stew.
So, now that you know me a bit, let’s begin.
Some years ago my wife and I moved to Prince Edward County, an island in eastern Lake Ontario, where we now live, I paint, and have a small gallery, while continuing to have other galleries represent my work.
J. Douglas Thompson
Prince Edward County, Canada, 2022
** Excerpt’s from ‘Portrait of the Painter,’ ‘‘Radiance through the Rain’ Copyright 2020, J. Douglas Thompson. My previous book ‘Radiance through the Rain’ is a 160 page self-published, hard-cover limited edition coffee table book showing more than 100 images of my paintings. Alongside of the paintings are sixty-one essays on how the act of painting is a metaphor for doing life and relationships. Much of that thinking will bleed into this blog, but here, this is just you and I quietly pondering our devotional lives. For those of you who purchased ‘Radiance Through the Rain,’ maybe you think some of my wandering thoughts are worth sharing. This blog is the venue going forward!