Charles Spratt A Four-Decade Love Affair - theHumm February 2020

Charles Spratt A Four-Decade Love Affair - theHumm February 2020

By Sally Hansen

Art… and Soul

It is a true gift to discover a passion that endures and rewards for the rest of your life. Charles Spratt is grateful that he has had forty years to enjoy what it took him forty years to realize — he is an artist.

Interviewing artists is always an adventure. When he ushered me into the basement of the tastefully appointed home he shares with his wife Pat in Stittsville, I was astonished. Spratt’s man cave is unusual and fabulous. I would like to return and explore it more fully. It is the antithesis of a basement. It is an art gallery and studio, spotlessly clean, more like the Canada Council’s Art Bank with paintings of all sizes neatly arranged on shelves and stacked along the walls and floor. This is where Charlie, as his friends and family know him, spends his time continually exploring his guiding principle that “I must never stop looking for better ways to express my feelings in art, and that struggling to more fully understand myself is integral to painting itself…”

The paintings are lovely, suffused with Spratt’s “absorption in the wonder and the beauty of the world around me.” He has nourished his love of nature by embarking on plein air painting trips across Canada, frequently in the company of other acclaimed artist friends, and continues his forays into the Ottawa Valley. He uses his plein air acrylic sketches for reference when he returns to his studio to paint larger acrylic works. As expressed in his Artist Statement, he allows “each painting to speak to me as I interpret and develop abstract themes to produce the sense of spirituality that I feel in my work.”

Spirituality is easier to perceive than to define, and Spratt’s paintings resonate with something that captures the viewer’s attention and elicits an emotional, spiritual response. His highly original use of colour and texture, combined with his partial and selective obscuration of detail, result in compelling images. You can live with these paintings and continue to experience a gently visceral as well as a purely aesthetic response. His portraits likewise are intriguing, at the same time questioning and suggesting personalities and life experiences. Charlie seems to have found a way to reflect life’s complexities as well as its promises.

To Improve is to Change

It is a wonderful growth opportunity to have your preconceptions (aka biases) challenged. I don’t usually think of engineers as artists. Until he was forty, Spratt self-identified as an engineer who, with his engineer brother John, worked with their father George H. Spratt at Spratt Sand and Gravel near Carp. His great-grandfather had settled in the Ottawa Valley, and his grandfather had founded the first mining operation in Gloucester Township in 1918. When Charles joined in 1964, their company was the largest sand and gravel company in the Ottawa area. It exists today as Spratt Aggregates on Carp Road. Charles was a businessman, past President of the Aggregate Producers Association of Ontario, and a family man.

His life changed irrevocably when at age forty he decided to give painting a try. As a Queen’s University mechanical engineering student he had always had a flair for drawing, and he remembered his mother sending him for oil painting classes as a twelve-year-old growing up on a farm. Like many other artists I’ve interviewed, he also remembers the first acknowledgement of his talent by a teacher in his one-room Ellwood Public School when he drew a picture of Donald Duck on the blackboard. I hope teachers are aware of the lifelong consequences their encouragement and recognition (and, unfortunately, the opposite) can cause.

Spratt’s friend Graham Lochhead was also interested in art, and the two decided to try painting outdoors with “real brushes and real paints”. That was it. He realized he was handicapping himself by just learning from books and photos, and that he had to learn from nature. Then he became friends with Grant Tigner (a teacher at, and then president of, the Ottawa School of Art), and Charlie’s love of plein air painting was permanently confirmed. He visited Algonquin Park and met other artists, took regular trips with Tigner to one of the oldest art colonies in Gloucester, Mass., and continued to expand his network of like-minded artists. He started the Kidney Foundation Art Festival in Westboro with Peter Germotte; he considers it one of his biggest achievements that it continued for thirteen years as the Ottawa Art Festival.

On Monday mornings he joins a group of artists working on portraits as a means of learning how to better express their feelings. After many, many years of teaching, he finally gave it up when he decided that teaching any one method or technique was too prescriptive. He likens painting to being a jazz guitarist. There are so many ways to play a solo improvisation, and they are all valid. His advice to aspiring artists is to “continue to develop your own statement” — at eighty-plus, Charlie Spratt is still refining his personal message. “The farther you go, the more you learn about yourself — the same for musicians.” Did I mention Spratt is a jazz guitarist?

In addition to over 25 solo gallery exhibitions to date and numerous awards (see Spratt’s bio at koymangalleries.com), Spratt is a past president and fellow of the Ottawa Watercolour Society, and elected signature member of the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour, the Society of Canadian Artists and the Ontario Society of Artists. He currently is the contact for the Manotick Art Association’s Plein Air Group that meets weekly during the summer, and his enthusiasm for outdoor painting is as vibrant as the inspiration he continues to derive from it. His solo exhibitions, teaching history and inclusion in corporate collections are numerous and nicely itemized on his website at cspratt.ca .

The Ten Collective

On April 4 and 5 Charles Spratt will participate as the invited guest of The Ten Collective in their third annual show to be held in the fascinating Mississippi Valley Textile Museum located in the annex of the former Rosamond Woolen Company in Almonte. Constructed in 1867, this National Historic Site of Canada is well worth a visit all on its own, but this eclectic art show makes it almost imperative that art lovers jump in their cars and attend. Details are available at thetencollective.com , and don’t fail to clip Charlie’s Trading Card on the back of this page.

 

In memoriam – Dr. Bill Buttle - theHumm February 2020

By Kris Riendeau

I honestly can’t remember when Bill Buttle first started contributing Artbeat cartoons to theHumm, but I think it was some time within our first year of publishing. So for the past two decades (give or take a year or two), his humorous take on the world of art and music has had pride of place here on page 2. On Sunday, January 19, Bill passed away peacefully in Arnprior at the age of 79, leaving behind grieving family and friends as well as legions of Artbeat fans throughout......

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Charles Spratt A Four-Decade Love Affair - theHumm February 2020

By Sally Hansen

Art… and Soul

It is a true gift to discover a passion that endures and rewards for the rest of your life. Charles Spratt is grateful that he has had forty years to enjoy what it took him forty years to realize — he is an artist.

Interviewing artists is always an adventure. When he ushered me into the basement of the tastefully appointed home he shares with his wife Pat in Stittsville, I was astonished. Spratt’s man cave is unusual and fabulous. I would like to return a......

...more

Thaw Out at Frozen Jr. in Carleton Place! - theHumm February 2020

By Linda Beiglee & Sherrie Seward, CoProducers

This enchanting modern classic from Disney is based on the 2018 Broadway musical, bringing Elsa, Anna and the magical land of Arendelle to life onstage.

A story of true love and acceptance between sisters, Frozen Jr. examines the emotional relationship between Princesses Anna and Elsa as they embark on a journey. When faced with danger, the two discover their hidden potential and the powerful bond of sisterhood. With a cast of beloved characters, and laden with magic, adventure and plenty of h......

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Hard Hitting Blues at Blues on the Rideau - theHumm February 2020

If you like your blues hard and heavy then you won’t want to miss the Bill Durst band at the Cove on February 21. Blues on the Rideau producer James Doran explains: “This will be Bill’s first visit to Westport, and I don’t know why it’s taken this long for us to get him here. I promise that anyone who loves Texas roadhouse-style blues (like ZZ Top) will really enjoy this band. This power trio blues rock is as good as it gets!”

Growing up in Wingham, Ontario, Bill was influenced by Mo......

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Almonte’s Seedy Saturday - theHumm February 2020

By David Hinks

The fifth annual Almonte Seedy Saturday will soon be here. That’s right — fifth year — what an amazing anniversary!

Seedy Saturday comes to the Almonte Civitan Club on Saturday, February 8 from 9am to 3pm. Once again there will be guest speakers all day on a wide variety of topics, more than forty artisan vendors and not-for-profits, door prizes, plenty of seed swapping, and homemade brunch from the Civitan canteen. Johvi Leeck, a young local entrepreneur and owner of t......

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Key for Two
Laugh the Winter Away at the Station Theatre
- theHumm February 2020

By Smiths Falls Community Theatre

February is the dreariest of months — if you aren’t a winter person. There’s snow, cold, wind… it seems to have been here forever and seems like it’s never going to end. You need a pick-me-up! A night to forget about it all and just submerse yourself in a whole lot of nonsense. That’s where the Station Theatre comes in. Our production of the traditional British farce Key for Two by John Chapman and Dave Freeman is sure to lighten your mood!

First-time director Linda Pipher has put together a g......

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Shift Happens: A Documentary Series
The Impact of Humans on Our Planetand What Can Be Done About It
- theHumm February 2020

Studio Theatre Perth, Biosphere Environmental Education, and Three Green Peas are pleased to announce a series of documentary films at the Studio Theatre in Perth.

Five award-winning environmental documentaries shown over five months will cover climate change and environmental challenges caused by human activity. One documentary from the series was presented in November 2019, and four more will be shown in February, March, April, and May of 2020. These films explore the dangers facing our......

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Family Time & Mid-Winter Milling! - theHumm February 2020

By Miss Mills

OK — we’re tired of being indoors already, so it must be time to head outside for some awesome activities and marvellous milling about. No problem — Mississippi Mills has you covered (or uncovered, as the case may be)!

Monday, February 17 is Family Day in Ontario, and there are many affordable (and free!) activities to enjoy close to home. In Almonte, Pakenham and area, you can enjoy free public skating, explore local history, have fun outdoors, eat pancakes or catch a screeni......

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Marion Bridge
Where Past and Present Jostle for Forgiveness
- theHumm February 2020

By Heddy Sorour

Studio Theatre Perth’s upcoming production promises a heart-warming evening of discovery. Marion Bridge by Daniel MacIvor is a humorous and touching story about the power of realization and how it heals more than it harms.

“It’s a drama, with lots of comic moments. They’re amusing characters and the language is amusing and clever and it just flows,” enthuses director Barb Guthrie.

The play is about three sisters in their thirties who congregate at their childhood “home” ......

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Eric Walker: Solo Exhibition in Almonte - theHumm February 2020

Artist Eric Walker has been creating his “painted constructions” — blurring the boundaries of painting, collage, and sculpture — for over three decades. Much of his work is linked to the history and culture of the Maritimes, combining elements of high art with more vernacular forms. Walker aims to call attention to collective history by focusing on a mix of commonplace subjects such as ships, trains, government buildings and cities seen from the ground ......

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The Girl, the Ash, the Plantation… and Wilding - theHumm February 2020

By Susie Osler

The Girl

She used to sing as she walked past and up the hill, to the rock where she would sit, looking back towards me, and I towards her. We grew up together. She’d w......

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PDHS PresentsA Preview of Spring - theHumm February 2020

Spring will feel just around the corner when Carol Onion of Hillside Gardens treats us to what we might expect this growing season. At the Perth and District Horticultural Society (PDHS) meeting ......

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Come toMardi Gras
(Without Travelling Too Far!)
- theHumm February 2020

By Karen DeLuca

On February 22, the Arnprior Public Library, in collaboration with the Arnprior & District Food Bank, will be hosting a fundraising extravaganza sure to kick out those mid-winter doldrums.

......

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Choral Evensong in Perth - theHumm February 2020

The evenings are already getting lighter — a perfect opportunity to come to Choral Evensong at St. James the Apostle Anglican Church in Perth on Sunday, February 16. There will be a prelude ......

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Music of Life
River Resonance Chamber Choir
- theHumm February 2020

River Resonance Chamber Choir is a new addition to the Perth choral scene. This twenty-voice balanced choir, comprised of voices from across Lanark County, is led by Nicola Oddy and will perform ......

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The Narrow Years and the Luxurious Years - theHumm February 2020

By Angie Arendt

It’s not much of an orchard as far as orchards go, I suppose. Rumour has it that back when roads around here were mostly dirt and people were still punching a time clock in the mills across the r......

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HFT Donuts’Vallentyne Bake - theHumm February 2020

When Ed and Doris Atwell first moved to Clayton, one of the first people they met was Gord Vallentyne. Gord’s brother Bill was often in the Clayton General Store, so they got to know him as well.......

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Embracing Winter in Smiths Falls - theHumm February 2020

By John Pigeau

You know, you never hear a ten-year-old say, “Man, I’m so over winter. This is bleak.” Nope, kids are a hearty lot. Playful, adventurous. When I was a kid, February was prime time road hockey sea......

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Church is Not aFour-Letter Word - theHumm February 2020

By Heather Atkinson

Three years ago, I “came out” to the former minister of the church where I sing in Pakenham. I had asked to meet with him, and I was very nervous. I had a big secret to share.

“Reverend,” I s......

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Indian Creek Orchard Gardens - theHumm February 2020

By David Hinks

“Five acres is not nearly enough”, opined Scott Sigurdson in a recent interview.

Scott is one-half of the dynamic duo that own Indian Creek Orchard Gardens near Pakenham. Scott and his life-......

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The Postman Delivers - theHumm February 2020

By Sebastian Weetabix

But first, a word from Weetabix on analogies and terminology, since exactly what is delivered is of interest. “Il Postino” in Italian is, literally, the postman or letter carrier. Il Postino in A......

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The People Are Coming!The People Are Coming! - theHumm February 2020

By Glenda Jones

I feel like I’m living in that Ikea commercial — in a big flap because company is coming, important company who’ll be here for a few days, and who might be opening cupboards or looking under beds......

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Snow Angel Party - theHumm February 2020

By Sue Cressy

We are celebrating the Tenth Annual Snow Angel Making Party at Highlands Gate (4381 Wolf Grove Road in Lanark Highlands) on Sunday, February 16 from 1–4pm. It’s fun, it’s free, and it is fab......

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Library, After Dark
Featuring Jenny Whiteley & Joey Wright
- theHumm February 2020

By Heidi Taber Work

The Perth & District Union Public Library is preparing to use their space like never before. On Saturday, February 22 at 8pm, the library will be transformed into a live music venue for ......

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If You Heart Art… - theHumm February 2020

By Miss Cellaneous

Find Faraway Places… in Perth!

As the temperatures drop and we start to feel a little tired of lower light levels and icy pathways, our thoughts tend to travel to Fara......

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