The Old Parsonage, Selma
Turning to Kawalski for artistic direction
(courtesy of the Weekly Press)
Imagine an artist who has created works of art for the talented musician Sir Elton John, someone who has actually gone shopping in Italy with the man. He is an artist whose knowledge and talent with special painting techniques caught the attention of a King and thus commissioned to paint in a multi-million dollar mansion. This is a man who has been among the rich and famous, the movers and shakers, but is very humble and quiet about these things. This same artist chose to move to a small rural community of Selma and share his incredible talent with children, and adults alike.
On a blustery, rain soaked spring day it was with trepidation that I entered the drive of the venerable Old Parsonage, home and business of Anthony Kawalski. A pause in the parking area allows for an opportunity to view the Selma Valley behind the home, a cradle of existence for a variety of wildlife, soaring eagles, black ducks, herons, and so on. It is as if when I left the highway I entered another world, my Narnia, the rush of daily life is left behind.
There is an image in my head that begs to be painted. I can see it clearly; the lonely tree that sits on the Wentworth Road outside Windsor, a purple, pink sky and a lone crow sitting on a branch. I stopped for a picture of the tree on my last trip down to the valley. How is it possible to transfer this image from my head to the paper, or to canvas?
Can Kawalski help? Do I have what it takes? Will he laugh or will he understand and nurture a burgeoning talent?
The art that greets me as I walk through the door is stunning and unique. The ambiance is soothing and I feel the earlier anxiety begin to melt away as I am greeted by the gracious artist, and his tail wagging companions, Toby and Digby. I begin to feel at home, all the tension of the day is leaving and the kitchen with the crackling fire beckons.
Over a pot of tea, the image in my head is explained to Kawalski, who tells me I am over halfway to my goal. From the description, he could see the image as well, he lets me know the crow is a special one to me, it is a male. As he says this, the image of a large raven comes to mind who visits frequently. Now all that is left to do have to do is get out the tools, a piece of paper and a pencil and draw the image.
The next step is to transfer to canvas using whatever type of paint I choose. To make the canvas my own, I could paint it first with a base coat of white. I believe it is in me to create.
His quiet words in a charming British enunciation mesmerize as he speaks of art, how it has been part of our hunter gatherer existence since the days of cavemen drawing their history on walls, passing unwritten history through stories, creating music. He spoke of how many of the human race have lost contact with that part of our lives through the flurry of our everyday consumeristic lifestyle.
Kawalski encourages talent and says “If anyone comes to me and tells me that they cannot paint or draw, simply by telling them that they can, is all that I can do. I encourage them to believe in that because it isn’t me that creates any of the art; it is going into your soul and drawing out that energy which gives us the power of creativity. It is my belief that every individual has the power to paint, to create, to draw, to make music. All of this is in us.”
He and his partner, Jon Twinley moved to the area two years ago. They had fallen in love with the house before moving and say they knew it was right for them within seconds of coming in the door. It has been their intention to create a space to get away from the mundane, to provide a calm haven for those who wish to find one.
Kawalski explains, “It was Jon’s and my intent that this place be a retreat. That this be a place to do ‘art’, but is not just drawing, it is not just painting; it is photography, it is music it is poetry. If people want to come, to be inspired, to reconnect, to revisit themselves as artists, they can work in the Brooks Room, live in the house, take in the atmosphere and the ambiance.”
There is a Face Book page the Old Parsonage which gives a peek into the beautiful decor and invites the viewer to come and experience. It is a retreat for all, not simply artists, but for all those who need to reconnect. Kawalski knows the other magical places nearby where a person can relax or be rejuvenated, he has a huge respect for the natural beauty of the area, and a great love for the timeless power of the Bay of Fundy.
My drawing of the tree will have to wait for a weekend; it has been captured by the camera, and will see paper as soon as I can find that quiet spot. If the sun comes out, I may have to borrow a back deck in Selma, where the valley inspires, yet soothes the tired soul.