Originally from Northern England, Alan Norsworthy has been a photographer since the late 1960's.

He moved to Canada in 1973 and has made Guelph Ontario his home for the last 24 years.

" I remember visiting the CN Tower in the early 70's and the guide said that as far as you could see in any direction is the best farmland in Canada. That comment echoes down the years as I watch subdivisions eat up the landscape."

The area around Guelph offers up a plethora of rural images which Alan captures with his artistic vision. His work covers everything from macro photographs of flowers, sweeping landscapes, historic buildings and old abandoned farms in both colour and Black and White.

"This is where I find my inspiration, I have a need to show people the beauty I see as I walk the woods and fields of Southern Ontario"

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Childhoods End ..
A book by Arthur C Clarke.

But what I want to talk about is how we encounter our own “Childhoods End” and what a pity it is when we do.

So many people give up being a child when they go through puberty and approach adulthood. They do this because they think they have too, because it's the price you have to pay to be a responsible adult.
I think that the price is too high and at best a fallacy.

Well I love to be up before dawn to see the new day break
Stormy days,Rainy days, Sunny days all invigorate the senses

Snowy days !! ah yes, snowy days, how can anyone not feel that deep sense of peace when they look out at the softly falling snow ?

Yesterday I and some friends walked a short section of the Bruce Trail in Waterdown, Ontario. 
A section called Grindstone Falls.

We didn't get too far before we scared a fox. Her reaction when she realised we were there was hilarious and set the mood for the morning as she scampered off down the trail.

Down by the falls the ice was forming, jewels hung from the low hanging branches and the rocks near the falls were slick with a thin, almost invisible coat of ice.

Several hours passed as we looked, saw and photographed winters wonders. 
When our thoughts returned to the here and now we realised just how chilled we had become and decided to head back to town for treats and banter.
As we sat around a table, talking, laughing and reliving the morning we were childlike still.

Ah to see the world through child like eye's and to wonder at the wonder of it all.
No, for me there can be no “Childhoods End”

Long time a child, and still a child, when years
Had painted manhood on my cheek, was I;
For yet I lived like one not born to die;
A thriftless prodigal of smiles and tears—
No hope I needed, and I knew no fears.
But sleep, though sweet, is only sleep—and waking,
I waked to sleep no more; at once o'ertaking
The vanguard of my age, with all arrears
Of duty on my back. Nor child, nor man,
Nor youth, nor sage, I find my head is gray,
For I have lost the race I never ran.
A rathe December blights my lagging May:
And still I am a child, though I be old
Time is my debtor for my days untold”.
~Hartley Coleridge (1796–1849)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Patience has it's own reward ..

Lets talk about ‘patience’..

Patience in this ‘instant’ age of Facebook, Instagram and all of the electronic means of communication seems redundant prehistoric even but to those of us who are ‘pre-internet’ it still holds value.
You see, for many, many months stretching into a year or more I have looked at the same scene but it has never materialised as the scene in my head.

Until yesterday.

Despite the bad start to the day, a rushed visit to the local emergency veterinarian with Winter who decided to drink a bottle of cough syrup (a whole other story, suffice it to say she is OK and my wallet considerably lighter) …. the fog and mists rolled in and I happened to drive by ‘the scene’.

Yes! it was developing nicely, so I continued home to drop off Winter and pick up a camera and sketch book of course.
Dashing back to the vantage point I have decided upon so long ago I made several images of the scene and in turning around to find yet another scene from the past list..

Two quick sketches completed my odyssey and I was on my way home again, there and back in 30 min.

30 minute journey that spanned a year.

My patience was rewarded, I have my photograph.
Not as perfect as the one in my head but close enough to make me smile.

I may not be the best photographer or artist but patience and perseverance make me better than I am.

With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable”. ~Thomas Foxwell Buxton

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mr Clean

Sometimes, well most times we do not see, or choose not to see the homeless and disadvantaged among us.

Yesterday I walked the mean streets of Hamilton with friends and was amazed by the numbers of homeless, transient and ‘lost’ souls who inhabit that part of town.

One of the first people I ‘met’ was smiling, laughing and walking with a spring in his step. He had just been ‘released’ and was making his way home with a small bag of possessions.
Can you imagine how that feels?
No neither can I but I caught a glimpse of it in those few moments.

Another, just a working man trying to get by was working a pump extracting grease and oil from the fryers at a local restaurant. If you have ever smelled old grease you can imagine how this scene was but he worked with a smile and was more than happy to chat about his job. He even posed for a photograph.
Can you imagine such a job ?
No neither can I and I am grateful that I do not have to do it.

As we walked I watched my friend Grant engage these people and many more with a quick word and a smile often convincing them to pose for a photograph.
He  has a way with people from all walks of life, especially the downtrodden.

Watching him engage total strangers in conversation was and is inspiring.

“It’s easy to be nice to people” was his only comment.

Yes it is but unfortunately it is easier to walk on by pretending they do not exist.

The next evolutionary step for humankind is to move from human to kind”. ~Author Unknown

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Winter Sun


The long low light at this time of year is a photographers dream. 
Add in that the tree's are bare, those long beams of golden light can penetrate deep into the woodlands, casting shadows that go on forever.
Wonderful stuff.

However the day did not start out that way, grey clouds covered the sky but with the promise of snow in the forecast I didn't mind. 
The snow never came but the grey remained and made it a struggle to find images. It wasn't until later when we were exploring a new trail that the grey gave way as the low sun made an appearance.

This weeks choice as 'photo of the week' was a quick grab shot as we walked the new trail as the sunlight strengthened.

It may not be my best nor was it carefully considered but it does reflect the feeling as I looked through the winter tree's and saw the clouds breaking up on this fine morning.

You can only come to the morning through the shadows”. ~J.R.R. Tolkien

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Winter arrived with a vengeance this last week, especially if you lived anywhere near Buffalo NY.
Feet of snow, not inches fell in a short period of time as the city ground to a halt.

However, for the more fortunate (me) it covered the woods and trails in a blanket of white and a hush fell over the landscape but it was not to last Yesterday the rains came as the temperatures began to rise.
This morning I was greeted by sad piles of corn snow, soggy ground and sad wet leaves.
Almost like Spring!

I did manage to make a few 'seasonal' images such as this one here, my “photo of the week” but there was one I failed to make …

The answer lies here:

A sketch replaced the photograph as I couldn't get the image I wanted.

This is a work of fiction. All the characters in it, human and otherwise, are imaginary, excepting only certain of the fairy folk, whom it might be unwise to offend by casting doubts on their existence. Or lack thereof”. ~Neil Gaiman, Books of Magic III

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Old City Hall

Autumn is almost done and winter is fast approaching. As much as I enjoy being out and about in the winter weather sketching has to take a back seat, in a warm building if possible !
So this week we began a search for places with a view through a window.
A friend suggested Planet Bean which not only serves good coffee but also has window seats (if you can secure one) we did and had a view of the old City Hall across the street.
It's interesting how the need to put down on paper what you see and feel, how 'Art' grabs hold of you and won't let go.
As I have mentioned I put down my brushes in the mid 1990's but they knew that one day they would be put back to use and sat quietly waiting in a corner of a closet, As time passed their whispers grew more insistent and here we are again seeking out places and things to sketch and draw. Luckily you don't have to go far.
Remember the words of Paul Strand …

The artist's world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep”. ~Paul Strand

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Even without the snow I was so looking forward to a long leisurely wander through the Autumn woods without being dragged along by the 'other Winter' our Siberian Husky “puppy” .. all 40lbs of her.

We chose Silvercreek and its trail network for our morning walk and they didn't disappoint.

The standing joke of the day was my choice of shooting B&W as opposed to searching out the odd flecks of colour that still shoe that winter isn't quite in control … yet!

Eventually my mind switched from B&W to colour mode and I too started seeking out the kernels of Autumn.

All in all it was an invigorating time, just to be 'out'. Switching off the work-a-day world and replacing it with the simple pleasures of ancient stones, old tree's, the wind that poked and probed our clothing looking for an entry point, the chickadee's chirping and the crunch of our footfalls.

Yes indeed, a great morning to be 'out'…

Nor rural sights alone, but rural sounds,
Exhilarate the spirit, and restore
The tone of languid nature”.
~William Cowper

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Oh where have you been my blue eyed son..

OK I stole a line from Dylan (Bob not Thomas)

It's been a couple of weeks since I wrote in my 'weekly' blog. I guess it's that time of year as the Guelph Studio Tour took up all of last weekend from Friday evening until Sunday evening.
It's exhausting work standing around talking to people!

Another downside is there was no time to relax and unwind before the workweek began again.

Add to that we have a new 'puppy' I put that in quotes as she is almost a year old, 40 lbs of crazy puppy-ness.
Winter, (that's her name) is a Siberian Husky, pure white with ice blue eyes, she can melt your heart with a glance.

We have hired Emily, the dog whisperer, to help and slowly she is learning what is 'civilized doggy behaviour' when meeting people or other dogs. 

If you see me walking down the street (sorry Ms Warwick, another stolen line) don't be offended if I cross over or make a sudden exit left, we are under orders from Emily....

Anyone who has or has had a dog will understand today's quotation:

I talk to him when I'm lonesome like; and I'm sure he understands.
When he looks at me so attentively, and gently licks my hands;
then he rubs his nose on my tailored clothes, but I never say naught thereat.
For the good Lord knows I can buy more clothes, but never a friend like that”. ~W. Dayton Wedgefarth

Sunday, October 12, 2014


If I said “autumn Day” what springs to mind?

For me it conjures up a day like yesterday (and today for that matter)..

Brilliant blue skies to offset the golds and reds of the woodland tree's with an added chill in the air as an early frost paints the ground with silver.
Geese honking their way across the skies, heading South.
The frantic scamperings of small animals gathering in the harvest of nuts to tide them over the winter that is fast approaching.
And the long shadows thrown by the weakening sun that probes ever deeper into the woodland as the canopy of leaves turns and falls.

Breathe deep and drink in the smells, sounds and colours of the most wonderous of seasons, autumn in the woods ….

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came,—
The Ashes, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The sunshine spread a carpet,
And every thing was grand;
Miss Weather led the dancing;
Professor Wind, the band....
The sight was like a rainbow
New-fallen from the sky....”

~George Cooper, "October’s Party"

Sunday, October 5, 2014

There is something about Haiku that totally relaxes the mind. 
Maybe it's the simplicity of structure or the lack thereof...

All I know is when I read it there is a mental sigh and everything seems, for that moment anyway, perfect.

Haiku and Autumn in the woods seem to go together so well, so this weeks "Photo of the week" blends very nicely with this weeks choice of words...

So sit back, read and re-read this the most simple form of poetry and let it wash over you..

falling leaves
hide the path
so quietly
~John Bailey, "Autumn," a haiku year, 2001,

Sunday, September 21, 2014


These last few weeks I have had to put my D300 away.
The Doc said 'tennis elbow and golfers elbow plus tendinitis in my forearm” for good measure... "but, but, I don't play either of those"! said I...
No matter what it really means is the D300 is just too damn heavy to lift !

So I have been relying on my trusty Nikon P7100.

Not that it is a problem I love that little camera but yesterday I bumped into it's limitations.
Blurry images from way too low a shutter speed and unresponsive auto-focus due to the low contrast scenery in fog and mist and pushing the ISO way too high meant a morning of frustration.
As the light improved and we moved out of the deep dark woodland along the river things came back to normal quite quickly and I ended up with a few 'keepers'

Such is the lot of the photographer. We have to rely on technology (to varying degrees) in pursuit of our 'art'. If the technology fails what are we to do?

The pens and pencils I have never fail from a dead battery ;-D

So when technology prevents me from pursuing my photographic 'Art' the pen and pencil take over because ..

Art is not a thing; it is a way.” ~Elbert Hubbard

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Quiet Corner

Yesterday our regular Saturday morning outing was delayed by the heavy rains.
Still, “delayed” is not “canceled” ..
We arranged to meet at 9:30 at the usual spot and headed for the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory.
One of us (me) was expecting a half empty space where we could photograph, draw and or paint in relative peace and quiet, after all school was back in, right?
By 10:30 the place was packed with Mom's and Dads chasing gaggles of kids, chasing the butterflies..
Finding a little place of refuge for a little piece of peace was a challenge but it was possible and there we sat, sweating.
You see the building is for tropical flora and fauna so it is very warm and very humid, much like the weather that we had been trying to avoid all summer!

Oh the irony, we paid for hot and humid while outside it was cool and not so humid!

But the “three amigos” rode again so it was all worth it.
By 11:30 we were all getting a little overwhelmed so we retreated to the cafeteria for tea and munchies and a overdue get together.
The conversation, banter and laughter flowed as easily as ever. Sketchbooks were shared (which is a relatively new addition to our get-togethers) and plans were hatched for next weekends outing. (watch this space)

We probably overstayed our welcome but no-one told us to leave and we were in no hurry because we were in the company of friends.

A good day despite the slow, wet start and of course the artificial weather 'inside'.

A friend accepts us as we are yet helps us to be what we should”. ~Author Unknown

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Why ??

This last week I had a conversation, a conversation about why do we release our creations to the world?
Why expose our inner self, our feelings, our very souls. Taking the chance that we will be humiliated, scorned, laughed at or a thousand other ways to be demeaned?

Do we do it for accolades? Approval? Acceptance? “attaboys”? Money? Fame?

Well maybe .. but I think there is a deeper reason.

We have a burning need, a deep desire to create and having created the desire to create becomes the need to share.

That need overpowers the possibility of criticism and rejection so that we may release our creations into the world, to share it with others and in so doing risk 'baring our souls'.

A scary though that, putting it all on the line for the chance that someone somewhere may simply say “I like that”...
So I ask again, Why expose our inner self, our feelings, our very souls....?


This is why, this is what I ( we? ) seek

Time is such a precious thing.
The moments that were are gone.
The moments to come race toward us at a frightening speed then they too are gone.

And in the moment of here and now we create and having done so we need affirmation of time well spent.
For as that moment passes and we look at what we created we can say “that was not here a moment ago but now it is” it is real, it becomes a proof of our existence.

It is our statement: “look I was here” !!
Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”
Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays

p.s Thanks to Patrick for opening this door

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sometimes you have to step out of your box and leave the comfort zone.
Yesterday was one such a time.

I and a few others had been invited over to a friends house to sit outside in the gathering dusk to feed ourselves and the ever present mosquitoes.
Having had quite enough of the little buzzing, biting creatures this last week I was leaning towards an evening indoors with the AC on and a good book.

Well the persistence of friends overcame the reluctance and I spent more than a few hours in quiet enjoyment and awe while DEET took care of the the distractions.

A Conjunction between Mars and Saturn is happening right now above your heads, all you have to do is look up, just a little, to the South East. No other equipment other than your eyes is necessary.
There they are hanging like jewels amongst a million million other jewels.

But for us the real magic was yet to be revealed, there were three telescopes set up all pointed in the same piece of sky.
Saturn was the target.
Saturn with her rings filled the viewfinders.

Everyone who looked through those long tubes gasped in amazement.

Everyone from the absolute 'newbie' to the seasoned 'pro' stood and bowed their heads to peer into the optics and all were moved.

Discussions ranged from the obvious 'wow did you see the rings' ? to 'what does it all mean'?

Saturn held the show and held us in her magic.

Saturn, to Holst was the bringer of old age, to us 
she was the bringer of childhood …

There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million”.. ~Walt Streightiff

Sunday, August 10, 2014

This morning found me thinking about what to write. It's a busy time and trying to find some 'me time' has been difficult with no respite in sight for the near future.
However a couple of things have changed;

I resigned from a committee at the Wellington Artists Gallery
and from the Critique Group at the Photographers Guild.

However I did replace them with a new group, I joined the KW Urban Sketchers group. A loosely knit group of people who share a common thread, the love of drawing, painting and sketching.
The manifesto is simple:

We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.
Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel.
Our drawings are a record of time and place.
We are truthful to the scenes we witness.
We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles.
We support each other and draw together.

As I try to grow as an artist, recovering that which was lost so many years ago this seemed like a good trade.

Things change and we change.

Some things had to be given up to allow other things to grow...
I have just finished reading :The Tree's in my Forest” By Bernd Heinrich.

Although it is about tree's and a forest, literally . The analogy between our lives and his forest are quite clear, or where too me...

Tree seedlings can sit dormant or growing very slowly for years, until conditions change, allowing them to reach for the sun and grow.
A tree crashes to earth as a result of old age, high winds or Ice. In doing so it relinquishes its hold on the canopy space.
Sunlight floods the forest floor and the sleepy seedlings reach for the skies..

In my case the tree's that fell were the committee's. In their removal a space opened up for this fledgling artist to reach for the sky.

Well that's the general idea, now where is my pencil and sketchpad ? ….

Sometimes, to pursue a new idea, the artist must forfeit his deposit on an old idea”. ~Robert Brault

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Procrastination - That dirty word..

“Procrastination” has become a dirty word.
A procrastinator has become a sloth, a ne'er-do-well, someone not to be trusted.

However there was a time when we all took the time to “ponder” to “mull it over”, to “evaluate”, “ruminate”, “throw it against the wall and see what sticks”  and in doing so we often come up with the correct choice.

Now instant decisions are the norm..
Well knee jerk reactions can start wars …

So what is the alternative?
If a decision doesn't have to be made today, right now, this instant and lets face it most don't, then put it off until it has to be made.

The “back burner” is where our mind still works on things subconsciously. “Sleeping on it” allows us to focus on what is really important...

“Relaxing”, “enjoying” or busily doing “nothing at all”

Oh I know there are times when we have to decide and decide quickly but I wonder how many of the day to day decisions fall into that category?

The British Army adage, the six “p's” hold true.
P!ss Poor Planning Produces Poor Performance

Or if you are of a more delicate nature, the 7 P's ..
Proper Prior Planning Prevents Pitifully Poor Performance

So ask yourself, how can you plan if you need a decision RIGHT NOW! ??

After a morning spent in the joyful pursuit of doing nothing, during the time that I set aside for myself and I might add, jealously guard. No tougher decision was made other than where to sit and what to draw and the world did not come to an end because of it ....

“One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important.” ~Bertrand Russell

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Lets talk about barns...
You see them everywhere around here in what was once a bucolic setting.
Unfortunately the trend is buy the land, tear down the barn, either quickly or leave the old place to slowly crumble as the years roll on.
Demolition by neglect

As a lover of all things 'old', some call me a 'Luddite', I hate to see this happening. What is worse I hate it when I watch and old place always thinking 'I should record this place before its gone. Because it surely will be gone' and I wait, putting off the visit as if I had all the time in the world.
Then, one day I drive by and there is a pile of burning rubble … too late.

Last week I read an article on the Urban Sketchers website, “A Farewell to Barns” it seems others are of the same mind.


I made a suggestion to my friends to visit two such places nearby.

On Saturday morning we set off for the first location. As it turned out we did not reach the second location as time flew by and real world issues forced us back to reality. We packed up and headed downtown to our favourite watering hole ..OX for tea, croissants and banter before heading back to tackle the remainder of the day.

All-in-all a great morning, the weather guys were wrong (again) about the rain and thunderstorms and we had a warm, peaceful morning sitting in the shade and managed to record one old barn and outbuildings for posterity.

Sometimes 'simple' is all you need.

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life”. ~Socrates

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Yesterday was 'a walk in the woods ' day.
At this time of year it should have been called a 'three doses of DEET' day!

The place, Scottsdale Farm and the wonderful meandering trails there. However it was hard to concentrate or to stop for as soon as we did we were engulfed in a swarm of bloodthirsty mosquitoes.
Incessant buzzing in my ears, tapping on my face, getting in behind my glasses. The constant, never ending onslaught made concentration difficult if not impossible.
Then there was one of those moments, we walked into a small valley and it was like walking back in time. To a time long ago when dinosaurs ruled and everything was ten times bigger than what we know and expect. The valley floor covered in waist deep jewelweed massive ancient Ash, Maple and Beech trees reached for the sky and the forest floor not covered with the jewelweed had a new coat, of young tree's.
The ice storm(s) of last winter had caused much damage to the canopy. So much so that more light was pouring in to those area's that for so long had been in deep shade. It doesn't take Mother Nature long to seize on an opportunity, the tree's began to sprout dozens if not hundreds of tiny tree's began the race to the light.

For those that look and see it was an amazing sight to behold.
But ...

… “Why didn't Noah swat those two mosquitoes”? ~Author Unknown

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The long and scary road back ...

As you probably know these past few months I have been trying to strengthen my drawing and sketching skills having hung up my pens, pencils and brushes many years ago.

Laast week I uploaded a pen and ink sketch of Goldie Mill here in Guelph.
My friend Connie added a comment or was it a challenge ?

Are you going to make a painting of this”? She asked.
I said no but after a series of sketches at home I used a brush pen and added watercolour to it.
Then I redrew the scene once again this time on Aquarelle watercolour paper and pulled out my brushes …

The attached photo is the result “one small step for a man, one giant leap …. for me” :-)

After another quiet morning spent in the marsh at Valens Conservation Area I must admit that this sketching stuff is becoming addictive. Yes I had my camera, yes I made a few images but the overpowering serenity that one feels when just sitting, watching and listening is like a drug.

We live in a very tense society. We are pulled apart... and we all need to learn how to pull ourselves together.... I think that at least part of the answer lies in solitude”. ~Helen Hayes

Sunday, June 29, 2014


Yesterday I went to Goldie Mill Park here in Guelph.

Nothing too unusual about that, Alan out for a walk on a Saturday morning” they say.
But this one was different in a couple of ways, firstly I was alone, the normal 'motley cew' scattered to the ends of the Earth well if you call Tobermory the ends of the earth and Helvetica (Confoederatio Helvetica) which is a bit further.

Non-the-less I was inspired by Patrick's sketches sent to tease us as he literally 'wanders abroad', old towns rendered with a loving hand no not with a tourists view and a camera but with an artists view and a pad of paper and a pen.

Where can I find such a place, close to home to scratch the itch implanted by these sketches?

I thought about it for quite a while and as sleep came on Friday evening “Goldie Mill” popped into my head.
So bright and early off I went.

The car parked, the bag recovered from the trunk like so many other times, but this time it was different. This time the bag contained pens, pencils and sketch books.
I went in search of the scene …

In a shady spot I unfolded my ridiculously expensive seat and made myself comfortable for what would be the first of three drawings worked up over the next couple of hours.

People came and went, some stopped to chat briefly one asked if she could look at what I was drawing.
A totally different experience than hiding behind a lens.
As the sun rose higher and the day warmed my hands did as they were bidden and the pen moved more gracefully.

The focus narrowed.
Time passed quickly as it always does in these instances.

But in the end a quiet satisfaction and a smile...
Time to pack up and head home..

This was so different than my usual outing and looking back I can still hear the birds, the cheery “morning” from passers by, the breeze in the tree's and feel the sun on my back.

The artist's world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep”. ~Paul Strand

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The journey, not the destination..

Yesterday was a fine day for a long walk. Just as well because the trail I was on was not the one I thought it was!
Oh well I was out and about on a great morning with good company so does it really matter where you are?

The 'Forks of the Credit' waterfalls, bridges and ruins were the destination which we never found even by going in the front way but a two hour walk along half remembered trails passed so quickly and enjoyably.
We may not have found what we went out to find but we found new things, places and spaces.
Surely that is all that is important, after all its not the destination but the journey and this journey ended with the promise to return, because …

… “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks”. ~John Muir