Thursday, December 31, 2009

new year

insight in
scrub oak
in the wintergarden
of a sculptor
on the Vineyard

in the focus
of freezing
as the tide rose
and sun


the material world
as you select

new years
on a frozen beach
on Martha's Vineyard

Monday, December 28, 2009


the futility
of humanity-
when the secret
to your survival
is beneath
your heal

Monday, December 21, 2009

winter beach

winter view

winter view

the trick
is to see the dance;

maple and cherry embracing
or the trio of blue beach in a dance
too slow for us to notice
fucking humanity
can't imagine
a hundred years

i went into a friend's gallery
on the way home from a
wild goose chase
she was
painting things:
black bears
maple leaves
and an elk
looking your way

Friday, December 18, 2009

looking at looking

what colour are the shadows?
why are they not black?
where is the
coming from?
why is not the
same blue as the sky
in the distance?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

if, for no other reason

to prove
that they can
to get along

on behalf of the planet

perhaps we,
who elected them
might ask that
they work a little harder and
spend as long as it takes
and not to come home
until they get it done

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

on rare occasions

the job at hand
turns out to be
easier than expected.
The mast is up
under the soffit
of the shop-
except for the
bit that's sticking out
both ends.
As darkness and
the temperature dropped
I dragged the rigging off the main
in out of the snow.
The shrouds and lines
weigh about as much
as the 38' mast.
It makes an interesting
addition to the kitchen.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

boot stripes

does any body remember
why it's called a "boot stripe" ?
... I see a hand up
at the back,

snow boat

forest maples
reaching skyward
then gradually
the origin of the
northern gothic arch
echoed in
arched trusses
from sawn spruce
in-side out-side
blocked at two foot centres
with butternut
to support enclosed perlines
rounded edges
to prevent damage to tarp
fourteen feet wide and
twenty high
and snowing
every day now
in Canada

Saturday, November 28, 2009


being outside in
november with
moss in celebration as
the maples fall asleep
through snow and rain
bending frozen spruce
into gothic trusses
the ravens seem interested-
at least
they hang around making
rude comments

the main mast
is off the deck-
but where now?
a luxury
of other seasons
luckily the tractor
mentally prepared

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

bending time
to build
the sky cradle

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Seawind is cradled
outside my studio window.
If winter could be post-poned,
painting her visage
may have pre-empted
building a shed.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

in the woods

being guided in
for a landing
taking back
the shop
from the
of some of
the other

Monday, November 9, 2009

maintenance is bliss

Open Stringers

Detachment is required
from the notions
that have proven
but seemed plausible
at the time.
Truth as we know it
called into question.
nothing as difficult as
changing one's mind-
let's just let's call it
sending time
on vacation.
and while the mind is
laying on some beach
the senses
and my boat
will have wheels
on wednesday, so
she may as well have
the stairs I built today
out side on a monday.
it was a good day
every thing worked
but i'v since decided
that the landing
can be pushed further
into the corner-
so it clears the window
i know it's only a
work shop, but
the work
is worth

Friday, November 6, 2009

in the divine silence of the image

Luckily, the boat is sinking....
Luckily it isn't even in the water.
The rain has been coming in through chain plates, hatches, ports etc.
for so long that it's rotting out the cabin sole from the bottom up.
Luckily, I had intended to build a wooden boat, so an interior was on the list.
Luckily, the interior is stock, uninspired and so neglected I won't have to agonize
over ripping things out.

Luckily, I cut some big butternut and ash trees down a number of years ago.
Luckily I have a wood working shop... around here somewhere,
with a couple of tons of wood upstairs.
Building stairs is first thing on the list.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


the sun
an entirly different scene
from the face of the moon
rising in the east

(it must have been "7:33 pm" somewhere in computerland- B.C. perhaps)


there were heavily laden clouds
passing quickly
violet grey
to a pasage of blue,
then ice and rain
blowing through sunlight
to end this day

White Pines

there was something about the view
from the rocks through the white pines
high above the north shore of lake muskoka.
i'd been out in too much wind
in the sabot pram
the day before

42 x 48 inches, oil on canvas 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

the winds of october
have striped bare
the harbors

leaves settling
into their beds
for winter

a new view
from the decks
of "claire"

so we see the wind
and imagine

through swaying maples
a glimpse
of different shores

as full moon appears
antiques and other scraps
kindle the fire

Sunday, October 25, 2009



flying boats

Aside from the anxiety of
seeing boats swinging around in the wind,
there was the nervous anticipation of seeing "Claire's"
keel for the first time. I had seen only profile drawings-
as no lines drawings had come to light .
I was surprised how closely the the keel's proportions
follow the proportions of those of her
wooden predecessors.

Friday, October 23, 2009


I spent a rainy yesterday
sailing on the tractor
re-grading the lane
for drainage
after the dozer and
on the third
rainy day
the engine started
on last day of the season

we had lunch
Clair's main mast's ashore
spreaders got tied to the mast
and the legs of the cradle got folded up
nuts and bolts and
tying knots in the rain
a sailboat came in the bay
haul-out tomorrow
crane day
what is a boat
in the woods?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

transition rain

as wind and rain select
the tired leaves
the lane way
displays the
array of

Monday, September 14, 2009

sailing north

on a magical
we cleared the bay
on a bristling fall

oh what a day
riding her stern wave
sailing herself
and dancing

then dancing
across the
freighter's bow
she came about
and nodded

on a magical
we cleared the bay
on a bristling clear

Saturday, September 12, 2009

how long?

in answer to the reoccurring question:

it takes as long as it takes for
the intuitive to seduce the muse
and to tumble into
ecstatic discovery
to stop in that irresistible momentum and
step back
so you may share
that moment

these are rare moments
it takes that long

Saturday, August 29, 2009

now in colour
ladies and gentlemen,
but wait there's more
split screen with
to one side
and depth
on the other
it's like a
video game
in reverse
you move through the surface
you leave no trace
but a wake
to anchor
inside nature
in time to the waves
into the basin
past cabot head
to dream again

Sunday, August 23, 2009

32' seawind

on the subject of gravity
at the interface
of sky and sea
of flying and diving
of buoyancy
of laminar flow
and rolling waves
of wind and spray
and curiosity
of form
of function
and discovery

Although it was not a marine architect who coined the phrase,
"form follows function," the remark is seldom more clearly
expressed in any of man's endeavors
than it is in the hull of a sailing vessel.

Soon after I began faring the hull of the 50' schooner "Charlotte", designed by Nat Benjamin and built at Gannon & Benjamin, I asked Nat if there was a book or article he could recommend on the subject. I was surprised when he said that I should be writing it. I had been reporting back to him with my “discoveries” and the methods that seemed to be working, as they came up. Nat seemed amused. As we went off in different directions in search of lunch one day he said, "I'll see you back at the campus"

When Nat referred to the shop as "the campus," Plato, and my days as artist in residence at the “great books” school came to mind. Sharing ones discoveries is part of my definition of art.
When an educational institution allows ideas and questions to be discussed from multiple perspectives, without the customary, strict divisions between disciplines, surprising discoveries and solutions can result. It’s something akin to "cross pollination." The more I compared making art to wooden boat building, the more they seemed to have in common.

Training the Senses
In a classical art education, we study sculpture and drawing to learn to see more articulately, to see the object as if we are holding it in our hands.
Having binocular vision allows us to “triangulate” as our eyes dart about the space around us, from one point of focus to the next.

Sculpture: the articulation of mass and space.
Drawing: the two dimensional illusion of mass and space.

Seeing like Touching
It wasn't until Benjamin had made a number of half models, had taken lines from the models and had built the hulls, that he was able to truly see the form that a “lines drawing” represented. From that point on, when he made drawings he was drawing mass in space ... seeing, like touching.
Because Nat's mother was a sculptor, this process may have been instilled or, to some degree been instinctive. In any case, Benjamin has a refreshing regard for art and how it's interwoven with man's other pursuits.
Nat pointed out that it was the blind brother who was handed the half models for final approval in the Herrshoff brothers design team.

Alternating between the vantage points of art and the boatyard provides rich possibilities for comparison.
Having pursued some understanding of art for many years, I have a growing list of ideas about what art is and why it is be of value. I call the list, “another vain attempt at defining art,” in part because art expands to include each new addition
When this list of ideas is applied to the designing and building of wooden boats the similarities become apparent.

above excerpt from The Art Of WoodenBoat Building

clearly the 32' Seawind ll is fiberglass but what caught my eye was
the shape of the hull and the layout of the rig. It had the lines of a wooden boat because
her designer, Thomas Gillmer borrowed heavily from the classic H28 by L.F.Herreshoff.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

saturday night at summerfolk

as dolphins dive across
the bow of a sailing vessel
through the spray of
pounding to windward
weaving ecstasy into
the rhythm of the seas
a kindred being in
time and space
a celestial body
explores gravity
and dissolves
into the orbit
of sound


while working with Kenny Baldwin on soprano sax,
Beckett seems to have captured something of the Georgian Bay
shoreline woven into the music of saturday afternoon
at Summerfolk. photo Kate Mann

Thursday, July 23, 2009


the place/spacetime
the situation/
leaning on the membrane between one dimension and
the next you will find it flexible as well as transparent.
moving between dimensions requires a leap of faith.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

there was a day
and it reminds me of
you appearing
out of the fog-
a comfort
in the the memory of your
"yes, i understand"
that felt solid enough to hold my weight
and if i say that such perception is rare
sailing through thick fog in a stiff breeze
on watch
on the bow
visual acuity enhanced by listening and
identifying vessels by the different engine sounds
and the direction
and whether they were approaching
or moving away
is not the place for the inattentive
out of the fog and moving fast in silence
directly on the bow
appeared a very large ketch under full sail
"turn left 20ยบ"
was my instruction to the helmsman
she passed so close i could read
"whitehawk" on her rail

Whitehawk by Bruce King
was inspired by L. Francis Herreshoff's Ticonderoga.

Monday, July 13, 2009

lucid dream research

in the dream
you took me to a gallery...urban, obscure, exclusive ...
to see some work you like-
"now, be nice and don't make fun"
there were paintings and ceramics by the same artist
the ceramics were pines in relief on plates
if you hung them on the wall to collect dust
it would look like snow.
the paintings were of more interest to me.
the paintings were on bronze
and the colours derived from
chemical treatments- patinas
enhanced oxidation, etching-using intaglio techniques and polishing
there were a limited number of colours
two greens an ochre, ultramarine,
and subtleties in the earth browns
into warm and cool blacks
the images alluding to reflections in
the black waters of muskoka lakes
through pines into the sky

i think it's called lucid dreaming when you
listen to yourself asking questions

this is rare -even for me

in the last such dream
Paul Klee came to me to ask that i finish
one of his paintings for him,
luckily i forget which museum
he said it's hanging in

... so there will be a new level
of intention
as i start these paintings.
is it plagiarism when
we paint our own dreams?

image size: 44 x 48 in.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


PETER BECKETT exhibition- Meaford Hall Art Gallery
12 Nelson St. Meaford, Ontario
Exhibition continuesto September 7th 2009
519-538-0463 1-877-538-0463

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


R e f l e c t i o n s

Opening Reception:  Saturday July 4th 1- 4pm

Meaford Hall Art Gallery
12 Nelson St. Meaford, Ontario
519-538-0463 1-877-538-0463

Artist Talk: Thursday July 23, 7pm
Exhibition continues June 30th to September 7th 2009 The new paintings
( image size 48 x 66 in.)
gentle rain
the forest

moon through the trees
challis of dreams
cathedral dawn,
gregorian chant
to bird song.
painting rising
to a new light
from the scent
of the woods into
into the divine silence
of the image

66 x 48 in.
oil on canvas
june 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

when we see

across time
and notice
the crystal ball
told the truth

and we made notes

i paint, "tales from the woods"
to see
from a different
time scale
so that i might
speak of what i hear
in the whispering

and we made notes

a few like-minded soles
the fluttering green
of swaying trees
waving to
crashing seas
to angelique*
and brine

and to"charlotte"
a sailor's dream
speaking of the sea

Although it was not a marine architect who coined the phrase,
"form follows function," the remark is seldom more clearly 
expressed in any of man's endeavors
 than it is in the hull of a sailing vessel.**

50' schooner "Charlotte" by Nat Benjamin
shear, lower planking and frames of
topsides of silver bali-
bolth selectively cut in Surinam

**from "the art of wooden boat building"

another perfect day in the forest
can you hear the birds?
little brown wrens building twig nests
into the bluebird boxes

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

i painted through the night
forest shimmering,
predawn blue
dissolving into light

Saturday, May 16, 2009

primavera 48 x 66 inches

the new forest green love
blasted through wind and rain love
all swaying grace love
you shimmer in sun again

you can be my angel, love
true love's hard to find

the flights of love
the forbidden love
the sharing and the hidden love
the drowning in your sorrows love
the never and forever love

you can be my angel love
true love's hard to find

the sacred and profane
the wind calls out your name
painting the refrain love
knowing that it's pure love
the looking for the cure love

you can be my angel love
true love's hard to find

Monday, May 11, 2009

the hesitation of
yesterday's shivering
has turned to
radiant love
light coming through
the unfolding spring green
of hop hornbeam
at arm's length
in gentle contrast to the
to the more muted
mixture with rusty orange
emerging maple

a spare battery for the camera would be handy.
to day's challenge is to get a truck load of scrap metal to the dump.


Friday, May 8, 2009

interactive self reliance

I was thinking about sailing, being
interactive with natural forces and
wondered if the idea came from
being in woods
in the snow
cutting firewood

moss relinquishes the sky
to the flowers and ferns of the forest floor
and to the budding leaves of the canopy
in the over-lapping cycles
of season's change
to the life of trees
to wind and water
carrying away
the limestone

this misty morning
white-tailed deer emerged
woven into the forest's edge
appearing in movement
and dissolving again
into stillness

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

the child-like joy
in sharing discoveries
whether ecstatic or frightening
includes the surreal.
captured through lucid dreaming
an expression from that place
will be an artifact to share
a different facet of

moon through the trees
spring's opening leafs
maple flowers will fall

Thursday, April 30, 2009

a friend came by
we played wooden flutes
in red trillium time
joining bird song
through maple woods
into the sunset

are we venturing
through our eyes into

a friend came by
in red trillium time
we played wooden flutes
joining bird song
into the sunset
through maple woods