Wednesday, 17 October 2012

I'm Lost in Sudan, You Must Wait for Suzanne

Oh I hate making promises I can't keep. But I rarely do anything in order, chronologically or even in at least in a timely manner, and this should come as a warning on all the packages of my promises. 

My partner K (ours is a passionate and commited yet boundless union in case the word partner has limited connotations in your part of the world)....wanted to commission me (without pay of course, at least of the monetary kind) to do a painting that would take me away from my tendency to illustrate, my tendency to create neat, controlled and whimsical paintings infused with joyful and childish intent...somewhere, he found a photograph of  Sudanese men standing in a polling line, waiting to vote. The year the photo was taken, the vote in question that mattered, I am unsure of. I need to read my news and history. But all pertinent facts aside, I stared at the photo and could only wonder at the resolute expression of the man at the front of the line...he has a mission to accomplish, he is determined to do his part, and he firmly believes his vote stands for who he is and his voice demands to be counted. He is not there by societal obligation as so often is the case in the west, he is proud and he will make a difference. This chance has, perhaps, been newly presented to him...it is not taken for granted. And then behind him, another resolute face, but behind that...what? Who?...his fellow countrymen...do they have the same passion? Will they sell out for personal gain? Are they actually Sudanese, are they transplants, are they....puppets, are they reliable? To vote in the most unstable of conditions, is this a risk, is it a pipe dream, does it have any worth or tangible effect? The faces in this painting, the dress, the quality of light, can any of this give anything away? More yet...how often does the painter discuss the questions that arise while forming a painting? Is it only ever a matter of making it look lovely? All of these things are hitting me as I attempt to connect with my work on this piece, and I now realize that this is intrinsic to one's evolution if one is attempting to create outside of the box...the box being our own limitations...our own enclosure of our fear of breaking out, our own frustration at trying to be understood, to convey what we intend, or even in this case, to translate what we think the image has to say.

The original photo ~ is it simply a day in the life that bears no deep analysis? Am I projecting onto it more than was occurring in the actual day as it was lived by the men who happened to have their picture taken in that nonosecond of existence?


I don't  know. I am into the painting now and all I know is there is more to show in it. Maybe it will just be pretty, maybe it will make you cry, maybe it will embody triumph, maybe it will convey these men as they truly are, it could speak for them, it could also do nothing and flop altogether.

I can't worry about that right now. I just have an urge to get more involved in the patterns, or lack of, in their robes, to bring them into the proper time of day. I decided to use acrylic paint for this one, to concentrate on line and shape more than detail or extensive colour.

I have many unfinished paintings lying about, but this one is begging the most not to join them, so I keep on...I didn't get called in to work today, they haven't needed to call me much this month at all and it has been hard adjusting to the lack of money and all the free time. You'd think I'd just jump at the chance to paint, but my studio is freezing and I need a space heater. Another silly excuse....I'm getting back to it, and I have not forgotten Suzanne Valadon, in fact, I am relating to her more and more these days....

Friday, 21 September 2012

Whispering the Boho Word...

OK. I promised Valadon, but right now you get Janis Joplin instead. And Grace Slick. I came across this photo online today, and I sank right into it. 

 
I am a resurrected 60s~70s wild child at heart, so I have to pay a little homage to the kind of woman I often wish I could be deep down inside sometimes...raspy, raw, able to belt it out and wear fur hats and stick my jaw out against a background of paisley fabric tainted with the scent of cannabis, whiskey and recent breakup tears. And of course, look at the colours in this photo....it is plain gorgeous nostalgic raspberry, aqua and rust complete with hippie beads, aloof stares and huge hair. I love you ladies, you colour our world.

In the tradition of the bedridden rockstars, more rust and paisley...on the walls of our bedroom....I took this photo of myself while nude, just to reassert my flower child credentials...K hung this purple paisley pashmina above our bed, draped sensually against the rusty orange walls.


Now if only I could play guitar.....instead I'm heading back into my chilly little studio to dig out some orange and purple paint.



Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Gift of Paris 2012


Well, I have now been to Paris twice in my life! Once when I was 19, and then not again until this August, 2012, most thanks to my dear brother. The occasion for this voyage was the Kirk Family reunion ~ all 14 of the relatives on my mother's side are spread apart between South Africa, Scotland, Austria, Canada and Italy. My mother has lived in Italy for 41 years now, having left Canada to follow the love of her life when I was the eldest to my brother and sister at age nine. I love my mother with all my heart, and only wish trips to Italy weren't such sporadic and rare gems in my life, but hey, I've been lucky enough. I last saw her when I went to visit her at her rural home near Bassano Romano in 2007!

Mummy and Me, Once Again!

My Italian sister Flavia, 16 years my junior, now lives, works and sings in Paris, and so everyone decided it was the most central and splendid place for us all to convene. The hoard of us stayed in a gorgeous old house in Ballancourt-sur-Essonne, one hour by train south of Paris, and spent a few days exploring what we could of the city of light itself. Many nights drinking and talking through until dawn, laughing our guts out as well as crying, confessing, waxing nostalgic and getting to know one another....it was marvelous and life affirming, celebratory and hopeful. The Kirks are a witty, intelligent and loving bunch, and reconnecting to our shared traits and unique gifts was a solid and grounding epiphany, we all agreed on that. 
Where we stayed at Ballancourt~sur~Essonne
We drank a little...
I spent some precious time in Paris with my sister Coralie...we went to Jardin des Tuileries and the Musee de l'Orangerie....
My sister Coralie and Me



...but my favourite personal experience was our day in Montmartre....we came upon a very special place....12 Rue Cortot, where one of my favourite mysterious artists once lived...the elusive Suzanne Valadon. I will write all about Madame Valadon very soon. She has held the deepest intrigue for me and I often wonder why there has not been a movie made about her life, it could be such a magnificent adventure of a film. Perhaps you are already familiar with this unsung artist and muse who lived, loved and painted wildly among her prestigious and better known male peers during the Impressionist era, but if not, keep an eye out for my next post about my enchanted obsession with this woman and her art. Hers is a spirit I thrive upon and I could barely believe I was standing in the very house where she lived. Sitting in the courtyard, looking up at the studio where she painted, I marveled at the reignition of inspiration and the deja vu of shared passions capable of travelling across time and space from one beating heart to another.
Feeling the Aura of the Historical Courtyard at Musee de Montmartre

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Blue Ribbon and Paris

I haven't written for well over a month....because I now have an excellent and satisfying job across the water in Nanaimo, and I've been adjusting to my new schedule. I am so very lucky, I'm proud of where I work and really enjoy the people there. And above all, I can still come home to our beautiful and peaceful forest home every night....having my year-round bed on this island, set somewhat away from the urban crush, continues to be a dream sustained. So, a long delay in posting more of my art.... but here at last is the finished Blue Ribbon. Lots of personal symbolism here, this is my first self portrait in oils. I drew on inspiration from Balthus, Botero, Leonora Carrington and Edward Hopper....turning through the pages of their art in the evenings between picking up my brush. 

BLUE RIBBON ~Oil on Canvas 12" x 16"

In two days I leave for Paris. I didn't paint my way there, unfortunately. My mother's side of the family is having a reunion in France. It's been five years since I've seen my mother, who lives in Italy. I'll be meeting my South African cousins for the first time! My beloved K isn't coming...I'll miss him so much, but it's my own journey on this trip, and if distance makes the heart grow fonder, mine will almost burst! I'll bring my camera and my drawing pad, and there will be much more art and photos to come when I return. For now, I  am smiling and packing my bags...

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Frida Kahlo, Every Suffering Woman's Reminder



In the 90s, while living in Vancouver, I recall a period when Frida Kahlo first became my friend due solely to her emergence as a faddish marketed trend. This article in the Washington Monthly, written in 2002, is one of the most in depth summations of the Frida splash I have come across. Reading it, I was forced to revisit my own fascination and attachment to Frida, and to honestly assess what drew me to her like a bee to honey along with hoards of other women around the world who identified with her near the end of the twentieth century. On a few points I question the writers' predictable theories about the modern sweeping up of Frida into a cult of personality, and the idea that her "rise to fame" was fated to fall away much like bell bottom pants would, that overall "misinterpretation" of her life and art were to the detriment of her longevity in the ranks of her male peers. To me, that is all hyped up hype about hype. What matters is who is left wearing the bell bottoms simply because they like how they feel and look despite the abate of the roaring materialistic crowds. I believe that rebellion and strength, not victimhood, was behind Frida's biographical appeal, that her life as an artist did not compete with or overshadow her art itself, but simply belonged with it....that her story and her art were tightly entwined as one element. And so what. Had nothing but her paintings shown up one day, all in a wooden box stranded on a beach, with no knowledge of her life story, I imagine a widespread search for the mysterious woman behind the curiously surreal and disturbing works would still ensue.

Nevertheless, by 2002, when the colourful and ambitious movie Frida came out, I was further entrenched in my adoration of her. And when I went to the National Portrait Gallery in London in 2005 and viewed in person some of her paintings and rare photos, I pledged a full hypnotic allegiance to her...the bond was cemented.

When 2007 rang in, I found a giant Frida calendar on sale for half price at the Vancouver Art Gallery. I took it home, hung it in my kitchen, and I've never bothered to replace or discard this 2007 edition. I've kept it with me everywhere I have lived since, and adopted Frida as my muse and confidante. From time to time I change the month to reveal a different painting that suits my current mood. The other day I realized I have unwittingly accrued a photographic record of her presence in my various living quarters...she has hung in my kitchen, my bedroom, even my closet, and now she sits watching me in my studio. If she were a stuffed toy I could be called certifiably insane. Thank goodness for her exalted reputation! Even hardcore intellectuals and otherwise level-headed people might forgive me for talking aloud to her when I am by myself. I know I'm not the only one!

What made me then, and still today, so personally interested in Frida?

I think for me it was her facial expressions in her repeated solemn self-portraits.  Never showing her teeth, never revealing her intent, never flinching, she holds in her stoic eyes the strength to endure and thus to triumph, and her rigid upright posture transforms her very apparent lack of mobility into a stiff attitude of courage and pride. She has the aura of a woman to be dealt with, one sure to trounce any competition, to defeat any pain, stare anyone down. I also enjoy her bold straightforward use of colour and folky brush strokes. To me, yes, they are naive and folk-like and not beyond intuitive comprehension, more real than unreal. She lets you know in the most head on way that nothing can shock her, nor should it you.

I never had children of my own, and neither did she. As I see it, she expressed that fated "dead end" as an acceptable phenomenon and her miscarriage as a testament to her feminine endurance, as epic and worthwhile and scarring as childbirth itself, her dead baby ghost a matter-of-fact cohort. In my own lazy moments, I often think of her sitting upright in bed, her easel sitting crossways in front of her. Instead of pitying her, I imagine the indulgent luxury of painting a la Frida, with my duvet wrapped over my knees, and comfy pillows at my back. I do believe that certain childless women turn their nurturing instinct inward in a decadent way, and outward in a creative way. We all give birth no matter what. At least, this is the understanding I invented between she and I. And of course too, she could divulge to me the mystique of her Mexican identity and loyalty, show off to me her proud and flourished costumes, impress upon me her determined impact upon fluctuating political times, She could wail to me about her wild womanizing lover and husband, and confide in me the fact she may have been a bit deplorable at times...all of this and more influenced an entire sisterhood of women like myself to reach out their hands in communion. Her paintings told us this story, true or not, it doesn't matter. They are powerful, emotional works, and that is lasting. Does she speak more to women than men? I've never bothered to check. She speaks to me.

Yes, the capitalist world brought her to everyone's attention as a marketed trend, but she simply stood still through it all and waited for it to pass as it was bound to do.


So, heavy as Frida's life was, I know that if she was just as strange as me, she needed a sense of humor.  Here you have a brief history of my interactive life with that pesky Frida, who I enjoy being strange with:
2008 ~ I Saw You Eat That Donut
2009 ~ You're Not Leaving Dressed Like That

2011 ~ Do You Prefer This Hat or The Monkeys?
Incidentally, I love this elegant photo of Frida:...although she always has a proud and regal air in her pictures, she is softer here and almost, almost smiling:


And one of my favourite paintings, perhaps because it brings the spirit of Frida into my own familiar natural physical surroundings .... The Little Deer (or The Wounded Deer). 

No Frida, nobody can shoot down your art. Don't worry, you are safe and you will endure.



Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Blue Ribbon in Progress

Well, I placed the unfinished Turkish Panel aside and I'm keen to get back to it as a I have a solid plan for the border. But today I woke up unusually early for a Sunday, to continue with my small oil painting The Blue Ribbon. It was a really enjoyable day ~ I sat in the window in the natural spring sunlight and used small brushes to slowly begin layering at this painting in a  lazy stream of consciousness. It's a self portrait, and I will not try to explain it yet as it's still got a way to go, although I can tell I will finish it in just a few days. Typical me to fall into my fairy tale world. Oh well, here it is so far, mildly hoping to draw on subtle influences from Leonora Carrington and Edward Hopper. More on those two later. To defend my ambitious habit of clinging to such great mentors for guidance, remember that Oscar Wilde said "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars".


Saturday, 5 May 2012

The Most Symbolic Art Event of This Mayan Year

Does it come as any surprise that "The Scream" by Edvard Munch has sold at record price this year? Will it's reverberation finally shatter the glass that will herald in humankind's coming new age? Oh, Edvard, did you see (or hear) this coming?


                                          

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Gauguin, Unspoiled Nature and the Heart of the Vocational Exile

Always curious as to how and why a person painted what they did, this week I turned my attention to 
Paul Gauguin.
I have just finished reading this hard cover edition of In Search of Gauguin by Jean-Luc Coatalem.



At the onset, I found myself mildly frustrated by the author's self-engaged and possessive approach to his subject. His story begins with his own purchase of a highly intriguing auctioned photograph which sparks his imagination and drives him to want to know more about its origins in Gauguin's life. The photo is of a Polynesian woman named Helena Suhas, who was the mother of a young boy named Atiti who was painted by Gauguin upon the child's untimely early death. However, Coatalem neglects to include a replica of this photo of Helena in the book for his readers to visually share in his exclusive experience of owning the picture! It seemed to me a nasty tease ~ even though he describes the photo well, he falls short of the 1000 words that could justify its omission. Surely he would know we'd all want to lay eyes upon this rare picture! The question of the unpublished photo irked me....could it have something to do with the biographer's personal quest for the elusive, for that which cannot be accurately captured or retrieved, or in the case of art, that which cannot truly be owned?

After I got over this initial irk, I found myself bothered by his habit of changing tenses mid-paragraph or at the end of chapters. And then, after I got over that, I started to really enjoy the book, and couldn't blame Coatalem for obsessively entwining his own life's quest with the desire to taste the very aura of Gauguin and retrace his footsteps. Any art nut should at least understand that feeling.

As the book draws you in, this becomes the journey...going after the heart of the vocational exile, the Inca, Gauguin. I recommend that regular folk like me read this book near a computer, so you can google image the titles of the paintings as you go along if you're not able to conjure them up in your head on the spot like a seasoned art historian...the catalog of Gauguin's entire works is enormous and this biography refers to many of them by number and title, offering a scant mid-section of colour plates that only scratches the surface (it is a biography and not an art book after all). For me at least, Coatalem's descriptions sent me running to look up the paintings online.

I enjoyed the book even more once Coatalem began narrating it from his notebooks in Tahiti .....the allure of the exotic, the other-worldly quality of colour and landscape, and the local lore all come to life to offer up or or wash away the missing pieces the author seeks. Even so, he has to strain his eyes and imagination to see past the barrier of modern day buildings and traffic into the moving ghosts and scenes of the blissfully pastoral yet colonial-ravaged past that welcomed Gauguin ashore roughly 100 years earlier.

Eventually it began to make sense to me why Coatalem does not reveal to us the photo of Helen Suhas. Coatalem started out covetously chasing after any remaining relic left behind as evidence of Gauguin's near mythical existence. We know this woman also existed, and yet it's only by chance that we may come across physical remnants or proof of the essence of someone long after they are gone. This is Coatalem's repeated discovery as he wanders down a "multiplication of trails". He eventually questions his own motives as he despairs "Why are the details so pointless, and so compelling? What's the good of these signs, scattered like tiny pebbles, which lead nowhere except to what is already evident?...What haunts us is what has given us our foundation." And so perhaps this is why he allows Helena to haunt his book like a quiet ghost reminding the reader that she is not just reduced to a photo, she is a spirit.
.
And I also came to grasp that Coatalem's habit of switching from the past tense of far removed days into the present tense at opportune moments mid-description was his way of remaining suspended in the eternal present in the place and situation of his choice, just like Gauguin sought to do.

Finally, I gained some insight into Gauguin's often unsavoury but nevertheless passionate and hedonistic character, his longing for fame and his suffering for redemption, his attitude toward his work, and his opinions on technique. And I also took with me some very valuable quotes by the artist to inspire my personal approach to painting. Some will say that reading about the inner lives of well known artists and studying their technique is another form of diversion and distraction for anyone who wants to be productive with their own creative pursuits. But I believe that immersing yourself in the lives of those who have gone before and paved their own path and forged a distinctly elevated style, especially against the odds of material difficulties and social solitude, is helpful in building your own vision and courage, and nurturing your own talent. And if not, it is never time wasted to lose yourself in beauty and play your integral part in art as audience!

I enjoyed this book, it was engulfing and stirring and many-layered, and I enjoyed revisiting so many of Gauguin's paintings.

                                                   *     *     *

Here is one of my very favourite pieces by Gauguin, Tahitian Pastorale (Tate Gallery, London). You see these rich ochres, sultry red-oranges and gentle green shades and you think, he created this magical palette entirely in his head! And yet, Tahiti was this gorgeous, this rich in vivid hues. Artur Gilles, an expert consulted in the book, had this to say: 
"Gauguin did no more than copy, capturing the precise shades of colour. He was able to see."
Wow. What sight he had to pull it like this out of nature!

And another I love....I can sink into this painting, Spirit of the Dead Watching... even though it has a foreboding air, the contrasting colours and luxurious repose of the vahine are both striking and peaceful at the same time.

I wonder, would we be reading about Gauguin at all had he not gone to Tahiti? He was the epitome of an artist flourishing in the precise surroundings that beckoned to him. When he came back to France, the Ministry of Fine Arts sent him packing, telling him his art was too "revolutionary", and he was soundly rejected by his peers, returning finally, distraught and poverty-stricken, to end his tapering days in the South Seas.

And now, Gauguin whispers to you. Listen. And next, may you pick up your paints, newly inspired:

" I want to make only simple, very simple art; for that I need to immerse myself  in unspoiled nature."

"Art is imagination, subjectivity, a language which is able to combine the visible and the invisible."

"Work freely and madly, and above all do not sweat over a painting; great feeling can be conveyed immediately, dream about it and seek out its simplest form."


Friday, 27 April 2012

The Turn To Spring

Well, it's been awhile since I wrote....I could almost post a picture of my Turkish Panel painting, but I just don't want to until it is entirely finished. It's soooo close to being done. And yet I keep needing to add more to it, the most complex bit is going to be the patterned border and some final layers with oil paint glazing medium...I also need to get some art materials in town...the glaze, some new fine tip brushes, and turpentine. It has been taking me SO long working on the one piece that K was moved to speak up and suggest I just set it aside so I could start another couple of less "strenuous" efforts. Discovering oils has slowed me down! I take forever to mix colours and the detailed attention to the work is like a vortex, it is a more demanding medium and yet for this reason I feel at home with it (I'm Scottish, we prefer the long and arduous road). Here I am still hiding my effort from you in the very early stages:


Winter this year on the island was a long haul of socked in grey, endless days of rain and intermittent wind storms, the odd power outage, waking up to a cold house and constantly stacking firewood into the wood stove to keep cozy.....then one day I peered down out of the studio window to see, forcing their way through all the weeds, little cutie bluebell-like flowers in my garden (I have no idea what their botanical name is, I need my horticultural sis to tell me). And ornamental plum blossoms in the yard! And each day a bit more sun. Now all I want to do is plant wildflower seeds everywhere! 


It took the sun to remind me how dismal we've been having it. Somehow we've pulled out of the blur...thanks to good friends and family who care and everyone in our household sticking to personal goals, even if we had to take the painstaking labyrinth route to get there...K's youngest daughter who lives with us is learning the ukulele and taking on knitting like a pro, I'm painting as much as I can between looking for work and K has got his green light to go forward with his own project. It's been emotional and difficult at times, but we've all grown. I suffer from periodic bouts of depression and so today I decided to start a symbolic portrait of myself riding free of worry. My own form of art therapy! It's a very small canvas (12" x 16") and I'm using oils again. This is just the sketch-like under painting for now, and I need to find some very fine brushes to keep it polished as I go along.
The other week K made a huge vat of his famous seafood chowder and we fed several friends all at once, some in our home, and to others we delivered a bowl of soup....we want to be able do this more often. I love filling our living room with people, it is gorgeously warm and inviting and full of old chairs and sofas and pillows (always room for another guest)....and being able to feed others is a wonderful triumph, especially when it happens to be whoever you manage to bump into during the day and ask over spontaneously, like a single neighbour or a grateful pal who is down on his luck. Then after everyone leaves, you can sit quietly with a glass of plonky wine and read another good art book.



I'll shortly write more about the book I'm currently reading ...it's a biography of that pesky bull-headed exile Gauguin, who went to Tahiti only to discover the ravages of colonialism and nearly got discouraged. I feel an affinity for his roguish escapism, it seems some of us will always wish we could find a place a few years ahead of the mad urban crowd and live like the natives who got it right in the first place. Easier said than done.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Paint Your Way to Paris!

Tonight I am discombobulated, and in a conundrum. If you've been checking in on my blurbs, or more likely somehow came across them by accident, perhaps you've noticed I talk about painting and great works of art a lot but have little to show yet of my own finished pieces. This may be because I start so many works and let them sit in limbo for ages. And. Ages.

Today I spotted this Andy Warhol quote:
"Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art."

Earlier this morning my partner came up with a condensed and effective summation of his own:
"You need to do it to get it done." 
(He was simply referring to me getting out of bed before 8 AM, yet the similarity to the Warhol quote is striking...K has always been a ruthless editor of lengthy phrases, able to hone a sentiment to its precise and hard hitting point in much fewer words ~ you may add this to the long list of reasons why I adore him) (I also refuse to let a fancy shoe company steal the spotlight by going too far with an entirely unrealistic too short version of the quote.)

So, here I am blogging, here I am entertaining myself on an overvalued social network that shall remain unnamed, here I am job searching in extensive vain (today I spent over four hours navigating a single lengthy online job application I kid you not), here I am cleaning my house to impeccable sheen, here I am NOT PAINTING enough!  Not only that, there has been a shortage of people showing up for the life drawing sessions, and the disheartened organizer has decided to cancel it until next September! Whaaa? I am devastated. Must I start a new group myself ? This island is full of artists who love to model and draw...where is everyone? All we need to do is sit and draw, and the model just has to stay stiller than the rest of us...so easy, I've done both!  I had just started enjoying being part of a really meaningful group, and already there is talk of not enough interest. I'm not sure I can take this one sitting down...or standing up for...er...that matter. 

Here is my other conundrum. My mother lives in the Etruscan countryside of Italy, in what I call my "parallel universe". I have not seen her since I went to visit in 2007 which means I should start believing in time machines as well. Now, a family reunion is planned for August. It's only my mother's side of the family though, and just the adults....so in this case it is not so much an entirely inclusive family reunion as it is a partial gathering of a scattered clan. I have cousins in South Africa and Austria, and family in other parts of Canada...and everyone is converging in a country house outside of Paris for a week in August. I'm expected to attend and of course I really want to be there! But I'm not sure anyone truly knows how ill equipped I am to make an overseas trip, except maybe my best friend in the entire world knows, and that is another story. These days I can't even take the ferry to Nanaimo due to lack of a return fare! And must we all travel in 2012 anyway? What if the world chooses Paris as the epicentre for tragedy? Wait a minute, people have already died millions of times over in epicentres of tragedy in their own home towns or abroad, all over the world throughout history, so really, that is a rather silly and self-centred fear. In any case, I was pouting about such sour grapes when a friend chirped up and told me:
"Paint Your Way to Paris! Do a painting every week and blog along the way! Auction at the end of the week. Get famous! Go to Paris!" Well, I love her idea but fame I find a scary nightmare and the idea of churning out weekly paintings is even more intimidating. Paris, though, not a stale biscuit at all. And I do like the sound of having a structured goal.

So, I am going to lock myself in my studio and get busy in my little fantasy world. By the way, we tend to go mildly stir crazy in these parts as the long drawn out winter weather alternates between teasing and receding signs of spring's slow arrival, so the time for creative outbursts is ripe and I must jump on it.

I think it apt that I now go quiet for a bit and do not post again until I have finished a new painting to show you! I won't be gone too long...just a few days. And I can't lose...I can keep hanging my work in our home and enjoying the scenery no matter what! I'm turning out the lights now and going to bed, darkness drops even deeper, and a new day will come, whose light will not be wasted by anything it reveals.

Our Living Room on Gabriola, Trees Waking
My Mother's Living Room in Basso Romano, Trees Shining

If a tree peaks in the window in the middle of nowhere, does it make a sound? Yes, yes it does...a sweet and content sigh that whispers "You are always here with me anyway".

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Out of the Woodwork, Creaking With Vague Ideas

Picasso said
"You have to have an idea of what you're going to do, but it should be a vague idea".

Saturday, and I woke to misty sun rays swirling through the morning shadows...(there are new buds outside the living room window, and more birds appearing on the porch)....

  
...and I was treated to an incredible breakfast put together by my man....
orange, avocado, banana, herbal cheese on nutty bread and...potater chips!!


On Thursday I signed up for my third summer as an artisan at the Gabriola Farmer's Market which begins in May. Only two months to get ready. And before then, I'm going to show my painting "One Season" at the Crafted Booty Event thanks to Mariko and Bryan.

Meanwhile, I plod away in solitude and just hope I can be pleased with the next eventually completed painting. I know my style is naive and simple, but it does come from my heart...I have no idea at the outset how a painting will evolve except that always, always, if I have a vision to begin with, it never winds up anything like it. Just as a leopard can jump at you and surprise you within your own dream, the finished result is always an entirely unannounced arrival. But usually halfway through, the painting is proud to be unfolding and it guides my brush and says "I am what I am, I was born like this, don't fret."

So, I'm just looking forward to buds opening, and getting my creaky body out of the house...I tore up part of the front garden the other day to rid it of weeds and make room for flower beds. What to plant there, not sure yet. As Picasso also said "If you know exactly what you're going to do, what's the good in doing it?" 

Quite frankly, whenever we start to slip into doubt (as I did at the start of this month in my job interview) we should all listen to good old Picasso. He was so full of clever quotes. I'll do better next time, Pablo! 


Incidentally The Tate Britain is showing Picasso currently, in case you are in London. 
I'm not, so as usual, books will have to do.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

What a Mystifying Painting! ~ Erm, That's My Palette.

I found this simple little wooden brush holder at GIRO awhile back and it's my favourite tool with which to tame my somewhat OCD oil painting method.
I start out with it empty, 
but as I use my brushes, 
I place them in the slots, 
and if possible in the order of the colour wheel. 
That way I can get more out of an already used brush if the colour on it works again on its own, or as part of a mix. Once the holes are all full with used up brushes, I usually clean them all and start fresh again.


As for cleaning brushes quickly before almost immediate reuse, a friend of mine recommended a a gentle and deep rubbing through with a tossable cotton cloth and a quick rinse with dishwashing liquid and water ...this can save relying on turpentine every time!

I also like to keep dry brushes and Q-tips handy simply for scraping through a wet layer of paint to the reveal the dry layer of differing shade underneath, or even to wipe off excess from heavy-handed dabs, rather than smudge them with a cloth.

Speaking of Smudge, here she is keeping me company on her favourite sleeping chair in the studio.

 
I love having my pets around while I paint. Usually Seeker will plop down on the rug and watch me with one eye while watching the cat with the other, or give me advice on shading and such:


And of course, for the dreamer who lives inside of  books far too much, pets are willing to oblige without questions as well...blurring out now....envisioning...dancers of some sort, in fluffy aqua tutus against mild russet walls....and caramel orange smudges.....


Saturday, 10 March 2012

No Matter When You Die, It Will Be Too Soon

Nothing more to say here. The title says it all. Well, ...except...No matter how difficult things get, stay in the adventure. Go towards the light and the love. Violence begets violence. Stay the peaceful one, no matter how hard it feels to do so, no matter how it tears at your soul. Stay peaceful but inquisitive, peaceful but searching, peaceful but open, peaceful but passionate. We are all still learning, at different paces. Have compassion. Do not think you are always right, or expect others to know it. Listen. Understand. Be graceful. Communicate with respect. I try, I really do, but we're all flawed. Acknowledge your flaws, but don't beat yourself up over them. Don't take things personally. Look at the big picture, the one that is way (WAY, sorry to say) bigger than you. Put your own beautiful self in the world, make no apologies for what you entered life as naturally, but know you can keep moving towards your better self. You will hurt yourself and others on the way to your enlightenment. It's inevitable. You arrived here for a reason, exactly as you came. I'm not wise...this is what I have learned from others, and what I value so far on my journey. Often, I find it hard to listen to and to live by. So, I pass it on to you, my sister, my brother, my dear dear entire worldly family, in thanks for teaching me the same, and in the hope we can all keep each other going. ~ Ranza xo



Friday, 9 March 2012

I Don't Know Why I Liked it So

This is one of my favourite oil paintings ever, Blue Mountain by Vasily Kandinsky, for so many intangible reasons.

Painted in Russia in 1908/09, I first saw it (or at least, first really paid attention to it) while flipping through a book called Living Colors, A Guide to Color Palettes Through the Ages (on page 143, if you happen to have the book). I turned the page upon it and stared at it for a very long time.

BLUE MOUNTAIN ~ Vasily Kandinsky


I don't know why I liked it so, perhaps the first lure was the combination of vivid colours brought to a textural burgeoning flourish by short dab & chop shaggy carpet brush strokes! It's three coordinates are the three primary colours, and I think this is at the heart of its emotional impact. It struck me as fervent, playful and yet prophetic. So, it didn't surprise me to read that Kandinsky believed that "colours should be used in art purely for their emotional and symbolic content." The segmenting of this painting beckons you to honour the very separate physical presence and movement of the red, blue and the yellow, parted between by a rising divide that to me resembles a white fire-hearted river or glacier smoking its way to the sky! The triumphant rearing up of the horses (oh I love horses!) heralds a proud pageantry and optimistic procession marching onward. Its modern "chunkiness" and brave simplicity of contrast just makes me want to stare at it and enjoy the impact. And above all it inspires me, I do believe I will reach for this type of effect in some of my yet to be unleashed work (says the procrastinator). 
Curious about Kandinsky, I read up on him a bit more and realized I enjoy his philosophy as well as his groundbreaking embrace of abstractness (oh to be ahead of your time). I also share his dream of  "a better more spiritual future through the transformative powers of art."

Oddly enough, the house we live in is painted room by room in the three primary colours! The living room is red and yellow, the kitchen is blue, my studio is yellow and the bathroom is red! This sets off a base for the most adventurous decor, as any object added as an accent falls gracefully into the entire prism and nothing really needs to match but instead blends in to subtly enrich the overall feeling of charm! Is art intrinsic to our lives? Yes, even in the most subliminal way.

Daffodils in Sunny Kitchen Against Blue Walls
Indian Accents in the Living Room
My Yellow Walls in the Studio

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Broccoli and Eggs for Dinner, Lucian Freud for Breakfast

The other day set out to be a drainer and today was not much better in its over all dull pall of events...I've been thinning my soles looking for work in Nanaimo during these tough times (as if I describe a passing phase) and had finally landed an interview (exactly where shall remain untold for now). I was so out of practice, even though I tried to prepare well, I don't believe I was in top form or presented properly. Neither did I foresee being tested after the oral interview on my computer skills...I was feeling rusty and the easiest steps I knew so well on any other day would not even click. Wanting so much to win the job I became flustered during the test and was sure I had failed it (right after boldly expressing what a calm and steady worker I am under pressure, too!) Before even leaving the building I was convinced I had spoken too much and digressed under questioning, had not remained focused on the specifics of the job description, had forgotten entirely to mention certain crucial aspects of my resume that may have helped clinch it, talked too much about irrelevant experiences, and got stuck stumbling over my answers. To top it off I left in a rush, carrying a pen that belonged to the panel, and had to run back and return it.
On the ferry ride home what small bit of confidence I was clinging to had begun to wane, and by mid-evening, I was doubting myself entirely. I said to K, I'm sorry honey, I'm not going to get this job. He said, you know what, it's OK. What will be, will be, and I love you no matter what. 

Still, I slunked off (if that is not a word, let me call it one, it is very descriptive of the physical manifestation of my mood at that moment)...I slunked off and shut myself into my chilly studio and proceeded to get lost in my painting to avert the slow demise into self-loathing.
After some distant noise in the kitchen, K knocked on the door with this steaming plate of broccoli, tomato soup and egg souffle and locally baked bread.


K is the best cook ever, no matter what we have in the cupboards, he serves it up so beautifully every time. His daughter F also surprised me with a plate of her home made chocolate chip hummus concoction. Sustenance! Abundance! I made some headway with my painting, and went to bed full and feeling loved.

Today there was no call from the prospective job, and when I walked our dog Seeker to the mailbox in the rain, he sat chewing his stick watching me sympathetically as I shoved my hand deep to the back of the slot...nothing. Not the small refund we're expecting from pet insurance, not the very important mail K has been waiting weeks for, not even a rejection letter from any previous job applications...nada. Just the Harbour City Star newspaper.

When I came home, I decided to watch again a video my mum had sent me about Lucian Freud. His softly spoken opening words hit home with me at the core of my being. I want very much to find a fulfilling and enjoyable job with a dental plan and kind coworkers and a viable salary. And I need to keep looking rather than sit waiting on a call that may not come. At the same time, I only have control over one thing....I can keep painting, no need to answer to anyone but myself about the value of my endeavour or the quality of my work. I can choose how to spend my days. And sometimes I will even ignore the dishes and paint on through the piling mess. After all, it doesn't seem Lucian dusted much.

I have a gorgeous book on Lucian Freud, have held a fascination with him, and used to fantasize (while he was alive) about being painted by him (how I would have made it to London was not part of the fantasy...maybe on a unicorn). David Hockney speaks about what it was like to be painted by Freud in this amusing and insightful video, also recommended by my mum, which made me giggle.

Even though the last couple of days have been pervaded by a sense of socked-in stagnancy, the little boosts from family ~ my love's cooking, F's chocolate hummus spread, and my mum's perfectly timed video share have been sparks of light. I wish I could capture that quality of light on canvas....perhaps there is a way.

Itchy Red Velvet and Tobacco Spit....Almost

For the first time in my life, I have a real studio space. My very own studio space! Before you start to envision rafters and skylights and high white ceilings and paint generously splattered on giant easels and a robust nude model eating grapes in graceful repose while laid out upon scads of drop sheets somewhere off to the side, zoom in a bit. I have a little room in the corner of the house with an entirely separate entrance opening onto three outside steps, and one window looking out at the poplar trees, and an easel propped against a wall, my own closet, my ancient rickety bookcase, a mish mash of natty pillows squished beneath an armchair caved in with books, all my blank canvases awaiting their slow awakening, my antique desk, a rug for our dog to nap on, a shelf for our cat to peer from, jars of wornout brushes, a quirky 1960's lamp, everything I need, or so I feel, to become the painter I want to be!

OK, I am giving you my real life version of one of my favourite opening pages in a novel...do you know it? ...one that evokes nostalgia you can taste and smell, that prods poignantly at the ache for creative space and the potential launch of a thousand future imaginings. When my sister and I lived together in our wild twenties, she framed the first page from Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffanys, and hung it on the front door of our groovy Calgary apartment. Much later in life, when I moved out again on my own as a newly single woman, I typed out the same page of script on mottled green paper, and put it in a small faded wooden frame and kept it on a desk in the bedroom of my Vancouver apartment. I've still got it, and now it sits in my own studio on the window ledge, and I enjoy pausing to read it every now and then when I experience a lag in my motivation, or a bout of identity crisis, or a general absence of mid-century charm anywhere nearby. Or even if I miss my sister.

Here it is....(best to close your eyes and have a good friend read it to you aloud in a soft and distant  voice):

      "I am always drawn back to places where I have lived, the houses and their neighborhoods. For instance, there is a brownstone in the East Seventies where, during the early years of the war, I had my first New York apartment. It was one room crowded with attic furniture, a sofa and fat chairs upholstered in that itchy, particular red velvet that one associates with hot days on a train. The walls were stucco, and a color rather like tobacco-spit. Everywhere, in the bathroom too, there were prints of Roman ruins freckled brown with age. The single window looked out on a  fire escape. Even so, my spirits heightened whenever I felt in my pocket the key to this apartment; with all its gloom, it still was a place of my own, the first, and my books were there, and jars of pencils to sharpen, everything I needed, so I felt, to become the writer I wanted to be."  ~ Truman Capote

We're not all the same about personal space...for me, a private area, decorated by me and for me is a very nurturing and focused place to be. Sometimes I need to sit alone entirely uninterrupted, pouring at length over images in art books, turning from one page to the next with reluctant slothlike attachment... before I even lift up a brush....even if I am simply searching for a shade of red, or an eyelid to study. Sometimes I need to sit and meditate and stare out the window to watch the sun change the shadows on a tree. Sometimes I need an hour to select and layout my paints! Most of all, the room is there for me to enter at my own whim, and know it is there and mine, clean or messy, but always solitary, and always offering to aid me in my process. For me, it feels very hard earned at this point in my life, and yet I still want so badly to truly deserve having it.

The walls are stucco too!



Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Life Drawing at Rose Crystal Studio

One morning every week, for a small fee depending on the class size, there is a two hour life drawing session at a sun-filled studio on the north end of the island. I'd known about this for quite a few months but I'd never been able to go due to work. A friend of mine goes regularly, both as an artist and as a model in turn. She recently told me they needed more people to sit as models. As I am currently unemployed, I thought this might be a fun challenge and a little extra money. I impulsively said yes. A little while later she emailed me with my sitting date, thankfully still a few weeks away. This gave me time to attend the class first....although I had done extracurricular life drawing years ago at Emily Carr, I was definitely out of practice and needed to immerse myself in the scenario again before I could think of modelling with any ease. The first day I went, there were several women there around my age or older, and one older gentleman. Mostly all familiar faces from the community, some I knew better than others. Although I was obviously aware of this on some level, it suddenly hit home what I had actually agreed to do...this wasn't Vancouver or New York, where I could anonymously wander in and out and be known only as "the model"...this was Our Little Island where everyone knows everyone. Oh dear. But as I looked about the brightly lit room at the friendly faces and began to chit chat, the class seemed very warm and open, and an atmosphere of comfort surrounded me. My friend was also there, I thought as a sketcher, until she walked to the centre of the room without announcement and casually disrobed, even as the students were still adjusting their seats. With a confident and professional air, she  succinctly transformed herself from person to figurine. She was extremely relaxed, kept a serene expression on her face the entire time, remained very still in all the poses, and chose movements and positions that were enjoyable to sketch. Although I was a little rusty, I managed to wing off a few acceptable drawings, even though I only had my faithful Strathmore pad and regular HB pencils.

Ten Minute Pose

But as I was sketching, I was also imagining myself trying to strike the same poses....my friend is very large chested and sensuous to draw...I'm thin, with long  limbs, and small chested, but soft and lumpy in the tummy and thighs where I once enjoyed owning firm and sinewy muscles. It was quickly clear that this room was inhabited by people who were respectful and true to their craft, and there was no sense of judgment, negative criticism or ogling whatsoever. Still, to stand singularly rigid and alone under bright lights in all your pale varicosed cellulite nakedness closely encircled by seriously intent observers certainly requires you to be comfortable in your own skin! Vanity, insecurity and ego stay outside...and that leaves room only for the pure beauty in everyone. After the class was over, and it seemed to fly by...it always does when you're drawing....I felt re-initiated, exalted, inspired  and a little intimidated all at once.

Twenty Five Minute Pose
The next week I went again to draw. This time I brought pencils and a fine tip black ink pen. This time the model was yet another friend of mine (surprise), a woman who models only but doesn't draw at all herself. Again, I was struck by the extreme ease with which she was able to relax into her role. Knowing her as I do, I noticed that her personality infused her poses...calm, steady and graceful with a pinch of whimsy. Her body was marvelous to draw...well proportioned and full and rosy.

Fifteen Minute Pose

I found myself wishing I had pastels this time, but managed to play with both pencil and pen in the longer 25 minute poses. Looking at my work, I realized "I'm hooked. I must keep this up. Each class, each sitting, each pose, is a chance to discover something new". I love the intensity of being "In the NOW"....of drawing from breathing life, of knowing you only have so many minutes to observe and create!! My friend the model gave me a ride after class and gave me some reassuring tips on my own upcoming modelling day.
One more week and I was to be the model myself....and then, the day came...this morning!

Wouldn't you know it, I slept in, and woke up with minutes to spare! I hopped in the shower, shaved, dried off, pulled my long hair into a single ponytail, left off my usual makeup, shoved a toasted bagel down, grabbed some bedding for props and was ready to go. I had planned to get up early and look at videos of various poses beforehand to warm myself up...ack! No rehearsal! After all the rushing, I was the second person to arrive at the studio! Within five minutes of starting time on this dismal cold grey day I thought, wouldn't you figure, my turn to pose and everyone has stayed at home. But then they came, all the same faces from before and even a couple of new ones! I reminded everyone this was my first time life modelling, and was met with only encouragement, enthusiasm and gentle advice. I began with the usual quick one minute poses, timing them in my head by counting one one thousand two etc. With each pose I gained my own rhythm and creativity. It really helped to hear classmates say "good pose" or murmur "great" once I set myself still. The one minute poses can be more dynamic, the best for holding your arms above your head and putting weight on one leg for instance. After a few poses I was keen to try "the archer" next but we then switched to five minute poses so that was out for today! I learned in the longer poses not to lean on any one limb, to balance my weight and to go into a meditative "waking sleep", breathing slowly and focusing at an object anywhere in the room. I also became acutely aware of how every angle and gesture of my body would affect each artist's vantage point. Once settled into the longest pose of half an hour, I found my mind wandering over various thoughts from politics to when to do laundry. My stomach didn't growl, my nose didn't run, I didn't have a coughing fit or a leg cramp or a bad bout of the shakes....all needless fears anyway. I thought the class would go by much more slowly as a model. But it absolutely flew! Afterwards, everyone was keen to show me their work, and that was the real treat....seeing what they perceived, and how they conveyed it through their own eyes, unique styles, and selected mediums. The sketches above are my own...I wish I had a drawing of me to post here today too, but I don't, so instead you can check out this lovely video. Look closely...maybe you are in it! As for me, I can now say I am more comfortable in my own skin, and on my own canvas as well.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Thrift & Plenty

Our motto usually is, we never got so rich until we got so poor. Sometimes making ends meet feels like trying to tie dental floss around an elephant! Yet, even during the hardest of financial times we've met the challenge of cutting back to bare bones and still being met with abundance. I'm pretty sure I will never willingly buy anything in a bonafide retail outlet again (OK, that may be stretching it....paints and canvases are hard to find used, but still, I like to stick to the small business owners). I own no credit cards, and I have no debt. When I can, I donate what I'm no longer using or attached to. Economic challenge as well as a frugal desire to reuse and recycle has kept me loyal to two places for almost everything I'll ever need above rent, food, hydro and internet. Gabriola Island Recycling Organization (known to locals as The Depot),  and The Haven Society Thrift Shop in Nanaimo, are, as far as I'm concerned, capable of providing me with everything I need to clothe myself and decorate my home in the most eccentric, stylish and creative way!
Oh, and of course, when it is in season, the Gabriola Farmer's Market offers the best in locally handcrafted wearables by artisans whose passion and talent has formed them.
Oh, and then there are clothing swaps, the most fun of all, when a bunch of women from the community get together for a party...swapping all our oldies for other oldies and everyone going away happily re-clad (and maybe a tad tipsy or floaty)!
Although I still love to take the odd peek at a magazine to see what design forces are at work in the big wide world out there, I'm content to look but not have any of the glossy new items and fabulous firsthand objects to build my own surroundings with. Shopping thrift is far more satisfying than walking into a store where you see twenty of the same shirt and have to hope they have your size. Shopping thrift is a way to truly discover what your own personal taste and style IS. Among all the haphazard clutter of singular and distinct offerings of colours and texture, you'll inexplicably be allured by what draws your unique instincts and very own interest. (Talk about self discovery, really allowing your own heart and mind to select things!) There is no accounting for anyone else's taste, so no matter what, in a thrift shop, everyone is bound to come across something that pleases them alone. Sometimes, I'll ruminate for a very long time over whether or not I really NEED that item that costs $1, because I only have $4 to spend.

Well, if you saw our home, you'd never know we were lacking for anything of comfort. Once you get to the point when the only security you have is the fact you woke up alive this morning and the opportunity for work that the day may hold, you realize that many of us try all our lives to build an illusion of permanence and structure. Once you lose all that, you realize you never really needed it... you can survive just fine as long as you can at least pull it together for real necessities. Then everything above and beyond is so thoroughly bonus, it's a creative thrill! A jug of wine, a loaf of bread ~ and thou.

A snippet of our woodsy livingroom:


Here I am wearing topaz earrings handmade by the luscious Lisa of Heavy Feather from Mudge Island, a shirt I got from a clothing swap party, a kerchief from GIRO and a necklace my sis hand-me-downed me! Grateful to those who first created these items, and to the people who have owned them before me....we are all part of an intricate and synchronized dance!

 
Gypsy Thrift!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

There Will Always Be Beautiful Things

Nearly every single day we seem to break a plate or cup or some piece of pottery in this house...ba da bing.

(yesterday I simply opened the fridge door and my favourite vivid cadmium red salad plate crashed to the floor,  the onion that was on it rolling peevishly into the corner as if to say "it was because of me")

(too often a  foot faux "paw" occurs when we fall into bed with our midnight snacks or wine glasses sitting haphazardly on the foot board.....toss....kick....crash, ah, decadence!)

(then there is the too predictable but somehow always unpreventable happy dog swinging tail triple flip....whoops...I should not have said the word "W.A.L.K."....my mottled handcrafted vase from  Italy placed on too low a table....ka ~ ding!!)

As we pile the broken pieces in their ever-growing resting place on the porch railing, our refrain has become, sing it with me,  "There Will Always Be Beautiful Things"... but the colours and shapes are too magical to throw out... so, I'm going to start a crockery garden! One has to be careful as pets can cut themselves on the sharp edges....so I'll need to find a safe and secluded but within-view corner to make my artful garden, and keep the sharp edges under earth. A spring project! Maybe a mosaic may be another way to go. 

Yesterday I went out to add another broken cup to the pile and noticed that someone dear to me had arranged the broken plates into a smiley face. That cheered me up. It's true, there will always be beautiful things, but loving and funny people are not so easy to replace!


"Smile, though your plate is breaking..."

Thursday, 2 February 2012

All Is As It Should Be

All is as it should be. I know this now. Today, we spontaneously decided to go for a drive, and find a spot to sit and look out at the view and talk about our lives and goals, you know, what is important to us these days. After a few moments of indecision, we wound up parked at Berry Point just before Four PM, as the unusual blue sky of the day was shifting to a delicate, almost imperceptibly mauve shade.We let our dog Seeker out of the car so he could have a good run on the rocks. A sea lion swam past and nodded to us upon each surface. I felt graced. We shared a few puffs, lungs expanding, happy and clear. The sea chopped and churned, in colourful segments of various blues, whites and blacks. I said to K "I wish a whale would come". I had seen in this week's Island Tides that a pod of Orcas was spotted swimming south from Mayne Island on January 18th. I imagined them making their way past us. Could they be near? Oh come to us, I thought, come say hello. Convinced I would see them, I spotted what looked like a fin far off in the vacillating horizon, yes, it was moving quickly, it was straight and swift! K shook his head and said, no, a seagull. He was right. It turned and a flash of white confirmed its shape.Oh well. K reminded me that in all his years here he had only spotted Orcas once, from the deck of the ferry last year coming from Nanaimo...he'd been talking to his best friend's wife and then suddenly, beyond her profile he saw the fins...stupendous, magnificent, larger than he felt tall, he said. I thought, that must be truly something. I'd only seen Orcas in captivity, confined, defeated and performing, fins wilted sideways, and again from very far away on the ferry to Tsswwassen, and they had been so minute and distant, they looked like playful dolphins. 

I stared out to sea one last time as we turned to climb away......then. Then. I saw a slice, a knife-like vertical slice against the horizontal waves...a flicker of a shadow of something against the wavey grain. No, just a trick of the eye. Or, wait. Dark. Fast. High. Holy F! Then down. 

It disappeared. Did I? Did I really? No. A mirage again. A mirage, but....Waves, huge circles of foamy circles....parting, parting wider, and then the shiny black unmistakable dome! Up, Up, UP, ARCH!!! Right AT me! RIGHT toward the shore, like a torpedo, a huge black submarine rising! ORCA!
Coming straight for me! FAST! Leaping! It came to the very edge of what seemed the shore, as close as I could imagine the water was even deep enough to enter, I thought it might drive up onto the rocks! Then it banked, blew and spewed, tilted at me, as if to say...

I came, I am here. Hello.

Then it swam alongside us. Seeker spotted it and jumped, I called him to stay by me, I suddenly pictured him leaping the few feet into the water, so close was the whale.  There were four, no five, more Orcas, a good forty metres behind their leader, dancing in a merry fleet...they rose and followed their serene leader of the parade....and gently carried on into the distance.

They passed out of sight round the last rock. We stood stunned. I only realized then that I had been jumping up and down waving my arms and laughing like a little girl the entire time. There was a lady in an SUV on the road who saw it all, as well as two older women on a walk. Everyone touched by that brief fleeting visit.

I cannot describe our emotions shortly after this sighting. K wept with joy.  We had all day to get things done, to worry and fret and work and clean and try to make things go as they should. What ever made us choose that very moment of our crazy day to go for a drive and then stand on that particular spot on the beach and wish a whale would appear?

I know, they are frequently seen at Berry Point, as any local will tell you.But we've been many many many times. Today I called them. I really know I did. There is meaning in this moment and I wish all humans to have these amazing moments in their lives. It happens when you open yourself to all the possibilities and keep your eyes open.When you are on the right path, nature will affirm it. 

Perception is reality. I am where I am meant to be. We drove down to the shortcut between Chelwood and Daniel Way, and parked in the woods, with our binoculars. A woodpecker knocked in a tree above us. A deer quietly strode across the field unaware we watched it. In the sky, a jet plane bulleted like a slow dart leaving its white trail. Man's great invention, genius, people on their way.


Me Enjoying a Sunset at Berry Point  ~ Photo Credit Susan Banjavich