Chapel Time: Day Eighteen

I painted in the Chapel as soon as school got out this afternoon and left the camera at home…so, I will make certain that in the morning, I photograph the work.  I will need to make up at least three hours of work…and most of that will probably happen tomorrow.  I’m pleased to be applying paint to the original sketch now and seeing the building up of layers.  I like that most of what is happening is now intuitive and coming from my heart.  

Job said…

"I wish that these words of mine were written down;
incribed on some monument
with iron chisel and engraving tool, cut into the rock forever.
I would write that my Redeemer lived,
and that at the last, he will stand upon the earth.
After my awakening, he will set me close to him,
and from my flesh I shall look on God.
He whom I shall see will keep me safe." Job 19
This was the Old Testament reading at the Mass yesterday…what faith and consolation could be found in these words, the story of Martha annointing the feet of Jesus….thoughtfully composed prayers of the faithful…and so many other shared words.  A very powerful moment was when the family…children and grandchildren… clothed our friend in white garments one last time…a white blanket was slowly pulled over…leaving you with the distant ‘memory’ of baptism and a sacramental life.
I joined a small group of ‘gypsys’…disconnected individuals, to play guitar and sing the songs that Mary would have loved.  With a quick hour-long practice, God blessed us and we gave our hearts.  The other musician who played with me was such a ‘natural’ and captured the sound through his guitar that I love so much…a simple, almost Orleans style….we complemented and supported one another and the church was filled with warm sound.  I was glad for Mary, that I could be used in this way.
Lethbridge always brings a certain perspective home to me.  Given countless long drives with my Grandfather in this area, as soon as the sky opens up, the golden-brown fields do as well…and I think of him.  I remember the smell of the custom woolen mill…the musty smell of dried fields…the vast cloud formations.  I think I draw on this memory again and again when I paint my landscapes.
On the edge of the city, where I attended University, I can look at the contours of the coulees and remember hiking north and south on the Oldman River.  I can recall the steps to the land and the strain on the ‘up’ and the traversing of the ‘down’.
‘Mary’ brought me home to all of this for a brief time.  I slept over at my dear cousins where I met her adult children and we talked into the night, just as we had under the bare light bulb of the mill.  It was all so familiar…the stories…the laughter…the empathy for one another’s lives.
As I headed back to the family’s home after the Mass, I stopped to visit two people who grew to be dearest friends during my University years.  Approaching their front doorstep, I heard the recitation of the rosary, and what a warm beautiful sense came over me!  It was good to sit with them, for even a brief time, and to feel such love and constancy from them.  Mary had such a devotion to Our Lady…in such a private way, I was able to share in this.
At the house, there was the sharing of documents, old black- and-white photographs, stories told, laughter and tears.  A rich beautiful conversation was had that said, "You have been loved.  You have been cherished.  You have lived your life well."
In closing this morning, I would say that Mary’s life is chiseled on stone, alongside the promises of our God.  She is redeemed.


As I left Lethbridge, the sun was a giant ball in the sky…very near to the horizon…soft violet cloud streaked in streamers of gold.  I will likely write an entry about my experiences of friendship and family tomorrow…for now…just a sense of my time traveling in my angel-van…coming home.
Ponds on the prairie were like dishes filled with liquid mercury.  Brilliant reflections melted my heart and I thought that it was all a beautiful ending to saying my good-byes to Mary. I thought that she might think this was a fitting memorial.  Birds were dark silhouettes on the water…such peace and simple beauty.
At dusk, the sun became a sliver on the horizon and to the northwest I could see the contours of our mountains come into view. By this time, it was difficult to see…the light was so soft then and all contrast disappeared.  I could distinguish the golden fields against a dark background and then suddenly the setting danced to life as no fewer than thirty deer became animated figures in the tall grass.  They looked like boats floating on a vast sea.  My heart pounded at their movement, both in awe and in fear somehow.
The last forty-five minutes of the drive I was wrapped up in a fog thicker than anything I’d ever been through. Such a variety of experiences on a two hour drive!  I am glad to be home. 

Chapel Time: Day Seventeen

I painted for two hours in the Chapel tonight and decided to remain for Mass as well.  The layers of relief continue to be applied and I try to work across the piece, not getting too precious about any one location.  Another reading was written in script to the right….John 4….water….thirst….
A concept that I thought about for much of the time in the Chapel tonight was, "I am the breath of life….I am the breath of life…."  As a result, I tried to maintain a sense of breath in the act of painting.  I kept my body relaxed and focused on opening up my chest…breathing…pacing….taking breaks and just engaging the image.
At some point in the evening a small group of troubadours joined me with their rehearsal of the Passion Play.  What a lot of spunk and energy!  It was a very unusual thing to have such giddiness and spirit surrounding me during my painting hours.
I will not be able to paint tomorrow evening or Thursday as I will be traveling south to say good-bye to Mary.  I’m wishing you peace with your friends and family tonight…I’m wishing you love.

Word Cloud

connection Love familyRiverwalking

         ARTdaughterFriendshiptrust WRITING
         POETRYwonderingALBERTA SKY
            reading MOUNTAINCHAPEL SON

The Chapel: Day Sixteen

Many years ago, I completed a patriarchal triptych titled: Three Men. The figures included three archetypes, by my standard….(more than likely, they embody a single archetype): the soldier, the husband and the Priest.  I have been intrigued by Jung’s writing and have especially explored the notions of feminine archetypes as a result.  As I paint here, I can not help but be confronted with my own feminine inquiry and its relationship to patriarchal environments.
All of this should likely be written into a separate entry, however, at the moment, I find it impossible to pull my thoughts out of the Chapel.  I have a huge tendency to integrate my reading…my experiences… my ideas..and so, it just makes sense to rant on about gender, the collective unconscious and how it relates to faith right here!  I’ll try to write some nice transition that will coax the reader back to the quiet of the Chapel to reflect…after some ‘heady’ stuff.
Now, where was I going with Jung?  Well, certainly these many years I have experienced a particular ‘unfolding’ of the soul…and very much so, these past sixteen days!  I believe that, however diverse our experience of faith, we are hugely connected.   I have a sense of being closely engaged with individuals who are distant….and sometimes hundreds of miles away from individuals who are close. 
It was a ‘magical’ thing that this evening while painting in the Chapel, I should be visited by two women and then by my Priest.  Oh what wonderful, warm and interesting conversations!  What perceptions come into that space when I receive these visits!  With each individual (female or male), comes a story, a context and a reference point for belief.  It is a rich and beautiful thing and I would not be able to stand in judgement of any one perspective…on life…on love…or on Jesus….because it all resonates from the soul.  It is an awesome privilege to share a DIVINE spark!
Regarding my painting….I have been keeping a separate written record of the intimacies of the work in the Chapel.  I think to this point I felt that I needed to understate the work and the experiences both…wondering if the reader might not see me as TOO spiritual or TOO Catholic or TOO religious or TOO over-the-top.  I dreaded the possibility that I would once again be assigned the title, INTENSE….so to put the reader at ease, I have been as subtle as is possible.
Tonight though, I will expose a little more than what is usual…because tonight was an exceptionally moving evening for me there.  I am grateful.  Over many years I have established a special relationship with God…likely because I make a decision each day to engage that relationship…some days more than others…this is the state of the human condition.
Last evening I received the news that a dear lady-friend of mine passed away…just yesterday morning.  She was such a faithful person.  She loved God.  She was a generous person.  She would empty your ironing basket if you set it out on a table. 
This evening, in the Chapel, I cried….for loss…for struggle…for love…and friendship…for family…for fear…and for gratitude.  And there, in that moment I was comforted by Jesus, Prince of Peace.  My painting then poured out of me easily.  It was euphoric to a degree…and I am admitting it openly.  In the sky that was painted tonight, I lifted up my dear friend…in fact, much of what I remember of her is painted into the sky…her life through the period of time that I was in relationship with her is somehow incorporated into a layer of the wall.  Tonight in the Chapel,  I connected with men and women, both.

V for Vendetta

The movie this family attended this afternoon was V for Vendetta.  Powerful! and for an assortment of reasons!
The first link offers a very brief synopsis and some clips.
The next one offers a refreshing-although-one-sided analysis of the concepts/ideas that get labeled Orwellian in the first.
While the second link and the ensuing commentaries seem to be an open forum for political ‘rant’…(and I love it), I have a few of my own perceptions, if not about the politics of the film concept, then about’the arts and people’.
Much like Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 541, we are asked as an audience to think about the role that books, paintings, sculpture and music have on a culture…what strength civilization has gathered from their relationship with the arts. When our lives are stripped of this relationship, do we lose our voice?  Do we lose an essential component of the human spirit?
Another film comes to mind…The Red Violin, a film by Francois Girard, captures a time in the People’s Republic of China in the 1960s when the freedom of artistic expression was dramatically controlled by the government.


"The Red Violin is a beautiful new award-winning film of great drama and emotion, with a stunning soundtrack from major contemporary composer John Corigliano that features a brilliant performance from violinist Joshua Bell. The film was released by Lion’s Gate Films on June 11, 1999 in New York and Los Angeles, and opened in wide release in the following weeks.

A tale filled with passion, pageantry, tragedy, romance, adventure and intrigue, The Red Violin centers around a contemporary auction in which a priceless violin with an infamous past is placed on the block. As the bidding mounts, the story flashes back to signature chapters in the violin’s history and the inevitable impact it had on all those who possessed it. From its creation in 17th-century Italy, to the court of imperial Vienna in the 1790s, to Victorian England in the late 1800s, to the People’s Republic of China in the mid-1960s, the dramatic story spans continents and sweeps centuries. At the center of the story is a dark secret that is only revealed at the film’s suspenseful and sensational finale."


More than anything else, the movie V for Vendetta caused me to think about issues of art, language, individuality, purpose and fear. One should look at the film as an avenue to explore a whole number of concepts, both believable and unbelievable. As a final remark…


Notes scribbled on toilet paper can be a lifeline to others! (this, as it relates with an image in the movie)  Tell people that you love them! Don’t hesitate for fear of being ‘forward’ or out-of-line.  Just say it!


I thought to make a phone call just a short while ago, but hesitated.  Mary Lee, 91, passed away…slipped out of our lives just yesterday morning on her sofa in her own home.  I know that she realized I loved her…but I ignored an opportunity to say that.  Listen to your heart.






My Son and Daughters

We just arrived home from my son’s birthday celebration at our favourite family eating spot in Inglewood and I have to sit for a moment and just think about how absolutely precious all three of my children are to me!  I am blessed daily by them…by their depth, intelligence and the passions they explore!  They are so incredibly ‘unique’, with powerful connections to all things creative.  Their enthusiasm spills over and onto their friends…and onto me and I am grateful!
I asked my youngest daughter if I could publish these thoughts of hers on this blog, given that they, in some small way, capture how the people of this household think. She said it was alright…and so I give my daughter’s words to you.
Lately, she loves orange.
"I am the type of person who highlights practically everything when I read notes for school. Like my notes, I seemed to have highlighted a lot of things in my lifetime as things to remember even though they may not seem to be important to others.
I remember my grandma showing me how to make pie crusts, my grandpas voice, making my brother eat a jellyfish, being punched in the stomach, the smell of my mothers studio, having to leave the house when the paint fumes got dangerous, figuring out how my mom painted rivers, hating her boyrfriends, hating a lot of peoples boyfriends,rhythmic competitions, calgary transit, kyla drawing squares on my eyebrows, dancing, laughing on laurens basement stairs, fishcreek park, sitting on laurens roof, pushing weeji boards (sp?),house hippos,living in hotels,parents dancing to neil young on sunday mornings,concerts with my mom and brother,london with my sister,finding all of the easter eggs before my brother could,walking the dog before lauren picks me up, the sound of my skateboard on the sidewalk,drinking with my girlfriends,heartbreak,my friends letting me play songs over and over, annoying edger and peanut, walking across the river, dumpster diving at acad, conversations in drawing, sneaking to mosh at punk shows, mcdonalds/tims instead of school,waking up early for band camps,my sister helping me with the piano, conversations and the smell of espresso I took home after work, eating pancakes a lot during stampede,nosebleeds,being a part of the rosary club,wrestling, running, winning, losing….
When I write random things down like this it really makes me think about how good life is, Ive been focusing on negative things lately. I hope other people are inspired to really look at their own story. The above is all mine, and it is all I have. How did I forget?"


Fears and Doubts…
I have read something this morning…and it makes me think about people and their struggles…struggles with all sorts of things…business, family, illness, love.  I find I have to write, respond or even shout out my thoughts.  I choose to put these thoughts out to the world…you are my audience. What comes to mind, is a metaphor.
When I get into my red canoe each day, I have thought about, prayed about and ‘buy into’ a huge degree of BELIEF around the researched course I am going to take. I leave room for spontaneity, knowing full-well there will be surprises along the way.
I get my feet wet a bit when stepping into my canoe…but it doesn’t take long and the thing stops rocking back and forth…I find my core…my center…and the canoe nestles into the strange sense of ‘river’…(a feeling of having something solid lifting me up…but know in my heart that the water is almost transparent.  It WILL NOT hold me up.  It is cold and even dangerous).  There is nothing predictable really or dependable about the vessel I am in…nothing truly dependable about the course drawn out on the map.  But, there is a solid determination about it all.  There is trust.
I take note of the fear…and then let it go…if I hang on to fear, I am not free to follow that course that I have planned for…prayed about…and have belief in.
I work like hell on the river, keeping the boat steady…avoiding the scree along the edges…watching ahead for a change in water, any obstacles…and I steer around them.  My partner has to commit to the journey…we shout out to one another…we decide almost instantaneously on a j stroke…or a cross bow draw…we work together in a committed sort of fashion and we are committed to the idea from the time we both stepped into that boat.
If I am dumped, I turn my feet downstream….I collect my paddles…I make certain my partner is ok…I save the boat and my belongings.  My TIMEline is different now as a result of the dump, but I modify according to the needs of my partner and myself.
Lack of commitment to an idea is what makes us waffle in life.  Lack of belief…in ourselves.  If I make a decision each day to step into that red canoe, I am empowered and beautiful things can happen….if I sit on the river bank and imagine what awful things can happen…then I am losing my full potential and I am sitting still.
I once found myself pulled out of an eddy on the Similkamean River and into a strong current…I was sitting in a kayak…only learning…just three days  experience of white water.  While sitting in that eddy, our Outward Bound instructor was about to give us instructions on how to manage our way through a huge bit of dangerous white water called Devil’s Gulch (of course)…I knew nothing about how to orient my way through, but could not get myself back into the eddy!  Liz shouted at me from across the water, paddling parallel to me…."Punch!  Punch!  Go through as hard as you can!  Punch!" In my peripheral vision, I saw her paddle back to shore….she was gone…no one in my boat….just me.
I faced the huge rock steps myself…felt myself quickly going into rougher and rougher water….got a visual sense of the grade that was changing….and the only thing I heard in my mind was…"Punch!"  The harder I punched my arms out….the stronger my sense of control.  I fought…and found myself pounding down the toughest bit of water I had ever known.  I stayed upright the entire time…it was unbelievable!
We can choose to live our lives like this!  It is however, a choice.

Banff and Wonder

What an exquisite day…what precious ‘stuff’ in my life!  I haven’t seen the mountains since winter crept into being…and I’ve missed them.  Today I was able to share them with someone I treasure.  While there were bits of snow at times, the sky opened up in that sort of untramarine blue that I squeeze out onto my palette…and the clouds at times were absolutely stunning, taking my breath away.
Some would take this beauty for granted… I try to remember to be grateful and awestruck everytime I set my gaze on such magnificence.
We delivered my recent work to the gallery in Banff and were greeted with such warmth that I felt welcomed both professionally and personally.   It was nice to step into the front entrance of the Banff Springs Hotel and find a piece of mine in a special place.  The entire day was filled to the brim with surprises and good feelings.  As I sit here typing, I feel it was a good thing to spend time relaxing and reflecting and dancing my life!
I thought several times today about an artist-friend of mine to the north who celebrated an opening of his own.  I do hope that it was a wonderful event for him and that he was surrounded by friends and loved ones.
I thought also of Jarrett…he was born on March 18, 1984…and since his passing, I can not help but remember.