Yesterday morning I was speaking with Dad and he was describing what he was seeing out his computer room window…how golden the oak tree was in the morning light. I’ve spent a lot of time at that window and found myself imagining the autumn oak trees because they are such giants and so glorious in summer. I asked if he would snap a photo and he sent me this. Such a beautiful photograph! Isn’t it a beautiful thing that the technology that we enjoy today allows us such communication between ourselves and our loved ones?
Photo Credit: John Moors
Happenstance? A short time before I found Dad’s photograph in my electronic mail, I also received a photograph from my brother. He had gone to Beechwood Cemetery, in Ottawa, to visit Mom and gather up some photographs in evening light. When I saw this, I knew that Mom would absolutely be in love with the peacefulness, the light and the colours. Thank you, Stuart! Your work gives me chills; it’s so inspiring.
Photo Credit: Stuart Moors
Autumn is my favourite season of the year. I will treasure these two gifts from special men in my life! I know that yesterday, after weeks and weeks of social media blah blah, the Federal Election was the focus of the day, but for me, as usual, the simple things…nature…family…the freedom and beauty I have to enjoy were at the forefront of my thoughts. I’m grateful for Democracy…I’m grateful for the ability to choose. I grateful for seasons such as this.
I just pulled this one together quickly for grade fours yesterday afternoon. I know that there is a plethora of autumn leaf activities out there during these months, and judging by the wind and cold weather in Calgary, those leaves are not going to be around for much longer!
I decided to add some colour to the otherwise, grey weather to come on the weekend, and show the students how to contour…create the hills and valleys that are in every subject we attempt to render in art. The basic concept is that the top of a fold of fabric reflects the greatest amount of light, so it needs to be coloured with the lightest hues. The valleys of the fold, hidden from the light, would sit in the darkest range of the same hue. Similarly, when rendering a face, the creases would be the darkest and the bridge of the nose and the forehead would be the lightest…and so on it goes.
I gave the students some of these examples and then went about talking about the structure of the leaf (new words included the word ‘serrated’ edge) and that vein to vein, we see the same sort of lighting if we really look. While our contouring would be an exaggeration of this, using white oil pastel for the lightest highlights…the students would see that their leaves would have more dimension than usual if they followed the light to dark formula. I like how unique each of these leaves became through the difference in student mark making and based on the variety of original depictions.
First, my consistent approach…give the students chalk to draw with on construction paper, in this case, half a sheet of pink or yellow or orange or red. This provides a variety of grounds and tooth as a receptor to the oil pastels.
A chalk dot is made on each of the four compass points on the construction paper in order to set out the scale. Ask the students to create a leaf that reaches each of the compass points.
Describe the veins as organic. Rulers, erasers and pencils, not required. Each and every vein is different.
Once the chalk depiction is there before them, review that the veins of the leaf, if in valleys, would be darkest. Two palette choices were outlined on the board.
#1 White Yellow Orange, Red, Violet
#2 White Yellow Light Green Dark Green, Blue
By providing these choices, the students do not have to do too much investigation in those huge boxes of oil pastels.
Some students will need some guidance one-on-one once the activity part of this class begins. Sit with them and walk them through it. Do one of your own in front of them, encouraging them to apply the oil pastels with a side to side motion rather than a long up and down motion.
Resulting projects were beautiful! Thank you, for your class, MJ.
Yippee! A different group of grade 4s today! With a slight breeze, spilling the leaves off of the autumn trees on a beautiful blue-sky day, what better topic than looking CLOSE UP at autumn leaves. I like the format, in elementary art instruction, of always reflecting, depicting, composing and expression…the full dish every afternoon!
We reflected on some images, a leaf I had picked up on the sidewalk outdoors and a few Youtube videos.
Mark Hamblin photo
Autumn leaves in macro…close up!
From the reflection time, we watched a step by step video, very simplistic in nature, about the venation structures of leaves. We then spent about ten minutes drawing our studies.
I handed out a photo copy of the patterned piece that my readers can view below. I talked to the students about how artists use view finders to eliminate some of the busy information in their subject. I had them trace their Be Great cards somewhere on the composition below to decide on one part that they wanted to use as a reference for their own art making. I took the students through these steps, using my own as an example.
I would use tempera paint blocks for the next part of the lesson, unless nice quality paper was available to you. Using white bond drawing paper did not provide the tooth OR the body for highly successful water colour. However, we forged ahead and the students DID practice wet-on-wet technique successfully, to cover their entire composition with a ground of warm colours; yellow, orange and red.
These little Lunchable trays have become my favourite…a bit of water in one section and a squeeze of a bit of water colour pigment in each of the others.
From there, they used a variety of water based felt markers to achieve a number of drawings based on their small rectangular section. Enlarging anything at this age, is tricky! So, rest assured, if you see only relative success in this aspect of the lesson, it is to be expected. If the depictions in marker are very teeny, just steer the students to discovery by pointing out aspects of their reference and if still a problem, engage them in an inventive piece including many leaves instead of just a few.
Demonstrate how MACRO cell texture can be arrived by ‘doodling’ squiggly lines between the veins. A fun learning experience for me and for the students! Thanks, Colleen for your class! I turned on Vivaldi’s Autumn and it all began.
This was the first time that I attended the Equinox Vigil. I was primarily motivated because it was a lovely evening for weather. For the first days, leaves were dancing down the street…a slight wind, warm sun, blue sky dappled in cloud, cool air. It was a perfect autumn evening. The fall equinox falls on Wednesday of this coming week.
Various musicians were present to the event…first and throughout the evening, Simon Fisk and Robin Tufts. Their music was both haunting and spirit-charged. Absolutely beautiful. I stood in the dark at one point and just listened and was moved because of this powerful setting.I wrote Mom’s name on one of the Memorial Lanterns, lanterns that would be processed twice throughout the evening…light in a dark place. This ritual felt a lot like writing Mom’s name into the Book of Remembrance at my parish church. Each year, when the Book of Remembrance is placed for all to see, I pray for her peace and our peace…those left behind and missing her.
While I oriented myself to the setting and the event, I missed a couple of events that I had hoped to enjoy…one, the Quickdraw Animation film screen, a tribute to Chris Reimer, ‘Dude, That’s Insane’…
and Kris Demeanor, poet and musician.At the top of the hill, at the M Horseshoe of the Union Cemetery Rayne-Anne Latchford illuminated lives, by sharing with us, a number of stories of personalities who lived in Calgary, but who passed and are now laying, for the most part, in unmarked graves. She has a passion for history and for the narratives of people. She also spoke beautifully about how ‘now’ is the time to share stories with one another and to connect with our families. It is the stories that will remain.
As it became dark, I settled in with a hot cup of spiced tea and chatted with friends. It was good to see you Michelena, Billy, Jenn, Bev, Bill, Steve, Don and friends and Dale. Walking alone, down the hill, the sky appeared lighter than the ancient evergreens that flanked me. I looked up and gave thanks to my ancestors. I also prayed for the many students who have passed away since teaching them…for my daughter’s and son’s friends who have passed…for my relations, most recently, my Auntie Margaret and my Uncle Bob.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace.
The sky is growing very dark. It is a bit past noon on Friday. The long weekend looms ahead of me. I’ve got lists of arts events on my calendar, ones that I began skipping last night and will probably continue to skip through the weekend. I have no idea why, apart from the fact that I feel so content…since the broken foot, the forced recovery period, the slower Max walks, the stopping and looking at birds, the filling of the bird feeder, the moving out of clutter. The process has made me peaceful, but I’m not sleeping.
Today, Frank’s Flats looks like this.
Autumn is definitely moving in…my favourite season. I even delight in the chill of the air, the kind that leaves your nose dripping.
I think the papa osprey is pushing his kids out of the nest. (I just learned recently that the female leaves the nest experience first, so it must be papa who has been teaching the kids to fish). This morning, one of the kids (female) was crying on this side of the highway, from atop a pole…no sibs at the nest as I passed by, on the other side of the highway….no sibs fishing the neighbour hood pond. I think Dad’s saying, “Adios”. Now what’s a kid to do?
It’s an unbelievable thing that this family will begin an epic migration and that the monogamous couple will reunite again, barring any tragic events. This map illustrates known migration routes…so for those of you who grew weary of my amazement by these raptors this past season, know that these lives are miracles…one couple, three juveniles. I can only wish them well. It looks like they are heading for South America.
For the past two weeks I’ve been given many opportunities and moments to observe the Great Blue Herons and it seems that this would be every where I would go, even a siting while visiting my dear friend out in Chestermere.
I thought that I was in amaze-butts-ville because one lone heron was hanging out at Frank’s Flats, that is until two days ago. I observed at least five in a marshland area that I could only catch from the highway. I’d have to do a hike down into that space, probably next year.
The truly remarkable thing is that in a single day, I saw hawks soaring and learning to fly, ducks, mergansers and coots running on water for their experiments in flying (circling the pond at low level as though they were playing) and then seeing them take flight, fourteen pelicans, flashing white black white black in a triangle overhead…and then finally, observing the spectacle of two great blue herons, dodging one another in the wind, flying…weaving…playing…skimming water…reaching up…I’d never seen anything like it. The camera just sat against my chest. I love moments when, in today’s archive-focused-world, the camera is put on the shelf because the world ‘is your oyster’.
I’m going to post the crazy bad photo that I DID take…because I wanted to have an image that said, September 3, this happened. “Two great and fragile giants with huge wing spans were given to me to watch and enjoy.”
September 3, 2015, I watched two herons in flight for approximately five minutes…dodging one another…staying in flight…a wonder!
It’s not that I know anything about totemic animals apart from the fact that a huge number of cultures listen to, speak to and are impacted by the creatures that share this planet with us…whether they fly or creep or roam or swim…but I do know that all of this and them, are grace…holy…
We have not taken very good care of any of this and these.
Whether in July, you notice and think about the Dragonflies that hover at your feet or in August you are looking at the Great Blue Herons, it all has a significance to your life, your heart and your mind. Nature has taught me much these past two months and I am filled with gratitude for her lessons. God is manifest and all is Holy.
So, I had left the Jarvis Hall Fine Art Gallery and was walking back to my van parked some distance away. The walk took me along some side streets. That’s when I landed myself into the middle of one of those amazing moments…the kind when you say to yourself…”Wow…am I ever blessed!” Autumn leaves were crunching under my feet. Arms of giant trees reached up to a blue sky. The air was filled up with the season. I paused and took this picture.
I hope that when I look at this photograph, I will remember the magic of that moment of realization.
This morning, still dressed in my flannel nightgown, I looked out the windows and had the same experience, but over entirely different weather and situation. I had slept in. My head was filled with thoughts of what I ‘should’ be doing. Everything seemed to have been transformed over night.
I was profoundly touched, remembering the hours of pleasure I’ve enjoyed, watching the birds filling up ravenously at the feeder these past weeks. Now, to see my little friends out in the snow, I wondered just how they manage to get through the winters. I saw their beauty, as though for the first time.
Some time later, Max and I headed out into the weather. Remembering that I am living with a herding dog, I got him over to the pond for a good bit of exercise. We were all alone. Everything was beautiful. The ducks, dark boats on dark water…the sky white…the vegetation white…the wind, biting…the only sound, crunch of my feet on the stones and snow. Max ran hard, playing and eating snow as we went. I caught myself laughing out loud.
After circling the pond and heading back, I gave one big throw of his Frisbee and watched as the wind carried the thing up high, down past the tall ant hills and into the cat tails by the pond’s edge. “Max! Max! No, boy…LEAVE IT!” I saw the bull rushes moving and knew that my determined pooch was going to go into the pond, come hell or high water! Sure enough, a very wet border collie came bounding toward me, proud as punch that he had retrieved the old and mucky toy.
We headed back to the van at lightening speed, Max carrying the muddied toy; both were icicles upon our arrival to the parking lot. Into the kennel he flew, whining and whimpering. I thought to myself…these are the daily occurrences that my readers rarely encounter on my blog…
I take pause and make note of that particular moment of realization. Recently, what I’ve discovered, more than anything, is the blessing in the ordinary experiences of my days. I am a blessed lady.
Fridays spent relaxing…walking the hills that overlook the city…wandering book stores, experiencing the wind as leaves do somersaults down the road…it’s all so wonderful. My mums…the last of the plants to bloom. Good-bye beautiful summer…hello frosty mornings.
There was some rain last night. Everything is a little damp this afternoon in the garden. I’m putting on my gloves and digging in…turning soil…adding peat moss, readying the gardens for a white blanket of snow. I will leave some plants where dollops of snow mound and make for frozen beauty. I will hang white lights in May, so that her branches sparkle through the icy cold of January and February.
Dad recommended that I hang the heads of the sunflowers for the birds to feed upon. I’m going to move the mint to the side of the studio as a deterrent to mice. I know! Mint spreads like crazy…but in that narrow wee space, a spread will be good! I’m turning the soil…harvesting the last of the carrots. It’s a perfect fall day for doing such activities, but there’s a bit of sadness as well…as I say good-bye to the colours of autumn.
Mint roots are lookin’ good for the planting.
CBC radio played this tune, while Max and I were on our way to the off leash park this morning. The lyrics are taking a journey through my mind…my heart…beautiful poetry and gut emotion. I’d love to travel to Oregon to hear this three piece band, Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons, play. Amazing.
I can see them marching to the sea
Rock of Ages, zero history
They will lay their roses on the trail
They will drag their Jonah from the whale
They will offer up the Devil’s choice
They will sing hosannas with one voice
She will come and bear the golden child
He will light the darkness with his smile
They will offer fire and silver bowls
He will breathe the spirits in his soul
He will lay on hearts with healing hands
He will kneel before the Queen of Man
I don’t want you to go
I want you to stay
I have seen you curled up on the floor
Wishing it was what it was before
I have made a promise on a book
Wrapped up in your blankets while I shook
Reaper, lover, warrior, hero, friend
Swear you’ll stand beside me ’til the end
I don’t want you to go
I want you to stay
Taking you home
Keeping you safe
Tell your tales of blood and sex and steel
Barefoot on the coals to make it real
Place your fingers right into my wounds
Call my name and howl it at the moon
Swear I’m going to love you ’til I die
Swear you’re going to love me ’til I die
I don’t want you to go
I want you to stay
Taking you home
Keeping you safe
Autumn in the gardens…last night we saw our first frost. The birds are busy at the feeder, trying to fatten up for the winter ahead. The leaves of every plant are now curled into themselves and slumping downward. The earth awaits a long sleep.
I look at my children and feel so aware of time moving at warp speed. They are so beautiful. I’ve been thinking about them so much today.
All My Life's a Circle
(Starts with 2 stanza chorus):
All my life's a circle;
Sunrise and sundown;
Moon rolls thru the nighttime;
Till the daybreak comes around.
All my life's a circle;
But I can't tell you why;
Season's spinning round again;
The years keep rollin' by.
It seems like I've been here before;
I can't remember when;
But I have this funny feeling;
That we'll all be together again.
No straight lines make up my life;
And all my roads have bends;
There's no clear-cut beginnings;
And so far no dead-ends.
I found you a thousand times;
I guess you done the same;
But then we lose each other;
It's like a children's game;
As I find you here again;
A thought runs through my mind;
Our love is like a circle;
Let's go 'round one more time.
It’s been a tough week…a friend landing in the hospital and other such things. And here it is Saturday and the most simple of tasks causes me renewal and joy. The sun is shining for the time being, the autumn air, crisp. I pull some carrots from my flower garden and feel so happy. I remember when Dad worked in the garden, how he’d pass me a fresh carrot to bite on or some snap peas or fresh green beans. This is the exact feeling I have right now. Memories of my father…and his gesture of wiping the soil off of a fresh carrot and passing it to me to eat, there in the garden, with him.
My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living. Anais Nin