Love Notes

P1150418 P1150419 P1150420My cousin, Margy, received Love Note #11.

I sent off the last two Love Notes two days ago, apart from the one that I have kept for myself.

P1150403 P1150406 P1150408 P1150409 P1150411 P1150413 P1150414I painted the series in 2004.  It’s difficult to believe that already ten years have passed.  Their story follows.

Love Notes

A Series of 12 Paintings

2004

 

In 2004, I took up running along the ridge and down on to the lower trail along the Bow River.  I had stopped to take a break at a random point.  It was shady.  I was completely alone, and to the right of me, the river flowed a blue green.  I bent to tighten my laces, when at my toe, I saw a single rose.  Bewildered, I picked it up and held it in my hand, looking.  I spoke out loud at that time and said, “If this is some sort of a sign, Lord, thank you.”

I had lost at love again.  It had become a ritual with me in my life.  This time I was stumped and struggling to get back on track.  The rose was a gift for me, a gift of healing.

Just next to the path and under some trees, I found a bench.  I decided to sit and rest there for a time.  I didn’t notice them at first, but there, hung by ribbon from the trees, were eleven roses.  I gasped.  All of a sudden, I felt that the space, the landscape and the river were more sacred.  Something had happened at this location or someone special/an event had been remembered.  I sat quietly for the longest time.  Instead of continuing on a run, I turned for home, the rose still in my cupped hand.

I decided to paint a dozen roses…nostalgia, memory, love, symbols…

Eleven people have now received a Love Note…I have kept the one.  The process: I flipped the paintings over in a grid of twelve and I wrote out my own love note, left to right, from top to bottom.  Writing had, over the years, become an essential practice for me...this, along with exploring the visual world…objects…landscape…faces.

four by three

One to TwelveThe painting at the top left was titled Love Note #1, all the way to Love Note #12 in the bottom right.  If you received a Love Note, it was because something in you lit a spark in me.  This was a very random, but time-impacted process.  It would take an amazing moment in the gyre of life to bring the owners all together so that they might read the complete note on the back, something that connects all of you!

The original rose that I found at my toe remains in my studio, a reminder of the lessons taught in my favourite book, Le Petit Prince par Antoine de Saint-Exupery.  If you received a Love Note, I would love to hear from you…and hear about the moment when you received a painting gift from me.  I would enjoy reading your love note to me.

P1150422 P1150423 As time passes, I lose friends.  I hold onto their memory in words and images.

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Gorilla House LIVE ART Battles: August 14, 2013

There’s been quite the razz-a-ma-taz going on around this house since I returned home from Ontario, what with getting things sorted and cleaned up.  I make similar references quite often here.  Yesterday was a bit of a gong show as I continued the process and put my studio back to rights.  I’m pleased about that and feel hungry to get to work.

I started thinking about making it down to the Gorilla House after Max got out for his walk round the circle.  “NO, you can’t play WHIZZO, Max!”   Max recently ripped a dew claw on his front leg, so after repairs under sedation mid week, he’s had a very quiet five days. All that aside…

I prepped two boards instead of one because I have committed a panel of art to the People’s Poetry Festival and hadn’t had a chance to get the piece completed last week. (See dew claw and house-organizing anecdote above.)  I then had a soak in the tub and got the day’s dust and bleach washed off.  Renewed, I was waiting for my panels to dry and got caught up watching this.  I was mesmerized and so ended up tearing out of the house in a bit of a flap, arriving a half hour after the wheel was spun.

I tore right into both panels, switching off right up until the 45-minutes-left-point.  Then I decided to commit to the auction piece.  The panel for the festival would have to wait.  Everything I see or do at this time is impacted by the memory or the thought of my mother.  Tonight’s piece is no different.  It finds its beginnings in a scene from the Little Prince by Antoine de Saint- Exupery, Chapter 21.

“Please–tame me!” he said.

“I want to, very much,” the little prince replied. “But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand.”

“One only understands the things that one tames,” said the fox. “Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me . . .”

“What must I do, to tame you?” asked the little prince.

“You must be very patient,” replied the fox. “First you will sit down at a little distance from me–like that–in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day . . .”

The next day the little prince came back.

“It would have been better to come back at the same hour,” said the fox. “If, for example, you come at four o’clock in the afternoon, then at three o’clock I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o’clock, I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you . . . One must observe the proper rites . . .”

“What is a rite?” asked the little prince.

“Those also are actions too often neglected,” said the fox. “They are what make one day different from other days, one hour from other hours. There is a rite, for example, among my hunters. Every Thursday they dance with the village girls. So Thursday is a wonderful day for me! I can take a walk as far as the vineyards. But if the hunters danced at just any time, every day would be like every other day, and I should never have any vacation at all.”

So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near–

“Ah,” said the fox, “I shall cry.”

“It is your own fault,” said the little prince. “I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you . . .”

“Yes, that is so,” said the fox.

“But now you are going to cry!” said the little prince.

“Yes, that is so,” said the fox.

“Then it has done you no good at all!”

“It has done me good,” said the fox, “because of the color of the wheat fields.” And then he added:

“Go and look again at the roses. You will understand now that yours is unique in all the world. Then come back to say goodbye to me, and I will make you a present of a secret.”

The little prince went away, to look again at the roses.

“You are not at all like my rose,” he said. “As yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world.”

And the roses were very much embarassed.

“You are beautiful, but you are empty,” he went on. “One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you–the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three that we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or ever sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose.

And he went back to meet the fox.

“Goodbye,” he said.

“Goodbye,” said the fox. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

“What is essential is invisible to the eye,” the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”

“It is the time I have wasted for my rose–” said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember.

“Men have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose . . .I am responsible for my rose,” the little prince repeated so that he would not forget.

My mother was responsible for me…

I was responsible for my mother…

I miss her.

Thanks to Chris who purchased this piece at auction.  Watch for the progress of the visual poetry over the next 24 hours!

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Jessica

How, all of a sudden, a photo means the world to you.

It’s been a marvelous gift.  I was given the chance to watch children move through all of their grades and then, after what seemed forever,  it was time for them to go…time for them to move on to high school.  They grew their wings and they learned independence.  As a teacher, I was especially connected with a sense of rhythm in the years.  The seasons were so fundamentally connected to the education of children.  It was magic, really. As much as the students, I anticipated the feeling of everything being new in the autumn.  Just as the leaves turned golden, I packed my new books and pens into my bag and headed into the new year.

I once heard someone say at a Convention or something, early on in my teaching career, (and the ‘someone’ was a particularly important expert in the most current approaches to teaching and learning at the time) that you must NEVER love your students.  From the very outset, I thought, “What rubbish!” and spent the rest of my career, proving that ‘take’ on things, wrong.

* an aside*  Similarly, as an artist, I was once told that you must NEVER paint a sky blue.  Those of you familiar with my landscape paintings will attest to the fact that I’m not one to hold fast to such ideas.  Perhaps it’s just my bold and stubborn nature.

But, I want to take a breath here and to follow through with my intention in writing this post this evening.  I wanted to write about and in some way, to Jessica.

If you have read Le Petit Prince par Antoine de Saint-Exupery, you will know how I feel about losing Jessica. I have loved her.  The pain of losing someone in this world, whether that be slowly through the pang of disease or suddenly…losing someone is devastating.  I can not possibly know what Jessica’s Mom, Dad and brother are feeling at this time.  I can only imagine.  But…I do claim these simple words from this book that I have always loved.

The little prince went away, to look again at the roses.

“You are not at all like my rose,” he said. “As yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world.”

And the roses were very much embarassed.

“You are beautiful, but you are empty,” he went on. “One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you– the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three that we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose.

And he went back to meet the fox.

“Goodbye,” he said.

“Goodbye,” said the fox. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

“What is essential is invisible to the eye,” the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”

“It is the time I have wasted for my rose–” said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember.

“Men have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose…”

“I am responsible for my rose,” the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

I have been responsible for my students and that is why I can say that I have loved them.  Parents who lose their beautiful children have been responsible for them.  It is a cruel thing to suffer loss.  But again, I return to these words.

“Goodbye,” said the fox. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

I have for so many years, put my faith in God who has so generously loved me.  I know this to be true.  I claim this truth.  God will love Jessica beyond time….just as he has loved Jarrett Alley and Chris Barr and Frank L’Amarca and Peter Bielecki. and Shane Greenfield and so many other precious students of mine through and beyond time.  I hold tightly to his promise of everlasting love and compassion for those who come like children.

A former student of mine (a particularly artistic and beautiful lady) provided me with the photo posted above.  She took the photo with her phone…something she found in an album she had made.  She was unable to turn the photo and it is the size of a postage stamp, but the entire thing causes me to smile.

You see, Jessica was such a beautiful person that her image, however small, remains large in my mind.  She would pour into my classroom, ” Hi there!” and behind her, a string of friends who loved her always.  She made her feelings known…she was truly authentic and there were many times when she would stay after or come early just so that she could share the feeling of the day.  She didn’t hold back the punches and told me that she struggled with writing down ‘magic’ in her journal, but she said that she knew that she had lots of ‘magic’ in her life!  I will not forget the day she came back from high school and returned to my classroom to give me wishes and catch me up.

Jessica lived fully.  At pep rallies, I will never forget her energy and commitment to sport and her extreme love for running and digging and sharing basketball with other like-minded athletes.  Her family was a supportive, fun and positive unit and I will never forget their kindness and positive greetings.  Jessica was blessed in life!

I will hold onto this wee photograph forever.  I will always have you in my heart, Jessica.  Go with God now, and always be in Peace.