Monday, October 28, 2019


Be patient
toward all that is unsolved 
in your heart.
- Rainer Maria Rilke
Quoted by Sue Bender
Stretching Lessons 

I see by the calendar that I've been absent from this page for the better part of this month.  Some of that was due to work, travel, and other Aspects of Daily Living...

and some was procrastination,
plain and simple.

In my last post I mentioned I was starting work on a new piece -- a sample (or maybe the Real Thing) -- for a Call for Entry to an all-Canadian exhibit entitled "Colour with a 'U'".  A great deal of my procrastinating and just not blogging has to do with that work, which absorbed a great deal of my time for at least two weeks.

 My vision for the piece was BIG -- inspired by the lyrics from Gordon Lightfoot's Canadian Railroad Trilogy.  In particular, these:

"There was a time in this great land when the railroad did not run,
when the wild, majestic mountains stood alone against the sun.
Long before the white man and long before the wheel,
when the green, dark forest was too silent to be real."

I figured out very early on that painting the scene on fabric was several stories higher than my abilities in that department.  After sulking about that for a bit, I rethought the idea.  What do I do well?  "You can paint skies", came the answer (from my muse).  So...I thought about that.  I found a long stretched canvas (36" x 12") and gave it a go.

I was trying to paint skies that changed in character from West (on the left) to East (on the right).  My first attempt was a bust, but thankfully, with acrylic paint, you can paint over it.

Then I began to work out the foreground.  I wanted to put in the landscape from those "wild majestic mountains" and the "green dark forests", across the western plains to the rocks, lakes and rivers of central Canada...with a nod to more cliffs in the Maritimes.  Just a nod?  Well, my vision seemed to exceed the space available on the canvas.  😟

I was taking inspiration from these iconic Canadian views:

Emily Carr's painting, Mountain Forest

An eagle totem pole from B.C.'s Haida Gwaii

Photo from Neys Provincial Park, Lake Superior, ON

Maples in Autumn - photo from Mont Tremblant, QC

Cliffs on the East Coast Trail, Newfoundland

Still, I persisted.  I created those mountains and forests, including snow, from the West Coast:

I added prairie grasslands, water and more rock, an impression of colourful maples in autumn, and more rock -- and over these I stitched in impressions of native habitat, from totems on the West coast to tipi on the plains, a native longhouse from central Canada and more tipi -- shorter and squatter -- from the Maritimes.

Mountains and forests with totems.

Plains with tipi.

Longhouse in Central Canada

And below, you see the entire piece, hanging on my guest room wall:

I'm just not sure about it -- though it seems to look better to me in the photo than it does on the wall in my home!

First I wonder about its perspective.  There's that changing sky which moves from the cloudy "wet coast" to the clearer sky -- with clouds building and a storm coming -- over the prairies...and then a mix of autumnal sky and cloud over the Lakes and moving east.

I worry that there's too much of the west and not enough 'centre and east' landscape, and that the chunk of grasslands in the centre is too central, when perhaps it should be smaller and more to the left, more off-set.

Second, I'm troubled by my attempt to show the ghosts of what the land used to be when it was "long before the white man and long before the wheel".  Is it presumptuous for a Caucasian Canadian woman to try to replicate these symbols?

I don''t know.  I just don't know.  Thus it remains on the wall, and I carry on...albeit in a bit of a stale place creatively.  

Blessedly there remain Other Things to Do -- such as baking two bumbleberry pies for last week's Fall Supper at the church.  And making four dozen oatmeal raisin cookies for sale at the church's next event -- the Annual Bazaar & Bake Sale -- coming up this weekend.  Like joining my friend G. -- the knitter and relatively new quilter -- at the Joint Quilt Show put on by the Black Gold Quilt Guild of Leduc, AB, and the Edmonton Modern Quilt Guild -- where I was inspired by this wee gem:

Catch Me If You Can!
Mariel Enders
Thread sketching, coloured - likely water-colour pencils.
Outlined by hand-quilting. Appears mounted on board.
 Apologies for the angle, but it was a small piece hanging high up in a narrow booth!

On Saturday of this past weekend, G. and I travelled again -- this time to Camrose to see the most wonderful production: Jake's Gift -- a touching, heart-warming, funny, poignant one-person, one-hour performance about an aged WW II veteran who travels to Juno Beach for the 60th Anniversary of D-Day.  It's a touring show, and the link I've shared has a section for tour details. If you live anywhere near any of the venues and can find your way to see it, please do.  It will capture your imagination and hold your heart close in its message.

Now to link this -- late as usual! -- to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday, and head back into the sewdio to work on a second quilt for the Syrian family we're expecting soon.  Yesterday at church we found out they have a flight date at last -- November 19!! -- so I'd best get on it, eh?!  

If you've been stretched like I have lately -- especially creatively -- may the week ahead bring you blessed rest, refreshment and restoration of perspective.  Let's together learn patience "...toward all that's unresolved in [our] heart[s]".

"There was a time in this great land when the railroad did not run..."
-- Gordon Lightfoot


Kate said...

To perhaps muddy things for you further, I discovered yesterday that there was Canadian fourth verse written for "All things bright and beautiful".
The rocky mountain splendour,
the lone wolf's haunting call,
the great lakes and the prairies,
the forest in the fall.

Just add a wolf, and I think you have it.

Teri Donovan said...

Two of my favourite things....Emily Carr's work (the female member of the "Group of 7" who should have been the "Group of 8")....and Gordon Lightfoot....

Long before the white man and long before the wheel,
when the green, dark forest was too silent to be real."

I don't even have to click on the video....I can hear him singing it.....

Ambitious work, dear friend!!! Love it.

Kathie Briggs said...

Emily Carr & Gordon Lightfoot-- wonderful inspiration. I love your new piece. Its very powerful. Maybe it needs to be even larger so you can move the "chunk of grassland" and the lovely clouds above it more off center?