Thursday, April 26, 2012

Heights - Illustration Friday Apr.20 2012


This beginning point took me to the edge of the Scarborough Bluffs, where I have since my teens often stretched out with my feet over solid ground (I hoped and trusted) and my nose over the edge of the cliff, feeling the breezes reaching me from over the lake, and setting thoughts free to waft.

I've gone there in thunderstorms to be drenched and watch the dance of lightning over the lake; alone with thoughts I wanted to unload over the edge, and with friends and children to absorb the majesty of the Bluffs from above and down below where they seemed endless, the tufted upper edge framed by passing clouds unreal, unreachable, the lower lapped by waves arriving endlessly from away.

But when I sat down to draw, I wondered how heights call to us.  Like "up" calls to a seed, a sprout bursting with water and energy from the soil, its casing split and drying behind it.

Growth from brokenness.  Room for roots and sprouts and leaves, stroked by passing breezes carrying scents from where they have come. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Vocal" Illustration Friday April 6, 2012

Inspired by the Illustration Friday word: "vocal" and by the quote:

"The more one listens to ordinary conversation the more apparent it becomes that the reasoning faculties of the brain take little part in the direction of the vocal organs". - Edgar Rice Burroughs

I enjoyed finding this quote, its snide tone so beautifully wrapped in elegant phrases, like a medicine coated to slide down the throat before its bitter taste makes one think twice about swallowing.

But the more I mulled it over, the less pleased I was to derive an illustration from the quote. We all speak without thinking, and pointing this out in a superior way has been done so beautifully by Mr. Burroughs I need not add to his words. And besides, I suspect I am more often to be found on the other side of his judgement line anyway.

I came to listening late in life. As a kid in a noisy opinionated family with many siblings, volume was where it was at. Being clever was great, but if you didn't turn up the volume nobody would know you had anything worth listening to say. After school anecdotes were considered and polished on the way home, and delivered -often at full volume and speed to forestall interruptions - before after-school play could be considered.

It wasn't so long ago that I realized my conversations didn't have a lot of empty spaces. And I wondered if I were one of those people who listened for spaces into which I could insert my next thought, rather than pondering what the other person was saying and responding to that.

So I decided to try listening.

Conversations opened up, slowed down, and became more of a meander with an unknown outcome than a forced march to a planned closing statement. Friends would look at me, perplexed, when I let pauses stretch out, thinking they had more to add.

And I got to know what my friends really thought. Or at least what they would say if I didn't have quite so much to say myself.

I thought about this, and of the abundant flow of noise and words we encounter sometimes, when a person has strong feelings they want to express. Election year is good for that. The internet prompts impassioned attacks and defenses of topics as wide ranging as war and grammar, schooling, sexuality and religion - and those are just some of the topics I've seen this week. Sifting through, looking for the clear thoughts behind the bombast is sometimes more effort than I care to expend. And though I am always interested in someone's opinion, I am rarely ready to subject myself to the vocal deluge of what might otherwise have been an interesting idea.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"Return" Illustration Friday March 30/2012

Inspired by the Illustration Friday quote:

"The return makes one love the farewell". - Alfred de Musset

Farewell and farewell and farewell, a thousand shadows of goodbyes and an equal number of joyful chimes of return, that is how I remember visits with my Grandmother growing up. They ended with a hand wave behind glass, a car window, the front step, and the sure knowledge of a warm squeeze in greeting when we next met.

My Grandmother created beauty, tending her garden where ripples of beauty spread out from her hands as seeds, scent, a bouquet, and the farewell of fall, waiting, longing, patient for spring and the return. The ripples she sent out are spreading still, long after she has left us, in a corner of my garden, a shock of black-eyed-susan, rhubarb in another making beauty of taste for another generation as she is remembered, the treats she made for us as kids now being made for another set of children.