On the morning I went to spend the afternoon painting at the Glenrose, we had a fresh blanket of new snow the day before. But the sun was shining, and as it is a spring snow, we know it is temporary.
I decided to approach my blank watercolor paper with no agenda – no plan just to see what came.
I started with the blue and energetically, whipped those lines across the middle of the page of the page. Hmm, thinking of the blue snow shadows, I then threw clouds in the sky. But no, the sun is shining so there should be blue there too. Then followed the trees lifting their empty branches to the heavens. On a faraway hill the treeline of evergreens emerged. The bank and rocks pushed their way through next. Finally the tree shadows emerged and all of a sudden the sun was shining on my page.
I talked with Glenrose patients and visitors as I let the painting emerge. As one fellow said – “That has got to be Alberta.” It is all the parts I love about winter in Alberta: the long blue shadows, the white crisp snow gleaming under the sun’s rays, the shapes and gestures of the trees reaching to the heavens, creeks frozen or flowing.
Even so, I look forward to spring and I am out looking for evidence of its arrival. The pussy willows are showing their tufts. My daffodils and tulips are beginning to push through in the garden. But spring is teasing us. It is snowing again this morning. Spring is long and slow here in Edmonton, but it is not without hope. Like today, we will probably get more snow before winter finally let’s go.
Like spring, God’s redemptive work in our lives is long and slow. We may go two steps forward and one step back (and sometimes one step forward and two steps back), but he is there with us. He made a way for us.
Praise be to God who gives us the victory in our Lord Jesus Christ
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
We woke up to snow this morning. And as I write this it continues to fall.
My girls were not excited about it. One chose to bike to work, the other hitched a ride from her dad to get to school. Once everyone had left I took the opportunity to grab my camera and our dog, Lizzy for a trek into fairyland.
First, I checked on my flowers out front. My daffodils were buried, but the tulips were bravely peeking through the snow.
I do love to watch the snow fall, even today, when I am eager for spring. It is peaceful, serene. Sounds are muffled, at least until I get down to the creek which is loudly, rushing along.
Ours are the first tracks through this part of the ravine. Here is Lizzy, our dog. She shows up better against the snow. She roams while I take photos.
When we moved to Edmonton, Alberta 18 years ago, we heard that it had snowed at some point over history in every single month of the year. Thankfully we have not experienced all of that, but snow in May has definitely been common.
The watercolor painting here on the left, I did in 2013. The red Poplar seed pods were out that year. This year the buds have yet to open on those trees.
I think of all the times over the years, when I have gone out in May and April to catch this snow on the new life. Waiting for spring, is a theme I keep coming back to.What are you waiting for? What does "Waiting for Spring" signify for you?
I have written about it in the past. Today, I will just dwell in the moment.
Enjoy the photos of fairyland!
Spring is definitely here. I love watching the progress of the buds on the trees – The greening of the world as it comes back to life after winter. The poplar trees have all popped out their pussy tufts, which have elongated into the long fronds of silvery green and red buds. Just like in the painting, "Is it Spring Yet?" above. My tulips are getting their buds. And my eyes are burning today. Lately I have been ending the day with sore, dry, burning eyes. Today I am beginning it. It does not bode well for the day. Yes, I must have allergies to this season, as I experience it every year about this time. It is funny that I forget about it until after a few days of feeling it, and then it dawns on me – “Oh right! Its spring and this will be the new norm for awhile.”
I read the first paragraph in James this morning… “Consider it nothing but joy” when you face trials of any kind. “…the testing of faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:1-4)
A good set of verses for me today. Now how to consider it nothing but joy? Well, I still love to watch the buds grow, even if it does affect me. I love the steady lengthening of days. And as I take care of my eyes this year, I can look forward to the rest the warm compresses force me to take. Maybe I can start there.
Anyone else feeling the sting of allergies?
As winter continues to wrap its cloak of snow around us, I think toward Spring and flowers bedecking gardens, meadows, homes. I bought a blooming orchid to remind me of Spring. I have yet to draw or paint it, but I enjoy its beauty on our dining room table.
I brought my two calla lily plants inside last fall to see if I could keep them alive until spring. One started sending up green shoots last month, reaching 18-20 inches now. The other plant has not shown any sign of life.
Yesterday, in my Acrylics class, we used a picture of a doorway wreathed in blooms to inspire us. I showed my students how to create a stucco texture using eggshells, sand and sawdust. We used a slightly thick application of gel medium on the canvas and placed the eggshell into it, sprinkling on the sand and sawdust around the rest of the medium. While it dried, we worked on the doorway. Then we continued to paint over the mixed media with colors of stucco (white mixed with yellow and red creating various shades of peach and yellow ochre). The plants were painted dark to light in the foliage first. The blooms added last. Then we worked on shadows. It was fun to see the results. All the students did a great job with the challenge of painting on the rough texture.
Are the flowers blooming where you are? Or do you dream of Spring, flowers blooming and warmer days?
Christ is Risen!
He is Risen indeed!
Spring is slow in coming this year. Well, I’m not sure it is any different than other years, but we had a teasing 20C day a week ago, which has made this past week feel even more cold with its sub-zero temps.
This wintry spring that doesn’t want to let go brings to my mind the last verse of the Easter hymn, Now the Green Blade Rises:
“When our hearts are wintry, grieving or in pain, your touch can call us back to life again,
fields of our hearts that bare and dead have been; love is come again like wheat arising green.”
(J. M. C. Crum 1872-1958, French Carol)
The beauty of flowers and the promise of spring lighten my heart. They bring the promise of new life, hope, and the renewal of love touching our wintry hearts and souls. A touch our world surely needs.
I contemplated these things as I sat in the Muttart Conservatory on Monday, delighting in the lovely scent of tulips and hyacinths and painting the fresh signs of spring while the cold wind blew outside.
I continued to work on the painting a little bit more this morning, but it is still in progress. It is at the long stage of pushing and pulling, deciding what details to keep and what to abstract or suggest. The process cannot be rushed. Although I refer to the photos now and then, I also listen to the painting and let it help me decide where to take it. The delicate fringe of the frilled tulips is delightful to paint, but whether I saved the frilly whites well enough with the masking fluid I will not know until it is ready to be removed.
12 students learned to see the flowers in new ways and paint their favorites during the Acrylic Flower Painting workshop last Saturday at the Muttart. Here are some of their results:
As people learn the creative process, regardless of the medium, I find I am always teaching them how to see this beautiful world in new ways and the nuances of light and contrast. It is all about seeing and trusting the process of painting as it unfolds.
New classes begin again in May and June 2022. Click here for the selection.
Even winter has its beauty. I completed this painting of cross-country skiing at dawn amidst the hoarfrost. Title suggestion? I loved that crisp morning with the light of dawn coming through the trees as we skied the field and enjoyed the magical hoarfrost sparkling and lighting up the trees. Medium: Acrylic on canvas, size: 14 in x 17 in.