Category Archives: Art

Beauty breaking free

A brilliant red flower blossom grows through a crack in a fence

Beauty breaking free © 2018 Arlene Smith

This colourful flower bursting out from between its constricting fence border captured my eye. 

To me, the brilliant red blossom represents . . .

. . . beauty that wants to be shared and appreciated and not hidden away . . .

. . . natural gifts that should never be wasted . . .

. . . bright optimism in grey times . . .

What does the picture bring to your mind?

 

Really thinking about plastic

Plastic: useful, convenient, ubiquitous, ugly, persistent . . .

My son reminded me of the daunting presence of plastic when he took this photo of a whale made of plastic found in the ocean.

Beauty crafted out of refuse in Bruges, Belgium.

Art installation - Whale made out of plastic found in the ocean

The art of my friend’s daughter, Jennifer MacLatchy, makes me think about the terrible beauty of plastic. She makes art out of what she gathers from the Atlantic Ocean near her Nova Scotia home.

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It reminded me of the plastic we found on my Habitat for Humanity Global Village trip to Bolivia six years ago. I wrote a post then about an imagined future world where our descendants wallow in our discarded plastic grocery bags. Read it here: Paper, not plastic.

piles of plastic garbage found on construction site

 

I’ve been really thinking about plastic and the price we pay for its terrible beauty.

How do I use it now? How could I change how I use it and recycle it?

There are other ways. There are better ways.

Time . . . because will you see the next sunset?

We have an art gallery in our church. A recent display featured the work of Leonard Minni, an artist who lived in Rwanda before during and after the 1994 genocide.

He visited our congregation to tell us about the theme for his exhibition: Time.

The crowd listened in awed silence as he told us that many of his pieces involve sunsets, because when he watched the sun set during the trauma in 1994 he wondered if he would live to see the sun rise, and would he live to see another sunset?

The art of Leonard Minni

One never knows what life holds.

Savour moments as precious. Soak up those sunsets. Be mindful with your Time. 

My family in an Anna Maria Island FL sunset

 

 

 

Surprise memory, surprise visits

Near the end of my lunchtime walk around Parliament Hill last week, I felt called to take a closer look at a monument I had passed many times but never really looked at.

 

The gold sphere balancing as if by magic on the edge of a white stone wall grabs the attention.

I had to see what that balancing act was all about. I crossed a small bridge to a piece of land that juts out into the Ottawa River. The first thing I noticed was a shallow wall into which the names of Canadian naval vessels had been carved. My brother served in the Royal Canadian Navy on the HMCS Terra Nova, so I took a picture of the engraved name.

From my new angle on Richmond Landing, with Parliament Hill in the background, I got a different perspective. From there I could see the naval overtones of the prow of a ship, ocean waves, and the gold orb as the sun. 

 

Up close I could read the Navy motto: Ready, Aye, Ready.

I stood there and wondered how it was that I never knew about The Royal Canadian Navy Monument, something that has a personal connection for me. I wondered, “Why did it come to my attention today?”

I thought about the date and realized it was the anniversary of a surprise visit I made to Halifax, NS to welcome my brother and his ship home for the first Persian Gulf War. He had no family in the area, so he didn’t expect anyone to be there when the ship pulled in. Surprise!

My brother’s ashes were committed to the deep six years ago, but I felt he had paid me a surprise visit in return.

Surprising my brother in Halifax, 1991.

 

 

 

 

Loved, just the way you are

The message above is from the Wall of Encouragement at my church, a place for people to place or take messages of encouragement.

Today, the Wall of Encouragement “encouraged” me to let you know that you are loved the way you are.

Just ’cause.

Following the urge to be artists, or how we can astonish ourselves

I felt I had to follow up my previous blog about the never-ending story with this post on a similar theme.

I was a pre-school playgroup leader for a time when my children were young. For each day’s session I prepared a craft for the kids. I cut out all the bits and pieces so I could give each child with exactly the same materials. I made a sample of the craft so I could hold it up for all to see.

“This is what we’re making,” I said before setting them lose to create.

If there were 15 kids in the group, at the end there would be 15 completely different crafts.

I admired (and envied) how freely those children followed their artist souls and created without apprehensions about what other people might think. I loved how they danced with excitement with their finished products in hand, no matter what they looked like.

A workshop at the writers’ conference I attended recently reminded me of this.

In the workshop led by Cordelia Strube  we worked together to come up with a particular set of circumstances and characters, and then we each wrote individually for about 20 minutes. After the time was up we shared our work.

If there were 20 of us in the group, there were 20 completely different stories.

Once handed the common building materials, each of us scanned them to see what resonated with us individually. We attacked the story from starting points and viewpoints that felt right to us.

Writers in a workshop setting strive to be like those children doing crafts: honouring our artist souls and opening to inspiration, ideas and images, unimpeded by barriers and apprehensions. When we succeed at this, the work we come up with amazes us—shocks us, even—because it’s better than anything we could have foreseen in advance, with all our adult barriers in place.

When we get out of the way of our artist soul, the spirit of the work is good. True.

Astonishing, every time.

 

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