One: Ready

ready, DEVENIR, collaboration, retreat, mixed media
Piled everywhere

Ready is relative. Many things are supposed to be ready at the moment. Priorizing the next coming event is the best way to keep a modicum of control. So, yes, things stood at the door and around the room in organized piles just before we left for Trochu.

DEVENIR in history

ready, DEVENIR, collaboration, exhibitions, retreat
View from the front window

Ste. Ann Ranch boasts several historical buildings, delightful décor, delicious cuisine and very comfortable beds. Our hosts accommodated our every need with graciousness, marvellous stories and great senses of humour. DEVENIR so enjoyed the space and the ambiance.

Another retreat

ready, DEVENIR, collaboration, exhibitions, retreat
Workspace

And what was DEVENIR doing in Trochu? Well, we were having a retreat. Google Drive helps us to collaborate. I put the initial agenda together. Patricia complained about not scheduling any fun and took one heavy item off the agenda suggesting something refreshing instead. I had revealed my tendency toward the serious and most appreciated the help with the fun part. La crème de la crème was a pyjama party on Friday night, Sabine’s brain child.

Planning for the future

Apart from fun, we spent some time conceiving new possibilities and directions for our group. We discussed what we might do with the one hundred and fifty paintings we had completed in October last year. Amidst the laughter and the banter, we birthed several good ideas, in fact, too many to do in one life time. Still, from among the abundant inspirations we chose the best for development giving life and direction for our practice together as well as individually. We also took the opportunity to exchange paintings for our upcoming exhibitions in Canmore and Stony Plain.

New directions

ready, DEVENIR, collaboration, mixed media, exhibitions, retreat
Brainstorming

Our discussions continued on the way home, albeit just the three from Edmonton took part. Why not add another brand to the fire? The lovely landscape along highway 21 fueled the flames and we now have the seeds of something exciting we wish to do together. Some very positive fallout around our plans may bear much needed fruit as well. Generosity and mutual support yield such good results.

Ready is relative

Ready, DEVENIR, collaboration, mixed media, retreat
One of the many for CAVA

Now that I am home again, I wonder if I am ready. The next coming event is CAVA. Twenty paintings require frames with the delivery date on Tuesday. Tuesday is the day I meet with Amber from the Shaw Conference Centre to discuss the future location for three of my forty-eight-inch square paintings. They will be on display for a year. Then the collaborative effort for DEVENIR statements, CV, new releases and descriptive blurbs looms in the background, not too far in the background as the time line is pressing. Ready is relative. I suspect only the last minute will tell.

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One: Rest

rest, retreat, photo references, fun
Stop, rest, stay a while

A retreat aims at restoring health, energy and inspiration with a little rest. Last week I was on retreat with my daughter in a beautiful setting not far from where we live. The Mount Carmel Spirituality Centre, just north of Stony Plain provided comfortable shelter, essential amenities and an abundance of peace.

rest, recreation, retreat, photo references,
Just sitting there

Choosing calm

Allergies forced us to bring our own food. Cooking together developed into a very enjoyable challenge as I had forgotten a few of the elements we had placed on the menu, such as cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches and the vegan margarine. We did remember the pots and pans in the endeavour to avoid cross contamination.

Rest and recreation

Rest, in the form of sleep, preoccupied us for the first couple of days. Our daily schedule included movies, reading, writing, crocheting, doodling, drawing, playing games, eating and sleeping. The weather determined our outside activities which featured two rather long hikes through the woods around Chickakoo Lake among others. Dogs and other humans were in short supply, adding to the pleasure of our retreat.

rest, recreation, retreat, photo references
Road less traveled

Sleepovers and emails

A fun afternoon and sleepover with some of our grandchildren delayed my return to reality and the responsibilities connected to over three hundred emails. The first correspondence I opened occupied the next three hours interspersed with getting meals and making wine. Ah yes, red wine, the elixir of life and the very enjoyable accouterment for our daily retreat just before supper.

Reference photos

The retreat accommodated my failing supplies of reference photos for future work as well as much needed rest. It did not help my lack of photo references for other seasons besides winter. Nonetheless, winter is one of my favorite seasons to paint. The negative space is delicious.

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One: Pilgrimage

pilgrimage, retreat, blog, flow, trust

This weekend we participated in a short two-day pilgrimage in Banff. The plan entailed two fifteen-kilometer walks, one from the park gate to Banff and from Banff up Sulphur Mountain then to the hot springs. Not all plans come to fruition as envisioned.

Perfect for a pilgrimage

Perfect weather greeted us Saturday morning. Our meditation revolved around the question “Where are you going?”, John 13: 36-38. We had each selected an image cut from a magazine the previous evening. Our leaders encouraged us to seek out the reason why the photo spoke to us and how it reflected our life within the context of the quote.

pilgrimage, retreat, blog, flow, trust
Seeing clearly

Why this photo?

The first reflection: the couple in my image gazed toward the light yet the mist impaired their vision. A sense of well-being permeated the photo. Although I cannot see the results clearly (I am not in control) I can trust the direction I have taken.

Preparations

In preparation for this event I had taken up some strenuous physical exercises at the gym while breaking in a new pair of walking shoes. I had neglected to consider the weight of a back pack. Not used to the load I found the easy first walk difficult to complete. My feet and legs were in torment by eventide as I had fatigued tendons beyond comfortable. Later I noticed the tenderness of my arms, hands and shoulders as well as the muscles embracing my rib cage. Apparently, I had used the walking sticks well.

Pain

Early the next morning I stretched my left foot, testing the waters so to speak. Ah, yes. All was well. My right heel screamed in protest. Not so good. The organisers arranged for the backpacks to be stored for the day. Even without this weight, I decided to forego the climb. Several people took the bus with me to the gondola. We were to meet everyone at the top for lunch, some spiritual nourishment and a soak in the hot springs.

pilgrimage, retreat, blog, flow, trust
Passing the time

Meditating

Over the course of the day I reflected on the question and the photo. I took the time to sketch the view. Having nowhere to sit I developed the drawing to the point when I could finish it from memory as I took the weight off my feet in front of the elevator. Joining the others who had stayed behind we decided to eat as the lunch hour had passed long ago.

pilgrimage, retreat, blog, flow, trust
Allowing the flow

Finding quiet in the tourist flow

The second reflection: amidst the bustle of the environment I remembered a quiet moment from the previous day. A beaver dam, perfectly constructed, adorned the south side of the path. The water flowed, keeping the pool fresh behind the barrier. A mound of sticks hooked within a grove of dead pine toward the middle of the pond provided shelter for the inhabitants. A perfect example of co-habitation. Beavers only block the flow enough to create a depth of water to keep them safe. Allowing the flow refreshes their habitat. My life is best when I allow rather than resist.

Peace

I could complain about the difficulties of the pilgrimage. I could. And instead of the peace and the gratitude of being able to walk again without limping I would be drained of energy. I choose to allow the flow. I choose to trust. All is well, and all will be well.

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One: Retreat

retreat, semi-abstract, NGO, co-creation

This weekend our retreat with the NGO Development and Peace-Caritas Canada included prayerful moments among the trees and along the water’s edge. The Mount Carmel Spirituality Centre peacefully hugs the Glory Hills just north of Stony Plain providing the perfect venue for reflection and rest. Judging from the state of my mind and body I could have done with a little more of the latter.

Visual limitations

Since the early morning sparkled with lively sounds of nesting birds and bursting buds in new sunshine, I took a few reference photos for later musings. A little while later, in the balm of red wine, we considered the challenge of visual limitations. How does one create an image to convey long-term, often invisible gains in the world of the underprivileged? Photos of starving children drinking milk from a cup have an immediate impact. The shot of a banner on the wall announcing the formation of a new civil action group does not carry the same emotional link.

Effective communication

Similarly, I entertain an ongoing ambition to make visible the loving presence of God in all things everywhere. Often, I feel my landscapes require something else to be effective. Perhaps poetry would carry the message more efficiently. Yet words have their limitations too. Within the limitations of both images and words lies an undiscovered solution, a third way.

Retreat 

Rather than forcing the new, I allow time for it to surface. Holding the tension in quiet waiting and openness is not always easy. In the meantime, as the incubation matures, I turn my attention to tasks at hand. There are commissions to finish and paintings to complete. Linocuts await the printing. And rest. Yes, tomorrow will be a day of rest.

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