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Refilling the Well in the Creative Process

8 Nov
Clearwater Lake--TheThird Clearest Cleanest Lake in the World

Clearwater Lake–TheThird Clearest Cleanest Lake in the World

In my novel, The Beech Nut of Big Water Beach, the mentoring elderly woman artist, Cassandra Beech, takes twelve year old Munro and Alison to paint at the sand cliffs. After they paint for the morning, she takes them for a walk on the shore and tells them not to speak, but just to listen. What Munro hears is the sounds of rolling waves, of wind rustling in the clifftop trees, of birds and gulls. The passage in the novel goes on:

“So the three travelled down the cliffs and along the beach, listening to the slapping waves and the crying gulls, all the while being absorbed into the beautiful dream of the day….Finally, the Beech Nut turned around and made her way back to Munro and Alison. Munro felt exhilarated, filled to the brim with everything around him.

The Beech Nut spoke to her two young apprentices. ‘That,’ she said, ‘is one of the most important parts of painting—of making art of any kind. When we pour our creative energy into our work, we have to take time to be refreshed. I call it refilling the well.’(74).”

During my visit to Joe A. Ross School, where I taught my novel, The Beech Nut of Big Water Beach and students engaged in anti-bullying activities from my accompanying guide, I was so fortunate to have my well refilled. Friends from my visit to the Pas last year, Barb McLeod and Tim Williams, invited me out onto Clearwater Lake for a picnic and picturesque ride on their pontoon boat. Like Munro, we were absorbed into the beautiful dream of the day…

Looking into the Water from the Boat

Looking into the Water from the Boat

Following the Shore

Following the Shore

Shoreline Down from The Caves

Shoreline Down from The Caves

Tim steered the boat toward The Caves (otherwise known of as The Crevices), a unique provincial tourist destination, deep crevices that formed when rock masses split away from the shoreline cliffs. To leap from rock to rock, up one boulder and down another, amidst high cliffs and slices of rock, all the while peering into cool dark recesses leading into the earth, is an exhilarating experience.

Passing Close to Shore

Passing Close to Shore

Back on Land, The Sun Sets on a Lovely Excursion on Clearwater Lake

Back on Land, The Sun Sets on a Lovely Excursion on Clearwater Lake

Tomorrow, I will share with readers more about the creation of art at Joe A. Ross School…

Ethereal Mirror

4 Nov
Cottage on Clearwater Lake

Cottage on Clearwater Lake

Imagine teaching by day and staying in a lakefront cottage by night. Such was my experience when visiting Joe A. Ross School in The Pas, Manitoba.

After school, I hopped in the car and drove twenty minutes to my cottage lodgings where every evening I was immersed in the beauty of nature and the shifting fall weather.  Stand with me on the shore to take in the view.

Far Shore on a Windy Day

Far Shore on a Windy Day

Moody Autumn Colours
Moody Autumn Colours

Twilight

Twilight

Warming the Cottage at Night

Warming the Cottage at Night

Part of the experience of artists in the Artists in the Schools Program is that we encounter a great variety of beautiful settings throughout the province. Looking up, down, around, myriad images bring the viewer into greater awe at the mysteriousness and poignancy of the natural world.

A Bird Peers Back

A Bird Peers Back

Looking Up

Looking Up

Reflections

Reflections

Serenity

Serenity

Far Shore on a Calm Evening

Far Shore on a Calm Evening

Ethereal Mirror

Ethereal Mirror

In my next entry, I return to the richness of the teaching day…

Creative Process

25 Oct
The Writer's Doorstep

The Writer’s Doorstep

A Room of One’s Own

21 Oct
Fall Colours on the Way into the University of Manitoba

Fall Colours on the Way into the University of Manitoba

As writer Virginia Woolf so aptly noted, a woman needs creative sanctuary in order to write fiction. An unexpected gift came my way this fall….

University of Manitoba Campus

University of Manitoba Campus

In September of 2013, I was delighted to be made a Research Fellow at St. Paul’s College at the University of Manitoba campus, at the generous invitation of Dr. Moti Shojania, Dean, and through kind acceptance by a St. Paul’s selection committee.

As a Research Fellow, I have an office space in which to work on a set of linked short stories set in Manitoba’s past, between 1936 and 1982, with references going back to the Great War. I have sixteen early drafts that I will edit over the course of this year with the expert editorial assistance of Dr. Di Brandt from Brandon University.

St. Paul's College Bell Tower

St. Paul’s College Bell Tower

As outlined in its mission statement, St. Paul’s College, as the “Catholic college in the Ignatian tradition at the University of Manitoba, serves the Church and Society by promoting learning, both secular and spiritual, through excellence in research, teaching, and service.” I feel fortunate to have the chance to focus and write in such a scholarly and creative atmosphere.

Toward St. Paul's College

Toward St. Paul’s College

A Manitoba institution since 1926, the basic buildings of St. Paul’s College on the University of Manitoba campus were completed in 1958, including offices, classrooms, a library, cafeteria and chapel. In 1972, an expanded library and theatre to seat 200 were added.

A Quiet Spot

A Quiet Spot

Such is the place in which I will write my short stories this year, at times when I’m not teaching story-writing and illustrating in the Manitoba Arts Council’s Artists in the Schools Program.

Preparing to Join the Academic Procession in the Opening Academic Exercises

Preparing to Join the Academic Procession in the Opening Academic Exercises

Dr. Moti Shojania Welcomes Students and Staff in the Christ the King Chapel
Dr. Moti Shojania Welcomes Students and Staff in the Christ the King Chapel

Evening

14 Jul
In love with the blues...

In love with the blues…

When we have the privilege to return, over years, to the same exquisitely beautiful place, our hearts and minds fill with all the layers of what we have seen. This tree, these bushes, this lake and far shore, this setting sun, these clouds are uniquely wedded to the moment, and yet recognizable as the ever-changing elements of place. The drama of change is endlessly giving to the artist’s eye. Imagine standing here with a loved one, viewing a flaming pink sunset, or a grey wall of rain, or the billions of stars in the night sky. Imagine yourself here in childhood, youth, middle age, old age. To be in the moment in this place, to see and feel, to project and receive love in communion with others, such is the human capacity for fulfillment in the midst of fleeting time.

Sleeping Lovers Dream

14 Jul
On the night of the super moon...

On the night of the super moon…

Modernist Moment

26 Apr
On the Way to the Sky Train

On the Way to the Sky Train