open book and symmetrical mugs

Day 10 – Symmetry

Symmetry is a calming, static element in composition. On day 10 of the artsy forager’s instagram challenge, #artsydefined, I was enjoying a relaxing Family Day holiday, so I enjoyed an easy start to the day with a good book and coffee (above). 

Later in the week, I took a better photo representing symmetry at work. Symmetry is a key element in First Nations art, as seen in the example below.

Kwantlen First Nations artwork outside Sxwimele gifts at Fort Langley National Historic Site

Symmetry: Kwantlen First Nations artwork outside Sxwimele gifts at Fort Langley National Historic Site



old and new books

Day 9: Juxtaposition

Juxtaposing things is a big deal in art and photography. I can’t imagine an artist talk that doesn’t at some point juxtapose incongruent things: an impoverished person seated in front of a sports or an elderly person holding a newborn infant. So I was surprised that I was having trouble thinking of things to juxtapose. I tried old and new books, and also a large and small spoon.

So the true artsy story today is probably more about what two girls, 30 years apart, were doing whittling spoons in 2014.

spoon carving party

My daughter and I carving spoons.

Here I have juxtaposed my six-year-old and I carving spoons at my friend–and old college room mate’s–party. I love that my friend brought together a bunch of people of all ages to make spoons and then eat a big pot of soup together. I love breaking bread with people and this was a great way to bring creativity into daily life.

This is a big part of what I value about a community: to live life together in a creative way with the people who live near you. My friend has been living this way for years, although not always easy, she is breaking down barriers and walls in her neighbourhood. Living as much as possible without a car. Bringing about life-giving change.

I hope that our family can also start inviting more people near us into our creative lifestyle. For me, that is integrated with enjoying nature together, and just maybe hosting a carving party (or not, I don’t think I’d like cleaning up after that, but maybe a painting party).

In conclusion, I offer up this modern blog chronicle in juxtaposition to the ancient nature of gathering with neighbours to carve spoons and eat from a communal cauldron.


Angular shadow of soccer net and playground

Day 7: Angle, as measured at the schoolyard.

I love the way the soccer net and its shadow play with angle! And the way the two photos I took on Day 7 for the art element, angle, play together. The composition between the shadow and the chain in the other photo worked out well.


shadow of plants and blinds

Shadows at home.

Shadows: what an unusual sight in British Columbia in winter. Perhaps this daily photo challenge is a good way for me to notice how many sunny days we are actually having, to bolster me for the current forecast (rain until February 20). I liked the beautiful morning sunshine in our living room, and this untouched photo of the shadow of a few jugs and dried plants on our piano.

Noticing: that is what this series is all about for me. I have a very busy life right now. I work full time in a somewhat demanding job. I’m a mom to two young children and a wife. It is not always easy to find time for art and creativity, but it is one of my key values. I love being able to have this little key word to look for each day to “notice” life; to experience it.

If I was a high school art teacher, I think I’d make this one of the assignments.


barrel staves leaning on Fort Langley palisade

Walking into work, this line of barrel staves caught my eye.

The challenge on Day 4 was to photograph the element of line. As I walked into work on a beautiful sunny morning, I noticed the line of barrel staves leaning against the palisade.

The palisade itself is such a symbolic line in the course of Fort Langley and BC’s history: it is a line of logs standing to mark a line, by definition, to communicate property between past cultures. Today, it stands and is maintained because of the significance of British Columbia’s proclamation which occurred within its enclosure in 1858.

Here is the railing of the Big House, where the event happened, as well as a bird’s eye view (at least from the office) of the palisade. Both of them create beautiful lines in stark winter sunshine.

Fort Langley railing and wall

Railings and palisade create lines at Fort Langley

Andy Goldsworthy revisited

There is little I find more inspiring in art than nature or natural objects. One reason we continue to live where we do–Abbotsford, BC, just east of Vancouver–is that we have a mountain a minute away that is riddled with mountain biking and hiking trails. It’s our family’s favourite pastime; and hopefully on this new Family Day holiday in BC, we’ll get a chance to get out there.

Sumas Mountain bike trail Abbotsford BC

Our family’s latest hike on Sumas Mountain

But this week, it was my four-year-old son who got me back into looking at Andy Goldsworthy (by the way, my post Andy Goldsworthy, worthy of your eye, is my most popular post in the past ten years of blogging). Every night this week, he’s brought me one of our coffee table books and asked me to read it. He then asked me to get out “Rivers and Tides” from the library again.

child point out picture in book

My son preferred reading about Andy Goldsworthy over Clifford and Winnie the Pooh

Hearing my son’s sense of wonder and fascination over Goldsworthy’s nature sculptures renewed my own. Watching Rivers and Tides, I always want to BE Andy – live in a village and make things out of nature. It appears so life-giving. Except perhaps when a sculpture collapses…for the fourth time…and his hands are bleeding from handling sharp icy slabs of rock on a windy shore.

But then, there is a lesson in that too, which he explains on the film. With every collapse, he got to know the stone a little bit more. His connection with it increased. And the results are breathtaking. The final seed-shaped stone cairn not only stands until completion; it survives a night of tide completely engulfing and burying it, then receding again to reveal its form against a pink sunrise.

Andy Goldsworthy stick throw in book

Kids enjoying the picture of the “stick throw”

October is over

Cedar trees, Sechelt, BC

Cedar trees, Sechelt, BC

November is nearly half over, and I’m just now pausing to say that I feel I missed October. Altogether. It has been a particularly busy year and I sometimes sense I’m missing my own life. Like a dream, where your actions have little impact or control on events as they slip past.

During that stressful month, we manged to get away for a weekend to a west coast paradise, though strangely encapsulated by mystical fog. Fog that crouched so heavily on BC’s sunshine coast that we only saw the sun briefly the first afternoon we were there. Despite the bone-chilling mist, we had a wonderful time, exploring forests thickly carpeted in moss and dozens of varieties of mushrooms. We warmed ourselves in our cozy cabin and with hot drinks & food from the Gumboot in Roberts Creek. We tasted apples at a homespun apple festival in Davis Bay.

our little cabin

our little cabin

Halfmoon Bay

Halfmoon Bay

The highlight for me, and our reluctant children once they got over their initial fears, was canoeing, albeit in a canoe identified as being “the one with the duct tape on the bottom” by our hosts. As a teen, I lived for our annual camp where I could canoe, hike and climb at Canadian Adventure. It was awesome to share this experience with our kids, silently cutting through the water between tiny islands, chasing seals and gulls.

our son's adventure - to land on this "island" while canoeing.

our son’s adventure – to land on this “island” while canoeing.

Curtis Hildebrand Photography

My husband got to do a bit of photography.

I was reminded how much I love nature, art and literature. There were lots of great books in the cabin that I poured over between adventures. We also felt very much at home in the small communities on the sunshine coast, with lots of room and inspiration for our photography and art. I spent some time with our youngest, drawing one day.

From a spiritual perspective, I can’t get over how aware I am that God is there, that he really created this beautiful world, when I am in nature. I love the stillness of old-growth forests towering over me, of  boots being lost silently in moss.

Sechelt, BC

Sechelt, BC