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


Word for 2012: Hope

New year's rose

In early December, I scoured the ditches of my commute for something to put in my new dahlhaus vase. Soon, the gray-brown blur along the side of the road became rich in the subtle colours of British Columbia’s winter. Crimson and yellow branches, red berries, and bursts of white snowberries, blinking out from shadowy brambles. I was struck by the beauty of the snaking Salmon River that slices the plain south of Fort Langley into verdant green fields with margins of curled oat grasses and scraggly briers of raw umber.

Always the scavenger, I managed to find a wide enough muddy shoulder to pull over and pick some snowberries, and later a large enough branch of rosehips to draw blood when I wrestled it down. I love displaying wild branches, native to the land and the season.

And then last week…

…the rosehips sprouted spring leaves. I was surprised they were able to grow after being picked. Then on New Year’s Eve, I noticed the rosebud.

Now I haven’t been particularly optimistic or symbolic over the last few years, but I am going to accept this as some kind of sign of what 2012 could be for me. My friend Sarah at Emerging Mummy did a post where she chose one word for 2012, rather than making a resolution. Her word was fearless. I thought that concept seemed like an inspiring goal. Another friend picks one of the fruits of the spirit to focus on, such as love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control.

So what will my word for 2012 be? Hope. Believing that positive things will happen. Not giving up on paintings or trying again. With confidence, trusting that good things will come of our family by filling our home with the words and actions of love.

I am inspired by a few people I’ve seen recently who have written words of hope right on their walls or (you have to check this link out): steps. I love the idea of having a family manifesto and playing it out to the best of our broken abilities.

These are just my off the cuff thoughts for the new year. I hope that I will have more to say on this topic as I explore it!

Eastside Culture Crawl – spotlight on dahlhaus

dahlhaus studio, during the Crawl. Photo by Curtis Hildebrand

dahlhaus studio, Photo © Curtis Hildebrand Photography

I had the nostalgic urge to go to the Crawl in Vancouver today. The Eastside Culture Crawl is a three-day, 300+ artist open studio event that is in its 15th year. We love going and getting a feel for what local artists are doing, and of course to support our friend Heather of dahlhaus.

I’ve known Heather since I first moved to BC in 1999, since she was a student at Emily Carr, gaining interest for her unique paintings. We met through our husbands, who are close friends and skateboarders.

Over the past decade, Heather has persisted in building her career despite the challenges of raising two energetic boys, living in North Vancouver, and raising a family relying on the donor-supported career of her supportive husband.

It’s exciting to see Heather’s success as an artist. She has recently been featured in House and Home, poppytalk, Harper’s Bazaar, Anthropologie (who carry both paintings and ceramics), and more!

What I appreciate about Heather is her encouraging words, down-to-earth way of life, and hospitality. Her delight in the simple things of life like serving friends meals or spending time with her family in the country. One of our best times together was a few years ago when our family slept over for New Year’s with their family, enjoying some records, the fireplace, a few games and of course some late night espresso out of the ceramic seconds that stock their cupboards.

dahlhaus ceramics; photo by Curtis Hildebrand

If you don’t have a chance to see Heather’s studio during the mayhem of the Crawl, she will also be at the One of a Kind Show Dec. 8-11 or you can visit her etsy shop.

What I Am Into This Month – August 2011

Following suit, linked to Megan at SortaCrunchy and Sarah at Emerging Mummy, I will sum up my August.

On My Nightstand:

  • Together, hedged in by teeming life

    While I didn’t actually read Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, or even read it in the past five years, I lived it every day in Ontario. The first night we stayed on the farm, blanketed in humidity, ears ringing with the overwhelming buzz of insects, blocked from my grandparents’ old house by thick and wild overgrowth, I thought of Annie and her knack for describing the awe-inspiring beauty and horror of her rural landscape. Case in point, the sheer number of cicadas my 2-yr-old son and I found on a single tree one day (about 5 and then more later), emerging from their skins:

Cicada emerging from its skin

  • Elizabeth Hay’s Alone in the Classroom – not as engaging as her Late Nights on Air, I still appreciated the Canadian literary qualities of the book. I also enjoyed reading a book that showed me how a writer could link together stories from an ancestor’s life in the early 20th century.
  • Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman’s Nurture Shock: New Thinking about Children – a fascinating book featuring eight topics like praise and self esteem, why kids lie, sleep deprivation, etc. I love this kind of book – lots of interesting research that is already changing my perspective and practices with our kids.
  • The Bible – it’s always on my nightstand but it’s been open more than usual this month.
  • Little Princes – orphans living in terrible conditions in Nepal after being sold by their parents, who were deceived by traffickers…it was a truly moving story. A young man goes down to volunteer and ends up starting a charity to help reconnect the families.
  • Syrie James’ The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen – light summer reading for my vacation – I got right into this story but at the end of the day, knowing it is fictional (but based on some facts) makes it intrinsically disappointing.

Want to Read: The Help, A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Book Thief

T.V. Shows
We don’t have cable, so the most TV I watched was on the flight back to BC from our family vacation in Ontario, when I watched 3 consecutive episodes of What not to Wear. It is worth noting that my plane TV screen only worked on one of four flights. And earlier this summer I watched (and surprisingly really enjoyed) the first season of Gilmore Girls.

Movies I’ve Seen: We actually took our two preschoolers to a real movie in the theatre: Winnie the Pooh. I borrow quite a few DVDs from the library such as Monsoon Wedding, the Red Balloon, Exit Through Gift Shop, Roman Holiday, etc. I watched Kandahar last week and it’s really stayed with me. 

In My Ears: I listen to music a lot to help me concentrate at work, and have finished about five months of going through my ipod songs in alphabetical order! Now I often go for shuffle songs, though I don’t like being surprised by all the Raffi and children’s music that ends up interspersed! Enjoying Broken Social Scene, Downhere (old college friends of mine, who have just released a new album), Bjork, Feist, Stereolab – the usual.

Newest Blog Reads and/or Internet Interest

  • Dahlhaus – dear (yet far-flung) friend of ours who’s career as an artist has been advancing in leaps and bounds!
  • My photographer husband, who is starting to embrace the marketing necessity of blogging (many great new posts to come).
  • MelbourneMumma – another mom with lots of inspiring ideas and images.
  • Other people who do similar types of art, such as artandtreasure, serendipity, knit the hell out (love that “vision” sweater thing! I hope I find time to knit this year), phrogmom, and more!

What I’m Looking Forward to Next Month:

  • My dear little almost 4-yr-old, so proud to be dressed like mommy (and my 2-yr-old oblivious of the point of the photo).

    The beginning of autumn, my favourite season – the crisp air, the morning mist that crouches over the riverbank where I work, apples from the orchard, curry, stuffed pumpkins, preschool (for my daughter), flannel sheets, fall leaves, purple asters. For me, autumn is like New Year’s Eve for some – I am often struck by a sense of renewal and artistic inspiration.

  • My beautiful daughter’s fourth birthday next week. Watching her grow and learn to print, read, be kind. It is so much fun being a mom.
  • A welcome return of Saturday brunches with friends…look forward to reconnecting with lots of you!
  • A short trip to Victoria later in the month.
  • Lots of fall events at work, which I am planning and designing ads, posters and promotional material for.