Monday, 17 September 2007

The Sound of Silence

I have always been drawn to solitude and silence. When I was a child, it was a place of safety and as I became older, I remained attracted to places where I could rest in the silence. To this day I love spending hours alone. It is not surprising then that my paintings should reflect this.

This first drawing is actually entitled "Stones of Silence" and was one of my early attempts to convey something about the quality of silence on the computer. The image, itself, is my attempt to show a British Columbia mountain valley at dusk.

This drawing is entitled "Sandy Lake Catholic Cemetery". I have always been impressed by the "architecture" of Native cemeteries and this is no exception. Can you imagine the silence of such a spot and how loud the occasional bird call would sound?

This drawing is one of my first attempts to express the Northern Lights -- one of the most beautiful things I have observed when I have been able to get 3 or 4 hours north of Toronto. The first time I saw the Northern Lights, I truly thought the end of the world was upon us! There was a period of time in my life when I spent a great deal of time up north and so had the opportunity to see the Northern Lights frequently. I used to imagine that I could see all sorts of animals in the ever-changing curtains of light and I often wondered what the Native people thought, before the Europeans came, about these marvelous lights as they watched in the silence of the night-time. This drawing, by the way, is called, "Before the White Man Came".

This is my only attempt at drawing an Inukshuk! When I see a real one standing in some lonely place, I find it a truly powerful sight -- causing the hairs to stand up on the back of my neck. However, I found that I cannot capture any of that feeling in a drawing. After my first try, I gave up. Maybe someday I will get an idea of how to draw one that is truly impressive, but for now, I will just stay with what I have. Not surprisingly, this drawing is called "Inukshuk".

This brings me to one of the most important aspects of silence, for me anyway, and that is that silence leads me into prayer -- meditation, contemplation. This drawing is of a Redemptoristine Nun at prayer. The Redemptoristines are a contemplative community which means they dedicate their lives to praying for the world and all its inhabitants. Of course, they have to do some sort of work within the cloister to support themselves, but even the work is done in silence. A contemplative convent is a treasure house of silence. I had the good fortune to be in one of their communities for a while and in my heart, I think I am still there! In so many ways those were the very best years of my life. The drawing is entitled, "A Redemptoristine at Prayer".

This has to be one of my most favourite drawings. The woman stands alone before the silent majesty of the natural world -- pausing for a moment in her busy day to perhaps say a prayer. The idea for this drawing came from a photo in a mission magazine -- a photo taken in Burundi. It is called, simply, "She Takes A Quiet Moment".

This is also a drawing of someone taking a quiet moment, but this one is at the end of a day -- the time for reflection on all that has happened during the day. The photo that prompted this drawing was of the coastline in southern Jamaica. The title is simply "Quiet Time".

Here is a Buddhist monk meditating. Even though this is not my faith, I definitely respect the ideals and practices of those in any faith who try to enter deeply into meditation with God. Once again, I can imagine the silence with the only sound being the monk's rhythmic breathing. The drawing is called "Meditation" and was inspired by a newspaper photo.

And, finally, there is a drawing of companionable silence. Of course, the beach at dusk is not really silent. There are the sounds of the wind and the waves plus the calls of the seabirds overhead. But, still, there is an absence of any "man-made" noise. A deserted beach at this time of day is a place of solitude. Actually, this drawing was one of my more recent experiments in an ongoing effort to find effective ways to show shading and shadows with computer drawings. The software I use is very simple and rather primitive. I have been told that I could do a lot more with better software that is expressly made for design work; however, I learned to draw using this software and never seem to find the time to teach myself something new! One of these days..... It is entitled "Resting At Day's End".

Tomorrow night I will really try to get started on introducing you to my drawings of family and friends. I planned to start tonight, but somehow the day led me to want to think about the sound of silence -- and I am glad I did.
Blessings and peace.

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