Reflecting on the View….

Swaying Aspens by Adrienne O'Hara
Watercolor has always fascinated me. It requires patience and talent, or perhaps a cultivation of both. I love to linger over a beautiful view, yet my talents do not allow me to capture that scene through art. My dear friend Adrienne recently took up watercolor, and this is the result of one of her initial efforts. You can see she casually took a photo of her work, not worrying if the piece was exactly square. Perhaps that is really what art is all about – letting go of the need to be ever so tidy and neat. She abandoned her notion of what she saw and let the scene flow into her eyes and out through her hands onto the paper. I can almost see the aspens swaying in the wind. This watercolor reminds me of our time in England. My daughter started school there and I was fortunate to spend many lovely days on field trips with her class. Sometimes we would visit a small museum or a business, the sort of field trip we are used to here in the United States. Then one beautiful spring morning we took a walk in the woods with a picnic lunch. We walked for a long time until we came upon a bend in the creek. The forest floor was carpeted in wildflowers and the leaves and grass were that amazing bright green of new growth. The teacher asked the children to find a view they liked and to take out their sketchbooks. She had made similar requests at the museums we visited. Pick something you really like and sketch it. She believed we captured the essence of what we saw by lingering over it, by using our hands to secure it in our minds. There was serious learning in museum sketches but what was today about? Leave it to the English to fold serious learning into a walk in the woods. The other chaperone was an avid gardener, no, more than that, an amateur botanist. Soon I could see not only sketches, but also the Latin names for each plant at the bottom. Later the children were given the opportunity to watercolor their sketches. Quite an impressive request of second graders, with equally impressive results. My now 25 year old daughter has a degree in architecture and works with a construction company. She models the parts of the building design where there can be conflicts, such as plumbing and electrical. Her work literally helps the team see inside of the walls. I wonder if her career began with those field trips and her sketches. She may not paint, but every day she uses an eye trained to keenly observe the scene at hand. She can see details that elude the rest of us, but perhaps we all can learn to linger a little longer to breathe in the essence of now. Make time today to slow down and soak in your surroundings. Hold open space for the beauty around you, whether it is the whole scene or just a single blade of grass. Allow your prayers to be joined with the prayers of creation, as it is written:

“Let heaven and earth praise Him, the seas and everything that moves in it” – Psalm 69:34

Most of all, let the same Creator who formed each of us in the womb guide us through the gift of His bountiful creation.

Text by Connie Chintall ©2020, All Rights Reserved

Watercolor entitled ’Swaying Aspens’ by Adrienne O’Hara©2020, used with her permission, All Rights Reserved.

Reflecting on Contrast….

Rain is relentlessly falling, plastering leaves to the soaking wet ground. These storms may drop our leaves before we get much color. So I was drawn to this photo of the Colorado mountains taken by my friend Adrienne. We lived in Colorado Springs for three years, but I never got used to the sharp contrast between the yellow aspens and the evergreens. Fall leaves are one color in Colorado – a brilliant, eye popping yellow, made all the more impressive against the dark green pines and cloudy grey sky. Contrast helps us focus on what is distinct from the rest of our surroundings. We may become accustomed to a certain way of doing things, or fail to notice subtle changes. A day away to visit a friend or a walk in the woods clears our minds and sharpens our perceptions. We return refreshed, renewed, rested. We see the familiar with a new eye, recognizing the need for change and more importantly, possessing the energy to begin to change. There is a lot of talk about green technology and sustainable initiatives, even sustainable economies. Everyone wants to make a big splash, a dramatic difference. Yet true change, real and permanent good, relies on changes we can sustain. We start small, then build on our successes and learn from our mistakes, stepping back now and again to be sure we stay on track. Take time today to clear your mind and sharpen your senses. Pick up a single leaf, and marvel at the miracle of life. Consider new ways to look at your daily routines, building on your successes and learning from your mistakes. And remember, sometimes it takes contrast to see what needs fixing. Mistakes only become failures when we cease to learn. Photo by Adrienne O’Hara

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