April 20, 2014: Today was Easter. I woke up at five a.m. this morning and stepped outside to a loud chorus of birds just before sunrise. They already knew it was to be a beautiful day and it was. After spending the afternoon with family, my husband and daughter and I returned to the house and worked in the yard. My daughter and I dug into the garden area and made it fresh for a new growing season. Many fat worms were in the soil. It felt like a family day, a loving day and it reminded me of a little passage in a used book I found called, Love is a Special Way of Feeling, by Joan Walsh Anglund, copyrighted 1960. The cover is cloth and simply bound.
Love is a Special Way of Feeling by: Joan Walsh Anglund
It is such a special little book, with the best illustrations, although the illustrator is not named. The story is simple and communicates one thing, love. It does not affix love to just one person or situation, but quietly reminds us of special moments that warm our hearts and define us for who we are. My favorite passage is found directly halfway through the book.
Love is found in unexpected places …
It is there in the quiet moment
when we first discover
a beautiful thing …
when we watch a bird
soar high against
a pale blue sky …
from Love is a Special Way of Feeling by Joan Walsh Anglund
Happy Easter! Oh, and I do continue to work on this charcoal. I present The Hungry Bird. It is not done yet, but I will continue to share my progress on it.
The Hungry Bird, done in charcoal, by Mary Champagne
Dec. 17, 2013: After Thanksgivig, on a lazy evening, well after my daughter had gone to bed, I was working on a wood burning in front of the fireplace, a full goblet of wine withing arms reach and my husband lounged on the couch. To ease the silence, but in hopes not to end the peacefulness, I put on ‘ Old Man and the Sea’, an audiobook written m Ernest Hemingway and read by Donald Sutherland. (A reading well portrayed and worth the effort to find.)
As the first disc came to a close, my woodburned picture began to show depth. The evening took on a timeless quality. I reached for a second glass of wine. One passage captured, I believe, on that first disc read…
In the dark the old man could feel the morning coming and as
he rowed he heard the trembling sound as flying fish left
the water and the hissing that their stiff set wings made
as they soared away in the darkness. He was very fond of
flying fish as they were his principal friends on the ocean.
He was sorry for the birds, especially the small delicate
dark terns that were always flying and looking and almost
never finding, and he thought, the birds have a harder
life than we do except for the robber birds and the heavy
strong ones. Why did they make birds so delicate and fine
as those sea swallows when the ocean can be so cruel?
She is kind and very beautiful. But she can be so cruel
and it comes so suddenly and such birds that fly, dipping
and hunting, with their small sad voices are made
too delicately for the sea.
Hemingway seems to be communicating the duality of beauty and vastness of the sea, the greatness of the winds, and sun and elements, and the smallness and ultimately helplessness of this sea swallow to them. (Much like the beauty and cruelty of life.) And as genteel as this sentiment is, I want to defend this sea swallow. This creature making its existence near and on the expanse. Frailty I think not. But then again, I don’t think Hemingway meant for this paragraph to inform us about sea swallows. How one interprets this passage probably speaks more about the reader and less about the swallows.
June 23, 2013: A little over a week ago my husband suggested, with snark, what is next a seagull? Well why not? On Lake Superior we saw seagulls that flew majestically diving and plucking fish from the open water, they were wonderful and beautiful.
Traveling Seagulls, charcoal and chalk on newspaper, Mary Champagne
I have a copy of Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull that my daughter and I have started reading. She is at just the right age where she still enjoys for me to read to her and short stories are not as satisfying as they use to be. I found the following quote moving and thought I would share it here:
“Instead of our drab slogging forth and back
to the fishing boats, there's reason to live!
We can lift ourselves out of ignorance,
we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence
and intelligence and skill.
We can learn to be free! we can learn to fly!”
Freedom Seagull, pencil and oil pastel, Mary Champagne
The Traveling Seagulls are on newspaper with charcoal and white chalk. The second picture is done in a soft pencil and the background is in oil pastel. I am still working out the oil pastel medium. I really like it, but don’t know how best to work it’s strong suits. (As I think this is the third post I have featured a picture where I have used it. Practice, practice.) I think it works well here. Oil pastel colors really pop, and I think here it adds interest and texture.
Nov. 4, 2012: Today my husband, daughter and I made a stop to Gander Mountain. This is a weekly field trip as my husband insists that we collect the weekly ad. It is just down the road, so we pile in the car and make the effort to entertain ourselves while there. Today’s visit entailed a thorough examination of various folding chairs. At some point, I decided I must look at the outdoor magazines. We had headed over to the magazine rack and found some waterfowl monthly mags. For the most part, the magazines didn’t have many pictures; not so useful to a child who can’t read. But her interest was perked. She saw the various hunting tools and pictures of people hunting and her attention was drawn. I finally found and settled on Gray’s Outdoor Journal. I cracked it open, found short stories that were worthy of being called literature, pictures and works of art, and some poetry. A love of the outdoors in such a carefully put together magazine felt like a gem among the advertisement ridden magazines that in the end seemed strictly written for one type of hunter.
That afternoon, my daughter and I began reading ‘Waiting on Ducks’ by Gordon Neal. She loved how in the story the main character, who was referred to as ‘he’, would lay out his clothes in anticipation for the next day’s hunt. She instantly felt akin to the excitement that he felt. The story was about a twenty something man who was going through a break up. He used the ritual of the hunt to find himself again. While I think most of us aren’t twenty something year old dudes, I think we can all relate to having to rebuild ourselves and finding comfort in the rhythm of real life. Real life for the hunter in the story is a duck hunt. It is an awesome story and is brought to an excellent conclusion. I later finished the story and I now know the mag rack at Gander Mountain is awesome!
Nov. 1, 2012: Why One Chickadee? I can take it no more, I love the outdoors and art and I need an outlet. So this is my outlet. I think there must be other people out there that have the same love and passion, at least in something and so can relate to my indulgence. I don’t watch much tv or know what the latest gadget is, although I am sure that it is fabulous and my life would be better with it. But I am an avid artist and spend most of my time with the family, the outdoors, science, and literature. I will be sharing my art here and hope that you can grab a cup of coffee and relax with me while I indulge.