Voice and Vision

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152: Bleak Winter Break

When I lived in Michigan, Missouri, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, I sometimes wished for a warm sunny mid-winter break. Muddy roads, old snow, and gray skies could sometimes be depressing. Maine, too, has mud and gray, but every week includes some brilliant sunshine.

There is a stillness to Maine that enables quiet undertakings: painting, reading, writing, thinking, meditating, dreaming, listening, seeing, creating, baking, praying, bringing ideas to light that often go unacknowledged in a busier routine. In winter’s stillness, insights come. One has the opportunity to explore ideas deeply.

Today I picked up a book long loved, a book I used in my master’s degree paper, a book I loved long before I wrote that paper. The book is Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art. It remains a favorite.  It is the sort of book to pick up on a quiet winter afternoon. And I did, re-reading my many highlights. This is one: “When we are writing, or painting, or composing, we are, during the time of creativity, freed from normal restrictions, and are opened to a wider world, where colours are brighter, sounds clearer, and people more wondrously complex than we normally realize.

If you are a writer, a creator, an artist, this quotation above, and the following one, will likely resonate with you, especially on a still winter’s day, as it did with me long ago and as it continues to every time I read it, as today:

“. . . .the artist is someone who is full of questions, who cries them out in great angst, who discovers rainbow answers in the darkness, and then rushes to canvas or paper. An artist is someone who cannot rest, who can never rest as long as there is one suffering creature in this world. Along with Plato’s divine madness there is also divine discontent, a longing to find the melody in the discords of chaos, the rhyme in the cacophany, the surprised smile in time of stress or strain.


It is not that what is is not enough, for it is; it is that what is had been disarranged, and is crying out to be put in place. Perhaps the artist longs to sleep well every night, to eat anything without indigestion; to feel no moral qualms; to turn off the television news and make a bologna sandwich after seeing the devastation and death caused by famine and drought and earthquake and flood. But the artist cannot manage this normalcy. Vision keeps breaking through, and must find means of expression.”


Perfect landscapes or stories aren’t necessary. Cloudy days give birth to ideas, too. Fresh concepts appear on paper because they must. We have only to express what we know inside.

Bouquet with Ladle, framed watercolor,15" x 20" $475 by Gwendolyn Evans

Bouquet with Ladle, framed watercolor,15″ x 20″ $475 by Gwendolyn Evans

Artwork: Bouquet with Ladleframed watercolor,15″ x 20″ $475An inclement day is good for still life. Gather several old books, an antique ladle, a hand-thrown pot, patterned silk, and fresh flowers from a local florist or grocery. Arrange with design in mind.  Through color, shape, light and shadow, something is captured beyond mere objects. In this piece, though painted on a dark day, it was spritely joy.

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