Glorious Colour or Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud? (Take #2)

When tasks get ahead of me, the calendar gives me the eagle eye, and I don’t have the energy required to catch up… something has to go, and today it’s the blog. With memories of the Surrey Conference still fresh in mind, I hope you’ll excuse me for re-running this post that was originally inspired by Jack’s rendition of the Hippopotamus Song.

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With apologies to Jack Whyte (from whom I learned the song) and Flanders and Swann (who wrote the lyrics), I could think of no better title for this post.

There’s no getting around it. Colour affects me. I’m forever remarking on the multitude of greens in the early spring, or trying to describe the perfect tint of pink edging a garden bloom. It took literally months (ask my exasperated husband!) before I could settle on just the right shade of sage green to repaint our family room walls.

I haven’t had my oils out for a long time, but I well remember the times I dabbed and mixed colours trying for a hue that was exactly right  – working and reworking the colours on my canvas until suddenly I’d gone too far and they were muddy. At that moment there was no way to reclaim the desired effect. The only remedy was to take a palette knife, scrape the canvas clean and begin again.

This morning as I struggled with revisions to a particular scene I muttered about its lack of colour. Characterization was okay but the setting felt artificial, two-dimensional. There’s no lack of information on this subject but knowing and doing are too often a chasm apart. I thought I knew what was needed.

I closed my eyes for a moment and visualized the scene. Then I let my fingers loose to bring descriptive life to it. I gave them free rein, and when they were done I sat back and read the accumulation of words.

Oh, my! Purple prose, with adjectives and adverbs galore! I went through the paragraphs stripping away the superfluous, but that just left bare bones that poked ugly elbows at me. Like a bad painting, the whole thing was past redemption. I’d gone too far. Delete. Delete. Delete. I’ll rewrite from scratch tomorrow.

Colours1Glorious colour is an ethereal glow. Like stained glass its beauty is not in itself but in the light that pours through it, effortlessly enhancing without drawing attention to itself.

That’s the effect I want in my writing.

That’s also what I hope to achieve with my life.

“I am the Light of the world”

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Frozen Light

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“I am the light of the world.”

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[John 8:12]

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How exquisite your love, O God! …

You’re a fountain of cascading light,

and you open our eyes to light.

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[Psalm 36:7,9 – The Message]

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Blanshard Peak – 5,085 ft – part of the Golden Ears mountains of the Garibaldi Range
[Photo taken November 19, 2011 from Dewdney Trunk Road in Maple Ridge, BC]
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Light In the Darkness

 

My journal rests forgotten on my lap, pen poised without words to record. I am mesmerized by light as flames dance in the fireplace, flickering into the shadows of a room otherwise lit only by Christmas lights.

I’m not sure if there’s anything scientific about our fascination with light. I know in winter there are people who suffer from S.A.D., Seasonal Affected Disorder, a form of depression that improves significantly with exposure to sunlight or other bright light. I wonder if there’s any connection between the winter solstice and people’s desire to brighten their homes and neighbourhoods with an abundance of lights at Christmas.

Around here there are festive lights outside and in – little twinkle lights in greenery on mantels, windowsills, and above the kitchen cupboards, and LED lights on the tree. Outside there are more along the roofline, around the front door, and wound round and round the railings on the back deck. I love the twinkle and glow of lights at Christmastime. They turn the ordinary into something magical, especially in the snow.

(These pictures are of Christmas 2008… the year of our “big snow”.)

Each Sunday in our church a child comes forward at the beginning of the service and lights a candle. “Jesus is the light of the world,” he says before we begin our worship.

The image of light recurs in scripture frequently – Jesus said that he is the light of the world and those that follow him will not walk in darkness but have the light of life; he tells us that we are also to be lights in the world, shining so that others may see God reflected in us and give him glory.

These aren’t new revelations, but at Christmas time we see them more clearly because we are focused on Jesus, on how and why he came to us. At Christmas time we surround ourselves with light as a reminder that he whose birth we celebrate came as a light into our darkness. It isn’t magic. It’s the Gospel.

In the glow of firelight I return to my writing, remembering why I love Christmas lights.

John 8:12,  Matthew 5:14,  Philippians 2:15,  John 12:46

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Of Light, Brightness and Sight

There is a symbolism associated with windows — eyes are said to be windows to the soul; a brief window of time suggests an opportunity to be snatched.

Ordinary glass windows are important to me. We bought this house because of its windows. As soon as we walked in the front door we were captivated by all the light and the view of the surrounding woods. The living/dining room has five large windows; the family room has three plus double patio doors, and the breakfast nook has four. They bring light from outside into my daily life. It’s raining today but still the rooms are bright.

Despite all the windows, I often miss seeing the treasures beyond them. I almost missed the first periwinkles. They’re blooming early this spring. I know I missed the deer munching lily leaves in the front garden, the bear wandering across the back yard, and probably the raccoons playing hide and seek in the cedar trees, because I’m not looking out the windows. I’m engrossed in my reading, my writing, my (blech!) housework.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” [John 8:12]

During this Holy Week we take time to consider him whose light has illuminated our lives, and yet was crucified because he was not seen for who he was and is.

Open my eyes, Lord, that I may see. [Psalm 119:18]

Glorious Colour or Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud?

With apologies to Jack Whyte (from whom I learned the song) and Flanders and Swann (who wrote the lyrics), I could think of no better title for today’s post.

 

There’s no getting around it. Colour affects me. I’m forever remarking on the multitude of greens in the early spring, or trying to describe the perfect tint of pink edging a garden bloom. It took literally months (ask my exasperated husband!) before I could settle on just the right shade of sage green to repaint our family room walls.  

 

I haven’t had my oils out for a long time, but I well remember the times I dabbed and mixed colours trying for a hue that was exactly right  – working and reworking the colours on my canvas until suddenly I’d gone too far and they were muddy. At that moment there was no way to reclaim the desired effect. The only remedy was to take a palette knife, scrape the canvas clean and begin again.  

 

This morning as I struggled with revisions to a particular scene I muttered about its lack of colour. Characterization was okay but the setting felt artificial, two-dimensional. There’s no lack of information on this subject but knowing and doing are too often a chasm apart. I thought I knew what was needed.    

 

I closed my eyes for a moment and visualized the scene. Then I let my fingers loose to bring descriptive life to it. I gave them free rein, and when they were done I sat back and read the accumulation of words.   

 

Oh, my! Purple prose, with adjectives and adverbs galore! I went through the paragraphs stripping away the superfluous, but that just left bare bones that poked ugly elbows at me. Like a bad painting, the whole thing was past redemption. I’d gone too far. Delete. Delete. Delete. I’ll rewrite from scratch tomorrow.  

 

Colours1Glorious colour is an ethereal glow. Like stained glass its beauty is not in itself but in the light that pours through it, effortlessly enhancing without drawing attention to itself.

 

That’s the effect I want in my writing.

 

That’s also what I hope to achieve with my life.

 

“I am the Light of the world”