Time for wandering

26

Dear Artist,

Last weekend, a ten-year-old friend took me to summer camp drop-off. We snaked a sea-hugging road through mountain passes while she described the intricacies of geocaching, bouldering, trail riding and ukulele. At bedtime without her Kindle, she told me she’ll be whispering in a cabin of seven others, with two teenaged counsellors on the other side of a soundproof curtain. After Starbucks, the highway narrowed to a dirt road and then a mulch path, where a Hawaiian-shirted adolescent wearing a wooden name badge motioned us with his clipboard into a parking space.

John-F-Carlson_forest

oil on canvas
by John F. Carlson (1875 – 1947)

At check-in, my friend dropped her duffle and crossed over into time stoppage. Camp showed no signs of this decade or millennium. We stepped up into “Cloud Burst” and surveyed a set of bunk beds and wooden shelving. I examined the soundproof curtain. Outside, behind and all around the playing fields and volleyball net, health station and mess hall, a deep forest spread out in veined pathways and no pathways. I imagined its clearings and canopies and the yet-to-be-thought-of ideas waiting there. I remembered my own chances in an Emily Carr-like thicket on Cortes Island, where second-growth Cedars breathed their mysteries and the secrets of previous wanderers.

john-f-carlson4

oil on canvas
by John F. Carlson

Back in the studio, I opened the doors and let the bunnies hop closer. I took to my own nearby woods where, in a clearing, a pair of Golden Eagles shared a catch from the estuary. Summer sidled up and gave an endless evening of moving light — and in it, the time and space for wandering.

Sincerely,

Sara

 

john-f-carlson5

oil painting by John F. Carlson

PS: “There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, / There is a rapture on the lonely shore, / There is society, where none intrudes, / By the deep Sea, and music in its roar: / I love not Man the less, but Nature more.” (Lord Byron)

Esoterica: Structuring unstructured time is a summer art form designed for artists and bestowed upon ten-year-olds. Make a fierce commitment to localized play, load up on materials and make cuts to the social calendar. Embrace the microcosm of your local green space. Look at the calendar and make a note of the beginning and end of this time. “Play is the work of the child,” said Maria Montessori. This summer, might we all be the child?

john-f-carlson7

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“To the artist, the forest is an asylum of peace and dancing shadows.” (John F. Carlson)

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26 Comments

  1. Steve Clement on

    Sara, you food me today. I always try to figure out whether it is you writing or one of your dear father’s older musings. Today, I suppose given the subject matter, I was quite sure it was your dad. Thanks as always for a bit of artistic joy early in the day!

  2. Thank you for this one, Sara…the last paragraph slowed me right down to where I could actually “feel” being in the deep winter woods of Carlson’s paintings! You made my day! Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Sandra Donohue, Robson, B.C. on

    This letter was serendipitous. I was just driving home from town, noticing a couple of kids riding their bikes along the road. On one side was the Columbia River and on the other lots of wild flowers were blooming. I thought that it was so wonderful. For kids to have two whole months off from school to enjoy these kind of days. I hope that the idea of cutting back on summer holidays, in favour of spreading the time off over the rest of the year never takes hold.

  4. Thank you for posting John F Carlsons landscapes. I pulled out his book “Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting” and will start to reread it. Excellent book.

    • GEORGE REIS on

      GREAT TO SEE PHOTOS OF JOHN F. CARLSON….HIS BOOK “CARLSON’S GUIDE TO LANDSCAPE PAINTING, HAS BEEN MY BIBLE FOR MANY YEARS O F LANDSCAPE PAINTING, IN FACT I WAS FORTUNATE TO FIND A NICE SIZED FALL SCENE OF HIS YEARS AGO, AT AN ESTATE SALE….IT HAS BEEN IN THE ENTRY WAY OF MY HOME FOR AT LEAST TWO DECADES…….MY STUDIO HAS ALWAYS BEEN MY ASYLUM OF PEACE…..

  5. Sara, thank you for the gift of this letter. It’s exactly what I needed to think about today. Blessings.

  6. Yes, if we do not spend all the time we can outdoors in summer, we atrophy too much in winter and cannot enjoy its quiet time for drawing inward and creating what was conceived in summer. That’s what the Canadian climate is about.

  7. Thank you, thank you for this winsome message. I look forward to your newsletters and appreciate your visual art of storytelling. You brighten my day! From an amateur artist in ON

  8. Cynthia Grover on

    Thank you, Sara, for this reverie and Carlson’s evocative oils. Ah, that the essence of childhood would remain forever….

  9. Alexandra Vsnce on

    Thank you for this wonderful message and inspiration. Nature is a sanctuary for me as well. It’s pleasant to imagine so many who make art playing in the asylum of nature. This place of peace is even more restorative as I age.

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