The Magic Hour

Dear Artist, I have a memory from my childhood of walking alone with my Dad, somewhere in Brittany. I was about eleven. We were talking about the Post-Impressionists and about waiting for the day’s end, the best painting light — the “magic hour.” It was one of my “firsts”: my first recollection of our first conversation on a subject my Dad and I are still getting to the bottom of. I remember how we walked together side by side, Dad and I, his ideas tumbling out of him like paving stones on a path in front of me. He had given me my first journal and my first camera, and he’d even ordered for me my first endive salad, but it was our back and forth that etched the journey.

‘Step by step a path, stone by stone, a cathedral.’

Today, Dad and I are dividing our time between trips to the BC Cancer Agency, and near-idyllic hours in the studio going over our usual themes: art, music, writing, love. You’d think we’d almost forgotten about the cloud now hanging over us — our timer (a little obscure, dodgy) — brought to our attention by Dr. Cheyne and the CT results. Today, I also remember Dad sharing with you some words I delivered at his 75th birthday party — just two and a half years ago. It was a rumination on how I might get the entire contents of Dad’s brain into my own brain before the end of our allotted time together. My only solution to the panic I was feeling was to keep in mind something I’d recently read in a book on creativity, Stoking the Creative Fires, by San Francisco author Phil Cousineau. The author quoted his own grandfather: “Step by step a path, stone by stone, a cathedral.” Now, it seems, our steps are a little quicker. In these early days of our new paradigm, with the exception of the abrupt awareness of time, I’ve realized that it’s business as usual. Dad’s mental leaps around the creation station remain bubbling and intense. He’s still tamping down his routes between the writing, painting, thinking, reading and bathtub stations. I’m here, my face in his sweater, or leaning forward in the chair across from his. We’re going over the same stuff we started in Brittany. The only difference is our unspoken acknowledgement: It’s magic hour. Sincerely, Sara PS: “Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.” (Jorge Luis Borges) Esoterica: A lifetime of creative output – what we artists call our oeuvre – is called an “estate” after our death, and is something we all dream of building. It’s a privilege to make one. Dad and I have talked for as long as I can remember about this hour. It’s a privilege to bear witness, to participate, and to be part of the bridge.   Sustained and enriched by Tony Angell, Seattle, Washington, USA  

“Otter play”
original sculpture
by Tony Angell

What an inspiration of collaboration. The creative energy and artistic work that lives well beyond our presence is something that you have uniquely provided all of us, whether as artists or as those who simply have their lives sustained and enriched by it.             Plumbing and philosophy by Patty Grau, Redondo Beach, CA, USA  

original sculpture
by Patty Grau

I lost my dad in 1989. He was only 68. He wasn’t an artist; he was a plumber/philosopher. We had many similar chats I cherish to this day. On the back of his business card he had the quote, “The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.” (John W. Gardner) After the funeral I told his closest friend, “I still talk to Dad and, strangely, he answers.” He responded, “As long as you can recreate your father’s voice and know his intention, he will always be with you.” This has proved to be true. I can even ask him how to fix the leaky faucet and he helps me figure it out. There is 1 comment for Plumbing and philosophy by Patty Grau
From: Barbara — Nov 07, 2013

Thank you to all of you for your wonderful posts. I will keep them and reread them. Already, I have sent them to friends and family, and know they will be a blessing to all who read them.

  Art of living by Darcy Schnurr, Victoria, BC, Canada   My husband is the artist in the family and he is the one that your emails have been addressed to. I started reading the email a number of years ago and look forward to the message in them that not only applies to painting, but the art of living a full life. There is 1 comment for Art of living by Darcy Schnurr
From: Marsha Hamby Savage — Nov 08, 2013

So True! Your comment is probably one of the best I have read … these letters apply to every aspect of life … not just art.

  Pertinent information by Hannah Beck  

“October snow”
pastel painting
by Hannah Beck

I wake most mornings to put eye drops in my eyes to prevent Glaucoma from further progressing. While waiting 10 minutes for the next drop, I open my phone to check emails. The excitement always jumps inside my body when I see that your Dad has posted. I have 237 posts since I found this wonderful site, and no matter what is posted, it’s pertinent to what is going on, not only in my artistic endeavors… but my life as well. So without even knowing who I am, I’ve been touched, guided, encouraged, and moved by this wonderful man who is your father. I will simply miss the man I never knew except in print. Your Dad has and will continue to be my mentor, my guidance counselor, my friend who somehow knows me inside and out.   Bugaboo magic by Nancy Sorensen, Edmonton, AB, Canada  

“Bugaboo Hikers”
acrylic painting
by Nancy Sorensen

I can just see the two of you pouring over all the magical creations you have shared. I was given a gift when I joined you & your dad on the Bugaboo art trip this last August. Painting up there in the mountains with you & Robert was a wonderful experience. I know many of us on the trip feel that this… was our “magic hour.”       DNA wisdom by Carolyn Newberger, MA, USA  

“Martin Rest in Peace”
watercolour painting, 22 x 30 inches
by Carolyn Newberger

We all face this journey, and its reminders of the preciousness of life and the power of love and legacy. It is with both a heavy and a happy heart that I realized that today’s voice is Sara’s, and what a fine voice it is. You don’t need to fill your head with your Dad’s wisdom, Sara. It’s in your DNA, to be absorbed in your own way, juggled and reinterpreted, and then expressed and enlarged in your own voice.         Many magic hours by John Unbehend, Seattle, WA, USA  

“Still life”
pastel painting
by John Unbehend

Your posting started a cascade of memories which resulted in my realizing that, as artists and photographers, we live our whole lives for the anticipation and revelation in the magic hour. Many artists think that there are just two magic hours in a day – just before and just after sunrise and sunset. For me there is no contest – it is the hours before and after sunset that make my day magical. I realize that it is the culmination of a life time of magic hours that result in the last ones being the sweetest. There is 1 comment for Many magic hours by John Unbehend  
From: Ruth — Nov 17, 2013

Wow. What you wrote is absolutely beautiful!

  Doctor, Artist by Dr. Edward Hughes, Burlington, ON, Canada  

acrylic painting, 40 x 48 inches
by Dr. Edward Hughes

This is so beautiful to read and feel. It makes me cry, having felt that same sweater against my cheek. I can’t stop thinking about Robert and you and all of it. I talk to folks about your situation often — it has become a piece of me. And if consciousness is organic and alive (which I think it is) that means that there is now a mesh or web of love across the entire globe that surrounds you. All because of Robert’s (and your) creativity, generosity and sweetness. I deeply regret not making my trip to Hollyhock happen, after talking with you about it in NYC (with Cait and Janelle). That is a lesson learned again, to seize the day and make the most of the light. There is 1 comment for Doctor, Artist by Dr. Edward Hughes
From: Virginia Wieringa — Nov 08, 2013

Well said, Edward! I’m part of that web of love too. Thinking about Robert and Sara and the rest of their family often and surrounding them with love, prayers and good thoughts

  Dad’s girl by Robin Timms, North Vancouver, BC, Canada  

“The Storm”
original painting
by Robin Timms

Meeting both of you at Hollyhock this summer was truly a gift. While being excited about the joy of learning all things painting, there were other special gifts you unknowingly shared with me that I treasure now in my day-to-day living. I inhaled your spirit of adventure and natural energy that I cherish so much. I believe it was Paul Cezanne who said, “First of all, I am a sensationalist.” In sharing your own adventures, you have captured this natural energy and it flowed out of you like some kind of river. I felt this symbiotic energy of father and daughter love for all that is around you. (And as an aside I get now what Sara told me about painting from real life into an expression of abstraction… it was one of those light bulb moments for me). Another gift is the one you shared of the joy of being in the moment, which is a feeling I listen and look for every day now that I can more often choose how to spend my time. I have a love of The Impressionists as well, Sara, and walking the places where they painted and lived, can’t you just feel the connection to the moment, the natural energy each was painting ? The joy of painting in the moment? One must breathe life to the fullest before one can paint a single darn thing. You both talk about these moments, live and breathe these moments, and helped me understand how connected joyous living and successful painting are. I have become more of an introvert since getting away from a daily earning my living “grind” — more like the child I once was. Each day I am becoming more myself — more like my father. I was Daddy’s girl growing up and we shared a bond like no other. My earliest memories were going for a drive in the country with my Dad to check out what was growing in the fields, or “what the day would bring.” It was our quiet time to just be alone with nature and the big Prairie skies and sometimes talk about things just between the two of us. It was our time. And since we both had a terrible passion for ice cream, the day most often ended with a stop for ice cream cones (rain or shine, winter or summer). Of course, it most often ruined my dinner but there was no telling my mother. I lost my Dad unexpectedly — he died in his sleep of a brain aneurysm at the age of 56. I was just starting out in the world, trying to find myself. To this day I wonder what advice he might have given me about this thing or that thing or what he would have thought about some particular thing. I think about all the things I didn’t get a chance to ask him or to say to him that I wanted to say. But really, none of that matters. When I close my eyes I can still feel him holding my hand when I was shy, or calling me “Sweetie,” or bragging about all the things his girl could do. It’s my Dad’s warm touch and, most of all, his love that I remember and that stays with me.  

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for The Magic Hour

From: Warren Thompson — Nov 04, 2013

Very moving Sara. Thanks for sharing your journey as well. I look forward to every newsletter.

From: Linda Kukulski — Nov 04, 2013

Dear Sara, Oh, how you have your father’s gift for communicating. You write your thoughts so much like him it is difficult to tell who the thoughts are coming from. It is not a big stretch to believe how much you have listened and filed away ‘some’ of your dad’s brain contents. I think you have listened extremely well and I look forward to your letters just as I have looked forward to his. A while ago, when his book of letters was published and I ordered a signed copy, I was so looking forward to receiving it. When a week later I received a second copy I actually picked up the phone and called him. I live in Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island or ‘just over the chuck’ to tell him about it. Here is what he said to me. “You can be my good karma on the island, please give it to someone you think will enjoy it”. That is exactly what I did, happily. You, dear Sara are your dad’s good karma in the world. How lucky are you! How lucky is he! Best wishes, Linda Kukulski Nanaimo, B.C.

From: Lainey Benson — Nov 04, 2013

Upon reading this letter I was deeply moved and yet a little rueful that I wasn’t given the depth of relationship with my father that you and your dad so lovingly share. But quickly my envy was supplanted by optimism and thankfulness for the relationships I enjoy with my own sons. And I am reminded of the power of intention and good fortune combined. Thank you.

From: Kathy Mann — Nov 04, 2013

Sara, What treasured gifts you and your father are to each other, enriching each other’s creativity, challenging depth and investigation of ideas…Sharing the fruit of that relationship, you include and enrich us all. I’m grateful…

From: Daggi Wallace — Nov 04, 2013

Beautifully written!! My heart goes out to you, your dad and your whole family. I look forward to reading more of your writing.

From: Diane Langeveld — Nov 04, 2013

Scene dad said “aww. no need to go to college. You are a woman and marry and have kids. No Use” Scene two..My dad sat on the back porch all night, dying of kidney failure.In my last year of college I sat up with him all night, massaging his swollen legs, and I discussed so many things with him about life.I sat up with him all night and we talked for the first time in reality.He later told my mother, “I had no idea that Diane knew so much.I am very proud of her and I know she will do great things,” as the tears rolled down his cheeks.treasured memory.

From: Mary Ann Laing — Nov 04, 2013

Thank you, Sara.

From: Martha Bilski — Nov 05, 2013

Beautiful. I embrace you and your family with love and gratitude for you extraordinary gifts.

From: Shane Conant — Nov 05, 2013

Very inspirational. True love is proven by endurance through both time and trial. To know and share love with others is the greatest of the things that are eternal.

From: Diane Hart — Nov 05, 2013

Dear Sara, I too, have a daughter a named Sarah who is my heart. I have poured as much of my life into her as I possibly can and we think so much alike. Your writing is beautiful, at first i thought it was your Dad writing. You are such a sweet blessing to him and to all of us. Be confident that your letters will be well received. Your Dad has spoken of you so frequently that we already know and admire you and look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for being willing to step into the gap for all of us!

From: Helen Tilston — Nov 05, 2013

Dear Sara & Robert I can feel the love between the two of you. How special this is and that the chemistry and love is there between you. It does not get any better than than. Not that you need reminding but please enjoy every moment, laugh, dance, sing, go to concerts, go to the shore, go to the mountains, go to lunch. Wherever two or more are gathered, ask God in belief: “Dear God, we forgive all who have sinned against us. We ask your almighty grace to grant a cure for pancreatic cancer and for complete healing for Robert Genn. We adore and glorify you dear God and as you said: “where two or more are gathered, ask in belief, and it shall be given”. Amen

From: GiselaTowner — Nov 05, 2013

I was moved to tears. Such a very beautiful letter.

From: Robert Sesco — Nov 05, 2013

Sara, To have lived so publicly through these letters as your Dad has done, sharing his inquisitiveness with us, sharing his personal feelings about the career of art, and to continue to allow us glimpses into your lives during the difficult times as well as the grateful times, is an honor I don’t take lightly. As artists I’m sure we understand the metaphor of living well as a means of creating a work of art with our lives. I feel like your father has done this, and I respect the commitment he made, and continues to make, to this endeavor. I respect your privacy, and I am honored that the sharing of his journey continues. My best to you, your Dad, and your family.

From: Allison Bacovillard — Nov 05, 2013

What a beautiful letter. You sound so much like your father; your sensitivity and openness and heart. I’ve been reading your father’s letters for a very long time now and I was so saddened by the news of his diagnosis. What a special relationship the two of you have. Thank you for sharing this with us.

From: Kathleen — Nov 05, 2013

Sara, Your letter fills me with emotion, touching my heart and soul. God bless

From: Brenda Gribbin — Nov 05, 2013

Sara, I regret that I only recently found The Painters’ Key and your father’s wonderful letters. It is an honor and privilege to be in the audience for this “magic hour”. Thank you for sharing your heart. Blessings and grace and mercy on you and your family at this time.

From: Phil Chadwick — Nov 05, 2013

Touching and from the heart – the only way to live honestly in a materialistic and fleeting world.

From: Marianne Broome — Nov 05, 2013

Thank you Sara for a very moving letter. You of course are your own person and will bring us many new insights and words of wisdom. But your father’s extraordinary character will also shine through as the two of you are obviously so close. This is a rare gift with which we are not all blessed and I am sure you will treasure your time together to the fullest. Like so many others my heart is filled with sadness at Robert’s news. My warmest wishes to all of your family.

From: Gigi Starnes — Nov 05, 2013

Dearest Sara~the gift you and your father have been given is so very rare; that you both have chosen to share it with us is amazing. You are so alike, and yet so individual, you do not stand in Robert’s shadow, you stand upon his shoulders. His heart swells as he watches you soar. Continue to enjoy every moment of family you have and know that you have unknown friends who share your joy as well as your pain. Blessings, Gigi Starnes

From: Janis Lyle Weisbrot — Nov 05, 2013

All of those above have well said what I, too, am feeling.

From: Pam Wong — Nov 05, 2013

Dear Sara..A very moving letter, we will walk this path with you Both! Maybe we will learn how to build our own cathedral. Many of us are approaching the magichour, we just don’t know when. Love and prayers.

From: Laurel Daniel — Nov 05, 2013

Thank you Sara, for sharing these tender moments. And thank you for picking up the baton – it seems you are well prepared. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

From: Penny Otwell — Nov 05, 2013

Thank you Sara. You and your Dad are so fortunate to have this close relationship. Mine was not, but the joy (and sadness) in your words touch me. Robert’s reach to artists through this letter is so generous and I appreciate that you write so well, too. Please know that many of us out here are listening and thinking of you both. Thank you.

From: Ron Wilson — Nov 05, 2013

Thank you for the words, Sara. Hi to your dad.

From: Louise Nicholson — Nov 05, 2013

Sara, you are indeed a talented writer! You’ve moved me to tears. Enjoy all these small and big moments together. For so many of us, they disappear before we realize how precious they are! I, too, look forward to more of your writing.

From: Cindy Ricksgers — Nov 05, 2013

This is lovely, Sara. I know exactly what you mean by “the magic hour”. My Mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a little over two years ago now. Hers was very advanced, not treatable, and her prognosis was “three months”. Of course, there are all the horrors of hearing that, the pain of acceptance, the sadness…but it was a golden time, too, of treasuring each moment, cherishing every story and holding tight to any knowledge or information that she could impart. I loved her for all of her life, and do,still. I have many wonderful memories, but those few months stand out as a time when we all knew how fleeting and precious each moment is. My heart goes out to you.

From: Ingrid Christensen — Nov 05, 2013

Thank you, Sara, for this beautiful and moving letter. I can tell that I’ll love your writer’s voice as much as I’ve loved your dad’s for all these years.

From: lee cowan — Nov 05, 2013


From: Kathy Egbert — Nov 05, 2013

Thank you, Sara. Love and prayers to you and your family.

From: Anges Paulsen, Tucson AZ — Nov 05, 2013
From: Dawn Banning — Nov 05, 2013

Heartfelt Sara, Thank you, thank you.

From: Camille Bodey — Nov 05, 2013

Dear Robert Genn, Thankyou for your beautiful letters which I found inspiring thoughts. You’re in my prayers. Camille Bodey

From: Anne Elisabeth Nitteberg — Nov 05, 2013

Dear Robert and Sara, what a beautiful real story that I always will remember. Thank you for years of inspiration and guiding you have been sharing with us

From: Jacquelyn Sloane Siklos — Nov 05, 2013

Thank you for translating emotion into words so that we can all be reminded that we are not alone in our experiences of life. What a gift to share your experience. I’m still hoping for a miracle for you all…

From: Terry Shepherd — Nov 05, 2013

Hi Sara – I read your beautiful letter this morning and wanted to let you know from one who had the chance to have a final year with my dad that it was the best gift of my life. The ‘magic hour’ was a wonderful sunset for Dad and you are right – I was privileged to have been part of the bridge. Take care.

From: Debbie Lamey-MacDonald — Nov 05, 2013

Beautifully written Sara! What a special relationship you and your dad have. Thanks for sharing your story. Keeping you all in my thoughts and praying for miracles.

From: Renea Eshleman — Nov 05, 2013

What a wonderful love story of a dad and daughter. I am at the same time in awe and mourning. Thank you for describing the beautiful legacy of your talent, relationship, and love for each other.

From: Marian — Nov 05, 2013

Thanks Sara, thanks for sharing your feelings. Love for you and for your dad, Robert.

From: Ron Unruh — Nov 06, 2013
From: Brian from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico — Nov 06, 2013

Dear Robert and Sara: It is clear you are your father’s daughter, Sara. You both, in your current newsletter and in the flashback to your 75th, Robert, have touched on several important issues: about taking control of life and what it brings you and of cherishing and honouring the gift of time together. It is one thing to be a loving parent, but to be a caring mentor and supportive teacher is another. It is one thing to be a loving daughter but another thing to recognize and appreciate the wisdom and understanding of a parent who also is a teacher. There is no need for any of us to encourage you to savour your moments together. Your writing shows evidence that you both are extremely accomplished at doing just that. It is a privilege to be able to share life’s moments with someone you cherish and none more so than those you are sharing now.

From: Marcie Maynard — Nov 06, 2013

Hello Sara, I hope you don’t find this email intrusive during this period of time, but I am following my heart here. I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad. I hope he is responding well to the treatments. I am a cancer survivor and went through chemo and radiation, and I have found that visualizing the loved one well, vital and in good health is very helpful to the process. When I got my chemo I visualized the white light of healing gently and continually flowing from the top of my head down to my toes. I sat with my eyes closed (it was even better when they gave me a bed alone in a room) and lay there in that state…visualizing myself healing. I will send good vibes his and your way and do some visualizing from afar. I was real close to my Dad and know how hard and deep the whole experience is. It sounds like you are doing everything right. Also, a month ago, I was going to write Robert and tell him how important it is what he writes about and what he shares with his fellow artists. A truly rich and meaningful offering. Sending love and strength to you and your dad, Marcie Maynard

From: Rachel Trockman — Nov 06, 2013

thank you sara, you’re the privilege i’ve been waiting for. rachel

From: Claudette Lee- Roseland — Nov 06, 2013

We’ll done, Sara. Count among the estate all of us! From Wisconsin

From: Douglas Sandland, Vancouver BC — Nov 06, 2013

“The Magic Hour”. What a beautiful & appropriate metaphor, Robert. In all of my years in advertising working with dozens of photographers in many geographical venues, all of these varied professionals had one thing in common…a preference for shooting during the magic hour when the light is warm and inviting with a feeling that the day is closing but also with a promise of good things to come after nightfall. I’m reminded of another long time friend from Seattle, William Cumming. He was a fringe member of the group of Seattle artists dubbed by Life magazine “The Mystic Painters of the Northwest”. Cumming and my friendship dates back to our both teaching at the Burnley School of Art in Seattle. Trudy & I saw him and his wife one last time at a memorial in LaConner, Washington. I was Standing on the porch of the Gaches Mansion talking to my wife standing on the sidewalk at the foot of the stairs below me when something poked me in the back. It was Bill, whom we hadn’t seen for a long time, poking me with his cane. Trudy caught the moment nicely. What does that have to do with Robert Genn, one might ask. Only this: You & I shook hands two times, once in your studio & again when you accepted our invitation to come and speak to our Western Renaissance Art Group. I treasure those times and all of the unselfish time you have spent sharing your knowledge & talent with the 2x weekly letters. I really appreciate that time spent with us over the years as I also treasure having known Cumming. (Bill is presently on a painting trip somewhere over the rainbow). You’re a wise person, Mr. Genn. We do, and always will, look forward to your advice in your weekly letters. I remember vividly your sage advice to our group in answer to a query about selling paintings. You were making a point about concentrating on producing a ‘good’ body of work: “If you’re going to sell apples you have to have apples in your cart”. You’re a good human being, Robert Genn, perhaps more than you know, Doug Sandland Vancouver, B.C.

From: sandy lillis — Nov 06, 2013

Sara, It is a sad time for us all when we can see our parents slowly leaving us, however there is joy in the fact that your father touched a lot of people and you were able to enjoy your joys together.

From: Kay Christopher — Nov 06, 2013

Your letter is absolutely beautiful, Sara. Thank you so much for your skill and your heart and for carrying on. Am so glad you are there for him and for us. You are appreciated.

From: Melissa McCracken — Nov 07, 2013

Oh my. Sara, you are brave and I see how much you are your father’s girl. My beloved dad and I used to spend hours sorting out the world, who we are and “What’s it all about, Alfie?” I swear we did make inroads. Thank you for bringing Robert to us in this time. I think we’d all like to drop everything and circle up with you two, cozy blankets and hot mugs and get to bottom of it all. Big hugs, Melissa

From: Marilyn Smith — Nov 07, 2013

When one has to face their own mortality-which I have already done many times – the world becomes beautiful and each step a treasured moment. One can’t afford to waste time with people who weigh you down. Love the people you love and live in the moments of life. Thank you Robert and Sara for all the words.

From: Barrett Edwards — Nov 07, 2013
From: Erica Hollander — Nov 07, 2013

Lovely, if only we could keep the awareness of the magic hour with us always.

From: Rachel Bushnell — Nov 07, 2013

What a tender, intuitive letter. Your relationship with your father is unique. My heart is touched by your great love for your father. Thank you for sharing your wonderful walk with him – I could just see you there in Brittany with your eyes wide open – and now in the studio. Thank you for sharing your soul.

From: Janet Badger, Houston, Texas — Nov 07, 2013
From: Julie Eliason — Nov 07, 2013
From: Klaus Exner, Calgary, Alberta — Nov 07, 2013

I did not know what to say when the Bomb arrived. It shocked and saddened me. It made me think about mortality, yours, mine and ours. It launched a train of thought that remains in the forefront of my mind and has to do with how life’s accomplishments are measured. I think my reaction was primarily intellectual. Today’s letter went straight to my heart and I am writing this note through misty eyes. It is beautiful. Thank you both for allowing so many people to bear witness to your personal journey. The continuation of your letters is both generous and courageous.

From: Elizabeth Dahlgren, Corrales, NM — Nov 07, 2013

I am the one who is privileged ! … to be able to be included in your most profound and loving thoughts. I am humbled by your graciousness.

From: Linda Katsuda — Nov 07, 2013

This is heartbreaking but oh so good. You are among the lucky few who have these magic hours with your father.

From: Sandra Mercuri — Nov 07, 2013

Thank you for sharing such a beautiful memories, and the fragile moments you are now navigating with such love and care. Sending prayers to you and your father and thanks for the immense grace you both are offering your readers and followers.

From: B.J. Adams, Washington, DC — Nov 07, 2013
From: Carol Kardon — Nov 07, 2013
From: Alice Helwig — Nov 07, 2013

I had a yoga teacher who once was a Buddhist nun. In her words we needed to be aware– to be awake– to be fully engaged. All life is an illusion, at anytime we might die. We need to be aware. Of course your letter reminded me of that. I wanted to write and thank your father. He’s had a great influence on me. I’m in galleries but have never sold much. The gallery owners apologize (I just got such a note today from one.) There have been times when I was discouraged and wondering why I kept painting. No one seemed to want them. When I would feel this your team would feature one of my paintings on your website. This happened three times. I cannot tell you how much this meant to me, of how it encouraged me to just keep going into the studio and keep on. Your father’s legacy to the greater artistic community starts there, with the encouragement and support of other artists. For that I am always grateful.

From: Chris Moore — Nov 08, 2013

Sara it is lovely and generous that you are taking the time to share with us. I know you are doing it by choice and it is apparent that you and your Dad share a special bond. However, just give us the word if you want to back away at anytime and have some quiet for yourself.

From: Patricia Solem — Nov 08, 2013

Sara: What an incredibly lucky young woman you are to have a father such as Robert. How full your life has been under his tutelage. It sounds like a lot of his DNA got replicated in you. My heart goes out to you for the challenge you and your father face. Many times a day I say a silent prayer for both of you and your family. Unfortunately, my father said little to say to me about any aspect of life. My mother, an artist, spent not one minute teaching or encouraging me. Whenever I feel a bit lost in my artistic endeavors, I turn to some of your father’s latest posts and they get me right back on the path. Thanks so much to you both. Robert has been a beloved companion in my thoughts. He has been the model parent, teacher and mentor that I never had.

From: Alena Liapko — Nov 08, 2013

Thank you , Sara, your letter is very beautiful and touching.

From: Averill Jones — Nov 08, 2013

Sara, I was so touched by your sharing. I, too, am the daughter of an amazing artist. My father would have been 89 this October 11 as he passed away January 13, 2008. I did not realize as I read your post that I was reading your thoughts and memories and not those your father describing his childhood. I was swept over with emotion as I neared the end of your beautiful writing when I realized that they were your thoughts and words that described YOUR father! Although my memories and situations are different than what you described I felt a resonance and love that I too shared with my insightful, personable and amazingly talented father. I am grateful of the time that we shared as father and daughter and artists together. I can tell that you are gleaning the gems of moments that you and your amazing father have had and continue to have together. They never stop! Blessings to you and your father as you continue to walk this journey together.

From: Maryann Hendriks — Nov 08, 2013

Thank you Sara. Hope.

From: Wendy Head — Nov 08, 2013

I have just read Sara’s letter. I send you much love, in thanks for the love, kindness, encouragement and wisdom you have so generously given us all over the years.

From: Eve Stickland, London Ont. — Nov 08, 2013

Sweet Sara, your newsletter really touched my heart. Thank you for sharing. SO sorry your father is so ill. I have always enjoyed & appreciated your father’s newsletters. Please tell him “He has given us a precious gift. A gift of himself. And he will live in our hearts & minds forever as a very special friend. What a legacy!!”

From: Catherine Colsher — Nov 08, 2013
From: Helen Bruzas, London, Ontario — Nov 08, 2013

Thank you for sharing with us these precious, such intimate and private moments that you and your father are experiencing.. You paint such a visual, sensitive image with your chosen words. BEAUTIFUL. How eloquently you paint the picture of you and your father sifting through a life time of memories and jurying what he has done with tools and pigment..While doing this, you are, I’m sure sifting through a lifetime of experiences that have molded you into who you are today.. You are very articulate and I will look forward to our continuing weekly WORDS OF ENLIGHTENMENT….. in my heart I celebrate this remarkable relationship that you have with one another.

From: mimi Ball — Nov 08, 2013

Thank You Sara for the lovely Piece You wrote , about the times with your Dad , May you have many more , memories, and what a Beautiful family you must have ,

From: Jane Willson — Nov 08, 2013

A magical letter for this magical hour, Sara. I feel it’s my magical hour with Robert, too, who I have not met, yet who I feel I know and love so well. Your letter invites us all to share this magical time. I feel strengthened by it, by Robert, by you…

From: Mary Ellen Bratu — Nov 08, 2013

Sara, it’s so clear that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. I love what you’ve written here and how blessed for both you and your Dad that you have one another. As so many have said, your Dad’s been instrumental in my own art practice and life practice. Blessings to you both and abiding gratitude for what’s been offered here, for what’s ahead. Be well.

From: Esther J. Williams — Nov 08, 2013

Sara, you & your father Robert are in my thoughts today and since the first shocking letter. I have been wishing for a miracle for your father, a complete healing. Thank-you for sharing your father`s and your life with us now. I have received so much through the letters in the past years and feel comforted now in reading yours. You fill his shoes very nicely. We are all here for you in good thoughts and prayers. Still, I can`t help but wait for a miracle. My father passed away when I was nineteen of cirrhosis of the liver, he was an alcoholic. He gave me the most praise for my artistic talent when I was young up to the last years. His words are still heard in my head. I feel that he is there somewhere, out there and telling me he is proud of my accomplishments. I think my love for him has grown beyond his death. You see, I wasn`t so close to him in his last years because of all the turmoil his disease caused the family. Eventually I forgave him years later. The subconscious bits of communication between him and I still go back and forth. I will be doing something, a chore maybe and all of the sudden I feel him, I get a vision of being a child on the rug crawling towards him, there is his young face smiling and beckoning me to crawl more. Or I will be hearing him say to me as an adult something he never told me when he was alive, but I know it is him, I feel his presence. I think he is trying to make up for the lost time. I welcome it with tearful eyes. The love of a father lasts beyond what we call creaturehood, I am grateful for it.

From: Dave Robinson — Nov 08, 2013

Sara, that was a good read. So glad that you offered some of your personal insights.

From: Betty Jo Smith — Nov 08, 2013

Sara, Thank you for your beautiful words about your dad. His letter telling us about his cancer was really a shock. I am praying for his healing. I believe miracles still happen.

From: Robert B. — Nov 09, 2013

That was wonderful Sara, good writing and profound thoughts and feelings. I enjoyed it, thank you. The Magic Hour

From: Karen Rand Anderson — Nov 09, 2013

Sara…It’s hard to know what to say, except that The Painter’s Keys posts have been a touchstone for me, art-wise, and in so many other ways. Like the thousands of other artists (and “civilians”) who have been lucky enough to have found Robert’s wisdom, I am so deeply saddened to learn of your extraordinary father’s prognosis. He’s been a light on my creative path. Sending you, your dad and your family blessings and healing energy as you weather this journey together.

From: Wendy Oppelt — Nov 09, 2013

When you wrote “It was a rumination on how I might get the entire contents of Dad’s brain into my own brain before the end of our allotted time together” I felt the desire to write to you. My father, Bernie Oppelt, was a professional artist and performer, he passed away four years ago from cancer. He was my mentor and dear friend. The year he died I picked up his paints and brushes and for the first time applied strokes to an empty canvas – this was the beginning of a very successful career for me as an artist. I didn’t know I had it in me, I was painting my grief, my anger, my sadness and yet everything came out joyous. I still believe it was my Dad guiding me and to this day I can hear his voice in my heart. I guess what I am trying to say is, your father’s thoughts, actions, deep love, and friendship will always be a part of you, even the entire contents of his brain will (and probably does now) come to life in your daily actions, in your voice, in your art, in your thoughts and in your heart. He will continue to live on within you.

From: Laara Jansen — Nov 09, 2013
From: Chester Specht — Nov 09, 2013

This is one of the most beautiful expressions of love, devotion, and a relationship between father and daughter.

From: Betty Wysosky — Nov 09, 2013

The Magic Hour should be read by everyone who is going through the last days, weeks, months of their lives. What a great insight into surviving what must come that you have.

From: Koreen Sutherland, Calgary AB — Nov 09, 2013
From: Glenice Wilson — Nov 09, 2013

You’ve made each time special – your love has grown not by chance. :-) I respect and admire your difficult wonderful time together.

From: Kathy Clarke — Nov 09, 2013

How wise you were to choose such a father and to be able to be with him now. Your letter moved me to tears, Sara. You are as thought provoking a writer as your father.

From: Carm Graydon (mother of Lainey Benson in Nelson, B — Nov 09, 2013

I have written to you only once before and told you about my 2 daughters who painted – I know you won’t remember my e-mail when you receive so many but one of my daughters, Lainey, met you at your conference in Whistler this September and told me about meeting you and how much she liked you. She saw you several times and had some very good “private” conversations with you. She phoned me from Nelson (to Ottawa) as soon as she heard your news about your scan. You have touched our hearts. I think you are going to be one of the lucky ones to find a cure or at least a remedy to keep you going for a very long time.

From: Rosalyn Cherry — Nov 09, 2013

Sara, These writing continue to be so heartfelt and inspiring.

From: Halyna Myers — Nov 09, 2013
From: Ann La Clair — Nov 09, 2013

We will paint together someday in that very special place in heaven for artists…

From: Paula Ballo Dailey — Nov 09, 2013

I have lymphomas and understand what you are facing. Robert’s letters are helping me so much.

From: Judy Johnson — Nov 09, 2013

so sweet …so touching…a father and daughter…intensely sharing this time together…aware of the shortness of life and its preciousness….sounds like you have both done that for a long time…certainly gratefulness must also be swelling in the midst of this. I have only been a reader for 4 or 5 years but have enjoyed your dads myriads of subjects. I am praying for your family…we have walked this journey personally twice and with close family members and its not easy….

From: Joe Gyurcsak — Nov 09, 2013

I lost my mom in April to cancer, your words are beautiful and fill me with all the conversations about nature I had with my mom. The Painters keys is a blessing and the letters are always thought provoking.

From: Judith Cooper — Nov 09, 2013

WOW, Sara, the first one from you. Feeling deeply moved.

From: Barrie Chadwick SFCA — Nov 09, 2013

I felt I should write and tell you how well you outlined the wonderful relationship between your father and yourself. I have only met Robert a few times in my comings and goings at the Federation, but I must say my brief encounters with him were enough for me to discover what a great gentleman he is, and of course what a great artist. My sincere hope is that he will recover and you can continue that wonderful comradeship you have. I have a daughter about your age who now lives in Australia but the bond still remains and will forever continue.

From: Jean — Nov 09, 2013

I’m so glad you are spending time with your Dad. Support him and love him like you always have, but even more.

From: Leslie Moody — Nov 09, 2013

The beauty of your thoughts expressed in words is like the beauty you express on canvas. Thank-you for carrying the torch for a dearly loved father.

From: Debbie Sierchio — Nov 09, 2013

I am so glad to hear that both of you share so much intellectually, artistically and emotionally. My mom was a great supporter of my art, but I don’t recall too many deep conversations that we shared. And, I have to ask and hope to hear that you will continue your dad’s legacy in the newsletters. They are a continued source of inspiration, knowledge and artistic guidance.

From: Mark — Nov 09, 2013

Beautifully written….as are all of your father’s ….thanks for making my day more meaningful.

From: Sherran Deems — Nov 10, 2013

It has taken me a week to finally get through your post. I am so sorry that I have never met your father or you in person but over the last approximately 10 years your father had become a part of my life. I’ve read and read his posts, shared information with my art students, and talked about how important it is to find a spirit that speaks to your soul. I am also a cancer survivor and, when I was unable to work, I’d read your father’s posts and know that art would go on – maybe with me, maybe not. I found tremendous comfort in that knowledge.

From: Jackie Barker — Nov 11, 2013

I love you, Robert Genn

From: Anonymous — Nov 12, 2013

I love you, Robert Genn, more than I can say. Sara obviously has your spirit of generosity and wonder, her creative curiosity fertilized in youth. Most lovely. Thank-you for your wisdom . . . for your generosity . . . for your friend s h i p . . . but I will not say goodbye! You will always be in my life. . . I have your book and I will pray for your recovery. Recovery, spontaneous remission can happen . . . your own defenses can make it happen. Your magic is strong! You are a miracle . . . . . . I believe in miracles.

From: Klaus Exner, Calgary, Alberta — Nov 13, 2013

Your news made me think about mortality, yours, mine and ours. It launched a train of thought that remains in the forefront of my mind and has to do with how life’s accomplishments are measured. I think my reaction was primarily intellectual. Today’s letter went straight to my heart and I am writing this note through misty eyes. It is beautiful. Thank you both for allowing so many people to bear witness to your personal journey. The continuation of your letters is both generous and courageous.

From: Elizabeth Dahlgren Corrales, NM — Nov 13, 2013

I am the one who is privileged ! … to be able to be included in your most profound and loving thoughts. I am humbled by your graciousness.

From: Linda Katsuda — Nov 13, 2013

This is heartbreaking but oh so good. You are among the lucky few who have these magic hours with your father.

From: Sandra Mercuri — Nov 13, 2013

Thank you for sharing such a beautiful memories, and the fragile moments you are now navigating with such love and care. Sending prayers to you and your father and thanks for the immense grace you both are offering your readers and followers.

From: B.J. Adams, Washington, DC — Nov 13, 2013
From: Sonja Billard — Nov 13, 2013

Your time described with your Dad sounds the most magical. The passage of art, the ideas, the passions, the knowledge is accumulating with each generation and has been over the millennium. The fact that art/painting has been created, for what ever reason since pre-history, surviving all the catastrophes the world has had to offer says a lot to the power of art and the makers of art. May fathers, mothers, sisters brothers…teachers continue infusing the passion of art into others.

From: Cris Fulton Bowman, North Dakota — Nov 13, 2013

I’m so glad your father has someone like you to keep his legacy going. Know that you are in the thoughts and prayers of many, many people as you experience the Magic Hour. Thank you both for your desire to serve your fellow artists in this special way.

From: Judy Klinger — Nov 13, 2013
From: Dean McLeod — Nov 13, 2013

Beautiful and heart wrenching.

From: Sue Bauman — Nov 13, 2013

Thanks for continuing ‘our’ talks on art and life.

From: Uka Meissner — Nov 13, 2013

thank you so much for sharing this – among all that daily hub-bub and our troubles, you help me to focus better on humane and artistic priorities

From: Merryl Readon, South Africa — Nov 13, 2013
From: Wendy Langille — Nov 13, 2013

So Beautiful.Your magic hour conversation brings tears into this precious light.

From: Tinker Bachant — Nov 13, 2013
From: Perri Sparks — Nov 14, 2013

Dear Sara and Robert, As with so many others, I send prayers of good will and strength in your direction. I have loved the letters over the years and your ability to put into words and coalesce random musings into coherent concepts. Repeatedly you would direct us to an some artist/philosopher/scientist that enriched or edified a point you were making, thus opening a window to broaden our lives and work. On a personal note, I’m also saddened we’ll miss the opportunity to paint together off the bluff over the lake on Quadra on one of your trips over to Hollyhock. I was looking forward to sharing that scene with you. The Magic Hour was particularly poignant as it brought the precious hours spent with my Dad. Robert, thank you for your generous sharing and inspirational approach to this next phase, and Sara, your writing is a treat! I look forward to your involvement with the Twice-Weekley Letters. Sincerely, Perri ps, no need to post this, I just wanted you to know I’m thinking of you.

From: Mary M Hart — Nov 14, 2013

Sara, I’m so happy for Robert that you are with him through all this. That means more than anything else in life. Thanks so much for your time and trouble and best to you especially, as you accompany and attend and accompany someone you love in the biggest challenge we can have in life. Mary M Hart

From: Ruth — Nov 17, 2013

Sara, This is my first time reading your post. What you shared of those moments between you and your father, I am very grateful. I take much away that is not yet possible to put into words. It has to do with the conversation of art shared between my mother and I. Keeping you and your father in my thoughts. Take Good Care, Ruth

  Featured Workshop: Donna and Tom Dickson 110813_robert-genn Donna and Tom Dickson Workshops Held in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.   The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order.     woa  

Doing life, Italy

oil on canvas, 8 x 8 inches by Carole Mayne, USA

  You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013. That includes Richard Gagnon of Knowlton, QC, Canada, who wrote, “Keep absorbing. Keep writing. Enjoy the time.” And also Ken Campbell of Kelowna, BC, Canada, who wrote, “Sara, it’s nice to hear your “voice.” May we all “live in the jaws of a blacktail deer.”

“Victim’s Right to Privacy”
original illustration
by Richard Gagnon


“Fur Route Vista”
oil painting by Ken Campbell