Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Moving Travel Blog Too...cliffderksen.com

Hi Everyone,

Thank you for your faithfulness in reading my blogs at this site. Unfortunately it has been invaded by the Hebrew language since we arrived in Israel. Despite my best efforts to indicate the problem to Google and/or to continue writing has been a problem. The fun of dealing with it has worn a little thin. It is very time consuming and difficult to do the blogs well and in good time. (you can see how the punctuation is off!))

Therefore I am directing you to my art website for the remainder of our trip and my reports. 

Please go to cliffderksen.com and click on the "My Israel  page for my reports on our trip.

My appologies and Thank you to you all,
Cliff

PS. Looks just crazy hilariousness eh?

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Israel Museum: Day 2


A model of Jerusalem and the temple during the time of Christ.

Today we went to "The Israel Museum of Jerusalem". We walked all the way, about half an hour just before the sun got hot. Already, when we got there we were pretty warmed up so began with a glass of lemonade in the air conditioned museum. On our way we went under a bridge and saw this "Justice" sign, We thought .how appropriate in a country with such justice issues everywhere
This week we happened to hit a
 week where they had advertised kids free. Also a program where the kid make and then then the fly their kites. There were a lot, I mean, a lot, of families and kids at the art gallery.

 Ever since we've connected with Israel, we have been aware of the
 number of children and families everywhere. Even on the plane to 'Tel aviv there were a lot of children. I get the feeling they are not waiting for their fellow Jews to come from around the world, they are doing something about filling their country themselves...by having kids.

It was an awesome day at the Museum. We saw a beautiful and amazing display of Herod the Great, who he was, his building exploits and character Even a bust of his friend Aggripa who interviewed Paul in the book of Acts. Brought things very close to home spiritually. 

There were displays replicating the decor of his palace, walls designs, colors, with amazing detail. Archaeology has come a long way.

The other thing I loved was the model of Jerusalem and the temple from the time of Christ. As archaeological digs show up any new evidence of how things were at that time, they make the adjustments necessary. It was very impressive. You can see that Jerusalem was at that time a "one God" city. No other religions represented only the temple of the living God. It was a very moving experience walking around and snapping photos exactly during sunset. The sun going down in the west and the moon appearing in the east. Awesome.


There was a lot to see, but the other thing I loved was the outdoor sculpture garden. Even though light was fading, I got some great shots. 

Another very moving experience was seeing the "Shrine of the Book". The photo to your right is the roof of this display. This is the home of the renowned Dead Sea Scrolls. What is significant from a providence of God perspective is that these scrolls were found just shortly before Israel became a nation in 1984. Is it not significant that they lost a lot of their important manuscripts when Rome defeated Jerusalem in 70AD, burning the temple and all the scrolls that were in it. Then in 1948 there is this discovery of the scrolls which many here in Israel take as a sign of God showing his approval of them once again being a nation.

During the heat of the day we'd stayed inside the museum and wondered outside only late in the afternoon. Then it was beautiful and we were re-energized for the evening. When we got home we had supper at a street side cafe, eating outside in the warm summer 
 air. It was very interesting as Israel walked past us all evening.

Until tomorrow...
Cliff







Monday, 19 August 2013

Day One, Wilma's Birthday in Jerusalem!


This is a photo of the birthday girl in her Bed and Breakfast room, early in the morning having received her rose, her card and the gift from Frankfort. This is a book of an artist who is now her favorite artist because he's made pieces of art very much like hers. Simple design pieces mostly white or shades of white with texture of some kind or another. He's a minimalist. His name is Manzoni, and according to her "amazing!"

We walked to the Old City, Wilma's goal was to get to the haling wall. We discovered that the streets clearly outlined on the map, are not easy to identify in reality. No matter where we went, every street is a market the product as high as the 
walls and the occasional ceiling. But it was fun

Here's another thing, there are two wedges coming up to the level of each step, about 8 inches wide. These things, besides the uneven stairs happening are "angle biter's"! There is so much to look at it's hard to not roll an ancle on the uneven ground below your feet! 

As we went along we began thinking of here we would eat as it was about time for lunch, when we saw a sign that stopped us in our tracks! See this next photo and guess why? It's the name of  Candace's   favorite song. Well, we just had to go inside. As it turned out we had a great lunch of falafel, pita bread. salad and lemonade. Just what we needed. and then, we were off to to whaling wall.

Here we are at the wall. Wilma was asked to cover her shoulders, which she did with this scarf which she had along. Then we continued towards the wall.Then a gentleman reminded Wilma she had to go to the woman's side, she frowned but away she went. I told the gentleman that my wife was not happy. I think he had sympathy for me and spoke to me about the wall. He explained about how we could write our prayers on paper and place them between the rocks. He showed me where the paper was and how to do it, standing back as I prayed and pushed the paper into the wall. Than he placed a red string around my wrist, tying it saying that I would have more grandchildren. Then he had me place my hand on his scripture text he carried and prayed a prayer in Hebrew over me. When it was all over, I asked if I could photograph him, to which he agreed. I then went off to fine Wilma.

 Now, you need to know I'm having quite a time with setting things up on this blog, with the structure of the writing going from right to left. Anything I do, or especially if I have to make corrections in existing text, well, it is a nightmare and often it's just easier to re-write . Anyways, it's part of the experience right, and we will just go with it. If anyone has an idea on how to right this backward ship, 
let me know.

Later.





Sunday, 18 August 2013

Jet Lagged in Israel


 This blog spot it seems has been compromised  Hebrew has invaded this site and will not, it seems, despite my commands for it to translate all into English work from left to right! This is quite a . riot.  Not sure how this will work. 

Above is a map given to us at our bed and breakfast, our bed and breakfast is where you see my finger called "Little House in the Colony. To the South you see the "City of David" and the "Old City" at the top of the map. It is in this area we will be spending most of our time.

Today is Wilma's birthday. It was her birthday wish to step onto into the "Old City" on her birthday. She will get her wish today. I have come to understand she would like a "manora" as a gift.. That is what we will be looking for today. Wish me well.

It's 2:45 or so in Israel as I write this. I am jet-lagged and wide awake. 

It is very weird writing to the right with the curser staying on the left of the line I'm writing. Hope you can all read this on your computers! Later...

Friday, 9 August 2013

The Eaton's Catalog



The Eaton’s Catalog arrived on a Tuesday near the end of July. Geraldine noticed it the minute her father brought the mail in from the mailbox. “Yea,” she yelled running towards her father, “lemme see it, lemme see it…” she murmured as he let it slide out of the pile of mail for her to grab. She held it to herself as she made her way to the dining room table. There she set the huge volume carefully on the table, like she was laying out fine china. This was what she had been waiting for, the delicious moment when she would slowly page through the young woman’s clothing, jewelry and toy sections, examining everything in minute detail. She was not going to be rushed or interrupted. There were important things to see, descriptions to read and dreams to dream.

Mike who was upstairs in his room, heard his father announce it’s arrival to the household, “The Eaton’s catalog is here!” He heard, but could not make out his mother’s reply from somewhere in the house, but he did heard Geraldine’s voice claim first dibs yelling, “I saw it first!” to no one in particular. He was also interested in seeing the catalog but knew it was useless to even try for these two would be hogging it for the next few days.

Every year during the summer, his mother would do her shopping for clothing and items needed for the family for the next school year. This would eventually result in a huge order, which she would prepare under the watchful eyes of each family member.

It was strange how Mike had slowly became more interested in the catalog  but it had very little to do with his choice of jeans he wanted for school. Sure, his mother would ask him about the colours he wanted of this or that shirt and he co-operated for it was for him, really all a cover. He was excited about the arrival of the new catalog but for reasons his family never expected.

A few days later, no one thought it strange for him to ask for the catalog  and to take it upstairs to his room. In fact his mother encouraged him, happy that he finally seemed to be showing some interest in his school wardrobe.  No one had any idea that this was the furthest thing from his mind.

Once he got past the door to the stairs, he burst into a run going up the stairs taking two steps at a time, rushing to get to the privacy of his room and pour over the images like they were banana splits from heaven. He turned to the underwear sections and examined the images in detail. He pulled out his sketch pad, opening it to a drawing he’d just finished. It had been inspired by the experience he’d had seeing his mother in her mirror while he was trapped under his parents bed. It was an image of a woman reflected in a mirror. For him, this was a new kind of work, the best he thought he’d ever done.

Using an outdated Eaton’s catalog he’d found the appropriate image, tore out the page and taped it to the glass of his bedroom window. Then he placed a sheet from his sketchpad over the one taped to the window. This way the window became a “light box” the sunlight making it possible for him to see through his sheet and trace the image onto his drawing paper. He’d make adjustments in the images to fit what he wanted for his drawing, shade them in to get the three dimensional affect and "wa-la" he had a new drawing.

He loved this process for it gave him the opportunity to practice his art. But there was one niggling problem and that was guilt. You see, Mike did attend church and suspected that what he was doing must be somehow sinful. He could not imagine his Sunday school teacher, any of the ministers, or even his parents approving of what he was doing. Yet, his excitement in experimenting and working with these images was too fulfilling and exciting for him to stop. How was he to learn, but by doing? He was and felt literally out of control.

With the success of this particular drawing, he began to take his sketch pad with him almost everywhere he went. Whenever he had time he’d open it to the drawing, study it, and usually make some alterations or improvements. The sketch pad had become something like the t-shirt he’d worn night and day when he was six. 

Therefore when Sunday rolled around he never gave it a second thought, but took it with him when they went to church. There was a whole hour, Mike thought, where he could work on something while the preacher was speaking. What Mike had not counted on was the curiosity and interest or even the malevolence of the other boys that sat beside him in the pew.  

The boys, during the service, all sat near the front of the church sanctuary, so the parents could keep an eye on them. Despite the parents best efforts to have the boys behave, things happened that were never seen or expected by the parents. The backs of the pews were of solid wood. So, the boys learned to keep the action below the level of the top of the bench. Also, their heads and shoulders must always appear to be paying serious attention to the stage. So no matter what happened, weather it was pinching, snapping one another, feats of strength, jokes or anything else boys will dream up, all had to be masked by the body language of "holiness." A body language that never gave away the pain, violence or laughter anyone might be experiencing.  

Once the minister had begun Mike drew his art pad out of his Bible, opened it up to a new page, dug his pencil stub from out of his pocket and began doodling. He began with a drawing of the minister. Then added a Bible sticking out of his left ear. To balance the drawing he began drawing a second Bible sticking out of the other ear. In his concentration, he did not really notice the interest of the guys beside him and halfway through the second Biblical “earplug” his pad was easily jerked away from him and quickly passed several guys down the bench, out of his reach. He immediately realised what a terrible mistake he’d made bringing this sketch pad to church. He knew there were several drawings or outlines of both male and female figures in the sketch pad and knew it would not be long before the guys would find these. It went down the line of boys and yes, they did found them It was after this that all concerns about "holy behaviour" for the sake of the parents went out the window. 

If you were sitting a few pews back you would have known exactly where Mike’s art pad was located in its journey down the pew of boys. There was giggling, pointing, smiling, gesturing, shoulders shaking, heads turning, guys whispering into each other’s ears. There was even elbowing and nudging going on as the guys would point out particular drawings. All of this happening as the pad slowly made its way down the line. One father finally stood up, leaning over the empty pew between him and the boys, and poked his son. Everyone stopped when that happened, but in a few moments it slowly began again, more subdued nonetheless, as the art pad continued its way down to the end of the line.

Mike never did get his sketch pad back. He had no idea, who had actually taken it or where it was. For all he knew it might be under the pew or somewhere in the church, waiting to be discovered by one of the ministers. Mike was sick.

All the way home, Mike was in pain. His mind spinning, wondering where his sketch pad was and who would be seeing it. He knew, that if this fell into the wrong hands, he was done. He would be considered the greatest sinner in the world. The whole church, he thought, would confront him and make a rule that he never draw anything again. This was his greatest fear, he would be forced to give up his art! He was distracted and distraught, waiting for life as he knew it to end.

“What’s the matter Mike?” his mother asked him, turning to look at him from the passenger seat of the car. He was sitting in the back, bent over rocking back and forth, his arms across his stomach groaning as if in severe pain.

“I don’t feel so good.” He said. “Do you have a stomach ache?” she asked concerned.

“Yea,” he said. Then before he knew what he was saying he added, mumbling, “and a head-ache too.”

“I’ll give you an aspirin when we get home.” She offered. “We’ll be home in a few minutes.”

He stayed in his room all that afternoon feeling miserable. When his mother offered to bring him something to eat for dinner, he accepted but pushed most of it away. On Monday, he stayed in his room, his mind creating worse and worse scenarios about what would become of him when his drawings would be found. One was that he’d be driven from the community and from his home. He began to think about running away and living off the land in the willows growing in the cow pasture. He imagined himself living off of rabbits he’d shoot with his slingshot. Possibly sneaking into the barn for night, sleeping on straw in an empty stall or manger. It all seemed like suddenly his life was in ruins and that there was no answer to his dilemma.

By Tuesday he just wanted it to be over. His mind and body were tired and he just wanted someone to find his sketch pad already. He was thinking of confessing admitting his guilt and just taking whatever punishment they would hand out for sinners like him.

It was also on Tuesday that his parents phoned the Doctor to inquire about his health.

That evening Mike suddenly noticed a car drive up the driveway and roll to a stop on the yard. Were these visitors? On Sundays it was an accepted practise for families to come and visit, often without any warning. Who could this be? A few minutes later Geraldine knocked on his door telling him that two of the Ministers from the church were downstairs visiting with mom and dad in the living room and that mom had sent her upstairs. “Finally,” he thought, “they've  found my sketch book and have come to tell me to never draw again.” Then he would have to leave, he’d run away because he knew he could not live without the freedom to draw.

He waited anxiously, sitting, perspiring and rocking on the edge of his bed, waiting for them to call for him. He started at every noise he heard, but nothing happened. Finally the car drove off the yard. He concluded that they had told his parents what they had seen in his sketch pad and that they would now be the ones to tell him that he could never to draw again. He crawled under the blankets and waited for his mother to give him the dreaded news that would end his life as he knew it. 

“How are you doing, feeling any better?” his mother asked breezing into the room with water and some aspirin. Mike was under his blankets, shivering in fear and dread. He waited, but his mother seemed to be much too happy and in no hurry to tell him what would happen to him now that his art had been found.

“Did the Ministers want me to leave?” he finally asked his voice trembling. His mother stopped in her tracks and looked at him. “What did you say?” she asked.

“Did the Ministers want me to leave?” he whispered, “did they want to talk to me?”

His mother was stunned. “Of course not!” she exclaimed, “Why would you even say something like that?” They just came to thank us, your dad and me for how we helped cook meals for that week of meetings we had two weeks ago at the church.” She sat down on the side of the bed and in her kindest voice said. “You know Mike, they said some very nice things about you and Geraldine. They saw that horse you drew, that’s still on the blackboard and they really liked it. They said that you had very skilled hands and that one day you would probably be an amazing finish carpenter and make furniture or kitchen cabinets when you grew up. They like you Mike, and there is no reason for them to ask for you to go away.”

She patted his hand, mussed his hair, kissed him good night and was gone.

They had not found his sketchbook, relief welled up in his heart. He sat up in his bed. Obviously, one of the guys still had his sketchbook, for if it had been left in church it would have been found by now. He began to feel a lot better.

A finish carpenter eh? Why he wondered, a finish carpenter? He’d recently been noticing how many pictures there were in books and papers around him. His reader at school was all full of pictures for each story. Even the church Sunday school books had art in them. Someone must have drawn all those pictures. Why could he not be that person? Why should he be a carpenter when he already was an artist? He was confused. Maybe they had seen his sketch book and this was their ruling? Mmmmm

That line of thought was too hard on his mind. Despite the fact he still did not know exactly where his book had gone, he actually began to see something positive about that Sunday morning. He remembered the expressions of interest, wonder and fun on the faces of the guys as they had passed his sketchbook down the pew, each of his friends looking at his artwork. Not only was that a compliment to him but, he realised, this must have been one of the most fun Sundays his friends had ever had at church, of that he was sure.

“Yes!” he said aloud, pumping his fist. 

The End.
Autobiographical Fiction.

English Gardens, Winnipeg MB
Photo by: Cliff Derksen
July 2013

Sunday, 4 August 2013

He's Got Good Evil Bones

The transformation begins, by bulking up his legs.

Transformations, transitions and change are part of life. The man who will sit on the throne of swords is in transition. From wolf to werewolf is what is happening. Why werewolf you ask? Because, like I wrote a while back, wolf is too mild. I want "evil" personified, so werewolf it must be.

As you can see in the photo above, I've dismantled the wolf and am beginning again. He has good bones though, and so I can build on what is, to make him the evil werewolf he must become.

The other thing is, I only have eleven days to finish him. In eleven day's I will be taken up with another adventure that will last about 17 days, so he has to be done before that begins. The reason is that in 17 day's he will be too dry to work on. The pressure is on.

About werewolves. There is a lot of speculation about them, like were did they come from, or that you can only kill them with a silver bullet, etc. But one thing is sure, they are evil. When in human form they may be a good person, but when they turn into the werewolf form they are bad.There is no such thing as a good werewolf. At that point they are no longer in control, no longer human and instincts guide them to attack anything and everything living. Apparently when in human form, they do not recall anything that happened or what they did while in werewolf form. Nice eh?

A lot of information comes from stories and movies that have come out over the years. So the facts are not always clear and have changed over time. Some say they have a soul, some say they do not. Bottom line, Hollywood needed something that personified evil and so created this as a monster, which became the evil, scary violent uncontrollable werewolf of today. That's who I want sitting on my throne of swords! A very evil "thing."


So, please excuse me, but I have to get to work bulking him up and finish him in eleven days. (That's besides all the other things I have to do also, before that time!)

"He devises wickedness on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he dose not abhor evil." 
Psalms 36:4

English Gardens, Wpg. MB
July 2013
Photo: Cliff Derksen

Saturday, 3 August 2013

The Full Length Mirror



Mike wanted to draw people, not cartoon people but real people. He’d done the horse, the rabbit, and the dog thing, but needed to get doing real people right.

Cartoon people were fun and easy because you did not have to worry about proportions. Every part of the person could be any length and thickness, and it did not matter. Actually, the weirder the more laughs he’d get. Kids passing the drawing from one to another, chuckling over it. He knew he’d never stop cartooning, it was his door to “coolness” in the school.

But he wanted to do people so he began to study them, really study them. I mean seriously and carefully. For example, he wanted to know how long the arms were compared to the rest of the person. He wanted to know where on an arm he should place the elbow. He’d tried placing it in the middle, but that looked wrong. He wanted to memorize how the clothing folded and wrinkled when the arm was bent.  

The problem was he already had a reputation for “looking” or as most would describe it, “daydreaming.’ He always wanted his desk near the windows and he’d spend any spare time looking out onto the prairie, the clouds in the sky… “Window Guy” they called him at school.

At recess he’d sit or lie on the ground examining things, like a blade of grass, a root he’d pull out of the ground, or any bug or ant that happened by.

“What ya looken at?” someone noticing him staring at them would say. He’d jerk away, pretending to be busy with something else.

It was embarrassing, that’s what it was. After some thought, he decided that if he was going to learn anything, he’d have to look at himself!

At home, he remembered his mother had a full length mirror, but it was in her and his father’s bedroom. This bedroom this was really off limits for him but he was desperate. First, he needed to scout out the situation and began to peer into the room secretly, from the living room. Even while the rest of the family was around he’d be doing this. Several times he tried, looking real casual as he walked by the door, rolling his eyes sideways scanning the room to catch a glimpse of the mirror. No matter from where he sat, stood or walked, he could not make out where the mirror was actually located. He knew it was there somewhere.

The second thing, was to be aware of everyone’s wareabouts during each aspect of the day. Dad was no problem, since he left the house in the morning and came back only for meals. His mother would leave the house for doing laundry, sometimes doing chores or to weed or pick food for meals from the garden. That would not be hard to figure out. The worst was Geraldine, as she would be present, yet absent, playing in her own world, coming and going without any warning.

The very next Saturday he noticed his mother in the garden, hoeing weeds. He could tell she’d be there a while as the garden was a large one. Dad was out on the field with the tractor, but he’d not seen Geraldine for a while so was not sure where she was. Regardless, he made the decision to go for it and ran into the house with great expectations and excitement.

Holding his scribbler, pencil and eraser, he paused in front of his parent’s bedroom open door. The house was very quiet. No one had ever said he could not go into his parent’s bedroom, yet for some strange reason, it seemed like it was off limits. He stiffened, and stepped through the door. In a second he saw the mirror, it was on the wall next to the door to his right. It was perfect. He stepped in front of the mirror and took his whole image in. He stepped forward. He leaned in, his face an inch from the glass and made a face, his breath fogging up his image. He smiled at himself, bobbing his head back and forth with joy. This would be just fine. He opened his scribbler wondering where to start.

He drew the folds of his clothing as he posed crouching, bending over, bending his arm this way and that. Then he took his shirt off and repeated the poses. He removed his shoes and his pants, posing and drawing. His gitch landed on the floor and more poses were made and drawn. Mike was lost in his element. The afternoon slid by, his whole consciousness being on the model in the mirror, nothing else. So you can imagine his surprise when he began to be aware that someone had come into the house and was making their way from the kitchen into the living room. He also suddenly realized that he was stark naked. His question of how that had come about was interrupted by footsteps coming his way. He knew he could not take the risk of waiting to see if whoever it was, was going to come into the bedroom. He quickly scooped and kicked his clothing along the floor hiding them under the bed. He then threw himself down onto the floor and slithered under the bed into hiding after them, nervously clutching his scribbler in his hand.

From his position under the bed he could see his mother’s feet as she came walking into the bedroom. He did not know she was carrying a bowel of water, a towel and a wash cloth. She closed the door behind her.

Mike stared at the closed door. “She closed the door,” he thought, “I’m trapped, I’ll never get out.” His fear meter began to rise, “Why would she close the door?”

Then Mike got the shock of his life when he saw his mother’s cotton dress land silently on the floor at her feet. Curious, he inched his head forward, he could see her half-slip. He craned his neck a little further, just in time to see her toss her brazier out of his vision and saw, in the reflection of the mirror, his mother’s bare breasts!

He gasped in awe, involuntarily clamping his hand over his mouth. Fear and wonder washed over him, his body slowly moving into a fetal position beneath the confines of the bed. “Should I be seeing this?” he asked himself. Despite his misgivings, he just could not make himself back away and retreat back under the bed.

What he saw next could only be described by Mike as a dance, a ballet of smooth, confident movements as she gave herself a sponge bath following an afternoon of working in the garden during the heat of the day. An arm in the air, the other circling, now quick, now slow. The sound of dripping water as she paused to wrung out the wash cloth. Now the back, now the other arm up, now the front, under over and around. Her sighs of comfort as the water cooled her body. Then she dried herself, again another dance. He was mesmerized watching how the single shaft of light from the window played on the shape and form of her body. Finally, Mike drew his head back under the bed closing his eyes. He knew he’d never seen anything so beautiful in all his life. The images, the light and the shadows, the movements, the dance, the shapes, would be forever etched in his brain. He was trying to reconcile that fact that it was his mother that was so beautiful.

When she was dressed, she left the room taking the bathing materials with her. Mike waited a few minutes, then squeezed himself out from under the bed and peeked out the door across the living room and into the kitchen. He was hoping his mother would just go out of sight so he could make a break for the upstairs door and up into his room without being seen. He stepped across the open door to the other side and snuggled up into the clothes closet still peeking out to monitor his mother’s movements. But, then he heard her coming fast. He had no time to scoot back past the open door, to get back under the bed, he was sure she would spot him. Instead, he pressed himself into the depth of the closet, between the clothes. She was into the room before he could get the closet door totally closed, so to make sure she would not see his feet he reached up, grabbed the metal hanging rod and lifted his feet off the floor.

He could feel the rod bend as he added his weight to that of the clothes already hanging from the metal rod. He tried not to move. He prayed his mother would leave the room…quickly! She came to the closet and held his breath as she shuffled some hangers about.  When she withdrew he could feel his sweaty hands slipping, and took the occasion to “re-grip.” An action that involved lifting himself up quit quickly, then with the bounce, re-gripping the rod more deeply. The end of this bounce brought more than his full weight back down onto the rod. It was this maneuver that did Mike in. Mike realized his mistake to late, the rod groaned and gave way. He went down to the floor in a dramatic crash, entangled in his mother’s and his father’s clothes.

His mother kind of squeaked at the sudden commotion in her closet. Mike remained motionless and silent. She slowly opened the closet door and saw an arm, a leg and the tussled hair of her son’s head among the pile of clothes heaped at the bottom of the closet. “Mike, is that you?” she exclaimed in surprise, “what are you doing in here?”

It took a moment for Mike to untangle himself, but when he did, he was reminded that he was still stark naked and took off, his bare feet squeaking on the smooth floor, running for his life, across the living room towards the upstairs door. As he gained momentum half way through the living room he saw his sister Geraldine directly in his path, too late, he crashed into her and they both landed sprawling on the floor. His bare skin protesting as he slid to a stop. Time stood still as the two looked at each other, limbs akimbo on the floor. Then Geraldine’s expression began to change into a slow developing grin. Her eyes widening. Mike realized he was totally exposed sitting there in the buff facing her on the floor. He involuntarily jerked his legs together, knowing full well it had been too late and she’d seen it all. He tried to rise from the floor while covering himself but ended up struggling to his feet in a most embarrassing way. He tried to walk in a dignified manor towards the upstairs door to get out of sight. Just as he got there, he heard his sister’s taunting voice. “I saw you Mikie, she giggled, “I saw you!”

Even though it wasn’t evening or bedtime, Mike just had to cover his nakedness, quickly slipping under his blanket, relieved he was finally covered. There he lay, trying to understand what had just occurred, running through the events again and again.

Sketching himself in the mirror, hiding under the bed, seeing breasts for the first time, crashing into his sister… who would probably tease him forever.

Then he remembered that his clothing were still under his parent’s bed! If his mother discovered them or even asked why he’d been naked in the closet, he decided that he could tell her about drawing himself, posing in the full length mirror.

It would be good, he thought, to talk to somebody about this new obsession, this need to draw, and so to understand the shapes and forms of the physical human body. Could he talk to his mother? Would she understand?

He did not even understand it himself. But he did know he just needed to draw.


The End.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Killer Accuracy, Installment two.

Measures of Protection for the Chicken!

They both stood staring at the chicken. It just could not be dead! Mike was hoping it would get up and walk away, doing what chickens do, but it just would not move. No matter how hard he wished it to jump up, it stayed on the ground, feathers ruffling in the breeze.

“I guess we have to go and look at it.” Mike sighed, not knowing exactly what to do next. They walked over slowly and stood over it. He nudged it with his foot. Nothing.

“I told you, it’s dead,” declared Geraldine, holding her book up against her mouth. “we are going to have to bury it.” She mused.

“Dad just throws the dead chickens on the manure pile.” Mike said.

“That’s different, they died because of normal stuff, you threw a stone and killed this one, it’s not a normal death so she needs a funeral.” she said.

Mike shuffled his feet, walked a few steps away and came back, ”That means, we have to dig a hole, put her in it and cover her up.” He said, thinking of his aunt’s funeral. He could still hear
the dirt landing on her coffin as the men shovelled dirt into the
hole.

“We have to but her into a coffin,” Geraldine said. Also remembering there aunt’s funeral. “and we should say something, have a preacher preach, or pray,” she paused collecting her thoughts,  “you have to pray for the chicken Mike.” she
declared.

Mike did not feel like praying for the chicken. “We need a shovel.” He said and began walking towards the blacksmith shop. Geraldine followed.

This was new territory for Mike. He was thinking maybe his dad would not notice that the chicken was gone. They could bury it, and just keep it a secret. Maybe it would all go away. But there was
one problem, Geraldine. “You threw the stone and killed this one.” She had said. That hurt. She’d practically called him a “killer!” He was not a chicken killer that was for sure.

When they arrived at the shop, he swung the door open and faced his sister. “It’s your fault too,” he said, “you made me do it by throwing rocks at targets with me you know.”

Geraldine did not step into the shop. She stood there and just stared at him, her eyes growing wide. Mike got scared. He could see her braids shaking and realized he’d gotten her mad. He held onto the door, ready to duck behind it because it sure looked like she was going to hit him.

“You take that back!” she hissed quietly. “You threw rocks everywhere and when you lost the contest, you got mad and threw rocks at the chicken! Daddy will say you are careless. You did it and I do not have to say anything. You have to say it yourself. You have to tell daddy or he will be really mad.”

Mike turned away in the dim light of the shop sulking, thinking.

She waited…then she said what Mike did not want to hear, “If you do not take it back I will go and tell mom right now.”

“Why?” he thought in both disgust and grudging admiration, “was his sister always right?”

After he’d made things right with his sister, they worked together, finding a spade and a greasy gunny sack to put the chicken in. Just as they were going back to get the chicken, Mike asked, “If we are not throwing it on the manure pile, where are we going to bury the
chicken?’

“In the graveyard.” said Geraldine matter of factly.

“What graveyard?” asked Mike.

“My graveyard.” she said.

“Your graveyard?” he exclaimed confused, “but you’re not dead!”

“I have a graveyard where I bury things that die,” she said. She began walking back towards the barn, Mike followed listening in wonder. “I bury the chicks that die, I have buried dead dragon
 flies. I buried that bird that hit the window and died, and I buried Jill because she got sick and died.”

“Jill?” he sputtered, “your doll got sick and died, and you buried her?”

Shortly after their aunt’s Audrey's funeral Geraldine had declared her doll Jill dead. Jill was a plastic doll whose eyes opened when she sat up and closed when she lay down. One day, after the funeral, Jill’s eyes would not open. No matter what position she was placed in, they remained shut. Now for the first time Mike was learning what had happened to the doll. Geraldine had declared her dead. Then she matter of factly, grieved, dressed her doll in her best dress, wrapped her in her blankie and had a funeral service with all her other teddy bears and dolls in attendance. She sat at the head of the hole she’d dug, with her guests arranged on both sides. There in her own private graveyard she repeated her memorized prayer for meals, sang “Away in a Manger” before she placed her in the grave and covered her up. She used colored chalk to print Jill’s name on a flat stone and placed it at the head of the little grave. Then she and her guests went into the house, up the stairs to her room and had tea together. And that was that.

She knew exactly what kind of funeral she would have for the dead chicken.

Except that when they came around the corner of the barn, the ground where the chicken had died, was bare. There was no chicken! They both stopped and looked around confused.

Mike began to feel afraid. How could a dead chicken disappear? Had someone stolen the chicken? Dad was not home and mom was in the house. Had the chicken risen from the dead, like in the Bible? Was this punishment for the bad thing he’d done, killing the chicken?

He became frightened, his skin prickled and he involuntarily backed up through the huge open barn-door into the inner shadows of the barn. He felt like he needed to hide, like he was wicked, a real chicken killer and began to pray. He panicked,
asking Jesus into his heart. He told God he was sorry for killing the chicken. For blaming Geraldine that she’d made him do it. He prayed that the chicken was a Christian chicken when it died. He could not stop praying...that it would be healed and live…that it would come alive…that it would even be raised from the dead…

When he heard the squawk behind him he yelled spinning around scanning the room, his heart pumping. He wasn’t sure if he was seeing right, he broke out into a sweat, because there moving in a wobbly fashion was the chicken. He was tempted to run. The dead chicken was alive. At least it was standing on its feet, so it must not be dead. It was a dead-less chicken. Had God somehow really answered his prayer to raise this chicken…he shook his head in confusion.

Slowly, relief began to flood over him. It was over. He would not have to tell his father anything. His heart rate went down. The chicken was alive. It was a moment of huge relief.

But, it was only for a moment.

What Mike did not know was, this chicken would change his life. How was he to know that the impact of the rock had not killed the chicken but had given it a concussion. As a result, the chicken would never be the same. For starters, one eye was closed forever. Then the chicken never walked straight again, always walking kind of sideways. The weird thing was it would often do a 360 degree turn at any moment. Then as if all that was not enough, it separated itself from the flock, moving around alone, looking lost.

That last part, her not being part of the flock hurt Mike the most. He could not help but feel for this lonely chicken. It had been his fault. It had been a moment of anger, a moment of thoughtless action that had changed the life of this chicken. He had hurt it forever.

His heart moved him to action. He did not want this bird to feel lonely, so he began by feeding her himself, every day. At first, he could not get near her at all. He kept at it and one day, almost two weeks from the day it had happened, his patience was rewarded. He was touched and overjoyed when for the first time she actually took kernels of corn from out of his hand….

The End.

Taken in our own garden
Photo: By Cliff Derksen
July 2013

Sunday, 21 July 2013

An Artist Mentor?




I have suddenly met, well, really discovered, an artist I feel I can understand. I have possibly met a mentor. Someone who seems to be very much like myself! I know, unbelievable as that may seem.

His name is James Patterson. He's a self taught artist. He loves cartoons. He's very eclectic in his creative work, and he's a Baptist, what more can one ask.

He works in various mediums, beginning with a wide range of painting styles. He it seems does anything and everything. Paintings for covers, for knitting designs, for illustrating stories, for illustrating Bible stories and more.

He is also a writer, both serious and comedy. He writes crime detective books and also fun books for and kids. These are just filled with a lot of cartoons illustrating his stories.

Check out the photos above and you will see something of the variety of things he's into.

Not only that, he's showing in galleries and it seems his work is quit popular around the world.

Meanwhile, I've just posted the next story of my boy artist Mike, which includes an introduction of a new character, his sister Geraldine. I loved getting her figured out and doing a portrait of her. Her being a fan of Pippy Longstockings is so fun and I loved doing a picture of her imitating Pippy.

I now need to do the same thing with Mike. I need to clarify what kind of art he likes, who he might follow and what he's drawn to as an artist. When I do that and figure him out a little more, I will do a drawing of him that then could become something of a recognizable logo for these stories.

I was very pleased with how Geraldine's drawing turned out. I've made a few adjustments since the reproductions for the blogs were not looking like they should. I've changed the paper I do them on and I have now used only charcoal for shading as that reproduces much better. Finally, I've also introduced pen and ink for the first time in these drawings. I was not sure how those two would work out together, but I like it. I like the whimsical result and the clarity of detail I can get this way. I am used to working with pen and ink so it feels comfortable, plus, it scans well for reproduction purposes into the blogs.

I'm now excited to work on Mike's personality, decide on his art style and do a portrait of him that reflects who he is in the stories. I think I might have found my artistic "voice" when it comes to illustrating these stories.

Last night we had friends over. We did a BBQ in the gazebo in our backyard. Later, a rain shower came along, but we were snug in the shelter of the gazebo. What an evening, good friends, great conversation, great food, topping it off with the sound of rain pattering on the roof. Cannot get any better than that.

Wishing you all a great weekend.

"...I’m laying it all out right now just for you. I’m giving you thirty
sterling principles— tested guidelines to live by. Believe me—these are truths that work,..."
Proverbs 22:17-21 (The Message)


English Gardens, Winnipeg MB
Photo by: Cliff Derksen
June 2013

Friday, 19 July 2013

Killer Accuracy



Geraldine "Longstockings"

Mike, sitting on the stoop of the barn-door, dropped a kernel of corn onto the hard ground in front of him, squinting in the sunlight as he looked expectantly at his pet chicken Dizzy Daisy. She cocked her head sideways her one immovable eye zeroing in on the treat. She began her movement towards the target by turning right, doing a 360 degree turn, then arriving at the kernel and pecking it out of the dirt cleanly.

“Good girl, you’re doing great,” he crooned, stroking her back as she shucked it back swallowing. He threw out another kernel and she went through the same process. “You really are very, very dizzy daisy,” Mike chuckled, thinking how so very right the name he’d chosen was for her.

It’s the summer holidays. School is out and summer has begun. Every day is a day when doing nothing is exactly what you plan to do. These are the days of “no guilt,” your heart and mind being truly free You just do what’s on your mind in the moment.

Mike is enjoying just this kind of day sitting on the sunny stoop of the large open barn-door, playing with his favorite pet chicken.

Mike would never say this out loud, but he “loves” this very weird, different chicken. In fact Mike has a lot of feelings, mixed feelings about this special chicken. He’s bound to this bird like no other. You see, she has this special “handicap” because of Mike. He has made her what she is today.

Because he could not heal her of symptoms he caused, he felt he must at least make the effort to be her friend. The chicken responded in spades. If she were human, we would have said, she forgave him and welcomed him as a friend. It’s kind of strange but Mike’s thoughtless action of the past has enriched both Mike’s and dizzy daisy’s life.

It all began on a Saturday about three months before. Mike was on the yard casually throwing rocks at the woodpile when his sister Geraldine joined him. She put her book about a Longstocking girl down and threw some rocks with him, commenting on the neat sounds the they made hitting the dried wood. Very quickly, it became a contest. Mike, considered himself as somewhat accurate, having actually “practiced” hitting things in his meanderings around the farm.

It quickly became clear that it had been a mistake challenging his sister to a contest. It seemed that regardless of the kind of target he suggested, she either equalled him or won outright. This was of course extremely frustrating for Mike. After all he’d been throwing rocks, as far as he was concerned, all his eleven years of life. He was truly mystified as to how his younger sister could be so good at hitting things with rocks!

He knew she was a “brain-i-ack” and had grudgingly accepted the fact that she was smarter than him. She was one year behind him and her marks were always higher than his had been. Not only that, they were usually the highest or near highest in her class. Every report card was no fun, as his parents also made a point of reminding him of this fact.

So, he was determined to excel in this, having decided that striking a target with rocks was a way to confirm his superiority in at least something over his younger sister.

“I have an idea.” he exclaimed, as he spun around, looking for another acceptable target, something that might even give him the advantage, “How about that power pole over by the barn?” he suggested.

“Sure, ok.” Said Geraldine, seemingly oblivious to the importance of the game. He could not believe how, in in spite of this cavalier attitude, that she’d still equalled or bettered him. This confused and frustrated him all at once.

Having arrived at the power pole near the barn Mike determined the distance of the throw by casually drawing a line in the dust. Geraldine was reading her book. He set up, toe on the line and paused. He decided that if he threw with his arm in an upright motion, in line with the tall post, his chances of missing were much less. There were no rules about how high or low, he just had to hit the post. This he considered was his secret advantage! It was to be, best out of three throws.

He threw first, his rock sailing to the left of the post. A miss.

Geraldine threw next. She put her book down on the ground and looking for a suitable rock. He offered her one from his pocket. She placed her toe on the line, and without a moment of consideration, casually chucked her rock in the direction of the post. There was a thud. A direct hit. Mike grimaced, clenching his next rock hard in his hand.

For his second throw he considered carefully the fact he gone left on his first throw and attempted to compensate. He stood still, poised with the rock in his hand, his arm swinging slowly back and forth. Focusing, this was it. He felt the pressure. He had to hit the post! Just had to!

Across the yard his best friend, his dog Ricky noticed him and began bounding in pure joy, towards him. Meanwhile, Mike went into his wind-up, leaned back, his left leg in the air and began his throwing motion. It was at this very moment Ricky hit him full force on his chest, attempting to lick his face. Mike was knocked off balance, but his arm already in forward motion, let go of the stone, which landed about ten feet in front of him. Meanwhile the force of Ricky’s enthusiasm landed them both in a squirming heap on the ground, Ricky hopping around in glee.

Mike scrambled to his feet, “That’s not fair, I get another chance to throw.” He declared.

Geraldine, calmly yet firmly responded. “I saw the rock fly out of your hand. It was a throw. It did not just fall down, it went at least ten feet forward. It was a real throw!”

Even though Mike protested, he knew she’d dug in her heels and that was that. Now of course, he did not feel like finishing the game. Thanks to his crazy dog’s antics he could no longer win, and since that had been the purpose of the whole contest, in his mind it was over.

Just then, an event happened that would cause both of them to forget about the game. A hen exited through the small opening of the hen-house portion of the barn, strutting along like she owned the place. This unfortunately made her even more conspicuous since, she also happened to be the only chicken in sight.

Mike, who had already automatically reloaded, could not help himself.

It’s interesting how when circumstances are just right, we do things we’d never think of doing otherwise. This was one of those situations. It seemed that the gods of rock throwing had turned against Mike. When this new “target” chicken presented herself, he just assumed that no matter how much he tried it would be impossible for him to hit her. After all, he figured, “if you cannot hit a post that doesn’t move, how can you hit a moving chicken?”

Without any further thought, but the security of knowing he couldn’t possibly hit her, he wound up venting all his frustrations, by throwing the rock towards her with all of his might.

His anxiety went through the roof as he watched his moving rock come into contact with the moving head of the chicken! There wasn’t much of a noise at all, but the chicken collapsed in a heap, her legs slowly stretching out, then she was still. Very still. Mike stood, his anxiety constricting his breathing, staring in shocked disbelief at what he thought he'd just seen happen.

“You killed that chicken!” Geraldine exclaimed, jumping up onto her feet her face inches from his face as he stood transfixed, staring at the inert chicken, “Mike, you killed that chicken and boy will dad ever be mad!”

(To be continued.)

"...He also installed the latest in military technology on the towers and corners of  Jerusalem for shooting arrows and hurling stones...."2 Chron. 26:11-15  (Message)


English Gardens, Winnipeg MB
Photo by: Cliff Derksen
June 2013

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Introducing a New Cat to the House!

Ta-Daaaaa....The new website!

Now, I do not wish to frighten or shock you too much today, but as you can see, I do have some news for you. 

As you know, change is something no one can avoid, especially in these days when technology keeps on coming at all of us with constant changes and new ideas. "New" is always happening, and whenever I hear a whiff of anything changing I'm going, "Oh no,  do I have to make up another new user-name and password? Not again please!"

Possibly, this is something like introducing a new cat to your cat(s) already in the house. The best thing is to keep them separate for a while! That way they can get used to each others smells. and for the new one, the new environment. Go slow. Get a towel and rub them with each others smells...after a week or so, lock your own cat(s) in a room for the night and let the new one roam the house...alone. You get the picture. One wants to avoid all the hissing and scratching you can!

I've always known a website was to be part of my future. I just hated the idea that I would have to hire someone to make it up for me, and then have to always go to them for any changes, no matter how minor. The "website" seemed so huge and scary, not to mention expensive, and difficult to manage. 

Well, I've done a little "market research" and things have "changed"! I found "Weebly.com" and (no this is not a sales pitch, just how a "techie-challenged person" like me has to work.) and discovered that things have been made easy enough for a non-techie like me to actually make up my own site and manage it myself! I know, it's so awesome.

So, when this became clear to me, and I read all, well most, let say, of the instructions and in basically two or three days I had a working website, well, mostly working. I was (am)  sooooo excited. And, I can make changes all by myself at any time! There are still some minor things I need to work out, but it is really happening.

Here's the thing. I will not be moving away from this site at this time. So have no fear, I am not abandoning you. But, I would invite you to check out my new site. It's still under "construction" but the basic stuff is all there. It is a site that represents me as an artist more fully. The site includes my sculpting plus both of my blogs; the one on my art work and the new farm boy series. Just check out the pages and you will see what I mean. Also, this site leaves room for me to expand it as I wish. The configurations my change somewhat over time. I hope someday to begin selling some things so that will also be a part of the site in the near future.

Please check it out and enjoy. The address is simple: cliffderksen.com 

You will not need to think up a new user-name or password! :-)

OK, no hissing now! Hope you like it. 

"When the hay is removed and new growth appears...the grass from the hills is gathered in."   Psalms 27:25

English Gardens, Winnipeg MB
Photo: By Cliff Derksen
June 2013






Saturday, 13 July 2013

A Beautiful Melody.


The next morning, his second day of grade two, Mike buzzed through his chores without any coaxing to hurry, like was usually needed from his mother. She, of course, was completely oblivious to the creative artwork he’d done on the bridles blinkers the day before, and was just happy he seemed so excited about going to school. “Must be the new teacher,” she confided to her husband James. Everyone, including Mike had thought the first day of school had gone very well, and so the whole family was in great spirits this the morning of his second day of school

Mike waved goodbye to his father and rode his horse down the quarter mile driveway crossing the gravelled “Market Road,” passed through the angled ditch and onto the neighbor’s cultivated summer-fallow field. 

He felt invigorated and light, as he was still feeling heady from the exuberance of the day before. When he got home that evening he’d used his homework time to sketch some of his friends running alongside his horse, admiring his creative artwork on the blinkers, as he’d crossed the schoolyard on his way home.

Now, as he was replaying yesterday’s victories, he hooked his reins around the saddle horn and pulled out the scribbler with the drawings, from his shoulder bag. He opened the pages studying the pencil drawings, moving his body back and forth in time to the horses walk as he focused on the artwork. In fact, he appreciated it when Doll stopped to graze, making it easier for his eyes to focus and study his artwork.

Mike had by now engaged his “right brain,” as any good artist would do. He of course did not understand what this meant. What it did mean was that he had mentally moved from the real world into another world of his own. That was something he loved about art. It was a place he would naturally go when he drew the doodles in his scribblers. The teachers voice would receded into the distance and literally disappear. He had learned that by getting into a drawing he could escape from the real world around him. Sometimes he could lose a whole class, just doodling. It was great.

Time for example, was now non-existent. He was no longer aware he was to be at school in twenty minutes. If you would have stood in front of him, shaking him back into reality, he would have become aware that he needed to be at school soon and that he’d better get going so as to be on time. But there was no one to shake him out of his right brain mode now.

In fact He did not even notice the movements of his horse calmly grazing along the fence line, moving a step, stopping, eating, ripping up the grass, then moving along another step.... This was exactly what his father had warned him about. “Don’t let the horse graze, nothing good will come of it.” Was what he’d said. 

Mike did not even hear the John Deer tractor, cultivator in tow, driving along in road gear going south on the market road. The meadowlark, singing his heart out a few fence posts away, would have been offended had he known, his beautiful song was falling on deaf ears.

Mike also did not notice that Doll was now moving away from the fence line. Although her movements were similar to while she’d been grazing, unbeknownst to him she was now sniffing the ground, swaying her head from side to side….

We know what Mike was thinking about, but what exactly was his horse Doll thinking? She’d come to believe that she did not really have a rider on her back. There were no commands or directives coming from him. She’d been walking, eating and chewing fresh green grass, without interruption for the last 10 or 15 minutes. As far as she was concerned, her back itched. There were bugs on her back that were bothering her. She just needed to repel these insects and give herself a good scratch. The saddle including the boy were just that, bugs that needed to be removed. She needed a refreshing dust bath to deal with these irritants on her back.

Mike, engrossed in his plans for new drawings, was unaware that his world was tilting more and more. If you or I would have been there we would have seen it and called a warning, but there was no one around to bring him back to reality. It wasn't until doll's front legs had buckled and she’d gone to her knees that Mike’s mind began to become aware that not all things were as they should be. He came out of his right brain in a rush, looking up to see why he was having to tilt backwards in his saddle so severely, he got a huge surprise. The hair on the back of his neck stood up as he saw that the ground was coming up towards him, fast. He panicked, and in shear fright literally lurched upward, well kind of sideways and threw himself off the horse bodily, imagining he’d be crushed under his own horse. He landed on all fours, much to close to the writhing, flailing horse. He was so close he could feel her heat and movement. His only option was to frantically scrabble away on his hands and knees as fast as he could. It was embarrassing but he had no other option. He came to his feet a few yards later, running to clear the area. Then when he felt safe enough he slowed, turning wide-eyed, only to see his horse laying on her side, her back to him, attempting to throw herself over onto her back.

Mike, his heart pounding, watched her make several attempts, grunting with effort, legs and hooves flailing in the air, dust flying as she would almost make it, only to flop back. Then she’d try again and finally after the fourth or so try, she made it and balanced right on her back, stopped there for a moment or two, Mike wondering if she’d make it all the way…she wriggled, moved her head and slowly began to fall, going completely over, onto her other side.

Mike stood, transfixed by the sight of this large animal completely upside down. It would be an image seared into his memory, something he would never forget. He felt privileged somehow for having seen this. For now, he would keep this image front and centre, and file it away later.

Doll was beginning to get up. Suddenly he realised he’d need to get his hands on his horse again. After all, he still had a ways to go to school. But he was twenty feet away.

But doll was not done yet! Once on her feet she stood, paused, and then began to shake herself. Her whole body vibrated. She stood, splayed out, her whole body shuddering, looking like she was trying to shake the saddle right off her back. Dust rose into the air around her, slowly drifting away in the light breeze. Then, it was over. She stood perfectly still.

She swivelled her head and looked straight at Mike. He wasn't sure what to make of it. What was she trying to say? Her tail swished and her head went up and down, her eyes on him. Was this her invitation to come and claim her again for the rest of his ride to school? 

She snorted. 

Was this her “thank you” for the "break" he'd inadvertently given her? He wasn't quit sure, but took a tentative step towards her.

The moment he moved, she threw her head up into the air with a neigh and began to prance, sideways, away from him. Then broke into small hops including a few bucks, his lunch box and stirrups flying, the reins sliding up her neck. Then she kicked her rear legs into the air and began trotting away. He took a few running steps after her, calling name, but it was useless, she was curving back the way they had come. Without any hesitation, she continued moving away from him, in the direction of home.

In a few moments, he was alone. The prairie silence enveloping him like a blanket.  

He stood thinking. What was he do to do? Should he go home, or should he go to school? He realised his lunch was gone, tied to the saddle and was on its way home. He had his shoulder bag, and remembered his scribbler. Where was his scribbler? He found it wrinkled, dusty, crushed and ripped where Doll had rolled. He shook the dirt out of it, folded it over and stuffed it into his bag.

He began to walk, towards the school. Why? He was not sure. That was what he was supposed to do, go to school, was it not? So that’s what he did.

Then he heard it, a meadowlark, from somewhere very nearby, singing its beautiful song. He stopped, embracing the clear beautiful prairie melody, and felt his throat swell with emotion. He knew it was a gift. A gift that obviously was meant, just for him.

"But Martha was distracted..."     Luke 10:40 



English Gardens, Winnipeg
Photo by Cliff Derksen
June, 2013

Sunday, 7 July 2013

I Think He's Choked!

Looks like he's choking!
I wonder if he'll survive!

Every once in a while, an artist has a niggling feeling that things are not going in the direction they should be going. That the project is just a bit off. But, until it goes beyond the "niggle" one just has to keep going. You keep going because often the feeling goes away as the work comes to completion. It's only then that you realize it turned out better than you thought it would. You were just concerned and worried as you'd never done this before. Self doubt and all that.

But, what if the niggle at some point confirms that there is defiantly a problem. Meaning that, as you progress on the sculpture, you begin to see more clearly how it will actually turn out, if you keep going in the present direction. This clarity then removes the niggle and is replaced by an unavoidable decision that has to be made. That the present course will not result in what it was you wished to say or achieve when you began with the piece. So you have to stop and re-evaluate the situation.

Now the problem turns on the question of resolution, this be what's involved in getting this resolved? If, in fact, one continues on the present course, what is this new thing the piece is really saying and will say when it's done? Can I go with that? Will the impact be the same? Do I agree with or feel good about the new message? If not, Can I still use the existing piece to make the changes necessary so the original intent and message is restored? Or, must I start again from scratch? 

This is exactly what happened to me with this project. After I'd placed the wolfs head on this figure who is supposed to personify evil, I began to experience the "niggle" moving... and stopped my work.  I then decided I had to do some research on wolves and particularly the alpha wolf style of leadership. 

I know, I know, it was kind of silly to make the head, place it on the figure, and do the research later! That was the mistake. I had made some assumptions about wolves which in the end proved to be wrong for my purposes. The wolf head was to illustrate pure and unadorned evil leadership. The worst of the worst, sitting on the magnificent throne of evil, the throne of swords. Did I ever get a wake-up call!

Do you know that there are organisations working with street kids who use the alpha wolf leadership style as their model in teaching and mentoring kids in leadership skills? They also use these principles in running the whole program itself. That was not a good beginning and was not what I had expected to discover! 

And that's only the beginning of it. Many businesses and other groups do versions of the same thing.

Then I researched the wolf's themselves, doubts now crowding my mind re. my decision to use a wolf head on my evil guy. Bottom line, the alpha wolf's leadership decisions are all made on the bases of what's best for the pack. He leads on the decision to hunt, and is point wolf on the hunt itself. He leads when they travel as a pack. He hunts and provides for his mate and the cubs when she's nursing. Also providing food for the older cubs as they grow up, so his mate can hunt and eat to strengthen herself again. His whole existence is to keep the pack fed, healthy and protected. Even his getting to eat first on the kill, is for the good of the pack, making sure their leader  always has the strength and health to lead the pack. Every decision is for the good of the pack! I had no idea he was such a "good" guy!

It became very clear that the wolf-head for this evil guy was not the answer for my purposes. Notice, under the photo above how I wondered if he'd survive the choking. Well, he didn't! 

I have to go another route. My research continues. 

Welcome to the "reality show" of an artist's life!

Next week I will let you know where this "let's get evil" research takes me.

"...So the Priest shall make atonement for him regarding his ignorance in which he erred and did not know it, and it shall be forgiven him."    Lev. 5:18


English Garden, Winnipeg MB
Photo by: Cliff Derksen
June, 2013