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

“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

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

“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 "" 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: 

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

Saturday, 6 July 2013

An "Eye" for Distraction.

Doll snorted as Mike jerked the reins, bringing her head up from grazing alongside the bush they were hiding in. Mike's plan for escaping the embarrassment of his friends seeing him ride a horse with blinders on, was to wait till the first bell had rung and the kids were all inside the school building. He felt quite smug as he watched the kids move off the yard and into the one room school house. It was time to go. By the time he got there, they'd be inside.

He entered the yard, passing a knot of parents talking. Being the first day of school, a lot of parents who had first graders had descended onto the schoolyard bringing their kids to school. By this time though most of them had left and no one really noticed him. He crossed the yard, and as he neared the barn passed an assortment of buggy's and waggons standing around. He stopped in front of the open barn door, Doll snorting and neighing in response to the horses already in the barn. 

He concentrated on making sure he had a good grip on the reins as he led his horse between the two rows of horses on each side. He tied his horse on in an empty stall, removed the offencive bridal and hung it on a hook as he left the barn. He was now thinking of how he'd get off the yard without his buddies seeing this bridal with the blinkers on it. He could just imagine the laughter, the scorn and the finger pointing. 

With lunch-pail in hand he walked towards the one-room school. 

Upon entering the building through the huge double doors, he was hit with the very familiar smells of chalk, books and old wood. Memories of grade one assailed him and he was glad he was back. He hung his jacket on the lower row of hooks alongside multicoloured rows of kids coats. 

He paused before he entered the large classroom of about thirty kids. He could hear the teacher going through the role-call, moving from one grade to the next. He wondered if his name had already been called. He could see the huge furnace vent at the back of the room and some of the older kids in the last rows near his door. A few of them saw him, snickering... one of them whispering, "You’re late!"

He knew, from last year that the grade ones sat right along the far wall from where he was standing. The grade two's would be next to them. Suddenly he remembered he'd know them from last year so would know where to sit. Unfortunately, he'd have to walk right across the whole room to get there. 

The teacher, caught sight of him skulking along halfway across the back of the room turned out to be very nice. She was new and was trying to get to know each student as quickly as possible. She seemed very attentive and interested, asking questions and talking the whole time as she settled him into a desk in the grade two section. She'd placed a reader before him to read as she finished going on through the names of the higher grades.

Mike relaxed, enjoying the huge class-room. The thing he liked best about it was the blackboard. This was no ordinary blackboard. He had one at home in the house, which his dad had put up for him to do homework on. But, mostly he drew pictures on it. Also, it was small. This one was huge. As high as the teacher could reach when she stood on her toes, and stretched across the whole front of the room, passed behind the teacher's desk and on. It turned the corner at the far side and went along the next wall, past the girl’s cloakroom door, going on till the boys cloakroom door he'd just entered at the end of the wall. 

He loved this backboard. Last year he'd been asked to draw some Christmas decorations for the Christmas program the school put on for the parents. He'd used coloured chalk to draw Christmas candles on the blackboard. He remembered he'd been given large sheets of paper to draw the candles on that first, with his pencil. Then the teacher had suggested poking holes through the paper along the lines, which was then used as a stencil for each candle. He remembered holding the paper against the blackboard and tapping the brush over the holes, chalk dust rising in the air around him. When the paper was removed, the dust having gone through the holes revealed the whole candle....

He jolted upright in his chair as a new thought splashed across his mind. Later, he would remember the experience, likening it to seeing a sudden, surprising bolt of lightning in the night sky. Like the whole bolt, every aspect of it. All the branches of it, even the glow of light on the clouds around it, everything. 

For the rest of the day, Mike disappeared. I mean, at recess. He was there for every class, intense and excited. But for recess, he was gone. No one asked for him and no one noticed. 

At three-thirty pm the school bell rang announcing the end of the school day. Mike was strangely relaxed considering his concerns of the morning. It was like he'd forgotten all about his anxiety about the bridle with the blinders.

He chatted with the guys as they made their way across the yard to the barn. They would all now hitch up or mount their horses and be on their way home. Mike could not help but smile as he put the bridle with the blinkers on his horse in the stall. He mounted using the stall wall and burst out of the barn door, leaning back in his saddle, working the reins trying to keep the eager, cooped up Doll under control. 

Every horse was always excited to get home after a day in the barn, this was no surprise. But each of his friends stopped what they were doing as their off-hand glances towards him struggling, turned into stunned stairs and then outright laughter and general excitement. Kids began to run and call ahead as he moved along.  Everyone began to crowd around to get a better look. By the time he went past the school building on his way to the driveway, the new teacher was standing on the steps watching as he went by. She laughed and waved. He tried to respond with a wave but ended up with a half panic wave, as his hands were full trying to control his horse, keeping her moving slow enough, so kids could keep up admiring the blinkers on his horse! 

"Be careful Mike," he heard her call. He nodded and smiled broadly as he relaxed the reins, letting his horse break into an eager gallop home as he exited the yard.

All the way home Mike replayed the drama in his mind. How he’d pocketed the tin of paints and brushes. How he’d emptied a tin holding coloured pencils, laying them down neatly where the tin had stood. Then stopping to fill the tin with water at the pump outside on his way to the barn. There, in the middle of the isle, he planted himself on the floor with his bridal and the paints. He knew exactly what he wanted to do, so began immediately covering the very black blinkers on both sides with several coats of white paint as a background. He had not finished his work when the bell rang at the end of the lunch hour. 

He'd been so immersed in his work, he'd forgotten all about lunch. It wasn't until he went to the barn again during the afternoon recess that his stomach reminded him he was hungry. He actually bit into a sandwich, but again in his rush to finish before the end of recess, forgot all about eating. 

He’d finished the one blinker during the noon hour, so now all he needed to do was finish the other one. Since he’d done the background at noon all he had to do now was paint the large eye in bright blue, outlined in black, on both sides. When he’d finished that and the bell had not yet rung, he had, as an afterthought added long generous eyelashes on each of the four eyes.

He knew he’d have to explain all of this to his dad. What he would think about it, he had no idea. All he knew was he’d changed something embarrassing into something funny. Exciting even. Everyone had loved it. He decided it had been worth it and was willing to pay the price, whatever that might be. 

His heart was bursting and he just could not stop smiling all the way home. His horse apparently felt the same as he did, moving along at a steady trot all the way home, not even thinking about stopping to graze anywhere all the way home.

"So Mike, tell me about the blinkers." his father said, as they were putting feed into the troughs for the milk-cows that evening. 

"The lamp of the body is the eye, Therefore when your eye is good, your body also is full of light."       Luke 11:34

English Gardens, Winnipeg MB
Photo by: Cliff Derksen

Taken in June 2013