Showing posts from November, 2010

Winter Sunset


One way I relax is by playing with watercolour. You will know this if you read my earlier post 'Staring, Sploshing and Splashing. I'm a late beginner or by now an 'improver'. In recent weeks I've seen some magnificent sunsets and have struggled to paint such scenes with watercolour. This is one of the better attempts in my learning so far. It's an imaginery winter scene, loosely based on a combination of memories. I like the contrast between the warmth of the sunset colours and the cold of the ground and bare winter trees. I would like to have added a snowy owl in flight, but that was one challenge too far for me. Another time perhaps. Any other suggestions for development would be appreciated.

Last Day of the Year


I usually find November depressing. In the Northern hemisphere the hours of daylight are getting far too short for me to feel naturally optimistic. Today it's really cold here and there's snow on the ground - far too early. I'm longing for Spring already.

It's an appropriate time to be yearning for what is promised but not yet here. Today is the last day of the Christian year. Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent and the beginning of a new liturgical year. Advent is a season of hope, of waiting in expectation of the coming of Christ into the world. This picture by Joana Roja uses the traditional Advent colour of purple to represent both royalty and the penitential nature of the season. She has added the warm tones and the suggestion of advent candles to represent light in darkness and the longing for what is promised.

I came across a short video by Christine Sine with beautiful images and music by Jeff Johnson. It's her 2010 Advent Meditation. It's focus is…

Flushing Liquid Gold

Do you flush your urine down the loo? You do? Shame on you. So do I. Shame on me, when I could, but don't, use it for valuable purposes, such as:
soaking my tired dry feet in it so the skin becomes baby smoothremoving grease from my clothes (like the Romans until they got soap from the Germans)making my home-made bread rise and my beer foammaking fireworks or other explosivesmaking an emergency gas mask like the soldiers in the trenches at Ypres (actually not a good idea - the reaction with ammonia just made things worse)using it as a mordant to prepare cloth for dyeingusing it to remove hair from dead animal skinsI will let you into a secret. Urine from someone living with me is occasionally (and discreetly) used as a garden compost accelerant. It's effective and much cheaper than anything you might buy in the garden centre. I don't contribute because our compost bins are too tall for me. I just remain so grateful for the invention of the Water Closet, even if it does wast…

Walls: Pilgrimage Retrospective Part 4

Separation by agreement on equal terms, like the boundary wall between our garden and our neighbours' can be useful. But enforced separation on unequal terms can only be called 'apartheid' and lead to further injustice. When the Berlin Wall came down 21 years ago I felt a great sense of hope that the 'Cold War' in Europe was finally thawing. People previously separated were coming together. It's so depressing to realize how many new walls of separation have since been built around the world. Constructing separation walls between people is now a world-wide growth industry.
Being confronted with the wall around the city of Bethlehem was a truly shocking experience for me last month, even though I'd expected to see it. I managed to photograph the wall, but not one of the many watchtowers which chillingly reminded me of a visit to Auschwitz a few years ago.
I've wanted to write about the wall shown in this photo since returning from a Holy Land Pilgrimage. I h…

Pilgrimage Retrospective Part 3: Only children enter freely

More than 3 weeks after returning from the Holy Land, this is my 3rd post-pilgrimage reflection. I said it would take months to unpack! 

Here's a door, unpacked from my camera. I'm now trying to paint it in watercolour. I want to include some children, but finding this hard.

Doors are powerful symbols. They've always fascinated me, as I've mentioned in a previous post here and also here.

This door, the 'Door of Humility' is the entrance to the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. I took this photo while listening to our guide Ghassan (a Palestinian Christian) explaining why the current entrance is so small, though the former were huge. His gentle words still ring in my mind,
"now only a young child may enter freely - like the baby of Bethlehem".Then we entered stooping, as most adults have to if you want to avoid a painful encounter with the stone lintel. I thought later about Jesus' words before he took children in his arms and blessed them,