A daily practice

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Happy New Year – Sketch for January 1, 2020

It seems we were just wishing everyone a happy new year and here we are, already into double digits of January. How does time slip by so quickly?

I resolved that this year I’d do a better job of the blog—even posting a little something regularly, like once a week. Now that I’ve blown that resolution, it’s time to at least get started.

In my journey into art last year, one resolution I did keep was to do a sketchbook entry every day. With the exception of a couple of days in early January 2019, I kept that promise to myself. In the process I’m well on the way to filling up my second 110-page sketchbook.

I’ve continued on with that practice this year. I use a simple 5.5×8” hardcover sketchbook from Michaels. It’s made of 75 lb. paper (not even mixed media weight), not meant for watercolours, but I use them on it regularly and it holds up remarkably well with never a bleed-through (unless I rub the paper raw).

To decide what to draw, most days I’ve been following drawing prompts from Doodlewash. These challenge me to draw everyday common things as well as things I would never attempt without a prod. On other days I draw what calls to me.

Here are a few pages from 2020, along with some of the reference photos (all taken by me).


If art is calling to you, keeping a daily sketchbook or sketch journal is a great way to get started and daily practice is a sure way to get better.

Self-portrait #BibleJournaling

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A self-portrait in a Bible? Really!?

That was Rebekah R. Jones’ Week 17 Original Bible Art Journaling Challenge. In response to Genesis 1:27 (“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them”), she created a lovely portrait of herself holding a container of art supplies. She transferred the image from a photograph and coloured it with ink tense pencils (devotional and video HERE).

Rebekah’s challenge was “Choose to create something that expresses you best. What God created and loves about you. He puts desires in our heart and loves to see us enjoy life.”

After watching the video I wondered, can I even do this? I’m so bad at drawing people!  What would I make? Do I have a picture that represents me in such an iconic way?

As I mulled over these things I remembered a photo hubby took of me some years ago. We were hiking on Salt Spring Island and in the background were trees, the rocky bluffs, and the ocean. I’ve always loved and felt a special kinship with the natural world so I decided to try and create a self-portrait using that photo.

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I printed the photo in black and white and traced over it, transferring it to my Bible page using graphite paper. Then I darkened the outline with pigma micron pens and the colour with pencil crayons and a little watercolour.

As I was working on my portrait, an incident came to mind. It happened on a January day in 2016. It had rained all day and I felt cooped up in the house. Late afternoon the rain stopped and I went for a short walk.

The glint of white and the shape of a duck-tail head caught my attention as I passed a local stream. Could it be the pair of ducks I’d seen there very occasionally?

I slowed, stopped, and sure enough. It was a couple of Hooded Mergansers. I watched as this showy pair swam, dived, and swam some more in front of me and my camera.

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A pair of Hooded Mergansers, one of the photos I snapped that January day (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

I was full of happiness as I walked home a few minutes later, overjoyed to have chanced on these lovely birds. “Thank You, Lord,” I prayed silently.

And then I sensed God saying to me, “Violet, I know you. I know you love such things. It was not by chance that you spotted and enjoyed those birds on your walk today. I was in it–not just for you but also for Me.

“I know you enjoy making things. So do I. And I love it when you appreciate and enjoy the things I have made, just like you love it when people appreciate and enjoy what you make.” {goosebumps much?}

On that day, then, I grasped in a deeper way than ever before, what it means that I am created in the image of God. And so I added a stream to my picture and drew a couple of mergansers swimming in it.

Gen 1_27

How would you illustrate Rebekah’s challenge of what expresses you best, of how you are created in God’s image? Maybe you should do it!

 

Birders

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Image: Pixabay

Birders

carefully document
unusual birders
human populations
have virtually gone extinct
additional searches
better document
small populations
lost race
of endangered species—
birders are our
natural resource

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

(Found poem from National Geographic Field Guide to Birds of North America, “How to Be A Better Birder” – p. 19)

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Prompt – Inspiration
Find a poem—somewhere…anywhere!

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VintagePADThis April I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting some not-as-yet published poems from my files, along with what inspired them. If the prompt inspires you to write a poem of your own, you’re welcome to share it in comments. Whether you write or not, thanks so much for dropping by!

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Just an ordinary walk

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In the last few weeks my walking partner, dear hubby, has been finding it more and more painful to walk. Then the doctor told him, no more long walks until you’re better. So for now I am walking on my own.

When I took solitary walks in the past I experienced a wonderful loosening of words and ideas. And it’s happening again, if I’m alert to it.

To help with that, I carry a little notebook and pen to write down words, turns of phrase, and images that I don’t want to forget. Or I hold them in my head. That’s what I did for the poem below. When I got home I free-wrote like crazy to capture everything in prose. Later I worked some of my ideas into …

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“I am a long skinny shadow now, walking down a golden street” (Photo © 2016 by V. Nesdoly)

Just an ordinary walk

On this cold morning I am soft wax
feeling intimidated by impatient cars
swishing, swooshing
swirling beside me.

One turns right in front
of my WALK light, almost clips my toes.
Even in moments of still, distant traffic hums
a far off siren screams.

City birds above me chirp, warble
sing their own bustle, swoop down (peck, peck),
flutter away. They are nonchalant, daring,
savvy to the rhythm of feet and tires (hop, hop).

My nose tests wind gusts, smells
gasoline, diesel, vanilla, a passerby’s peppery
perfume,  chocolate, cinnamon
(something good is baking at Safeway).

I am a long  skinny shadow now walking down a golden street
past a lady in a taupe coat with her silky dog in red
and a grey couple smoking on a bench.
They pull their Lhasa Apso close so I can pass.

I can’t find the book drop at the library.
The security guard points me to it’s green-light lips
“You scan it.” He shows me which bar-code
and the slot sucks the book from my hand.

As I turn toward home, the sun stares
into my eyes, brash. I shade them
with hands balled into gloves, fingers
squeezing warmth from palms.

A kid with a black-and-white backpack strides by
black arms bare under short black sleeves
black jeans, white shoes—so cool
but how can he not feel so cold?

I climb stairs, twist key in the lock—
happy to be home.
It was just an ordinary walk
but forever engraved in this poem.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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PF-2This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by the queen of poetic forms, Tricia at her blog Miss Rumphius Effect.

Carrier Pigeon

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carrier-pigeon-illus

Carrier Pigeon

Bird Lady has tossed her breads.
Clay pigeons, come leave your beds
time to stuff stool pigeon heads!

Dockyard pigeons, homing too
from bridge girders and the zoo
Pigeon Forgers, drop by, do!

Pigeon-chested, pigeon-toed
pigeon-heated by the road…
full tums all—that is the goad.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

Poetry Friday regulars will recognize the Jane Yolen-invented form of this ditty (a septercet: seven syllable lines, three lines to a stanza, any number of stanzas), my attempt to rise to this month’s challenge at Michelle Barnes blog Today’s Little Ditty.

(If you’re curious about what some of these pigeony figures of speech mean, check HERE.)

And now, I’m soon off to Bellingham and Poetry Camp! Hubby and I even did a reconnaissance trip a few weeks ago when I needed some software that was only available south of the border. On that outing we scouted the campus of WWU, so I even have my bearings (sort of).

See some of you this weekend!!

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PF-2This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted this week by Karen at Karen Edmisten: Mom. Writer. Consumer of Coffee (I like that last!).

 

Warm-up

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Warm-up

The robins lilt
the blackbirds trill
from little sparrow’s
open bill

an aria
so sweet and round.
(how can that wee bird
make such sound?)

From somewhere high
the flicker drums
with rat-tat-tat
the forest thrums

The ducks afraid
of our bold pets
alarm their alto
clarinets

Steller’s jays rasp
the Kelp Gulls shriek
Blue Heron fishing
in the creek

mute audience
to warm-up glee
of spring’s sweet avian
symphony.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of morning birdsong. Even on the dullest days their calls brighten our walk. They’re especially melodic on the section of path that follows the creek. Listening to them every morning is the perfect way to get tuned up for the day!

PF-2This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Carol in her Poetry Garden at Beyond Literacy blog.

 

Poetry Friday – tree branch edition

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Poetry Friday Logo

Welcome to Poetry Friday. I’m delighted to host you today from the branches of the latest avian property.

bird in blossoming tree

Lark Listing

You don’t need a formal foyer
mudroom and a laundry too
kitchen with a granite counter
fireplaces not a few
great big master, walk-in closets
double basins in the loo

when your wallpaper’s spring blossom
floor is mossy, damp with dew
vaulted ceiling—it’s the highest
painted in the softest blue
living room is the whole meadow
open concept—what a view!

© 2014 – Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Yep, I obviously watch too much HGTV!  It was the background of blossoms in this photo that made me think of wallpaper—and what if this bird was twittering the advantages of its little spot in the woods like one advertises a house for sale?

Now it’s your turn. Fly over to Mr. Linky to leave links to your Poetry Friday offerings and read what is on everyone elses mind this beautiful May day!

Spring project

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A few weeks ago on my walk past Logan Creek, where I walk almost every day, I caught sight of this bird.  I’m not sure what kind of bird it is, but I’m quite sure I know what it was up to. (The photo turned out to be the perfect prompt for April 12 of my spring project.)

Bird with feather in beak

Spring project

It’s building day
beautiful weather
we’ll gather beakfulls
of twig and feather

I’ve found a sweet spot
in a crook of this tree
to nest brown-flecked eggs
of our family

© 2014 – Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Katya Czaja at Write. Sketch. Repeat.

 

The song of birds

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Silhouette of a bird singing

Birdsong silhouette (Photo © 2012 by Violet Nesdoly)

HOW BIRDS SING
by Kay Ryan

One is not taxed;
one need not practice;
one simply tips
the throat back
over the spine axis
and asserts the chest.

(Go HERE to read the rest. Scroll down a bit…)

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Right around the end of last year, Mary Lee Hahn offered a Kay Ryan book giveaway on her blog—and I won it! She graciously sent  The Best of It – New and Selected Poems by Kay Ryan all the way to Canada. (Thanks again, Mary Lee!)

I have been enjoying Ryan’s clever, philosophical, rhyme-riddled, witty, and always-deeper-on-second-reading-than-they-seem-on-the-first poems.

The poem “How Birds Sing” caught my attention because a few times on our morning walks in the last weeks, we’ve been hearing spring birds sing. The Red-winged Blackbirds are back, and so is the bird that sings a lilting song I’ve always associated with spring. (Before I die, I will identify that bird!)

So, no matter how deep you still are in winter, comfort yourself that spring will soon be here, and keep your ears open!

Poetry Friday LogoThis post is part of Poetry Friday, hosted today by Renee at No Water River.

Duck Pond Primary

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Heron

A solitary heron is the pond’s pundit

Duck Pond Primary

Crows are campaigning
for the abolition of eagles and hawks.
Starlings are a pollster’s nightmare
can’t make up their minds about anything.
Ducks hang around the path
in true socialist fashion:
Why get ambitious when most walkers
carry birdseed or bags of bread?
A solitary heron is the pond’s pundit
but he doesn’t look optimistic.
Chickadees with their happy-go-lucky
pine-branch somersaults and games of tag
are surely too frivolous to vote.
But most of the forest
from robins and waxwings to flickers and jays
go about their business giving nothing away.
Expect a surprise or two come election day.

© 2011 by Violet Nesdoly

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Even though I live in Canada, I have been following the run-up to the U.S. election with great interest. With it being only days away, I thought of “Duck Pond Primary” which I wrote last May around the time of the Canadian federal election when, after being subjected to interviews, campaign ads, signs, predictions, debates, polls and more polls, even the world of birds began to look political!

I submit this poem to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Donna at Mainely Write.