Tonight as I came down (finally) from my children’s rooms where they are both peacefully dreaming, I came across a few pastel sketches I did in 1999 while working for Ontario Parks (below) – when we went on a training retreat north of Toronto. I love the serenity of the landscape in the land of tiny lakes and islands, rocks and trees. It has always inspired me since I was about 10 years old, going to camp. The page I was working on tonight briefly, by scribbling all over it with a pastel, left me with the phrase “Silence all around.” I decided to echo the scene on the pastel sketch with a sketch using the painting knife.
While watching the paint dry, I pulled out some old letters ranging from 1912 to another one in 1945, 3 days before my father was born. I was inspired to work something regarding mail into the piece. Remembering how important mail was in my childhood, when I logged the thousand letters I wrote within a few years; weaving reeds into mats one summer while waiting by the mailbox for the postman to arrive. Currently there is a Canada Post strike, which is not causing to much of a stir. So few letters come to me by mail now. My descendants will not have the privilege of reading a 99 year old letter, detailing requests for a couple of ducks and a hen, a patch to mend a silk dress, and some eggs and milk.
The second envelope window peeks through to a sketch from the base page (Alice in Wonderland) of a gathering of animals (owl, rat, duck, etc.). Today a colleague and I were chatting about the possibility of publishing the book we co-wrote and illustrated at least 5 years ago. My first thought was that I would have put a little bit more effort into the illustrations if I’d known it was going to be published someday. Since I was young, I always imagined I would write books, and others have urged me to do children’s books but before having my own kids it didn’t really appeal to me. So I kept that group of animals on the painting as a nod to the concept of peeking through to the world of illustrating children’s books someday. Plus I have been teaching my 3.5-year-old how to draw this week – her fascination and wonder at my simple pencil crayon examples and her own innocent creativity are really inspiring.