Monthly Archives: December 2013

Years of Colours 2013 DS – an end of the year Postmodern Poem



Years of Colours Photopoem 2013 DS

Down the long years

Of Christian travail

Love and fear

Mingled, mangled

Days of sorrow tears

Blue and silver

Dripped through

Veils of nights

Mornings of new

Hope-risen avenues

Of prayers breathed

To function

To succeed

To proceed up

To the light

Of living

In health and well-being


Years of colours

Of favours

Of tapered dreams and

Fostered acts

Of contrition

Of confession

Of conviction

To walk

In streets goldened

In rivers stilled

In paths

Righteous straight

Yet zigzagged

Of flowers strewn

Of calls answered

Of blessing

Come down

To cover with

Feathers of life


Now the years turn

Although each is new

This desires heartened

Pressed down and shaken

Caught my fall

Plateaued by love

Standing in awe

Looking in green

Pastures beside

Children that play

In my presence

The richness of

Walking un-alone

Shone through

Labour loved and lost

Seeded dead mid-winter

Sprouts are dotted

In cold snow

Memories of sun

Glow and warm

Thoughts of you

Both now and forever


Collage Techniques


“Chloe” 2013 DS found paper collage 8 1/2″ x 11″




We follow Schwitters’ tradition of using found paper collage for personal expression.  This activity is about mark-making and seeing what the art media will produce under our hands.  It is about creativity, a celebration of life and an expression of what it means to be human.  No marks are a mistake and can be incorporated into the overall image. Papers can be flattened and stapled, torn or cut out and glue stick rubbed on the back.


To make your work interesting consider the following design ideas:

– overall design can be formal as paintings or adding papers in a certain shape for example, a cross, a circle, a triangle or square or informal making an overall design or anything you can think of

-line variation e.g thick or thin, straight or wavy

– repetition brings unity – if you make a circle, repeat it somewhere else in the image

– size – the scale of objects can be changed

– different textures e.g. shiny, rough, patterned, plain, stiff

– introduce a colour theme or use all of them

Collage Art History Precedent

Contemplation and Collage on a cold winter's night

Contemplation and Collage on a cold winter’s night

ART HISTORY PRECEDENT: Kurt Schwitters – In the 1920’s a German Dada artist appeared of the scene with exciting personal expressions of collage made out of ordinary papers some even found on the street. He used household papers, bus tickets, string, letters – whatever he picked up. He was the one who made collage truly a fine art and has strongly influenced many contemporary art developments. A story is told of his passing of time creating collage in a Scottish prisoner of war camp during World War II. Thousands and thousands of dollars worth of collages went unrecognized and were thrown out by the prison guards and lost to the art world – DS.

A Brief History of Collage



“Gift Collage” Photo 2013 DS 

HISTORY OF COLLAGE – The term “collage” was taken from the French word meaning “to glue”.  The story of collage began with the invention of paper in China in 200B.C., continued through many folk art traditions such as Japanese text collages in the twelfth century, fifteenth century Persian cut paper designs and German lace valentine greetings etc. down to the modern period.  Collage became known as a fine art medium through the experimentation of French Cubist artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque in 1912 – DS.


Messy Christmas

“Are you ready to have the perfect Christmas? No? Don’t worry, you are in good company. The first Christmas was hardly perfect, so maybe the mess and muddle of an imperfect Christmas is the best situation in which to welcome.”  Roger Dawson SJ

As an oldest child in sibling order, I do not like messes.  I feel calm when things are clean, tidy and in place.  Paradoxically, as a collagist, a confusion of paper, paint and found objects are the tools of my trade.   Yet the experience of Christmas – that holy culmination of all that is good – is expected to be pretty close to perfection.



Christmas Desk 2013 DS

I watched the movie “On Strike for Christmas” (2010) and it did my heart good.  Why not strike if we have to pull off the perfect Christmas by ourselves?   However, even with the family learning the lesson of helping and giving at Christmas, the ‘perfect’ Christmas came up short for me.

I have spent time this season oscillating between positively answering if I am ready for Christmas and the negative self-talk that goes with trying to bring order out of chaos.  I am ready.  My gifts were bought and wrapped early, the cards sent by (the soon to be extinct?) Canada Post or by e-cards.    The house is as clean as it gets.  Food is bought. Image


Christmas ‘Tree’ 2013 DS

Yet my complaints are there.  My ‘tree’ is not a tree but a bouquet of branches easy to assemble.  The beautiful white snow for Christmas Eve is now replaced with slush.  People are not coming on the right days.  Some people are missing.  Someone sneezed on me yesterday.  I could go on.

Over the month of December I told the story of Mary in the workshops.  I read and discussed from the book of Luke.  My presentation was enriched by having watched the movie “Mary” (Maria di Nazaret 2010) on Netflix.  Mary, on close inspection, and contrary to the beauty of Christmas plays, must have had a very messy Christmas.

Things were definitely not as they ‘should’ have been.  First of all, even though she was from a good family with a godly upbringing, she became pregnant without being married.  Many women throughout history can attest to the grave difficulties that can bring.  Case in point is the story of “Philomena” now playing in a theatre near you. 

Mary had to face her fiancée, her family and her community alone.  Mary could have been sent away or even stoned to death in that ancient culture.  I am not sure that her reputation ever recovered.

Mary needed to travel on a donkey to a foreign country when she was almost due to deliver her child.  (I can remember how painful a bumpy car ride was for me when I was pregnant.)  The place where they thought they could stay turned them away in their hour of need.

 All of this was discussed by the women in the December “Contemplation and Christmas Collage” workshop series.  They remembered their own difficulties and fears in pregnancy and childbirth.  They spoke that final workshop.  One precious woman seated next to me ‘sang’ the requested carols with only sounds.  That touched me and in a way validated my being there.

(Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.) 

Before I left the collage workshop that last day we also recalled how the messiness of the First Christmas was energized by the Holy Spirit into a collage of great love come down.  “God with us – Emmanuel” was his name.  Mary’s story was filled with messages from angels.  God’s provision kept her calm in her difficulties.  The presence of Jesus brought the true meaning of Christmas.  Only God’s order could make sense of that chaos.

It is always so.  The messy Christmas that we all more or less experience is only truly made peaceful by not just the story of ‘God with us’ but by God’s very presence.  May we notice the difference in our celebrations and in our disappointments that not being alone brings in Christmas 2013.  A collage of love right now sounds good.


Christmas Still Life 2013 DS

“Snow Day” 2013 DS

Today I went back to bed. I made the necessary calls to cancel my appointments. It is a snow day. In fact at noon the snow is still falling.

There have been a lot of workshops this month and I am exhausted. However, I could not sleep. What happened was that, as I lay there, heaped with covers, trying to get warm, my basic coldness kept me kind of awake. My mind conceived or rather received, several new ideas for workshops in the New Year.

Often my best work is done when I do not plan it. This is what keeps me to a contemplative path. A snow day becomes an unexpected retreat day – what Richard Rohr in his book “Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer” calls a sacred space, a liminal space, where we are led to let go and to somehow be transformed. It becomes a period of time away from our normal everyday life. We are able to see things in a new way.

Today I am kidnapped by the Spirit for a beauty day – a white day, a quiet day where my schedule is interrupted. This moment I am in awe of the largest of flakes, of the crackling sound on the screen window; of the swirling of the flakes in various directions simultaneously.

Surely this scene is the Self-expression of God:

The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)

I notice that my breathing pattern changes. This over-abundance of snow that is more than the branches can hold seems like this prophetic word:

I will [ ] open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. Malachi 10:6b

Yes, even in my fatigue I have received the “spiritual creativity” Rohr writes about that God gives when we relinquish control for a while and trust in God’s work “in the darkness.” Not only am I rested; I am revived to return to my goal-oriented lifestyle.