Mist on the Mountainside

Mist on the Mountainside
Digital (iPhone + Brushes App)
2010

Here’s a quick piece I created on my iPhone using the Brushes App. I’m actually a closet watercolourist but still working on my skills. I found the interface easy to use but the screen ‘real estate’ far too small. This is what would prompt me toward an iPad, creating quick sketches in full colour any time any place.

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I love the mountains. When I was younger I would get an overpowering urge to return. We lived hours away on the plains and I would squint at the clouds on the horizon, imagining them to be a wall of stone and valley. As I grew older I was able to make my way there on my own, even to the extent of making the choice of living under their shadow, training as a goldsmith in the Waterton Valley.

I saw the many and sudden changes in the weather, the shifts from rain to sunshine and then to snow, all in a day.

I walked seldom used trails, scaling higher and higher until there were no more trees, just me, the wind, and the eagle.

I explored the valley depths, the secret pools and whispering streams. Clean, cold water flowing silkily over moss covered rocks.

I spoke with the animals, with a distant wolf, the bear, a cougar up in a tree who considered me for lunch but for reasons unknown changed menu plans. The birds were my constant companions and the fragile forest floor was home to the most exquisite, delicate flowers.

In the years that have passed, I see now that the mountains were my cure for a deep and aching pain that left untreated would have lead to insanity. They took my anxiety, fears and hurt away from me and gave me in turn a solid place to return to in my life, my thoughts, and my dreams.

I still return for short periods of time at least once a year. Where others see recreation, I see the place where I was wild, the place where I left behind the world and became a child of the forest. I see my place of healing and the fields of my awakening.

I learned that I can control nothing, manage nothing, save for myself. I learned I have a choice and that life is nothing but choices. I learned about laziness, excuses, blindness. I learned that the poison of one life can be passed to new, innocent lives and that this poison really can be drawn out of us.

We are all poisoned before we have a chance to choose, just as our parents were and their parents were. This poison can cause us to behave in irrational, desperate ways. Until we accept this we’ll live by the will of the poison, and not by our own will.

Accept it and the healing already starts to happen.

The Rocky Mountains drew out my poison and gave me the gift of thinking on my own, of making decisions that were healthy, and giving me patience in the face of other people’s poison.

We can all heal. And then we can heal all.

The Mist on the Mountainside is an expression of my gratitude and humility before nature. It represents where I was, where I went and where I am going. Those mountains clad and caressed by the ethereal clouds are the safeguards of my soul.

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An excerpt from something I’m writing…

The radio was static. The headlights barely picking out the blurred asphalt. The road through Jasper National Park was long, silent and empty. There was no moon and in the complete shadow that had descended on the nighttime world I had long since lost the ability to see the mountains rising on either side of me, but I could feel them, the density, the weight of them. I could feel the sheer cliff drops on one side or another of the vehicle, empty mouths waiting to swallow me up.

I glanced up into the sky and was sucked in. The stars! I lived in the city and true starlight was something I rarely saw, save for a camping trip here or there. But in this place, humming along at 100 kilometers an hour, the full, unbelievable expanse was revealed.

I almost drove off the road.

My heart started pounding, considering the enormity of the eternal space that opened up above me. I suddenly couldn’t separate earth from sky and I was floating. I was speeding through the cosmos, embraced by an unending blackness, uncountable suns and vast clouds of pale light. My sense of direction was lost, vertigo threatened to overtake me, and still I drove, heedless of physical danger as my whole spirit seemed threatened to become lost in that profound, airless vacuum. I was about to panic when something switched off inside of me. I gave up my fear and allowed myself to let go, to embrace this enormity as it embraced me. My breathing slowed and time lost any meaning.

As I rounded a bend in the road the radio spotted and sputtered to life with the voice of Stan Rogers.

…through a land so wild and savage…

Listening to the plaintive cry of the song, I slowly came back to earth, to the solid land and the road swiftly passing.

I was back from a journey that lasted only moments but returned me seemingly eons later. I pulled over at the next rest stop, crawled into the back seat and slept.

Happy Easter

Renew by Aaron Paquette

Renew

24″ x 30″
Mixed Media
on Canvas
2008

According to the calendar, it’s spring again, and I’ll take it. So what if it’s still cold and snow keeps falling? People are in shorts, riding bikes, sitting outside with their coffee…it’s all good. The weather says no, the cooped up spirit says yes.

banff001

Earlier in the month the show at the Willock and Sax Gallery in Banff opened on a fantastic sunny day and I got to meet a lot of really great people with interesting stories to share. One such person was the fellow who had a show alongside mine. His name is Darren Peterson and he’s a truly skilled glassblower.

The trip was slow and easy. Taking the side roads and meandering through the countryside and scenery rejuvenated me and lent me an inner calm I’d been missing. What really started it all was the few days before that, when I had the honour of sitting in with a group of Elders, Artists, Educators, and Just Plain Good People up at Blue Quills First Nations College just outside of St.Paul, Alberta. They’re in the opening stages of planning an accredited Art Program and they really want it to be effective for students coming from a First Nations traditional background, and for anyone who wants an alternative to the standard post-secondary process. Thanks again to Sherri Chisan for including me in something so wonderful.

So, it’s spring, it’s Easter, and up here in the Northern Hemisphere it’s a time for rebirth and renewal. Today seems as good as any to stretch out the old dusty wings and go for a glide. So see you soon and take care!