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Lilypads & Dragonflies

The evolution of a painting as it absorbs my consciousness

An invitation from dear friends with a cabin in Algonquin Park offered a few days of peace, away from my hectic summer schedule.

I woke early, made a coffee and wandered down to the dock to sit and listen to silence. Ahhh. The longer I sat the more I noticed. Slowly my busy, buzzing brain began to turn off and my senses tuned in and turned on. I could feel the sun on my skin, hear the sounds of birds, frogs, dragonfly wings, lapping water, smell the scent of lake and fragrant whiffs of shy waterlilies and soar up into billowing clouds. Are you with me? Can you sense it all? This is REAL life, no matter what anyone else tells you.

As I sat and drank it all in, those shy waterlilies turned out to be not so shy after all, they started beckoning me, as beauty does. You can't see beauty fully unless you're intimate with it and my way of doing that is to listen closely with all my senses until I am so compelled to paint that I have no choice. These lilies seduced me to the edge of the dock where I dropped my legs over the edge into the warm & sensuous lake water. Nothing compares to lake water on bare skin. Lingeringly long stems swirled around my calves and we moved together under water, like holding hands.

Soon the dragonflies joined the party and darted in and out of the scene, sometimes landing on my sketchbook, sometimes on my arm.

Of course this connection with the lake drew me in further as I peered down into the watery dark depths I could see moving shapes, tiny fish and curly stems that emerge from darkness to nourish these brilliant white floating blossoms. Paying attention to beauty in the moment opens up another universe, one that is always there waiting to astonish and awe us.

These joyful flower beings open fully in the morning to reveal a goblet of yellow sunshine in their centres. Then when the heat of the summer sun becomes too much they gently fold their white wings around the yellow jewel in the centre and rest.

I love these lilies and painting them brings me into close conversation with them. A conversation about beauty and love and the golden jewels that can come from the depths when we allow and surrender.

Many weeks later I am back in my studio and the lilies are still with me in sketches, photos, memory and my senses. I am nudged to paint a larger version of their home that spoke to me with so much wonder and awe. Below is the current work in progress. As it unfolds on the canvas I am swimming in that lake again, hearing the crunchy sound of dragonfly wings, smelling the lilies, feeling the sun and grateful for it all as I loose sense of any illusory boundaries that may separate us. I am the lake, the sky, the clouds, the lilies, the dragonflies and they are an extension of my own consciousness.

There exists only the present instant... a Now which always and without end is itself new. There is no yesterday nor any tomorrow, but only Now, as it was a thousand years ago and as it will be a thousand years hence.

- Meister Echkart

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