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  • Writer's pictureHilda Van Netten


We have finally transitioned into winter mode around here. Even though, just this past week I still harvested the last red cabbage and froze the last of the Westlandse kale. This week feels like winter. And for me, winter is the time to paint. Time to paint and to listen. Time to drift along and not be busy.

I am listening to On Being this morning with Krista Tippet.

I love the challenge that this painting is presenting me. Every square inch is a challenge. And.... my art students need to hear this.... often I am thinking, "This is not working out." My students have told me that they think that painting comes easy for me. Not always.

The subject of this painting? What I saw last summer in the compost pail.

Compost has become more important to us in the past couple of years. We've been gardening in this place over 20 years. We've brought in a trailer load of mushroom compost from the mushroom factory near Wellington a few years, we've unloaded many trailer loads of horse manure and cow manure from neighbouring farms in other years. Straw was spread in some areas every year and next year become dirt. Every year some type of compost was added. These past two years, we've been paying more attention to the compost that we make ourselves. We were given 40 or 50 large bags of leaves this fall by some neighbours. We slit them open and piled them in our compost bins last month. Every little bit will help next year's garden flourish.

So, that leads to the Saskatoon berries. Maybe they are not ripe enough, or too ripe to eat, but they still have a purpose. They can be composted. And, who knows who will benefit from that?

I've zoomed in on one reddish berry below. It started out as a thin, watery yellow layer (mostly lemon yellow with a little New Gamboge) and that layer needed to dry completely. Then, it was wet quickly and carefully with clean water so that the water didn't move the base layer. Then the reds (Cadmium Red and Quinacridone Red) were dropped in and allowed to flow. As it dried, some Opera Rose was dropped in too. You can see that colour around 6 o'clock on the berry. And, finally, when it was almost dry again, some Alizarin Crimson was dropped in the centre, some parts more dense than others. As you can see, I still need to go around this berry (and all of the others) and tidy up the edges so it looks smooth. But, that will happen when the page is completely covered with paint.

Below is a better view. Can you see the above berry in the painting?

Today's sponsor? The Mary Oliver poem from the On Being podcast.


I was enjoying everything: the rain, the path

wherever it was taking me, the earth roots

beginning to stir.

I didn’t intend to start thinking about God,

it just happened.

How God, or the gods, are invisible,

quite understandable

But holiness is visible, entirely.

It’s wonderful to walk along like that,

thought not the usual intention to reach an


but merely drifting.

Like clouds that only seem weightless.

but of course are not.

Are really important.

I mean, terribly important.

Not decoration by any means.

By next week the violets will be blooming.

Anyway, this was my delicious walk in the rain.

What was it actually about?

Think about what it is that music is trying to say.

It was something like that.

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