Tag Archives: thomas merton quotes

When life is manageable

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony”   Thomas Merton.

Stair Hole, Lulworth, Dorset – part of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site, which spans 185 million years of geological history.  – reminding me that we are but a blip in time and that ultimately Mother Nature rules!  watercolour  20-11-15 - 1 (1231)Given that I hadn’t been on the Isle of Wight since 1965, I decided to take a taxi from the Ryde ferry terminal to Bembridge where I was staying.      The taxi driver was lovely…a man who had moved to the Island from London thirty years ago.      As he pointed out, the Island works best for young families, people over sixty, and of course those who love to sail  – Cowes being a world class sailing arena.        His grown children have returned to London, a story I heard several times.     As he pointed out that despite a good internet connection, until the day a bridge or tunnel is built, connecting the Island with the mainland,  life as it is will probably continue.       (let’s hope they never build a tunnel or bridge…..)

After checking into my B & B I had planned on seeing my friend, artist and blogger, Sarah Vernon (First Night Design) however Sarah was taken into hospital on the day I arrived!       I am relieved and pleased to say that Sarah is now home, and will tell you all about her ordeal in her own words when she is more rested.   Get well soon Sarah.

Proving that there is a silver lining in most circumstances,  I did get to visit Sarah in Newport Hospital, which gave me the opportunity to take the beautiful and relaxing one and a half hour bus ride from Bembridge to Newport.

One of the photographs I took of Sandown from the top of the number 8 bus from Bembridge to Newport….it was a beautiful day.  20-11-15 - 1 (991)My overall first impressions were of a much slower pace of life,  of almost going back to how the UK was when I was growing up.    Everyone I encountered was extremely helpful, including the bus drivers.    People still queue.…and of course being a Brit I do like queues :).      There was no litter or graffiti….a sense of order prevailed.      In short it all felt very manageable.

It felt as if the Island has not outgrown its infrastructure.  Life appeared to be integrated rather than fragmented.    The opposite to feeling overwhelmed and isolated – which I believe is a huge problem for many in today’s society.  

Newport, the principal town of the Island, is often referred to as its capital.    Again very manageable, very easy to walk around…..I had a wonderful fish and chip lunch for £4!    Newport Hospital was just a short bust ride away from the town centre – everything felt easy.

Outside the Art Centre in Newport.    20-11-15 - 1 (1009)This visit was about getting a feel of the place.     Would I want to spend time there painting?    These are always my prime questions.     The answer is yes.    I would choose a village location with a bus route.    This would allow me to walk to shops/pubs etc, and with my London bus pass – free bus travel.     So it will definitely go on my list of places to explore and paint.

Part of the beautiful Isle of Wight coastline. 1500-isleofwight-creditNTI returned to the mainland via the Cowes ferry to Southampton where I had the sudden realisation that the last time I was on Southampton dock was  January 28th 1966 when I took the United States Liner to New York!   Talk about deja vu.   My friend Suzy, whose office sits right on the dock then drove me to Dorset.

I stayed with art college friend Maureen….always very enjoyable.       Although I don’t do very well with cars (anyone who knows me will  be smiling at this:)  Maureen took me to Lulworth Cove – part of the Jurassic Coast- and I am so pleased she did.     The weather could not have been more perfect and most importantly it was  visual feast.

Three different views of Stair Hole, Lulworth Cove, Jurrasic Coast  Dorset….watercolours. 20-11-15 - 1 (1235)

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This image of Lulworth Cove is taken a half a mile away from where I painted Stair Hole….61029843I began this post with Thomas Merton’s quote about balance, order rhythm and harmony.…elements I believe we all need in our lives.

Along with Crickhowell Wales, Saorge and other locations in France, the isle of Wight goes on my list of places where these elements are still to be found.

I am constantly reminded as I paint the magical hummingbird of how we can learn from Mother Nature – be it on the minute scale of the hummingbird or the rugged and grand scale of the Jurrasic Coast.       It is at our peril that we lose sight of this.

A magical hummingbird drinking from the sweet nectar of life. – watercolour/gouache20-11-15-1-358A Bientôt

 

A Life Well Lived – Madame Nottale – a remarkable woman.

Madame Nottale died a few weeks ago.    Selfishly I would have loved to spend much more time with her, however at 94 years old she was ready to move on.     I feel a deep sense of gratitude for having known such a wonderful human being, whose life was indeed well lived.

A recent photograph of Madame Nottale with her daughter Claudia. 

P1050879When Claudia Nottale came to stay with my family in the States in 1978 she was just seventeen years old.    I had no idea at the time that she would become a life long friend.

Claudia Nottale – 17 years old – oil on canvas

10996105_10153048192965396_8451570209771699384_o-2In 1984 on one of my trips back to the UK and Europe to visit family and friends, Claudia’s Mother  invited me to dinner at her home in Marley le Roi, not too far from Paris.       I will always remember the first moment we met.        Her warmth and love shone through.

So much could be said about her life….Mother of seven remarkable children, nurse, friend to so many, lover of nature and in her latter years when she had time for herself….the brilliance of her painting and  writing shone through.

Portrait of Madame Nottale in 1985…..watercolour/gouache

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She was a woman who exemplified what it is to live life well.     She exhibited great courage and at the same time compassion for others. – I would say that she spent much of her life alleviating suffering in others in tangible ways as a nurse and Mother and in less tangible ways simply by being who she was.    For to be in her presence was indeed a beautiful experience.

Madame Nottale drawing me September 2015

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She loved colour and chocolate…….two things we had in common:)    During her latter years she painted and wrote every single day.    The walls and every other surface in her room were covered in her work.

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Three  years ago, I made this watercolour of her….which I feel demonstrates her letting go of worldly worries and coming home to her true calling…..that of being an artist and writer.

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Deeply spiritual, and an inspiration to all……Madame Nottale must surely be in a heaven with unlimited paints, paper, brushes and pens…and of course surrounded with beautiful flowers and hummingbirds:)

A special moment with Madame Nottale……

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‘There are always flowers for those who want to see them.’     Henri Matisse.  

Moon, Mountains and Magical hummingbird – inspired by a drawing by Madame Nottale. 

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A Bientôt