Spacious Mind

"The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing." Isaiah 35:1

Cultivating an open, a spacious, mind allows us to see the desert and oasis as one. In so doing we never lose hope, but are mindful always of possibility. But, what if peace and war are one in possibility? Then, we must not only cultivate hope, but also actively make choices that lead to peace and not war. Keep hope. Choose peace. Love.
Words and Image by C. Robin Janning. All Rights Reserved.

While We Wait

"for yours is creation and compassion and
community now and forever. Amen"

It’s Advent and we are waiting. Sometimes it seems that the gifts all come at the end of the season. But no. Look now and you will see glimmers of light. Pieces of that which is to come. Clear a little space around you as you wait. Then, watch it fill up with wonder and joy.

This is light, brought by the eyes into the heart. This is the art of Nancy Chinn, along with the words of Connie Maas. More can be seen at Nancy Chinn’s
web site. Look also at the Washington National Cathedral web site for another gift from Nancy: "A Banner Year." And, for even more of Nancy Chinn’s art, search the Art and Faith Database at

As seen above: Art by Nancy Chinn and words from the prayer "Our Mother" by Connie Maas.

Prayer Plant

"The world now has the means
to end extreme poverty,
we pray we will have the will.

This is the prayer offered on the
web site "
Counting Prayers."

Image by C. Robin Janning All Rights Reserved.


Well, it's only fair that a sabbatical predicated on an aqueous motif should start with bailing water. Here's where I've been: Swabbing the decks!

My sabbatical began with the reclaiming of a much-loved, calmative former studio space. I've missed it a lot, and I'm glad to be back. Early on, I even posted a sign outside the door: "The Refuge."

The Refuge promptly flooded - again and again and again. I moved in an easel with rubber feet, gave thanks that much of the rest was already on wheels, and continued onward. Tonight I am, in fact, tapping these computer keys in The Refuge, at a spacious, comfortable desk that my husband used throughout his childhood and a bit beyond. Now the drawers are filled with porcelain palettes, printmaking tools, tubes of watercolor paint. The legs of the desk are up on little glides. Good thing, as a bit of water continues to accumulate.

Because I can imagine my husband using this desk as a brilliant, intent young man, it gives me a warm feeling to sit here; but my feet are damp with water that seeped up through the floor tiles, and then through the soles of my normally cozy houseshoes and thick cotton socks.

In the wake of the first flood - a clue that things might not go as planned - came a tsunami of other demands: health problems for a loved one who is reliant on our care; new and urgent needs from others; unwelcome stresses that descended unannounced; many strains and fault lines that had lain buried in the sand before. A painful time.

Well, I'm still here. Now, I hope I'm finally getting down to the business of life: calm, creation, and listening. Those are the things I need.

Lately, I've acquired an insistence on working from life. That's apt, as I have been fairly well desperate to recapture my own life. Most painters, me included, will tell you that working from the life is always preferable anyway; everything you need is right there in front of your eyes, and you have only to see it. That is not the case with working from reference photos, which may seem to capture so much and yet reveal so little. I still prize my trove of photographs, but perhaps for different reasons. More and more I tend to look through a sheaf of visual reference, then put it away and paint what I want to see.

It has become satisfying to work from a single motif, reworked and refined from memory and imagination, over and over; as Degas did in his last works, while his sight steadily diminished. I have waded into painting what is in my mind. The challenge is rigorous, but comforting. And, I have taken a perverse (and characteristic) turn toward obstinacy. I can't seem to paint anything casually any more.

My, that sounds dour. I'm sure the phase will pass.

I'll post images when they are ready. However, the yeast in them is still bubbling away. The heat of the oven raises the yeast's creation to its greatest heights, and then kills it. You can see why I'm in no hurry to go there.

© 2007, Brie Dodson


A garden blooms inside the heart. Sadness sits alongside serenity, which sits alongside passion. All together creating life-giving, life-remembering breath.

Image and words by C. Robin Janning. All Rights Reserved.