Illustration Friday: Escape

Sometimes, Oil on Canvas by Jennifer Pohl
“Sometimes…”, Oil on Canvas; © Jennifer Pohl

The word for this Illustration Friday reminded me of a this little tondo I painted one night some ten years ago. It’s hard to read the text on this image, but it contains a quote from one of my favourite poems by Walt Whitman.

I think I could turn and live with animals, they’re so placid and self-contain’d.
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor his kind that lived thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.

I am still working on last week’s Illustration Friday word “depth”, but you can see the work in progress here.

I started thinking about different things that “depth” (the word for last week’s Illustration Friday) could refer to. I thought of depth of water, of depth of mind, or the depth of feeling that grows in relationships over time. Last Friday was also our fifth wedding anniversary, but Doug and I started out as friends over ten years ago.

It was on our first anniversary, shortly after my grandmother passed away, that Doug wrote me this poem. I keep a copy of it in the back of my sketchbook.


after the sadness
   heart in hiding during the black hours
      sighing wet with williows, dipping and swaying
   and lying fallow, sheeted with moss and primrose
through dim and dusk

in the gloaming
   the tidewashed sky of tumbling candle flames
      an ash tree blooming moist the crimson of its young
   and, far off now, the jay winding through treetops home
with restless wing

on the veranda
   swept up in the descending blue
      your eyes shining, gleaming mirrors of the scene
   now hear it! the fading thundering drum
of a rainstorm distant

in a heartbeat
   the rhythm of the world awakens
      meadows and vales, swallows and crickets
   your soul surveying what tongues deny
of the divine

within the moment
   tender fingers reach through dewy twilight
      to find mine, we two spirits met in wonder
   and I am filled with the electricity
of a heartbeat

– D. Johnston, September 9th, 2002

This is an underpainting for a small piece in egg tempera, and I will post more images of it as it progress. It is based on one of the many studies I collected when we were living in Nova Scotia, and is of the very place Doug wrote about in this poem.

Illustration for by Brad Reid

This has been a pretty exciting time in our household. A few months after the release of his D*I*Y Planner Hipster PDA Edition to rave reviews, Doug –with the help of dedicated friends from around the world– launched on Saturday. This illustration, which graces the front page, is a play on Escher’s well-known drawing by award-winning artist, Brad Reid. Brad, who is a life-long friend of my husband, also happens to be an art school buddy of mine, and is our baby Conor’s godfather. A brilliant painter (one of my favourite pieces is here), Brad has (like me) put his work in oil on the back burner, but whereas I’ve started to explore egg tempera he is experimenting in digital work. He recently set up a blog, but hasn’t yet settled on a name for it.

I am so proud of Doug, and with good reason. is about much more than productivity and the ever growing-list of beautiful template designs being offered free to the world under the Creative Commons licence. It is a community site to meet the growing needs of the “back to paper movement,” with a daily blog with great writers from different fields and a guest poster once a week. It is a place where right and left brain thinkers meet. I dashed off a 14-point post on nurturing creative energy in the Arts and Illustration forum. Feel free to jump in!

This site is not just for organizational geeks and the technically minded: things have become much more accessible (yes, mom this means you too!), and the site is even including material on journalling, scrapbooking, mind-mapping, and other topics that might benefit creative people. Template submissions from more artists and designers are definitely encouraged! The “official kits” have been downloaded about 400,000 times to date, and the daily hits are 20,000 and climbing, so you can be assured of a lot of interest… promotion and a great way to help out people in need of advice and guidance — what more could you want?

During the Storm (Detail) by Jennifer Pohl
During the Storm (Detail), Oil on Canvas; © Jennifer Pohl

When I was ten years old, I first picked up and read Alex Haley’s landmark novel Roots from cover to cover, almost in a single sitting. It had a profound impact on the way I saw and experienced the world for the rest of my life. In it, I would also come to see reflected the history of women and people everywhere: a story of pain, loss, struggle, determination, strength and liberation.

This image is a detail from During the Storm, painted a couple of years ago.