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When we were kids, my maternal grandmother gave my brothers and me an old Kodak Brownie camera to play around with for the summer. I don’t remember ever putting any film into the camera, but we looked through the view finder and clicked the shutter, pretending to be photographers. By itself, that camera might have gotten me started on my artistic journey. But then, a few years later, Grandma gave me another amazing gift. She introduced me to the poetry of Robert Frost and I have been fascinated by the connection between photography and poetry ever since.

Poetry is a written expression of emotion and Frost’s poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening is a poignant example. Passing by the woods without stopping might have been the expected thing to do. Stopping though, allowed Frost to see, feel and realize that the woods were ‘lovely, dark and deep’. His thoughts and feelings on that dark and snowy evening were expressed as fine sentiments.

Whereas Frost, the poet, painted with words, I with my camera, paint with light. Yet we both strive for the same result, to express, through art the sentiments of our experiences in nature.

The word sentiment comes to us from the French sentire , which means to feel, though I prefer the 18th century understanding of the word when it meant “a thought colored by, or proceeding from, emotion". This is an important concept for artists because - it’s what we do! Poet, photographer or painter, we use the colours of our thoughts and emotions to express art.

Dawn is a usually reliable time to experience the breathtaking sentiments of nature, so I’m out most mornings looking for inspiration. During the winter months, I have a favourite spot I like to stop by to watch the sun rise over the Saanich Peninsula. We don’t get much snow on this part of the Island, but one morning the low-laying mist, flowing through the trees of the Martindale valley provided a cool sense of the season. My vantage point allowed me to look down into the tree covered valley where tones of grey, shades of green, and highlights of silver-white painted my thoughts of Frost’s poem. The Martindale woods were lovely the morning I was there with hints of mysterious, shadowy places that were certainly … dark and deep.

Although my Grandma died many years ago, her gifts continue. Through me, photography, poetry and an appreciation for sentiment flow on to my children and to my grandchildren. And now, I get to share my Grandmother’s gifts with you.

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