Scents

The opulent array of colors that illuminated the trees only a week ago is now adorning the ground, carpeting lawns and streets with a lavish expanse of faded oranges.
In this final act of their life cycle, leaves are taking a majestic bow.

There is great elegance and grace in this aerial beauty coming to rest with such sumptuous abandon. As they desiccate, the leaves bring a coat of lightness and rustle to the hard concrete; under my steps, they exhale an earthy scent that stirs childhood memories of playing in them.

And from beginning to end, how mysterious and grand can also be the familiar things in life.

Photo Louise Jalbert, 2018

October

I am in a bit of a rush now. We are nearing the end of October, and here in Québec, nature displays it’s usual feast of colors that is as ephemeral as it is splendid.

In these few short weeks, I try to gather as many impressions and sketches as I can before this wonderful richness of color turns into a more sober palette.

Just as squirrels are hastily searching and putting away food before the long winter, so must I proceed at a higher speed. This makes for a looser rendering, and less attention to details. Even if there are parts of this sketch that I could push further, I like the dynamism and imprecision that comes with a faster gesture.

In my aim to express what lies beyond the visible, an unrestrained hand is something worth exploring. And with these large, quick sketches, I am progressively defining a new phase in my work, one step at a time.

Louise Jalbert, “Lilac Tree in October”, 2018, Gouache on paper, 28 x 22 inches

A Gouache Study

This is a gouache study of my children at a young age. Color sketching has been a foundation of my practice since the very beginning.

And painting people is something I want to get back to. If a quiet moment amidst your busy schedule appeals to you, let me know, I am looking for models.

Louise Jalbert, Children watching TV, 1995, Gouache on paper, 6 x 8 inches

The Role of the Artist

During our pilgrimage in India last May, we visited several ashrams, and had the chance to meet a some very interesting swamis.
In Uttarkashi, we visited Swami Janardananda, who has been doing, among other projects, educational activities with the young people in his surroundings.
After school, children and teenagers can walk up the hill to his small ashram, and are invited to do yoga postures, meditation, or chanting on a voluntary basis. With this comes spiritual teachings from the ancient yogic tradition, that foster strength and peace of mind, along with a strong sense of community.

When Swami Janardananda started this initiative some 30 years ago, ignorance, violence and alcoholism were rampant among the population. After children started coming to the ashram, they brought home new insights and practices, inspiring their siblings and parents. Now the children of these children come, and will in turn influence another generation.

 

 

 

Children walk up the hill to the ashram after school

 

 

 

At a time when India is developing at an incredibly fast pace, this is vital work, and quite an inspiring story. During a few minutes of casual conversation, I asked Swami Janardananda a question that often is on my mind:

What is the role of the artist in society?

He thought for a moment, then answered: “Express, not exhibit. Everything is divine. If it comes from the heart, it will be divine.”

(I understood “not exhibit” to be meaning not to show off rather than not exhibit art in venues).

A simple yet deep and wide-meaning answer. I appreciate the openness it leaves, because it is impossible to define the artist’s role: to create is an impulse, not a duty. It has to remain free. And connected to the heart.

What a way to go about our daily work, not only an artist’s work, but everyone’s work.

 

 

 

There was also some good advice given freely by the roadside.

 
Photo credits
Anya Sluchak: Swami Janardanada
Louise Jalbert: Mother and Child Climbing Stairs to the Ashram
Karsten Verse and Julia Noelle: Lady by the Road Sign