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Poem from Our Okanagan Summer

February 8, 2019

In 2017 a lovely family approached me for a custom piece for their bedroom. Custom paintings present an interesting and exciting challenge- how do you create meaningful, authentic art at someone else's request? I can't just make work that means nothing to me; I had to find a personal connection.

It's one thing to like the colours I use when I paint, but, why those colours specifically? What makes you feel connected to them? To tap into a natural creative flow, I explored their history as a family.

"Our Okanagan Summer" custom painting, November 2017

We talked about their life as a family, my aim to find connections between my paint and their hearts. We talked about their summers spent on Kalamalka lake and Wood lake every year. We talked about the excitement of looking forward to hot summer days by the lake. Walks along the dirt road for coffee. Kids spending hours in the water. Boys growing into men. The beauty and heartbreak of growing out of childhood routines.

I grew up attending summer camp every year with my family- BC Family French Camp. (Pause for chuckles- I REALISE THIS SOUNDS LIKE BAND CAMP.) It was a camp for francophone and french immersion families, and I adored it- we camped at the north end of Okanagan Lake for a week in July, and spent the hot summer days canoeing, hiking, crafting, practising skits and plays, all while singing silly songs in French and bonding with new friends from around the west borders of Canada.

Talking about summers camping in the Okanagan, my heart was full. My memory spun happily in a vortex of the smell of sunscreen paired with one-piece tan lines and dirt-covered cut offs. Painting this piece, I immersed myself in the sounds, sights, and smells of camp. The cool summer night air.

And I wrote a poem that I shared with the family, so they knew where I was coming from. Looking at the blues and greens, the excited marks and gestures, we suddenly understood each other perfectly. Here it is:

Our Okanagan Summer

A warm foot submerged in cool waters

the smell of the dust

the smell of the trees

giggles in the distance and the crinkling sounds of lunch prepared nearby

fluttering leaves twisting in the breeze

with the wind of little legs running by

and while everything moves and everything grows

a calmness exists

and we rest knowing that these movements are change

and change is the only constant

and what we carry through each moment

is our memory.

Our memory remembers the water was warmer

that the leaves were once green

and the legs once little

the dust once stirred now settled

but there are more lunches to prepare

and many more giggles to squeal

and new little legs to create a wind as they run by

and the wind will keep us calm

so we can rest still knowing

that these movements are change

and change is the only constant

and what we have

are memories.

Angie Marchinkow

November 2017


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