I came to this western edge of Canada in the 1980s. I was drawn here, compelled to come from childhood when I saw “Gray” at Expo ’67 in Montreal. Crossing over on the ferry to Vancouver Island, I saw the wild trees of Emily Carr for the first time, and I knew I was home.

But then, inexplicably, and for long periods of time, I’d do other things, and forget about why I was here. Some were transformative, like traveling to far flung places, or raising my kids. Other times were imposed on me; periods marred by surviving chronic illness, besting brain injury, and hard-won battles with my mental health.

Through reflection and tracing Emily’s influence on my art, my values, and my spirit, I’ve regained my sense of place as an artist. Going outside to paint inside many of the locations important to Miss Carr has felt like entering her vibrational stream.

I call it murmurating.

Freed from obligations of children and family, with grown sons off on their own lives, and taking a break from volunteering for all those many, good causes, I’ve resolved to follow my friend and mentor Emily into the forest.

I’d like to invite you to come with me, embrace murmuration, if you will. Be an active participant in better mental health through creating art together, be you an artist, or an art lover.

A note on the viewer, as some call them. Loving art comes with special powers; an art lover brings life to an art form. Those who approach art with a pure heart give the work meaning, transforming it, taking it from the artist out into the world, giving it a life of its own. Without the art lover, well, what I do would could only be called making pictures.

Let the work murmurate through us all.

I’ve made the most of a long life, wasted some, and gone down many dead-ends and side-roads that lead me away from art. Thankfully my art is patient. Recognizing, finally, that what comes out of me creatively is where home is, there’s been a shift in where I look for inspiration.

Sometimes when I paint outside, in some place murmurating like crazy, I’d swear I can feel Emily looking over my shoulder. Would that I could see her hand holding up her brush, at the end of an arm held out straight, sizing up the composition with her thumb, and a squinting eye.

And if I looked up, I might see her nodding in agreement with the direction my work is headed in.

Contact: via Facebook: P Jean Oliver Writer and Artist, or email jeanoliveris@hotmail.ca