Thursday Travels

Post #80

May 16, 2018

Thursday Travels:  Venice, Italy

I sat on a bench and drew  in my sketchbook.

My annual weekends in Venice were nearly always in July.  I came to celebrate Redentore Festival.

Link to Redentore Festival, 2018 schedule

I was usually outside on the streets most of the day when I was in Venice. There is so much to see and enjoy. I didn’t want to miss a bit of it.

  I enjoyed watching the city come to life each day.

There is a feeling you have in Venice that is different than any place I’ve ever visited.  Elegance, history, and beauty surround you any time of day or night.

First, the street sweepers  arrived before dawn.

They begin cleaning the streets of  accumulations from the day and night before. Each morning  the streets are renewed by a team of street sweepers.  They work quickly and I love watching them. This morning ritual was like watching a lyrical dance on a stage.

Next, the people who live in  the buildings that surround the campos arrive.

Some scurry off to work; others are opening their shops; some to church services; others, to sit quietly and talk toge.  You have the feeling that this activity has not hcanged over the centuries – it is a ritual of awakening each day in such an historic place.

I always carried my sketchbook with me on my excursions. 

I sketched; wrote poems; snapped photos. 

This photo captures life in Venice, Italy. 

PHOTO:  The 2 Venetian women never saw me sitting nearby  for they were absorbed in conversation.

This is their  hood.


Thank you for visiting my SCAN blog today!

How I appreciate all of you!

This essay and photograph is brought to you by the author, Lynda McKinney Lambert.

View Publications Page for updates on my stories and poems being published.

Walking by Inner Vision.

Lynda’s Author ‘s Page

this blog post is the property of Lynda McKinney Lambert.

Copyright May 17, 2018. Lynda McKinney Lambert. All rights reserved.




When Night Comes – a Chapbook

I wrote this review of a chapbook by Tennessee Poet, Wes Sims. This lovely book of poetry was published in Campbell’s World, a blog owned  by another Tennessee author, Patty Fletcher.  Thank you, Patty, for your interest in writing and promotion of so many authors.



Author Lynda McKinney Lambert Reviews

When Night Comes

Good morning Bookworms everywhere.
After having taken a couple personal days off, Campbell and I are back in action here in campbellsworld.
This morning I’ve a treat for you.
Author Lynda McKinney Lambert is back in our Reading With the Authors column with a review of a poetry that has made even me want to read it.
I’m not one to read such a book as is described here but after reading this review and having read a bit of Lynda’s original work well I have to consider the source and agree to give it a try.
Now I invite you to read Lynda’s thoughts here, and then maybe share a few of your own.
For sure share this post with your friends and make certain to read all about how to find her books before you go.


When Night Comes

by Wesley Sims
A Book Review by Lynda McKinney Lambert

I met poet Wes Sims one Sunday morning while reading my weekly issue of a poetry magazine, The Weekly Avocet,  published by Charles Portolano, features poetry that has a nature theme. In one particular issue, I encountered 3 Haiku poems by Sims. Each intrigued me for he presented new ways of looking at something ordinary. The nature-themed poems caught my attention. Since Mr. Portolano encourages his writers to drop a note to other poets and to make friends with them, I sent a note to Wes Sims to say how much I enjoyed his poems.

Eventually, I learned about Wes Sims’ poetry chapbook, “When Night Comes,” because he sent me a copy. I’ve enjoyed reading this 28-page chapbook. It is a collection of twenty-four poems. You can purchase it directly from Wes Sims by contacting him – he will even sign it for you!  (I’ve included his E-mail at the end of this essay.)

The chapbook’s cover is a moody black and white photo of a nocturnal landscape by the author. I thought “This is the perfect image for this collection of poems.” In addition to writing poetry, Sims likes to do photography. I found that the all-seeing-eye of the photographer is apparent in the poems, as I read through this collection. He sees and speaks of little details that might go unnoticed. It is in the description of the little things that we are brought into Sims’ world through his poems.

In “How to Use a Shoebox,” Wes Sims gives us his secret intention for writing:
“the impact of little things preserved” (p.4)

The mostly one-page poems are created by building up layers of finely nuanced accumulations. Sims is actively viewing and preserving as he writes the poems.. Minute images are intertwined with his personal and private memories as he has known them in rural Tennessee.

Sims describes his world – the present and the distant or even the historical past of his rural landscapes in Tennessee. Reading through the poems brings the reader right into his family circle. This is the place where Past and Present merge. The poem becomes a confluence in which time is collapsed. The individuals he presents are not generalized people, but they are family and they are named.

“grandson; grandmother; Mr. Newman; Sister; Dad; Mother; Uncle Bo; Mrs.. Engle…”

This gives us a feeling that we know them personally or that we have just met them even though many of the people who populate his poems are no longer in this world.

But, more than this Sims gives us a deeper understanding of life as he has known it – and we feel like we, too, have lived this life. In the poem, “Eyes to See,” he speaks of watching a blind man…

“Until one day, when I saw
Him in a church setting
Heard his lips sing out in prayer,
And received my revelation—
I was a blind man, too.”
(from “Eyes to See,” p. 24)

Through the book we see deserted old rundown barns and abandoned empty sheds; time-worn, rarely travelled roads up into the hills; and the last days of people who have passed away. No matter where we live or what our life is like, we relate to Wes Sims and his reflections on particular individuals, rural life, death of loved ones;, flowers, dogs, songs, snakes, music, personal memory and history. We know that our lives are enriched by the small things and places we encounter over a lifetime. It all adds up, in the end. Unimportant and trivial things really do matter.

You can find this chapbook for sale on the publishers website:

Buy it at Finishing Line Press, Link here!to read more.
Also available directly from Wes Sims at:


Meet Lynda McKinney Lambert.  Owner of this blog, SCAN.

Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems
© 2017 by Lynda McKinney Lambert

Pennsylvania artist, teacher, and author Lynda McKinney Lambert invites readers into her world of profound sight loss to discover the subtle nuances and beauty of a physical and spiritual world. She takes strands from ancient mythology, history, and contemporary life and weaves a richly textured new fabric using images that are seen and unseen as she takes us on a year-long journey through the seasons.
All stories in this book were created after her sudden sight loss in 2007 from Ischemic Optic Neuropathy. Lambert invites us to see the world with new eyes.
Available in e-book ($3.99) and print ($14.95) from Amazon, Smashwords, and other sellers. Full details, free 20% text preview, and buying links:
Edited by David and Leonore H. Dvorkin of DLD Books:
Cover layout by David Dvorkin / Cover photo and back cover text by the author



Coming Home

I always knew  it!  I am Irish and German.  


This year I joined Ancestry dot com

Surprise! Surprise!


In Addition to Irish and German ancestry, I am

Scandinavian (over 30 percent)



Eastern European Jewish!

I descended from a wide variety of cultures

     and I bet you did, too!


What big surprises you will have in store. All of the ancestral groups above moved around over the centuries because they were chased away, persecuted, and unwanted at some time in the past.

I would say that all of the various people groups, at some time in history, have been moved to a variety of locations and continents because of wars, religious persecution, slavery, and/or  the desire to have a better life in a new place.

It didn’t take me long to find my ancestral roots in Europe. In fact, the first day I traced my paternal grandmother, Effie Pearl Rugh, back to my 8th Great-grandfather in the Palatinate  area in Europe, which is now in Germany.

I WAS home.

Another few days brought me to the location from which my maternal great grandfather and my Maternal 2nd Great Grandparents  came from in Bavaria, Germany. I was overjoyed to learn this because for about 12 years I traveled to Bavaria every summer where I taught  a college course. Now, I know why I always felt like I came home when I arrived there every summer. I believe we have a collective unconscious that allows us to intuit such inner feelings as this. After all, we can know through our DNA that we belong to many different ethnic groups – it just makes sense to me that not only our DNA reveals this, but our MIND reveals it, too. We are home!


Photos and essay by Lynda McKinney Lambert.  Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.





 Köenigsee, Germany

Photo by Lynda McKinney Lambert

My Life as a Pivot

My Life as a Pivot


I am pivoted from one location, to another. I turn, and move suddenly to a new route. I change. 

May is the month of graduation ceremonies.  Nearly 3 decades ago, I walked down the aisle in my cap and gown to receive my third, and final, degree.  The formal procession marked the end of 9 years of diligent work in which I earned 3 university degrees at 2 different universities, in 2 different states.  Of course, I was happy to reach the lofty educational goals I set.  But, even so, I had a strange sense of loss because I was leaving the environment of being a student in the myriad of classrooms over those years. I loved being a student. When that final diploma was in my hand, I knew I stood at a fork in the road. This achievement meant that I had reached dividing point between my student-centered life of studies and my new academic life as a professional educator.


When students begin to pursue the academic goals that lead to a college degree, they decide to embrace a future-centered environment that will involve them in life-long learning.

I eventually understood that even as a first semester freshmen, a university student is already a professional. It is the decision to begin this journey that propels a student into a professional. It is the decision that marks the change and not the receipt of the final degree.  The final graduation ceremony was the turning point for me because it signified a momentous modification in direction. I mourned the loss of being in a classroom, as a student, for many years. Honestly, I wanted to be a student forever.

On reflection of those years, I can say I wrote more research papers than I can remember. Writing and researching various topics in my fields of fine arts and humanities motivated me and urged me onward in pursuit of wisdom.

I thrived on doing research at the library; searching through the pages of various periodicals or books was a passion.

In the process of writing papers, I discovered new research.  I felt like an archaeologist digging in a multi-layered excavation site. Every page I turned just might lead to a new discovery.  New discoveries revealed a new set of questions and new paths to pursue.

We often find hidden pathways and ancient passages in the debris and dust we gather as we write our papers. There is always something that compels us to explore.  Dig deeper. In the course of researching and writing papers, I experienced the unexpected or unknown.  It is in these pivots of our life that we encounter our true self as we continually ask:

“What if?”  “Now what?” “Where will this lead me?”  “What is this world view?”

Miriam Webster’s Dictionary reveals that a pivot can be a noun or a verb. Yes, I can see it both ways but when I think of this word, pivot, I feel like an action is taking place. This word indicates a movement, to me. Research brings me to new information. New conclusions.



Visit the  WELCOME PAGE to learn more about Lynda McKinney Lambert. activities and career.

Lynda McKinney Lambert lives and writes in the Village of Wurtemburg, in Western Pennsylvania.  Her articles and poems appear on a number of blogs, as well as Literary Magazines and books.

View Publications Page for her most recent updates.

Discover Lynda’s other blog, Walking by Inner Vision.


Check out Lynda’s Author ‘s Page

Copyright 2017. Lynda McKinney Lambert. All rights reserved.


“Thanks for rejoicing with me today.  Isn’t God so wonderful!”

Romans 8:28




Lynda Lambert – Live

December 19, 2016.

You can enjoy this conversation now.

Writing with Intention – Set your INTENTIONS for 2017

Lynda McKinney Lambert – Writing with Intention, presented LIVE on Branco Boracast on Recorded LIVE.



Knitting15_Scarf9_4 Thanks for flying with me in 2015 on SCANdalous-Recollections.

Lynda McKinney Lamber

Visit my website at


Silver Cloud Dancers at the Andy Warhol Museum

Silver Cloud Dancers

Silver Cloud Dancersphoto_16_warhol_clouds4_comp

At the Andy Warhol Museum

Photo and poem by Lynda McKinney Lambert, 2016



Silver clouds swirl & spin in circles

Inflated silence above her golden head. She

Levitates above the floor &  reaches for

Variable visions of mesmerizing cloud-pillows.

Eternally drifting in uncertain lifecycles

Round & square. Touch the floating orbs.


Cloud dancer stretches her slender hands

Longevity is unpredictable, uncertain

Out-of-the-box survival fluctuates

Determined by chemistry & chaos.


Dance your memories in silver clouds

Air and pure helium lift in rhythm

No one can calculate your journeys

Choreography of individual flights

Every Friday morning new clouds arrive

Repeat the process of new expectations

Some silver clouds will last for a week.



Lynda McKinney Lambert. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.


PHOTOGRAPHS by Lynda McKinney lambert, 2016.



“Delaunay Yaromey dances among  the Silver Clouds at the Andy Warhol Museum.

Delaunay is the great-granddaughter of Lynda and Bob Lambert, Ellwood City, PA.  She is a freshman at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.


Lynda’s  latest book will be coming out in late November.  “Walking by Inner Vision: Stories of Light and Dreams.”






Andy Warhol’s Silver Clouds: More Than Just Hot Air.


Special thanks to the Andy Warhol Museum for this amazing exhibition.


For more information on the Silver Clouds please go to:  Information on Silver Cloud display at the AWM.





Finding a thing

I’ve been cleaning and organizing my office. It’s a room in my home, just off the kitchen where I sit to write everything that ends up in my books, stories, poems, website and blogs.

Why there?  I have “profound sight loss. ” This room holds  the high tech equipment I must use to write, make art,  “see” and communicate with others around the world. Here is where I speak with YOU, on a very good day.  Thank your for visiting with me today.

An enormous part of my world is housed in this room.  A life filled with creating visual art and writing – all my archives are here.

Everything has to be in order and easy to find when I need it. I’ve been working for an entire week to get this room organized – and that means I’ve had to sort through mountains of “things.” I’ve made some exciting discoveries this week as I have been working here.

Just today,  I found a notebook  where  I wrote  some things I wanted to remember, years ago when I could still see.  I wrote notes on the work of Ranier maria Rilke.

This reflection from Rilke  is perfect for today:

“Finding a thing is always enjoyable; a moment before, it wasn’t yet there.”









The Connie

The Connie

by Lynda McKinney Lambert

July 9, 2016




High humidity and stifling heat on this July afternoon begins to urge me to dream of the month ahead. I admit it! I love late August days even more because they signify the approaching end of summer.

When nights become cooler I’ll begin to forget the predictable, unrelenting steamy days and nights of July. Temperature readings by mid-August will drop down into the 50s. I’ll open the windows; feel the cool breeze move through the familiar old house. July’s humidity and stuffiness will be swept away from the house and my thoughts when I begin to sense the shift of a quickly approaching change of seasons. My senses begin to stir my imagination today. There is something brewing in the atmosphere as I stand in the mid-day sunshine and look at the landscape all around me. I see every imaginable hue of green. Is it a sort of nervousness and anticipation for…what? I cannot readily say. But I get excited and anxious for the coming of August every year.

Last night I lay in my bed, listening to the soothing insect sounds drifting upwards to my open window. Unseen creatures sounded like the tuxedo-clad musicians I have listened to as they tuned their instruments before the concert began to play. Right now, it is night songs that I hear coming from below the window. The sounds blend into a nocturnal symphony, a cacophony of a summer serenade. In my meandering thoughts, I wonder if perhaps it was on a night like this one that Mozart had the first inklings of a tune that would become “Eine Kleine Nauchtmusik.” I paused for a moment and shifted my thoughts to the sounds of that familiar music.

Our century-old home is located on a ridge overlooking an ancient, winding creek that meanders for fifty miles through western Pennsylvania. People from this area call it “The Connie.” Its actual   name is the Connoquenessing creek. The arrival of people, who settled eventually in the Village of Wurtemburg, began arriving in America in the early 1700s. That is the time period when settlers from this area traveled to Germanic lands to recruit artisans to come to America and settle here. They needed skilled workers for the settlements and for over one-hundred years Germans were recruited to come to Pennsylvania. Skilled crafts and tradesmen were necessary for the survival of the settlements. My own ancestors were recruited during that one-hundred year period and arrived on ships that landed in Philadelphia. When descendants of the first Germanic people begin to do research they are often quite surprised to discover some of their ancestors married Indians who were already living in this area during the 18th Century. The Connie has been an axis of our own community history for generations. As is true for all people, we are forever tinged with history and that history is a part of our present day lives. The Connie is part of our shared communal memoir.



Photo16_TheConnie_1In the summer time, the Connie comes alive with the voices and sounds of the local “Crick Culture.” That’s what Western Pennsylvania people call it. We find that different activities take place during each season along The Connie. And here is where my own life story converges with the flowing waters of The Connie.

Kayaking begins in earnest in late winter as soon as the ice begins to dissipate. Hearty enthusiasts will continue to ride the rapids through the summer days in into the fall season. The Connie’s whitewater rapids provide the perfect setting for a swift course for kayakers to perfect their skills. Often, a slollum line will be threaded back and forth across the creek and the brave kayakers will spend the weekend honing skills when the water is high and fast.  Here is where they can learn how to avoid rocks and dangerous areas to complete the course. Later, they will move on to the most dangerous waters of West Virginia.

On summer nights I can hear people laughing from down below the ridge. People arrive at the “crick” in the late evening, in the twilight, just before it gets dark. They park their cars or trucks   under the old trees. Generations of local people come to spend the night fishing. I often watch as they pull out their gear. They bring coolers and jugs, flashlights, buckets of worms, fishing poles, nets, and blankets. Most of them wear baseball caps. One by one, they quietly scramble down the steep, rocky path that leads to the deep water below.  This is the place where another creek, the Slippery Rock Creek, converges with The Connie. We local folks refer to this part of the creek as, “the point.” Many myths are perpetuated about the depth of the waters at the Point, and the terrible whirlpools that lie hidden beneath the placid surface. It is here at the Point, where the night time fishermen like to come to spend the night in hopes of taking home fresh fish for breakfast.  On a still night, I hear them talking softly off in the distance. Their voices merge with the insect concert.

In childhood memories my father and I are in the back yard behind our home in the foothills. I still live in the valley between the steep hills.  Like most of the steelworkers in our village, my father loved to go fishing in the Connie. In the darkness of a sweltering summer night, I helped him find earth worms.  His steelworker’s helmet had a strange yellow light on the front of it.  I smelled the acrid smoke, heard it sizzle and sputter as we bent over the dark ground.  We poured mustard water down into the little tunnels where the earthworms lived.  In just a few seconds, a worm came to the surface seeking fresh air and we grabbed that earthworm, dipped it into a bucket of clean, warm water to rinse the mustard off of it.  Finally, we put our captured worms into Dad’s metal pail with the holes in the sides. He had put dirt into the pail before we went searching for the worms. We turned over rocks and found creepy creatures hiding under them. Dad called them helgramites and they made me shiver when I looked at them.

Throughout my childhood, The Connie was the place where we went swimming as soon as spring arrived. But, The Connie can be treacherous after a day of rainfall. On such a spring day in early May, I ventured into the raging water in a swimming place called, “Mitchell’s.” I only had to take a couple of strokes to reach the big rock and that was my intention when I plunged into the water. Instantly, I was swept away from the big rock. An older boy was at the creek swimming that day and he was a lifeguard. Somehow, he grabbed my hair and pulled me to the rocky shore. There is no doubt in my mind that my life would have ended in The Connie that day if the other swimmer had not been there. I, too, would have been one of the unfortunate victims of The Connie. While The Connie is beautiful and refreshing, she is also vicious and raging at times.


Nearly every summer there have been accidents on the banks of the Connie near my home. We know when we hear the ambulance arriving in this area, they are most likely going to find that someone has drowned in The Connie, or at least been injured. I often wonder how many people have lost their lives in The Connie and I say a prayer of “thanks” for my own rescue when I was fifteen years old. Photo15_Connie1_March25_2015


Our children grew up beside The Connie, too.  In their adult years they often relate stories of their own experiences and mishaps and they usually have many tales to reminisce about their childhood swimming and floating excursions in inner tubes down the creek on hot days.


Not only was The Connie my favorite place to explore in warm weather, it was also my first encounter with ice skating. We carried a broom to the creek and swept off a large area to remove the snow from the icy surface. Even with such careful preparations, it was a rough and uneven place to skate. That never mattered though, and there were many winter days when we walked on the ice for miles. The Connie snapped and crackled as we walked on her surface but we never even considered that we might fall into the water or even something worse.

By the end of June, the banks along The Connie are changing rapidly in their appearance. Early July is when the foliage looks soft and fragile looking with the first blooms of the Queen Anne’s lace and some varieties of sweetly scented bushes with tender little white flowers.Photo16_QueenAnneLace_The Connie July 9


I stop to take a deep breath, smell those flowers, and watch the tiny bees gathering all around them. It’s like looking at a whole world of mysteries, to look into those delicate flowers. The most elegant flower gardens in this world are the ones planted by the birds and bees, and growing wild and free along the roadsides and meadows. Here is where we find the glory of nature. This, surely, is what the first inhabitants in the Garden of Eden must have experienced. Breathtaking beauty!

M y favorite sight in August is the Queen Ann Lace mingled with the periwinkle blue flowers of Chicory. The two wild flowers grow together along all the roads in early August.  I take my camera outside so I can capture the beauty of these disorderly flowers.  I remember the fields of these uncultivated flowers long after they disappear for the winter.


Oh, I should let you know, Queen Ann Lace is my favorite flower because of the delicate tiny flowers clustered on thin, celadon green stems. The flowers seem to float in space and ride the soft wafts of the August breeze.  Fragile lace blossoms dance in the fragrant afternoon air.  The white blossoms of the Queen Ann Lace contrast with the sturdier chicory flowers.  Chicory resembles a daisy with petals branching outward from around, dark, center.  Each Chicory bloom has little oval petals that come to a tip that looks like someone snipped it off, flat, with zig-zag pinking shears.   The brilliant blue color of the Chicory seems to pop out from among the white Queen Ann Lace in full bloom side by side with Chicory. When I see the Chicory begin to bloom, I know that the season will soon be changing to autumn.

And, it always seems that it won’t be long before I’ll be shuffling my feet through the colored leaves on my daily walks through the woods, along the Connie. My thoughts drift to the stories my father told me about his Indian grandmother. I stop and look around through the woods, and down to the white-water creek. Some days my spirit calls out to her as I look around in this same rural world that she lived in, too. Often, I have a keen insight while walking along The Connie. I step slowly over layers and generations of my family members. I ask myself, “Am I an overlay from past generations of people who lived in this place?” I realize their presence because they surround me. I can feel them. Today, I asked my grandmother, “Did your feet walk on this path, too?”

Copyright, July 9, 2016. Lynda McKinney Lambert. All rights reserved.


Lynda’s Bio:

Lynda McKinney Lambert is a Christian author, blogger, visual artist. She is the author of the book of essays and poetry, “Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage”  by Kota Press. She is a  retired Professor of Fine Arts and Humanities from Geneva College, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.

Lynda earned  BFA and  MFA degrees  in Fine Arts;  MA in English Literature. She has traveled and taught courses in writing and art, internationally.

Lynda specializes in writing poetry and creative non-fiction. Currently she has three books in development for publication in late-2016 and 2017. Her stories, essays and poems appear in many anthologies and literary magazines.

Photo16_Bio_Portrait in Red and Orange


Lynda’s 2 blogs:

“Walking by Inner Vision” Link:  Walking by Inner Vision Blog
“SCANdalous – Recollections” Link:  SCANdalous – Recollections Blog
Contact Lynda:












Gesture_Memorial Tribute to Glen Brunken


Memorial Tribute to Glen Brunken

Glen Brunken, American Artist (1943 – 2013)


PHOTO:  Glen Brunken, November 1987

Martha Gault Art Gallery, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.


The professor had a euphoric smile as he paused during one of our daily breaks.  He gathered his circle of art students in one corner of the life drawing classroom. We all sat around him in a semi-circle, our focus directed towards the man who taught us about life drawing. But, it was far more than just a quick glance at the model. We were learning to look deep inside those nude bodies, to find bone structure, rising and falling muscles, the very breath of life in a human body. We learned that if we did not know how to draw the body, we would never be able to grab the essence of anything else. “The figure is a landscape,” he said, “and you have to learn every nuance of the figure before you can paint anything else. Without this skill, all the rest of your art will be weak and have no inner life.”


He leaned back in his chair, tilted his head just enough that it looked strangely slanted. His gray-blue eyes focused towards the long row of ceiling high windows; the late morning flowed into the spacious room.  His face appeared translucent because it was illuminated by the natural light. His brown leather work boots were weather worn and looked unevenly smooth on the bottoms. Our professor’s clothing indicated he was fond of faded jeans and T-shirts and he seemed more like a rural coal miner or steelworker rather than the stuffy image people often have of a university professor.  In the old room, the age-worn wooden plank floors and the professor’s boots reminded me of the history of this place where hundreds of students walked coming and going to classes. The building was known as West Hall.


Our drawing professor seemed to become a child again as he spoke about the joy of expressing life with our charcoal lines on a large page of newsprint paper. At times, he spoke directly to us, individually. It was a one-on-one commentary on what he observed on our drawing paper.  With his back turned away from our hefty tubular metal easels, he examined the smudged, jagged, smoothed, or delicate drawings.  He looked into our eyes as he gave his critique of what he observed. He made a joke and laughed about what he saw on the page. We laughed with him.  He had a sharp wit, a critical eye; his ability to focus in on a tiny bit of information was uncanny.


Spontaneous sessions, gathered around him, were special moments that we all enjoyed with him every day when we took our morning break. He affirmed our own discoveries about life and living when we, too, become a child again. He urged us to scribble with abandon. No restraint.  For the first time in our adult lives we realized there would never again be anyone looking over our shoulder and demanding that we “color inside of the lines.” This was the message of the day. It was such a simple truth that it cut deeply into my soul and took root when I eventually realized I was free to make a mess, scribble, and splash inks and paints with abandon on a page of drawing paper. Enthusiastic flying hands and frenzied minds were not only okay with Prof. Glen Brunken.  Our acutely focused minds discovered the feeling that he proclaimed a truth that he buried inside of me forever. I was free to play and enjoy the physical activity of drawing with a passion. “Drawing is a sport,” Yes, he proclaimed it!

“Drawing is a sport,” he continued speaking in his clear, slow Oklahoma drawl. “You are athletes! You’d better be standing at your easel when the Muse arrives!” I sat up straighter and pulled back on my shoulders, taking in a long breath of pride in my profession.  “I am an artist!”

I first encountered the paintings of Glen Brunken one afternoon when I walked slowly through a museum exhibition; I stopped suddenly when I came to a painting that was named, “Little Yellow Painting.” I had the feeling that I didn’t need to breathe anymore; all I wanted was to just stand there forever, gazing into the deep brush strokes and thick slashes of vibrant yellow oil paint. This little gem of a painting was done on stretched canvas.  I had to tear my eyes away from the surface of this brilliant ray of vivacious, powerful strokes to have a look at the tag on the gallery wall:

“Little Yellow Painting.”

Acrylic on Canvas

Glen Brunken, American (1943- )

I recognized his name and I knew he taught at a local university. In that moment, I knew this was an inspired teacher who danced with the mysteries in his paintings. I enrolled in his summer drawing class at the university. And, this is how I became one of his students, sitting in the circle, as he proclaimed the duties and the joy of being an artist.

During the regular semesters, he offered printmaking courses but it was his summer drawing classes where I learned what it meant to be an artist. The early morning figure drawing classes were intense because we absorbed life lessons as well as developing our drawing skills. It was hard work. Learning to see is a difficult journey. In our daily discussions, we expanded our core philosophy and talked about making art.  Like all fine arts professors, Glen was well read in philosophy and literature.  He spoke about various genres in a way that directed us to weigh out our ideas on a broad spectrum of intuition that crossed all boundaries and disciplines.  Glen sharpened our minds. I became a pencil that had been rubbed on sand paper. Sharp.

In the heat of the early morning, our summer drawing classes were intense. We were dedicated workers who stood at our easels hour after hour, day after day.


Prof. Brunken once reminded me,

“Making art is a profession. It’s your job. You go to work every day, just as if you worked in a factory. You bring your lunch bucket to work and you take your place at your easel.”


He instilled in us a sense of pride in our profession and a strong work ethic. We had business to do and we needed to understand that we had to focus on getting the work done. This was our life work, our calling, and our mission.

We did not have air conditioning but the wall of open windows was adequate. A slight breeze wafted across the large room; it was enough to keep us going.  Our minds focused on the lines we were putting down on the paper. We labored at our easels, drawing from the live model.  We stood in a circle around the nude model’s platform.  The rudiments of making art soaked our consciousness. This was the battlefield where we struggled to find the forms and planes; we kept our eyes focused on the variety of models who took a pose on the model’s platform.  That square, foot-high, wooden platform became the center of concentration and the apex of the world that connected us to our internal longings to find balance and purpose. As our model stood tall, reached out, bent from the waist, twisted sideways, or lunged into a classical Greek warrior pose, each art student guided  pieces of black charcoal sticks, worn down  or sharply ground lead pencils, blocks of waxy crayons, or even brushes and paints.  In turn, we slashed, swooped, smudged, splattered, jabbed, or trickled our materials onto the intimidating sheets of drawing papers. Our daily skirmishes with thick drawing boards held upright on tall metal easels were the challenge we all faced.

After four hours of drawing, my hands, arms, face, and clothing was covered with the materials I had used for my drawings. I felt like a small child who was playing in the mud – joyous and forbidden. It seemed that for the first time in my adult life, I could get very dirty and I was breaking the rules – and it was all okay. I relished my days making drawings with my classmates and I felt like I was part of something so powerful it could never be expressed in words.


Prior to entering the university to begin work on a degree in art, I had already studied painting for 6 years. I was passionately in love with the act of painting. My paintings appeared in national exhibitions and I won many awards at juried shows across the country.  I was a painter who was enchanted with the landscape and made paintings that are called, “painterly realism.” I already understood painting was my calling in life. I read art books and studied the photographs of drawings and paintings. I visited art exhibitions and looked closely at each work that interested me. I learned from them first-hand and brought information and techniques into my own art. Now, I wanted to earn degrees in fine art so I could move forward into my dream job. My intention was to become a professor of fine art. There was no “Plan B” in my life.

At the age of forty-two, I was a nervous freshman student surrounded in the classroom by young students who were the age of my own children. In fact, I had grandchildren, too!  I tried not to be self-conscious or intimidated by their youth. I stayed focused on my inner sense of purpose. I was at the university to learn everything as I scanned the possibilities of courses available, I felt like a child who was on a merry-go-round.

Prof.  Brunken challenged his students.

“Take courses in everything and particularly in the things you know nothing about,” he said. Many of us began the adventure into the studies of everything, with courses in Geology, Biology, Psychology, Philosophy, and Literature. Mythology and Sociology. It all opened up a universe of new things to learn and new imagery to bring into the art we created.  He urged us forward, “Put everything you learn into your art. Every discipline  offers you  new information  to bring back to art!” he exclaimed as his pale blue eyes flashed quickly around the walls of the art  room through the wire-rimmed glasses he kept pushing up on his face.

From that first moment when I stood in an art gallery and examined the “Little Yellow Painting” I had a secret, hidden desire as I entered that university program. My personal hidden desire was to learn to make abstract art. I saw abstract paintings in several subsequent gallery visits and I was swept away by the magic and depth of the deeply textured surfaces. The artist’s hand was visible in each work. I perceived something so mysterious and spiritual in gestural abstraction and I began the pursuit of reading every book I could find on the artists who did this kind of painting.  Their stories gave me an emotional response like nothing else. I bought several books on this way of working and did a lot of experiments on my own before I started classes.  Soon, my desire to make abstract art came to the forefront of my mind, and I began changing. I did abstract art in my dreams at night; during the days I struggled to find the way to learn how to do it in the classroom.

This new world, exciting as well as  frightening, forced a departure from my comfort zone, turned  away my focus of previous ways of thinking and working. Prof. Brunken was the catalyst that pushed me over the edge into this new consciousness and understanding of the world. Art making at this time brought me to questions of how to work in conceptual ways. The obvious, discernible landscape of my own personal world was in flux.   Our professor’s views on drawing; and even his views on time and place influenced me significantly.

For homework each day, he required us to do several pages of rapid, small drawings known as “gesture” drawings. Our sketchbooks filled up with pages of those little drawings – about 20 per page. As he reviewed our sketchbooks, he wrote a few messages next to gestures he particularly liked. He placed a tiny asterisk beside some of the best gestures to draw our attention to it.

Mornings in the classroom guided our understanding of the gestures of life. We made small gesture drawings as homework; in the classroom we scribbled out large gesture drawings on our sheets of drawing paper.  We learned to look into the surface of a figure; quickly assess the gesture to see internal movements of everything. We encountered gestures at a distance; we recognized gestures in the trees; in flowers blowing in a field; a person walking far away down the busy street; the furniture in the art studio.

 “Everything in our world holds a gesture. That unique gesture is the moving, living, life form of everything we are viewing. It is life, movement and stability,” he said.

Eventually, I became a professor of fine arts and humanities. Of course, my students learned all about gestures, too. A few years after I had completed my education and was working in a museum, I observed Prof. Brunken as he judged an art exhibition. He looked at a sculpture and said,

“This person needs to take some drawing classes. This sculpture has a lack of understanding of structure. It looks like the artist does not know how to draw.” Prof. Brunken looked at a stone sculpture and knew if the artist studied drawing and understood the gesture. In time I learned how to identify good drawing skills, too!

Since those distant summer days as a student, I continue to observe everything in life through the lens of gesture. In my travels over the years, I always carried a sketchbook. On the pages, I jotted down quick notes or longer reflections side-b-side with my sketches.  I recorded the gestures of the world as I experienced it.  Gestures mingle among my more detailed drawings, poems, short essays and historical notes.

The smallest things in our daily life begin to dance before our eyes when we look more closely at any movement.  The spirit of the thing is right there. The embrace of the inner core of all of existence presents itself to us. A gesture sends a powerful signal that can be discovered through all our senses. While we engage in the various movements and acts of life, every moment of every day, we are typically unaware of the message that an onlooker is getting by watching us.

“Many of our actions are basically non-social, having to do with problems of personal body care, body comfort and body transportation; we clean and groom ourselves with a variety of scratchings, rubbings and wipings; we cough, yawn and stretch our limbs; we eat and drink; we prop ourselves up in restful postures, folding our arms and crossing our legs; we sit, stand, squat and recline, in a whole range of different positions; we crawl, walk and run in varying gaits and styles. But although we do these things for our own benefit, we are not always unaccompanied when we do them. Our companions learn a great deal about us from these ‘personal’ actions – not merely that we are scratching because we itch or that we are running because we are late, but also, from the way we do them, what kind of personalities we possess and what mood we are in at the time.”  (From Manwatching by Desmond Morris.)

Learning to find and appreciate the sparkle of life can be difficult. We are so accustomed to taking a quick glance at everything and only seeing the surface of everything. Seeing requires more time. Seeing is a skill that has to be practiced and learned and it takes a lot of deliberate time to do it. Think of all the many images your eyes view every day as they rapidly flash before you. There are so many you cannot even see them because seeing comes slowly and it comes in layers. Seeing requires intention.

One day after Prof. Brunken had looked through my latest group of gestures in my sketchbook he turned to look at me and he said,

“Lynda, you need to look at this gesture drawing until you begin to realize it is beautiful.  In fact, cut this one out of your sketchbook and put it in a frame. Put it in a place where you can see it. Look at it often. Keep looking at it until you understand that it is beautiful.”

The central theme of everything is the gesture at the core of it all.  I think of “gesture” as the recognition of God when he leaned down over his new creations and breathed the breath of life, his own Spirit, into them. Some days, I focus on looking closer at the people I am in contact with and I whisper to myself, “Look for what is good in her. Keep your focus on the inner core, on her gesture. Look again. She is made in the image of God. Take a long, slow look and find her eternal gesture. See it.”



In memory of Professor Glen Brunken (1943-2013).

Glen taught at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania for 40 years (1969 – 2009   He was killed in a tragic accident, June 3, 2013, when he fell through a glass door at a local restaurant in Slippery Rock, PA.

You can find additional information on “Gesture” at:


Date of Writing: June 21, 2013.

AWARD: Honorable Mention in Memoir writing at the National Federation of the Blind Conference, July 2013.

Revised: June 2, 2016.

Scheduled for publication in the forthcoming book of creative non-fiction essays, Walking by Inner Vision: Stories of Light and Dreams” by Lynda McKinney Lambert.

Lynda McKinney Lambert.  Copyright 2013, 2016. All rights reserved.


QUOTE:  “Making art is like killing snakes, you have to get down to it” Glen Brunken


_____ About Lynda ______

Lynda’s 2 blogs:

“Walking by Inner Vision” Link:  Walking by Inner Vision Blog

“SCANdalous – Recollections” Link:  SCANdalous – Recollections Blog

Contact Lynda:


Lynda’s Bio

Lynda McKinney Lambert is the author of “Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage” published by  Kota Press. To order it, click here:  Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage

If you want a signed copy by Lynda, please email to:

The book is $15. Plus 3.00 shipping – Total #18.00 – you can pay by Paypal.


Lynda  authors two blogs on writing, the humanities, arts, and faith.

She is a freelance writer; her poetry and essays appear in numerous books and literary journals.

Lynda  is a retired professor of fine arts and humanities and she exhibits her fiber arts in exhibitions worldwide.

Currently, Lynda is working on 3 books in development for publication in late 2016, early 2017.

Contact Lynda:


Lynda McKinney Lambert. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.


Please share this blog with your friends.

Sign up for updates that will arrive QUIETLY in your E-mail box.