VIVIAN DE WINTER


When surrounded by a school of minnows, be the goldfish


AT THE BEGINNING

Born in Lethbridge, Alberta, my parents moved back to Ontario while I was still quite young. I have a photo of my father, outfitted like a cowboy from a John Wayne movie, standing alongside a few horses.

For the most part, we spent our formative years living in rural areas, on the outskirts of small communities situated in Southwestern Ontario. One property included ten acres of forest. Our next move brought us to three acres of weeds, trees and a pond.

AT WHAT POINT DID I BECOME
INTERESTED IN ART?

It all started when I was thirteen: my father gave me an oil painting kit as a Christmas gift. After taking art courses in school, I migrated to acrylics. Easy water clean-up and faster drying time won me over.

Looking back over the years, art and writing have always been a major part of my life, although the partnership wasn't always balanced. During my time at school, if I was given the choice between writing a book review or creating an advertising poster for that book, I always chose the poster.

From crayons, to pencils, to oil paints, to acrylics, to oil pastels and watercolours - it's been a wonderful ride.

For the most part, I'm inspired by nature. The colours, contrasts and textures are always changing. So much beauty, if we just take the time to see it. The transparent petals of tulips. Foreboding clouds veiled with a layer of brooding grey and mauve. The tops of ripened wheat fields swaying to and fro as if trying to mimic the shallow waves of a lake. Beautiful aqua-hued eggs, still in their nest, grounded without fulfilling their potential.

Nature is wondrous. When was the last time you noticed?

INITIAL ATTEMPTS AT WRITING

At the tender age of eleven, I wrote about wild horses, just as you'd expect from a pre-teen girl during the '70's. A story about danger, honour and innocent equine romance.

Two years later, I wrote about getting lost in a forest. Our entire family of six hopped into our car for a twenty minute drive to view a piece of wooded property that was for sale. We ended up on a dead-end dirt road with the sun disappearing on the horizon and mosquitoes coming out to enjoy their fresh buffet of naive town dwellers.

A helpful stranger drove us back to where we had started out, all the while telling us tales about cougars being spotted in those woods.

My teacher liked the story so much I had to get up in front of the school and read it out loud.

With shaking hands and trembling voice, I recited our tale. Most of my class mates were impressed when I mentioned the cougars.

LITERARY INFLUENCES
A Place to Call Home, by Deborah Smith
The Weight of Water, by Anita Shreve
The Edge of Town, by Dorothy Garlock


FALLING IN LOVE WITH WORDS

When I need a few moments to refresh my idea bank, I skim through a dictionary and jot down the words that appeal to my writer's ear.

Some people collect shells, buttons or beads. I collect words. Whether or not I can make use of these words at some point does't concern me. I'm drawn to the sound of them.

Samples from my collection:
jugular, desperado, lacerate, languish, luscious, malign, saturate, interweave, misbegotten, ignite, mayhem, bewitch, finesse, frippery, insolvent, menagerie, sanguine, trickery, svelte, wince, mercurial, liaison, influx, escalade, sequestered, meridian, summit, cloistered