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If you ask me how I decide what I paint or draw I would tell you about capturing the world in line, shape, colour and texture. I would tell you that a shutter goes off in the camera of my mind and I ‘capture a moment’. They are answers that I share frequently. But what I may not have answered before is how these are moments of awe and wonder. They are about what I feel as much as what I see.
Life can be dull, life can be routine. Life can be tragic. And in order to not be consumed by the realisation of my complicity in all of life’s terrors and realities, I need moments of awe. Those times when I am not myself, not my human suffering but part of a greater universal union with all things. I need times of transcendence when magic fills my soul. These often micro-moments need seeking and collecting. Often they are discovered when I am in nature, and often they are the inspiration for making art - landscape or ‘soulscape’ (where I tell a narrative of these blissful moments in my sketchbook).
I am writing this as Storm Babet rages and the afternoon is wet and oh so grey. But ten days ago I was up a hill in diffused sunshine, a golden glow on the land as the sun hung low in the sky.
We had been aware of the ladybirds that had joined us as we climbed the hill but were not prepared for the cloud of ladybirds birthing themselves as we crested the hill in the heat of an October day. Plumes of them lifted in the light, dancing stars, amorphous and wondrous.
That is the kind of moment that births in me the need to make art, to tell the story of connection with nature, with the sublime.
I didn’t photograph it, I didn’t draw it. I held that moment in my soul. I have painted it in my mind’s eye, the shapes of the landscape and the golden light witnessing a miracle; the iteration of magical red ladybirds from their larvae stage, bravely seeking their purpose in the world for the next stage of their journey.
I will unfurl it yet into a painting or drawing or a memento of the day in my sketchbook. Mostly the experience was a reminder of the need for awe in the creative journey, in the human journey. If I can slow down, if I can notice, if I switch on all my senses there is beauty, and narrative and wonderment. If I put down my devices, and turn off my overthinking brain, there is a plethora of inspiration.
Making art, capturing the world in a sketchbook is not about technique or style. At it’s root it is about connection.
Remember to be the ladybird, to be brave and choose re-iteration. Remember to catch the light and sparkle. Remember to seek purpose and be your boldest, truest creative self.
(Postscript. Writing this helped me condense the experience I had that day and to see a clear picture in my mind’s eye, born of the feelings from that day and once I had transcended all the reasons that I don’t make art (family/home/feeling blocked/work) I took myself into the studio and began. Not a finished piece, but a beginning. Keep beginning, and beginning again. Helen x)
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