One moment I am out having a sketch and a cool beer on a hot day, the next moment I am back in my winter pants and snuggled on the couch.
I regularly pull open the door to my little back deck, just to sniff the air and peer out to see what is happening. It can be six different types of weather between breakfast and lunch and if there are 10 seconds of sunshine, I am going to park myself in it.
Lately I have been setting up with scissors and images, using the long hours of strong light to do my crazy clipping.
Scanning, printing, cups, birds, wings, things. Sketchin’ and clippin’. Clipping and sipping. Friends have various names for my back porch antics.
What I end up sipping depends entirely on my mood. And it is always a good mood. 🙂
If it all of a sudden flips to wind or rain or hail, not a problem. It is a very short wobble back to inside warmth. So short, in fact depending on the angle of the sun, I might just be sitting right in the doorway.
I love my tiny back deck.
Sunshine on the back deck… finally.
Storms, Birdsong, Light returning… all present.
Favourite travel watercolours – lost since 2013!! – Found! Amazing what moving the furniture in the Thinking room will turn up!
Botticelli. Airy and graceful, like Spring.
So Max proclaimed, and it was true. Also true is what Julie said to me back in Florence just a couple of days before we left to go home. “Oh, you’ll be happy to get home, but about February, on a cold grim day, you will feel a deep unquenchable yearning in your soul for Italy.” OK, maybe those weren’t her exact words, but very nearly. So, in an effort to recapture some whisper of the flavour of that time, I have turned my eyes to coffee. Luckily, I have many, many pictures of it to choose from.
I dream of espresso, aromatic and sharp, but sweet. Sipped from thick, white porcelain cups. Even at the gas station, they would not serve a “To-go” coffee – Paolo brought it out in its perfect little cup with saucer and I drank it by the pump. It was all so delicious, every one. But the best was in the piazza of Santo Spirito, or the Boring church as Max called it.
I see his point, but I could never find it boring to sit on steps which felt the feet of Michelangelo.
Max and Lisa
And I do long to go back……… I knew I would.
That is what my friend Marlene told me, and I have been fully embracing the pre-trip.
I had to think of something which would hold my attention, and keep my excitement from spilling over into anxiety – because I know myself. I can get… squirrelly. So, I have made up a crazy project for myself. I am filling one of my beautiful Kim Oka encaustic journals with sketches of details from Renaissance paintings, mostly of those that I could possibly see in Italy – but I am using ballpoint pens. And a bit of watercolour. Thats it.
Then, I am scanning these sketches and printing them out as postcards, which I will take with me.
While I am casually relaxing in a piazza with a tiny white cup filled with thick espresso, or perhaps a nice glass of jewel red Chianti, I will write my Deep Thoughts on them and send them back home to myself embellished with beautiful Italian stamps. This lovely dream is keeping my hands busy and my anxiety levels manageable.
Two more weeks……….
My ticket is booked and paid for. I say these words to myself, (and to pretty much anyone else I can pin down) with emotions that streak from thrill to fear in seconds. This MS woman is going to Italy. The dogged determination and kindness of friends will drag my wobbly ass across the ocean to the country that has filled my mind and heart with wonder since my days at Cap College under the spell of the Goddess of Art History, my friend Josephine. So missed.
Julie: “Listen. You have to come. This might be the last time…. I mean… ah… erm… This will be an awesome trip and we will all be there to… uh… Well, you are coming. That’s that.”
I think of past large scale paintings I have done, and present intimate journal sketching I am doing. Ambitions at the mercy of body. I remember my New Year’s resolution – Fear out – Faith in. Holy Crap, it is working. Could I really do it?
I laugh….. I suspect she is a little wrong, though. I think this trip will be the first. If I can’t belly up to the big canvasses just yet, I have other dreams to pursue.
I have Carnets des Voyages to fill. 🙂
I’m looking at images from the Italian Renaissance again, with my ballpoint pens and a light wash of housepaint for the background.
Lots of of other sketches coming up too, I’ve been busy. 🙂
My Grandmother Ruby used to carry scissors in her purse when she went out for a walk. She loved flowers, she grew them on her balcony and often had a little bouquet on her table. Over the years we spent many a pleasant day wandering in the garden centre and planting up her small riotously colour-filled boxes. But cut flowers were a different story. Oh she wanted them, in the early spring when the sky was grey, and hers were months from being ready – but she would not pay for them. Besides, she had a Law that if any flower extended into any walkway, it was common property.
That included any that could be hooked with a cane and pulled over to the sidewalk. This could sometimes be an embarrassing situation for me, causing me to rapidly walk ahead, which amused her. I myself, purchased my flowers at full price.
However, I have lately found my thinking to be more in line with hers.
I have looked up that Law, and I believe she was correct.
I call it the Law of Unauthorized Pruning for Art’s Sake.
3″ Paintbrush: Ballpoint pen & watercolour
I have so many art supplies. More than a person could even use in a lifetime, I’m sure. Maybe more than 2 or 3 persons. Oh well, I am in good company with the tool fanatics, and there are worse obsessions. Like shoes. I don’t get shoes. One pair of Keens and yer good to go.
I think about what a wobbly me might choose to take on a trip, and honestly, I know I will pack ten times more than I will actually use. I will pack more than I can possibly carry without tipping over. (Sorry, friends and porters) But it makes me anxious to think I might need all my favourite… somethings. Like a perfect jar of spangly blue ink, or 5 shades of gold acrylic. Paper? Where would I find perfect sketchbooks?? And what if the unthinkable happened.. and they all… got… LOST.
Luckily, almost everywhere in this world, one can find a ballpoint pen. So I’ve been practicing.
I shall channel Andrea Joseph. Or Mark Powell. Nothing beats looking to the Masters when you need to soothe supply anxiety. If it came right down to it, if I can find a Bic and a ratty old placemat, I’ll be fine. Whew.
But I’m still packing the Art Bin.
A favourite spoon and a funny little can I have kept for years….
…looking closely at bits and pieces that otherwise slip away unnoticed.
January has rolled into February. Winter cold has remained at bay – in fact, it has been a typical balmy West Coast Winter… so far.
It seems to me the sketching moments have been plentiful. Self-imposed challenges of Sketchbook Skool Bootkamp and Kim Oka’s 30 day journaling have provided practice and entertainment on damp evenings.
Weather even broke into brief sun, and a rare trip to a dear friend’s welcoming home was actually realized. By me, alone. My mountain to climb, and I did it. I was well rewarded. 🙂
When one doesn’t have to hang sheets and plastic over the doorways to keep the heat of the fireplace trapped, (also known as Art Ghetto decor) and when the toilet seat is actually room temperature every day…(yes, last January was a bit trying) the subtle layers of a coast winter can be relaxed into, enjoyed even. Especially if you have a friend or two to share the fire.
On a calm afternoon I scooter to the pier, smell the ocean, feel the sky, watch the water flowing under the Robert’s Creek bridge.
February begins. And the sun is now rising before 8am and setting after 5pm.