THIS IS THE PLACE

DSCN7036Never say never. On the 23 December 2015, the day I thought of closing my Facebook page and never post a thing again, in a sudden change of mind I decided to keep using it but in a different way. The Christmas holidays were about to start and a long string of possibly wet, dark and dreary days stood in front of me – I needed a project to keep myself occupied, focused and fit.

“Walk the Talk!” I said to myself, by which I meant to do what I always preach to my pupils, namely to dedicate part of each day to sketching or painting even if only for 20 minutes. The proof that I was keeping to this commitment would be a daily post on Facebook.

The main theme for this year Art to Heart’s programme is titled “This is the Place” – looking at the ordinary in our daily surroundings with new eyes and express it through artwork. As  a subject for my personal observations I selected trees in Winter. I’ve always found their trunks and naked branches very dramatic-looking against the sky and I often wished I had the time to produce some work about it. Well this was the moment I had been waiting for! All I had to do was making the time. I would observe, memorise, draw or paint a tree every day if possible – and post it. That was my challenge and so I started.

During my morning walks I would choose a tree or a group of them, make a quick sketch on the spot until I could bear the cold any longer, then retreat to a cafe and, over a cup of coffee, I would continue to work from memory. Other times at home I would re-work the subject with a range of diverse mediums, freely experimenting with no fixed outcomes in mind and then post these simple, unassuming but pleasant (to me at least) images accompanied by a short description on the tree itself and on the process I used in creating the images.

Slowly over the days a transformation started to occur – something new and exciting was developing – a new rhythm was now marking my days, a new awareness of time to do things I like and give me a simple pleasure for some time every day.  My familiar surroundings suddenly became richer with details of things and people I hadn’t noticed before because my mind had been full with other stuff. I was aware that exercising in the outdoors had become a way to process and analyse working tasks and commitments, with
the result that I was walking in the park but I wasn’t really there. Now that I was sketching regularly I was re-falling in love with drawing like in my art student days. So much to see and do!

From the very beginning I encouraged my ‘followers’ on Facebook to do the same, which many did and gave interesting feedbacks on their experience (see ‘The Hairy Man story’ on page 9). As a direct result of this exercise many people have remarked how drawing and painting has become easier, more fluid and less self-conscious, while for myself the
regular posting on Facebook had become a date I could not miss, a simple commitment that I had made mostly with myself one day in late December.

The new narrative I was creating was giving a richer meaning to my days and hopefully, to other people’s days as well.

Opening the portal to our imagination becomes easier when we recognises that life exists in a host of unexpected and wonderful forms and manifestations all around us, every day, here.

This is the Place.