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‘The palest ink is better than the best memory.’ Chinese Proverb.

I have been feeling a little bit despondent about my sketching lately.  I have still managed to work myself up to doing a bit of drawing during the week but I have felt somewhat . . .  uninspired . . . to say the least.  I look at the fabulous sketches of my fellow online students and arty friends, and see that they have done their sketches ‘on the bus’ or ‘in my lunch break’ or ‘in the doctor’s waiting room’ and I, who have no (valid) excuses for not sketching (and obviously a lot more free time on my hands than some of these people) feel like a complete wastrel.

This feeling is not entirely unexpected of course.  I’m in the doldrums.  It’s happened before and, no doubt, will happen again, but . . .  sigh . . .

In the past, feeling like this has resulted in me stopping drawing altogether, sometimes for years, but I am determined that is not going to happen this time.  I am going to try and push through, and if that means a sketchbook full of crappy, uninspiring sketches, then so be it!   (That sentence was full of false bravado by the way.  ‘So be it!’  Ha!  Who am I kidding?  I still get really upset with myself when I do a crappy, unspired sketch, but I am trying a little positive psychology on myself so I’ll let it go . . . )

In an effort to suck myself into a more positive frame of mind I looked back over my very first sketchbook, which I started last year. In it I found one of the first ‘outdoor’ sketches I attempted.  With it I  wrote — ‘. . .  just to be clear, the pots are actually standing on a garden of bark chips (not just a patch of concrete)—but I have no idea how to draw bark chips so I just pretended they wasn’t there.  I also ignored the rest of the garden—the back fence, the Hills Hoist, the three madcap dogs chasing each other in and around the pots—and anything else that was too hard.  I think that’s called ‘artistic licence’ . . .’

At Sketchbook Skool they teach that there are no ‘bad’ drawings.  Each sketch we do is a learning experience and therefore important in itself.  Although I still struggle internally with this concept (I still believe that some of my drawing ‘experiences’ have been, and continue to be, pretty gruesome) I have tried to take this on board and so, although at times still sorely tempted, I no longer rip these offending pages out of my sketchbooks.  I may not ever show these horrors to anybody else but there they will remainpale (or sometimes scarily bright) memories of my ongoing artistic endeavours.

Finding that earlier sketch put me in mind of another I did, much more recently, of the same garden. It’s from a different angle (it was a cold day so the girls and I sat in the warmest spot we could find) but otherwise much is unchanged.  The bird bath and many of the plants are the same—and I still haven’t worked out how to draw bark chips or the dogs racing around the gardenbut, in spite of that, I do like the second drawing more than the first, and that’s definitely a step in the right direction.

So, sketching slump or no, I will soldier on.  I am not going to give up.  Realistically, how could I anyway?

What on earth would I do with all the cupboards (and drawers and boxes) still full of lovely (empty) sketchbooks. . .  and pens . . . and inks . . .  and pencils . . . and paints . . . and pastels and . . .

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Geologists have a saying—rocks remember.’ Neil Armstrong.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

I wonder if that’s true?  I hope so.

I’m hoping that if I stare at these rocks long enough they will remember (and remind me) what it is I’ve forgotten . . .

 

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Don’t give me books for Christmas; I already have a book.’ Jean Harlow.

15days“Only 15 Sleeps to Christmas” the sign outside one of our local shops shrieked at me as I walked past today.  Oh good grief!  That means I should probably have posted the family’s gifts off to England weeks ago.  Now they might get them in time for Easter next year (if they’re lucky).  Sigh.

candy-caneIt’s no good . . . I really do have to ‘get with the programme’.  It’s not that I haven’t been thinking about how quickly Christmas is closing in on me, because I have.  (How could anyone not—with the constant bombardment of Christmas shopping and food catalogues, bouncing elves and those incessant Jingle-Bell ditties which have been playing in every supermarket and boutique since early November . . . how those poor shop assistants do not go into complete meltdown and start poking candy canes into customers’ eyes long before Christmas Day arrives is beyond me . . . )

listHowever . . . as I was saying . . . I have (honestly) been giving some thought to the holiday season—albeit possibly only in the deep, dark recesses of my mind—and I do distinctly remember thinking about putting a Christmas List together way back in September . . . and then again in October . . .  and then reminding myself again in November that Christmas wasn’t all that far away . . .

What I try to do, of course, is buy potential Christmas gifts for friends and family throughout the year, wherever and whenever I see them—because I want to choose something a person will really, really like, rather than a last minute rushed ‘Oh my gosh this will do’ sort of present.  So when I see the perfect gift I buy it, put it aside, and by the time Christmas comes around I am then (hopefully) well ahead of the game. This makes perfect sense to me.

elephant-never-forgets2What doesn’t make so much sense, however, is that I always seem to pack these lovely purchases away and store them ‘somewhere safe’—and then promptly forget all about them!  Not only that, but when I do eventually come across them again (often after Christmas is long gone) I have usually forgotten who I bought them for in the first place, because, apparently, I also think my memory is good enough not to warrant the attachment of a quick post-it note with a name on it . . .

15 days.  Mmmmmm.  That’s okay.  I can do this.  There’s still plenty of time left to get everything done.  All I need is a plan . . .

mary_chris_mess_1500905So—from this weekend I am going to make a determined effort to ‘get into the spirit’ of it all.  I am going to drag out my Christmas decorations (kicking and screaming from their dusty boxes) and shooz up the house.  The girls will love that.  (Oh Oh. Thinking of the girls has just made me remember—Cinder is coming to stay this weekend.  Remember Cinder—the now six-month old cavoodle puppy who stayed with us back in September? She is a darling girl but there is such a thing as tempting fate.  A boisterous puppy, tinsel, and sparkly balls?  I mean . . .  what could possibly go wrong . . . )

I am also going to scour the house for buried treasures as there are bound to be all sorts of surprises hidden in the unlikeliest of places.  I might even score a couple of nice little pressies for myself . . . you know . . .  if earlier purchases are no longer needed, or inappropriate, or might look better on me . . .

christmas-foodThen I am going to finalise my ‘List’ (after I have started it of course).  I’ll wrap and tag what I found during my treasure hunt, decide on what I still need to buy (online shopping here I come) and then . . . if we are talking about getting into the Christmas Spirit—I might just have to finish the weekend off with a nice bottle of something red, along with an assortment of Christmas yummies (which I have been studiously avoiding until now but which really do need to be taste-tested before I could possibly send them out as gifts . . . I’m a good friend like that . . . )  

stressAnd then it will be Monday.

12 sleeps to Christmas.

No worries.

I have a plan.

She’ll be right . . .

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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‘I have a memory like an elephant. I remember every elephant I’ve ever met.’ Herb Caen.

question_clipartIt’s happened again.  I was having a bit of a sit down after having completed a raft of chores on Saturday when I thought, “I’d best just go and do that one last thing now before I forget”. I got up, walked through the house into the bedroom and completely forgot what I had gone in there to do.  I mean—completely.  Nada.  Not a clue. Not even a smidgeon of a clue. How does that happen?  I wasn’t distracted in any way.  I didn’t stop to pat one of the dogs, or pick something up off the floor, or put the kettle on first, or even (at least consciously) change my track of thought.  But there it was (or, in fact, wasn’t)—gone. Infuriating.

Although I admit that my memory ‘dropouts’ do seem to be happening a tad more frequently lately, I am not overly concerned just yet (just really, really irritated). They (the ubiquitous ‘they’) tell us it is quite normal to become a bit more forgetful as we age (thank you so much for that, so very comforting.)  So perhaps, and only just perhaps, I might concede that age may be a (very slight) factor contributing to these lapses, but I think it’s more likely to be that it’s been a long year, I’m tired, and I’ve got so much stuff running around in my head at the moment that sometimes the less important things just leak out of my ears—leaving more room for the things that I really need, and want, to remember. (Well, that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.)

dorySo, rather than being annoyed, I should be grateful.  This occasional ‘leakage’ is actually a good thing.  It leaves room to remember to go to work, to feed and walk the dogs (fat chance of being allowed to forget that in my house), to pay the bills, to go to appointments, to return phonecalls and emails—all the stuff that gets me through my daily life.  And just as well too—l am not ready to morph into Dory just yet.

(Just a quick aside, while I am thinking of fish—and memory—and before I forget to say it—that thing we always hear about a fish only having a 3 second memory—not true.  In 2008 an Australian schoolboy Rory Stokes debunked that myth.  It seems that fish have hidden depths. (I give you leave to groan at that one—it deserves it.)  

I do know though, once upon a time, my short term memory was in much better shape.  I never used to have to write things down.  I could remember people’s names, ages, birthdays and anniversaries without having to look them up.  I travelled a lot and could remember itineraries and schedules easily.  I kept lists in my head and mentally ‘ticked’ the items off as they were completed.  Alas, no longer.

These days I seem to leave trails of crumpled ‘post-it’ notes in my wake (I especially like the bright, easily spotted, fluorescent kind—no comments please on my also having to start wearing glasses). There are post-its stuck to my fridge, my kitchen bench, my desk (at home and at work) and my computer. (Some seem to be in code and have been there so long I am no longer sure what they are supposed to be reminding me of, which is a bit of a worry, but they must be important or I wouldn’t have put them there.  Would I?) 

taking notesAnd I write lists—lots and lots of lists. I have actually become quite a fan of writing lists. There is something quite therapeutic about having a long list of things to do and being able to put a great big fat scribbly line through each item as you complete it. (Although, down side, I often seem to be putting three items on the bottom of the list every time I cross one off at the top—but, hey, one issue at a time.)

‘Use it or lose it’ is the catch-cry that immediately springs to mind.  So now I am wondering how much of my post-it-note-and-list addiction has contributed to my memory decline?  Maybe my brain being (hopefully) smarter than I think it is, knows of my tendency to commit to paper and so doesn’t feel the need to put itself out and remember these things as well (“Well I don’t know why I’m bothering if you’re going to write it all down . . .”)   Mmmmm.  I’ve got some holidays coming up.  Maybe I’ll consider going cold-turkey on the lists for a while and see if that will kick my memory into gear again.  Well, maybe not completely cold turkey, maybe I’ll just cut it down to a couple of lists a day . . .

Do you think elephants ever have these issues?  ‘An elephant never forgets’.  Everyone has heard that.  But is it actually true?  I know there have been remarkable studies done on the long-term memories of elephants.  Research has shown that elephants remember not only what they need to survive, like food and water sources, but also individual interactions with other elephants, and people, spanning great distances and many years. All without the aid of a diary.

elephant-never-forgets2And that’s all good.  Great.  But, what I am asking is—after a long day’s slow walk, when the herd pulls up to a waterhole for a long cool drink and a bit of a sit down—when they are just standing lazily around shooting the breeze—do they have those “Sorry dude, what was your name again?” moments?

Do they sidle up to each other and say thing like, “Mate—I know I had a message to give you from Doris but I can’t quite remember—it’s on the tip of my trunk . . . ”

I like to think so.

P.S—Did you know there was such a thing as an ‘elephant fish‘?  Wonder what kind of memory they have?

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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