It’s always a pleasure to share my enthusiasm for drawing with like-minded people but for last Saturday’s “Drawing in the trees’ workshop that pleasure was doubled by having my poetic collaborator Steve Smart along with me at Howden Park Centre. Nine delightful tree-loving folk braved some foul weather to come and find out more about drawing, trees and charcoal, and were also treated to a first hearing of some of Steve’s poems.
I’ll be writing more about how we’re working together in another post but in the meantime I highly recommend you head to his blog for a treat for your ears. What’s emerged for me so far is that we share the same interest in trees, woodland and landscape, which inspire us to create in our chosen mediums – he writes about the things I draw, I make drawings about the themes he writes about. I’m loving having that extra dimension to feed into my creative process.
So on Saturday we all worked intensely for the three hours and I suspect I tried to fit too much in – a common mistake of mine – there’s just so much to do!! Steve’s readings provided a welcome little oasis of reflection and he also managed to take some great photos of participants concentrating hard on their work, which he’s kindly let me share here.
Thanks to everyone who came along for being a great group prepared to get stuck right in – which makes my job so easy and very satisfying. I love seeing the results of a workshop, how each person’s work is so uniquely ‘theirs’ even though they are responding to the same subject, just like the poet and the artist…
Thanks to Steve Smart for the great workshop photos - here's his blog about the day...
Exhibitions take lots of time to plan, many months of work to make, publicity is written way ahead of opening, it’s all on a schedule. My current exhibition was over two years in the planning. Residencies also take time to organise and represent a great opportunity to take new directions. I love planning – I love thinking about the future, imagining what could happen and plotting out what shape that might take.
My studio year planner gives some much-needed structure to an essentially open ended creative process. But it doesn’t matter where you put the coloured dots or how you block in the days you expect to be productive or when you confidently predict an outcome, because sometimes life chucks stuff in the way of your plans, pushes you off your expected course or gets you stuck in a place you don’t want to be.
It’s easy to regard this as a failure – you didn’t do what you said you would, you didn’t follow through on your intentions. You have nothing to show for your time.
However, if what artists do is make in response to their experience of the world, then we should perhaps view it as an opportunity when unexpected events trip us up, rather than a problem. These new experiences are the raw materials for new work, new ways of thinking and responding. Change can be painful as well as positive though and old familiar ways are hard to let go of.
So that’s where I am right now. I’ve been tripped up. I’m not where I planned to be. Life has chucked some difficult stuff in my way but the good news is that I’m an artist so I can use it. Not really sure how yet but I know that’s what needs to happen next.
This is a form of tree is known as a ‘phoenix tree’ – at some time in its life on the Longshaw moors it has blown down but, because some of its root plate remains in contact with the ground, it has continued to grow from its new horizontal position. It’s stable and apparently thriving, just in a new phase of life…