I promised myself I would do homework on my holidays. My art kit was ambitious. I brought a full set of water soluble coloured pencils, a fresh pad a watercolour paper, a full 5x7 sketch book, a stack of office paper, 7 pencils, 4 coloured pencils, and a brush pen. There’s probably more, but you get the idea.
The reality is, I barely touched those supplies, neither did I read any of the six books I packed. I simply could not, would not tear my eyes away from a world that was overwhelming in complexity. And it wasn’t only the eyes that watched the colours change in the sky and the shapes of the waves rolling in, but feet feeling the soft grit of sand, and hands feeling the velvety tops of mushrooms. It was my nose inhaling the scents resinous scent of pine, the dry scent of autumn leaves or the dark pungency of damp loam. It was my tongue tasting the sour tartness of thimbleberry, the last of years fruit crop, and the sweet chill of Lake Superior’s water. And my ears that filled with the sounds of wind in trees, windblown sand skittering across the beach, and waves roaring, rushing, lapping, at the beach.
I chose to immerse myself completely in the sensory overload that the wilderness offered; walking until I my feet hurt and body ached (we stopped counting after 75k), swimming and feeling the full force of Lake Superior both in the chill that worked its way through me, and currents that pushed and pulled, and most of all (when there was time), just plain sitting, staring, seeing, listening, feeling, smelling a world full of rhythms that altered in subtle ways from moment to moment, always to circle around to its beginning but never quite the same way.
I decided to trust that leaving mind and body open to experience the world would have far more creative returns than pushing pigments about on a piece of paper. Now that I’m home again with a roof, a floor, and a desk at hand, I’ll see how much I can retain and retrieve.
PS. 300+ snapshots should help jog the memories along through the dark days of winter.
There was so much to do; I was, for a time, completely immersed in a world that was completely compelling. It demanded my attention all of the time. I walked for miles (counted up to 75km and then gave up counting) until my feet hurt and my muscles ached and joyfully (mostly joyfully) kept going. I swam in water that was, as I like to truthfully say, ‘eyeball freezing cold’ and loved it. I loved it better when it was warmer than that and the rollers came in strong enough to ride.
About the photos: yes, I took all these photographs, including the one of myself. 10 seconds on the timer just wasn’t as much time as I thought it was to get into the planned position. I actual like that snap of me as it is rare to get a self-portrait so completely lacking self-consciousness. ;-)