2020 has been a strange year for everybody. A mere inconvenience to some, a disaster to others (and sadly, of course, literally life or death to many), we have all learned to adapt and cope in our different ways. Many have gained from the experience as well as lost; I have learned to see my home and my home area in a new light, or perhaps to ‘re-see’ it and appreciate it afresh.
I have always been keen on exploring and after over 30 years here in the northwest (escape attempts notwithstanding) there are still hidden corners to discover. Who would have thought that an unassuming, narrow, rocky strath which I’ve driven past countless times and often thought ‘I wonder where that goes? Maybe I’ll investigate one of these days’ could lead to such a spectacular golden, sunlit, silent lochan; the chance to glide across its still waters in a rowing boat (ssshh.. don’t ask) to secret glens, no sound save for the roaring of stags; no movement but the gentle soar of an eagle and no sight more mind-blowing than the mighty Suilven in all its autumn splendour appearing above the twisted birches and deep blue waters. The mountain looks different from each and every angle, yet always remaining unmistakeably ‘himself’; from here and in this light I don’t think I have ever seen it look more timelessly majestic and I took enough photographs to keep me in my attic studio all winter. If I had predicted the views and the weather – myself in just a t-shirt – I would have taken my sketchbook and even my tent, although with the sun disappearing much earlier these days, the nights are a wee bit cold.
This spot shall be revisisted!
For now, though, thoughts are turning towards working inside and finally I have been able to begin teaching one of the courses that were planned before the world went topsy-turvy. ‘Life drawing, figure drawing and portraiture’ is the latest offering for my creative group of local ladies, limited to just six for this course and sitting spaced apart in the large, airy foyer rather than our usual classroom. But it’s great to be back doing what I do and to see familiar faces again, and we are already thinking about fresh new courses for the springtime. Of course, we are careful not to make assumptions about when ‘normality’ will return.
As the leaves continue to turn an unimaginable array of golds, yellows and reds and outdoor forays become fewer, I shall hold this odd yet somehow wonderful summer close as I hunker down to paint, to write, to organise and to plan, as far as I can, the next chapters in my life.