Category Archives: small stones

part of the “river of small stones”

Generalising July

Listening to “meet the author” on the Today programme radio four this morning, I was amused at the comment. “you can’t just write about real life, it would be too boring”. It’s true of course, the novels we read are shaped and edited, time is speeded and slowed, the focus is narrowed and widened, but repetitive routines of life are missed out to focus on action and plot.

Today in my real life the rain has fallen nearly all day, and the tomatoes I picked in the rain were muddy and wet. Not much action there.

An online course on reading novels I have been dipping into was suggesting how sometimes these routines and rhythms of life can still be described even in the best plot time line. A moment when the essence of a season, or regular event, can be captured. The description is not of a particular summer, but all summers, not just one family breakfast time, but all…

Generalising and condensing recurring moments into one description can provide the underlying rhythm of story.

So rather than try and invent some action I looked back on my July posts and photos since I started writing this online journal, to find the general themes

July skies, grey, heavy rain,

widening to cloudless blue,

July roads, stone walled in Yorkshire dales,

high mountain views in British Columbia.

July books for holiday reading,

pen meets paper healing through writing,

July fruits, red, ripe for jamming,

stirring creativity, stitching textiles.

 

 

 

 

 

“Forced” moments…

The weather forecaster describes it as unsettled. This morning heavy rain woke me at 5.30 a.m. pounding against the roof and windows. And then by the time I got up to make tea the sun was shining. Now it’s raining again… 

Yesterday I made brief foray round the garden while the sun was shining and uncovered some rhubarb. Protected by an old composting bin and “forced” to grow in the dark, the resulting colours are quite shocking! As the rain returned I was able to conjure up a bit of the Mediterranean by squeezing oranges to mix with the rhubarb. With the addition of a good deal of sugar, the resulting sweet pink jam/sauce tasted good on ice cream and yoghurt.

The art journaling course this week had an “on location” assignment – create a page with three elements  which captures the feeling of being in your own home. Not easy! Just following where ideas took me I produced a page. It took a bit of collaging to arrange, and size and scale weren’t straightforward, but a kind of linking narrative emerged. 
Life at home at this time of year can still feel a bit restricted and constrained, but it certainly has bright moments if I stop to notice them. 

Not just a pretty face -small stone 31

If I’m honest I have to admit I sliced open this watermelon because I thought it might be good to draw, not because I particularly like water melon. Won as a part of a fruit basket raffle prize, it is not a fruit I would normally buy to eat. 

I was not disappointed with the bright pink flesh hidden inside the green skin, but I didn’t find it easy to capture the shape and colour, and the juiciness of the fruit. In fact after I had finished I realised that the slice was sitting in a little puddle of its own juice, and I had missed that altogether on my picture. 

I have spent a month looking and drawing what (I thought) I could see in front of me. It has been an interesting challenge and changed the way I look at things. I have loved exploring the line and shape of my surroundings, and watercolour is such a quick and delicate way to capture shades and tones. 

But when I took a spoon to the melon I discovered it was much juicier and sweeter than I had expected and distinctly fragrant! There’s more to life than what we can see… 

More senses (and artistic mediums/media) needed. 

‘Twas on a Monday morning – small stone 30

The old nursery rhyme describes the laundry maid as “dashing away with the smoothing iron”, but I have no energy for dashing on this murky grey Monday morning.

However there is something gently soothing about ironing. Although I often procrastinate until the laundry basket is overflowing, the ironing process, the creaking hiss of steam and the warmth of the fabric under my hands, is distinctly pleasurable. And then there is the satisfaction of taking a crumpled, creased garment, and smoothing it. Ironing out the wrinkles and ending up with a flat, evenly pressed material.

I hang my freshly ironed clothes in the wardrobe, and wish that other wrinkles, irritations and frustrations could be as easily ironed out, sorted with just a bit of gentle heat, pressure and steam. But, sadly, life isn’t quite as “neat and nimble-O” as the nursery rhyme might imply…

Happy birthday, William! – small stone 29

My little grandson is two years old today. Sadly he is many miles away, so I attempted to sketch him from a photo. Of course in real life he would not be sitting like this for long!! 

My first attempt at painting a real person makes me appreciate all the more that indefinable unique quality that makes each human being who they are. Impossible to capture and only really experienced in their presence. 

Wish you were here, William! 

Colour in the dark – small stone 28

Not yet enough for a crumble, but sufficient stalks and leaves emerging from the dark earth to give a little thrill. The intense pink and acid yellow colours of the early forced rhubarb provides a jolt of pleasure, and gives me a moment of wonder as to how such bright vivid colour can be produced in a complete absence of light, only revealed when I lift the cover.

However it does it, it always cheers me up! 

Family show – small stone 27

I didn’t really want to draw the TV. But I do watch it, and it is a part of my everyday life. So why not acknowledge it as such? Perhaps because it often brings scenarios into my home which I feel are divorced from my every day reality. In my contemplations I want to focus on what is real and tangible in front of me, and I tend to want to avoid difficult or unpleasant aspects of life. 

This last week the TV news has felt more like a film script, and an unpredictable one at that. Executive orders, pronouncements, court rulings, white papers. Protests, prejudice, resignations, anger and fear. The politicians, celebrities and others I see on my TV screen may seem unreal, specious and false. But they are as real as I am, and driven by similar physical, psychological and emotional needs, even though their circumstances may be vastly different. 

Today I watched and sketched a (rather inept!) picture of the TV, as two ordinary human beings met for the first time, watched by millions of other human beings, all with judgements, hopes and needs of their own. And I was reminded that as I watch them and others, I see myself…

I note the obvious differences

between each sort and type,

We are more alike, my friends,

than we are unalike.”

Maya Angelou – Human Family