Color warms my lens.
My heart too. I grab my pens.
Gratitude soon flows.
I often find myself in a fog when I try something new.
Take last week, for example.
I was very excited about attending my first session of a nature sketchbook drawing series.
After a few minutes of introductions and instruction, I found myself on a bench by a weedy marsh and started drawing.
But just two hours later I was blindsided when I saw the incredible talent of my co-students as they placed their notebooks on the picnic table to share at the end of class.
Embarrassed by my own manic scribbling, I kept mine hidden away in a old backpack.
Talking to the teacher yesterday before the start of the second session, I realized the majority of students had taken classes from the instructor before.
My fog suddenly lifted.
And I saw the light.
I no longer felt ignorant asking her basic questions like “do I need to add water to a water color pencil” or “just how do you sharpen it?”
And then I relaxed, which is the instructor’s main goal for the nature series.
I soon found I was enjoying myself as I mixed colors and tried new techniques.
Sure, I have a long way to go to fine tune my skills, but isn’t that the point of instruction and practice anyway?
Writer Natalie Goldberg, who is also a teacher and artist, has written a new book called “The Great Spring: Writing, Zen and This Zigzag Life.”
In it she writes: “There is no cure for human life, except to live it, being willing to rip off blinders as we go and let the light in.”
She also refers to writing as “a training in waking up.”
I’m thinking the same can definitely be said of drawing.
It turns out I may just need a second sketchbook.
Oh, and a pair of sunglasses for sure.
I pondered before making the decision, but only briefly.
I hadn’t intended to visit the beautiful cemetary before me today, but my plans had changed.
Though the remains of my parents, brother and husband rest elsewhere, my grandparents ashes are in this sacred spot.
The lush, green rolling hills are striking and it’s been decades since I’ve visited.
Yet an additional draw for me today was the arts.
And there was plenty of it.
Music sang from all directions. The local police band played the traditional patriotic songs, but also offerings were made of gospel, classical, folk, and swing.
And there was poetry, including a poetry writing class with critiques available for all.
There was also drawing sessions with guidance, paper, and pastels freely given by professional artists.
Photography, too, was represented with creative and technical tips being shared by instructors.
With white doves soaring above and shiny horse drawn carriages trotting along side me, opportunities for subjects to shoot were everywhere.
Unfortunately my digital camera, currently short a memory card, peacefully rested at home missing the events.
But in the camera’s honor, and also that of my sweet caramel loving grandmother, I did pen one short poem in my poetry session that reads:
My memories are like caramels.
Savored and sweet.
Melting on my tongue till they’re gone.
Maybe I can freeze them?
All right, I admit I was really hungry and hot when I wrote it.
I’ll try again next year.
My days have been far from still lately, yet I took a few moments to create a still life this morning after putting the kettle on the stove.
The cat on my lap and the mug on the table.
The happy cat mug arrived in the mail yesterday.
My purring sweet cat, several years before.
The mug was carefully carried back from Japan by my dear friend Deb, and was mailed along with coconut mango tea and a warm note congratulating me on my new house. It was signed by others, just as kind, at a recent open house I was unable to attend.
I belong to a special group of creative souls assembled by writer Jon Katz of Bedlam Farm fame several years ago.
Each group member freely shares his gifts of writing, art, and music with each other, and the world beyond. They’re all fully supportive of their co-members’ creativity and over time have become supportive of the transitions different members have traveled.
Though I haven’t met all of the members in person, as we live in different states and countries, I feel I know many of them well through the sharing of our work.
As I look at each of the well wishers’ names, I wonder how many of them I’d recognize anyway from their unique and creative styles of handwriting, poetic words written, and loving hearts drawn.
So many of them have shared blessings with me in the card and I see one member, Donna, added, “I wish you all the happiness your heart can hold”.
Well, Donna, I believe it’s already overflowing with the loving card, comments, and my happy cat mug.
I get up to tend to my whistling tea kettle.
And I smile, knowing I’m whistling as well.