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Mysterious fish and a fabulous moment in time

One of the things I love about being an artist is the people I meet through it.

Like this weekend, for instance.

On Saturday I attended an art workshop run by a fascinating Japanese woman. She was born at the end of the second world war but she’s lived in England for thirty years or more and is an excellent watercolourist through an intriguing mix of East and West, with equal measures of Japanese and English in her approach to art and the techniques she uses and teaches. I found her very interesting, partly because of her art and partly because of where she comes from. I loved Japan when I visited there a couple of years ago and could really relate to her explaining about using a paintbrush like chop-sticks, being dexterious with it for picking out the details with confidence and aplomb.
I can’t say I was particularly happy with the picture I did during the workshop though! But I know that that’s the way it goes sometimes. I was trying to paint goldfish in a pool, with the reflections of sunlight on the surface, and the depth of colour below, the fish appearing out of the depths, and an acer tree leaning over, the red leaves in sharp contrast to the water, with a strong depth of aquamarine in the top right hand corner, and pure white light in the bottom left. I started off well, but lost the flow somewhere along the way. I know that that was mostly to do with the watercolour paper I was using. I went with what the tutor advised instead of sticking with the Bockingford paper I know and love. If I’d used that instead of the blotting-paper-like Saunders Waterford I did use, the picture would have worked fine. So, that’s a learning curve and one I’ll bear in mind in future (stick with what you know, and ignore what a tutor advises if you KNOW you can make it work with the materials you’re used to!). Still, even so, I got a lot of postive feedback from the others attending the workshop, so that was nice, and the tutor said she really liked my “Mysterious fish fantasy picture” as she called it! Aw, sweet!!

There were a couple of new faces at the workshop, both friendly, as most artists seem to be. But I knew I knew one of them, and presumed it was from a local art club. When we had a chance to chat, I said hello and she said hello, smiling, and said that she knew she knew me but wasn’t sure where from. I agreed, grinning, and mentioned the local art club. No, she said, that wasn’t it. She mentioned another art group and I shook my head, I wasn’t in that one. We paused, and looked at each other, and both were adamant that we knew each other somehow. HHmmmm…………………did she work in the local town? Nope. Did she have anything to with any other art group? Nope. Did she go to my school? Nope. HhhMMMmmmmmm. How curious. And then I mentioned art workshops. And the penny dropped! It was one we’d both attended four and a half years ago! We both smiled in recognition, and rememberence! Ah, yes, that was it! And she said “You had your Euruka moment!” and I laughed along with her. Yes I DID!! It was the day I found something amazing. Something that stopped me dead in my tracks. A strange thing! But simple. And that was that my LEFT hand was actually far better at art than my right that I used all the time! PURE Eureka! And she had remembered it!!! I must have left a big impression (‘scuse the joke! Ha!).

Sunday was a day off, a non painting day, if there is such a thing for an artist. But every day is an art day, even if its not painting. Such a lovely day, weatherwise and worth going out to see the local Well Dressing at a nearby village. A pleasant amble, an ice-cream in the sunshine, cups of tea and the quintessential Englishness of Morris dancers (no, I’m NOT a fan!). And it was whilst wondering around the little art exhibition there that I saw a couple of faces I knew – and went over to say a hello to one of them. Another woman artist, and someone I’ve not seen for a while, not since her husband died last year. She was busy doing lovely pen and ink landscapes and selling them like hot cakes. She said that art was her saviour since her husband had died. They’d been together more than fifty years, and she was eighty this year. And still painting. But that’s the thing about art, it’s something you start when you’re old enough to hold a crayon, and something you do until you’re in old age, and it brings you so much pleasure inbetween. And is good therapy, when you think your world has collapsed.

It brings hope, for the future.