I enrolled in an art programme "Watercolor Rules - and how to break them" at Sketchbook Skool. It's absolutely brilliant. I could immerse myself in the classes for ten hours a day if I had the luxury. I'm just completing the first week and watercolourist Ian Sideaway is the main tutor. He is extraordinarily skilled, but also just a nice, friendly man. Probably quite introverted under normal circumstances, but in this new online environment we're all becoming accustomed to, he is warm and relaxed and has a lovely rapport with Koosje Koene who is one of the two main guides.
So I'm loving this class, which I can do at my own pace. And is a perfect companion to the mixed media class I'm doing with Carla Sonheim, which is two sessions a month. And I must say, more diverse than one could have imagined..
We had to make dolls this fortnight! Anyone who knows me knows of my vexed relationship with dolls. And how for time immemorial my Mum has called me Dolly. Last week she was finally vindicated, after 52 and a half years, when she found me knitting a jacket for the old man...
The inspirational person we met was Della Wells, a collage artist and maker of dolls. She started making art in her early 40s and she brings to her practice the idea that "Being a master of your spiritual self doesn't come until you understand from where you came".
As a person who's coming to this seriously in my 50s I take this on board, and understand the depth of meaning that you can bring to your work when you have examined yourself and your roots.
Which is why, it is important at this time for me to step away from the classes for at least most of the days, and as much as my rickety back will allow, make my way through my father's effects. I plan to keep his study as a space to remember him, with all his records, books, photos and musical instruments (and there are many) as they were. But I am dusting and tidying, something I used to do for him a couple of times a year, I suppose. But now, I am going through and discarding papers and consolidating loose photos and making sense of a space that was to me, chaotic, but to him, in a perfect order.
It's very difficult to throw away pieces of paper with his handwriting. So many bits will be stored.
It's been extraordinarily emotional to rifle through sheet music that both Dad and my late brother pored over in musical practice. Those will go in a box, in a cupboard, for another time.
Amongst hundreds of cassette tapes I found just one, in a case, that caught my eye. It was of my brother and his band performing on ABC radio. It said it was not distortion reduced. I put it into the player.
The tape in the case didn't match the cover. This tape was Dad speaking, from the late 1970s or early 1980s. His voice quite different. Nasal. But there he was, speaking for the duration of the 60 minute tape. So I listened to him while I continued to dust and cull and organise, all the while pondering why that particular tape jumped out from the masses. And then, how strange it is that I'm doing all this for Dad now, and he's not here to know.
Sadhguru said In calculation there is stress and struggle of the mind. In giving there is joy. That is how I feel about everything. There is so much to be gained by just doing the things that need to be done. And sitting with the consequences. I know I am a better person for all of this, and in the end it will be reflected in my art, which will hopefully live on longer than me.