This October trip proved challenging; I was having a hard time, but the sketchbook was always near, always a place I could retreat to. Unsure of the outcome, sleepless nights, my nervous system was on high alert, even as I found delight with every landscape. It made no sense, but that seems more and more to make complete sense.
Each new spread, I invited more of Hopkins’ enigmatic lines to enter the empty space, and then, as I always do, let the drawings come willy-nilly and in their own sweet time.
And they giveth it, too. We’ve traveled this route so many times that the ride has become familiar; but there’s always a new steeple, and even the old ones, to keep me a little bit occupied along the way. For this trip, we detrained in Albany, rented a car, and made our way east to Northampton and the Connecticut River Valley. It’s a cliché, but October is surely a good time for this kind of trip.
Last August our houseboat broke, along with our wherewithal to cope. So we decided it was time. “Where would you like to live?” I asked Greg the next morning. “New England,” he replied, with nary a doubt.
Because we’ve been traveling to the East Coast for 12 years, mostly to visit his daughter … at some point we grew to love it. So last October we headed east for the month to consider options. I’d like invite you to travel the past 7 months with me – I’ll move along pretty quickly – to get us current with the mise en scene we now inhabit.
The book I was reading at the time, Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward, was just right for the beginning of what was to come, of which I truly had no clear notion. That first day, he was reciting a Gerard Manley Hopkins sonnet I was not familiar with, and so, on a whim, I copied the first line. And off we go!
Before moving into the next phase of sketchbook travel, I’d like to segue to one project that caught my attention at Christmas. Eyes Wide Open and I were looking for some new adventures. I sent postcards to two of my favorite little girls, and then I sent a pack of postcards for each, self-addressed with a pocket full of stamps, inviting them to join me in the postcard project. When someone gets a postcard, one sends another back.
So at New Year’s, look what I found in my mailbox –
Eyes Wide Open can, apparently, travel at her whim.
Or was it the end of the beginning? Stay tuned …
I remember this day, this drawing, and the feeling I was left with – which was not happiness. I remember thinking, “Maybe I’m done.” That said … it’s nice for me now to see my houseboat kitchen, since it feels like it’s a million miles away, sitting empty, waiting for its next peoples to appear. I’m wishing for some good ones.
The painting – a Tim Dalrymple – is holding down our new kitchen. He painted it from memory after a Christmas tea & cookie afternoon we spent with friends. That was a nice day, and I enjoy having it now for remembering. Art serves so many lovely purposes.
This will probably go quicker than I thought. Something was changing; I sensed it but how do you know what it is until it makes itself known? The signs during the winter of 2016 were mostly that I rarely felt like drawing. I was quietening in ways I didn’t understand and wasn’t sure I liked.
I’m fond of pages that seem less finished. In this case, I’m choosing even to leave the ghosting from the back sides. My sketchbook – the kind I favor – is very thin paper that I guess no artist in her right mind would choose to saturate with watercolor. It works for me! Because it dries so quickly, I am able to draw at a moment’s notice and snap it shut immediately.