What a week of wild winds! Then for a couple of days everything seemed to be on pause, so I made the most of it, spending some time exploring on the beach and clifftops. Now the weather is picking up again. Yesterday, late afternoon, the rain was pouring down in buckets - just when I was about to step out to get some fresh air before the evening set in! I had to put my walk on hold. This morning I woke up to a cold snowy landscape.
I’ve been getting back into the studio again this week, after some time away. On Monday morning, when I was going through some old sketchbooks, I came across the thick colourful artist notebook that I used to jot notes in during lectures given by my former painting teacher, Paul Martin. Finding it suddenly brought him sharply to mind.
Later that same morning, when I rang my friend, I learned that Paul had died just a few hours before. He had been ill with pancreatic cancer for quite a few months. The news, while expected, filled me with moments of great sadness this week. Memories flooded back to times in painting class at Leith School of Art in Edinburgh those many years ago.
That season in Edinburgh was a turning point in my life. Not only was Paul a great painter, but he was a wonderful teacher, with a lot of wisdom and insight. I learned a great deal from him. I remember once, while at the easel, he told me ‘Monique - Listen to your gut. You have a strong gut...you need to trust it more.’ He was right, of course. Those words often come back to me when too much thinking stops me in my creative intuitive tracks.
Paul Martin, Testament, Encaustic
It’s strange for this to happen at a moment when I feel a slow changing of the season in my artistic calendar, when my head and heart are full, yet I’ve run out of words. I certainly feel the deep need to follow my gut and explore more visual language again. Ideas are in the percolation phase, but it is good to pull out some of my found objects, canvases, paints and brushes and bring them into the light of day. After this time of hibernation, I end up seeing them differently too.
Speaking of the light, the days are gradually getting longer again. Has anyone else noticed this? Maybe it’s more obvious here in the far north of Scotland. We’ve passed that midday point on the calendar - the day that falls halfway between the winter and spring solstice - aka Groundhog Day! Apparently the groundhog saw his shadow on Tuesday, so we will see if we’re still in for another six weeks of winter. If so, I think I’m ready for it, and have made the studio as cozy as I can. My Northern Drift article for the month of February has come out in the local paper today and it focuses on dormancy, growth and love. I hope you enjoy reading. And I hope you have a very good February. Remember in the grey cold days that
‘the light comes back
the light always comes back
and this begins tomorrow with
however many minutes more of sun and serotonin.’
In the Mid Mid-Winter by Liz Lochhead
At midday on the year’s midnight into my mind came I saw the new moon late yestreen wi the auld moon in her airms though, no, there is no moon of course – there’s nothing very much of anything to speak of in the sky except a gey dreich greyness rain-laden over Glasgow and today there is the very least of even this for us to get but the light comes back the light always comes back and this begins tomorrow with however many minutes more of sun and serotonin.
Meanwhile there will be the winter moon for us to love the longest, fat in the frosty sky among the sharpest stars, and lines of old songs we can’t remember why we know or when first we heard them will aye come back once in a blue moon to us unbidden
and bless us with their long-travelled light.
Here is a video of Paul Martin, speaking about his work in an exhibition titled 'When Men and Mountains Meet'.