Sunday, July 10, 2011

a little ivy

I just finished watching the BBC drama/documentary Vincent van Gogh: Painted in Words. It's really very good. Such a sad story and the combination of it and the nostalgia it awoke in me left me in tears. I used to paint and draw. Years and year ago. I had an amazing teacher who inspired and provided freedom and space. When we asked her opinion about a work or what we should do to improve it she always said, "You are the artist, what do you think?" I learned later that such a teacher is a rare and precious gift.

But we moved away and besides leaving this amazing teacher behind my time was also taken with school and work and a long commute to both. And we lived in such a little house that we were all on top of each other and there was no space for creativity. So all my art supplies stayed in boxes. Every once in a while I'd pull out a sketch book and some pencils, when the urge grew too loud to ignore. But after time it became easier and easier to ignore, until it was hardly ever there. And now I go years at a time without even sketching.

It's been nearly 13 years since that move and in all other respects it has been one of the best things that ever happened to me individually and to my family as a whole. But there still is, locked away inside of me, an artist. An artist who longs to feel the swirl of oil paint on my brush and smell linseed oil and follow the curves and lines of my subject and blend just the right shades of colour. An artist's whose eyes still know how to see.

The closing shot of the film is of van Gogh's grave in France which is covered in ivy. At my last lesson my art teacher gave me a clipping of ivy. She had a large, lovely plant of it grown from a clipping she had taken from his grave and smuggled through customs in her bra. I don't have much of a green thumb and my little clipping thrived for a while but died about four years ago. But I still have a little sketch I did of it when it was young and green and I will never forget what it represents.

No comments: