Ah, summer holidays at the beach (or vacation as they call it here in the States).
Long walks with the hot sand beneath your toes; late lazy breakfasts; swimming; reading trashy novels; watching the sun go down on the veranda with a glass of wine in hand; afternoon snoozes on the Banana Lounge; frisbee tournaments on the front lawn; playing scrabble and cards; spending all day in your swimmers and an old shirt. Long hot days, warm nights under only a sheet. Bliss.
Time stretches and the days blur into one another. Time to stare at the birds flitting around the Callistemon bushes, time to dream with the cicadas thrumming in the background.
Time to draw. Especially time to draw.
I don’t mean drawing to get ideas down, or drawing to figure out how to make something, or what color would look best where. Not drawing to look clever, or make something attractive.
Rather, observational drawing, where you immerse – and lose – yourself in the subject. It’s a kind of meditation, where the world shrinks to solely encompass what you are drawing. The ultimate mindfulness: being totally present in the moment, in a dialogue with what you are visually encountering.
Daily life gets in the way of this kind of drawing. It is so hard to carve out the time to sit and look in a detached way. Looking that is all about getting what you see (not what you think you see) onto paper.
There is no ego: the decisions, and the marks you make on the page, are governed by what you see in front of you.
Sometimes it is a quick sketch, using pen, charcoal or pencil, while the kids are playing on the beach before the sun gets too hot.
Others are more detailed studies, during the heat of the day when it is best to keep out of the sun.
As the days pass, there is time to try the same subject over and over, without feeling the pressure to get it right, rather just to play, to loosen it up.
And then to bring what you learned from just letting the brush flow back to something more detailed.
Two weeks spent in the most beautiful place. Time out from life. Time out from making things with a purpose.
Time to just be. Before the world rushes in, and it starts all over again.