“You can’t see the forest for the trees”
Once I make up my mind to do something I am completely committed. It’s getting to the point where I make up my mind that causes me trouble. Take going on holiday for example. When I was young there was no choice when it came to destination or activity. We had days out when Mum convinced us that walking miles, beachcombing and swishing little fishing nets in mountain streams were the ultimate holiday pastime. Picnics of squidgy beef spread sandwiches and warm orange squash with the promise of an ice cream cornet for good behaviour were all we wanted – which is just as well because that was all we got.
These days I keep my holidays short and pack them with all sorts of activity. Last week I combined walking part of the Wales Coast Path with, amongst other things, meeting my chum Lorraine from Greenweeds. Lorraine tries her very best to get me interested in and interacting with social media. To some extent, she has succeeded but not, I suspect, in the way she anticipated when she created this website. Anyway, let’s go back to the Wales Coast Path. The weather on Tuesday started off cold and squally and ended up like the tail end of a hurricane. Not ideal conditions to be walking along cliff tops with waves crashing on jagged rocks a couple of hundred feet below. Nevertheless I started walking at Llanrhystud and aimed for Aberystwyth.
Before the weather closed in I got some spectacular views of where I’d been
and where I was going.
Photographs like this are not much use to me as an artist. They’ve got too much detail and not enough atmosphere to remind me of what it was like to actually be in the landscape. Diolch byth am fy llyfr sgets! Mewn gwirionedd, dw i ddim yn dda iawn yn tynnu neu beintio go iawn ond dw i’n mwynhau sgetsio. Using a sketchbook allows me to pare down the information and give myself a starting point for a piece of textile art. These are some of my sketches of the part of the Wales Coast Path between Llanrhystud and Aberystwyth and I don’t apologise to purists for the standard of drawing.
These sketches are the size of Artist Trading Cards and you can find out more about the background of ATCs here. They are a perfect example of how working with less can bring you more. Even if you don’t get involved in the trading aspect, restricting your design information to a small piece of card can really focus your mind on what’s important in your artwork. ATCs are a great way to network with other artists but also help you to develop your own abilities.
Day 2 of the holiday involved a trip to Dolgellau to visit the amazing wool shop Knit One , which is run by the beautiful black cat, Bramble Murgatroyd and her assistants, Angharad and Kate.
Bramble, Angharad, Kate & I would never have encountered each other if it hadn’t been for Lorraine persuading me to use Twitter as a form of micro-blogging. In 140 characters and 4 images, I can show the world – or at least the tweeting part of it – what I’m up to as an artist. I soon realised that more people are interested in what Lily, my cat, is doing than what I’m creating. In this example of less being more, getting a tweet from Bramble about how cats don’t like circular knitting needles, led to me spending a fabulous morning in Knit One having a lesson in how to knit using a magic loop. On the journey back to Aberystwyth, my sketchbook was at hand, recording less detail and more memory prompts.
With a rucsac packed full of fleece that Lorraine didn’t want, day 3 saw me back in Llanrhystud, this time walking the coast path south towards Aberaeron. The weather was glorious, the terrain kinder and the views spectacular. I could put some photographs here to prove it but my third example of less being more comes from looking for shapes and lines rather than a whole picture.
Incidentally on my way back from Dolgellau I called into the Centre for Alternative Technology which is where I first discovered Permaculture. For ditherers like me, being spoiled for choice can be a real challenge because I spend too much time and effort on trying to deal with the whole picture Instead of the bits which are important. There’s a great website describing Permaculture principles that you can view here and I’ve deliberately directed you to Principle 7 which is about designing from patterns to details – useful when you can’t see the forest for the trees .