Recently, I hosted a group of the women for two sun filled days of painting.
I used to paint, a lot – right up until I walked out of my studio seven years ago and started writing travel articles and later, novels. The why of that would take too long to document here, but before that I’d painted outdoors for years, then started taking classes at the university an hour and a half away, one course at a time. This went on for fifteen years while my children were growing up, first one course then two for a number of years, then finally full time for the last year, graduating after fifteen long years with a Bachelor of Fine Arts at University of Victoria in 2000, as a very mature student.
That was where I met these women, all mature students, majoring in painting, printmaking, sculpture and art history, and in the years since, we have continued to get together for lunch or dinner, usually in Victoria. A well-travelled group, there are two Brits, one Swiss (who sounds British to me), one woman from New York, one Norwegian and me, the lone Canadian born.
For the past few years I have been luring them up to the Cowichan Valley, over the dreaded Malahat Mountain (which to me, after driving it to school for so many years, is a piece of cake), for a weekend of painting and laughing and wine.
I have three empty beds, but one of the women chooses to sleep on my screened in porch instead, bringing her own blow up bed, loving the air and the birdsong that wakes her in the morning. I have been warned there might be a battle for that spot next year.
Everyone brings food and drink and pitches in in the kitchen, but the best part is that it gets me out into my studio again. A large out-building with heat, electricity, and a hose just outside the door, it is woefully under-utilised these days.
I realized this time that one thing I really miss about painting is listening to music. I can’t listen to music while I write, but I automatically pop in a CD when I paint. When my daughter was a baby I would play the same CD every time for years. Bob Marley. It would immediately put me in the zone and I could pick up where I left off, because I might only have half an hour before the baby woke up again.
I had so much fun, I have promised myself to keep it up, even if only for an hour a week. For me it’s a meditative act that is good for the soul, and probably good for my writing. People tell me my writing is very visual, that they could walk right in. Funny thing is, that’s what they said about my paintings.
Do you have a previous hobby or occupation that has worked its way into your writing? I’d love to hear about it.
P.S. If you’re interested in seeing more paintings, check out my painting website.