Coffee lover? Yes I am. But I also enjoy drinking tea.
While coffee is my preference for early mornings, breakfast and mid-mornings, I love having tea in the afternoon. “Afternoon tea, right?
To me, tea-time says self-care and can include reading, journaling, meditating, dreaming ….. Although silence and solitude seem to lend themselves to sipping a lovely tea, music and chatting with a BFF can enhance the tea-time experience.
My tea-time ritual may include reading, journaling, crocheting, dreaming and sometimes even sketching; it all depends on what my mind and heart need that day.
Now, I can just as easily have tea-time in my bed or at the kitchen table. However, my favourite place to enjoy my afternoon tea is in the living room, in my armchair. With windows open and curtain billowing in the cool afternoon breeze, I settle in for an hour (sometimes more). A rainy afternoon with a chill in the area requiring a sweater and a throw …. oh the added comfort, pampering, bliss.
Browsing http://www.teaforte.com recently, I came across an oval bamboo tea tray and it was love at first sight. An after-Christmas gift to myself seemed appropriate, important, necessary. My oval bamboo tea tray has arrived and tea-time is going to be a little extra special with the tray to hold a candle, a teacup and maybe a slice of cake or a few biscuits.
The writer, note-taker, designer, organizer, planner in me wants to fight this word I’ve chosen as my WFY -Word for the Year. Yet, so far, I’ve held to it, albeit in a loose sort for way.
While I’m gonna go with the “flow” with respect to my art and art practice, I’m leaving other areas of my life open. If the flow feels comfortable, I’ll acquiesce. If not, I’ll let my OCD tendencies ride.
Midway through my 7-year art adventure (I began January 2014) I was inspired to shake off the hold perfectionism and self-doubt had on me and gradually take control of my art and art practice. Some days I succeed. Some days, not so much. It’s not all bad going back and forth – breaking free of the mental shackles for a few days and then letting them hold me back for a while. Actually, I find that paging through a completed sketchbook is quite a interesting, when I see a combination of planned and “structured” sketches along with loose, playful, wonkie ones.
When COVID came a-calling last year, schools were the first to go into complete lockdown and the three grandchildren came over every day. After a few weeks, online classes kicked into high gear. The two older ones took to it like ducks to water. The young ‘un, well, being almost at the end of her kindergarten experience, she was free, alive and active all day, which disrupted my art sessions leaving me distracted and a bit frustrated because I couldn’t focus. Because she fancied herself “an artist like granny” I allowed her to join me for my morning art sessions. We drew and painted together and what fun we had. She learned to paint and I learned to be patient, to not hold too tightly to those intensely personal and jealously guarded morning hours, when I am most creative. We really bonded during those long months of lockdown, followed by partial restrictions and so on and so on. What a strange time! What a strange year!
New normal in more ways than one
So 2021 is here and schools have not yet reopened. The grandchildren are back here again after the Christmas vacation. Thankfully, the young ‘un is more focused on her iPad, toys and spending time with her grandfather, leaving him completely pooped by the time her parents return from work. Though I’d been down this road before, it still took me a couple of days to settle back into this new normal. But armed with my WFY “flow”, I am easing into spreading out my session. I’m no longer holding hard and fast and obsessively to the dedicated morning hours. Instead, I spend a shorter time in the morning and after lunch and siesta, I return to my art studio/kitchen table for a longer afternoon session.
I throughly enjoy sketching several items on a page, telling a short story of my day, or a moment or the items I sketch. Flipping through my sketchbooks, I see a still life I styled, a specific view of my kitchen, utensils and tools, food I ate, am eating, craving or inspired by a photo, impromptu capture of disparage items or art supplies on my table or somewhere else in my home, e/tc.
The 2021 “flow”
Surprisingly, for the most part, the January “flow” has been whispering in my ear, “sketch one item on a page” and I’ve been listening. Even more surprising, I have neither questioned nor resisted. I look around, identify something and begin. Oh joy! The third sketch is proof that I’m not taking the whispers of the “flow” too literally either. If I think an additional item or two makes for a more pleasing/interesting sketch/page, I go with that flow (of thought). After all. I believe that an important element of flow, is keeping things loose, which may require adjusting the very idea the flow may present. Yes?
Wanna see a few of my January “flow” sketches?
And this one (inspired by a tri-colour coffee mug my son-in-law gave me in December). I outlined the mug in watercolour pencils and used a travel brush to fill in the colour. Gosh it was such fun to bypass pencil and pen & ink and mix pencil brands. The second photo shows what I used: Albrecht Durer Magnus and Staedtler Noris Club watercolour pencils and a Size 10 Escoda Ultimo travel brush, which I haven’t touched since, uuummm ….. Well, let’s just say, it’s been a minute.
My mother loved Christmas and cherished it’s true meaning. But she also embraced many of the ways people celebrated the season. She was always excited to do any major painting or just minor touch ups, sew new curtains, put up and decorate the Christmas tree and especially the cooking and baking, all while Christmas songs and carols played in the background and filtered throughout the house.
Oh the excitement, the joy and anticipation at our house with the voices of Jim Reeves (her favorite) Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Johnny Mathis, and others of her era ensured that my dad, brother, sister and I were eager, inspired and happy to help her with her list of Christmas chores.
Needless to say, there were different traditions when I got married but when I had children, I incorporated some of the traditions from my childhood Christmas into the mix of the new ones our family formed.
However, after she died, the Christmas holidays always came with emptiness and sadness – sometimes with a tinge, other times with a wave. Sometimes I think it’s gotten better, not as intense but more often than not, it doesn’t feel that way at all. The reality is that often those flashing moments of the hole left by her absence surfaces in the midst of the most joyful activities and I have to pause or stop to deal the emotions, which sometimes elicits a floodgate of unrelenting tears. I wonder, it’s been 20 years this year, will I ever be able to celebrate the Christmas holidays without the heart aching emotions and tears?
From early December, my mom and I would often call each other to ask,”Have you smelled Christmas yet?” We would laugh at our silliness but just that simple thing, that simple silly tradition, always intensified the “Christmas Fever”.
As I caught the whiff of Christmas in the air this morning, I felt a tinge of sadness (especially potent at this time of year). I glanced across at a miniature antique bell she gave me a few years before she died. I brought to the kitchen table, placed it ever so lovingly and carefully on a sheet of white paper, to catch the morning light through the south-facing window to my right and sketched it.
I loosely sketched the bell directly with watercolour, adding several layers, leaving areas of white for highlights. I thought it needed some definition, so I drew some lines using a dip pen.
So, in rememberance of and as a tribute to my mom this Christmas season, I share this sketch of an extra special sentimental treasure, thinking of the ringing of the bells at Christmas.
I just realized that I’ve sketched a number of partial views in my current sketchbook and I’m wondering when did that become “a thing”.
I’m not going to make a big issue of it. I’m just going to embrace it, enjoying it, keep going, see where it leads (if anywhere at all) and stay open to whatever comes next.
Here are a few of the sketches of partial views I discovered while paging through my current sketchbook. None of them were planned and it was only when I shared the first one on Instagram, I realized what I had been doing. Go figure!
Often, even without noticing, interesting things happen when we give ourselves permission to create with joy, freedom and passion.
Some days, especially rainy days, like today, seem to call for more than instant coffee or even the run-of-the-mill percolator but for a more mindful coffee-making process.
* the mug * the coffee dripper * the filter, which has to be prepped with a hot water rinse before add the coffee *the process of slowly pouring the water in a circular motion *inhaling the aroma as it slowly brews and fills the air in the kitchen
Today, I also included a sketch before adding coffee and pouring the hot water to brew.
It’s not everyday I have the time or the desire for this method. I just want to get my “fix” – sipping as I journal in the early morning hours and later, after household chores, as I settle in at the kitchen table to do computer stuff, sketch, …..
Nevertheless, I find that making coffee using the pour over method is mindful and meditative. It seems to set a relaxed and contemplative mood, which goes well with a rainy day.