No, this is not a knitted soft toy animal. I promise you, those lines that look so much like the ribbing on a Guernsey sweater are the real way the neck of an alpaca looks when it’s recently been sheared, and as for the rest of it – well, I wish I could tell you what it feels like to be this close up and personal with an alpaca, but I can’t, because I wasn’t there. How I wish I had been!
There are times I take a photograph without knowing what I’m doing or why. Not consciously knowing in my head, that is; another part of me knows very well. This part sees and understands more quickly, bypassing thought. It uses images and not words.
Right brain, left brain; the two hemispheres governing the two very different ways we process and respond. Half and half. Sometimes I can even feel the change as my mind switches from one to the other.
With the rational, logical side I’m in control and plan what I’m doing.
I’m using it now as I write. But trying to pin down what’s happening when the other side’s working is like clutching at a dream that slips away as I’m waking up; the more I try to catch hold of it the quicker it slips away.
One complements the other, and the whole is more than a sum of the parts – we’re richer for using both these ways of thinking, if we can get the balance right.
Think it’s time I switched over. Time to go out and forget what I’m doing for a while, take a camera with me, and see what happens.
If someone drops out of sight for a while in the world of the internet there’s usually a reason. In my case it’s a been a hiatus forced on me by being without broadband and only an intermittent unpredictable and limited mobile connection. This is both horribly frustrating and yet in some ways liberating at the same time, and it’s thrown me into a completely different frame of mind.
Some of it is definitely bad.
Being cut off from news reports I can’t read, waiting for endless minutes for pages to load that finally won’t load at all, and trying to navigate sites that require bandwidth that web designers assume is reliably supplied like tap-water – all this is just such a huge, debilitating waste of time, and I’d rather do without it.
But on the other hand, some things are good.
I only have a certain amount of energy and time to do the things I want (and need ) to do, and as I’d been wanting to do more sketching I’ve stopped bothering to stare at the unresponsive screen of my phone, and instead I’ve been drawing every day, recording little things that seem inconsequential – rediscovering the pleasure of connecting unexpectedly with something (or someone), focusing simply on that, and getting it down on paper. I’ve given myself time to get back to an older time, before the internet, and just draw.
In May, through following Australian sketch artist/architect and prolific urban sketcher Liz Steel, I discovered the Every Day In May drawing challenge and joined in – as much as I could. Knowing other people around the world are drawing a similar thing at the same time or at least on the same day gave it a friendly, connected feeling – even though I couldn’t post drawings on Flikr or look at what other people were drawing.
But I had to stay connected…
Several of the blogs I follow get delivered to my email inbox and I’ve lapped these up as if they were cool water in a desert. Thankfully, some of these posts will download complete with pictures even on weak and dodgy internet connections, and some are written in such a way that they still make glorious, rewarding sense even without images. They’ve been a lifeline for me to make connections and still feel part of a wider world.
A big thank you to those of you who have unknowingly been my oasis. Special thanks to Susan McCulley
who writes Focus Pocus for unerringly, spookily saying just the things I most need to hear; Cate Franklyn whose photo blog is a visual treat even without the photos – and Nina Mishkin whose Getting Old Blog is just such a very, very good read.