Friday, April 9, 2021

A paper garden

Hello again, and welcome to my garden! Since it's on paper, it's easy to share here at Hugs. I will begin with some flowers that look like flowers and are in fact made with watercolour...

pencils. I still canNOT master the hand movement you need for flowers painted with a brush. Something else to work toward I suppose, and in the meantime I have a huge collection of watercolour pencils I might as well be using. I used three different brands to make the pots and cut flowers for that sketch, and three different techniques, though my favourite was just dipping the pencil into water and drawing with it. No intermediaries.

And here we have a plant drawn using a waterproof Micron pen over a dried wash of leftover watercolour paint. Simple to do if a bit daunting when I first put pen to paper, and every time I get such a lift looking at the results.

I've been trying to keep up with twice-monthly Hugs, but I got knocked off my feet by some sad news and couldn't bring myself to post last weekend. I am guessing you're all too familiar with that experience, especially lately. 


Hugs has brought a lot of good things and people into my life, but two friends in particular - Lynn and Julia - found me here early on and kindly reached out by e-mail, which I have appreciated enormously over the years. I have learned so much from them both and been able to talk to them about very specific things that don't especially interest other friends, and don't we all need people like that in our lives? I know I do, and I never take it for granted.

Julia sent me a farewell message a few weeks ago, having been diagnosed unexpectedly with a very late-stage, untreatable cancer. She was very accepting of what was coming and I am grateful for her sake that she did not last even as long as the short time her doctor estimated, but also conscious of how young she was, and how bright, and how much she still hoped to do. 


I am sure that practically all of us have lost someone important over this last year and that we all have a giant sack of feelings about it. The dominant one for me at this moment is, Life is short and it's best not to wait around to pursue the many interesting things it offers because you just don't know what's coming. It's too easy for me to struggle with indecision over what to do next and get tangled up with doing nothing at all. I'm going to try not to do that going forward.

Not unlike Lynn, Julia had such an appreciation for animals and plants that I couldn't help noticing more about the ones near me than I did before we met, and appreciating them, and cultivating them. She was really good at easy, practical, healthy cooking, which added a valuable dimension to my kitchen time. She was also incredibly resilient and resourceful and strong, no matter what life threw at her. I seem to have gathered many friends with those qualities over the years, but she was exceptional. Witnessing the way she approached things has given me courage to deal with my own obstacles many times, and will go on doing so, I know.


So: instead of posting pictures of some doodle flowers and riffing on the random silly things that made up my week as I'd planned to do for this post, I'm planting a little memorial garden for Julia. That's another piece of inspiration she gave me, and one I can see now is a great comfort for the people left behind after a loss. I would be very glad to share it with you: there is space here for anybody you would like to honour, even if you only do that in your mind while reading this.


When I was uploading photos for this post, I clicked the wrong menu option and was offered this photo, taken shortly before Julia first contacted me, and embellished I suppose by Google with the .gif of falling snow. I decided to accept the serendipity and close today's Hug with it: a cosy spot close to home and a warm cup of tea, with a pair of handwarmers I knit for a friend. If you've been reading Hugs for any length of time you know what a selfish knitter I am, but one very bad winter when Julia's feet were always cold I knit her a pair of socks with my most special, hand-dyed, very heavy mohair yarn. It felt good to do that for her at the time, but now, I am so glad I took the trouble.

I hope you have a lovely couple of weeks filled with fond thoughts of the good people in your life, past or present. Take care and stay well, and I will see you again soon!