Tall!

It’s been a good couple of days for a few reasons. The first being that we must have had at least 15 minutes of sunshine today 😉 I’m so grateful that for my first days in Borås we had lovely weather and I was able to get out and sketch a lot. I’ve been out drawing since but it has been a damp experience and I invariably get a wet backside from all the beautiful but very soggy moss. The smaller paths are now little rivers.

Yesterday I got up very early to go and visit a 700 year old pine tree with Lennart. It was quite a long way away (thus the early start) but the forest nearby made the trip doubly worthwhile.

After spending some time getting to know the lovely old tree, we then crossed the busy road and had a walk in an ancient forest full of 300 year old pines and 200 year old spruce trees. The forest was dripping with water and we were wading through some deep puddles but it was eerily quiet and still despite the sea of traffic noise from the road behind us and the lichens hanging from the trees were amazing.

On returning to Ålgården, we had some lunch and then I tried to do some artwork. Unfortunately, the studios are really busy at the moment due to the impending open studios exhibition and I find the constant coming and going distracting. I talked to Christina about it today and she feels the same. She’s preparing for an exhibition and trying to make some new work but has been frustrated that she can’t get absorbed into what she is doing. I combatted the feeling today by holing up in my bedroom and working on a drypoint at the desk listening to the radio. It was lovely and I got a lot done. I often go to the studio in the evenings and work late as it is so peaceful. The residency has been really interesting for many reasons and one is that it has given me insights into what conditions I need for working and about the nature of creativity. I’ve found my way of dealing with times when I feel restless and frustrated. Getting out for a walk or run in the forest brings everything back into focus and I come back feeling full of creative energy and ideas. I then need peace and solitude to work out designs but once they are done, I can enjoy making plates and printing in company. When I look back to college days, I spent my most productive times at home between 8pm & 2am and got far less done in the studio between 9am and 6pm and nowadays in England I am always alone so I don’t really have the same dilemma. However, the downside of working alone all the time is that you don’t have the creative input of other people, you aren’t able to bounce ideas about or be inspired by other artists’ work and it can get quite lonely in the winter. At home I am quite fortunate in that I have good friends to ring or visit, many of whom are artists too, and the internet has been a real asset for all of us that that work alone but need a bit of contact now and again! I do wish there was somewhere like Ålgården in North Yorkshire, it would be really fantastic!

For my last week or so here, I intend to make the most of the facilities and print but I also want to soak up as much of the creative spirit here as I can, exchange thoughts and ideas with the other artists whenever possible and really get the atmosphere of the forests under my skin. I hope I can then draw on it all when I am back at home.

The drypoint that I’ve just printed is inspired by one of the old pine trees in the forest. It is made using drypoint plastic and a single drypoint tool. The first print was too pale. This one still needs some adjustments but the beauty of drypoint is that you don’t need to seal the plates and you can proof it and then make changes if you need to.

The word for this kind of tree (it’s a Scot Pine) in Swedish is Tall! How brilliant is that?

As a footnote, I had my first Swedish ‘conversation’ today. I went for a run and stopped to watch a pair of goldcrests. I was stood peering intently up a pine tree when two men came past with their dogs. They said hello and something indecipherable to me and I said ‘Hej…fagel…kungfagel’ to which they both said ‘ahh’ nodded and one made a gesture with his thumb and forefinger to indicate something very small. I was so pleased that I quickly said ‘Hej da’ and ran away before they said anything else that I couldn’t understand. 🙂 So, I now need to see a dormouse or a bear because I know the words for those!

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