I intended to do one of a scene I shared this morning on Instagram but this was the view when I sat down in my studio to sketch.
I mean, how could I not?
I pencilled in a rough outline first because I often start too big and don’t capture what I want. Pencil first helped with that.
Then I picked out the important bits with my trusty Pigma Micron (love those pens). The watercolours are from my Winsor & Newton travel set, mostly using cobalt blue, ultramarine blue, burnt sienna and raw sienna.
I like the blue into the cliffs for shadows because I’m focusing on deeper colour. When I looked back over my first sketches I wasn’t satisfied with the colour. Too washed out. I find myself drawn to other people’s sketches with pops of colour. So obviously it’s something that speaks to me. Time to stop playing safe.
Right now the outside world is still pretty gray and brown and it has a definite influence on my palette. I may have to really let loose and make it up as I go!
I’ve been promising a peek into my new studio for awhile now but it’s been a much longer road than we originally planned on but moving day has finally arrived.
A little background
Our home has been reinvented quite a few times over its 125 year life. Each iteration left behind its own reminders. The old wood floors and beamed ceilings hint at its original purpose – the village general store and community meeting hall.
In the 1960’s, one of the storekeepers built an apartment on the second floor. Sometime in the 1990’s the first floor store added a fish and chip restaurant with a separate dining hall outside overlooking the Bay of Fundy. That’s the smaller blue building to the right in the photo below.
Finally, a previous owner turned it into a home and a few years later, we entered the picture.
The Summer House
When we bought this place 2 years ago, we called that small blue outbuilding the “summer house”. We had no idea what to do with it, if anything. It became kind of a catch-all, storing stuff from the move we didn’t have a place for and firewood for the winter
Since our attention was elsewhere, we ignored it that first year, waiting for inspiration to strike.
Making it up as we go
The truth is, since our decision to move here we’ve been making it up as we go. All our working lives we were planners with defined goals and an action plan to get there – most of which didn’t work out as planned. One day we decided to try something completely different and follow that still, small voice of intuition. We would look for where we are being led, rather than running ahead, trying to control the outcome.
I’m happy to report this approach works amazingly well!
That’s why, one morning when I woke up, I looked at my husband and said, “We’ve got the perfect setup. Let’s try a BnB.”
Stuff your eyes with wonder. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. — Ray Bradbury
Babies intrigue me…and it’s not just because they are so blinkin’ cute.
I love the way they observe the world around them, soaking it all in without judgment. Their eyes are so bright and clear. I especially love how they stare back without self-consciousness. It’s their wide-open curiosity I find so appealing.
It’s no wonder kids are so creative. They haven’t built up filters and preconceived notions about how things should be. Everything is a miracle to them. They’re still asking questions.
Here in Nova Scotia I find myself having a similar experience. This new-to-me place re-awakened my curiosity and filled my creative well in a way I thought was long gone. Thank heavens I was wrong!
Curiosity and wonder hold the seeds of creativity
Being by the Bay of Fundy is key for me. Large bodies of water stoke my own sense of wonder.
Every morning I walk the dog down to the shoreline where we wander among the rock formations and check out tide pools. Now that the warm days are here, I usually perch somewhere and spend a few quiet moments gazing over the water, listening to the waves washing in and out.
(There’s even a word for that whispery sound. Did you know that? Susurration. Isn’t that perfect?)
I love the far horizon and the smell of salt in the air. Seated there, I take deep breaths in and breathe out gratitude and feel real peace again.
When I was a kid, I looked forward to summer visits with my aunt and cousins on Narragansett Bay. Those were the days before cars were air-conditioned so I would sit by the car window and try to pinpoint the first whiff of salt as we got closer.
Happiness still smells like salt air to me.
The rocks on “my” beach are old volcanic formations, sculpted by the awesome Fundy tides and storms. They remind me of pieces of modern art. I love walking among them, making up names for some of the formations. They’re becoming familiar friends but I wonder if I’ll recognize them after next winter’s storms.
There is almost always a breeze against my skin, ruffling my hair but it’s the clarity of the air that especially delights me as an artist. I’ve had visitors comment on how different the colours are here. (And the stars!). Everything seems more vivid.
Except, of course, when the fog rolls in and sound is muted and everything takes on a dreamy quality. (Or eerie if you’re a Stephen King fan.)
All in all, it’s the perfect environment for this artist and writer. Definitely feels like home.
Definitely feeds my creative heart.
See with fresh eyes
While you may not want to move across the country to a completely new environment, you can still feed your own sense of wonder right where you are. You just need to see with fresh eyes.
Break out of familiar habits and routines. Strike out in a different direction. Choose a new route to work. Turn left instead of right. You don’t even need to leave your neighbourhood. Just getting out of the car and walking your own street lets you experience the familiar in a fresh way.
When was the last time you ‘stuffed your eyes with wonder?”
“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” Loren Eisley
Before our move to Nova Scotia, our home backed onto a quiet lake in Ontario. Living by the water was something I’d dreamed of as a kid and we enjoyed that lake for almost 20 years. I especially loved watching the weather move across the water and the sunsets on the far shore.
Peace of the ocean
However, since moving here to the Bay of Fundy, I honestly feel I’ve traded up.
Anytime of the day I can step out my door and the ocean lies just around the corner, always different, always fascinating. Walking the dog is always an adventure. In the fall an eagle pair hunt along our shoreline. Yesterday, a pair of seals bobbed just offshore, watching us watching them. Fishing boats come and go, while the weather has its way with everything.
I’m so grateful to be living this close to powerful tides and the sound of waves and wind. The smell of salt and seaweed keeps me aware of the invisible. Beach-combing for interesting rocks, fishing floats and driftwood has become my new form of meditation.
And honestly, how many people have a lighthouse almost in their backyard?
When I pulled up my bedroom blinds this morning I looked out on sunshine and the bright blue water of the Bay of Fundy, perfectly accented by a white fishing boat sailing past. Just off to the right, the lighthouse.
A perfect start to my day. How did I get so lucky?
As I asked myself that question it struck me that it wasn’t luck at all. We chose to follow the ‘bread crumb trail’ laid down by The Universe, God, Great Mystery or whichever name you choose for that something that feels bigger than you. We trusted our intuition and then chose this place. This place. This home. This village.
We took action. That was the key. Not luck.
We could have talked and dreamed and researched and created vision boards out the wazoo but if we hadn’t done something about our hopes I wouldn’t have been here to see this perfect start to a day.