I started this series of watercolor Southeastern Wildflower Postcards last year, and with spring in the air and blooms popping up here and there, the painting bug bit me, which is awesome. I do random little paintings and I also keep a nature journal. These are from photos taken by me and by my naturalist friends, and I think in the case of all three of these they are done from photos by my friend Don Hunter.
Here’s why I love drawing and painting things in nature: you notice things. As an example, I noticed that the veining on these tiny common blue violet flowers (Viola sororia) is the same as the veining on the leaves, which makes perfect sense of course. I noticed that it looked a LOT more like a violet when I added the scalloped edge to the leaves. And I noticed that Inktense watercolor pencils are splendid.
This was my meditation this morning. I put on groovy meditation music, which not only facilitates the right-brain shift that makes art so much easier, but once you’re there, you’re meditating. And it’s different than sitting with a mantra or some other focus… youre noticing, in a way you don’t tend to see all the time, unless you are making art on a regular basis. Then you tend to see that way all the time, or at least much of the time.
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
Russ and I went kayaking this afternoon, the maiden voyage for 2017. Rivers seem like a theme today. I found a lovely river meditation that I want to try in which you ARE the river, surrendering to the course. I’m looking forward to trying it.
Russ was getting frustrated with the wind, the current, everything. I told him I’d paddle, just chill. We passed a little waterfall and stopped paddling and just listened to the laughter of it. Then we started noticing a heron following us along the bank, a beaver dam along the water, the chill the evening wind was carrying as it whispered through the newly budded trees.
On the way home I asked if he had fun and he said he’d had a hard time relaxing but once he did, it was fun. You can paddle and paddle up the river of life, cursing everything along the way, striving, feeling like you’re getting nowhere and everything is against you. But the minute you stop and get quiet and notice things… sounds you’d been ignoring, the beautiful thing right under your nose, the sensations in your own body, the glory of the sky… well, it changes everything.
I listened to an On Being podcast (my favorite) this week with Gordon Hempton, an “acoustic ecologist” who mourned the loss of quiet places in the world. I’m going to send you there to listen to it. In it, Hempton walked listeners through a journey into a rainforest, accompanied by his own recordings of the sounds you’d hear there, and it’s pure magic.
These things — meditation, spending time in the quiet places in nature, being with horses, making art — are training to do just that: slow down and notice.