Monday, February 12, 2018

Filling the Well in New Zealand

"The Artist's Way", by Julia Cameron, has been one of the most important books I've read on this journey to becoming a textile artist. There are many practices that she promotes that I still use daily, such as writing "morning pages". Another concept I continue to find enormously helpful, is that of "filling the well". As artists, she suggests, we are continually drawing from our individual wells (visual images collected by close observation of all that is around us), in making our work. So it is important to keep that well filled, to look after it regularly, making sure it doesn't become stagnant or polluted. One of the surest ways to do this is to expose ourselves to new sights and experiences. 
I have collected stones and seashells and other beach findings for as long as I can remember. This photo is of a few treasures I picked up one day earlier this week. I was looking for curved shapes, and found such an assortment. There's something about noticing the small and often overlooked that allows me to enjoy a place at a deeper level. The grand and beautiful shout out the loudest, but it is the small, almost forgotten particularities that I remember the longest. And that fill my own personal "well".
It was raining the day I took these first few photos, but the darkened sand provided a perfect foil for this pink and cream seaweed, as well as for my collection in the photo above.
Rocks are another favourite subject. This one is clearly too large to bring home with me, but the texture was amazing. What made those criss-cross lines, I wondered? The irregularities of it and the diagonal lines are amazing. It reminds me of a dried out creek bed, or a map of some sort. I could construct an entire fictional land based on this one rock.
And what are these odd pinecone like things? They look like so many mouths open and chattering at the same time. I suppose each one is a seed pod, but it has me thinking about how much talking we all do and how poor we are at listening. More material for the "well".
I stopped to take a photo of a thistle, and by the time I was ready with my camera, it was being visited by a bumble bee, working hard to extract what it needs to make honey.
And just a little further along the track we almost missed this tiny green frog. He jumped out of our way just in time. Near misses - self-preservation - fitting in with your surroundings. This image takes my mind in so many different directions.
Maori people have a word for these tall grasses that means "wind socks", so my daughter tells me. They flex in the wind, and it's that flexing that allows them to survive, and not break. To bend and not break. More food for thought. More for the "well".
I don't even know what these yellow weedy flowers are, but what a gorgeous contrast to the deep blue-turquoise of the ocean behind them, and the verging on lavender sky.
Again, I don't know the name of the plant in the foreground, but I love how it glows in the sunlight, and how well it stands out against the long grasses and trees behind it. There's something about this photo that's like a parable to me.
And if you are accompanied on one of your walks and treasure hunts by a young man who has much or even more enthusiasm for it than you do, you can count yourself as most fortunate. I think we all returned home from our walks with our wells filled almost to the brim.

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