Having been in Covid lock-down for months on end now, the big smoke plume above us has lent a new “quality” to this probably strangest year in my life. Last Saturday, when my husband backed-up my desktop, I had already been reading for hours, and watched a movie, I started getting truly restless. Did I say it was way too early to prep dinner yet, too? I needed to do something, and going outside was not an option.
That was when I remembered an old hobby of mine that I had neglected for easily 25 years. One that can be done at hardly any cost, too. And one that enhances your skills the longer you keep doing it. Drawing.
As a little girl, I owned a huge box of wax crayons, and my parents provided me with all the paper I could have wanted. Of course, drawing houses and trees and bubbly brooks was something enticing, usually with a big sun in one upper corner of the paper. But I also painted stories – that of princesses meeting princes, and getting married, and having a family. I guess it was inspired by all the fairy-tales my mother read to me and my little brother.
There was another big inspiration in my life. One of my great-grandfathers was a renowned German painter of the Art Nouveau movement, and somehow my family had been able to rescue some of his work through the chaos of World War II. I grew up studying his oil paintings and lithographs of Silesian, Northern German, and Bavarian landscapes. I knew I’d never be as good as he. But try my own hand, at least, I could.
Another inspiration were visits to the Stuttgart State Gallery, a museum that holds wonderful art from world-renowned international artists from all eras. My mother used to tell us the stories that go with the paintings. We knew our Bible stories, but the Greek and Roman legends were something new – at first. Also, the symbolism in the paintings was quite striking; I still love checking paintings for the secret messages they might hold. Or to find that a story is set into a familiar landscape, like my native Swabia, though the legend or Biblical story would have placed it somewhere totally else.
In short, I remembered all this and a wonderful book that my husband had given me a couple of birthdays ago. It’s an inspirational book with hundreds of ideas to draw. So, I sat down with a case of pencils (I prefer soft mines), a rubber, a sharpener, and a pad and started off. It was daunting at first. Where to start? Now, I’m first breaking down an object into geometrical shapes. Then I draw in the contours and the shadows, only as a last thing do I draw the rest of the shading. Sounds easy, right? Well, I’m far from an artist. But it makes me consider the texture and surface, the light and angles of things. I try to make my hand “see” – and let me tell you: That is a huge distraction from any smoke plume outside!
Maybe drawing is not your thing at all. Maybe it’s some other kind of crafting. Maybe you want to learn a language. Maybe you always wanted to put your photos into order and pack them off into albums. Maybe you always wanted to write down your life story for your children or grandchildren. If now is not the time to do it, then when?! The smoke will disperse hopefully soon. But Covid will stay around for a while. So will self-isolation. And the darker season with what I call “indoor weather” lies ahead. Make your pick of what you always wanted to do and get more skilled in. Concentrating on what powers lie within ourselves beats any gloom outside.
Jaynie Jones says
Susanne, YOU inspire me! Ever since I began reading your columns a few months ago I have been inspired to write more. And that also coincides roughly with the onset of the ‘stay home, stay safe’ COVID-19 lockdown. It has become the never-ending story. I consider myself among the blessed in that I am happily married and enjoy being under house-arrest with my husband. It never gets old. We enjoy the time together. But my heart goes out to those who are either housebound in misery or entirely alone and lonely. As for filling the time when we might otherwise be out-and-about doing other things in the community, I have found (as you have probably observed) that I am writing much more. It seems that a torrent of pent-up stories is being unleashed on an unwitting public. Mostly I post on my Facebook page, sometimes here on The Suburban Times, and I also write for South Sound Talk, I’m blessed to have those outlets at my fingertips. I wrote this week about the important role my high school English teacher Laurel Piippo played in my life both in high school and all the way up through the end of her life five years ago. Ben Sclair will publish the story later this weekend. I have also blogged about it here. I hope this bitly link will work. https://bit.ly/2RELTkT If not, look for it here (full-length URL) https://emeraldprincessonline.blogspot.com/2020/09/teacher-of-century-taught-lessons-for.html?fbclid=IwAR1_Rhy8EwZHyIMOFPQKYM9_EXGKk7OoZO_c-oKGenBXuwnMWmfEcTKU9u4 or just look for emeraldprincessonline.blogspot. com Again, Susanne, it is YOUR writing that inspires me to write!!!
Susanne Bacon says
Thank you so very much, Jaynie! And I read your story already before you told me about it. I think I found your blog via Facebook. Such a beautiful story! Plesae, keep writing. I found it a very inspiring read!
Joseph Boyle says
At the risk of being beat up by a jealous husband, let me say this. No wonder you are such a beautiful lady. Just look at your cute photo of you as a little girl.
Jaynie Jones is correct. You are an inspiration too.
I like you have been blessed to have been locked up inside our home with my best friend, my wife and girlfriend of 58 years.
The two of us are following your advice by doing all kinds of things inside that have needed doing for a long time. I finally cleaned my garage and I have wanted to do just that for the past 7 years of my retirement.
You have inspired me to follow another passion. At long last, I am going to spend time learning how to become a safe cracker by attending a Zoom class sponsered by the occupants of a Federal Prison.
Oh, wait just a minute. Our Air Quality this morning is 13 – Good. That means instead of being locked up at home practicing cracking safes, I can roam around in the neighborhood cracking other people’s safes. You really inspire me.
Susanne Bacon says
You are a riot, Mr. Boyle, and I think we need to find you a more decent hobby urgently. We should discuss our next round of Double Take, finally. I’ll email you about it, my friend! 😀
Draw on Soul sister ?? IT IS soulcleanig! I started two years ago with colouring Mandalas…
Susanne Bacon says
No matter what skill you try to attain or to hone, it will be detaching your mind from anything disturbing and show you your own wonderful capabilities.
Signe Thorsen says
So glad you are drawing again. I find that sketching the world around me is one of the best ways to enjoy being restricted in my activities, no matter the cause of those restrictions. You already know that I always enjoy your writing.
Susanne Bacon says
Thank you so much, Signe. And love your drawing skills. Indeed, anything we are willing to learn and optimize opens a door to a different world.