04 Mar

I found these watercolour paintings in one of my mother’s sketch books. She painted with the finest of brushes well into her 80’s and, as her sight clouded, she used a magnifying glass as an aid. 

With the colour charts of autumn all around us, both vibrant and gentle at the same time, I have been reminded to see again (rather than to just look). To really look properly. I have been so busy skimming across the surface of daily life in order to get everything done, that I had forgotten the rather old-fashioned phrase ‘it’s all in the detail’. 

I sincerely hope that I am not the only one guilty of settling for a quick fix, immediate results, good enough but not the best!

 It’s the same with communicating. Communication skills are our pride and joy. They are listed under ‘essential’ in job descriptions...along with the technology that we need to have mastered in order to communicate. Every means possible is at our fingertips, 24/7, but when did all this cross the line into how we communicate on a personal level too? 

Sending a message to a friend became that quick fix. Job done. When did we stop writing letters to friends and family? I have the delight of regular letters from a very elderly and happily eccentric family friend. She has long given up on a computer for emails or a mobile for texts and her hearing aids fight with the telephone. Instead we have turned back the pages in favour of pen and paper.

I don't call myself an artist but it seems to me that finding words is so like choosing the right colours. My friend’s handwriting is impossible, the stories are improbable, the dog chews on key words if she gets to the door mat before I do. The pages are out of order and reading them amounts to guesswork and imagination but the effort is invaluable and it is a special feeling to receive a handwritten envelope in the post. 

All those details paint the picture. With all this in mind I really looked at my mother’s paintings again. I saw the shapes of the leaves, the detail of the veins and stalks and the patterns of bare exposed branches, but this time I also saw her picking up the leaves in the garden and setting them out on the table. I saw the mix of watercolours, the little pot of brushes. I saw her taking time and I saw all the detail. 

My next goal is to hear again. To really listen properly. (I am pretty sure that I just heard the tiny tap of her brush against the rim of the water jar) 

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