One of my most long-standing friends had an exhibition of her paintings over the weekend. Laney and I go back a long way - right back to our teens when we were at the same Art College doing a Foundation Course, and we have stayed in touch ever since despite lengthening distances and changing life circumstances.
Laney is a painter and printmaker who makes landscapes in mixed media and is particularly interested in ancient rocks and trees, and in uncovering evidence of man's early spirituality through her work. She paints with chalk and charcoal and wash, I paint my landscapes with nouns, adjectives and verbs. There is a commonality in what we do, which has helped cement our friendship. So it was a real pleasure for me to drive over to her "Open Studio" to see her some of her work displayed in her studio and house. Only then did I realise what a body of work and what a superb collection her recent work is. Of course she had sold seventeen of her paintings by the time I got there, and eighteen by the time I left!
As creative people we need these times to take stock of what we've achieved. A pause to reflect.
For a writer, it might be seeing your work roll out of the printer, or a book on a shelf. For an artist, the chance to see all your work in one place is a marker of what you've achieved and a visual snapshot of your current approach to life.
For me, seeing Laney's approach, which is to find interest and beauty in the every day landscape where she walks her dogs, made me pause and look again at the landscape, see new things I might not have seen before. And I realised that writing is an essentially visual endeavour. The pictures are everything. And words are a plastic medium we can manipulate in all sorts of different ways. But both writing and painting require that we really look, pay attention, and find new ways to express what is hidden beneath plain view.
If you want to see more of Laney's work you can go to her website