It has been a while since I managed to share the colour of the day at this window! Colours have kept flowing through like flies, moths and butterflies, some grey, some brown, some bright and opalescent, all flittering around an invisible flame just the time of a sigh…
Today’s theme is a special one for a reason I will share in a moment, and it starts with the colour of completion. What was completed and which colour could stand for the assorted feelings? The first one I could come up with was shiny, like the metallic glow of an olympic medal or a trophy, but for an anti bling-bling romantic and fussy old fashioned colour lover, what a bore! Anyway, let’s move to the story before the red carpet and awards moment.
In 2011 I was introduced to botanical art. Quite an unforgettable experience where I met the best of friends and felt like this was a wide new opening into my quest for beauty. I could finally link my adoration for nature, colour and beauty altogether. It soon became a burning necessity, I attended more workshops, visited exhibitions and collected every book and information I could find about the history as well as the contemporary development of this reemerging art. In Geneva, there was at the time no one to teach botanical art and a potential interest for it. I wanted to add this art to the techniques I was already reaching for in my magical hat. To be able to convey my knowledge of this particularly difficult field, I thought I would look for the best possible course. This is how, three long years ago, I accepted a challenge from a dear friend who had, a year ahead of me, signed up for the Distance Diploma Learning Course of the prestigious English Society of Botanical Artists, a 29 months long journey, that due to the unfortunate Covid situation, lasted 32.
I soon understood why this DLDC had such a reputation of excellence. First of all, it was quite something to follow the pace, having one different and specific piece to produce every two months, with very strict deadlines. One assignment after the other, I realized what a humongous task I had signed up for, working both on my self-esteem and my artistic abilities. An extremely demanding commitment when you still have activities outside your personal artistic projects. No matter how much you free yourself to make the space for it, life just keeps happening and interfering with the crucially necessary peace of mind. I felt like an athlete who had to have a special environment, diet (chocolate!), much sleep and serious physical training. Or like a monk retreating in his art cave. Of course this was but a wishful thinking. At one point I was so tired and desperate that I wondered why I had done this to myself and what for in the end. The results, no matter how hard I tried, were disappointing and hurt the sincere perfectionist in me. I couldn’t seem to break the glass ceiling I was constantly hitting against. The level of excellence expected was indeed so high and my fatigue so huge that about half way through, I almost gave up on art and botanical illustration altogether. But I am a fighter, and a resilient one at that, so, dead or alive, I always faithfully aim at the best I can possibly do, until fruition or at least some kind of satisfactory completion.
The last three pieces for the portfolio were sent mid August. I certainly felt lighter yet a bit dizzy, what could I turn to, that would fill the empty space and give me something akin to the incredible drive and motivation of the diploma? Pressure also has its benefits. I had to wait for another two and a half months to get the results, then finally the news came in… Well, (drum rolling), I can now proudly juxtapose the letters DipSBA to my name. I knew from my assignment grades that I would not reach the coveted “distinction” mention, but when I think of what I have put myself through, I am nevertheless relieved to see this great adventure reach full and honorable completion at last. I have learned a tremendous amount over these intense three years, on the technical, human and artistic level, some more about myself, about teaching and last but not least, about the requirements of professional artists in the field of botanical art.
Besides this hard-earned completion, an ultimate and wonderful surprise brought me my biggest joy, a prize from Margaret Stevens for my essay on Maria Sibylla Merian, a most incredible and inspiring artist, way ahead of her time. I am immensely grateful for this unexpected cherry on a quite scrumptious cake.
So, after a few festive, sparkling bubbles, what will be the colour of now? Life didn’t wait for my interpretation of completion, it keeps moving forward. No rest in sight of course, back to writing here, painting there; some illustration and personal « art lab » research, but unfortunately no more teaching because of the new lockdown.
Concerning projects until the end of this very strange year, my magic kaleidoscope shows colours and shapes of moving out of town and even the country. Not the easiest period to do so, but, hear ye lovely gardens, galleries, museums and botanical art friends of London, here I come! But no worries my dear friends and students at home, we will stay in touch and you might come for a visit as there will definitely be quite a few more adventures to lovingly share!
I can’t leave this page without a burst of gratitude, indeed I would like to deeply thank and pay tribute to all the teachers, tutors, mentors, artists, students and friends who have patiently preceded, accompanied or followed me on this not always golden brick road. Not that I have arrived anywhere yet, for this quest is an eternal beginning, a gift of the moment, the light trace of Now.
A big thank you also to my webmaster, who brilliantly understood what I was looking for and redesigned my website according to ever-changing needs, but also patiently brought me back to this page, this window at which we can safely meet in these dire times.
I somehow blindly believe, at the tip of my soul, that as Dostoevsky famously wrote in The Idiot: “Beauty will save the world”. It is my favorite way of relating to the world, no matter how hard the winds blow. Please use this piece of good news amongst the general disaster as an excuse to celebrate, and shout a big hurray to Life, to Love and Art!
With my most heartfelt wishes to all