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Sunny’s eyes are still closed to the world as he snuggles into me, soft, warm and helpless. My heart dissolves. Just one week old and he can’t walk yet, but check out his fabulous new coat! Pasha his mum, looks worn out, but so would I if I´d had nine hungry kids. I’m delighted to discover that two of his siblings, Luna and Star are coming to live close by, which means puppy playmates-for both of us.

I won’t say I’m obsessed but I think of little else lately. Having said I didn’t need anything for him because he has inherited all Bonnie’s toys, I’ve just bought him kongs to fill with food to encourage appropriate chewing behaviour and provide him with mental stimulation. That´s what it says on the box, anyway. Only the best for Sunny and the baby teeth he hasn’t got yet. I´ll be off to the pet shop this week, just looking… In a couple of weeks, he’ll be up on all paws and learning to walk. I wonder if he´ll be learning or just doing what comes naturally. There´s such a big difference between teaching or training, and learning. Of course, I´m going to train him so he´ll develop good habits. A bit like painting.

When I started painting, my wonderful YouTube teacher was the American painter Bob Ross, creator of The Joy of Painting. Joy is what I experience with a blank canvas and a brush in my hand. I loved the way he used to say “Let´s add some happy little trees” and “this tree looks lonely, let´s give him some friends”. I listened to him at night and I´m sure I learned subliminally because his silky, hot chocolate voice would send me off to a blissful sleep. Recently I´ve been following Louise Fletcher, an abstract artist whose spiritual approach to painting, to go with the flow, expresses the freedom I crave and love when I´m working. When I´m emotionally invested in the outcome of a landscape, in approval or perfection, for example, the paint simply refuses to flow.

I respond well to shared experience and expertise, picking up tips and learning techniques which I can practise at home. I´ve enrolled on many courses and been told off as many times for not doing what I was told. I´ve never been good at rules and constraints, shoulds and shouldn´ts. In one such class, a still life was placed on the table, onions, I think, and having sketched the outline, I filled in the colours. With the best of intentions, the teacher pointed out that I hadn´t been given the colours yet so I wasn´t supposed to do that. What I was being told to do didn´t come naturally to me.. If I were starting out today, I would sign up for the more informal workshops and classes and of course, I´d be all over YouTube.

I´m looking forward to sharing an intensive 4-day workshop in Warminster with my daughter soon. We will paint together all day in an idyllic country setting, free from distractions. My art goal is for techniques to encourage a freer style in my abstract paintings. I´ve learned that

there are often outcomes far better than any I´d considered.

I´m aware of the pitfalls of isolation, particularly in recent times, and when the three months of summer exhibitions at Pine Walk finished, I experienced a hollow sense of loss. I joined a local Arts Group to fill the void, to meet like-minded people and for company. But I´m a solitary painter. I lose myself in my work, hours pass unnoticed and I didn´t speak to anyone because I wasn´t there.

Thanks to Zoom, Facetime and Whatsapp, I´m blessed nowadays to have wonderful conversations about all kinds of things with people from different walks of life, . Ever obsessed with the sky, I try to strike a balance between head in the clouds and feet on the ground. Sunny will help with that of course. Puppy parties, puppy training classes, and puppy eyes that say I don´t care how busy you are let´s go for a walk!

What I hope for most is to learn to give myself time to play.

Marja Brown

Landscape Artist

These original paintings and prints are available on my website, (not my puppy though!)

Leave a comment, I´m always excited and delighted to hear from you. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin.


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