Although I am blessed with my family and many dear friends, and I enjoy spending time with them, I have never been much of a social person. Invite me to a party and my face will smile yes, but my heart will usually say no thanks.. I don´t know why. Do I ever feel lonely? Sometimes. Never for long because my beloved Bonny doesn´t allow it. There are several things that Bonny doesn´t allow. Birds mustn´t fly past the window nor does the wind have her permission to billow the curtains, and she barks their ears off to make sure they know. Just as I´m inspired by mother nature to paint, I´m invited to relax, laugh and play by the devoted Westie who sits at my feet looking up at me with her soft brown eyes, ball in her mouth. She loves the countryside and the sea as much as I do.
There´s a vast difference between loneliness and solitude.Loneliness is the hollow feeling of separateness which surfaces sometimes even when I´m with a group of people. Solitude, on the other hand, is a state of being alone in which I feel profoundly connected and I don´t mean via endless beeps from my phone or my laptop with texts and emails flying. In our high tech world of social media where we are virtually connected all the time, it seems that people are lonelier than ever. According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, a British charity, over nine million people in the UK say they are always or often lonely and scientists have even started investigating the possibility of developing anti-loneliness drugs. I´m so grateful for my anti-loneliness dog and for the ability I have today to be comfortable alone.
I experience the deep stillness of solitude when I´m painting. I disappear into a world of bright colours and images, of free- flowing energy where I don´t hear or see what´s going on around me, where ideas and inspiration flow through me, where time passes unacknowledged until Bonny wags her tail hopeful of a beach walk and a swim.
Over the years I've taken courses and joined art groups and worked with other artists. In one group we were all invited to paint a shoe on a table, and I could feel rebellion rising as my brush refused to follow my mind´s instructions. It doesn´t work like that for me. Groups are great for practising techniques and meeting people, in fact I met my dear friend and fellow artist Maggie in one and we laughed when we discovered that we only went along to see each other. We formed the M and M Art Society, Maggie and Marja, and we paint together sometimes out in the glorious Purbecks, free from outside influences, judgments and distractions which as artists we find block creativity. Together in solitude.
In the silence of solitude I find my solutions,
I find myself.
Bonny snoozes happily in her basket. Perhaps we can learn something from a dog's simple approach to life..?
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