One month down, and eleven to go. I made six resolutions this year. If progress were being noted on one of my school report, I would perhaps be receiving an A for acceptable but not an E for excellent.
One of the resolutions was to visit a new country and a new part of Italy. I’ve seen a lot of Sicily, and a good chunk of the south. Although I have travelled in the north too, I’ve never stayed in one place for longer than a few weeks. I was lucky enough to spend three of those weeks in a tiny village high up in the mountains sandwiched between Lake Como and Lake Lugano. Looking at the pictures again this weekend made me remember how nice it was there. Hopefully this Easter I will be fulfilling the second part of that particular resolution on a trip north. The new country part will have to wait for now.
Ice cream-coloured houses, on the shores of Lake Menaggio
One of my other resolutions was to keep an illustrated journal. Since I spent my university years living with architects and graphic designers, I have been fascinated with sketchbooks. I always thought they were the preserve of people talented enough to make their liivng out of drawing pictures and that certainly is not me. This Christmas I picked up this book by Danny Gregory, a one time advertising copywriter turned author-illustrator who claims drawing is a skill just like driving that anybody can learn. Despite being 27 and never having sat behind the wheel of a car, I was intrigued to see if he is right.
When I was looking over photographs from a few summers ago, I noticed how many of them were terrible. Maybe it’s because these days I delete almost everything that isn’t Flickr worthy as soon as I put them on the computer or maybe the habit of taking photos everywhere has improved my photography skills without my noticing.
Maybe in two year’s time, I’ll be looking back at fledgling attempts at drawing and feeling pleased with the progress made. I think what puts me off picking up a pen and drawing a mug, and then my bathroom cabinet and then whatever Mr Gregory suggests next as valuable lessons for people who can’t draw, is knowing what comes between the purchase of a blank sketchbook and a tin of pencils and proud reflections. That being the period which so many of my students are currently enduring in their study of the English language - after which you’ve committed to learning something, but before you’ve developed even a middling kind of competence.
project in progress
Like the time I decided to learn to crochet. I attended a one day course for beginners at a beautiful farm somewhere in Sussex. What with it being a class for beginners, I was surprised when everyone except me seemed to already know how to crochet. I couldn’t get my head around how to hold the yarn, or when the hook was supposed to go under or over. I was the bottom of the class. My circular cushion came out all lopsided and wonky. The purchase of a range of books, hooks, and yarn was followed by quite a few more projects in the lopsided and wonky category before I suceeded at making anything half decent.
This brings me to another resolution. A year of finishing projects. The ideas for projects always come easily to me, and I usually begin them with enthusiasm. It’s the finishing that is difficult. I once read a blog post that likened the project durations to the gestation periods of various animals. If so then most of my projects must be more like elephants (22 months) than chipmunks (31 days).
Recently, I have been better. I finished an overdue baby blanket for my littlest relation at Christmas.
I started and finished a little rug, for the very cold floor beside my bed.
I have (almost) finished a second granny squares cushion.
So a good start to 2012. Progress updates to follow.