I’m signed up for a weekend course at a centre in rural Gloucestershire. It’s titled :’Lifelines- how to have a free spirit when you draw people ‘. Intriguing, wonder what form the sessions will take. I’ve never been to this centre before.
So I need to take my elderly canine friend Max to stay with family while I’m away. He’s like an older person, become dependent, has stiff joints, can be incontinent sometimes. At home, to his disgust, I don’t let him sleep on my bed anymore, as he pee’d on the duvet. He’s demoted to the kitchen, reluctantly. I drive Max to the kind family member, Mo. I explain to Mo that Max has to sleep downstairs these days. I say he’s used to it at my house, he’ll be ok. We all go to bed and he starts to howl. I feel agitated – it’s keeping Mo awake, so I bring Max & his dog bed to my room upstairs, not on my bed. he paces back and forth, an hour passes, it’s late.
I can feel myself getting sucked into a small, vaguely familiar, suffocating place, squashed down by fear, anxiety. Max is my responsibility, he’s needy, anti-social. I shouldn’t burden someone else with this, shouldn’t go away for the weekend. How selfish of me to expect to have fun. Hooks me back to the last year of my partner’s life, he was dying. He was my responsibility, needy, dependent, scared, poignant, possessive. How else could he be ? I felt protective of him, both sad and suffocated. The beginning of the end of his life. We both knew how it was going to end. So Max finally goes to sleep.
In the morning, it feels normal – breakfast- ‘ Good- bye, see you after the weekend, hope Max doesn’t howl at night..’ and he didn’t.
I drive away from my responsibilities – to be a free spirit for three days. The journey takes me through green to greener countryside, down a winding driveway, to a large, rambling house. Feels like entering another country. I dream often of being a large rambling house, always familiar to me. Now I’m walking into a real rambling house. I’m shown my room up in the attic.
So what is this ‘Life-lines ‘ course like?
Drawing people from the inside from their mood, their movements, posture, rhythms and your feelings responding to them
Escape the tyranny of the outline
Models moving to meditative, exciting music – you move in tune and make marks on your paper, you copy their posture for the feel of it
Try out red clay, squelched with water, Indian ink, water, blood red and black crayons
Long bamboo sticks with a crayon taped to the end – remote control, small squashy sponge on a long stick, goose quills, your hands
All or any of these
Long rolls of lining paper to keep on drawing onto
One model dances, then two together, all three dance
Time to end the course
Time out for these three days
Time to go home