Saturday, December 11, 2010

Back to basics

I haven’t tweeted or blogged much recently – I find the very cold weather depressing and can’t rouse myself from apathy. Except to rant about Gardeners’ World, of course. The garden has been abandoned for the past few weeks, in a listlessness borne of shortening days. As nights grow longer, I withdraw deeper into my shell.

One thing that has been taking up my time as I hide in the house waiting for longer days is grappling with garden design principles. I’ve mentioned previously that I was starting a shortish garden design course, and I have been really enjoying it. So far, I have:

  • bored SomeBeans and my father rigid with talk of unity and progressive realisation in various garden design periods;
  • tried to distil this into a short (3000 word) assignment – writing the essay wasn’t difficult, but getting the word count down from 6000 to 3000 was excruciating;
  • traipsed around some very forgiving people’s garden, with 10 or so classmates, tripping over each others’ survey lines;
  • done battle with a scale rule to produce a pretty accurate base drawing.

The biggest challenge so far, however, was something I’d kept quiet in class about until this week.  At the start of term, we’d all splashed out on various bits of equipment, as keen students do. Because of the theory we had to initially cover, this equipment stayed on a shelf at home, until last week.

It’s a strange feeling to be worried about pens. I’ve been using pens for many, many years now. You learn how to use pens at school, and since then, I’ve probably used one every day. So it was rather embarrassing to be in possession of some pens which I was too frightened to use, even if I had known how to fill them up with ink. Oh, the ignominy.

But it turned out that nearly everyone else had had the same worry and the same sense of foolishness at not knowing how to fill them up. We had all bought them, looked at them, looked at the instructions, looked at the ink bottle, looked at the pens again and quietly put the lid back on.

However, after our lesson on Monday, and a patient tutor, I have discovered the joy of  ‘inking’. It makes feeble pencil drawings look almost good. It will take quite a lot of practice to become proficient, to produce graphics that look like they should, to make sure that I don’t smudge and to make sure that I keep the pen at the right angle, but I have conquered my fear of the Rotring pen. Hurrah!

Next week we’ll be learning ‘colouring in’ as SomeBeans calls it – another return to basics!


Karen - An Artist's Garden said...

Yes the Rotring pen is indeed a marvel - takes me back to school days - when we were not allowed to use them in Art until the 6th form and then finally getting my hands on them ..... and feelings very similar to yours.

I think many of us need to go inside ourselves at this time of year.

Hope you enjoy the colouring in next week

VP said...

Whenever I pick up a pen these days I inevitably find I can't write properly any more. Too much bashing around on a keyboard's the culprit.

Colouring in - reminds me of our first geography lesson at secondary school where we learnt how to colour in maps properly. BTW Did you know we have the world's best geography teachers? ;)

Arabella Sock said...

I had noticed you hadn't been around for a while on twitter and just as I was feeling worried enough to ask where you'd got to you turned up! I know what you mean about retreating in on yourself with this winter dark and cold. I'm trying to force myself out for a short walk every day but getting up the motivation is quite difficult.

Anyway, pens.. Pens terrify me because after years and years of keyboard use I have almost forgotten how to write properly. I have a habit of gripping a pen really tightly as if it will escape form my grasp if I loosen up a bit and the whole 'pen' experience becomes a bit intense. As for filling one with ink... EEK!

NewShoot said...

Glad you're enjoying the design course. I love my ink pens and the feel when they glide properly on tracing paper - though I prefer Mecanormas (with their elegant French side-fill action) to Rotring!

Studio days as a student usually ended up with us rather black blobby all over with indelible ink. Once we got the hang of it the competition was to see who could draft with the finest nibs *scritch scritch scratch*

PS 65*215*112.5mm !

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

I'm another one who has forgotten how to write - or indeed spell - except via a keyboard (with spelling checker). Didn't know you had to use special pens to ink in designs - I think I thought everyone used posh software nowadays! You brought back memories of filling a fountain pen with purple or orange ink to write letters with when I was a student. So glad to no longer be a teen!

HappyMouffetard said...

Hi Karen, the briefly warmer weather has cheered me up a bit, plus the fact that it's only 10 or so days until the days start getting longer! I'm looking forward to my colouring in, and hoping not to go over the lines too much.

VP - I am now wondering how a map is coloured in properly...

Arabella - Thanks for the thoughts x. I still use a pen quite a lot, but not a 'proper' one, and being left handed, I can smudge even a biro, so this is a bit of a challenge.

New Shoot - side loading french pens - they sound fancy. And :-P it is now forever etched in my brain.

Janet - I don't think they want to let us loose on posh software. We have to get to grips with the basics first. The prettily coloured in designs do (to me anyway) have more soul that a CAD design. Well, when they're done by someone who knows what they're doing, anyway.

Esther Montgomery said...

I'm feeling all jealous and wishful. I love Rotring pens. I no longer have one but, when I did, I took ages choosing the size of the nib (do you call them nibs?) and braved the woman in the shop who kept telling me I didn't need one! Then, when I took an evening course in maths (because I can't do maths!) I took it along with me and used it for the little numbers on graphs. They looked really good and, whether it was an appropriate use or not, they cheered me in my inadequacy. Then a tutor came along, picked it up from my desk, wrote some examples - and bent it.

Not only had he broken my pen, he'd destroyed my confidence in his teaching abilities. If he didn't recognise the pen, did he know anything about maths?


HappyMouffetard said...

Hi Esther. What a shame to have both your pen and your confidence damaged. It's what scares me most about teaching - I have the ability to increase someone's confidence and to help them get on in the world, or to dash it.