As a group we had all first met at Sanquhar Loch at the start of the Creative Paths project back in October. For that walk we were spoiled with a baking hot autumn day, as we began to explore a series of visual creative tasks to take back to our online sessions planned for the winter months.
After a busy winter meeting fortnightly online with carers and Quarriers staff for the mix of art sessions led by me (Nicola), and movement sessions led by Dawn, we were looking forward to all meeting again in person to reconnect and explore and gather inspiration and ideas in preparation for song writing session with Quee.
The last chapter of this creative path we had all been travelling on.
The natural elements treated us to a wealth of delights from bright warm sunshine to heavy downpours, followed by sleet showers and wind… the changing seasons we all agreed would be an exciting contribution to how we would experience our walk and what we would see.
We began to move slowly around the loch using our eyes, ears and bodies to ‘notice’ what was around us, completing a series of different creative tasks to tune in and really think about how we use ourselves to connect with our surroundings, and how we might capture this creatively giving us a record of what we see and why we are drawn to it.
We were exploring textures, colours, shape, line, and light.
As we completed our line walk creative task we found a space individually, where our eye could follow where the water meets the land/plants, or where the ground surface changes, before sketching in our sketchbooks, or capturing it as a photographic image.
Through this exercise there were opportunities to spot a familiar part of nature that had changed since the autumn, allowing us to view an altered image due to the different season, showing itself with new qualities or detail. The landscape with a familiar view we had previously observed had altered without the autumn leaves providing shelter.
As we walked and chatted, we were able to draw on each other’s inspiration, offering reminders to one another of things we had noticed that might interest someone else, whether it was the sculptural look of tree branches, or the delicate pastel colours of a flower hiding amongst the weeds.
One of the pleasures of the afternoon was sharing that moment of discovery with one another and that moment when we ourselves see the beauty of something new and that shared experience with another.
This would then lead to exciting exchanges about how these natural objects or certain qualities of light and colour had inspired our art making, or shapes that captured some of the ideas developed in previous movement sessions and how we our selves were more aware of our own movement.
As we slowed down to listen, we could hear all different sounds of bird song, cars humming, marks camera clicking, dog scraping ground, footsteps, wind, water, breathing all of tuning into different sounds that had different meanings to us.
The other notable theme during our walk, and in our conversations, was how we all were able to reflect on the similar benefits we have discovered can come from slowing down and taking notice of those things around us: whether it is having a walk and time to slow and listen to the beauty around us or whether by absorbing ourselves in something creative such as art making.
Moments, that can soothe our mind and soul and allow us to escape from the pressures of day to day life just for a brief moment, many carers spoke about this being one of the most difficult juggling acts to manage day to day.
We valued the chance to chat with one another and exchange interests in both how we are inspired by our different surroundings and how they inspire our creative endeavours.
What was noticeable first of all on our spring walk – compared to our autumn walk – was the confidence in which people spoke about how they might develop an idea into something else, or how a certain artwork might require a certain art material and a certain technique would possibly offer a better effect to achieve this.
For me, this highlighted the development of people feeling more self-assured in their creativity.
Secondly the willingness to share those skills with those around them, which to me demonstrates not only a deeper connection with one another but also placing greater value in their creativity and creative skills.
As we neared the end of our walk around the loch, we paused to think about what words we would use to describe the experience.
Peaceful, quiet, companionship, warmth, calming soothing, awareness, appreciation, noticing, stillness, movement, time and four seasons!
We then enjoyed escaping to the warmth of the coffee shop for tea and cake and to thaw out. The perfect end to an enjoyable afternoon which – as with our online creative sessions – was filled with much laughter throughout.
About the Author
Nicola Kennell is a Creative Arts Practitioner and Art Psychotherapist at Green Tree Art Studios. Her work uses a blend of mixed media materials and the natural environment to encourage others to experience exploratory and experimental art making processes. Nicola is one of three artists working with Findhorn Bay Arts to deliver the Creative Paths programme for carers and individuals connected to Quarriers in Moray and Aberdeenshire.
Find out more about our Creative Paths programme on our project page.