It would be fair to say that it’s been a long time since I sat down at my laptop and wrote a blog, not sure why other than that a lot of other things seem to have taken precedence. As many of you know, I have still been writing as creative editor of The Beestonian Magazine, and I suppose that on top of full-time work and keeping the momentum up with the Bee Creative Community projects has filled much of my time. It would also be fair to say that through the winter months especially I have needed a significant amount of downtime. I spent many evenings and weekends getting outside into nature when I could and then cosied up reading thrillers, it was definitely good for the soul.

Despite my own lack of contributions to ‘Share Saturday’ in our Facebook community group, I have been attempting to keep everyone connected since January with creative themes, visual inspirations and ideas to while away the winter months. I don’t think I have been alone in my apparent creative drought, however there have been many responses on the page that demonstrated someone somewhere was indeed flexing their artistic muscles and sharing their wonderful work for others to enjoy. This has enthused me to continue posting, putting together craft packs to send out and launch our next project, a postcard exhibition based on our original themes, REST, REFLECT, NURTURE and GROW.

The fabulous submissions so far have both amazed and inspired me into action, and after playing around with ideas on my return from a forest fueled break over Easter, I finally got my own postcard design underway this weekend. Nothing like a deadline to get the ball rolling eh? After being lucky enough to spend four days in the High Peak, I felt energised and full of ideas. I think I may also have been a little bit influenced by local illustrator Mountain Man Draws and one of group member Julie-Marie’s beautiful artworks, but the image of lettering containing a forest scene kept visiting my imagination. It took me several drafts to get it to work the way I visualised it, but I got there eventually.

The lettering needed to be full and rounded to enable me to fill them with greenery and the word ‘journey’ seemed to fit was I was trying to represent, though I definitely could have made it easier for myself if I had chosen a shorter word! So after three or four versions of the word journey, I arrived at one I was happy with and started to construct my forest within. Attempting to layer the trees to recreate that feeling I had of being almost enclosed by the tall pine trees, I searched images on Ecosia to help me plan the next stage, adding colour. Slightly nervous at working on such a small scale with paint, I practised layering pencil crayon to add depth on a separate sheet of paper, not really achieving the desired effect.

Remembering that I had a pack of almost brand new fine liners in a box upstairs, I dug around and discovered them, delighted to see that there were several shades of green showing through the plastic wallet. A quick scribble with each was enough to help me choose three greens that contrasted enough to create the graded effect I was looking for. I chose to paint a watery blue wash over the postcard before starting to add the trees, which was a wise decision. As soon as I started to use the darkest green to build the first tree in my forest I was back in that clearing looking up at the top of the majestic pines against the clear blue skies, the contrast of crisp and fresh with the damp darkness of the forest floor was coming alive.

I have a fair bit to go before the ‘journey’ is completed but I am really happy with how it is shaping up so far. I think maybe part of why I felt I wanted to blog about the process I am going through is that it all feels part of the general progression towards a life with less restrictions – and that feels good. I know this difficult journey is not over yet and we have more obstacles to navigate, but it does feel like we have definitely arrived at the top of a very large hill and are now able to look down and appreciate a taste of that beautiful view. What I am especially grateful for is the companions that have accompanied me along the way, and to be able to take part of my journey through nature. Nature really does heal and inspire us.