Every year around this time there is a sense of excitement and anticipation. We are on the threshold of Summer here in Scotland. Our temperatures can reach a balmy 15 -17°C throughout June, July and August. OK, so these high temperatures might not quite have you running into the nearest loch shouting ‘scorchio’ or ‘taps aff’ (unless your name is Alex) but our high latitude certainly makes up for it. Scotland’s high latitude means that we enjoy endless long summer days and often an extended twilight (particularly as you travel north). There’s nothing quite like long days of summer, though I have to say, getting the little bumbumbees off to bed is more of a challenge when the sun is still shining at 9pm.
Summer offers such a rich source of inspiration, and I’m not just talking of writers, poets, or artists. I think we can all appreciate the changes in light, the sounds of birds, the laughter of children playing, even the sound of gliders above, or gardeners out mowing the lawn, evokes golden summer feels. The truth is though, we don’t have to wait until summer to be inspired enough to create. I mean let’s be honest, ‘scorchio’ turns to ‘stoatin’ before you’ve had time to get the BBQ sausages out.
As most of you know, I find my inspiration on the Fife Coastal Path and in the natural beauty of the area I live. Depending on where you live, it might be more about ‘finding’ the beauty in where you live, or finding something in your environment that you particularly enjoy. The natural world is never boring. It changes with the seasons and one day can look very different to the next. The light can vary on a tree, making it look warm and golden, or cold and stark. The weather, particularly in Scotland, is so changeable too. The sea transforms and seems to move under clouds and sunlit skies. But it’s not just our environment that changes. Our moods and emotions can provide a powerful filter through which we view the world. If we are feeling low, clouds and rain and the greys in our environment can seem to mirror those emotions. But you know, as creatives, we can really ‘use’ those emotions and feelings.
You know when people say, “I wish I could bottle that feeling”, in relation to something good in their lives? I think you can apply that to every mood and emotion within ourselves – and nature. Turn to your sketchbook when you feel blah, or when the weather is offering up more blah. Use the greys, blues, lilacs on the page. Study that stormy sky. Channel your emotion onto the page while you are in the moment. I invite you to feel how the rain feels. Go outdoors. Stand in it. Watch it land on your hand. Observe it landing on plants. Listen to the shrieks of happy children splashing in muddy puddles.
Rain is something so intrinsic to being Scottish, isn’t it? I suppose that’s why we have over 100 words for it. When I began ‘illustrating’ the rain, I was initially inspired by the many words, and then I was guided by experience on how that ‘form’ of rain felt. We can all relate to feeling ‘drookit’ or the prickles of smizzle on our face or the sheen of smirr on our skin. Creating those forms of rain using inks was a lot of fun. You can really encapsulate an emotion or feeling when you create ‘in the moment’ and then this becomes your library to draw upon when you want to evoke those same feelings, emotions or weather in a different context.
Using your creativity in this way builds a powerful bridge of connection too. My sister always says she feels instantly connected to ‘home’ when she sees those rain prints because she remembers exactly a moment in time when it rained a certain way, or how the air smelled before rain, or how some rain was ‘wetter’ than others. I guess what I’m saying is, yes we all get excited by summer and the world seems full of possibilities, but we have to be realistic too. This isn’t the Med. Most patriotic Scots amongst us would say ‘who needs the med?’, (while all the while silencing and shooshing our inner sun-starved selves ‘me…I need the Med’). There will be rain in amongst the sunshine. Many, many beautiful, unique forms of rain. So many wonderful variations of rain, we’ve turned it into an art form.