Most clichés have a bit of truth in them (dare I say a “grain of truth”?). “Travel broadens you.” “You see the world through different eyes when you travel.” But Lillian Smith said it best, “I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.”
We learn when we travel. We see new sights; hear new sounds; taste new foods.
We figure out that we don’t know as much as we thought we did. Or that the “world doesn’t revolve around ME” and my experiences.
For a week, I took a painting course in Gardenstown (pronounced Gar…(rolling r)… stun), Scotland at the Creative Retreat , a totally positive experience. My instructor, Bryan Angus, was the whole package of gifted teacher, relationship builder, and accomplished artist. He knew his stuff.
And he knew how to relate what he knew, to what I didn’t know, to what I needed to know. And he knew the work of lots of other artists. A corner of the studio housed a small but terrific collection of art books. I discovered works on the ancient peoples of Scotland, the Picts and the Celts. I visually gorged on the landscapes and architectural drawings of Egon Schiele. I inhaled Lucien Freud, Klimt, Klee.
But most importantly, and the point of this little essay, was my introduction Scottish artists. In my world, at some silly, sub-conscious level, I must have thought that all painters were French or German or Central or North American. Pow! I now have a whole array of Scottish sculptors and painters to admire, to absorb:
Helen Denerley, a sculptress in metal and lover of the natural world
Dina Campbell, whose flower paintings make my heart sing and my fingers jealous because of her amazing marks on paper
Joan Gillespie, a painter of bold brushstrokes and compelling colors.
And of course, the Glasgow Colourists, my favorites being Samuel John Peploe, George Leslie Hunter and John Duncan Fergusson.
Learning more about Scotland’s artists compels me to learn more about Scottish culture, which brings me to Scottish music, to Scottish textiles, to potters and back again to the painters of today. I’m an eager student. I have much to learn.