Westward Ho!

Earlier this year at the end of May, I visited Westward Ho with my wife and daughter for a few days.

Westward Ho is situated in North Devon facing westwards to the Atlantic Ocean and I was surprised to learn that the town is named after the title of a very famous novel of the same name by Charles Kingsley rather, than as I had thought, the town name being an inspiration for the author.

This blog is about how during my visit I experienced a very deep calm by “painting” with pencils.

On arriving on holiday I realised that I had forgotten my watercolours which was a shame because I had hoped to find a little spot on which to paint the magnificent sea and vast expanse of sand which I recall having seen on a previous day long visit to Westward Ho a few years ago.

After a few days of dodging the showers and visiting other local beauty spots at ilfracombe; Woolacombe; Bude and Clovelly and the funicular at  Lynton and Lynmouth with my daughter who then left us after a long weekend with us, I felt a bit at a loose end and my wife suggested that I buy some paper and colouring pencils.

My wife has recognised that when I am employed in painting a watercolour she senses that I experience a calm that she is acutely aware of. I was not sure that substituting paints for pencils would have the same effect but I became engrossed in the beautiful scene.

It is a feeling of losing oneself in the midst of an activity which is on the one hand occupying the mind in translating what I see on the page but at the same time experiencing an enriching assault on all the senses of sight, sound, touch and smell.

My wife says that when I read, I don’t concentrate for long, but when I paint my breathing is calmer, the continuing inward struggle of my life is calmed and she loves the effect that the experience has on me.

As I emerge from my occupation, I sense that she is watching me so I hold out my pencil as if I am engaged in some marvelously technical aspect to do with perspective and light and shade – I laugh and she laughs too realising that I am back with her having been lost to art.

I must also say that I experience a pride in my drawings / paintings not because they are particularly good, rather perhaps that in their imperfections there is a reflection of my truth because the work is of me and it is an honest interpretation of what I have experienced in that calming hour and a momento for me of my short stay in Westward Ho!

If like me you struggle to find peace of mind, ask Father Christmas for some paper; paints and brushes and a set of pencils too – just in case!!

My next blog will be:   Why did I cry as I waved goodbye?

William Defoe

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