The Beginning: a trip down memory lane

If all roads lead to Rome, then all great adventures begin in London. And that is exactly where this journey starts.

These tree drawings began during my first grey and cold winter in London England in 2009. I went to visit Birgit in the UK, just six months after we met in Venice Italy, to give this international romance a try. Being the young that artist she was at the time, Birgit was living as a “guardian” without tenancy rights, meaning she was not permitted have unattended guests in her apartment. (But the benefit was that her rent was incredibly low.) Long story short: I couldn’t stay at her place during the day while she was away studying on her postgraduate program at Goldsmiths University.

When she left the flat in the morning I, too, set out but not to the comfort of a heated space. I packed my bag with a thermos of hot tea, some flapjacks (let me know in comments if you would like the recipe), a folding stool, my drawing supplies and many layers of clothes. It was a rare winter in which it snowed in London and the snow actually stuck. For the first time in about 10 years it snowed so much that the city just about came to a standstill because the British don’t know what to do if it really snows. You might think England would get more snow being so far north but the warm, salty ocean currents bring warm and salty air to the country, creating a climate with little snow fall. Being from Ohio the snow didn’t bother me and I spent many long days drawing in some of London’s parks. The following images are of trees drawn in the parks & outdoors in London.

I already had some sense of the city having visited Birgit in London months earlier in August, shortly after we first met in Venice in Italy. What struck me was the abundance of parks and green spaces in this vast world city. I formed my regular routines, as one does, and slowly became friends with the cold and a companion to the trees I was drawing.

There is something very special about drawing in nature, even in the cold of winter. Staying in the same spot for an extended period of time had an effect on me and the way I was seeing the landscape, the trees and their textured details. Much to my relief I also took photographs to draw from in the warmth of the apartment when Birgit was at home.

Here are a few drawings made from my photographs in the comfort of a warm space. This is when I started to experiment more with different perspectives and would go for evening walks to photograph in the more dramatic, contrastive lighting provided by the street lamps. 

Looking back I can’t believe I stayed outside for as long as I did in the dead of winter! I think I earned my fish and chips at the time. 

My takeaway from this experience is this: There is not always a right time or a good time to start something. All that matters is that you start and sometimes we all need that little push to get us going. Birgit’s rental situation certainly provided a push.

Is there something you are procrastinating with? What was it that gave you that little momentum to get an action or project rolling? I’d love to hear how you overcame those hurdles in the comments below.

– Jason

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