“Your time here is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And, most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary”.
I was just thinking about when I first found out I had been accepted onto the SBA Course. It came at a time when life was great, the kids had grown up – work was good and family were all healthy and happy. I was looking for something more – wanting to develop my basic art knowledge and create a space just for me.
That was two years ago. An awful lot has happened in a very short period of time. At this time of year the notices will be going out to accept the next intake of students from around the world and they will make the decision to embark on twenty-seven months of intense study and commitment to a course dedicated to botanical art.
Had I known what was ahead of me perhaps I wouldn’t have gone ahead with the added stress of almost full-time study and practical learning – on my own – nobody to advise or direct at the times most needed. However my advice to the new students is different as each month passes … I really have no advice other than “how much do you want to challenge yourself?”. There are easier ways to get through the course – by just getting by, doing the minimal requirements and scraping through. Then there is the more difficult option of truly wanting to learn – albeit on your own – just how capable you are of discovering how to depict nature in a scientifically accurate yet artistically appealing way.
I’m tired. I’ve managed to complete eleven assignments under some of the most challenging times of my life. Why did all the dramas happen when I undertook this course? I felt like it was my time to grow and learn. I know so many others who are struggling to get through each day, let alone adding this workload to the stress of their lives. At least I had something to take my mind off things and just focus on what was in front of me. In some of the most gut wrenching situations I was forced to sit in front of a pretty flower and make some sense of it. Sometimes it was the only thing that did make sense, that I had some control over.
Two years – it was this date two years ago my mother was in intensive care fighting for her life, three weeks later my daughter was in emergency the day after she turned 21 … then it was my son at the ripe old age of 19 to nearly lose his life … so many other traumas in between I can’t begin to tell you and won’t bore you with the details. Suffice to say I came close to giving up. We are a positive and strong family and if we can survive these challenges we will rise to any challenge life has in store for us. We are fine now – all of us. Healthy and happy and looking forward to a bright future with strength beyond compare.
So for me – while it added to the stress and the workload – it was a blessing in disguise. I am nowhere near finished. I still have the last assignment to complete and then we move onto the final Diploma Portfolio artworks – three masterpieces to be completed in three months. They are worth 40% of the overall mark … the final works truly are the pièce de résistance – and when you hope that all the efforts to learn and develop over the years of study have paid off.
Sometimes you have to quieten all the noise and the only thing you can focus on is what is directly in front of you. I am so grateful – so indebted to my own instincts and wisdom to choose a path that would find me seated in front of something so beautiful and make me focus on the ‘now’.
“Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher”.