Back in November, I sat on a bench not far from where a section of the Tiber empties into the sea, where fishers tie up their boats and repair their equipment, not far from the marina that hosts a variety of pleasure craft. . . I'd been walking, had shopped a bit, and stopped already for un cappuccino e un cornetto, but before heading over the pedestrian bridge and back to my daughter's, I sat down on a bench to try sketching the busy, working waterfront along the canal.
I got frustrated quite quickly, realizing that I hadn't taken long enough to sort out proportions and perspectives and ratios -- Why hadn't I foreshortened the sidewalk and road more? Why had I left so little room for the boats? And how had I managed to put those stanchions there, while drawing the boat that should have been opposite way over there?
But I remembered that perseverance has served me, in the past, in surprising and pleasing ways, so I followed the inner voices that suggested I add sense-making details where I could (while ignoring the inner voices chastising my haste and sloppiness). And bit by bit, while I could still see the faults of the representation easily enough, I could also see a sketch emerge that was capturing something of what it meant to me to be there, to sit there, to look, and to put the lines on the page.
I got immersed in the scene, in other words, completely caught up in sketching it onto the page. So immersed that I was thoroughly startled to hear, from somewhere over my left shoulder, a resounding "Bravissimo!" -- Let me transcribe for you what I've written about the encounter in the lower right corner of the sketch, above: "Bravissimo! says a 70-ish woman in a grey cardigan, who I hadn't realized was looking over my shoulders - she rejected my dismissal of my work [I was stammering out the approximate Italian for I'm not very good; I'm just learning] and said it was Esatto" --- and she gestured across the canal at the scene I'd been trying to capture, and then waved her hand at my sketched page, repeating E Esatto! Bravissimo!
So my New Year's resolution, such as it will be this year, is to remember that voice, and to heed its encouragement, and to echo it on my own behalf. I'm going to try my very best to grant myself as many "Bravissimo"s as I can, this year. I'm going to try to say them loud enough and often enough that all my Mean Inner Critics are forced to take a step backward, perhaps even to hush for a while. . .
What do you think? It's a good resolution, no? Would you like to borrow it?
In case you're interested, back in January, I began 2018 in Italy, also in Lazio. A few weeks before that, in December 2017, I sketched the scene just to the left of the one in the top photo/sketch -- that's the Coast Guard building you see across the water, and one of the coast guard boats in front of it. . . Bravissimo, right? To be clear, the Bravissimo I'm exclaiming here is not intended to solicit your praise, i.e., I'm not fishing your compliments. What I'm doing and what I'm going to try to keep doing is honouring the effort I make and to honour my own courage and creativity and slowly improving skills. Yes, it's about the Process for me, but it's also okay for me to be pleased with the results of the process and to tell myself so, as often as I can. Self-Care, if you will . . .
Now tell me, have you made any resolutions for the New Year? Whether yes, or no, let me take this opportunity to wish you Tanti Auguri di Buon Anno (Happy New Year -- or roughly, Many Wishes for a Good Year, but don't take my word for it, my Italian is very limited). . . and to start your year off with a great big Bravissimo! (or Bravissima!, I suppose?)
And in case you're looking for something to read in the New Year, I've just posted my list of Books Read in 2018 over on my Reading Blog. Comments about that list are welcome either here or there.