For the last few days I’ve been on a sheep station west of Tenterfield. Along with the fabulous Julia Harpham, our hostess, we’ve been conducting what we’ve called our FULL MOON ART RETREAT. It’s a residential art workshop I teach, where a group of artists stay in the shearers’ quarters, have our studio in the shearing shed and make artwork around the property. (more information). On the second night, we have one of my favourite activities. We rug up (it’s cool at night especially in winter), and take ourselves out into the moonlight and draw the landscape. It takes a while for the our eyes to adjust, but there’s no artificial light to dull our night vision: it seems as bright as day after a while. We are working with pencils (white, grey, black) onto black paper. At first I see only the broad outlines and, with our pages turned to the moonlight, I have to use our lightest pencil to put down the first marks. Then after a while, the details become apparent. I find myself going back over it to redefine areas of tone and detail using the mid and dark toned pencils. I find myself settling into seeing in a different way. It’s calming, restful, meditative. I need to concentrate in a way I don’t have to in bright sunlight. Around me there are dark lumps of other artists rugged up and concentrating. As the night wears on, they quietly go to their beds. Like me, they sleep well this night.
For so many of us, moonlight is not something we get to spend time in, here in the towns and amongst the busyness of artificial light. If I feel this good after just a few hours out there, imagine what would happen if I could turn off the lights and attune myself to mother moon’s more gentle rhythm every night!