Eagles, ticks and drawing

On the previous day, Cath and I had driven through Inveralligin, north of Upper Loch Torridon. One of our guidebooks had a walk not too far from there and the terrain was sufficiently flat for Helene to join us on the walk. So, we drove there.

The walk had good views across Loch Torridon. When Helene got tired, she walked to a rendezvous point, whilst Cath and I headed for the car.

Cath and I took an alternative route back to the car. It was through a lot of growth. We’d need to check for ticks when we returned to the cottage after what had happened in Shuna!

After we picked up Helene, we again drove to Shieldaig. Our cottage owner had told us that there were sea eagles near the village, but none had appeared the whole week. We did some walking to have a closer look at the island where they perched. After an hour of walking and looking, just as we were returning to the car, we were rewarded with seeing one eagle circling high above us.

On the return back to our cottage, we visited the studio of artist Lisa Fenton, who lived in Shieldaig. We ended up having a long conversation with her. She was especially interested in a book I’d read years ago and recommended to people who thought they couldn’t draw.

The book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards, shows you how to see in a different way. She says that some of our brains, especially when looking at something familiar, don’t look at the detail. Much of the time when we’re looking at something, our brains simply classify it from the range of things it has already observed. Betty Edwards describes several techniques to stop you doing that — to really see.

When the book was written, it was thought the left side of the brain handles logical stuff and the right the creative stuff. Now cognitive scientists say that the process is not that clear cut. However, the techniques Betty Edwards teaches are useful regardless of the theory. One technique she uses is to get you to copy an upside down image. The brain can’t easily classify this and therefore you’re required to look at it much more closely so that the lines and shades become much more apparent. To illustrate the point, in one example, there is a photo of a famous person who is upside down. I couldn’t work out who it was but when I turned the book around, it was obvious!

Years ago, I was telling someone about this book, and she became curious because, she said, “I can’t draw to save my life!”. Several months later, we visited her. She had been following the book and showed us some drawings and paintings. They were good. You’d think she’d been drawing for years.

When we returned to the cottage, the tick inspection produced yet more ticks on Cath and me. One of the ticks that I extracted from my arm was still moving!

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