The Artist

The artist stood in the shade of the new wooden bridge, built last autumn when the old bridge succumbed to time and wuthering. The waterfall was one of her favourite spots, and she imagined angry water sprites barging impatiently over a flight of weathered sandstone steps. She was drawn to this place time and again, finding it changed and new at every visit. Today the dappled sunlight penetrated the shroud of birch, oak and larch, creating rainbows in the spray that filled the air. Her busy pencils etched beauty onto the thick paper of her sketchbook.

She’d lived here for almost ten years, at the edge of the national park in the shadow of the wooded crags. The scenery in this area was her muse, the Meurent to her Manet, inspiring her to capture its majesty with ink, charcoal and paint. The simple line drawings were her favourite, because they allowed her imagination to fill in the gaps. Her imagination was the only thing that came close to recreating the splendour of a landscape that made her heart burst.

The inspiration and the urge to create was almost overwhelming at times, and she found the diversity of perfect views disorientating. Within an hour’s walk she could find silent, secret lochs with untouched sandy shores. She knew the shallow braes, the forest glens and the rocky streams where the dippers frolicked. She felt a solemn sense of responsibility, as though the land had chosen her as its advocate. It was a pleasant burden to carry.

Hours passed. The sun wheeled slowly across the sky as she drew, lost in concentration. Vapour dampened her sketchbook, but her focus never wavered. The result was a sublime rendering of the vista that awed her, the waterfall seeming to tumble and shimmer on the page. She had talent, although she would never admit it.

The artist finally packed her pencils, sketchbook and flask into a sturdy satchel and began the slow walk down the valley side. Today’s efforts were already forgotten, her mind busy planning tomorrow’s adventure.

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