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Can You Embody A Memory?

Updated: Aug 9, 2022

Last Sunday morning was a lazy affair for me. I just returned from my annual pilgrimage to my Scottish homeland, (albeit this one was three years after the last one, thanks to COVID) and jet lag saw my leaping out of bed earlier than I would have liked. After some less than constructive pottering around, coffee in hand, I found myself sitting on the deck transfixed by the quaking sound of aspen leaves from a canopy of them by house.

Unconsciously I was somewhere else, transported back to a moment of utter contentment. It happens a lot when I am around trees. As an infant my mom would put my pram beneath a large oak tree in the garden and leave me to sleep every afternoon. Seemingly I could lay there staring at the leaves for hours.

Memory triggers are hard wired in our brains. In a study by the Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin, researchers stated “Memory is a ubiquitous part of our daily experience. It is not just the occasional act of remembering an event or an appointment or being able to recognize an individual as someone seen in the past, the benefits of previous experience facilitate all aspects of thinking, taking action, and perceiving. Therefore, it is not surprising that the organization of memory, the manner in which it is expressed or used, and its representation in the brain have been of substantial interest to philosophers, scientists, and laypeople alike."

Much of my painting stems from memory triggers. I’ve yet to find confidence in Plein Air painting, and I often turn to photos as a point of reference. However, nothing compares to personal emotions when it comes to creating an image. Almost all my paintings stem from moments in time.

Trees have proven to be the toughest subject yet. How can you possibly capture their strength, movement, and sound? I’ve set myself a challenge to capture contentment on canvas in the form of one of nature’s greatest gifts. Perhaps this lazy Sunday morning will turn out to be the trigger for a new set of memories. Watch this space.

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