Inesa Vėlavičiūtė has created a series of creative responses to Canalside Stories, a series of four workshops brought by Fountainbridge Canalside Community Trust and creative practitioners as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival 2023. The workshops invited people to creatively explore and experience the value and role of green and blue spaces in looking after and improving mental health. 

Awash with rain and growing excitement, we take a stroll along the canal, observing life on and around water. For as long as human beings have been creating art, nature has been a source of inspiration.

We sketch a bit (as much as the weather permits) …

… and take pictures of the lines, forms and colours catching our eye.

Taking the time to notice details is a great way to see and appreciate the world around us.

The artist and workshop facilitator introduces some basic sketching techniques for drawing buildings and plants as we are warming up with coffee, tea with biscuits.

We use ink and watercolour brush pens, experiment with layering and blending tones.

Drawing is a contemplative process, creating a space and time that brings a sense of calm in a fast-paced world.

Whether it’s to alleviate life’s stresses, quieten racing thoughts or looking for encouragement to follow creative pursuits, taking part in a sketching workshop is a great way to connect with nature, the local community, and experience a deeper appreciation of the joys of simple living.

Personally, it has also rekindled my interest in drawing. I haven’t picked up a pencil in over 13 years but now I let myself play with it again:

Inesa Vėlavičiūtė is a Talking Heads volunteer living in Edinburgh. A translator and ESL teacher as well as visual theatre and puppetry critic, she is passionate about words, storytelling and communication around mental health and other social issues we face. Wanting to contribute her skills to build an informed, sustainable and caring society we all want to live in, she currently also works for Community Justice Scotland on the Restorative Justice service project delivery. You can follow her on Twitter @IVelaviciute and Facebook.

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