A Blunt Pencil

Laura Harvey - Brazil


September 30, 2018

Whilst drawing out in the landscape, an art teacher once told me that “you must draw faster, because every time you look up, what you see will have changed.” Pencil in hand, and sheltering my sketchpad from the late winter drizzle, I realise that this concept transcends much further than the Tuscan hills.

On the west coast of Florianopolis there is a small pousada on the beach, where we spent our first week end catch up after moving in with our host families. As soon as I saw the beach, I forgot about my travel sickness on the bus, took my shoes off and wadded straight in. The water was still brisk but the sun was blazing and I wanted to make the most of the free time before sessions started.

A delicious lunch of feijões and arroz was served and we began discussing our first week. The struggles in communication, confusion at bus terminals and excitement to start our apprenticeships were universal, and it provided a chance to exhale from the Brazilian immersion. For a second I glanced out of the window and realised that the sky had become overcast, and that I had left my shoes outside. I popped out to pick them up in case it rained.

In a stark shift from summer in the UK, sunset is no longer at 10:00pm but at 6:30pm in the subtropical southern hemisphere. Forgetting this, I left exploring the landscape with my limited art supplies until after dinner. But it was largely too late – some fellows were night swimming and others were watching films in dorms, and I was straining my eyes to try and reach the cliff on the opposite side of the channel, but all I saw was its reflection in the water.

Straining my senses is something that I’ve been doing frequently in these first couple of weeks. Desperately trying to take in the nature, the colourful houses, the sound of school children chatting in Portuguese, the smell of feijões and the feeling of the ridiculous Florianopolis speed bumps on the bus; I am keenly aware that over a month has passed since leaving home, and I feel as if I have only just arrived. I don’t want to idly pass through this experience, as just like the costal climate, my surroundings seem to be constantly changing. But a Brazilian way of life is not this intense, and not this rushed. If the weather is warm, but we wake up late and miss the chance to go to the beach, my host mum will say “amanhã”. I am finding this balance between seizing the experience and relaxing into the experience strange. All I know for now is that I need to keep looking up and drawing faster.




Laura Harvey