Have your cake and eat it

I have been enjoying a podcast called Art Juice in which Alice Sheridan and Louise Fletcher chat about common questions and issues we all have as well. They are both abstract painters but most of what they discuss is relatable to any creative activity. Actually, I binge-listened to many episodes whilst travelling over the summer and something from the conversations and a growing discontent at not getting time to work on my art fell into place and I knew I wanted to make a change. So, starting New Year I shall have a day a week to be in my studio and drop to four days working as an education manager which has felt like quite a large decision but I’m really excited to see what that brings!

Leah Goddard talks about finding harmony rather than balance ; that we don’t need the same amount of time to do everything we want to do in life, but we need to understand how much of everything we need of the different parts in order to stop feeling time is always scarce. The way I have thought about this is that it’s like a recipe for a cake; you need a lot of flour, less sugar, a drop of this, a pinch of that… for me, a dedicated studio day feels good, allowing me enough time for family and chores whilst the main ingredient continues to be my current employment. You will have a different looking cake requiring a different recipe. Perhaps I should market an Art Tart approach! 😂

Linked to this, has been some thinking about what being successful means to me generally, but especially as an artist. It has been a topic that has come up in a few conversations recently and I wonder what your answer would be?

I guess it depends on a whole range of things including life circumstances and goals, income and recognition, time and ability, involvement and wellbeing…

This is an interesting read:


For me, I have realised with the help of a dear friend, just how important finding my voice is, and how it has been present in a lot of what I have chosen to do and make happen. I know all this inner work will not only make my work better, but give me a feeling of satisfaction as I’m working to what is deeply important to me. And in the light of this, I have a better sense of what success would look like, the main aspect being working towards an exhibition in the next couple of years. What I want to say through my work, and a continued desire to talk to others about creativity and hopefully inspire other people to develop their own voice just seems to grow in me as I become more consciously aware. Your voice is not the same as your style, I have learned. Voice is more about those enduring threads running through time that you find yourself involved with or returning to time and again: those things you recognise appearing through your work as you look back, conscious or unconscious. How they are translated creatively is about your style and this can be found and will change as you work.

So you can see how a bit of a shift has taken place with a good dollop of synchronicity which I guess keeps us fresh and motivated. One step leads to another…

That, and the affirmation from a friend when I said I was probably a bit odd doing all this thinking, that yes, I was odd and it was perfect as we are all odd! In that moment, I was able to say for the first time, ‘this is me, this is how I am and I’m fine with that’. And…it might also have something to do with reaching a certain age where you just stop caring as much! 😁

One of the more enjoyable aspects of creativity is the way it celebrates and rewards our oddness and idiosyncrasies. Individual peculiarities, which are often seen by society as a weakness become a strength: a defining characteristic that gives us a unique filter on our view of the world and how the world view us.

Will Gompertz

In other news, I keep getting an itch to paint large, so one morning I thought I’d just quickly whip up a nice masterpiece. I’d daub and splatter in wonderful abandonment and give myself to the universe and something utterly wonderful would present itself over the morning. Now, I’ve done this before and said masterpiece did not emerge sadly, so maybe I should have listened to self but no, several coffees and some loud music later I was mopping up a flood on the floor and and contemplating the nuclear war zone that was my studio with a ‘thing’ on the easel. Had I reflected, this was not part of my skill set or voice, I had no right to turn into an instant successful abstract painter and thus it was extremely unlikely that my thing should be anything but dismal. I had tripped up over a common mistake of not recognising the right time to play and wanted something to show for my time. So I’m going to show you what happened so that you have permission to hush that voice and enjoy a good muck about when that’s what needs to be done. That said, there was a tiny bit of it I quite liked and I have some nice cards from all the little pieces!

The mess:

The redeemable little bits:

What has been successful is some work I’m doing towards the exhibition and some smaller pieces I’m enjoying which I’m calling ‘Objects of Attention’ because for as long as I can remember, nature and these found objects have thrilled me. I also know I have an interest in containment and so housing them feels satisfying. This is some of the work towards ‘Feather’ but there is more to be done in creating some ghostly images to connect the inanimate objects back to the ‘animas’ they originated from.

And finally, I can’t tell you what Him Indoors said this resembled mid-make but I netted the winning vote for our guild challenge for a cup cake pin cushion. That’ll learn him!

Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are

Brené Brown