Updated: Oct 21, 2019
Recently I have had a lot of time to sit and think, and to work out what really matters for me, and -in particular- what matters for me in my art, and where I need to be taking it in the coming months. I have a condition that means that from time to time I find myself almost unable to move. Just getting in and out of bed is a Herculean task. I cannot get to the studio, even drawing seems beyond me for weeks at a time. It could be far worse: once launched on the correct medication I am not in real pain and there is a range of further medications which will manage the condition better as time goes by.
I am learning to see these periods of compulsory withdrawal as a gift: not one of my choosing, but one nevertheless. I am fortunate enough to have a loving husband, children and grandchildren, dear friends, yet no one dependent on my energies. I love my home, I love reading, and reliving past experiences through my drawings, my photos and my video clips. I have a small but much valued collection of paintings by dear artist friends. Through all these things I can be at one moment in the Cairngorms with Nan Shepherd and the next paddling in the sea in Cornwall last June, listening to the gentle slap and lap of the waves, or sitting quietly by my beloved pond watching the dragonflies and water boatmen. Or I can be gazing across the Moroccan desert with Gerry Dudgeon, or watching the antics of a herring gull chick in Lyme Bay with Frances Hatch, or searching for a way through the woods on our boundary with my painting pal, Sarah Bovey. I call this 'Soul Time'.
It is a time for reflection. It helps me to see that to some extent not only exhibiting or selling my work, but even, in recent times, painting, have been about what might be called the 'male' me, the one that wants to achieve. But, balancing that, and perhaps closer to who I really am is the 'female' me: the person who is in heaven just sitting by that pond, or standing awed by the mighty soaring arches of a great Romanesque abbey, or looking out of the window at the changing Autumnal colours, and, according to her circumstance, trying to capture that experience more deeply in drawings, in words, or just in paying closer attention.
Catching up on my blogs recently, now that I am regaining some energy, I have identified various technical challenges such as the better integration of the shellac drawings that I so enjoy doing, and experimenting again with combining oil paint and collage. But more importantly, I find myself reflecting that though my collages often capture a sense of celebration, excitement, and gratitude, even of 'resurrection', in recent times they hardly reflect that quieter, more reflective person, and I need my work to reflect both. In the coming months Sarah and I are planning an important exhibition. For very personal reasons a lot rides on it. But that is not, for either of us, about visitor numbers or selling. It is about all that we shall share together in our preparations, all the risks we shall take to delve deeper, all the potential connections with new kindred spirits out there, all those moments of soul magic that will contribute to the final outcome, some of which may well find more eloquent expression in our sketch books than in our finished pieces.
We shall see. But, either way, what a wonderful adventure! And what an opportunity these past weeks have provided to get my thoughts in order. We all need Soul Time.