Thursday, March 30, 2017

I am an artist

As I'm still struggling with words, let's do this bullet blogging style. I don't know why the words haven't come back I feel fine in myself, it's simply that I can't write a coherent sentence on here at the moment. I've been deleting drafts all month. Pfft. Whatever. Here's my world in all it's glory.
  • I am an artist. 
  • It does not feel at all real. I announce: "I'm off to my studio" on Facebook and fall about laughing. Yet, here I am arting away. Artist are as artists do.
  • The session with Nicola, my mentor focused my work for the month. I had suggestions of activities I could try, as well as artists to look at.
  • Nicola has got me rethinking artists materials and surfaces. I've put away my usual drawing pens and am now using a dip pen and drawing ink. Given my cartridge pen was taken away from me at school because I covered everything except my paper with ink, it's been a challenge.
  • One of the suggestions was covering a 10m roll of wall lining paper with my stick forms. I've only managed about a meter and let me tell you, ten meters is quite a lot. 
  • It turns out I like using dip pens and ink to draw my shapes. It gives me The Happy.
  • I'm beginning to let go the idea of me being a figurative/representational painter.
  • In fact, I'm not even sure I can call myself a painter...or that I'd even want to.
  • I'm still getting used to the idea that what I'm doing now isn't so much about learning to be a better painter (which I've been working hard to do), but rather my challenge is to explore the length and breath of my artistic practice. 
  • My work with Nicola isn't only about how prepare for my application to an Master of Fine Arts programme, our time is also about how I build a solid artistic career.
  • I've known for some time that retirement will be something that other people do at the end of their working lives. I won't retire because I intend to create art and (hopefully) to write until I stop making sense or I drop dead. Whichever comes sooner.
  • The lack of retirement means I am thinking about creating an artistic life from the foundations upwards. To this end, I've overhauled my morning routine of coffee, social media and squabbling with strangers on the internet. Julia Cameron, author of the Artist's Way strongly recommends doing Morning Pages before anything creative. I've taken this on board and have already finished on Moleskin notebook.
  • I'm also working on my meditation practice. My sanity is a precious and fragile thing and daily meditation is beginning to help me keep my thoughts under control. 
  • Yoga and daily exercise is a goal I'm working hard for. My physical fragility is a constant source of frustration recently. I want to be out there running and lifting weights again. I miss feeling awesome. It also means I'll be physically more robust in my later years.
  • It turns out there's ten years of dust and cobwebs gathered in my brain. My ability to think critically (which wasn't all that great to start with) needs a good dose of WD40 and a massive wrench to get it going again. Anyone got any jump cables?
  • I'm working on several projects at once. This gives me The Happy. I like having several different schemes of work to dip in and out of. It means if I get stuck in one, I can hop over to another, giving my unconscious time to resolve the issue. It keeps me from getting blocked.
  • As well as preparing for the show next autumn, I've been invited to submit work to an exhibition at the end of April (this April, like April 2017). It's called Sardines & Beer and is being held at Thirteen A in Norwich. I'll be putting in three pieces of work. One is actually Dave's, it'll have an NFS sticker on it. The other two I'm working on now and they will be for sale. I've only got about ten days to get them ready as they've got to be framed. No pressure. No pressure at all.
  • The exhibition next month means I've got to get other things sorted like: business cards, website...you know all the marketing stuff I should be all over, but actually have been ignoring.
  • I am an artist.
  • I've got to think about myself in the world in those terms and that's a bit scary. People believed me when I said I could do this and now I've got to get the mass of ideas from my head onto paper and canvas. Easy peasy.
  • The chickens are still in lock-up. Unfortunately, with the warmer weather, they've discovered how to dig. Dave and I moved them to give that patch of grass a break, he glanced out of the window and called me over. On a totally fresh bit of grass, within an hour Scrabble had dug herself a lovely hole up to her chest.
  • Bantams are brilliant for getting moss out of grass. If only they would stop there.
  • Apparently, I'm feeding the pheasants too much. Dave says their obese. Nonsense. I say they're just puffed up!
  • Jenga was kicking up a fuss, when I went to see, the massive cock pheasant was strutting around like he owned the place. I did try to get a picture, but he became suddenly camera shy. 
  • It's definitely Spring around here, though I am deeply resentful of the hour lost to British Summer Time. I don't care what the clock says, it still feels like 5am when my alarm bloody goes off.
Well, that's enough for the moment. In my typical fashion, once I got going I was fine. Ah well. Let's try this again next week, shall we?

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Spring has Sprung Round 'ere

Darlings, thank you so much for your support in my last post, I have news about the mentor, that's coming below. Again, thank you for your kind words and virtual hugs, they were so appreciated.

Z and LT have left me in charge of the Rampaging Rabble, which meant this afternoon I took the bins out for bin collection day tomorrow. As I walked to and fro I was struck by a sense of deep gratitude and appreciation to be trusted to be here. The Zedary is so beautiful and has healed so many of the broken parts of my soul, in so many tender moments, it held me in the moments of my deepest fear. Being here has meant more to me than I have words to express. And it's spring.

Darlings, there are so many snowdrops. I didn't realise a single place could have so many. Dotted around and in clumps. The narcissi have popped up, egging their later flowering cousins on, some of whom have risen to the challenge and refuse to be out done. 

My chooks are laying again. They started last weekend and the noise they've been making about it, honestly, I thought something had got in there and was attacking them. I suppose they're a bit rusty yet. Happily, bantams don't lay all year round...or at least mine didn't. It means they'll live longer than their more profuse relatives. Z's velociraptors kept going through the winter and age doesn't seem to slow them down much at all.

The DEFRA regulations have lifted the most stringent of restrictions, tomorrow, I'll take the covering off their run, but will keep them all in. I would rather be safe, plus I've discovered how convenient it is to have them in all one place, not racing around creating havoc. With the coop being mobile, I've been moving it around, giving them new ground and a new view every week. It's working quite well.

The pheasants still expect to be fed. They congregate at the hedge when they hear my coffee grinder go off and then get closer and closer to the house the longer I take to feed them. We had some snow about three weeks ago and they were all but banging on my kitchen window. Daft things. They noted I was feeding the rabble and milled around hopefully. Feeding them twice a day would be too much, they're portly enough I feel.

And for my three bits of totally awesome news:

1.  Dave met with his oncologist late in February. He remains cancer free. Not only that, his poor baggy kidney is returning to its normal size and shape. A welcome surprise especially as that explained some of the discomfort he was having. Of course I cried. As much as I would like to tell you I've been big and brave about this particular follow up appointment, I can't. I'd be lying. I was worried as hell. Dave will continue having quarterly follow ups and after two years, will go down to bi-annual checks. I take every day as it comes. 

2.  Social media to the rescue! (again) Thanks to Twitter, a lovely lady responded and offered her services. We met yesterday for the first time and she has been exactly who I was looking for: she's an artist herself, she works in education at the levels I'm looking for and she's just lovely! Thanks to her, my tentative plans are now better formed. 

I'm going to spend the next 18 months arting my little (hah) backside off. This time will be about building my practise as an artist, experimenting wildly, producing masses of work with the intention to put a portfolio together to apply for a Masters of Fine Arts at A.N. Art School (to be determined). Having a mentor means I can focus on doing work I'm drawn to, rather than working my way through a curriculum set by other people. I don't need the discipline put upon me. I just need some guidance and to be fed information occasionally. Having a mentor will do exactly this for me. I will also continue taking as many art classes as I can to continue to build upon my skills. 

I'm working towards a ten year plan and I'm quite happy to have the next three years accounted for; I know the seven years after that will be a slog. That's fine. If my foundations are strong enough I can deal. Besides, it's not like I'll be thinking about retirement. That is simply not going to happen. 

3.  Remember I told you my friend Chris the astrophotographer and I were planning to work together to do an exhibition? I submitted the application a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday, I got an email accepting us! Put the 13th to 24th November 2018 in your diaries darlings, you're all invited. It's a conditional offer, as we haven't got the body of work ready to hang, they want to see one of my oil paintings next year. That's fair enough. They are taking a risk with me, I've only just started to explore the subject. Nevertheless, I did a happy dance around my living room. Shortly followed by the stunned "oh bugger" dance. Now the work really begins. 

At the end of November last year, I was struggling somewhat. I put together an action plan to help me get my shit together. December didn't happen because of that bloody virus, pretty much wiped out five weeks of my life (which I deeply resent), but there you go. In January, I discovered the joys of Bullet Journalling which enabled me to chase down my ducks, round them up and get them lined up in some semblance of order. It's meant I'm building a daily meditation practice to keep The Crazy at bay and got me moving again. I'm now beginning to work out again in the mornings, I've had to go back to the beginning with Rosemary Conley, but I'm moving and the best bit is that while I've been frustrated at my general lack of fitness, it turns out I'm a lot better than I thought. My resting heart rate has come down considerably. Three years ago, the best I could manage was 82 bpm, Now it's 68 bpm. Hopefully, that will continue to improve the more I move.

The ridiculous part is I'm getting up the same time and I do all of this stuff first thing...it's still second and third thing in the morning before I'm able to get on with the other things in my life. Having said that, I am not on the sofa very much at all, nor am I on Facebook or Twitter and it's been much better for my general wellbeing. There's some crazy shit going on out there. 

Darlings, this month I aim to do better. See you next week. xx

The Space Between

The Speed of Colour oil on board, 3ft x 2ft I'm in that weird space between the body of work having been finished and the exhibit...