15th July 2014

‘The Walk’

Time is a thing that can slip away easily or be filled with things that seem inadequate or unfulfilling. Aren’t we all trying to address that in some way? How often do we find ourselves doing things we have to do rather than things we want to do? It’s easy to fall into this trap and feel resentful at having no energy left to do the things we like.

One of my happiest times was as a child spending hours in my bedroom, in the living room or out in the garden drawing. I’d copy pictures from books or comics, not having the confidence to do anything ‘from my head’. My art teacher at the time got really annoyed with me at my refusal to paint, as I said ‘I can’t’ and obstinately stuck to my pencils, while he said ‘you can’. We’d had a partly open extension built behind the garage and I remember setting myself up with some new poster paints and attempting to conjure something aesthetically pleasing, which ended up as a series of messy blobs.

In my bedroom, as a teenager, I would kneel at the windowsill (old house… low windows) and write poems. I’d draw little pictures to accompany them. I listened to music and I daydreamed, and the daydreams inevitably transformed themselves into pieces of writing or pictures.

If we want to find out who we are, and what makes us happiest of all, those are the times we should go back to, to rediscover what gave us joy in our childhood. It’s not easy to re-arrange our adult lives to accommodate these things, but we really, really should.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on finding a balance between teaching, writing and painting. Crucially, for me, it has to be one which means I’m not putting pressure on myself (that takes out all the fun!) and one which means I can absorb myself in each activity, but be prepared to let go of each too so that I can pursue the other. So I have been doing around 2 hours writing, 2 hours painting, a day… I say ‘around’ because sometimes it’s been a bit more, sometimes less, and have just finished this painting, ‘The Walk’.

The Walk 11.7.14
It’s acrylic on canvas and I really do love it, and loved doing it. I have also had a moment of realisation as to why this balance of painting and writing is so important to me. Writing is a very cerebral thing involving lots of thinking (sometimes to the point of brain ache), whereas painting is sensual – it is in the mind’s eye and is tied up with emotion. I don’t think when I paint, I feel.

I have already drawn out my next painting, ‘Cloud Gazing’, and will let you have a peek when it’s finished. I intend to do a few and hopefully sell them. In fact, I have a buyer for ‘The Walk’ already, which is completely wonderful! Maybe I should have listened to my art teacher sooner!



8 responses to “15th July 2014

  1. I think you did exactly as you did. If you had listened to that teacher you might not have taken to writing or teaching or worse, you could have taken up art professionally and be feeling under pressure to produce commissions and not be enjoying the balance you’ve found now.

  2. Great post, Abi! It’s like Picasso said, ‘It’s taken all my life to paint as a child again.’ Or something like that. It is all about freeing ourselves up and not worrying too much about what happens on the canvas. Not something I would imagine applies in the same way to writing as it does to painting. So good to know you are finding you flow again with art. It was great to see them in the flesh when me and Anna visited.

    Fabbo on having a buyer too! That’s got to be quite encouraging.

    • Oh I love Picasso – that’s such a wonderful quote! Yes, the freeing yourself thing – it’s exactly that, and that’s the reason I find it really hard to paint for someone with a pre-designated purpose. Much easier to just go for it and see what happens. It is sooo encouraging! I am shocked and delighted! 🙂

  3. We must have had really similar childhoods! Almost all my sketch books were pencil drawings…didn’t really attempt painting til late teens, then loved it. I used to write fairy poems and draw flower fairies to illustrate and staple all the pages together to make books. I was heavily influenced by Cicely Mary Barker!
    We should always find the time for what we love. x

  4. Guess what, Lisa – so was I! I have one of the original flower fairy books that my mum gave to me a few years ago – I think it was her mum’s. I used to sit with her while she read it to me. In fact, I did a water colour of The Daisy Fairy for my daughter when she was little… lots of similarities between our paths, Lisa x

  5. I love the thoughts in this post, Abi, I believe too that what we were in childhood is a window to who we really are; before the world forced us into it’s own mould. That’s easy for artists to say and subscribe to, but I think it’s true of other traits too – I have a friend that can trace her passion for leadership development back to childhood gardening and watching plants grow, develop, flower, fruit. My own struggle has been to escape my utilitarian upbringing where there has to be a reason to do anything, even something artistic. So I never made it into the visual arts and I sometimes ponder: would my world would have been different if I’d had bohemian parents? I still find myself saying of art, “but what’s it for?” – sometimes even my own. I suspect some of my inspirations get filtered out at the point of conception. So thanks for inking out how painting and writing work differently for you.

  6. What a thought-provoking response, Martin… ‘what we were in childhood is a window to who we really are; before the world forced us into it’s own mould’ – I love that and it’s so true. This whole nature/nurture thing is one that’s always interested me, and I do think our upbringing creates responses and reactions in us that wouldn’t have been there had we had a different upbringing. Re. ‘what’s if for?’ – what is anything for? So many things are driven by personal motives of success, money, ambition. I think creativity can be outside of this. It’s about just being, or being at one with whatever it is you are doing – you know that thing when you’re absorbed in something and you realise you are smiling – it’s that!

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