January 2018 x2 paintings

I work full time, enjoy going to the gym a few times a week, like to spend time with my boyfriend, like to spend time by myself, enjoy practicing yoga, enjoy painting, reading, meeting new people, bettering myself and my lifestyle, have a business I’ve recently set up in my spare time, plus loads more bits and pieces fill my life.

The hard part is fitting it all in, prioritising what is best for me vs my relationship vs my professional development vs my passion vs my health…

I’ve had a rocky couple of years with dissatisfaction at my previous job, lacking a sense of purpose, lacking direction, feeling caught up on the merry go round of life and sometimes not knowing if I wanted to be on that particular ride or if I’d prefer to stand at the edge and mind the bags.

Anyhoo, fast forward to 2017 when I worked really hard at recognising the areas I wasn’t happy with and putting a plan in place to do something about it.

Fast forward again to present day, and every day is so busy and full and a real balancing act to fit everything in but also a great lesson in time management and prioritising (2 things I’ve always been very good at, thankfully!). I feel a huge amount of satisfaction and personal uplift from so many different things (I think I must be one of the easiest people to buy for) and I’ve realised that if I only commit to doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but regularly, then I can maintain that sense of well-being and reap the rewards in day to day life.

Put simply, one of my many goals for this year is to complete 2 paintings a month. Yes I could do, and would like to do, a lot more. But I’m realistic enough to know that it will be at the mercy of something else. If I happen to do more than 2 a month, fantastic. If I only do 1… ok it wouldn’t be the end of the world and it is a goal I’ve set for myself and nobody else, but I would be disappointed because I know how much I benefit mentally and spiritually from painting; I can ride on the high for days on end.

So there we go, that’s one of my goals, and I’m pleased to say I had a 100% success rate in January and I’m on track for the same in February!

Here are my two January pieces…I’d love to hear what you think

I’m really pleased with how the first one turned out. I had no idea how it would evolve or how it would end but simply carried on until I felt an inner peace when I stepped back to look at it.

I had every intention of layering this one up. I recycled an old canvas which I’d started to paint a field of poppies on but never finished. I’d made hardly any marks on it though and suddenly felt like ‘it was there’. So I stopped! (Which is often the hardest thing to do!)

Watch out for my next update on February’s paintings to see if I manage to do the two or even more!

Looking back (over my shoulder)

According to wikipedia, “Over My Shoulder” is a pop rock song by British supergroup Mike + The Mechanics. It was released on 13 February 1995 as the first single from their album Beggar on a Beach of Gold. Sung by Paul Carrack, it was the…

Just kidding! I’m not really going to write about that. Although it is stuck in my head now, so that’s fun.

As I mentioned in my post When you know, you know, I admit to having a perfectionist streak, which can be great but also very annoying!

Until January 2017, on the rare occasions I’d attempted abstract art, I would fail miserably. I could never loosen up enough and found myself ‘tidying up’ whatever I was attempting, until in the end I’d become so frustrated that it didn’t fit into really any category – abstract or otherwise – that I’d abandon it completely. Then I’d confirm to myself what I’d said all along: ‘I can’t do abstract stuff. I’m too much of a perfectionist. I’ve got no imagination’ etc, all kinds of things to excuse the fact that actually I just wasn’t allowing myself to mess things up.

I became known among family/friends/peers as someone who was very good at art; my paintings or drawings were realistic, life-like, photographic, traditional…all kinds of good stuff that I took a lot of pride in (and still do, actually). People would commission me to do a family or pet portrait, or something where they were expecting a likeness akin to my previous work and its accurate portrayal of subject matter. This was great and incredibly flattering, BUT also very limiting and constraining for me as an artist, although its only recently that I’ve realised that’s how I felt. I got to the point where I would turn down commissions because I knew I wouldn’t enjoy it. My lifelong joy had become a chore. (sob)

Without going into too much detail, as I’m sure i’ll expand on it another time, I’m learning to put my own creative needs first, regardless of what other people like, dislike, or expect of me. My passion has been reignited (woohoo! 🙂 ). Right now I’m getting a huge amount of enjoyment from abstract, but that’s not to say I’ll never return to realism or perhaps some kind of hybrid of the two.

I am still very proud of the work I’ve done in the past, and look back on it all with fondness and satisfaction. I’ve decided, therefore, to do some ‘throwback Thursday’ (#tbt for the cool kids ha) blog posts to celebrate my older work. I’ll post some of the quick snaps I took on my phone as each piece evolved, plus probably a little background of what the occasion was.

So there you go! I hope you’ll enjoy looking at them as much as I do… Feel free to let me know what you think 🙂

(and for those of you who wouldn’t mind a blast from the past, click here for the song in all its glory!)

When you know, you know

When people see my abstract paintings, one of the common questions they ask is ‘how do you know what you’re going to do?’, and all I can say is ‘I don’t!’

I look at other paintings, pieces of art, the world around me in general, and I am always seeing compositions or juxtapositions that ‘work’ in my mind. Sometimes I’ll take a screenshot or a photo of it thinking I can refer back to it as a source of inspiration when I do my next painting, but invariably I never do. I wonder if the shapes and images I admire do leave an impression in my mind though and subconsciously I might draw on them (excuse the pun) for ideas… I can understand if somebody viewing my finished paintings might find it difficult to comprehend how I even know where to start: what colours to use, what random shapes or marks to make, when to declare it ‘finished’. IMG_6342

All I can say is, for me, it’s like a sixth sense. I’m embracing my intuition in all manner of ways across all aspects of my life – but particularly in my art this year. I can literally be sat in front of a blank canvas with no idea in my head of what I want to see on it. I’m enjoying the trial and error, because it goes hand in hand with a journey of discovery, and THAT is what I really enjoy.

I’ve gone from being a life-long perfectionist in practically everything I dare put my name to, to pushing myself beyond my comfort zones and realising that THAT’S where the real perfection is! It is the most liberating process, and one that spills over into the rest of my life, allowing me to enjoy the invariable ups and downs that come my way, because I have faith in my intuition. If I’m working on a piece of art and think it’s looking a bit messy or I’ve perhaps ‘lost’ the good parts that had appeared, I trust the process and keep going. It might be that it’s gone too far to bring back and I’ll be as well to paint over it and ‘start again’, but that in itself is fine because the history of the previous layers are what will end up making the finished piece a success.


As for colours – I look in my tub of paints and choose the one(s) that stand out to me at that particular time.

Shapes and lines – I can scribble randomly, use my dominant or non-dominant hand, shut my eyes, turn the page or canvas round at random intervals before continuing.

If I see a part that I like, I might pay a bit more attention to it to emphasise it with colours or texture.

I love the layers. I love to look at a picture time and time again and see something new each time. If I have a part of the painting that I really like and don’t want to lose to more layers, I might cover it in a translucent texture medium to ‘preserve’ it a little whilst still being able to build up the rest of the piece around it.IMG_6351

And finally (although I could go on and on), to reach the elusive finish line, I need to look at the painting and ‘feel’ that it is balanced. Once it is balanced, to me, it is finished. I don’t mean balanced in terms of the use of symmetry; it is probably the hardest thing for me to explain actually. Perhaps this is my seventh sense?!

Once I feel (and it is almost a tangible feeling, as opposed to a thought) that the composition as a whole is balanced, (whether that is busy space vs empty space, curves vs geometric lines, colours, textures, really anything and everything), then I feel happy to step back and move on to a new one.

Occasionally I leave it for a while, not fully confident that I’m happy with it. I might go back and work on it a bit more at a later date with fresh eyes, and sometimes it can completely change or other times it can be a small addition of a few smudges or lines here and there.IMG_6354

I’m starting to post more images of the works in progress as I find the various stages of a painting as interesting and enjoyable (if not more so) than the final piece.

Reading back through this post, I think it sounds suitably vague and therefore accurately describes my thought processes through the evolution of my work!