I had just come to the end of 7 weeks off without pastelling. No art whatsoever!

This was enforced rest after my foot operation so I had no woes about motivation or enthusiasm and I had prepared myself for the fact this was going to happen.

So it was time to get back to it.

With Christmas approaching and commissions to do and tutorials to records plus all the numerous admin and marketing jobs I had to do. It really was time.  After 4 weeks I was feeling pretty good about all this time off, and I was looking forward to getting back. But after 7 weeks I was feeling a little (a lot) apprehensive!…..

Not just about my skills, whether I had lost my skills or could I remember which colours to use or remember the pastel codes (it’s really helpful to know that when I teach)…

But also about whether I actually wanted to get back to it!!!!!  Was I thinking of quitting art? Was I thinking about quitting teaching? It was a scary feeling… and I procrastinated A LOT!

It really should have been 6 weeks off but that 7th week, I procrastinated for 3 days, finding lots of other dull jobs to do that I wouldn’t usually do. You know what it’s like when you procrastinate, right?

By the Wednesday of that 7th week I knew I had to give myself a kick up the backside. That’s when I dug deep and pulled out my box of magic tricks.

This could have been the end of it all but fortunately, I have a lot of experience behind me not just as an artist but in life and getting back on my feet. (no pun intended!) If I was 20 something or even 30 something this might / would be a real big issue and too overwhelming for me to deal with, so running away might have been the only option.

 I’m 50…. I’m half a century! I really do have lots of experience behind me to know that I can get past this glitch.

And experience to realise that it is actually only a glitch and not a catastrophe.   So what did I do?

Firstly I looked back to other times in my life. I used to be a Private Tutor and I’d travel around my town teaching Dyslexic children. Every summer I’d finish for wait for it…. 6 weeks! And every time I went back I didn’t know if I really wanted to go back. But I did go back and I remembered that the first child I taught on the first day back, within minutes I was happy again, loving teaching and laughing at myself for thinking I was going to quit! So that memory was a huge boost to me and my thought process started to change!

I changed from thinking that I didn’t want to be an artist any more, to just thinking I hadn’t done art in a while.

The next event I recalled is when I was running and training for road races. The training was tough and I really found it hard to get out of bed and just go for a run. Once I was running I was fine and I loved it but I just couldn’t get out of bed fast! So much time I wasted, thinking about getting out of bed, it’s funny and pathetic at the same time, because in the end, I got out of bed… every time!

So this reminded me about what I did and still do to kick myself out of bed in a nice way. Two things here. The first one being this little thought train:

1. Okay, so I don’t have to go for that long run, I just have to get up and have a nice cup of tea.

2. Okay, so I can put on my trainers but I don’t have to go outside.

3. Okay then, so all I need to do is walk up the drive and if I don’t like it, I can come back.

And you guessed it, every time, I just carried on, walking then jogging, then running, I didn’t need to go back inside because the hard bit of actually getting out of a warm bed is done, the rest is actually easy.

Another idea that gets me out of bed, is to think of something that I actually do want to do and almost gets me up without me even thinking about it. So I’m lying in bed thinking oh I’ve got this to do and that to do and I hate both those things… so lets think of something I do want to do and Bingo I’m up and out of bed!

So with these two key thoughts, I have gone back to work after 6 weeks in the past and with the idea that I don’t have to go in my studio and do al the boring jobs or I don’t need to start a new art piece, I walked out to my studio and put some great music on. It worked, ha! I was in my studio. Hurdle One complete.

The first thing I had to do after my last exhibition was to clear the floor because my paintings were still in boxes and I couldn’t actually move! So I said to myself, all I have to do is clear these boxes, that’s an easy job and then if I want, I can go back inside the house.

 With the boxes done and I started feeling a bit better, my lovely studio is a happy place full of nice memories.

My next job was to start art and knowing that I had a couple of the commissions to do before Christmas I thought I really did need to have a little bit of practise before I started and I didn’t really want to start on a really big project because I thought that might make me feel sad if it didn’t go to plan.

So my next step was to find a reference photo that really inspired me that wasn’t very difficult and it just made my heart sing with the colours or I could do something with the colours to make my heart sing. So I found the wonderful Sue Tillery who is a brilliant photographer and I love all her photos. I found a beautiful Bumble Bee painting and set about doing something completely different.

Because if it’s different, new, experimental, I can’t fail, I can only find new opportunities.

So I took the loathed white Pastelmat and used the Schmincke Aqua Ti-Color Bronze as a base and played around on a 3 inch piece until I loved my Bee and the colours. I had lots of little scraps of Pastelmat so I could play and not feel constrained but I only used one piece and fell right back into it, like I’d never left.

This is the final piece I created and I love it, the colours make my heart sing and I can safely say I am well and truly back in action!