St Abb's National Reserve

St Abb's National Reserve
View from my office

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

I went to my friend's this morning. We drank tea and planned a weekend in September for an exhibition:

Natasha will open her garden ,and I will exhibit work, painting in the garden. The weekend is the 13th and 14th of September. We discussed the idea of a private view, on the Friday, but, rightly, Natasha fears for her more delicate flora, the risk of a drunken body tumbling over in the fading light (probably mine).

We have a building, in which the work will be exhibited.It does need a window and electricity, but we are high on the adrenaline of a new project, and optimistic.

It was sketching in Natasha's garden, last summer, that drew me from my studio, and back outdoors, to work again.

Her garden is freshly cut back and weeded, awaiting the new flush of growth that will overtake the narcissi and snowdrops.

Her garden, Fowberry Mains is in the yellow book, and is open this summer, for the first time.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Half term is nearly at an end. I fear I'm about to go into a period of mourning; I spend too long, at the beginning of the holiday, attempting to bravely soldier on- with paperwork, with tasks that come under the title of 'pottering'. It has taken me till this morning, to embrace the spirit and have a jolly good loaf about. I know I've missed my opportunity to recharge my batteries properly

Commissions are varnished; too windy to rouse a family route march, in the name of 'fresh air', I was still in my dressing gown at 10, reading Terry Jones' book on the middle ages, a foot dangling in front of the halogen heater; a pile of dirty dishes in the washing up bowl; a pile of clean dishes precariously stacked on the draining board.

Guilt made me dress, at 10.30am- In my mind, braver souls stay in pyjamas till lunch, perhaps even not stepping over the threshold; Children sprawled on furniture, or gluing the cat onto a collage.

Secretly (till now) I have dreaded the arrival of my Mother-Out-Law, who, with a menacingly cheerful cry, would knock-and-come-in, on her way back from a dawn hike, or after tilling a stony acre before 9am, or having marked a 'solid 'A' sample', from her exam board allocation, before morning coffee.

It is not that she openly criticises my pace of life, but she represents, to me, a way of thinking, set in some women I know.

It has taken me too long, I think, to resist the urge to demure to this workhorse approach to life. I admire my M.O.L. She is an academic, a talented writer, a gardener and all round good egg. She throws herself into her work with enthusiasm, never giving anything less than her best.

I can, at last, (at least, most of the time!) shrug off the feeling that I should be ploughing the same furrow:

No longer will I take pride in having dug the whole vegetable patch. I feel no loss of face that my partner does the lion's share of the hefting, lugging and general heaving of heavy objects. My back gave in long before I stopped feeling like a lesser human, for not being able to carry a sack of coal on my back, or wrestle an ox.

I resist the compulsion to batch bake for charity, which has seen me icing cakes before breakfast, or panic buying bun cases.

I say 'no' to charities that ring and ask me to sell raffle tickets, and feel no guilt.

I step down from the bar, it's simply not my bag; I spent too long, trying to do everything, trying to be everything, an achieving relatively little.I can divide myself into artist, dance teacher, writer & mother, but fit little else into this life. I only spare a little time, occasionally, to regret the time I wasted trying to be.

I meet women very like my M.O.L. who do so much, work so hard, so selflessly, and sometimes detect the whiff of bitterness, or remember my own, wondering why everyone wasn't working as damn hard as me...

Anyway, I think I've said what I wanted to say, this morning, in a round about way, but I really must go and do something, (I think I hear my M.O.L. calling...)

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

I added pictures to the blog, this morning, after entertaining the possibility that some readers may like to know about THE WORK.

I'm currently working on a couple of commissions, with a couple pending.

I have, of late, made trips to the coast, to paint en plein air. I was really very self-conscious, about the act of painting, but am finding it much easier now, not to rush the process of making work when I feel I may be under scrutiny- (By seagulls?!)

I especially enjoyed a foray to Bamburgh, in the wild winds in December. The experience, in the end, was all process, as the pictures were adorned with cat paw prints before drying out, unfortunately!

I began sketching outdoors again, last year, in a friend's garden:

My kids are now of an age where they are able to feed themselves, argue effectively against going places with Mother, etc. So, I was able to pack pastels and drive over the hill and sit in the sunshine, surrounded by a horticultural vision.I want exhibit the finished work and sketches sometime, perhaps in a building near the garden (It will be open for The National Gardens Scheme).

I will have some work from the garden to show on the art tour, ( details to follow) in the meantime.