When Life gets in the way of Creative Routine

Ok, the truth is this last week I’ve been feeling the pressure, with the children being off for two weeks over Easter and keeping them entertained and fed (seriously how can two children eat so much?), I feel like I’ve been pulled in all directions.

We’ve been to feed my friends lambs – by far my favourite part of the holidays, the skate park, swim camp and comps, had J’s belated birthday sleepover, a BBQ, friends round for lunch, quad-biking for the hubs’s birthday, filming for J, and also family Escape Room challenges – that seriously taxed our problem solving skills – to name but a few and I’ve spent way more time than I’m happy with in supermarkets!

On school holidays, we pack it in and make the most of the time off, so it’s partly self-inflicted but when you have a daughter who swims 6 days a week and misses out a lot in social terms, I always feel we need to stack up some fun memories, so that her childhood is not all about the pool and personal bests.

Added to this, I have actual deadlines, a bit of a rarity for me, other than the producing of this Blog on a Monday, and the kids logistical timings of the million activities they do, and of course my daily dog walks, the rest of the time I can manage flexibly to suit what my focus is that week, normally.

It would have all been fine, had our Art Group Exhibition been on the usual weekend in March, but no, it’s this coming weekend instead, so in-between the Easter holidays juggling and ridiculous amounts of washing (again how can two small people wear so many clothes?), I’ve been trying to cram in creative time to put together a collection.

Now, some things have worked out ok, the simple ideas always work out the best, don’t they? These I have been able to complete whilst on Swim duty with the daughter, the little birds have been particularly satisfying to do, albeit incredibly fiddly and I’ve gone a bit cross-eyed doing them! I do like their chirpy, colourful characters though, each with little unique differences, I think they work nicely as a mini-collection.

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With other pieces, some have worked out better than I thought would, others worse, because I hadn’t fully thought them through, was rushing and needed to get it all to the printers, but all in all I have a nice collection of new artwork to make into art cards for my sales table at least.

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The tulip pot is bugging me, the middle tulip’s falling petal on the left!

Then there’s the bigger pieces to actually display on an Exhibition Board; I’ve decided to focus on the ‘line and wash’ theme that I really like doing, mixing two older pieces with two new pieces. The first one I did at home, not rushing and I’m pretty happy with it, apart from a few little tweaks and corrections to the sky, it’s almost done.

It’s a house that is opposite us, owned by the famed local artist Susan Brown no less, I’m not sure what she would think of my efforts! It’s rare that you ever see her and I imagine her painting away in her studio, lost in her own world, I’d love to go and talk to her about her art but I’ve been told she keeps herself to herself so have never dared, she seems a bit of an enigma!

The house used to be a pub, called The Crown and sits boldly, slightly angular to the main road. It’s an impressive building and because of the way it’s positioned, often has interesting shadows cast across it from the building on the other side of the crossroads. I’ve always wanted to paint it and I’m pleased I’ve finally had a go, it’s great practice more than anything and the more interesting the building the greater the challenge.

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The second one, I did quickly at Art Club, a challenge we were given to paint an iconic Huddersfield building in a limited colour palette, so I chose one of the most iconic of all, Castle Hill, where as a child I went with school, climbing to the top of the tower and running down the ditches as fast as we could, collapsing in a heap at the bottom.

I really like in it’s unfinished state, and I’m worrying if I dabble with it, it may not work BUT I still have issues with the sky…..you’ll learn that skies and particularly clouds seem to be my nemesis, so I know I need to go back to it, it’s currently staring at me from the kitchen dresser, nagging me to do those tweaks. I will get to it this week, because ultimately I have that deadline to get all my work to the village hall by Saturday afternoon!

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Castle Hill always speaks ‘home’ to me

So, there’s the art stuff going on, the hubs is away for 3 days this week with work, que more logistical planning with the kids and I’ve also got another ‘Playing With Writing’ workshop on Wednesday that I need to prepare for!  But despite all this, and feeling a tad exhausted, it’s sometimes good to get a kick up the *ss to get stuff done, even if it does mean your energy levels slump a little.

And it’s surprising when that time can be – you don’t have to have a perfect 3-hour session in a studio or kitchen all laid out nicely, art can be done on your knee at a swimming gala, with felt tip pens spilling all over the floor, although you do get some odd looks.

You can find the time if you have to, and a deadline is looming, it’s just about using your time wisely and not sinking in to the overwhelm. Last week I had the bare-bones of a collection, now it’s done – as a wise man once said:

 ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done’ – Nelson Mandela   

I’ve always loved that quote!

Take this blog post for example, I began it last night at 9.40pm, after a full day of swim gala duty and my niece’s 16th birthday meal. I was tired from a full-on day of energy-zapping heat, but as usually is the case – once I start writing these, it’s then difficult to stop and a challenge to get to bed!

However, although I find ways to get done what I need to do, I have to be careful, I’m more aware than ever as I get older of trying to listen to my body and rest when I need to (despite feeling about 25 in my head!). It’s a challenge to do this, especially if I’m in the zone, but it’s essential to make sure you stay fully fit and no totally exhausted, and once I hit the sheets, there’s no place I’d rather be – getting up again is another story, I’m definitely a night owl!

Also being on the introvert side of the scale, after years of wondering why I felt a little odd sometimes in large groups, and why I’d feel completely shattered after a full day of socialising, I’m now beginning, finally to set aside some quiet time after intense busy periods like this, to re-energise and feel human again.

It’s been quite a revelation actually to learn this about myself and it’s answered so many questions I’ve had growing up and given me the confidence to just accept that’s why I am like I am; why I crave those daily walks, just me and the dog, why ‘too noisy’ environments literally make me feel physically on edge, why reading a book in peace and quiet with a coffee is my idea of bliss and the more I learn about introversion, the more it fits and I don’t feel weird anymore.

Anyway, I’m digressing now but my main point of this Blog post (there is one I promise!) is to try not to feel overwhelmed if you’re nearing a deadline or life is getting in the way, it can be done, slowly, chipping away at whatever you need to do, until before you know it, you’ve finished and you can feel immensely proud of yourself!

Yes, the house may look like it’s been inhabited by a family of meerkats, destroying everything in their path, the fridge may be well and truly bare (Cheerios and milk is all you need in our house to survive!), and you know you’ll have to get to that at some point, but park it, mentally I mean, until you’ve accomplished what you want to achieve, the stuff you dream about.

The world won’t end if the house is a tip (My son’s just read this sentence and said ‘Exactly! so stop nagging us! Hahapractice what you preach Mum! ) BUT you would feel really disappointed if you didn’t give your passion it’s full attention, and get your talent out there. I’ve never met anyone whose passion is ‘house-work’ yet.

So, this week, the kids are back, peace, on a noise level and snack-consuming front, has resumed, as has the washing machine.

Day 1 has been quite productive, I walked the dog and took pictures of bluebells (my fave), all my pieces of art work are now at the printers, I delivered a birthday present and card to my friend’s daughter who also turns 16 today, I found the one, last-remaining meal in the fridge for tea (win!), got my son to drama class and finished this Blog post, albeit a little later than usual (always relish the wins I say). Have I completely got the house back in order? No. Does it really matter? No.

I’ve a busy week ahead but it’s all planned out in my journal, I’m beginning to feel some semblance of control again, and breathe….

Now all I need is to sell some of my pieces on Sunday, fingers-crossed – wish me luck!!

Until next time…

Juliet, The Curious Creative 

P.s I’ve another amazing book to tell you about, found by my lovely local book shop Read in Holmfirth, called Collecting Conversations – 100 women sharing everyday thoughts by Sam Bunch.

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Read popped it on their Insta page and I knew instantly that I’d love it, the illustrations alone are gorgeous. I spent Saturday evening getting stuck in and so far it’s a moving tale about Sam’s experience of losing both her parents quite close together. After her mother’s death, she finds 30 year’s worth of daily diaries in the loft, simple short sentences that together sum up life as a whole.

Sam then has an idea to interview 100 women, of all ages and backgrounds, about all kinds of common life topics in memory of her Mum; it’s an incredible insight into normal life, and I know I’m going to find it fascinating and also useful as a writer, for examples of different dialogue. Here’s a link to Sam’s Insta if you want to find out more and I will of course be adding this to The Curious Cave section soon!

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