If you read my last newsletter you will know that I started 2019 by accidentally going out with my trousers on inside out and sharing a calendar I’d designed featuring the wrong days of the week. In an effort to reverse the, all too typical, trend I wrote a big To Do list and happily ticked off almost everything within a week, including the tax return. The only thing left is this blog post which of course means I’m sitting on the floor by the stove, wrapped in blankets, warming the fingers of one hand on a mug of tea and… yes, totally blank.
Reluctant snow flakes are floating aimlessly outside the big window, occasionally Causey Pike disappears in a flurry but not much is settling, it’s as if the clouds are blocked up like a damp salt cellar. A big shard of ice just blew out of the gutter in a gust of wind and all I can think about is, how long it might take to make some cinnamon buns. January is definitely not a good time for imposing strict new diets and exercise regimes; in fact I think it is vital to edge into the new year cautiously, not looking it in the eye and being extra kind to yourself at every opportunity (and others of course, be extra kind to everyone and build up a fat store of good feelings to help you through the rest of the year’s up and downs). This year in particular I’ve been really aware of how the low light in this house affects my mood and, these days, my eyesight. It feels as though I’m wearing a very large and heavy, wide brimmed hat so I’ve been trying to make sure I get outside even for a few minutes to make sure my rods and cones don’t wither! Nutmeg kitten has been joining me on my short walks, bounding along silently, climbing every tree and promising that his extra bushy tail (which puffs up like a bottle brush the further we get from home) will protect us from almost anything.
I think one of the reasons I’m struggling to write this is that I’ve brooding over the #10yearchallenge thing on social media, which as far as I can see is only fun if you’re about 30 ( that goldilocks decade) and looked a bit odd in your 20s or if you’ve made a massive success of everything in the past 10 years and overcome major set backs so that you can look back with smug satisfaction at how far you’ve come. I look back way too much, dwell on anniversaries and pine for the past to an unhealthy degree, so digging out photos from 10 years ago does not help me get used to the person I see in the mirror every day- I don’t know who she is but she keeps trying to tell me that “looking back is for the birds” and I need to appreciate NOW more and look forward with less foreboding.
Because of the tax return and the New Year, January does tend to be a bit of a looking back, taking stock and reassessing the situation kind of month. Like many creative people, part of what I do inevitably involves some degree of rejection and this can be particularly tough as you bounce bravely into the new year full of plans and hopes. Poet Kate Hale wrote a really good blog about this from the point of view of a writer and as I sulked slightly at a recent exhibition rejection (more because it involved an un-returnable entry fee and a “we are to busy to email unsuccessful candidates” policy, than the actual rejection) I took heart from her suggestion that “You keep casting your line out, and you keep reeling it in. Sometimes there’s a wriggling fish hooked on the end, but most times it’s empty. That’s ok, though. This is just another opportunity for you to add fresh bait.”
As you can see I’m still enjoying escaping reality with my daydreamy watercolour doodles. I’m not sure where I’m going with them yet; that girl keeps popping up in various places and I haven’t quite decided what her story, or face, is yet… who is she?
One exciting piece of news this week is that there’s the possibility of doing another set of book illustrations, this time for The Secret Garden. I really hope it happens, it’s probably jinxing it to say it out loud but I really enjoyed doing the last ones for the Ugly Duckling and it’s amazing to feel like a “real” artist! I’ve added the little books to my website recently and Elspeth will be at British Craft Trade Fair in April with all her “Storybook Cards”
Meanwhile in cyanotype news I’ve been adding a new section to the website which lists workshop dates for 2019 including one at Printfest where Cumbria Printmakers have been asked to run various 3 hour sessions alongside the exhibition which is all a bit wildly exciting as it’s one of the most prestigious print exhibitions in the north. Just as exciting is a brand new exhibition this summer organised by fellow Cumbria Printmaker, Sarah Robley, at Lanercost Priory. Print at the Priory, is a selected exhibition showcasing a wide variety of techniques and some fabulous artists… I’d better get practising!
Well, I’ve managed to stumble to the end of this post and if you’re still reading thank you. I really do like writing I just need to be more organised and confident about it I think. Anyway, here’s to another year of ups and downs, adventures and lazy days. x
Reading: “Holmes and Watson, a miscellany” by S.C.Roberts and Listening to: (audio book) “The Binding” by Bridget Collins