It’s a strange and dark time of year, does anyone like January? I won’t even mention the things we are meant to be doing this month! Who needs that? I’m very much with The Moomins who hibernate from November to April, wise, wise creatures. Though I do find beauty and inspiration in bare branches and the beautiful light we occasionally get.
So settle in, get comfy, my blogs are much like my style of talking; I always have a lot to say. 2019 I wrote Old Year/New year/Art year (blog archives) and it certainly was a big year. I became a proud member of The Society for Embroidered Work. I took part in their first exhibition at Clerkenwell Gallery which was also my first. I had an article in Be creative magazine, and was interviewed in Brighton Journal and to my great excitement also did a big Artist Takeover on Instagram for Carve out Time for Art. Somehow I managed all of that while constantly unwell, and suffering with depression and anxiety. In May I came off anti depressants after about 20 years, the withdrawal was horrific. Anyway long story short I am now strangely finding the depression has lessened by about seventy percent!! Which means I now have some control over my life.
During the Autumn I found myself pondering my creative journey. I’d packed in quite a bit and was feeling pretty drained. I also began to see that my energy gets depleted very quickly due to chronic low grade ill health. Stress is the culprit my young doctor tells me, well this I have in abundance. My conclusion was I need more Art. I’ve learned to focus properly in the last few years. This used to be an issue as there is so much inspiration and so many things to try. I’ve evolved my work very slowly through a plodding approach. I think there’s some talent in there but, it has mostly come about by hard work and a sheer refusal to give up.
I decided this year is the year of saying No! No to anything other than making art. I have cleared my diary, declined opportunities I’d usually say yes to. I’ve prepared for days of illness by making a list of things I can do easily and slowly and even in bed. I decided I want to be a ‘proper’ artist clocking 4 hours a day Monday to Friday. There is so much in my head that has waited a long time to get created. I want to learn new skills, I want to elevate my work to a higher level. There is a whole solo exhibition buzzing around in my thoughts and sketchbook. The first piece ‘Beneath the Surface’ was featured in the London exhibition, the others (including some installation pieces) need yet to become…
Here are some of the obstacles…
- Having to be self motivated
- The above but with instagram access
- Working from home (can’t afford a studio)
- Feeling constantly unwell
- Being isolated
- Doubting yourself
- Guilt! it’s not technically a ‘proper’ job even if you are self employed unless you are earning more than pocket money, or is it?
- More guilt, I’m very lucky compared to lots of people..
Well I’m very proud to say I overcame all the above, I just refused to let it be an issue, I got serious and got down to it on the 1st Monday of January, and then it got hard, and harder still!
I’m also a Mum of teenagers. Tricky in itself, made more so by the fact that I was a full time Mum for many years. I cook, I’m cuddly, I listen. So week one of January my very intense 17 year old son (who can talk non stop for many hours! sounds like me, I know!) is doing everything under the sun to avoid A level work – cue talk to Mum! No is not a word he understands, anything I say is for him a chance to debate! My ‘work’ according to the wise young one is a bored housewife’s hobby. I cannot firmly shut the door in his face as the cute kitties love to rip up carpet and scratch woodwork if ever a door is closed. By the end of the week I am feeling more and more unwell, tearing my hair in frustration, but victory..I’ve done 3 hours each day and trained the toddler/ teenager to respect my boundaries.
Week 2, Velma the cat gets cystitis. Why am I telling you this I wonder? straightforward enough, go to vet, get medicine, sorted! Unless you have an especially stubborn cat. It’s Thursday night and so far it has derailed my entire week! The fight to administer medicine is on, poor kitty is not happy, she is attempting to pee on beds, sofas, is ripping at doors, running and miawing. I’m doing my best to stay calm, clean all the mess ( am I actually working in a nursing home?) My cold has got much worse, I’m feverish with shaky hands and the head is hammering. I hold onto my sanity with a firm grip. I can barely leave the bed let alone attempt working in a cafe!
At this point I know I need to be kind and 4 hours is impossible just now. I begin to feel the universe is giving me a very clear message, this is not meant to be. Yes , I’ve had an intense couple of weeks and it will pass, but I know full well there will be something new around the corner, maybe several new things sent to derail me.
So the thing that I am learning very early into this year is – I only have control over me! How I act, respond and behave. Stress is a part of life, and it bombards me constantly, I’m also highly sensitive and don’t brush things off easily. I picked up Full Catastrophe Living, dusted it off and settled with the illuminating words of mindful guru Jon Kabt Zinn, the king of stress relief. After that, and an uplifting pep talk from a fellow artist I got to it. In bed, ill me, ill cat, a litter tray on the bed with us, a cup of tea and I did an hour of work on my art. Is it good? not especially, but its mine! It’s my promise to me, I will listen to the voice within calling me. Sometimes it makes no sense, and has no logic but it it is important and needs to be heard.
So I await the next day with whatever it may bring, but work on my art I will!
If you’d like to comment or tell me your art journey adventures you can find me on instagram @annaliversidgeartist or email firstname.lastname@example.org or comment here (sometimes temperamental)