This is a strange journey for me because I am totally drawn in creating these adorable figures, just finished one and straight on to the next and have so many drawings and ideas for future creatures. However, as I am creating them I am constantly asking myself, why am I doing this? what is the reason behind making what is essentially a doll. They enchant me, each has a personality and a soul that didn’t exist before I started making them, but as the eyes are created something pulls me in and really touches me emotionally. Is each one displaying a facet of me? Painting, sketching and creating on paper and with paper has always been my passion, so to find myself manifesting in this way is a complete surprise and in some way makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable, in fact some days it is so strong that I am telling myself to go back to painting, but I just cannot pull myself away. This particular creative path right now will have a gift in it somewhere for sure, I must be doing this for a reason, so for now I shall just sit back and watch it all unfold and see where this journey takes me.
This particular doll is cloth, its arms and legs are jointed and his head is needle felted from Welsh hill’s sheep wool. The clothes are all hand stitched and hand knitted with vintage and found fabrics and hand dyed wool yarn. It was a joy to make, seeing it come to life in my hands was quite magical as it was if my little Persian cats Lilly and Ferdy had been reincarnated. Ferdy was a chinchilla and Lily Sealpoint, Long gone now though, I miss them.
now with ears!!
the last months since November have been packed full with all manner of things, visit to Wales. Fabulous lunch at The Greenhouse. London museums and gallery visits, the Oceania exhibition at the Royal Academy being one of the most inspirational I have seen in a long while. Firle church and an evening of music, words, dance and ceremony with Carolyn Hilllyer to see in the solstiice, and on the solstice a wonderful evening organised by a good friend Ali, journeying to sounds of a Mongolian throat singer and gong bath. Then of course Christmas and the handmade presents I usually do, this year it was books, hand made and hand bound. A new skill learnt which I love the precision of the bindings themselves. Sourdough breadmaking course at the Bicycle Bakery, which I made many tasty loaves Then it was needle felting families of dreaming mice, each one had a prayer for manifesting peace and serenity in all areas of life and then a fabulous sleepy dreaming bunny, this has now grown into a rabbit figure which has conjured up clothes, characters and a book. A fabulous christmas lunch of Haunch of Venison cooked to perfection by my daughter and an illuminated walk at Bedgebury which was quite spectacular All the while though there has been my daily practice, patterns and watercolour and collage.
Oh and of course it was my 70th birthday last Friday. I had a fabulous couple of days, so many lovely cards, flowers and messages. A gift from daughter and her partner, one for for each decade, so seven beautiful gifts including a poem that bought tears to my eyes. I also spent a lovely evening and breakfast walk along the seafront at Hastings after a night at The Laindons which I thoroughly recommend.
What it is like being 70? the best feeling in the world, freedom to do and be who you like, fabulous.
Here are a few glimpses of the past weeks
I am now on a new journey, a journey where I can devote my time to a creative daily practice of my own.
My days of designing interiors are now over, cannot believe I ran my own successful company for so long. My only sadness it that my mother died just weeks before it all began, she never saw me put my creative skills to good use, I know she would have been so very happy for me. There are many challenges in starting a business and the first few years were extremely tough, many times I was close to giving up but thankfully that strong will of mine saw me through. My mums words “where there is a will there is way” constantly rang through my head. I also also lived through the dawning of the digital age, apple mac was my first computer in the early 90’s with my first mobile phone and over the years the working practice of a designer became totally computer driven. Out went the drawing boards and the source library an in came drawing packages, illustrator, Cad and so on. Together with a great team we have designed, procured and installed projects the length and breadth of the country.
Will I miss it all? Right in this moment in time, I would say no definitely not, interior design sounds great but it comes with massive pressure, constant deadlines and right now I am so happy to leave it al behind. Will I miss it in the future, who knows, possibly, but I know that my own creative skills have taken a back seat for so long thats its time now for this to be the main part of my day.
just a few of the ways I have been expressing myself of late.
Another large project (day job) has at last come to fruition and with that comes the release of feeling I can breathe again, no pressure…….. and even closer to my goal of giving it all up for good.
today in my studio I tried out mono printing for the first time. What a great way to work, I love it and cannot wait to get back down there again today. Experimenting with inks, acrylics, alcohol, cutting stencils and the excitement of pulling the print, revealing such unexpected results. I am ,looking out for some good printmaking weekend courses, if anyone knows of any please let me know.
I am also working on a large piece, acrylic underpainting and now layering in oils. Intertwined shapes, at first large and as each subsequent layer they are becoming smaller and more defined, colours changing all the time. Sometimes clashing and full of vigour, sometimes much quieter and more sombre. Almost like a weather gauge of emotions. A journey I am enjoying
Or should I say a vegetable day? my desire to keep painting seems strong at the moment. Am I enjoying it, Yes, absolutely. Am I pleased with the results, absolutely not !! this is the perfectionist in me, its such a hard task master to have this running all the time. Never ever feels good enough. For years, nearly 30 years I have been an interior designer and its only been in last 2-3 years that I can say I am interior designer and not feel a fraud. My creativity has taken many forms over the years, from drawing and watercolour sketches, to making things with my hands, cutting paper, clay work, collage, oil pastels, dry pastels, oil paint sticks but when it comes to painting, there is a lot of doubt that comes up. Not Good Enough, is the foremost one and most times it hampers the start, so recently with the urge to pick up my paintbrushes, oil paint and so on and keep painting is rather new to me. Its normally paint one or two, dont like them and put paints away for a few months.
Painting is a great teacher, it brings up so much for me that I can now sit and watch and see exactly what is happening as it unfolds. self doubt, conversations on size, whether to make it abstract or representational. Then there is the conversation about the cost of oil paint these days, absolutely ridiculous prices and like everything else now we have these small artisan workshops making specialist paints that are even more costly. One thing that has changed my painting though is Rosemary’s handmade brushes. I had never heard of an Egbert brush before, but these together with large long flats are helping me obtain the brushstrokes that I desire. To know they are handmade in Yorkshire make using them feel even better !
Klimt, Kaffe und Kuchen in that order. This is how my long weekend in Vienna panned out. The city made a great impact on my senses, although very humid and hot my daughter and I walked to all the shrines to the master painter Gustav Klimt. I have seen many of his works ten years ago at the Tate Liverpool exhibition, but seeing the Beethoven frieze in situ within the Secession building in Vienna gave me goosebumps. I think it’s not only the works of art, it’s the history, the art nouveau period, the lifestyle, the history of some of the paintings belonging to wealthy jewish families and then stolen by the Nazis.
The Kiss, or at least a copy of it was bought for me on the occasion of my second wedding anniversary, I fell in love it as did thousands of others at the time 1971. I vowed then that one day I would visit Vienna, but I never though it would take me this long !!! Seeing the Kiss in the flesh, I cannot say it was a disappointment far from it, but because I have seen it everywhere for years it had slightly lost its allure, it still was amazing to see his mark making up close, it was not as fine as I had imagined but standing back from it, exquisite, they all were, including some landscapes, especially those at the Leopold Museum. This museum had a wondrous collection that we walked around for a long time, Picasso, Richter, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Munch and a small amount of Klimt’s sketches. From what I understand a lot of them are being prepared for and exhibition in london later this year.
The Vienna Riding school and the amazing arena setting, tall ceilings, huge tall columns and chandeliers. Horse and riders are so elegant. The large parks and squares, large wide streets along with interesting winding lanes, the winter palace with its splendid arches and sculptures, this is a city to remember, I would love to go back
After all the walking, 1300 steps each day I felt I deserved a treat so it was a trip to a Viennese coffee-house for Kaffe und Kuchen and it didn’t fail to delight
SELF DOUBT, oh how I know these words so well. Today I watched someone talk about their fears, their face showed so much pain and as the conversation went on this person crumbled before my eyes and all because that crippling self-doubt reared its ugly head. There are two schools of thought here, one to FIGHT against it, drive through it, beat it with your will and battle through triumphantly. this may work in the moment but long-term it never allows us to understand what is behind it and accept that sometimes we cannot change things. The other way is to sit with it, watch the feelings develop and at the point where is becomes too painful don’t run, don’t find away to run away from the feelings, feel what its like and let it take us to a place of darkness where those rich seams of gold exist, Its only allowing ourselves to really feel what is going on that we realise that perhaps there is nothing to fear after all?
I have learnt to manage these feelings in most areas and over the years my real sense of self-worth has escalated, but now and again those feeling of self-doubt still trips me up and about a month ago it reared up again big time. I was attending the opening launch of a project I completed back in the winter it took over 3 years to come to fruition and for my client it has been great success. I felt very proud of what my company had achieved. The night before I struggled with what to wear, struggled with the feeling of not wanting to be surrounded by people and somehow felt a fraud. Spent a sleepless night trying to think up all manner of reasons I could put forward for not attending. Even walking on Paddington station to catch the train to Bristol I was still in flight mode, but I smiled and chatted with other attendees and once I entered the building I managed to get through it, but I felt really uncomfortable, all because I had really strong feelings of not being good enough. I imagine nobody had any inkling of what was going though my head as they all complimented me on the designs, kissed me on the cheek and have me hugs. Think this has been the story of my life really, the real me for the most part had been hidden.
Do these feelings resonate? Is it something to do with creative people, are we extra sensitive?