A season of change

1.10.17

Hello October... how did you sneak up on me so quickly?

Honestly, where does all the time go? A month ago we were on the beach basking in an end of summer mini-heatwave and now I'm looking out on trees that are starting to shed their yellowed leaves.

Since coming back to work after the summer holidays so much has been happening - there have been so many changes and it's been quite a lot to deal with, to be honest.

Firstly, we decided Little Bear was ready to start preschool. She had blossomed and grown so much in confidence over summer we felt the time had come to start her journey to full-time education, and an engagement with the wider world.

Such a big step for all of us, so exciting and at the same time so scary. Where had my little baby gone? I have felt alternating emotions of pride that my baby had grown into such a happy, bright and outgoing child, and sadness that she doesn't need me beside her 24/7 anymore.

We found the most perfect early years school for her, it has a fabulous reputation and very small group sizes. The activities the children take part in are varied, interesting and fun. After some short sessions where I stayed and observed Little Bear in her new environment, I was filled with relief that put to rest the doubts I had about handing the care of my child over to complete strangers.

Seeing my baby in her school uniform for the first time brought tears to my eyes which I did my best to smile through. She looked so grown up and was so excited about going to school. When I drop her off she runs into the classroom with barely a backward glance or 'goodbye mummy'. I am so glad she hasn't clung to me and cried that she doesn't want me to go, but it's also kind of difficult to accept that she's just so very ready to leave my side.

For Little Bear this is just another new experience to add to the many we've done our best to introduce her to right from the beginning of her life, but to me this is huge... just huge.

This moment also marks the start of getting my own personal goals and dreams on track. I now have some real spare time to concentrate on my illustration work - and I am so excited about that.

Me being me though, I let my kid in a sweet shop attitude loose and ran full tilt at the all the juicy choices offered by Fashion Week season without thinking things through.

I forgot all about what my strengths are as an artist, what it is I love to do most, what I'm good at and what I am most definitely not good at.

My intention was to get an illustration done every day. I thought I could produce a fashion sketch, which so many of the illustrators I follow are good at and which I have longed to be able to emulate.

I have to mention here that another of the changes I've had to adjust to is a new studio space. Little Bear's school means a commute using public transport. It means having to stay in town during the time she's in school, so I've taken up residence in our touring caravan which, thankfully, is stored nearby. I have to take with me the art materials I think I'll need and, as a mixed media artist, this is not an easy choice. The result is that I've felt kind of unsettled and less confident because I often change my mind about what materials to use after I've started a drawing.

So, change of studio plus change of working practice has meant a change of style. I don't quite recognise the work I've produced this week and although it's been popular on Instragram, I'm not sure I'm happy with it. I am not a confident sketcher and I am not good at working quickly.

Over this weekend I have spent a lot of our lovely family time preoccupied with what approach I'm going to take in future. I have to weigh up the pressures of producing work quickly enough to keep followers interested, against a personal need to produce work I'm proud of and which is ultimately mine, my style... me.

When I decided to change careers so drastically from banking to art, I did it because I wanted to do something fulfilling, something I love passionately. I must never lose sight of that passion or bury it beneath self-imposed rules that will destroy it or I'll be as miserable as I was stuck in an office crunching numbers.

This in another of those life lessons that are perhaps obvious when we really think about it. It's about embracing our strengths, accepting our weaknesses, being true to our own unique natures and - most of all - never, ever turning our backs on what it is that truly makes us happy - even when it seems like an impossible dream.

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