Back to basics


We've just returned from another of our little travel adventures - this time to the wilds of Exmoor - and it couldn't have come at a better moment. I've been feeling so tired and stressed lately, it's been like swimming against the tide.

Of course, it's been a difficult time recently, what with the upset that led to me removing Little Bear from pre-school, and dad's latest illness - but it was more than that.

I was so glad to get away from my usual routine and allow myself some time out. We always stay somewhere remote, with just basic facilities like fresh water and electricity. It means no Wi-Fi for a start, and limited mobile phone signal. Instead of freaking me out, I actually relish time away from the constant impulse to check emails or Instagram. The limited space in our caravan means we only take the barest of essentials with us - which always makes me realise just how very little we really need - and somehow I'm happier because of it.

Before we went on our travels I had already decided to stop thinking about my art as work. It was ruining my creative motivation and now that I'm back to taking care of Little Bear full-time, I'm not prepared to sacrifice this precious time with my daughter - time I can't get back.

I'd kind of lost my way with my artwork anyway, I really wasn't enjoying it. My only pleasure was coming from the likes and comments on Instagram and my imagined success when I gained new followers. Of course, those followers vanished the minute I wasn't posting new work every day.

I was also struggling with my chosen subject for illustrations - fashion. Yes, I love the beautiful clothes worn by beautiful people, but I never got comfortable with the whole conspicuous consumption part of it. The fashion collections from the major fashion houses and designers are handcrafted from the finest materials and I have to admire them from a creative and aesthetic point of view. However, they are exclusive items and understandably expensive. It is a world I don't feel part of and I suspect I never will.

While walking through fallen leaves and mud, listening to pheasants calling out and the sound of a fast flowing river, I was totally in the moment. It was the happiest I'd been for some time. Tom took a photo of me on the clapper bridge at Tarr Steps and I didn't care how I looked. I had on an ancient pair of leggings, a jacket and top bought in a sale at a supermarket, and my very unglamorous walking boots, and yet my smile was one of pure joy.

I have no idea what my next drawing or painting will be of, and I have no idea when I will do it - but I'm okay with that. When I next create a piece of art I'm going to do it for me and not with a whole heap of baggage attached, which is my assumptions of who the art should be for, and who I'm trying to impress. Somehow I think it will be better for it.

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