This is a repost of a blog post written 19.1.2016. My old blog stopped working and so I've moved all the posts over to this one!
For the last four years my studio has been at Whirled Arts in Forest hill. It was a small studio but I absolutely loved it. I chose it over studios that were slightly lighter and larger, as it had a large beech tree outside and as I was on the second floor, I could almost feel as though I was inhabiting its upper branches and was often eye to eye with the birds nesting or sheltering there. It looked out onto back gardens and terraced houses, where I would sketch as the seasons and colours changed. I have always found that drawing something in my immediate surrounding, whether it be the view from my window or an object, animal or person beside me, is the best way to coax myself to begin my work. I came up with this strategy after wasting many an hour 'tidying' my studio (putting all my paints in rainbow order) or checking my emails when I should have been working. Endless procrastination devices that my clever mind would come up with, to stop me from working.
Now, if I immediately take out my sketchbook and draw or paint the nearest thing to me - my energy changes and becomes stiller and more receptive to inspiration. As I'm drawing, ideas for my newest body of work will pop into my head. Often I'll start to hum. That's when I know I've done it, I'm in the flow.
During my working day, I would spend much time staring at this wonderful tree outside my studio window, observing the moving leaves and life within it. In hindsight, this should have nudged me into the realisation that I prefer living and working in the countryside, but I was determined than, that London was the only place that I could live and work. Then I studied for my PGCE, which was hard work, but I found the psychology and philosophy of pedagogy fascinating. I became a better teacher through doing it. But then I began to teach and teach and teach. And my work began to suffer. I had no time to make my work. I was busy helping others to realise their creative dreams. I tried to do too much at once and the inevitable happened. I crashed and burned.
When you have burnout, you have a chance to re-discover who you are and what you really need. I realised I needed time to dream and time to make my art as well as teaching. I didn't want to give up teaching altogether as it is actually very helpful for keeping my own creative juices going, but there must be enough time to realise the ideas this work can generate. I decided to stop my main teaching job and to rely on my other freelance work and my savings for a while, to get my health back and to make more art. Jo's parents decided to share the rent on our London flat with us, so that they could use it when they worked in London. I gave up my lovely Forest Hill studio and with the extra money, we rented a cottage in Suffolk by the sea. That's where I am now, typing these words. I haven't felt so peaceful in as long as I can remember. My studio is all set up now. Every morning I wake and can't wait to get started! We will live between London and Suffolk for now. I will run my art and creativity workshops in London and teach my printmaking and drawing workshops for the Royal Drawing school, and when I am in Suffolk I will make my artwork, eat good food and walk by the sea. I feel closer now, to that elusive balance, then in all my 10 years in London.