A Year in-and-out of Provence

September has started. Or, more specifically the 1st of September has passed without me meeting the hugely significant and symbolic goal that I set myself a good few months ago.

As of the 1st September, my studio/attic would be ready. And, well, errrr no its not - not at all. Nevermind, its getting there - and better late than never. However, my reason for writing this post now is that it marks just over a year of me picking up a pencil again and starting 'a sketch a day'.

During last years summer holiday in the South of France, I decided that it was time to form a new habit and start sketching again, something I hadn't done since the early 90s. My first tiny attempts were certainly small (in the smallest A6 Moleskine available) and tight, self concious and awkward.

 Le Lac, August 2014 (watercolour, A6)

Le Lac, August 2014 (watercolour, A6)

But, this year, having returned to the same place, I was able to really appreciate how far those first tentative steps have taken me.

 Le Lac, August 2015 (Oil on board, 10x7")

Le Lac, August 2015 (Oil on board, 10x7")

Since those first sketch-a-days in France last year, I have returned to my first love - the nude, and now attend at least one life-class a week. I have a monthly-ish 'Art Club' when my artschool friend, Angie and I visit exhibitions, catch up and generally blame everyone else for our unproductivity. I have discovered a joy in chatting to other creatives about how the act of art and making literally has 'a place' in their homes and lives. I have also taken part in my first open house and actually sold some work. And now, soon, I will have my own space in which to paint. Perhaps most significantly, if you are reading this, it has become part of who I am. An essential part of my dialogue, my passion, and, with this website a way to actively engage with people and share the happiness, fulfillment, frustration and self-doubt that comes with any sort of self-expression.

Ultimately, I'm sure its a form of therapy.

 'Boxing Blind Drawing' March 2015

'Boxing Blind Drawing' March 2015

So, yes - this post is a homage to being nervous, being crap but essentially giving it a go. It's a celebration in starting small and seeing what happens. I completely acknowledge our human propensity to dither, procrastinate or generally not bother. Because that was me for 25 years.

"I stored up all my plans in a cupboard, and always carried the key with me. I have lost that key and am incapable of throwing off the state of coma into which I have fallen" - Degas.

Yes, I probably could pin point a few key events that lead me to pick out that first tiny sketchbook and choose a miniture 12 pan watercolour set. But the main one has to be taking that holiday, having a change of routine, a change of scene and literally looking at my life from a different perspective. It's a cliche but its true - life really is too short.

So, in the spirit of 'back to school'enthusiasm. I urge you to really think about anything that you may have been putting off. My journey back into the art world still feels exactly the same as it did a year ago. I hate my work, I don't know what to paint, I don't have enough time, I look a total prat, it lacks intellectual rigour and can I afford all these materials and lessons? But, there have been a handful of moments when painting and drawing has allowed me to experience intense feelings of sublime pleasure and I have seen, in my mind some of the most beautiful objects on the planet.

 (left) Matisse, Femme a L'ombrelle and (right) Picasso, Charcoal Portrait of Francoise

(left) Matisse, Femme a L'ombrelle and (right) Picasso, Charcoal Portrait of Francoise

Which interestingly, in terms of the above, lead me right back to the South of France.

Which, I now realise - one day, is exactly where I'd love my new studio to be.

"Don't wait for inspiration. It comes while one is working." - Matisse.