What is about the school holidays that turns a mild mannered wildlife artist into a fire breathing dragon? Is it that my plastic smile has to be dusted off and put on for the umpteenth time this year? Is it the fact that I can't paint properly because it's so busy and frustration builds until I go pop? Is it because I have to cross my legs until the shop empties so I can nip out? (Probably too much information- sorry) Is it the fact that I entertained my 12 year old niece yesterday and she and my Sproglet decided to play 'Slam Attack' with my new cushions - 5 - yes, 5 times after I told them to stop? (Now my niece thinks her favourite auntie is really a witch - she had to find out one day I suppose).
That's got a lot to do with it yes, but you'd be the same. It's so busy I'm dizzy - dizzier than usual but I also have the added frustration of not being able to write my book as well. I have managed to balance being an artist and a mum in the school holidays for years - my son putting up with me saying kindly; 'Mummy's painting" and off he'd toddle with his marker pen and write all over the duvet while I'm distracted. Now he's a teenager , lovely smiley mummy has morphed into frowny hissy 'mum' who spits at him "I'm trying to WRITE" but luckily I know he has no marker pens in his bedroom and he likes nothing more than being left alone to blast aliens to bits on the Playstation - I just don't need to see each death do I - that's not too much to ask is it?
I've been copywriting between painting - which I love. Being able to dip in and out with small pieces of writing is amazing but I am also trying to unscramble the mess that is my first book - and I've decided to start another in the mean time and its all consuming, all emotional, all exciting and screwing my head up even more if that's possible. The research is what makes a successful book I have found - a bit late having blasted the first one out willy nilly - now I'm paying for it. Jo, my editor, says I don't use enough connective words, that I use too many commas, that I don't draw breathe often enough, that I list things, that I get too carried away, that I extend a sentence far too long - what she's talking about I have no idea, no idea at all, a comma is a wonderful thing..........
Oh , Ok.
Maybe she's right. Grrrr.
I have just had a fantastic break away with Hubster - who I'm not allowed to talk about, with a big birthday I really, really shouldn't talk about .......but it was a really BIG birthday - and we left our beloved Peak district and shipped off to Cornwall - Padstow and St Ives, without Sproglet and Bogdog who both had a holiday at grandparents 'hotel'.
It was so lovely to see St Ives without it being the summer holidays, which is when we normally get to see it. To actually SEE it for one thing is so lovely, without the crowds, the heaving mass of bodies you normally have to shuffle through to get anywhere in the South West. We were able to be grown ups and go to the Tate, nip in and out of all the tiny galleries and take our time, not be nagged if we were going home yet - have a beer INSIDE a pub.
When I went as a child my parents would leave me to stand a gaze at this one particular artist - a bit like I get parents doing with me now. He painted sea scapes with huge white horses crashing through the waves and it was he that inspired me, made me want to paint so badly when I grew up. Well he was still there, still stood in the same place, still painting scenes with horses emerging from the waves.
I was so excited. I didn't ask him if he was the artist of course (see previous blogs and you'll know what I mean) I was star struck though and wanted to tell him so badly that it was he that made me want to paint and how I watched him when I was little, how I always dreamed of having a gallery like his, paint like him. Unfortunately, what I did do was this.
I actually said those dreaded words - you know the words I always moan people say to me - the words that send me insane?
I actually had the nerve to say "I'm actually an artist too"
All those years of thinking about him and THAT'S all I could say? Pah - I shall never roll my eyes again when people say it to me (it's always a reflex I can't control) - I should be grateful customers have the courage to do it. He rolled his eyes at ME and I was gutted. I didn't mean to sound like I was bragging - I just wanted to tell him about his incredible inspiration but I chickened out. I'm ridiculous.
How any artist survives down there and makes a living I've no idea. There are hundreds of galleries and hundreds of artists - all seemingly painting the same scene? But I am so jealous. I love the sea so much, with a passion I can't describe. It makes me so emotional to watch it I don't know why but it makes me wistful, excited, happy, sad all at the same time. Probably because it's so uncontrollable and mesmerising to watch. Maybe one day I'll be able to live by it - one day I will - I'm determined I love it so. I would miss all my lovely Peak District villages though - Bakewell, Ashford in the Water, my lovely Rowsley, and all the grit stone edges , the moors and the dales .....so I'll just have to get a house down in Cornwall and have one here too. That sounds fair and reasonable don't you think?
Mmmm - better get on with all my pet portraits and start saving up. I've not shouted STOP yet and am valiantly keeping up with them all - last orders for Christmas will be shouted mid November or if my head falls off first- whichever happens next . Right , off to paint again, serve customers, make some cards, package my prints and concoct a new chapter in my head and carry on my lovely research. Who says multitasking isn't fun?
This blog was brought to you by Helen Clark