A little more than a decade ago, I was at home with two pre-schoolers, and life was a happy maelstrom of playdates, swing parks and spaghetti down the walls. In truth, I loved and embraced it, and have nothing but warm memories of those years. But I had an itch which needed scratched. My previous job had exercised my artistic muscles and I probably missed that outlet, but my itch was simple: I just wanted to paint.
Looking back, I can see now that painting was the perfect antidote to a busy family life: at the end of the day, it’s just you, some colours and a tool to apply them with. And humans have felt compelled to do this for thousands of years. It quietens the mind and forces you to focus on the present. For a few minutes, or an hour or two, everything else fades away and you enter into the world of the painting in front of you. A world, it turned out, far away from mashed bananas and Peppa Pig.
So I bought a set of acrylic paints (quick drying as I knew I’d just have a snatched hour here and there) and set about learning. I watched YouTube videos and attended an evening class at the local art school. But by far the most useful thing I did as a complete beginner was to purchase a book by US artists Julie Pritchard and Chris Cozen called ‘Acrylic Solutions’ which explained everything I needed to know to get me started on paint properties, basic colour theory and layering techniques. It was a large, hard backed (and increasingly paint spattered) ring-bound affair and for a while I carried it everywhere to read when I got a moment. I remember getting strange looks when I turned down the offer of a magazine at the hairdresser and instead produced this paint-encrusted tome from my bag. In short, I was fired up.
Fast forward a few years to the summer of 2014 when, with 3 other creatives, we somehow managed to persuade the Council to drop a shipping container as a pop-up space into the middle of town as part of the Merchant City Festival. It was the first time that I tentatively displayed my art in public. By this time I’d been experimenting with mixing paint with photography and had come up with a series of small 5x7s featuring the Finnieston crane, a landmark on Glasgow’s Clydeside. To my utter surprise and delight they proved quite popular! (I’m sure that it helped that they were only £12 a pop, and that included the frame…) So, I ended up spending the days in the container and the evenings with the paints out at the kitchen table, replenishing stock for the next day.
I’m so grateful for that festival as it gave me the confidence to delve deeper and to pursue my art more seriously. Since then my kids have grown into amazing teenagers, and there is no longer spaghetti down the walls (well, most days anyway). I look back fondly on the exhausting, funny and often surreal days of early years parenting but, little by little, I have had more time to keep learning, keep experimenting and I have taken several workshops and courses to strengthen my practice. I plan to use this blog to pass on some tips and tricks which I’ve picked up over the years, aswell as, I’m sure, general arty ramblings…
Endnote: To explain the ‘pooch’ of the title – he probably deserves a post all to himself, and I’m pretty certain that he will get one, but I have to introduce my gorgeous 7 year old labradoodle Farley. You could say that he is an integral part of my art practice, as it is usually when out walking with him and my camera that get inspired to start a new series. He then lies under my work table when I’m painting. He even comes to gallery openings. He is loved by all the family and is my furry muse!