What constitutes making a start?

…The intensity of life events right now does not lend itself to careful, methodical working and reflection but forces me to grab time and squeeze every drop out of it. One moment I am writing furiously in a small black notebook and ripping out pages to paste into my sketchbook, the next I am making delicate structures out of wire. In another, pummeling clay in the garden to make a bed to cast from, then working away with paint in a demolished space that was a kitchen and will one day be a bedroom for a baby. One weekend in Suffolk, I decided to work on an old canvas from my brother’s art foundation over fourteen years ago which has lived most of its life in a barn in my mum’s garden. I liked the surface of the canvas – it was cracked from age and covered in cobwebs. These I had to rub off before I could then paint the canvas white – wetting the back in the hope that the two large dents right at its centre might sort themselves out. This felt exciting and also scary. With only a week to go before submission day – I was about to try something very different.

When I arrived with my monster canvas for the hanging – struggling to get up the stairs with a pram, a 2 month old baby and several bags of sketchbooks and equipment – I felt nervous and expectant – this turned so quickly to sickness and mortification on catching the tutors expression (it wasn’t intended for me, I guess, since I had my back to them) – a grimace, a look of disgust. This was a shock. It was shocking – it was like being slapped round the face. It floored me…

That was then. There has been a deep sense of change and anticipation surrounding becoming a mum for the first time and trying to carry on with the art work over the last six months with a constant competition for time and energy. In many subtle ways my art projects have helped me manage my transition into motherhood. They have been a constant over time and I have appreciated the value this has had in keeping me grounded, as well as driving me up the wall. I haven’t managed to do very much to develop my work over the last – well nearly 3 months. I had some paid work which took up most of any spare time I could find over the summer and since August I have been trying to take things easy. But enough is enough. All the thinking about it and talking about it – all the looking back over old work trying to judge whether or not there’s actually any point in pursuing it, all the potential shown in some of the paintings and drawings – these activities do not constitute making a start. They could be described as preparations – but I know as well as you – there will come a point sometime fairly soon (surely to goodness!) where I really am just going to have to get going and start doing two things at once again.

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