I recently decided to take some time away from my work. I've been feeling a little drained and a little lost of late and felt that some much needed downtime was necessary to recharge the batteries.
So the weekend before last, we drove down to Suffolk to see my sister and her family. On Saturday, the forecast looked promising so we took off to the coast and went off to Felixstowe. I do like Felixstowe, it's a lovely little town and is a nice mix of traditional seaside resort with it's pier, amusements and fish and chip shops and then up the far other end there's Felixstowe Ferry which is a tranquil and quiet little quayside that has retained an old world charm that is impossible to resist.
We started off in the amusements, the children had some pocket money and lured by the twinkling rainbow lights and exciting sounds within we spent a good hour dispensing two pences into greedy machines and enjoying some vigorous games of air hockey. Fish and chips for lunch followed and we sat on the beach wall enjoying them as the children ran up and down the beach and had a fine game throwing pebbles into the little waves.
After lunch, the children went off with their Uncle for a round of Crazy Golf, and me and my sis and the other half wandered down the promenade, stopping for ice-cream. After much frivolity on the golf course we decided that we'd drive over to Felixstowe Ferry to look at the boats.
As you drive into this little place, you feel a quiet calm descend. There are old wooden huts on stilts by the waterside, and lines of masts and rigging that snap and tinkle in the breeze. As we walked towards the little harbour area, we discovered fennel growing wild by the side of the road amidst poppies and wildflowers.
There's a little fish shop by the quay too, and you can buy fresh lobster and seafood. We treated ourselves to a pot of prawns doused in tangy vinegar and the children enjoyed an ice-cream each from the little van.
Wandering about these kinds of places makes me feel very happy and relaxed. These places are very good for the soul. There's not an awful lot going on, just the call of gulls and the odd boat sailing up and down, but it's nice to sit and watch, to not have to do much else.
On Sunday, continuing our relaxing theme we drove over to Wicken Fen. This is a National Trust property and one of my favourite places.
An unspoilt landscape of reed beds and boardwalks lead you past hidden streams, where unusual birds call out to each other and people take the time to notice the profusion of wild flowers and insects. Lazy lizards lounge on the warm boards, and when these walkways give way to soft grass, its a pleasure to slip your shoes off and walk barefoot on the cool green ground.
It was exceptionally hot, and many rests were taken along the way.
It was one of those lush, hot days that we ambled through slowly, finishing in a nice pub in the cathedral city of Ely before setting off home for the north.
While I was away, I was able to take some time to think about my work and other feelings of apathy that have taken over me of late. In my last post I wrote about how much of an effort everything seemed to be. I'm sure this happens to many creative souls; at some point they hit a brick wall and nothing seems to inspire anymore - and it's deeper than just the mojo disappearing for a few days - it's something, a feeling, that has grown over time and you feel that you've *lost* something. I realised that the intensity of creating a body of work for an exhibition, and then carrying on to create a body of work for a client (all of which had taken many months) had taken it's toll. It's not that I don't enjoy painting, I truly do - but I'd reached a point where I'd felt it was becoming mechanical and I was no longer looking forward to sitting at the easel anymore.
In a quest to find fresh inspiration we need to take time away from what we do. We need to go off and do something different, something fun and forget about it all for a while. We need to let time work its magic, and since then I've noticed the tiny little sparkle of new ideas being born. I've made some time to write down my thoughts, and realised that there are some aspects about my business that don't work for me so well - I've decided to only offer a handful of commission slots for people from now on because it will free up the time for me to focus on new projects in the future. I've also made a schedule for myself, kind of planned out my week in a loose fashion so that I can create work that I can sell for myself, as well as for my agent and galleries.
It's about realising that I need different revenue streams to flow side by side - finding ways to make a regular income alongside the jobs that don't pay out for a few months. It's about keeping the inspiration bubbling, and keeping it fresh, and keeping my passion for my subjects alive and I know to do this I have to take regular breaks away from what I'm doing in order to let new ideas come through.
I had another amazing weekend away after being at my sisters which has further fuelled the creative fire, with a bunch of talented and inspiring chums I've met through Facebook. We had a weekend in Stratford upon Avon...but that's another story which I'll tell next time.
Til next time,