How Can Life Change So Much In A Few Months?

Since the new year rolled in, I’ve been struggling a bit to balance art-making and my day job.

Not because I’m necessarily overloaded with work or extremely stressed; it’s more that I can’t seem to get in the ‘zone’ of painting when all I have to work with is a few hours a week. I can’t decide if it’s lack of motivation, frustration or a bit of laziness (probably all three), but it’s awful to feel like I’m in a stagnant stage of my practice.

My day job is not art-related in any way shape or form, and whilst I do like this separation from time to time, most of the time I feel as though I’m drifting away from my identity as an artist the more I get into the 9-5 routine.

La Wayaka Current Tropic 08°N Expedition, Guna Yala, Panama // October 2018

As I sat at my desk earlier today I found myself thinking of how crazy it is that just three months ago I was living in the Darien jungle with a group of amazing artists who taught me so much. And how, about ten days after I arrived back home, I got a full-time corporate job.

It’s crazy how fast life situations change.. but also hugely exciting.

I’m genuinely really grateful to my current day job for giving me the chance to build up financial independence, meet great people and release some of the pressure that comes from creating art and new ideas day in day out.

Balance. Will let you know when I find it.

2019: Allowing Confusion And Holding Myself Accountable

2018 was one hell of a year.

However, to regurgitate one of the age-old clichés, it was a year of highs and lows.

Amongst the travel and new connections and freedom there was pure confusion, indecision, inertia.

It seemed as though with each new residency or group exhibition, I lost the ability to make work ‘just because’, and every time I’d sit down to paint it would turn into an arduous mental challenge to produce the next great masterpiece.

Of course, this behaviour is completely counterintuitive and has zero validity in the life of an artist.

I felt as though, through my work in 2018, I was trying to run before I could walk - create work that was polished and coherent and neat without allowing myself to jump the necessary hurdles of making a lot of genuinely shit work first.

I had an idea of what I wanted my work to be (what it would represent, how it would look), yet absolutely no idea how to get there, and rather than allowing this to play out naturally through experimenting with new work, I fell into this weird stagnation, where the thought of painting became too overwhelming that I sacked it off altogether.

After having some serious contemplation time over the new year, I’ve decided that I’m adamant I will not let this spool over into 2019. I am committing to painting (or drawing, or collage, or ceramics) for at least 1 hour per week.

I’m really hopeful that having this teeny slice of dedicated time, will really add up over the weeks. In the spirit of setting achievable goals, I think this one is simple and small enough for me to actually stick to.

A friend of mine recently told me to accept the confusion that comes with making art. Swim in it and work with it, not against it. Here’s to a year of making work that means nothing in particular, or everything all at once. Here’s to sticking to my weekly art quota, and seeing the results accumulate. Here’s to seeing my work develop exponentially, because it’s no ones responsibility but my own.

The First Few Paintings Back In The UK

A week and a day ago I landed back in the UK after a solid 24 hours spent getting taxis and navigating airport transfers and eating weird plane pasta. I was officially back home after spending 3 weeks living remotely in the north east region of Panama as part of La Wayaka Current artist residency.

All in all, the residency was amazing. I experienced things that I still can’t quite put into words and met amazing artists and observed customs and rituals that I will never forget. Whilst this was all great for my soul I was secretly a bit gutted that I didn’t get the opportunity to paint more.

A big part of me says that an artist can create work anywhere and shouldn’t need a designated studio space, the other opposing half says that of course an artist needs space and quiet time and enough natural light to get a composition right.

Whilst the atmosphere and sheer sense of adventure that came with La Wayaka was great (and one of the main reasons I pursued the residency in the first place) it was difficult to set up a studio space there. The wooden floors of the studio/community house were crawling with ants (and occasionally cockroaches) and the humidity meant that any paper left out in the open for any length of time would warp and wither.

Although on the flip side I got to work in an environment of giant hibiscus flowers and fireflies and coconut trees - so it’s difficult to complain.

That being said, it was surpassingly nice to be back at the kitchen table without bugs biting me or kids shouting or a perpetually sweaty face. I think I managed to distill some of the colours and shapes I absorbed in Armila, and made some paintings that I’m quite fond of.

I made ‘Polpo’ and ‘Polpo II’ with the intention of commemorating the memory of the warm salty water of the Caribbean beaches I was lucky enough to visit, with the sheer vibrancy of the Tropics.