When Life hits and Art takes a Back Seat


About 2 years ago I was in China, on what turned out to be a really life changing holiday. Firstly, it was a dreadful holiday. I really disliked China for so many reasons, ending up with food poisoning and spending the last day in Beijing hurling the contents of my stomach into a toilet, was about the right end for that trip. The other thing was that I went through at the time was a crisis of ‘what do I want to do out of life’ at that time;  I came back and resolved that what I wanted was More Art, Art as Future.

I got together  a short, medium, and long term plan to get this happening. This blog was one of the things I decided to do. I even wrote up a business plan and started working things out on what and how to get there and am pretty far along it.

(Unfortunately what I really want is ‘just chill out and paint and someone can discover me and do all the dirty work for me’ but that isn’t reality, dammit!)

hyperion flames

It went pretty well for a while. I did  a lot of what was on my list of things to do and I started achieving a lot. It was going well and I was satisfied with the progression I’d made, I’ve done a fair bit of infrastructure and lots of groundwork in actually being a better artist. Then last October things went a bit awry. I was having health issues, mostly fatigue, which I mis-attributed to lifestyle. Then I got diagnosed this year with early onset menopause, and a lot of things fell into place. It’s the reason for this fatigue that comes and goes, the mood swings, the aches and pains and hot flushes, the physical symptoms are by far the worst and totally unpredicted by me.

By the way. I can advise any women out there who are thinking of going through menopause? Just don’t. It sucks donkey balls. You don’t want this. I advise you to go and not be female, or…something. Yeah. that will work.


harp small

So I had to accept that I had to drop back the intensity of the things I wanted to do for this year cause I just was beating up on myself for not going fast or well enough. Things like organizing an exhibition – I’ve got enough paintings to do one for the queen/dinosaurs, and enough to do a set of landscapes, plus any of the watercolours too…hundreds of then. I’ve done two exhibitions;  I find the whole thing really quite difficultly painful to organize or carry out  – it took me superhuman effort in the past to do.

This year I’ve been feeling barely human at all. Superhuman effort can bite my ass. I don’t have it to spare.  It has not helped this year that some personal issues have also kicked right off and I’ve had to deal with certain other stresses that have frankly worn me down. And then, something even MORE special has happened….


hyperion sword

After quite a few months of considerable pain in increasing intensity, I have been diagnosed with a slipped disc in my lumbar region of my spine. I believe a series of unpleasant events (for my back) culminated in THE EVENT which was really just a sneeze (while i was standing at the easel painting, mind you!) – and that is when it popped, but it was a lot bodgey leading up to that.

Because of my scoliosis i’ve always had to deal with back pain and problems but regular exercise and training and stretching and osteopathy sessions, have kept that in check. For a long time I assumed the most recent bout was just that, but the pain was in odder places. I think now i was holding tension in my back/neck, I have been getting the menopausal hip and leg cramps at night which has knocked me round,  I have a bit of arthritis in the spine (picked up recently by the ct scan/xray) which caused other stiffness, I slept funny (not with a clown though),  and on top of that, I sneezed, and all of these events culminated with the herniated disc.

So I’ve also got sciatica, which is the disc presses on a nerve that comes out into my backside and right down tho the bottom of my leg – this means my leg is in a lot of pain a lot of the time, espcially at night, and I’ve been having insomnia from just being in pain. I’m currenlty making myself a little nest at night with pillows and folded blankets which I squirm around in until I can find a position where I lie on my back but with my leg at such an angle that the pain isn’t keeping me awake.

On cortisone for a while, which has reduced the swelling but has made me got a bit puffy and strange.

So this means pretty much that at the moment, Everything has been hard.  I have been diagnosed and I have a plan in place to get back to fitness, but it involves not doing any squatting or bending for a month – which means no building projects, not supposed to do anything much at all.

I have 6 unfinished oil paintings in the back room that I can’t face doing because I don’t really find painting very comfortable at the moment. I’m not allowed to do anything but walking for a month – me, who goes to the gym four times a week. ARGH! I am supposed to stand but the leg hurts a lot so the thought of painting is just cruddy. Meh.


hyperion rocks

The main thing though that I’ve been forced to face: what about my long term plans for art? Cause I have been totally derailed, and I have to get myself back on.

(This was the post I was going to do for my celebration 200th blog post but I frankly haven’t had the capacity to even want to do it).

Well I still want my future to be art. But I’ve had to accept my physical and fatigue limitations this year and just drop right back and allow myself to chill out and not mind not being able to do too much. Soon I start to be able to do more and hopefully physical fitness and a much better emotional state will help.  I’m positioned to be able to do this now finally. Some stuff in my life has been dealt with, some is being dealt with, and it will continue I’m sure pretty unabated till I can stop now thanks.  (No one tells you that hitting forty is a bit of a catalyst for you figuring out a bunch of stuff in your life and moving on, cleaning up!).

So for now…Lots of water colours (the ones illustrating this I did many years ago, they are ink/watercolour and they illustrate John Keats poem ‘Hyperion’), and some more writing, and I will get back on the horse slowly. Mabye will give the oils another bash tomorrow assuming back is ok and pain is in check. Painting while in pain is frankly just not fun.

hyperion tree