Updated: Dec 3, 2019
I'm a strong believer that art shouldn't be a stuffy elitist indulgence but an accessible-to-all part of everyday life. Looking at it, creating it, thinking about it, talking about it and just being around it.
For well-being and balance in a crazy busy world, I feel it is a necessity to function properly, in a similar way to sport. A release and a life-affirming experience that can bring peace, pleasure, sensory stimulation, escapism, engagement, confidence, social interaction, endless benefits really.
I'm not talking about hanging out at art galleries pontificating and reciting the history of art, more about appreciating and exploring colour and shape during a normal day because it feels good.
I can see it in my own children, how it can help them de-stress, express, exercise their creativity, explore ideas, take control, but, most of all, have fun.
Painting is something I do because it makes me happy and I feel most like me when I'm doing it. But recently I've become more conscious of the positive effect putting myself out there as a professional artist can have on others. I went into journalism because someone I knew was doing it and I thought, if they can do it so can I.
Have had some lovely conversations with youngsters recently who want to know my thoughts on arty stuff and their latest creations. It's like they think I'm a real artist. Oh, wait a minute! I am. I'm still learning and developing my skills but yes I definitely am. Being a real person that they know setting an actual example of what is possible if you put your heart into it can get them thinking about their own aspirations and possibilities. It's that 'if they can do it so can I' thing.
Most parents want to be a positive influence on their children but we're not robots and we don't always respond in the way we'd hope when our buttons have been well and truly pushed. I do my best to be a positive role model to mine, including in our shared love of martial arts. Anything I expect them to do, I do first to show them it can be done by a plain old mummy. And if I fail, at least I fail first and then they can delight in outdoing me.
My daughter often spends her own money on paints and canvases, and when she's finished her creation decides how much she will sell it for, because that's what mummy does. When others see someone they know reaching for their dream it opens their own mind to thinking bigger and aiming higher, a normalisation process of the previously unachievable. And being able to trigger something like that feels awesome.
The tiny smidge of snobbery I've encountered since embarking on my art adventure has made me more determined to do it my way and to do my bit to encourage people to have art in their lives in some shape or form. I believe it should be supported at every opportunity amongst as many as possible.
I attended a women's business breakfast this month where we were joined by some Year 10 girls from a local school. I don't for one minute think any of them were considering art as a career option, but I put my message out there, that if you can find your passion in life and turn it into your purpose, make it happen. To follow whatever it is in life you love.
I loved English and art at school. I followed my head and studied English at uni, becoming a journalist for nearly 15 years. Now I am following my heart and making a career out of art.
When asked what my definition of success was, it was happiness. I've come to the conclusion whatever job it is you do, believing in yourself, doing it for the right reasons, believing in what you do and putting your heart into it can set you on a path for happiness. That is if happiness is your definition of success. It's not everyone's.
And so I was thinking what else I could sell on my stall at the school Christmas fair next month to appeal to a younger crowd. Sweets, chocolates, a plastic tat toy to annoy parents and litter the planet? And then I found some lovely little canvases featuring different designs, complete with brush and paints. Have no idea whether these will appeal but it's worth a try. Any excuse to give another an excuse to pick up a paintbrush. Who knows where it could lead?
Nothing is so contagious as example; and we never do any great good or evil which does not produce its like.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld