Sshh… don’t tell anyone, but yesterday I skipped printing and went to the cinema instead. During the day… I know – how wonderfully decadent! What luxury.
But why on earth would I choose to miss an activity I love doing?
Surely making art is what I’m trying to make time for not running away from. True, but as I’m trying to give myself some structure and a longer term plan it has also become my ‘work’. Proper artists even refer to their pictures as ‘my work’ and use phrases such as ‘This is what I’m working on’. It makes it sound important. So it has definitely become a should-do activity in my life. And ‘shoulds’ usually build a degree of resentment I find (notice when you use ‘should’ in a sentence and see how it makes you feel).
Last week I was getting stuck into a large scale drawing when I had a call from a friend that my daughter (who doesn’t usually play football) had managed to get to the semi-final with her small team in a tournament. If I hurried, I could just get there in time to watch the match. Now, this wasn’t something I had planned to do, but I downed tools, washed my hands and headed out, just remembering to take my painting apron off as I left. And it felt wonderful! Not just to see the surprise on her face. Not just because they won themselves a place in the final or they way they all supported and cheered each other on. But because I was doing something I shouldn’t – skiving off!
It meant my day wasn’t as productive as I had hoped, but then I’m not a factory so I decided that didn’t matter. Being able to make these choices and be available for family is one of the reasons I’m doing this instead of returning to the design industry and getting a proper job. (Insert your own inverted commas or not, depending on your viewpoint.)
In the film ‘Mr Turner’, being available for family wasn’t something that came high on Joseph Mallord William’s list of priorities. In fact he even denied he had children. In later years he escaped regularly between different locations and to his landlady in Margate, although he never committed to marrying her either. It’s a great film, even if a little caricature-ish for me. I loved the scene that showed him mixing paint in his hands – all the stages it takes to get that image created…
As I emerged rather late in the day I didn’t feel any sense of time wasted. Instead, escaping had done the trick and I was looking forward to getting back to work again.
My daughter has been escaping too today as a cold squashed her usual enthusiasm for life. She spent the morning in bed and then joined me with her own sketchbook. What a perfect escape for both of us….
I wouldn’t go to the extreme of denying I have children but sometimes it’s good to leave parts of our lives behind for a while. Escaping can often be seen as the weak option. Or we make it that way for ourselves.
Escaping in the sense of letting yourself off the hook can be hugely beneficial; a chance to step outside the routine and gain some perspective.
Your escape could be either giving yourself the chance to opt out, or to opt in to something. <whispers> What could you do to play truant just for a while?