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  • Writer's pictureAnna Curston

31st July 2022

It’s the last day of July today! I’m honestly in shock. How did August arrive so soon? It’s going to be September before we know it and then summer will be over. I can’t pretend that I won’t be glad to see autumn again, it’s no secret that autumn, winter and spring are my favourite seasons. I love the cosiness and comfort of the shorter days; the beautiful colours and the cooler days. I love crisp cold mornings with the frost glistening in the winter sun. I love candles and jumpers and fairy lights and crumbles and soups. And of course, I love the long dark nights filled with stars. But enough fantasising for now, we’re still in the middle of summer and we need to make the most of this still wonderful (just not my favourite) season!

If you are looking for things to listen to, to help you fill your long summer days, I have a few podcast recommendations! For my fellow artists (and perhaps anyone starting out) I would recommend The Savvy Painter Podcast by Antrese Wood. I think this one could probably still be interesting to non-artists, but practising artists are definitely the target audience. I would recommend Talk Art, obviously for art content, and for Astronomy content I would steer you towards The Supermassive Podcast from the Royal Astronomical Society, and Astronomy Cast. (Also one of the hosts of The Supermassive Podcast has a good YouTube channel if you are interested, just search for Dr Becky Smethurst!)

So… What has been happening in my life recently? Well, a lot more time than I would like spent in Morrisons, but rent must be paid. That being said, I have ‘finished’ my collage experiment of MyCn18. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it. It was different experience and an interesting experiment. I am unsurprised that the small size of the piece caused me some issues as it’s simply much harder to create that energy in such a small space without it looking very busy. I probably could have continued to work on it but I felt it was probably more beneficial to simply put it to one side as an interesting lesson.

With that piece put to one side, I have set my sights on the wonderful new JWST image of Stephan’s Quintet (think I mentioned this last time). For this piece I am also experimenting a bit with canvas. I want to be able to paint even bigger than my current largest pieces, however using wood makes them incredibly heavy; transitioning to canvas would make them much easier for me lift and move, which I do this a lot in my practice to move around the paint. I do require a very smooth surface for my work, which canvas does not naturally have, so I went and got myself a cheap canvas to test just how smooth a surface I could realistically achieve with it (by sanding and (re)priming it myself). I’m still very much in the preparing the surface phase with it at the moment, but I’m excited to paint when it’s ready! It is a long portrait canvas which is also a very new shape as I’ve predominantly worked on square surfaces over the last year. While the surface is still being prepared, I intend to do as many sketches of the source material as possible and make as many notes of the subject as I can too.

The reason I think I struggle to work and do my art at the same time is because, although my art is a hobby, it is also work to me. It takes mental and physical energy and is being done for a purpose – to improve/ maintain my skills and to learn more about space and encourage others to learn more about it too. It brings me joy, but it doesn’t make it not exhausting sometimes. As a result, I don’t want to fill all the time I’m not at work with art because then I have no time to relax and recharge. It is a tricky balance, especially when I find my job so mentally draining; I need more time to recharge. As a result. I am spending less time than I might like doing my art, but that is okay for now.

I do hope work is understanding and will let me drop my hours down when term starts. With the amount of time I intend to dedicate to my course, my current working hours wouldn’t be sustainable and I would get almost no rest time. If there is one thing that spending as much time as I do in the studio as taught me, it is that rest is vital; without it, all work stops. You simply cannot be truly productive if you haven’t had the time to recharge. Don’t underestimate the importance of spending some time each week doing absolutely nothing.

I don’t really have any semblance of a routine or even much consistency in any area at the moment and as a result I am more stressed, more tired, less productive and less happy, but it is only temporary and I can just about see the light at the end of the tunnel. Despite this I am trying to make the most of the current situation; get 8+ hours of sleep when I can, do art when I feel up to it, make the most of the time I do get with people, and the time I have alone. Most importantly I am just giving myself a little grace and the time to rest when I need it. It is important for me to keep up with my art, but it is also important to rest so I can go into the next two years full of energy and fully rested.

I hope you’re all having a lovely restful and happy summer, and I’ll see you next time! Stay creative and curious!


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