The unsecret dairy of an insecure artist - Caroline Ashwood

April 18, 2023

large art

Pre-Breakfast – start of the week

Colour of the day: Pale pink

Woke up thinking that, after 18 years of painting fulltime for my daily bread, I’d keep a diary. No idea why really. My usual self-doubt probably. I read somewhere that Pablo Picasso was once shown a painting and asked if it was a forgery. “I don’t know,” he said, “I’ve been guilty of forging a few ‘Picassos’ myself.” (or words to that effect). I think I know what he meant. Having to be creative everyday is a tough way to make a living. Painting sunsets and fields of wild flowers in the depths of winter, and you’ve got a cold coming on, and the cat is having tummy trouble (again), is hardly the thrill it can otherwise be. Soldier on, I say. Someone has asked me to paint them one of those poppy fields that I’ve become known for. I can see why they are so popular, they cheer me up too. So, I do another one, just like the first one, only they are never the same. Like old Pablo, I create to-the-best-of-my-ability another Caroline Ashwood ‘Poppy Field’. Then I hold my breath, send it off to the customer, and hope they love it, when they do, and I can breathe again. Now and again, a couple of times a year, a customer won’t like what I paint for them. “That’s fine,” I say, “send it back. I’ll refund your money.” After 18 years, it's those ‘couple of times a year’ I remember. Imposter syndrome kicks in. It doesn’t matter that Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen once chose a ‘Caroline Ashwood’ to feature in one of his TV make-over shows, or that I’ve been the featured artist (no less) in both Yorkshire Life & Kent Life magazines, yet that nice lady in Wiltshire has changed her mind and wants her money back. No problem, Some else will love it, they always do. Creativity & rejection are painful bedfellows. Chin up Ashwood. Call the vet. Get an early night. Stop moaning and give it another 18 years.
Lunch break - midweek

Colour of the day: Duck egg blue

I still have a number of those square canvases I bought over 6 months ago. Why’s that then? Have people gone off square shape? Perhaps I should do a series of symmetrical pieces. Or asymmetrical? Checked email. A doctors’ surgery in Cheshire wants another painting to go with the landscape I did last summer. This time a seascape. Something for patients to ponder in the waiting room after they’ve exhausted the reading material on the notice board reminding them how short life can be.  I wish I lived nearer the sea. We spent a week on the North Norfolk coast, last September. What a beautiful place. Inspiring. Sprawling expanses of the finest light taupe sand. It’s so flat there’s hardly a wave on the shallows that go on forever. Whereas the tall dune grasses sway rhythmically on the North sea-breeze like a lively sea swell. Every now & then ducks flew up from the dunes in noisy formation against the huge sky. Duck egg blue huge sky! (note: that might be an idea for the doctor’s seascape). Had 4 cups of tea by lunchtime. Not too much milk. More of a mid-taupe (posh word for beige). 😊 The doctors want their seascape in landscape format. About 1 metre by 2 metres. Fair enough. A portrait of the sea doesn’t sound right. Idea! Suggest a diptych of those spare square canvases I’ve got sitting around. I’ve got a pair of 90cm x 90cm chunky framed canvases. Sent off suggestion to doctors. Vet sent text, cat’s medicine ready for collection on way home from studio. Poor old Hammie (Hamilton Bermuda Arco … according to his pedigree papers). He’s such a fragile little Siamese. Gastrically challenged. Loves his food but allergic to everything apart from hyper-sensitive ‘beluga’ pellets (as prescribed by Nobel prize winning cat dieticians I shouldn’t wonder!). But he’s worth it. Bless him. Cold today. Paint dries slower in the cold. Yes Caroline, you spend most of your working life watching paint dry 😊 At least I’m no longer working in that draughty old corrugated barn I used to rent. In deepest winter the paint froze over. Nightmare. Mind you, it sometimes created a really interesting effect that was impossible to recreate. So, as much as I was tempted, it was pointless incorporating it into my palette of techniques.
…. to be continued

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