Tuesday, 10 September 2019

What I Learnt on my Summer Break

Is anyone else still astonished that it's September already?  The weeks of the Summer holiday have drifted by, and yet I wasn't prepared for it to end so suddenly; to be roused far too early by an insistent radio alarm clock, drowsily making my way downstairs to prepare coffee, breakfast and packed lunches again.

Despite not wanting the Summer to end, I was also secretly feeling rather excited at the prospect of going back to the studio.  If you read my last post you'll remember I told you I was taking a break from my work, and why.  It took a lot of courage for me to face up to the fact that things weren't working and needed to change, and yet when I eventually accepted this and made the decision to step back for a while to figure out what to do next, I felt the biggest sigh of relief envelope my body.

During the Summer we spent a week in North Berwick in Scotland, it's a beautiful gem of a town on the east coast and despite the weather not being in our favour (torrential rain and storms for the majority of the week), it was a very welcome change of scenery and I loved the place.  

Sitting on the beach on our last day looking out to Bass Rock and the islands beyond, I found myself thinking about painting again.  Of course, it had been something I found my mind wandering to on and off but it was here that I suddenly had the seed of a new idea. I'm not even sure how it came into being, or what inspired it, but as the weeks of the Summer drew on, I felt myself returning to it over and over.

I knew that I wanted there to be more fluency with my work, to create cohesive collections of art and design work based on certain themes.  I made a list in my notebook to refer back to, and let the idea germinate.

As the Summer days rolled by in a gentle, easy way,  I began to start unravelling what wasn't working in my business, and surprisingly, one of the main components of it was actually me.  I saw how I had become increasingly anxious and despondent about  my work, I often struggled with imposter syndrome and the thought that I wasn't good enough. My daily thoughts and beliefs had disintegrated into a very negative place.  

A positive mindset is one of those magical tools of the trade that we really do need in order to thrive.  Once fear or depression begins to creep in, all other kinds of negative chatter can deter us from following our path, and can debilitate the process of succeeding.  Our dreams and goals remain unrealised, panic and anxiety become a part of us, and we can often feel as if we are hitting brick walls without understanding why.  I recall days where it felt like I was walking through thick treacle, achieving nothing, only wasted hours scrolling through Instagram where I would inevitably end up comparing myself to what everyone else was out there doing.  

This also puzzled me a bit, I'd always thought of myself very much as a 'glass half full' person, but I could see (with a little unpicking) that the drag of daily social media updates, of playing small, of mid life challenges and not being bold enough to take bigger steps, had all conspired to halting my progress.  Somewhere along the way I had given over to believing that I wasn't going to make it.  My mindset had turned from 'I can' to 'I can't'.

Again, it feels almost a little awkward to lay this bare and share it with you.  Admitting that 'I' am part of the problem isn't easy, but I do think that accepting what is, is half of the battle because once we do that, we have a starting point to move forward from.

I also chose not to post on Social Media for the entire Summer and at first, I felt afraid that this would have bad consequences.  People would unfollow in their droves, I'd be forgotten. But do you know what actually happened?


The number of followers stayed roughly the same, people were actually still finding me, and following and liking my posts despite not being active.

And this was a revelation.

For months and months I harboured a secret dread each day - what to post.  What content did I need to create?  What did I need to photograph, edit, upload onto Instagram or Facebook today?  And I knew I simply could not carry on doing that.  Not only was it draining, I was finding it dull and depressing.  Following my experiment this summer of not posting for literally 7-8 weeks, I know now that I can still have a social media presence but without the grind of posting daily.  My intention moving forward is to use my spaces on social media a couple of times a week, paring it back to basics and sharing what feels joyful and interesting.  My main focus will now be my email community who I write to a couple of times a month, and this Blog where I will share more regularly about my work process, and things I'm up to.

As we move into September, there are other things unfolding behind the scenes...my new website is almost half finished!  I decided in the holidays that my old one was more than ready to be upgraded, and so it's with great excitement that I can share that my new online home is currently being constructed, and made ready to showcase my new work.  I'll keep you posted about it's launch, but suffice to say it's looking amazing and really reflects me and my new direction.

I have also been looking at my work and stock, and being rather strict about what works and what doesn't.  I think creative people and businesses must do this from time to time, and to be brutally honest about it too.  No point harbouring a load of products (and adding to them) if it's not a good seller.  And this led me to consider having a sale, as a way to make space for my new collections, and to clear some space for a fresh new beginning.

I'm going to be giving my email community the heads up on the sale so that they will have the first opportunity to browse and purchase.  I will be selling lots of originals and prints at drastically reduced prices in order to make the space I desperately need in my tiny studio. If you'd like to sign up to hear about this, you'd be very welcome and can do so by clicking the link in the side bar.

So, to conclude...this Summer has been about rest, stepping back, being honest, allowing new ideas to arise, reading and learning.  It's been about accepting responsibility, making plans for the future and practising positivity each and every day (for me, this is walking in nature, going to the coast, journalling, yoga and meditation, reading books and inspiring blogs).  I don't feel like the same person who last wrote here, I feel like I've grown and changed for the better and that can only be a good thing.  

I'm going to grab a coffee and head down the garden to the studio soon, I'm working on some sketches at the moment for my first collection. The sun is lower in the sky now, the swifts have left I think, and the light filtering through the fading leaves is golden and tinged with the signs of Autumn. 

It's good to be back.


  1. Good to see you back Juila. I love your work and your posts here.
    Here's to fresh starts and less self imposed pressure. I look forward to seeing your new website.
    Enjoy your painting.
    Love Jacquie xx

  2. Hi Julia. Just letting you know I've stopped by here. It is a quiet Saturday morning in the U.S. I was glad to find your update as I sit at an old wooden desk by the window with my water jar and messy paper and apron. No plans, just sitting in my happy place. I'm sipping coffee, finished peanut butter toast with honey drizzle. Love the ripply, sandy dark-tone ocean photo with the glistening light. By the way, I looked up from my laptop and realize I have your regatta print on a table-easel in front of me, and to my side along with books and family photos, I see 1, 2, 3 of your flower in jug creations. You make a difference and it sure doesn't matter to me how often or not you post. I kept a small print-out on copy paper of the regatta print for YEARS before I was able to purchase the real print. It lifted me and just gave me a nice feeling so many times on my day job, and that is before I learned that the regatta is a real occurrence. Warm regards, Alexine