2017: What A Year So Far! (And Not In A Good Way)

Well, hello there! How are you all? I really hope you're all feeling better than I am at the moment. You may have noticed that I've been silent on the blog, and I've also been pretty quiet on social media too. The reason for this is that 2017 has been a difficult year so far and I've been struggling with several different things.

Clockwise from top left: Snowy Landscape with Sheep and Birds; Midnight Walk 4; Snow Storm Coming; In The Dark Forest. All acrylic on canvas, various sizes. The first three are at VK Gallery in Cambridgeshire, and the dark forest is a commissioned painting. All of these were created during early January 2017.

Clockwise from top left: Snowy Landscape with Sheep and Birds; Midnight Walk 4; Snow Storm Coming; In The Dark Forest. All acrylic on canvas, various sizes. The first three are at VK Gallery in Cambridgeshire, and the dark forest is a commissioned painting. All of these were created during early January 2017.

Just before Christmas, my partner and I both came down with a very strange virus. It wasn't a cold or flu, but it caused painful, swollen glands and a general feeling of weakness and fatigue that lasted throughout Christmas and well into the New Year. We finally managed to shake that off in January, and then it was time for me to complete my annual Tax Return by the end of the month. It quickly became apparent that I need to implement a different system this year for my accounting, because as my business has grown I'm finding that what worked before - and took far less time - really isn't very efficient now. I had to put painting on hold while I worked on that for a week or so, but consoled myself with the fact that I would soon be able to concentrate on my long overdue personal projects when the paperwork was out of the way. It was also the first time in maybe a year that I had reached the end of my commissions list, and I was excited to think that I'd finally have the time to put all of the new ideas I have into action. So I paid the larger-than-expected tax bill, and got back to work. We're in the middle of house and studio renovations at the moment and I'm also living in two different places as well, so I'm basically working wherever I can set up a temporary work space, which is disruptive to say the least. I'm actually very happy about all of this so I don't want to come across as an old moaner - I'm worried it sounds that way! It will all be worth it in the long run, it's just a little difficult right now.

Anyway, as soon as I started getting back into my art, I became ill again. Firstly with a bad migraine for a couple of days, then with what we'll politely term as "hormonal issues", immediately followed by the flu. I've spent most of February ill, and it has been truly awful. We both came down with this flu virus at around the same time and it knocked us off our feet. I'm somebody who usually gets ill maybe once, sometimes twice, during the winter season. If I'm ill twice I consider myself unlucky. This is the THIRD virus I've had this winter (I also had a cold a few weeks before the weird glandular thing over Christmas). I've mentioned this online recently, and whenever I have, I've been inundated with people saying the same thing - that the viruses this year are very intense and hard to shake off, and that there are more of them. I haven't had something that has made me feel this ill for YEARS, and it appears I'm not alone. Sadly, as I haven't been able to do anything, my work has fallen by the wayside again, we also haven't been able to get on at all with the house and new studio as planned, and I've been struggling to get well, regain my energy, and just get back to normal. I'd love to be able to replenish the money I spent on the tax bill, but as I'm working so little at the moment, my income has dropped severely over the past month or so.

Also, at the beginning of January I started a new year-long project, where I will be painting one mountain per week throughout 2017. I've been intending to create more mountain paintings for about a year now - ever since I went to Scotland! - and yet I never seemed to have the time during 2016. I thought that this would be the perfect way to encourage myself to make a little time for it each week. All was going well at first, but due to ill health I am now four weeks behind! I am going to try to catch up - it shouldn't be too difficult as I can choose how complex or quick each mountain painting can be. But as you can imagine, all of this has been very frustrating, and it's hard to feel positive about things when each day all of your energy and effort goes into just trying to feel "normal".

Well, this blog post has just turned into a massive whinge-a-thon, hasn't it?! I apologise for that, but I wanted to let you know what's been happening this year so far, and explain why I seem to have just disappeared. I also wanted to write about how I feel about my work in general at the moment and some plans going forward, but this has turned into a very long post already so I will leave that topic for another day. There are lots of positive things happening in my life right now as well so it's certainly not all bad, but I think we all go through times of struggle and maybe it's not such a bad thing to share those sometimes. Honesty is a good thing.

Here's to good health and getting back to work...and looking forward to Spring, which is just around the corner!

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The First Painting of 2017!

Happy New Year to you all! I hope 2017 will be a healthy, creative, and prosperous one. I've been thinking a lot about my work/business/career and the way I'd like it to develop this coming year, so I'll be writing about that soon. Also, my website finally has its own shop for 2017! I'm adding new items whenever I have the time, and eventually there will be a selection of prints, original paintings, and painted stones that you'll be able to buy directly from me. You can find the shop here, and I'll also be keeping my Etsy shop open too - I've just had a very busy Christmas on there, which was wonderful! A big thank you to everyone who placed an order during 2016 - your support is deeply appreciated.

So, on to the new painting!

Midnight Walk 3. Acrylic on canvas. 20x20" / 50x50cm © Natasha Newton 2017

Midnight Walk 3. Acrylic on canvas. 20x20" / 50x50cm © Natasha Newton 2017

Midnight Walk 3 was a pleasure to paint - apart from those tiny branches that actually started to drive me a little batty towards the end! ;) But I've really enjoyed painting trees like this again, and I'm now working on the companion piece to this one, so I'll be sharing that soon. I have a lot of plans for tree paintings in 2017 - my new surroundings are definitely inspiring me and it feels as if I'm being drawn back to this subject matter and new ways of depicting them.

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My New Studio & Two Bird Paintings

Let's address the first thing - I have a new studio! Well, strictly speaking I'm in the long process of renovating my new space and setting up a studio with a separate room for a little office too. At the moment I work from a lovely but small studio in Suffolk, doing everything in the same room. I love that little room, but to be able to have a larger space with great light...well, let's just say that I feel very fortunate. It's going to be a lot of hard work (not to mention expense!) to get it up and running, but I'm not someone who's afraid of hard work in any respect, as those who follow me probably already know! I love to work, and all the effort I'll be putting into this new space will eventually mean I'll be able to create art in a more organised and much more efficient way. And I'll be able to work on larger paintings - something I've always wanted to do! I'll be sharing the process of gradually decorating and setting up the new studio in future blog posts.

This is a photo of my current studio, taken in June 2016.

And this is a photo of a small section of the new studio, empty and undecorated at the moment, apart from a large table with a tabletop easel for me to work at! I'll be using most of the furniture from my current studio, but I've also purchased other pieces to add to the new space. I look forward to sharing those in due course!

And here are the two new paintings on canvas - I worked on these in both studios! The one on the left is Two Swallows, acrylic on canvas, 16x16" / 40x40cm, and the one on the right is Eternal Conversation, acrylic on canvas, 20x20" / 50x50cm. Both of these were very special commissioned paintings and each has a very personal story behind it. Sadly, I'm not at liberty to share the stories of these pieces, but it was an honour to work on both of them. I'll be posting all new work (certainly any new collections and major pieces) here on the blog from now onwards, so please check in regularly to see what I've been up to!

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New Paintings & New Prints!

Life has been busy. I'm currently back and forth between two places, I'm setting up a new studio, I've been working my way through a huge list of commissions for months now, and I've just returned from a week long walking holiday in the Peak District. I'm exhausted just thinking about it! The Peak District was, as usual, incredibly beautiful and inspiring. It actually snowed on the day we left, so we drove home through a magical winter wonderland. I took a lot of photos and I'm going to be using them as reference for some new paintings very soon, which I'll be posting here on the blog. I've been busy creating a lot of work over the past few months which I've shared on social media and added to the relevant sections of the website or shop, but I haven't necessarily posted these pieces on the blog. I'm going to start doing that from December, so that this becomes a good record of recent and/or available work that you can easily scroll through to check what's new.

Today, I wanted to share these two new night landscape paintings with you:

Night-time in Fen Meadow. Acrylic on canvas. 20x20" / 50x50cm © Natasha Newton 2016

Night-time in Fen Meadow. Acrylic on canvas. 20x20" / 50x50cm © Natasha Newton 2016

Moon Rise. Acrylic on canvas. 16x16" / 40x40cm © Natasha Newton 2016

Moon Rise. Acrylic on canvas. 16x16" / 40x40cm © Natasha Newton 2016

The first painting, Night-time in Fen Meadow, was created especially for someone as a commission so the original has already sold, but you can find signed art prints of this piece in my shop. The second painting, Moon Rise, is currently available through Junction Art Gallery in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, UK - you can find more details on my stockists page. This is also available as a signed art print through the shop, and both prints are fast becoming my most popular recent designs! I never tire of painting night landscapes, and I'm looking forward to creating some pieces over the next few months incorporating some new ideas I've had - it will be fun to try a new twist on some old favourites!

Having The Courage To Be Yourself

I've decided that I'm going to try to write when I feel inspired to do so, and as I've been feeling ill today with a migraine and I've been unable to do anything much apart from rest and sleep, I thought I'd use this moment where I'm feeling slightly better to do something useful with my day.

Intermission 7, 8, & 9. Acrylic on canvas. 16x16" / 40x40cm © Natasha Newton 2016. Available at Blue Tree Gallery in York, UK.

Intermission 7, 8, & 9. Acrylic on canvas. 16x16" / 40x40cm © Natasha Newton 2016. Available at Blue Tree Gallery in York, UK.

This is actually something that's been on my mind for a while and in a way it isn't art-related at all, but judging by the feedback I've received from several of my readers, you seem to appreciate the more personal posts, so I'll occasionally be writing about other subjects that are close to my heart.

Just to start so you know the incident that sparked this off - the other week I bought a bracelet from a company I hadn't heard of before called Dogeared. It's just a simple bracelet made from four strands of black silk with a little gold bead that you can use to adjust the bracelet to the size of your wrist. I love simple jewellery anyway, but I especially loved this as the accompanying description said something along the lines of making a wish as you put the bracelet on, and then every time you look at it you must remember that when you let your true colours shine, amazing things can happen.

Being someone who has struggled with feelings of low self-worth and self-esteem my whole life, and the doubts that come along with that, I thought that the meaning behind this bracelet was a nice concept. And weirdly, it helps! The other day I started to doubt myself in a social situation. It was nothing major, but I felt those uneasy feelings of self-consciousness coming back. I noticed I was wearing the bracelet, and that little reminder to "let my true colours shine" was all I needed to feel just a bit better. I immediately relaxed. It made me realise that sometimes just a little nudge in the right direction can be all we need, and that how we feel about ourselves really does come from within. Of course, it helps if you've had (or have) people in your life that cherish you, value your feelings and opinions, and tell you - or more importantly, show you - that you're worthy of being respected and loved.

I am lucky enough to have that, but still I fight daily with these feelings from within. I'm going to be very honest here and tell you that I wear make up every day. Some days just a little make up, some days more. But I wear it every single day. The reason for this isn't because I'm vain or that I love myself; in fact, it's quite the opposite. I feel so self conscious without make up that the thought of going out without it - or even answering the door without it - fills me with...well, 'fear' might be going a bit far, but something like it. I long to be one of those women who can get up, wash her face, and run out of the door. But something stops me. And that something is the fear that I'm just not good enough. But the only thing that's stopping me from being that woman is me. I'll tell you something else: despite being well past my teenage years and 20s, I still get spots. Over the past few weeks I've had more spots than when I actually was a teenager! This has made me even more self-conscious of my skin, which is crazy really, because I certainly don't judge other people in the way I judge myself. I don't care if someone else has a few spots, whether their skin is a little blotchy or not air-brushed to perfection. In fact, I like it. So why do I always feel this need to be 'perfect'? I'm searching for a perfection that doesn't exist anyway. This worry about my appearance extends to almost every part of my body. I long to feel comfortable in my own skin, and so all of this is a work-in-progress - I'm trying to deal with and get over these feelings. The reason I wanted to talk about it and be honest about it, is because I think that if there's someone else out there feeling like this, at least you'll know you're not alone and I know from personal experience that this fact really helps.

I find other people's quirks and imperfections endearing, and I think I - or we - need to extend this kindness to ourselves. Even people who you may think 'have it all'; a confident personality, good looks, a wonderful job, a loving partner etc., can still feel the way I do. We never know what's going on in someone's mind, so being kind at all times is very important. If you find someone with whom you can be yourself; the real, vulnerable, imperfect you, and yet they still love you - hold onto them and cherish them. And learn to love yourself in the same way they love you.

Being yourself - your true, authentic self - will draw the right people towards you. So fight those negative feelings, remember that even the most unlikely people can feel like this too, and "let your true colours shine". We may never be fully at ease with ourselves, but we can definitely keep trying to have the courage to be ourselves. Because you are worthy of great things and great love - and that really does start with valuing yourself.

[If you like this post and want to show it some love, don't forget to press the little heart in the bottom right corner, or share it with your friends on social media by clicking on the 'share' link, where a drop down menu will appear with various options. Thank you!]