Its been 4.5 months since my son was born, add an additional 10 months onto that (dispel those '9 months of pregnancy' myths, its closer to 10...) and before then, oh, I don't know...a million years..? since I was anywhere near a ski resort. It is a stark contrast to literally living in the mountains day in day out for 4 years which was my life almost 5 years ago.
Before we lived in Geneva, I had never been near a mountain resort, on any sort of board or ski and didn't know what 'aprés' was (I know, right..?!?!). Fast forward a few years and I am re-connecting with my artistic side. Painting a picture for my in-laws. For some reason, I am overcome with a need to paint the mountains I have recently been visiting and oddly I chose a palette knife as my tool of application.
Now, I didn't go to any sort of art college, nor had I ever even touched a palette knife before that moment but I found a groove and I loved it. I painted the mountains of Verbier and Chamonix for the next few years, revelling in the collection of images and ideas and loving putting it all down on a giant canvas. It was a good life - I mean, theres not many people that can say "I HAVE to go up the mountain to ski! Its my WORK!". So leaving all that behind, moving away and starting a family has changed things a bit. Well...okay, a lot.
Firstly, there are few mountains. Ireland has some A-M-A-Z-I-N-G scenery, seascapes and mountains, but it is a very different landscape to the Alps. I am also now mum to 2 kids, which brings obvious challenges and limitations (as well as much joy and hysterics). So with time and distance limited, more often than not I'm painting my, very beautiful, doorstep.
So just last week a miracle occurred...I got to go to Chamonix, without babies or husband, stay with my friends, drink beacoup du vin (another story for another day...) and draw, paint, photograph and sketch the mountains!! It was BLISS!
Did I miss my family? Sure. A bit. I was only gone 4 days. But I also missed me. It was amazing to get back to me and take a moment to do a sketch - something I had tried the weekend before at Portstewart but had to can the whole thing as child 1 had a stone in her wellie that only I could dislodge and Child 2 had woken and was furious that he was not instantly furnished with a bottle of milk. It was a small thing, sitting and sketching but it was so liberating. Also I was sat with champagne amongst some of the best mountains in Western Europe so....
Artists, rightly so, place a huge importance on 'plein air' sketching and painting. It captures the mood of the place but it also captures the colours. Taking a photo back to the studio is what I do - painting on a mountain is almost impossible - but if I can grab a sketch or quick painting to help me get the colours right, it makes a big difference to the outcome of the overall painting. It connects you to it somehow, I don't know. That sounds a bit 'arty' but it does.
Being away and doing some stuff for me was great and I cannot recommend it enough. It was the break I needed from the kids, a couple of days, just perfect. It was the professional kick up the backside I needed to get back to painting some snowy landscapes and to sketch more. I think it was also something the husband needed too, he had a ball with the kids and experienced the same 'return to self' being at home with them for a few days, as I did being away. Everyone wins. Seriously, when can I book my next trip...?!