Walking and thinking. Thinking and walking. They do work together if you want them to. I'd set out with the intention of seeing where my thoughts led, and it was instructive, if not terribly unexpected.
Because it had come up the previous day, I reflected on the idea of the city and the countryside becoming interpenetrating. What started to surface was the possibility of seeing how this subject might be treated in paintings. At this point, I'd reverted to thinking in images, so I can't readily convey to you what was in my mind. It'll have to be filed away for the future. Before I can tackle that as a subject, I have to finish wrestling with the sensory input of two weeks in Venice last September. There are canals and vaporetti to be brought into existence.
It was only after I'd finished shopping in Borders and Sainsbury's that the other raft of thought drifted into view. The choice of self-help books had been almost instinctive and while I'd be the first to admit to serious tendencies to disorganisation and time mismanagement, I'd not felt previously that these were indicative of anything more deep rooted. But now I began to see that they probably are.
When I left work in 1997 to go to University, I didn't find it difficult to adapt. I simply exchanged one form of disciplined routine for another. There were times when I was lonely (my fellow students didn't share my need for discipline or routine and stayed away in droves, so that most of the time I was alone in the studio) but everything seemed to be continuing more or less as before.. I suspect now, however, that the first cracks in the foundations of my life structure began then. It was as I graduated in 2001 that the real collapse began to manifest itself. In rather quick succession a series of Bad Things happened in a period on which we do not dwell.
So here I was now, a free agent trying to make a living from painting, but with no sense of routine, no commitments to anyone or anything,other than to visit my Mother and ensure that she had everything she needed (except that I couldn't provide the one thing she needed above all else - my Father).
In September my Mother died, shortly after her 90th birthday. It wasn't unexpected and given the quality of her life I viewed it as something of a release. Until now, however, I hadn't viewed her death as the destruction of the last remaining prop in my world edifice.
But here I am now, an even freer agent whose only constants are the need to make artworks, and Patsy123 (the least demanding and more reliable of the two).
It may seem obvious that the death of my Mother should leave me in something of a state, but it's more than that. It's the death of the past; the death of all the old certainties; the death of my original support system.
So I need a new support system and a new set of routines and structures. Recognising that is the beginning. Enter the self-help books.