Don't Forget to Play

Sometimes I feel pressured to make good art. Art that will be well received. Art that fits neatly into a series or looks pretty in my Instagram feed. I've been feeling that a bit lately as I work on my new series. I'm already building up an expectation around it, wanting it to be my best work. Wanting it to be cohesive and well developed. All very good things to aspire to ... but,  it's also important that I don't forget to play!

My son is five years old and I only have to look at him to be inspired. He doesn't conform to the rules. In fact the way he plays is fascinating. He never plays with any of his toys in the way they were intended. He pulls them apart, combines them in different ways, adds in random household objects and builds completely new and exciting things. Toys that no one else has. Toys that his imagination can run wild with. Isn't that fabulous?

I was reminded of the importance of play today as I looked back on the work I did on my 'Gypsy Trail' series. It wasn't really a series, is was more of an approach to how I worked. I called it 'Gypsy Trail' as a way of encouraging myself to be free-spirited and adventurous. To dance with different ideas and celebrate the diversity that exists within us and within this world.


Most of my gypsy trail paintings were either in my sketchbook or on loose sheets of watercolour paper. The small scale made it easy for me to paint in various locations and because in my mind it was always just a sketchbook, I found myself so much more at ease with whatever happened on each page. I was able to let go of perfectionism and get back to that place of child-like curiosity.


I want to go back there!!! Writing this post has inspired me. I have an unopened Moleskine sketchbook in my studio waiting to explore new terrain with me. I will still keep working on my series but with my sketchbook close to hand.

With my 'Gypsy Trail' work I gave myself complete freedom but there is also value in playing within parameters. For example, you could choose a theme or a colour palette and play within those constraints. That can have great benefits. It's a bit like if you can't leave your home (perhaps you are snowed in or there is flooding) and you are forced to come up with ways to keep yourself entertained. After a while you are going to get pretty creative!


Either way, I think a sketchbook is the most wonderful tool for play. Yesterday I talked about feeling like there was a missing piece in the work I was doing. I have a feeling the missing piece might be a sketchbook to play in.

I'll leave you with a couple of flip through videos from my 'Gypsy Trail' sketchbook. Hopefully I will have some pages from my new sketchbook to share soon but in the meantime enjoy this little trip down memory lane. See you tomorrow for Day 27 of my 30 Days of Unfurling Xx