Every day or weekend that I can be productive through painting feels like a huge victory recently. Opening up a favourite playlist on Spotify (right now it’s the soundtrack to David Attenborough’s One Planet – uplifting and magical!) and getting out my art box is the perfect retreat from recent weeks of preparing a nursery, organising a home and then recovering from the damage of a home wrecked by a month of rain in two days.
While we wait for the imminent arrival of our new addition, time seems to have sped up and yet stopped all at once. The days, weeks are still whittling down, yet knowing the day we’ll meet our baby is still a closely guarded secret, to all but him.
So I’m making the most of those days where I can put my feet up and paint without any goals or expectations, and more importantly, without interruptions. Those few hours of calm focus and happiness have never felt so meaningful, and it’s a sensation I’ve experienced the last few times I’ve sat down to paint. They are not masterpieces, they’re not trial-runs for oils on canvas, they are simply paintings for their own sake. And there’s beauty to this selfless, free creation that I probably took for granted in the past.
But one thought does keep interrupting the flow of paint. Will this be the last painting before our son arrives? If it is, then, it should mean something. It should mean more than just killing a few hours of boredom in mid-morning when you’re still too achy and tired to move but too guilty to go back to sleep.
I realised what this latest painting means to me before I finished it. In fact, before I even started it. Inspired, as so often, by an episode of David Attenborough (Blue Planet II, if you’re wondering), I was moved to paint the weedy sea dragon, the male of which carefully carries around his clutch of fuchsia-coloured eggs until they hatch. Painting this fragile, beautiful little creature is symbolic. Here is a creature that camouflages itself to its surroundings, adapts to its environment but inevitably is at the mercy of the currents of the immense ocean. This year, we’ve all felt a bit like this sea dragon; doing our best to adapt but pulled along by things out of our control.
The male tending to his eggs reminds me of my husband, and his attentive, hopefully curiosity about the weeks to come. Just as the male carries his eggs, my husband wonders with glee about carrying his newborn son. We know how, we know what, we just don’t know when.
Whenever the tides decide…