“The Time Is Now”

I’ve always loved the song by Moloko and it sums up my current state of mind. During the last two weeks of self-isolation I scribbled down a few thoughts on what it can feel like when you get diagnosed with a degenerative disease.

It might give an insight as to why myself and others like me take on crazy challenges, and sometimes seem to be endlessly pushing ourselves.  Lets be clear, once you get a diagnosis like Parkinsons your whole world changes, everything you do, think about, plan is through a Parkinson’s filter or tint.  I think I’m quite a positive person but It seeps into everything I do and there isn’t a moment that goes by that I don’t think about it.  I’m training hard for a 12 hour boxing challenge “Punching Through Parkinson’s” and this challenge is important to me on many levels:

1. Keeping fit is very important to help delay the progression of Parkinson’s, so why wouldn’t you?

2. My body image is more important than it’s ever been. It’s the one thing I can control at the moment and it helps me fool myself (and others) that everything is going to be okay.

3. I’m obsessed by raising awareness (and money for research) of Parkinson’s so others diagnosed after me can feel more informed, accepted and understood within our society.

4. As other things start to be taken from me, my chosen challenges are within my control and provide me with renewed confidence and a sense of worth.

But all this has a time span.  As my condition worsens, my ability to do the above will reduce. So there’s a massive sense of urgency to life.  I have so much I want to do and achieve and my desire to do these things is greater that at any previous point in my life.  When you don’t know how long you’ve got left to be able to do things there suddenly becomes an urgency about life.  The challenges and opportunities in life seem easy compared to the looming threat of Parkinson’s and therefore “fear makes you fierce!  I no longer fear the pain or potential failure to complete a challenge, there are much scarier things to fear. Sometimes I break down in tears and sob with despair, the raw emotion and hope that some better medicines, and ultimately a cure will be found soon enough to help me and my lovely new found PD comrades before time runs out: THE TIME IS NOW.

Please support the “Punching Through Parkinson’s” challenge by reading and sharing the link below. Thank you, Janet xx



Stylish Mistakes

The COVID19 pandemic has been hard for everyone’s health, both physically and mentally. Many people I know have been throwing themselves into creative practice to cope with the physical constraints and the mental pressures of lockdown.

I’ve been watching Grayson Perry’s art club and been inspired to experiment more with different materials and subject matters. This has helped my approach to the weekend painting challenges my chum Liam and I have been doing over the last nine weeks. Giving us a welcome distraction from the things we would normally be doing at a weekend but now can’t.
It’s only now as life slowly returns to a new kind of normal we are struggling to find the time to commit, but I think we’ve enjoyed it so much though we’ll keep it up. https://paintingwithmrp.com/new-work/

I’ve missed my weekly fix of Wednesday life drawing, but the lack of this has forced me to try more portrait painting, model making and collage.
I’ve been sharing my work, and talking to others who are using art as a way to express themselves and cope with new and evolving challenges. www.parkinsonsart.co.uk

This time has also allowed me to do some socially distanced painting with friends. Just enjoying the company of another person who gets the same pleasure from painting. It’s a really satisfying thing to do and I hope to do a lot more of. I’ve also been talking to a few people who have taken up sketching and painting for the first time since childhood and watching them get over the initial embarrassment and start to enjoy the process of creating.

So COVID-19 has brought me and others an appreciation of a fresher, more care free approach to my art, as Grayson Perry said “Creativity is mistakes”.  In his recent art club he also said something like (apologies Grayson): If you want art to be perfect, then do photography – it’s the mistakes that give our art style.

I think art is for everyone. There’s no right or wrong, good or bad,  just enjoy the stylish mistakes x


“20 Days In 2020” – an update

wierd wood

It’s eleven weeks since I got back from my “20 days” painting retreat in Wales. What’s happened since getting back makes me yearn for those simpler days of just thinking about painting, dog walks and managing the weather.

Of course it’s been lovely getting back in touch with family and friends even in the socially distanced way we can now, but life is much more complicated and restricted. Emotions fluctuate between fear, guilt, frustration and relief and as the weeks roll by any novelty (however immature it was to feel it) has gone and left a level of tedium in its wake.

The jokes about our situation have been replaced with vitriol about the mishandling of the crisis, but the support we give each other now is much deeper and sensitive. Everyone’s experience is unique to them and complicated, but from this crisis so far has come some new richer friendships and valued new connections. I suppose my “20 Days” helped me understand that it’s all about doing what you have to do to get through and embracing the different emotions. It’s okay to be not okay all of the time – this will pass.

I’ve had a really heart warming response to my  “20 Days in 2020” journal, which along side painting sales has so far raised just under £400 profit which will go to Parkinson’s UK to fund research into the disease and hopefully help find a cure. Thanks to all who have supported this project so far. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you want a copy of my journal and artwork can be viewed at https://paintingwithmrp.com/20-days-work-for-sale/

Thank you and stay safe xx

Draft Brochure

“20 Days In 2020” Journal

Draft BrochureI’m pleased to say the journal from my 20 day voluntary social isolation challenge (before the coronavirus lock down) in Wales is available to pre-order.  Printed copies of this 34 page account of my thoughts and paintings will be available at the end of this month for a minimum donation of £5 per copy, with all profits going to Parkinson’s UK.

Contact me via email: Janetmbarnes@ntlworld.com or text 07904 067160 to reserve copies. Thank you Jx


20 Days Later!

I’ve completed my 20 days of blissful painting and sketching in the rural Welsh retreat.
I did experience loneliness from time to time, and the lack of conversation was difficult to adjust to, but the process of painting brought me the quiet calm and reflection I sought.
What I couldn’t imagine was the escalating impact of the corona virus whilst I was isolated from the news. Fortunately Simon came over to Wales last night and gently brought me up to speed with the changes we are having to endure going forward.

The next weeks / months will be very hard, but this last 20 days has helped me explore and understand some methods that helped me cope:

1.Writing down my thoughts, feelings and fears. I did this through writing a postcard a day to Simon, and keeping a journal of thoughts and sketches.
2.Losing myself in something – for me it was sketching and painting. This was more about the process than the outcome and I would lose hours engrossed in a project. It took me away from my feelings of loneliness.
3.Acceptance – embracing my feelings and allowing myself to feel sad, recognising it was normal and my mood would change in time.
4.Talking – I didn’t have this option whilst in Wales, but now I’m back home I’m fully exploiting the positive power of sharing and community support.

Over the next few weeks I hope to balance much needed family time with whatever work is possible, and of course painting. Health permitting, also be writing up my “20 Days In 2020” journal – watch this space!

Keep positive and safe,