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Welcome to my blog recording my tenth month of painting as part of my one-year project of twelve art road trips.

This month covers December, Christmas, and the festive season.

I’ve had to stay at home this month as Dad is back in hospital and as a family, we have been preparing to say goodbye to him.

There’s no way I could leave my family during this strange and sad time.

I also had to take Pedro to the vets as he is losing the use of his legs and I was worried he was in too much pain. We’ve upped his tablets and agreed to try to get him comfortably to Christmas, but discussed that if he deteriorates, we’ll help him to a loving and humane end.

So, to make this a valid part of my art road trip, I’ve tried to view the familiar as a tourist and enjoy the sights and sounds like I would if it were new to me. This month is turning out to be another one of acceptance and adaptation.


The sketches above are of my dad as he lay in hospital sleeping. This was a tough day when we thought we were losing him at the beginning of the month.
Thankfully the photo is of him on Christmas day eating his Christmas dinner and being very much still with us.

Coming back from visiting my dad in hospital, I parked up to get some milk from the corner shop. I was shouted at by my mate Liam from his upstairs office window. His old boxer dog Aggie also joined him at the window – they cheered me up no end.

Mick who I met up with in Aviemore in month 4 was back in Nottingham and joined me for some drawing. I finished off a painting I’d been playing with for a while:

Fox in snow
Fox in snow

Additional Life-drawing and sketching.

This month of being at home gave me the opportunity to talk to local people, and reflect on their views on “acceptance, adaptation and ambition”.

1. Fynn is a lady I met in my art studio, and she joined me for a couple of hours of painting and talking:

Fynn. “holding close”, “opening up” & feeling in her words “jaggerdy”

We painted “unchartered horizons” together and discussed her recent bereavement. She described her feelings when dealing with the loss of her close relative.

These three sketches capture how she described her feelings. The sketches are dynamic and took approximately 10 mins each.

Unchartered horizons
“Unchartered horizons”

2. My Friend who has Parkinson’s posed for me for the first time:

First pose

The mood of the picture reflects some of the reflective conversation we were having.

My painting technique was really affected by my PD and that my meds were wearing off. Brush strokes were laboured and stodgy.

3. The results of a 4-hour life-drawing session:

My meds were working well during this four-hour life drawing session and my technique was much more fluid and confident.

A 3 hour painting
A 3 hour painting
A 30-minute sketch.
A 30-minute sketch.

This was a 2-hour painting, where I decided to experiment with recently bought patterned papers as backgrounds. I’m really pleased with the textures and the use of colour I managed to achieve.

2hr pose

On Thursday 15th December I found out that my final divorce had come through. I felt sad that it had come to this, but extremely relieved and optimistic for the future. I think the painting I created in some way expresses these complex emotions.
The cold frosty weeds in the foreground are masking a warm optimistic sunrise, better things are to come.

Frosty weeds
Dad steam train

I was asked to create a picture of my friend’s dad for his Christmas present.

I painted this picture of him on a day out on a steam train.

Although difficult painting it from a photograph, I’m happy with the mood of the picture and the movement of the steam.

I also painted this portrait of Dudley the border collie for a Christmas present.

It took a long time to capture the features and character of Dudley.


I also did some collaborative painting with a friend. He wanted to recreate an image he’s seen where a picture was pixelated, losing detail, but gaining interesting use of colour blocking. I worked out the grid and colours required, and we painted it together on Christmas Eve morning.

This whole way of thinking about a picture was totally different for me, and the process was very satisfying.

Painting pixels

I enjoyed creating the first painting so much, I had another go. The one below is an impression of Beeston Lock at sunset.

Beeston Lock

Just before the Christmas festivities started in earnest I sat down and had a chat with a friend who has Parkinson’s, who is a creative. We were reflecting on the year that has passed and our thoughts about the future.

He said, the problem is you know today is the best day you’re going to have – it’s like you’re dropping something off wherever you go – like keeping losing your wallet and getting it back with a little less in every time – you don’t know when it’s contents are going to run out. You can’t budget because you don’t know how much you’ve got and how long it’s got to last.
It leaves you feeling scared because you don’t know when you’re going to go broke.

I described a problem I have when people moan about their birthdays and New Year signifying getting a year older. We know every time we have a birthday, we’re one year further on our journey to the progression of the condition.

Having said all that, there is so much to be grateful for. Family, friends, and fun.

Family, friends, fun

Hopefully I’ll get away in January, although my destination will be close to home due to the situation with dad and Pedro.

J Shipton
Arts Council England

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Christine Stanley

    You’re such a talent Janet. Your blog is poignant, thoughtful with stunning paintings 🥰❤️ can’t wait to be part of your spring project. Xxx

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