You are currently viewing Month 12. Heacham, Norfolk. 8th – 14th February 2023

Welcome to my blog, recording my twelfth and final month of painting as part of my one-year project of twelve art road trips.

I chose this location because I felt a real need to be by the sea, I didn’t want to drive too far, and there was very limited choice of campsites open before March.

I arrived at the site and spent time setting up camp – by the time evening came I was exhausted but walked down to the nearby beach with Rosie to see the sunset. Pedro is fine, but not up to much walking anymore – he’s happy to chill in the van.

The sunset was astonishingly beautiful. I tried to capture it, painting it when I got back to the van.

Heacham sunset
Life drawing of Jane

I cleaned my paintbrushes up and was deciding what to do for the rest of the evening.

Experience told me to occupy myself to stave off feelings of melancholy and loneliness. My WhatsApp notifications pinged, and Sue and model Jane had decided to send me a photo of the pose so I could take part in the life drawing group I help run on Wednesday evenings. I was so moved by the thoughtfulness of this – it was totally unexpected and allowed me to have a lovely evening. I was satisfied with the resulting sketch painting seeing as I’d worked from a photo.

In the early hours of the morning, I woke to loads of geese landing in the field next door to where I’m camping. The sound was a cacophony of squawking for about 30mins, and then just as suddenly as they arrived, they left.

Later that morning, I took Rosie out for a beach walk and saw these slightly dilapidated beach huts, which I then set about painting when I got back.

Beach Hut Tryptic
Beach Hut Tryptic

I didn’t set out with the intention of making them look so sinister, but I think they might represent challenges in life – you don’t know what you’re going to find until you open the door and look in.

My friend Karen joined me on Friday evening. I cooked dinner, we drank wine and Baileys, and finally went to bed after 2 am. That didn’t deter us from taking part in the Hunstanton Parkrun at 9 am Saturday morning. It’s the first time I’ve attempted to run with Rosie.

I was fully prepared to have to stop and move away from the crowds and dogs if Rosie couldn’t cope. Turns out she was brilliant. The three of us had a lovely run, and the Marshals and other runners were very encouraging and loved Rosie. I felt so proud and happy that she’s made so much progress since I got her 2.5 years ago.

Heacham Rosie

I was also quite proud of myself. Running 5k in a reasonable time, given I’ve not run much for a few months. Running had become something I’d fallen out of love with over the last year, but I found this run with Karen and Rosie a positive, fun experience.

After a lovely 24 hours, Karen made her way home, and I had Saturday evening on my own and did my little painting of Rosie (above).

My parky friend Chris came about midday on the Sunday, and we talked and talked and went for a long dog walk along the beach.

Heacham walk
I did this acrylic sketch of the walk.

We had a special two days together, doing much-needed talking, running, painting, and crying at times. All part of our unique relationship. We know what each other is dealing with and how to support each other.

We lose ourselves in painting and feel all the better for it.


After a zoom meeting with my art group, we agreed on the subject of “home” for this week’s creative project. I thought I’d try and paint what my van means to me.

The Van

It was a beautiful last evening of the art road trip, and I reflected on the last year’s adventure.

I expected to observe and record examples of acceptance, adaptation, and ambition in others, but it has been mainly required by me to carry on and complete the 12 months. I feel this road trip has taught me lots about myself.

I’ve felt loneliness, self-doubt, fear, and loss. I’ve been scared before on many of the road trips, and if I’m being honest, it was very tempting to stay at home on many occasions.

I’d underestimated the effect the cold weather, winter months, an infirm Pedro, my PD, and my sick Dad would have on my confidence and, therefore, the trip.

The road trip has been full of laughs, tears, and experiences. I’ve locked myself out of the van, driven with the door unlocked, nearly blown myself up with a gas canister, melted plastic bottles on the oven top, and heard the devastating news about a close friend.

I’ve worn out one camper van, watched a friend’s online wedding, had phone counselling sessions, and nursed my dad in his last days. Oh, and I performed at the Edinburgh Fringe.

I could not have done all this without the support of friends and family encouraging me and joining me on parts of the trips.

A special thank you to Liam for looking after the life-drawing class, Andrea for looking after the gallery, and my sister Kathryn for supporting my decision to carry on when things back home were tough.

Thanks also to Peter and Caroline and my friend Steve Coleman for helping me publish the blog.

I also thank everyone for their interest and feedback on the paintings and blogs.

One final thanks to Arts Council England for funding the project.

A full printed journal of this project will

A full printed journal of this project will be coming soon.

J Shipton
Arts Council England

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Miss A Millington

    I found this blog really reflective and honest, your drive still pushing you through all the challenges life is bringing even though it is a steep climb. Thankyou for sharing this past year, it is often through reading the experiences of another we reflect upon our own place, which is something I have found when reading. This entry, I like the beach huts best. Dark, empty and waiting ready to come alive again as the seasons change, full of promise for brighter days ahead. Much love to yourself, Rosie and Pedro. Ps will done Rosie x

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