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Getting back on the horse

On my recent work trip to our Cornish Artistic Retreat, Valley View, I had a rare day off and decided to visit the Isles of Scilly – somewhere I’ve never been before. Even more adventurous than the flight from Land’s End to St Mary’s, I decided that a two hour horse ride would be the perfect way to explore the island, despite the fact that I haven’t been on a horse for a couple of decades or more!

I was given a ‘plodder’ called Charlie who suited my rusty skills and an instructor guide joined us. I was feeling rather pleased with how it was all going – we tried a little rising trot and a canter – so far so good. Then the ‘that’s never happened before’ moment happened! Something spooked Charlie, she leapt to the left, I fell to the right and landed unceremoniously on my back.



As they say, the best way to get over falling off a horse is to get back on so I found a large rock for a leg-up and my guide, Charlie and I continued with our sightseeing hack. My painful back and side kicked in that evening but the bruising in all shades of purple took a couple more days to flourish.

This equine experience made me think about all those setbacks I’ve faced with my art and how there’s a lot of merit in ‘getting back on the horse’. Over the years I’ve started many canvases and then decide I don’t like how they’re turning out. I’ve learned not to discard them but to stack them in a corner and return to them later (sometimes months later). Not only do they not seem so bad but with some tweaking, adding materials and different colours, they can take on a whole new lease of life.

On one occasion I needed additional pieces for an exhibition so I returned to an ‘abandoned’ canvas and, with a few changes to make it more suitable, I was happy to exhibit it and it actually sold shortly afterwards. It just goes to show, you don’t have to be 100% satisfied with every single piece of art you create, it presents your skills and passion and may well appeal to someone else.

I’ve also taken down a figure sculpture in the gallery that just didn’t work in the lighting and space there. The wonderful versatility of Powertex means that you can add texture, colour and a different look entirely to a sculpture that is already completed.

So if you have Powertex creations that you’re not entirely satisfied with, put them away for a while and revisit them at another time to see if you can add interest that evolves into something special.

If you’re stuck for inspiration, there are lots of technique hints and tips and product ideas at www.artisticretreats.co.uk