I have read that many women feel a creative surge during the menopause. I’ve had various menopause symptoms on and off for the last year and if anything my ‘creative surge’ has been more of a creative swerve. My desire to paint all day every day has gone. I’ve got into music (see Striking the right note ) and lino cutting. Don’t get me wrong, I do absolutely love to paint, especially really really big canvases. But now I am suffering from severe brain fog and memory loss. Some days I feel I literally cannot function. Forget multi tasking. I used to be able to brush my teeth, put my socks on and have a wee all whilst planning the day’s business/festival/painting diary ahead. These days I’m lucky to remember why I went into the bathroom in the first place.
The realisation that I have forgotten an appointment, got a date wrong or lost something sends me into a spiral of despair. Panic attacks are occasionally the culmination of this self chastisement of being useless and losing my grip on the precipice of sanity – not funny when driving alone on a motorway. Seriously, that is something I shall not be doing again until this nonsense is all over and done with!
I had thought that the menopause could be a source of inspiration – a humorous ditty, some deep and wonderful paintings – but it’s actually extremely annoying and I find it very hard to find any humour in it or get any sense of perspective the majority of the time. I am incredibly sad. But I know it is just my hormones and that this time will pass. I have a wonderful family and a very privileged and lucky life.
Some of my coping mechanisms are yoga, walking, swearing quite a lot, and beating the hell out of the cajon (steady now, it’s a drum). And music – remembering lyrics and tunes is easy, just sometimes I forget which instrument I’m supposed to be playing..
Being an artist, I need to continue working although we are currently having to really concentrate on our business (Hailsham Creative – graphic design and print) because we’ve had a pretty disrupted year, with one thing or another. The start of the year was taken up with renovating our cottage and letting it out to self catering holiday guests. We also planned and ran the Summer Trifle festival, our middle son got married, we squeezed in a short holiday and we’ve done some travelling with the band (Milton Hide). So, my art has to be short and sweet, something I can fit into available gaps between work on the business, easily transportable and now is the right time of year to be making the smaller, more affordable works in the run up to Christmas. Lino cutting and printing it is, and I’ll also start a wood engraving – scratching marks into something is quite therapeutic!
This is the painting I did as a demonstration piece last week to a lovely art group. The idea was to start with a blank canvas and let a semi-abstract piece ‘evolve’. I start with a blank mind – not difficult at the moment – and let outside distractions influence me. I’m amazed I got anything painted but the element of fear of ‘corpsing’ in front of an audience, plus that kick of adrenaline, probably helped.
Apparently the menopause can last for years – expect some more rants and a lot of lino cuttings and occasional weird art!