Being fundamentally lazy, I do need a challenge, something to get me going, either mentally, physically or preferably both. Challenge me, and I’m there, unless it’s anything to do with spreadsheets of course, I have an allergy to them, especially when they are used purely for text. What’s wrong with tables, FFS? I’m also terminally curious, always asking… ‘what if I just…….?’ or ‘I wonder what this does…..?’
Challenges which come very low down the list, usually near the bottom, right next to ‘re-locate the compost bin’ include anything connected with decorating. Yes, I like the finished article, all smelling of new paint and fresh linen, especially when I can sit staring at it with a glass of something suitable in hand, but all that preparation, sanding and cleaning brushes, tripping over drop cloths and having a permanent layer of dust around the house? No, just no.
The year started with a challenge, 31 of them to be precise, as a friend invited me to join the 64 Million Artists January Challenge. Do something arty every day of January, I was definitely up for that, beats toggling through social media for something to rant at. I loved it and wanted to do more, in fact I did do more, investing in a sketch pad which now goes everywhere with me.
But the next challenge was to be more than 31 days and was all my own fault, I was curious. After we stripped the bedroom wallpaper, it was clear there was something hidden behind a board. There were two options, paper over it or see what was there. Who, with a Press card, and a certificate that says she’s a proper journalist, would not want to know what was hidden? There could have been treasure, or maybe a couple of dead pigeons. I expected rubble, Victorian soot and an old copy of the Yorkshire Evening Post, I didn’t expect a complete fireplace.
Of course, there was no mantelpiece or surround. I immediately announced I’d make a mosaic, I have no idea where that came from, I’ve only ever done one once and that was making a tile from a kit. This challenge would involve design, drawing, maths to work out how many tiles I’d need (without the help of a spreadsheet) and of course goggles, you can’t have bits of glass embedding themselves in your eyes. Gary the Joiner worked his joinery magic and there I was with a blank canvas, or rather plasterboard and off I went.
When it was finished, I wasn’t happy with the bare black firebricks, so in a devil-may-care way, I designed another mosaic inspired by my favourite painting, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, fitting it on boards, expertly cut by Noel the Wood-Cutter.
If it hadn’t been for taking up that arty January Challenge, I’d never have thought of making those mosaics. We’d probably have bought some over-priced tiles and left it at that but my arty self had been awoken.
Don’t ask me how long it took, I just did it when I felt like it, sometimes not moving from the table for hours, though that may have been the glue stuck to my bum, the cats certainly had more than their fair share of tiles stuck to their backsides, but I did warn them.
It was a lot of work, mentally and physically, but it was so worth it.
Every time I look at this fireplace, it makes me smile. People come to see it and say kind things too, I’m thinking I may sell tickets!
I’ll certainly be doing the January Challenge in 2019 along with my biggest ever physical challenge. Well, in my Big Birthday year, it would be rude not to do an ultra marathon……