This time last year I was sitting at my computer working full time, running clinical studies and suffering from hand pain after my second carpel tunnel operation. Feeling rather sorry for myself after four minor operations (cataract and carpel tunnel – I have had Type 1 diabetes for 45 years), I thought it was time to leave my unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle behind. Little did I know that the pandemic was around the corner but this just added to the urgency of living a healthier lifestyle before it was too late. After a three-month notice period, I left work and was free to enjoy life outside in my garden, allotment and as a Volunteer Bushy Park Ranger.
Everything was a good as it could be given the global pandemic – I know I’m very lucky to be in my current situation. I have always valued health far above any financial reward (as many people with long term illness will agree), so with the support of my wonderful husband Clive, the loss of income hasn’t been too much of a burden.
Giving art a go
As autumn drew to a close, the allotment and garden were put to bed for the winter and the ranger role was suspended due to the pandemic. I wondered what to do next from my long list of potential “retirement” activities. Art had been near the top of the list for a while but outdoor activities had prevailed in the amazing weather during the summer and autumn.
In the meantime, I had reconnected with great friends from Leeds University (The Leeds Lasses), initially for online quizzes and Zoom catch-ups. One of our friends had been doing some amazing artwork and suggested we try painting stones; I have always loved geology and the feel of stones so this really appealed to me. It also meant any paintings would be relatively small and quick to complete.
I had accumulated various art materials over the years but the thought of filing up a large blank canvas always put me off. So my friends and I had a go at painting stones, sharing our results at our next catch up. As one of the Leeds Lasses said, painting on stones feels very organic – I guess it’s as close to cave painting as I will get!
Anyway, the seed had been planted and off I went. I started with some simple flowers from the garden and a sunset, and progressed to scenes from our campervan trips.
This has now grown further into reproducing some of my favourite paintings onto cobblestones bought from a local garden centre.
One of my ranger friends recently introduced me to the artwork of Franz Marc and I have become a bit obsessed. I really love the bright primary colours. If anyone is thinking of doing some artwork but is yet to take the plunge, I highly recommend trying stone painting.
Annie Scoggins has been a resident of The Hamptons for 17 years. Having lived in various places in the UK and the US, Annie firmly believes the TW area is the best place to live!