Sunday, October 02, 2016


Today I'm changing my life - and this blog.

I've been mulling over the future for some time. You may have noticed I posted much less frequently over the summer months.

I've decided that as I get older I want to spend more time being where I want to be, doing what I want to do, seeing what I want to see and being with the person I value the most.

In other words, two years past my very big birthday I want to retire and enjoy all the very many benefits of being a pensioner!  I've been one for ages but have not really made the most of the change in status. Instead I created another 'job' for myself - and that's what going to change.

My 'proper' retirement will continue to be active but with a change in priorities.

That means:
  • "Less is more": still writing but less time blogging - on Making a Mark. I'll certainly continue to cover the art competitions and the open exhibitions of the national art societies in the UK which I enjoy hugely. However there's likely to be much less coverage of other exhibitions - except those I'm particularly interested in and want to share.  I gave up trying to do daily posts some time ago and now make more use of Facebook. There will be fewer blog posts going forward. Hopefully I'll get better at translating what I highlight on Facebook into a weekly post on Making A Mark - and also get back to featuring individual artists more. I'd like to write more articles for magazines - if they'll have me! 
  • more time on the websites I do want to develop - that includes 
    • the two published to date for Art Business Info for Artists and Botanical Art and Artists. There's still loads of content that needs to go on both those sites. These have their own blogs as well - with shorter blog posts!
    • the two new websites I want to create relating to Fine Art Materials (currently a work in progress) and another site for resources for artists covering the basics e.g. drawing, composition, colour etc. The main reasons for doing this is educational - to highlight and make more accessible the resources that already exist on this blog and other great sites.
  • more time on making my own art. Having cataracts, writing a book and various injuries etc all  took their toll on the ability and time for making art and I got out of the habit. I now need to get back into good habits! Maybe even selling some - you never know!
  • more time visiting places I want to go and see - lots more gardens and galleries! I'd like to get back into regular sketching which took a severe knockback this year due to problems with walking and balance and needing to keep what I was carrying to a minimum.
a birthday trip seven years ago
the sort of place I want to be - visiting gardens and places where painters painted
He who must not be bored
while I sketch
- in another garden!
  • more time on going out with "he who must not be bored while I sketch". He complains a lot about me always being on the computer so I'm going to do something about that! We're neither of us getting any younger and we need to make the most of our time together. 
  • more time walking - to reduce weight and make life much more bearable as my bones and cartilage degenerates and soft tissue keeps tearing (I've been diagnosed with osteoarthritis on top of other joint problems). Getting the right balance between walking enough and yet actually remaining mobile continues to be a really major challenge (I seize up!). Achieving tolerable levels of pain would be great. 
  • plus much more time on an absolute essential which is leaving my current home and finding a new one - without stairs - which will be more suitable for the very significant problems I have with mobility from time to time.  There's nothing quite like being unable to move up and down stairs easily due to injury to get you focused on what are the real priorities in life!
Once I've got myself settled in a new place I'll be able to reappraise and change my life again.

What do you think? Have I got my priorities right?


  1. wishing you all the best on your "retirement" but will be looking forward to your blog posts and webpages as I have found them so helpful, warm wishes Lizzie

  2. Thanks Lizzie. There will still be blog posts - just not as many as before.

  3. All the best to you. I have enjoyed all your posts and will miss them but I get it. I too hope to retire soon as I am currently at the tail end of raising my grandson. I look forward to living vicariously through you in the meantime!

  4. Good luck, enjoy, and thank you very much. Your work was excellent.

  5. Sounds like a top plan Katherine, making the most of what you have and who you share your life with is so important, more sketching sounds good too. I am glad that you are not totally retiring as your blog is useful and interesting especially for those of us who are far from the madding crowd!

  6. Katherine, not sure that with the amount of things that you've listed in your post you'll feel and act more like a 'pensioner' :-)) I'm delighted with the new web sites you intend to build of course but think to your health first. Keep moving. Visiting gardens (with your sketchbook) is a great idea. Finding a new home and organising the move is a big amount of work. Go step by step ... It's always a pleasure to read your articles, even if less often.
    Take care.
    Eric, Brussels

  7. Have been retired for a year and a half after over fifty long years of dedication in Microbiology and Medicine. So far, haven't been able to gather enough spare time to define it as"retirement." LOL. So when does the retirement part kick in? I have accumulated (so to speak)so many alternate avocations over the years, thanks to a lifelong insatiable curiosity, that I probably won't get bored until I am well over a hundred. I also strictly avoid anything that might be otherwise misconstrued as another job or long term commitment. Currently, raising many pets, landscaping my property, renovating my home, drawing, sculpturing, painting, writing, socializing with friends at least twice a week. I could go on. Don't miss my former life for a second. Good luck to you! Enjoy!

  8. Ail hail to you Katherine. it takes a brave person to make these sorts of decisions. I wish you an improved quality of life and will continue to devour the words of wisdom, whenever you can and do post.

  9. I think you're absolutely right in looking after yourself and your Significant Other...if I may, I think you still have put a lot on your plate, though (especially two new websites!) ;)
    I wish you the best (I too have to find a balance between moving and too much pain, for your same reasons - I know how frustrating it can be).
    And, this blog and your websites have been so helpful and encouraging for me, even one post per year, I will be here reading it :) I'm also following on Facebook :) I don;t know the UK art world well at all, and you are such a great guide!
    Thank you :)

  10. About time, Katherine! You have certainly earned an enjoyable retirement.

  11. Good luck with your "retirement", I am quite new to reading Making a Mark and I always enjoy reading your posts. I also always find your posts very informative as well as being fun to read- there are a few great shows (on tv and in galleries) that I would perhaps have missed this year if you had not tipped me off. Looking forward to your continued posts from a more relaxed (?!) perspective. Best wishes, Zoe

  12. Wow - what a step. I am so glad I caught this. Katherine - your retirement is well deserved! You have worked non-stop for all of us. I am wishing you a very happy time with your freedom and look forward to reading the odd MAM post. Hope to see you in February at my show. With much love and thanks, Jess x

  13. Your priorities sound absolutely right to me. the web is wonderful - I would never have found all of the information you post without it - but it can take over our lives.Enjoy finding a new home, and re-prioritising and thank you for your marvellous blog posts.

  14. Hi, Katherine,
    I have been following your blog for quite some time but didn't know your backstory at all. Your story and mine appear quite similar, right down to the retiring but not making the most of it and creating a new job for ourselves instead of being pensioners. We appear to be about the same age. Our art-making has suffered due to similar situations and inclinations, including similar health issues. I have a "he who must not be bored" as well--that really made me laugh, and the photo of your artwork superimposed over his body was perfect. I too must balance my walking with my pain and my health issues and not overdo it.

    Are you on the right path? I can only say that I have truly been going through similar evaluations, and I have come to VERY similar conclusions. I need to start living more of my life right now, because if not now, when? I need a different environment to jump-start my creativity and get the painting and drawing going again. I want more time with the person I care about most, and we are currently looking for a place in a more inspiring locale, to jump-start inspiration, with less steps, but a place where walking often will be easy.

    Best of luck--I will definitely be thinking of you on your journey!

  15. I just reread your goals before closing the blog, and in the light of the similarity in where we are, at present moment, I bookmarked the post. I've been thinking that I need to create a blueprint, in order not to get bogged down in prior habits, and yours just needs a bit of tweaking to fit me! Don't worry--someday soon I'll do some writing, and I will compare to yours when I'm done. :) No plagiarism here; just inspiration--I enjoy your writing style and thought processes.

  16. I only discovered your blog a couple of years ago and really enjoy it - it's always been incredibly informative and honest. Looking forward to the new blogs, but all the best for your plans for the future. Irene

  17. Katharine, I think you have your priorities exactly correct! Making time for the people you love and the activities you love is very important. I too am working on going through my bucket list of things I still want to do and making them happen. Retirement is exactly the right time to accomplish this. Good luck with prioritizing and I will look forward to reading about how you are doing.

  18. Good for you, Katherine! I appreciate all you do for art and artists, but it's absolutely time to get out and "do" for you!

  19. Hello Katherine,
    I haven't been on an urban sketch for a while, but I will always remember the first one when I met you and fellow urban sketchers at Kew Gardens. Big thanks for all the inspiration you have given, and continue to give.My wife and I made the move some years ago to a retirement bungalow in Polegate and we love it! Being on one level makes you think you are on holiday all the time, because when you go on holiday you usually are.
    best wishes
    Paul Leacy (Birmingham accent,coloured pencils, limited drawing abilities, bags of enthusiasm)

  20. Congratulations on your retirement. Always enjoy reading your blog and look forward to the new writings. Take care.

  21. You are wise- life is far too short and although you have inspired so many of us, it's time to focus on yourself, your health, your art and your partner. That said, I'll miss your posts 😊

  22. I think your priority is to look after yourself and your nearest and dearest and that's exactly what you are doing. Yep you have got your priorities right and you can reevaluate as often as is necessary. Good luck with everything you continue to do and thanks so much for everything so far...

  23. Katherine, your priorities are absolutely in the right place. I've often wondered how you manage to do so much when you're supposed to be retired and have your health issues. You have built one of the best art sites on the internet, and it's been enormously helpful and pleasurable to thousands of people. You can take great pride in that. I wish you the very best of luck as you begin this new phase of your life.

  24. Thanks Katherine, all the best to you

  25. Katherine you have earned the right to all those wonderful and rewarding elements on your list and all the service to others that you continue to do will always be appreciated by your many loyal readers, one of which is me. You have given of yourself in ways that many only dream of or talk about, for it takes devotion and confidence to build something and make it work, as you have clearly done. I wish you all the happiness in the world because you deserve it.

    Coral Guest

  26. You've created such a fantastic resource for artists with 'Making a Mark' and your websites - the depth in which you cover exhibitions and the level of information you provide for free is just stunning. You should certainly start to get back into your own painting and I hope your health problems will improve with this change of direction. Many thanks from all of us artists who've enjoyed and benefited from your hard work!

  27. Your priority is spot on! Keep focused on your new aims and ambitions and enjoy yourself as much as is possible. I wish you success and happiness and thank you for your insights, opinions, thoughts and advice, I shall be looking out for your 'posts of interest'. Best wishes in all that you do. Victoria.

  28. I enjoy your blog so in the wilds of Scotland. I have always wondered how you manage to fit it all in, reporting on the new exhibitions, interview the artists, take all your photos of prize winning art, giving us advice on painting mediums, art equipment, business I read you have ongoing health problems !
    I shall savour whatever posts you have time for, in the future, and wish you all the very best in your new chapter, with your other half by your side....enjoy

  29. Absolutely! You got it right! Dad just had a stroke last week. It was small and he is recovering but that puts everything in perspective. Your own health first - so you can be around for the second and third. People you love second. Work, and play, you love third. Everything else?

  30. Katherine, after all your work and inspration to artists all over the world, you deserve to take care of yourself and those you love. Your programme sounds very busy still. I'm glad you're covering the big exhibitions still, being unable to get there from Africa myself.
    I recently moved from an apartment on the third floor with no lift! Was stranded up there for weeks after an operation on my foot. Take time to relocate, its a tremendous amount of work, but feels wonderful to downsize and have no stairs! I too have he who must not be bored in my life, they deserve our time and attention. Take care and thanks for all you have done.

  31. Your gain will be our loss. Thank you for all that you have done - seems inadequate.

  32. Hi Katherine,
    It doesn't look like retirement to me!
    Thank you for all your posts. You are the go-to font of knowledge for many things. I've learnt a lot from you.
    I hope things work out well for you.

  33. Very much agree with your choice of priorities. All the best for your retirement though it sounds like you are going to still be very healthily busy.

  34. Best wishes for a happy and healthy retirement Katherine. I too have no idea how you managed to keep up with yourself and all you did. Thanks so much for making urban sketching fun. Look after yourself and enjoy your wise choice of having more 'you' time.

  35. I enjoy your posts and learn from them. But, you have to take care of yourself! Good luck on making the changes you need to make.
    Best wishes,
    Rita Sklar

  36. Your retirement it well deserved but it still looks plenty active! I have enjoyed and learned from your blog SO much. and continue to dip into your book for ideas and motivation when I'm feeling lazy to get me doing at least one drawing a day. After a bad accident last year I had to make swimming rather than art work my priority because I could not do any other form of exercise and it was the right thing to do. If you aren't healthy you can't get your own artwork done the best it can be so DO take good care of yourself. Thanks for such a wonderful art blog!!

  37. Wishing you all the best and looking forward to your new item. I know what it is like to work with health problems, take good care of yourself. Also a very big thanks for all you have give us in the way of education and resources. I learn a lot from you and your book. Thank again

  38. I have been enjoying your posts for quite some time. I know that it must be a lot of work to keep up with all of it so I really understand. I too must be about the same age as you and have experienced the same set of decisions. The moving into a no-stairs situation will consume a lot of time -- I did that two years ago, You will be much happier when you make that move though. Thank you so much for all the information you have posted -- it has meant a lot to me to be able to see what artists in the UK are doing. I'm in Portland, Oregon and have only had the honor of visiting England three times.

    Take care and enjoy "retiring."

    Kathy Johnson

  39. Good luck with the changes to you life, Katherine.
    Should I take it that you're not doing the the UK urban sketchers events page? I'm happy to look after it.
    Best wishes

  40. Katherine - your priorities are most certainly right. But although what you describes is some way off traditional retirement, your shift in emphasis will still mean you are missed in a variety of ways. Most particularly, from my point of view, is what you have done in helping to organise and corral the Urban Sketchers London group over the last four and a half years. We've seen it grow from just a few of us to a lively and diverse group who find ourselves drawing parts of the city we often never knew existed. And you've also played a leading part in our various exhibitions over the years. On behalf of all of us, a big thank you. And we wish you good health.
    James Hobbs


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