Running my own business is great. It gives me flexibility to work around my family and other comittments. More than that, it lets me be me, most of the time. It is a luxury that a lot of people will never know and I try not to take it for granted. But … taking a break is so difficult.

Downing tools.

Hands up I’ll admit that I love my work so taking a break from it isn’t something I readily want to do. Then again I also believe in the sanctity of family time and goodness knows we get precious little of that. So downing tools is part of the deal. Responding to enquiries/sales and social media presence is harder to pass over but I try to keep it to my discretionary time (like when everyone else is sleeping or when I’m waiting for my turn in the bathroom – you know the drill).

The downside of running your own business is that there is nobody to take the reins once in a while to free you up to truly live outside your bubble even for a short while.

So here I am with my family for a short staycation. We left 2-hours later than planned and have negotiated our way through the Friday car park that is London to avoid the gridlock on the M25. We are about half way and have stopped for a toilet break (not for the first time … seriously – how many toilet breaks are normal when travelling with kids?).

The menagerie and littlest gannet.

Whilst Mr Thornton and number one son head in to the services I stay behind to help littlest son wee in a bottle – he has a broken leg so this is far from straight forward. Despite moonying a few unsuspecting passers-by we are victorious with the toileting process and he is back in his seat and I in mine before the others return. I am now being harangued for yet more food “But I’m STILL hungry mummy!” – like his latest meal was yesteryear.

I dutifully reach into the bag at my feet and produce his tub of strawberries (not to be confused with his brother’s tub of strawberries – he doesn’t like strawberries but he doesn’t like to be left out either – go figure). Littlest son guzzles them by pushing them through his teeth into his mouth like a machine. This boy is surely on a growth spurt – no? I am then treated to a face pulling ritual that ¬†never tires.

By the time the others return with a spring in their step, we are as they left us. Except … “What’s that stain round his mouth?” My husband asks anxiously, pointing at the strawberry guzzler. Altough I quickly put him at ease (no it’s not chicken pox that’s doing the rounds AGAIN, he’s eaten HIS strawberries, not number one son’s strawberries which will remain uneaten for the duration of this interminable journey).

Then number one son declares that he and Daddy have bought me a magazine for the holiday.

On it is a picture of a well endowed brunette and the main caption at the foot says “Wonder Women”. “Did this remind you of me?” I joked. “Yes” Mr Thornton said without hesitation. Brownie point in the bag – make that two even though I am clearly no physical resemblance.

As I settle down I start to see how I can use bits from it for one of my current portrait commissions. I need to resist the urge to cut out the relevant parts before I have actually read it. Ho hum. ¬†I attempt to distract myself by staring out of the window and find myself drawing the boys’ attention to the colours in the sunset and to watch as they change. Looking at the trees against the setting sun, we discuss what a silhouette is and I am now making a mental note to try this in a new painting. Then I just sit back quietly, trying hard to switch off. But we’re off the motorway now and the headlights on the car are spot-lighting the beautiful Autumnal leaves. Reds, yellows, golden hues, greens, browns, coppers. Warm and indulgent.

Yup, leaving work behind is tricky. You can take the artist out of the studio but you can’t take the studio out of the artist.

Tracey Thornton is an international mixed-media artist 
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Tracey Thornton Artist

Tracey Thornton is a mum, wife, daughter, sister, aunty, Godmother, Fairy Godmother and friend. Oh and when she has time to be someone else, she is a represented artist and designer. Tracey also writes children's stories and blogs about anything and everything and occasionally something.

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