Bonjour/Hello, it never ceases to amaze me how sly and tricksy my brain is. Not content with hiding things from me, it has since decided that I should work when I had most emphatically decided that I should not. August was destined to be spent lounging by the pool, firmly ignoring all that needs doing in the garden, sipping cooling drinks, preferably with little umbrellas in them, and reading… something. Instead, much of last month I spent at my desk. For I have been busy with that simplest of shapes… the reassuringly reliable square. And have inadvertently intentionally created a series, you know, like a proper artist. Perhaps I should be on holiday permanently. Then I might actually get some work done.


slide show of designs based on the square
There is nothing so perfect as a square. Except maybe a circle. But a square can do this. And all using a single colour palette.

You will not have failed to notice how I skated very smoothly over not feeling like a proper artist. I tell myself I feel this because I didn’t go to art school. But in truth I think I’d tell myself this even if I had. I know I am not alone in telling myself this, though my telling myself this makes me feel lonely. See, brains are sly and tricksy.


The surprising thing, to me at least, is that I’m happy to show people my work… once I am satisfied with it. I am surprised that I genuinely don’t mind nor do I feel hurt if they say it’s not their thing. I am more surprised when people say they like it. I can’t quite believe they mean what they say. ‘Really?!’ is the usual response. Did they really say that? Or did I mishear? I am most surprised when someone tells me that they think it’s good. Nah, I tell myself, they’re just being nice. And am quick to point out ways in which I think it’s not good. Or ways in which other people’s work is better, or more accomplished, or more… Better. Or that other people are more talented than me. See, brains are sly and tricksy. And contrary.


Or so it seems. When I remind myself that my brain has a negative bias and a tendency to discount the positive for good evolutionary reasons, all its slyness and tricksyness and contrariness make perfect sense. Sometimes, many times, my brain needs to be reminded that it is fortunate to live in 2023 in a lovely house in France. That it should stop all this negative chatter and let me get on and do my thing. That, actually, I am good at what I do. That it should allow me to accept compliments with grace. And pay the person making the compliment, the compliment of believing what they say.


But I am fully aware that my brain’s fault-finding with what I design, with my level of skill, with my proficiency, gives me huge impetus to improve. And for that I am grateful. I also value my brain’s insatiable curiosity. And that it can find my debit card pin number when I need it.


I am also fully aware that my brain is me and I am my brain. We are one and the same. And that sometimes I feel lonely, and insecure in my abilities, and a little bit mad. Just like everybody else. Isn’t that lovely…


A bientôt



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The featured photograph is by my good friend Tadej Turk. You can see more of his wonderful work here.