Thursday afternoons are now my painting time: a four-hour stretch once a week where I am allowed not to feel guilty that I’m not doing my freelance work, not cleaning the house, and (the big one) not with my daughter.

This is 8×10″, and is based on an oil pastel I made a couple of years back. This time I used soft pastels over a gouache underpainting on leaf green Colourfix paper. Though setting out above all to have fun, I was painting under the burden of anticipation (how would it feel after all this time to touch those velvety pastels to the surface of my favourite paper?) and was distinctly underwhelmed with the outcome; but for some reason, my digital camera has been kind. Perhaps it’s taken pity on me. In any case, the on-screen version looks less messy than the one sitting on my table easel.

This is Sweden Crag, in England’s Lake District. When Paul and I went walking here one day back in spring 2005, our path back down the mountain was made impassable by squishy marshland, and in trying to figure out an alternative route, we were lost for a while. Now I am climbing another mountain, it seems, finding my way back to a medium I used to love, which now feels so unfamiliar.