Nail Varnish : Change is Hard

While visiting¬†Manchester recently to take part in the 2015 CIPD conference, I had my nails done. I wasn’t driven by anything in particular, beyond the simple curiosity of trying something different, so I booked myself in for a manicure and off I went. The woman who painted my nails did an excellent job (sorry I cannot remember her name but here’s a link to the salon), and as she worked we talked, and I learned that although plenty of men come in for a nail clean up – I was the first in 18 months who had asked for their nails to be painted. Job done – I left and almost immediately ruined one of my new nails. Looking after these bad boys is hard work! I dashed back and after a quick repair I went on my way again.

Purple Nails
Matching nails and conference bag – on brand ūüėČ

As I headed back to the conference I began to feel extremely conscious of my new fashion accessories and I became aware I was hiding them from view. I checked myself and tried to act naturally, at least as naturally as the first client in 18 months to have a nail makeover can.

As people spotted my nails, I began to receive feedback. The first person¬†who saw them looked straight down their nose, blasting me with a first class Paddington Bear stare, before exclaiming¬†‘What on earth did you do that for?!’ I fumbled some kind of embarrassed response and excused myself. Others told me I was ‘brave’, and some folk told me they thought my nails looked great.

I kept my nails on for a few days (well I had invested £15 in them) and I was really interested in how I, and others, continued to react. My own prejudices surfaced a few times when I hid my nails from view as, with no evidence, I judged how some people might respond, based on nothing more than a split second analysis.

Nail Varnish
Sunday breakfast – shortly before the demise.

My nails were returned to their former unglory a few days later Рthis photo above is their final outing. For me Рwhat started as a bit of curious fun, turned into an observation of how we respond to change, and to difference.

My experience reminded me of this excellent story by Bob Marshall, A Difficult Message to Hear. His poignant tale is of his own Mum, who when faced with a need to change her lifestyle for health reasons, chose not to. Marshall uses this powerful example to illustrate just how hard change is, and yet we have come to expect, and demand change from people in an organisational context, almost as if it were as simple as flicking a switch, or turning a tap.

My own ‘lifestyle change’ was simple to apply and simple to remove, and as far as I know, has had no lasting affect on my health. The experience has had a lasting affect on my learning though, through the simplicity of a manicure I’m reminded:

We often rush to judgment
We often react suspiciously to difference
We often find change hard

The Art of Parties

I was recently invited to a friend’s party, and decided to paint an abstract piece of art for the host. I got in touch to find out her favourite colours, and after receiving the response, ‘purple and orange,’ I got to work. I decided to paint onto a 16 inch x 12 inch¬†canvas, that’s a large surface as far as I’m concerned. Here’s phase one of the painting.

Phase One

Next I added some orange. Ouch! What an awful clash.

Phase Two

I stared to get a bit lost after this. First I applied a layer of translucent white to the main body of the canvas, to tone down the background. That didn’t work so I then applied a thick layer of purple over the orange and scraped off the excess to reveal hints of the colour beneath. I like the effect but the overall composition still isn’t working. It was the night of the party and I had to leave an incomplete painting to one side – there was no way I was giving this to anyone in it’s current form!

Phase Three

The party was good fun. I returned to my work and things deteriorated.

I was lost, and in a mess. I was just about ready to give up, then I decided to take the solid block of colour back to basics. Out came the titanium white.

Phase Six

The intensity disappeared – and then Keira offered a suggestion, ‘how about blue?’ How about it indeed. I loosely mixed up some blue and some translucent white, which I then dragged the mixture over the titanium white in short, blocky strokes.

Phase Seven Phase Seven Close Up

Finally! Several hours after I started – and with some valuable assistance, I got the painting somewhere I feel happy with. The recipient has seen a photograph and has approved, so it’s now signed and in the process of being delivered.

What have I learned? I tried too hard to work the two favourite colours into one piece – they weren’t getting along. I also learned that when using acrylic paint – you can salvage a disaster. Had I been making this in water colour – I expect I would have abandoned ship and settled on something else¬†as a present long ago.