Literally and figuratively.
Oh yes, why am I surprised? Today is my first day without chores in, like, a month, and what do I do? Wake up with a headache. Can’t read, can’t enjoy the lovely sunny day outside, no painting, spinning or anything. I can’t remember doing anything physically challenging yesterday either, which could aggravate my spine. If I believed in such things as outside forces of Fate I’d say that I’m not “supposed” to enjoy myself too much with activities that nourish me. Just as I had every hindrance available to make me stop horseriding… (which incidentally worked, now that I’m out of money and my bones all beaten up) And there I was, all certain the thread collection was a little sign!
Sigh, I suppose I could wash the bed linen and s**t… Really, I could have done that WHILE I was weaving! <shaking fist in the air> 😉
Perhaps it’s time that I begin work on my next Keyword, Listen. To my body even more, although I’ve been trying hard to pay attention to it (some claim I should say “her”, but I’m not really down with that), but now also to my subconscious, my Self, everything around me. It’s really, really frustrating to want something badly and look forward to it and then not get it. I deserve a break! I’m not sure I’ll ever be content with a life purpose of cleaning woman, so I need to find out what else to do if I can’t pursue the things that light me up. What path haven’t I noticed yet? In the meantime I’ll probably fight back and do my things in tiny, tiny bits if that’s what I get, but wouldn’t it be nice if I figured out what this Resistance is really all about once and for all?
How do you talk to your Resistance? Apparently kicking and screaming isn’t doing the job, LOL.
“Everybody talks about it, but nothing is being done….”
This post has been a lot longer in my folder than I anticipated, the days seem to suddenly just have flown by with all sorts of nonsense no matter how I prepare. It’ll have to be a prequel instead.
I actually chose “whoop whoop” a topic for getting some painterly skills back, while I ponder my problems with the figurative stuff. I do have ideas that include recognizable objects such as horses, a few tiny people and one very large fish! but I can’t draw for s**t without the aid of my computer. I always did best with a large brush.
So while I was on the background production theme anyway, I grabbed “skies” off my multi page idea list. Simple, fits well with my photography style too. To make it even less complicated I got a stack of really cheap-get-what-you-paid-for tiny 20 cm canvasses that I seem to have no fear of attacking. I don’t like working acrylics on paper unfortunately and I’ve given up on watercolours just now, also to simplify my task list. So there. Supermarket canvas. Boards would be fine too, but I don’t have any. I got 12 canvasses, then G went insane and raided two more shops on our way home from the big city.
It’s the first time ever that I’ve enjoyed working small. 50×50 and up used to be more like it, but for some reason I’m having a blast playing with these. (Still using 5 cm foam brushes, though 😉 ) Mostly just winging it, sometimes looking at cloud photos because I can’t quite remember the technique to paint them. My aim is not traditional landscape, really, so I hope eventually I’ll arrive at something that is “mine”. Currently I’m trying to get a feel for doing like I used to vs. wanting something different. Definitely fumbling, mainly trying to just do, not think. Wading through standard compositions to see if new things emerge in the process.
Some of the pictures comply and resemble skies, others persist in remaining backgrounds, my usual syndrome. Sometimes I let them, simply swiping the remains of my palette before ending the session. I don’t know what’s going to be on any of the paintings beyond the next step, and sometimes not even that, no sketching, I just begin by throwing paint. Makes life interesting… Some of these are getting A LOT of layers, another advantage over watercolour.
When I run out of storage space I’ll have to auction them off to get money for a new batch 😛 If all else fails, there’s gesso! Perhaps this pile will last me forever?!
While they dry, I play with some of the bigger wips. Colour blending exercises are fine too, I’m attracted to different combos than I used to, so I need to learn to make them, rather than my “goto greens”. Then we’ll see what happens. It’s a long way to go, but I’m not counting.
I felt I could find space to paint at least 3 days a week when I began this post and definitely feeling the flow and the glow, but reality has been different. There is no gallery of 20 weather pix for you to browse, just a few beginnings and sketches. I’m going ahead and posting them anyway, since I started the journey here, I may as well keep recording it.
I still feel it’s possible to pick up momentum again, if I’m “allowed”. If I allow myself. Complicated issues are happening on the sidelines and I tend to sponge some of it up even when it’s not mine to deal with.
Wish me luck pls! I feel right in this element, so there has to be something more to it besides wasting supplies. During this process it’s slowly dawning on me what I do want to make, that is not like this. Maybe. Things are lurking in the mists at the back of my head that would like to come out. Or I’d like them to. So I can see what they are. 😉 Perhaps that will help me become slightly less obsessed?
To be continued….
I’m painting today and I’m determined to keep at it even if there are loud phone conversations upstairs, lunch requests and various pet related incidents. I started out with something easy, filling in the poppy shapes I did months ago (I think I’m going to have a look at real poppies before I move on 😉 ), but I also want to get a sketch done which has lived in my head for a long time. I bet it’s blocking the way for others!
Why am I persisting with a medium that seems so difficult for me? (not new, I did paint quite a lot many years ago) I actually wrote a 3000 word blog post on that over the weekend, it’s not even done yet and I don’t think I’ll ever publish it. But the short version is: A because it keeps knocking, B that I suspect the things which are easy at first may not be the ones where you ultimately excel, and C I have to get over my story of how I need perfect surroundings before I can begin. At the very least I should tell it differently.
See, in just over 200 words! That was some kickass editing if you ask me.
Right, egg sandwiches done and on my part eaten, back to work. While waiting for the others to dry I’ve hauled out one of the used canvasses I “inherited”. At first I tried to work with the lines and colour there, but it’s not working even if I see some kind of forest scene in my head. But nevermind, today’s exercise is simply: keep at it. That’s my only ambition. All day, only the necessary breaks when somebody is either hungry or needs to pee. After all, it’s not Molly’s fault that I’m an idjit. (‘m allowed to blog while I eat egg sandwiches)
I think I may have answered my colour question from last week. I keep wanting to mix in clean colours with the black and olive, I even happily dipped away in phtalo blue when I thought I’d reached for the ultramarine…
Our chat on my mad colour schemes made me think of this old draft that I began a year ago. The talk turned more towards doing a variety of things, which we’ve also discussed before, rather than what I intended: a wide variety of styles. (actually I’ve now realized that my colour issues are all about the yarn, but more about that on Wednesday).
Frances mentioned how in her experience artists and crafters fall into two categories, the ones who do things by the book and have a limited repertoire, but do it well, and the ones that just want to experiment because they get excited about it all.
I see it mostly in my photo blog I guess, since I have too little time to produce all the paintings and textiles that I think up. I’ve been trying to find something new and different for each day’s post, which is the complete opposite of making an exhibition for instance, where you’d want a common thread either on the colour side or the method used or the topic. You just don’t put a photoreal seascape next to an abstract in red and gold unless you’re a very happy amateur (or very famous possibly). Most people develop a style when they’ve been at it long enough.
Question is, if I ever will, when I keep flirting with all sorts of things? Or is that, in fact, the only way to find it? There are some things I don’t do much, such as portraits and cities; nature, weather and animals are at least a reasonably constant inspiration. So is that narrow enough? Some really awesome photographers do nothing but mountains all their lives – but I just can’t ignore all the other pretties. MotherOwl, Raquel and I have been talking about working in a spiral, both in practical terms as well as personally, and if that is what comes naturally, don’t fight it. But can you tame it?!
Otoh I do want to be proud of what I’m making, and guess this is where I stumble. I spoke to Dre about mastery vs. project completion, and I think I want the skill more right now, than a collection of finished canvases (I haven’t got anywhere to store them anyway!) – but eventually I do want to have something to show for myself. You may have noticed it on the blog, I fling all sorts of ideas at you and show the materials but then you never hear of it again.
So if I want to keep doing all the things, why do I also keep coming back to feeling like I need some kind of plan? Birdie thinks it’s probably wise to make certain choices, my next thought is, perhaps my choices would sort themselves once I had a chance to work a little bit with everything and some ideas would end up exhausting themselves pretty quick? How are you to know which ones burn the brightest as long as they’re only in your head? Just beware the lure of new things, they can become a form of procrastination when you are addicted to learning as I am. Sometimes I even know that they are, but I let them take up a bit of space anyway. This kind of awareness I’d like to cultivate and act on more.
I was going to try out another way of getting the painterly juices flowing: Putting myself in a box. The idea is, if you limit your options, you are forced to find a solution and work on it, instead of being overwhelmed by all the choices in the entire universe. Paint only horses for a year. I just never get around to it. A way to limit yourself is not by topic or colour, but by medium. No drawing, collage, watercolour, stamping, just acrylics. And simply not even look at what everybody else is doing with those other media. As Birdie has also mentioned, things like Pinterest is truly a blessing in disguise. You can spend all day looking at pretty things and not MAKE a single one.
I don’t know if it’s in my nature to stay in a box at all for any length of time, or if I’m simply avoiding the long haul out of sheer laziness. See? Now we’re back to talking THINGS, not styles. How did that happen?!
I had a dream recently where I was in a theater, and to get to my seat I had to go through a passage so narrow it seemed impossible to squeeze through and not get stuck (in fact it got tighter as I tried, that’s a recurring dream theme). So I wandered around trying other routes, eventually ending up at a row of seats but my ticket number was not on any of them! When I woke up it was still very vivid, and I began to wonder if I really should have chosen the option of fighting my way through the tight door, and what the result would have been. (all the while my darker side suggested this was proof that I simply don’t have a place in the theater of life, but I’m choosing to ignore that interpretation) If this had happened in real life – what would I have done? If I had slowed down, examined the tight space instead of rejecting it? Would I have given up on finding my seat altogether or walked through every single one, checking them? Just sat down until someone else claimed that particular chair?
Perhaps it will solve itself, as I mentioned last week and above, if I have the luxury of working on 25 skyscapes without setting back everything else for 3 years. Could be just the massive backlog clamouring for attention. This week is vacation, which means I have to be available to make or supervise house repairs and stuff. And, you know, talk. I have high hopes for next week…. 😉
And I’d like to point out, I AM having fun and I’m not worried. I just think a lot. And I want to optimize my time. 🙂 As well as go with the flow….
I think I’ll have to go though all the old posts and comments and write myself a summary instead of bringing this up repeatedly. It ties in pretty well with my Focus/Intention keyword too!
Incidentally, yesterday as I was done walking the dog and shopping after my garden adventure, I had to have a nap and then to wake up again sat myself to browse the book I won from Quinn McDonald “Inner Hero”. My recent pains had been keeping me from concentrating on it, but they’re on a break for now, most of them. I quote from the introduction:
“Most comments your inner critic makes will encourage you to start something new, take a break or get serious about your lack of talent or creativity by swiitching from one medium to another (I don’t know if that’s the only reason one switches, though)….This book is about sitting down with your inner critic and calmly listening, deciding on your truth and then replying to your inner critic with a strong voice of conviction that honors your creativity….. [it] assumes your creative cup is not full. (well, ahem…) If your creative cup is already full, then one more idea, one more project will cause it to overflow and lose content…. I wrote the book for anyone who strikes sparks of light and wants to fan sparks into a flame.”
I’m completely ambivalent and scatterbrained when it comes to colour taste. I like all the bright shiny colours at once and I like the muted greys/browns, I come up with ideas in both groups and everything in between.
Most artists seem to pick a certain corner of the palette that they work in, making a coherent body of work with a specific “signature”. At least for a while. I can’t help feeling that I need to limit myself in order to not be all over the place and end up doing nothing but sampling. But I don’t want to. I want both the bluish slate greys that I love and the bark colours, fog and dusk, as well as the circus.
I experience this in all areas, paint, photo and fiber. It’s like a kid in a candy store.
My latest yarn splurge:
And the next to last one:
I write down all my notions and if I set out a block of time to work properly on each, never get another idea in my life, I’ll be done in about 20 years I think.
Do you think it’s possible to work without constraints like that and still master a few things? Because right now I just feel like I have a head cold (ok, perhaps I do, it’s been a while), I feel heavy and unable to focus as well as rearing to get started again. Everything in my head is stampeding, the desire to sketch, weave, paint, more weave, cloth and tapestry and a mixture of both.
And of course this kind of panic leads to absolutely nothing. I know I can only do one project at the time, and anyway I got some stuff to improve the homemade tapestry loom, so it would make more sense to leave it alone until it’s rebuilt. That’s at least 50 projects off the list for now. 😉
And this is why I never get anywhere. I can’t choose my topic, there’s not one that burns just slightly brighter than the others. I wonder why that is.
It doesn’t feel like an inner critic “you’ll do badly anyway” kinda thing. Possibly it’s the usual result of too much downtime and then trying to cram in all the things when you finally have a slot for playing. Having to build up flow from scratch too often. I’ll first try my usual method, I just wound a couple of yarn skeins that I forgot to when preparing for one yarn adventure, and after I hit send on this I’ll spin the fiber I started weeks ago that
should could have been done in a few days. Sometimes a project will present itself when I do these preparatory things. I’ve already discovered during the course of this exercise, one of my conundrums: I want to use the Rigid Heddle loom for two different projects in particular, one could turn out to take a while. But I don’t want to rush through the other to get it done and free the loom. And I used to snort at people with a whole room full of looms, like you can weave on more than one at a time…
Then I just have to figure out what to do with the sketching painting urges. I so admire real artists who get up at 5 every morning and get cracking, putting in 6-8-10 hours of work a day without distractions. (Like, I just realized, no matter how my thumb is doing, I should be giving big brown pony a pedicure asap)
So I guess this pertains to both of my current Keywords: Focus/Intention and Health. Improve both and perhaps I would not have to reboot so often! Perhaps then, my colour tastes could simply be seasonal, and I would have time to exhaust one before the next fascination happened?
Do you ever put blinders on yourself when it comes to colour themes, or does it happen naturally?
It’s funny how life tricks you sometimes. My keyword this month was Health, and I guess I was taking it dead seriously…
I’ve mentioned Pain – and there’s been a lot of it to focus on. I’ve had headaches going on for weeks, my recurring gut problem has surfaced again and no painkillers help with either. So I get really, really tired, falling asleep around 2 pm, drag myself around to do just a few things so I don’t get cranky AND depressed. 😉
Here I was thinking I’d do all sorts of clever meditations and evaluations, reconnect with that body and get us all ready to be tuned up. Well, none of that esoteric stuff, I just ended up going to the doctor’s. Further examinations await, in the meantime I just practise nursing unhealth, ponder and accept.
I hope to be back on line for more ramblings about taming the artist’s mind, digging into my own behaviour etc. soon. But right now I think I just need to leave all that difficult stuff on a shelf and do everyday plain things and thinking. When I’m not worrying 😉
My activities are plain too. I can’t get my mind into tapestry gear although I’m participating in a Ravelry challenge, this is as far as I got:
So it’s repetitive motion, simple designs, clicking the interwebs, reading when my head allows. (it seems to have cleared up for now at least) But it’s a great stash buster, this plain weaving. And if anyone has some advice on linen/linen warp/weft, I’m all ears, because that’s next! I can imagine some stretching and buckling, but how about shrinkage thrown into the equation?
A couple of weeks ago I had a million things I wanted to write about, words and ideas were in a queue. In fact I was on such a roll that I thought I could take a break and not be stopped!
Well baahaa. Come Monday and my head was completely empty. That was Monday before last. It appears that if I don’t go with the flow, the flow goes on without me and when I look up, the view is different. Right now, my brain is doing textiles, no words. Apparently I have no say in the matter. I’m doing a lot of things, they’re just not what I thought I’d be doing. I’ve not even been reading anything.
Ok, I do know what happened – last week I had some really bad headaches. And these happened. I guess I should have known that would throw my focus.
I hope I can get back to what I wanted to say on Focus and Intention. Or perhaps what I had to say wasn’t all that important and I was therefore saved by circumstances. 😉
I do keep up the Bullet Journal. It’s not a planner, although it has dates and lists in it, I see it more as a suggestion. I write things down as I think of them and they may get done sooner or later. An upgrade from my previous napkin/post-it/envelope note system. And that works pretty well for emptying my head, I even remember to write down some of my design ideas.
I also work pretty hard on not postponing the little things. Yes, the wash room is cold, but you can go pick up the laundry, it takes 15 seconds. Yes, you can put that crochet hook back where it belongs NOW and not just leave it where you’re standing. All those things that are a tiny bit inconvenient right now but won’t kill you. I even finally whipped out the new sewing machine that I got ages ago when I broke my old one mending horse blankets. I simply could not face it if there was issues with the thread tension or something and I’d have to fiddle for ages and not get it quite right. With some things, I can do that dance forever if I feel out of my league. Well I made myself do it and while not as good a machine as the old one, it does, in fact, sew.
Now I’m in a bit of trouble because I’ve also run out of photos for my other blog. I could use some similar shots and whatnot, but we’ll see if I can keep it up. No painting has happened here since before xmas break, that’s the one thing I need the most quiet and the longest time to wind myself up to, and I just don’t seem to get it very often. So I have to dive into the old photo archives again. Because weather. Yuck. Why didn’t I spend all autumn making huge ponchos and hoods and cowls and sweaters from super bulky yarn on size 10 mm needles? Facemasks. Don’t get me started on the mud, at least we seem to get a short break from that now.
Come to think of it, I’m not doing too well in the quote department either. Do I really have to start writing more bad poetry to fill in?! I mean, it’s not like I can give up on the project less than half a year in… Can I?
I’m thinking of weaving things but I can’t show you the inside of my head. (I should be making more colour sketches, so I don’t forget) So many preparations, warping tapestry looms takes days when you get tired. And make mistakes. I’ve learned tonnes already. But I don’t know what to show you to make this post a little interesting. What would you like to see?
(And then I was saved by Pat Tyler. Off to play with orbs! I see collage-mandala potential here.)
I wrote this post some time ago, then decided to save it for next month when my keyword is “Health”. Today I have one of my blinding headaches again, though, so obviously these thoughts surfaced once more as I’m going to have to admit I won’t be reading or writing anything much for a little while.
Incidentally I’m ALSO contemplating not writing so much in general, as I can see how I use blog time where I could otherwise have doodle time. So I may actually try that out for a while, as part of this month’s keyword “intention/focus”. More on that in my status report at the end of the month I think. On to today’s topic:
We’ve talked about Resistance in the form of procrastination, fear, interruptions, lack of energy, lack of ideas etc. There’s another form of resistance I’d like to ask you about – physical pain.
The one thing that disturbs me the most is my body. Headaches, stomach pains, fatigue, even hunger or cold. I. Can. Not. Concentrate. I’ve succesfully overcome most of my backaches (as in, they’re gone), my continually sore right thumb is a nuisance but not stopping me as such apart from the things it obviously can’t do. But the others – I can’t seem to beat them. I’m floored and useless every single time. When I wake up at 4 am for instance and get the brilliant idea of getting up to write down my thoughts instead of ruminating, I end up just sitting here shivering and unable to think as well as I did under the covers, since the house is only about 15-18 C at night. (I guess I need to have a set of really warm clothes in my office or the bathroom for such occasions. Something that doesn’t itch 😉 )
Can you do your work through physical pain or discomfort? Both the light rumble and the cold sweating, headsplitting kind. Mind you, there’s nothing actually wrong with me – it’s really over the top over nothing. At a frequency that would get you fired from virtually any normal job (as if I’d want one, LOL).
Not ok. Some people tell me I should be nice to my body and coddle it like it was a beloved infant. Please. I can’t stop the world every time the baby wants its way, which is me on my bum doing nothing, ever. It hates exercise. With a vengeance *. It wants sugar – lots. The way I see it, I have a body, it’s not what I am. I have to keep telling it off constantly. But I obviously need to do something different to make it cooperate with me and not with Resistance. I’m
pretending to going along with the fatigue, but the rest is not going too well on the acceptance front.
Can somebody give me a crash course on body language, pls? I’m dead serious, I need to figure this out, and it’s proving to be a tough nut for me (Such as the water issue). I’ve been reading about reprogramming your brain circuits, “carving new tracks” so to speak, to replace old thought patterns, and I do believe it’s possible. I somehow need to change the story I’m telling about the body itself. I’m going to look into the philosophies behind Reconnective healing et al, but I’m interested in hearing if and how you manage to work through various types of discomfort that are not really “dangerous” as such.
Seems to me it would be a great skill if you could choose to not pay attention to these things, after having established that you’re not about to croak? Being comfortable with discomfort.
Or, as one author put it, who’s driving the bus?
Do different people have different levels of tolerance or body perception, is this simply an HSP thing?? Such as the professional athlete who keeps running with a broken rib. Can you change it or is it one of the hardwired parts of your brain/personality? If you can change it – how about other traits such as my need for alone time to center and concentrate? Could I make myself less noise and interruption sensitive? I know I’m probably reinforcing it by telling this story again and again, to justify my demand and to change the habits of other people, but could I do the opposite or is that too deep? I mean, basically I don’t want to have to be around people all day every day, so my inability is in fact a great excuse, but the theory is interesting anyway. Or is the problem in reality that I keep telling the story of interruptions (and pain), thereby cementing the event as well as my anger about it? This is a more esoteric variety, but curious nevertheless.
* As an aside, I’ve invented a new sleeping pill. Whenever I feel that it’s one of those nights that will take me hours to fall asleep, I think about running. I feel the gravel under my feet, I see the trees and the light, I smell the air, I feel light and athletic (I actually night-dream of running so lightly sometimes, so I know how it feels). And BOOM, within 5 minutes or so of starting this fantasy I sleep like a log. That’s how much my body hates exercise, LOL.
Well, technically not until January 31st. and not someting I normally pay attention to. Yet this is a circle closing for me, as I was born in the year of the horse and the animal itself is a lifelong love for me. The spirit of the horse is recognized to be “the Chinese people’s ethos – making unremitting efforts to improve themselves. It is energetic, bright, warm-hearted, intelligent and able.”
As I was contemplating the notion of making a journal based on “Word of the year” – or in my case as a multipod, word of the month, it struck me that perhaps I could use horses as the underlying image theme. The hero’s journey on horseback. Could this be a “the year when I finally return to myself – theme”?
I’m not really a journaling person, (but then I said I never do poetry and began to write haiku!) this blog is the closest I’ve ever come to a diary, and printed calendars I usually fill in for about 3 weeks. So when Quinn asked for our choice of words for the year I really just played along for fun. But then we got a bit of a conversation going and I thought about doing something with words and paints and mulled it over and then – guess what? I won the book!! (what a nice feeling to actually delete something from my Amazon list)
“Inner Hero Creative Art Journal” by Quinn McDonald is a book about silencing your inner critic as well as a collection of actual mixed media techniques that I’m really looking forward to trying out. And the topic, well, we all know how that’s just what I need! It just arrived in the mail today, but I’ll let you know at a later date how I’m getting along with it.
I’ve also mentioned before that for years I’ve had the title and loose idea for a book about Charlie, but been stuck ever since. Is this an opening? Time will tell! Any trick that generates good things is fine with me. Horses are as good a topic to bind together different crafts as any. Can I point my imagery in that direction for such a long time I wonder? I could do with a few limitations…
Apart from working with key words and the Hero Journal prompts, I’m also going to try out the Bullet Journal, as well as a sidekick to that describing various project ideas in more detail. Out with the post-it/back of envelopes/10 pads system and in with structure! I found a notebook with 4 colour sections to keep similar project ideas in the same general area. In fact my bullet journal does too, in case I want to expand the concept.
I don’t know if I’m a person who likes or benefits from working with key words like this. Not even sure “how it’s done” but I’m not going to spend a lot of time investigating how others do it, I’ll just be aware and see what happens. I know I can’t pick one single one for a whole year – so sue me. But I don’t mind giving it a whirl to see what it does. Unless I get sidetracked of course.
And – I have to make sure this is not just some thing to get me sidetracked from something else. It’s generating a lot of thoughts already. This is meant to be a tool for the work I want to do, not a new, big project in itself. If it’s not a helper, out it goes. You see, my word for January is
Intention/Focus (ok, so it’s two words, I noticed already)
But I fear if I go on, this will be a really long post, so I’ll save the rest for another day. My intention is to make a couple of posts about each month’s keyword, the questions I ask myself, progress, exercises until I run out of interested readers. If I really start blabbing I’ll just keep it to myself and post excerpts. We’ll see. Right now, I’m going to press Publish and shut my brain down for the day.