How much is enough?


How much time do you spend weaving between polarities?

Along the wiggling line of progress,  between way too much and barely enough.

It’s not just me, is it?

At the end of last year I committed to a daily drawing practice: every day I’d work on improving my observation, coordination, imagination. Every day I’d give myself at least 5 minutes or so of drawing, not much more.

Just enough to open the flow of ideas at the start of the morning, to build on the muscle memory of drawing, to break through the first layer of inertia. 

 

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I really wanted to practice the drawings I find difficult, but to begin I was happy with doodles to see what emerged.

 

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I told  folk about this BIG plan of mine, I wanted the accountability. (I might have told you too.)

 

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Just like the morning pages practice, the regular journaling habits, the daily yoga and meditation time, and all those wholesome promises I make myself…

 

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I wonder to myself: is it the making of the promises, in and of itself, that makes me rebel?

 

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“Who am I to tell me what to do??” 

 

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In the attempt to outwit my own ridiculous self sabotaging mind games, I ended up bending, breaking and rewriting every aspect of the plan:

Daily? nope. Drawing? meh, kinda, more splashing around in the shallow end of my abilities.

 

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But what did emerge instead was the beginning of some compassion for myself.

 

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What if sloshing watercolor about, writing seemingly meaningless words, letting patterns fall through my hand was enough?

 

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What if I was still creating, still making, still bringing out ideas into the open. What if that was enough?

What if my obstinance and non compliance to my own self-set challenge wasn’t just the precursor to another ‘Fk this, I can’t do it’ and instead I just kept moving, kept making, kept playing.

 

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And free from the berating inner monologue, occasional actual sketching would take place.

 

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In the spaces in between, I can see, this is a part of my process I need to work through, not against, not in spite of, but with. With an understanding that only I can afford to myself.

So page by page, I’ll continue.  Do you have a daily creative practice? I’d love to know what shape it takes.


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Wednesday to Wednesday: phase two.


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Imagine. Just imagine… being able to make up your own rules. 

Sure, some of the old ones still have to apply: do as you would be done by, two wrongs don’t make a right, gravity, etc.  But what about the rest of them? Why ever would we allow anyone else to dictate the hows and the whys beyond these fundamentals?

This morning I was pondering this question.

So much is programmed into our thinking, our knowing, when we’re way too small to offer up much objection. Of if we try to we’re dismissed as not having enough understanding of the bigger picture. Right – like anyone has a mind broad and deep enough to encompass all of that. Our programmers – our significant care-givers, parents, family, teachers, and preferred celebrity heroes (real and fictional) – they’re still too little to get it all too. Everyone is. Even the oldests and the wisests. All of them!

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Tomorrow is my birthday, my personal New Year, less arbitrary than January 1st (for those of us born on one of the other days of the year). As I was born on a Wednesday I’m attaching something to the fact it’s a Wednesday again this time round. Although this happens every 5-6 years, I just hadn’t given it much thought until this time.

To celebrate this turn of number, I’m considering making some new rules, some new truths, for this next phase of being me.  I haven’t fine-tuned the details yet, but I think that being me is going to be different. Less limited. More fun.

I’m going out for a walk and a think, I’ll tell you more when I’ve mulled over the finer details.

 

every last ounce of goodness


I’ve been dying fabric for the quilt lately. I’ve been dying fabric for years. It got me thinking: The only stage I don’t like is towards the end when the residue dye – as it’s no longer active – has to be poured away. Why? it’s mostly water. But something inside me winces, it’s beautifully colored water and I don’t want to waste a drop of color.

In my perpetual quest for ways to wring every last ounce of goodness out of every stage in a process, last week I had one of those why did I never think of this before epiphanies.

rolled paper in a jam jar of dye dregs It’s no good to dye fabric with now, but it will dye paper!

Decanting the dye dregs into jam jars, rolling up scrap paper and standing them in the jar.

Then just let science take over: the water soaks in and climbs up the dry paper bringing the remaining pigment in its wake.

When they’re soaked through, or the water in the jar has dried up, or when I just need to clear some space I empty the lot into a bucket to finish intermingling and eventually dry.


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It’s satisfying on so many levels: using up color, repurposing scrap paper, creating patterns for future collages and art works. It does it’s own thing when left to its own devices. It’s messy and unpredictable (just like me) And it’s effectively better than free!

More variations on the theme:

  • Dry paper, water-splashed paper, soaked paper (hot & cold water)
  • Letting the liquid soak part way up, then up-ending the paper so it runs down and creeps up at the same time
  • Pouring more color down the inside of the paper rolls
  • Using paper that’s been part printed on the inkjet so the colors merge and dribble into each other
  • Coffee dregs instead of / mixed with colored water
  • Just water + inkjet printed paper (but not laser printed – that ink won’t run)
  • Scrumpled paper for a veiny effect
  • Glossy photo paper (make good use of those expensive printer mistakes!)