my sister's windowsill
My sister is serious about crafts. Whenever I met up with her recently, she would have a new elaborate project going on, while I would still be knitting the same never-ending wrist warmer. We want to participate in various crafts fairs, so there is a deadline of sorts approaching, and I am hoping it will motivate me. My sister knits and crochets every day of the year, whereas I seem to take a break during the summer (an exception is cotton and silky yarn - wool just feels wrong in the warmer months), but now I am slowly getting into it again. One reason for the slow pace is having to prioritise other work. Once again I have spread myself too thin with commissions and my own projects and can feel panic tingling at the edge of my awareness.
What I tend to do in such times is shut myself away from the world, thinking I need time at home both to work solidly and also to recharge for the next burst of productivity. In a talk she gave with her writer mother-collaborator here in Galway last year, the illustrator Polly Dunbar said her friends were used to not seeing her for weeks on end when she is in the depths of working on a project.
I recognised my own work tendencies in that. But ideally I will find time for everything that is important in any given week - people, work, leisure, exercise, rest. I realise I am actually more productive when I make time for friends and for attending things. This week was packed full with activities and events I thought I wouldn't have the energy for but that ended up energising me. These two musicians (and wonderful people) were a heart-warming part of a fireside soirée that included a panel discussion based on Jean Cocteau's contention "The arts are essential - if only one knew what for". They talked about being subversive and how everything we make is art ("cleaning one's kitchen really well") and children being the most incredible artists of all - topics I feel passionate about. A friend invited me to see the beautifully shot Renoir and I have resolved to go and see more films from now on. With the internet and a DVD player you have endless inspiration available all the time, but there is something about going out and seeing something live or on a big screen surrounded by other people that makes me feel more inspired and more alive than anything I absorb via my laptop.
I still haven't found the magic solution. While I saw friends and went out and did things, I somehow forgot to make space for the essential task of buying groceries, so I lived on peanut butter sandwiches and meals out (and of course those lovingly cooked for me). I've been feeding the well of inspiration but neglected feeding myself properly. There was also very little meditation and yoga; they were replaced by almost daily glasses of wine, which is a rather inadequate substitute.