Saturday, June 28, 2014

What I need to get back to...




Completed artwork for this year's COLOURS Fringe Festival


Work-in-progress: A painting of our hometown for my sister and brother-in-law


...Making things. Last week my number one anxiety trigger was having neglected friendships and family; now it's not making enough time for art. For emergencies* a bath with Epsom salts and lemongrass oil, accompanied by a hot toddy (yes, at the end of June), will help. This was tied in with the desire to stay up late and draw, but my bed seems more appealing now after the bath, and I know I will give in. 

At the moment my brain doesn't feel very creative. My friend and partner in all kinds of creative endeavours Rab wrote a lovely piece this week on how playing with his kids gives his brain a rest, and a rested brain becomes "open to more ideas". On a related note, there was a fantastic live broadcast from the current Matisse exhibition in the Tate in the cinema recently. I loved the 'play' aspect to the creation of his exuberant  cut-outs, so poignant when considering that he made them when and because he was very ill and no longer able to paint. It makes so much sense, this final burst of colour and celebration of life and giving visual shape to memories (inventing a new medium in the process. There was also an interview with one of my heroines, Fran├žoise Gilot... but I digress). The play-and-work and work-as-play topic keeps coming up for me, but it's time to put it into practice more often. Ideally any form of art-making feels like play. I certainly had fun creating the festival artwork!

* a slight exaggeration. I'm fine.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

That was a long break...









The weeks are whizzing past me, and I am slowly working my way through an impossibly long To Do list. I haven't shown up here because various work projects have included a lot of time spent creating and managing websites and social media and volumes of e-mail, so when I wasn't working I wanted my eyes to look at green trees and the expanse of the sea, or anything that was not a screen.

There have been so many big and small changes - both in my work and my personal life, all positive for the last two months -, and I am still adjusting to the new rhythm. It continues to elude me how people who work full-time and have families look after themselves and keep their energy levels up. I seem to need a disproportionate amount of time to myself and an early night at least three times a week in order to function, and I am responsible for myself only. I know it's a HSP/introvert trait to be so easily overwhelmed, but there have been too many mornings (especially after working late and/or socialising) spent sitting around in a daze with aching muscles trying to muster the energy to step into the shower. I know a lot of people who would see that as luxury me-time they would kill for, but I just think of all the things I could be doing and the seconds ticking away.

Last week it struck me how much of the low-level everyday anxiety I have been feeling is fuelled by neglecting friendships and not phoning home enough, even when that neglect is not one-sided. So now I am surrounded by half-written letters and cards and e-mails in my draft folder. And of course I acutely feel my sister's absence after her three-month stay here. We had a little farewell party at my house, and Galway Bay put on a spectacular evening sky with a lot of pink and a rainbow. A friend took the photo above of us three sisters in the twilight, and due to the latter and also because I enlarged it from a small photo it physically possesses that blurry nostalgic quality that I have already imbued it with in my mind.

On a less emotional note, my inner minimalist is delighted with Dr. Bronner's liquid soap and its multitude of uses (I haven't tried it as toothpaste or for washing the dishes or laundering clothes yet, though all that and much more is possible). It had always been on my radar, but since I generally prefer soap bars, I never bought it until a couple of months ago. It works really well as a facial wash, and you don't need moisturiser afterwards. I love travelling light, so this, the smallest bottle, will serve as a one-in-all on future trips, and I will get a large bottle for at home. I was going to dedicate a whole post to this soap, but then India Knight reviewed it for the Sunday Times, so I will just quote her: "Come the apocalypse, you want a bottle of this about your person.". Yes!