Except for the weather, it’s been a quiet week. Here in Nova Scotia, it seems like we’re always in the middle of a storm or recovering from one and that has kept me from getting to my studio on a regular basis. I’ve been finding some interesting things to do in the house but it looks like winter is going to force hibernation on me whether I want it or not.
I suspect many of us who call ourselves artists and creators feel the push of all the cliches we grew up with, exhorting us to get busy, be productive, get moving. My grandmother’s favourite was “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop”. Now if that didn’t layer on the guilt, nothing would.
I was feeling a bit of guilt myself over studio time (or lack of) until I read a post by Kathleen Weinman over on AWabiSabLife.ca about giving yourself permission to be quiet and non-productive. She included a beautiful poem by Jeff Foster which I’m sharing here as well because I don’t think we hear this enough. (And so I can be sure to find it again when I need a reminder.)
LET YOURSELF REST
If you’re exhausted, rest.
If you don’t feel like starting a new project, don’t.
If you don’t feel the urge to make something new,
just rest in the beauty of the old, the familiar, the known.
If you don’t feel like talking, stay silent.
If you’re fed up with the news, turn it off.
If you want to postpone something until tomorrow, do it.
If you want to do nothing, let yourself do nothing today.
Feel the fullness of the emptiness, the vastness of the silence, the sheer life in your unproductive moments.
Time does not always need to be filled.
You are enough, simply in your being.
– Jeff Foster –
I think of winter as a time to get a lot done but it’s also the season for things to lie quiet below the surface and rest until spring calls them back to life. The creative cycle has its own seasons and rhythms.
I need these reminders of where I am in the cycle. They help me remember that just hanging out and paying attention is part of my process. It’s where ideas get their start.
Still, it hasn’t been all naps and reading. I challenged myself to do a portrait in oils. I’ve done lots of portraits in pencil but told myself I didn’t have the skills to do one with paint. So I’ve surprised and pleased with how it’s coming along. I hope my friend is happy with it. It doesn’t look as much like her as I would like but that’s part of the process, isn’t it?
And of course I’m still working on the commission. Hope to finish that up this week.
On the fibre side of my creative life, I’m planning some small sewing projects, putting the binding on a quilt for my daughter and working on a small embroidered pincushion by following along with Mary Corbett.
And yes, there has also been time for reading, long walks and time with friends. More than usual which is probably where this feeling of being idle comes from.
But as I write this post, I realize my quiet time was actually pretty busy. Hilda Rogers mentioned in her blog that she tracks her creative time but perhaps just taking a moment to list what I’ve accomplished is all I need to banish the Guilt Gremlin.
Do you use a tool or process to remind you of what you’ve accomplished? I’d love to learn about your strategies.