I’m ill, hopefully back up to speed next week…

I’ve not posted very much for the last few weeks as it was Christmas and since then I’ve been ill at home. On the run up to Christmas I was actually being quite careful to take care of my self, going to the gym and eating well, but I think it was a bit a a too little too late situation – for lots of us last year was quite a slog. At the moment I’m concentrating in just doing what my body seems to want – lots of sleep, watching trashy telly and eating good food. I have been very fortunate to have my boyfriend looking after me.

However, I did manage to finish the Christmas presents I was making before Christmas in time to hand them out at the appropriate time. Here is one of them below, minus it’s frame as the reflection off the glass made it difficult to take a photo. What do you think?

Works in progress

I’ve spent a lot of time today trying to finish some artwork for my documentary. I’ve been trying to us a mix of different textures when choosing paper and I think the end result looks nice at the moment. The process is very time consuming, and I think I’m going to need to factor in more time per animated sequence. 

I’ve been reading about the slow movement recently and see parallels in my chosen materials and methods at the moment. The time needed to complete the pieces I’m working on at the moment means that the results emerge slowly, and I have to have a bit of patience with the process. Rushing this kind of work may lead to quicker results, but the are frequently less successful than the ones I develop slowly, with plenty of thinking time built into the process.

Making and mental health: slowing down

A few weeks ago I posted a piece about my making and mindfulness. I’ve had the day off work today and have been thinking a bit more about why making things seem to work so well for me in bringing my stress levels down. I think in part it’s because I’m experimenting at the moment with collage, paper and glue. I’m in the process of working on a few designs for decorative pieces and because I’m a bit of a scanner obviously I seem to feel the need to work a bit in all of them at once. It may sound hectic, but moving between projects seems to ensure that I give each stage on each project a little time to mentally marinade. 


I’ve been trying techniques that enforce a slowing down. Even given a good run it can take days to get from an idea in my head to something that looks like an actual piece of work. I’ve been soaking card to mould it into various shapes and building up works through layers of paper of different thickness and texture. At each stage things have to be left to dry out and set before I can move onto the next thing, which removes the need for urgency. Indeed rushing around on these projects tends to ruin them, so slow craft is definitely the best approach here. I think as a consequence my mind also moves a bit slower, but is still very much occupied with the design details, which reduces the likelihood of anxiety creeping up on me. 

Making and mindfulness

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I recently did a mindfulness course to help manage the anxiety I’ve been experiencing around work and other aspects of my life (mostly work at the moment). We did lots of meditations and breathing exercises and lying on the floor, and it was helpful. But taking the practice out of that classroom and into my everyday life has been a bit of a challenge. The one place I have found that mindfulness fits quite naturally with what I do is where I’m in the middle of making something.

I find I can sit and cut the little beauties above for quite some time and keep my sense of presence with the motion of the scissors and the curve of the petal. I use these flowers or stars or whatever you want to see in them in several ongoing projects at the moment, accumulating bagfuls of different coloured flowers as some painters may accumulate paint.

I know many people are finding colouring books helpful, and I have some really beautiful ones, but I have to say that they are not for me. I don’t seem to be able to focus in the same way when I’m working to someone else’s design. The other creative space I have found for a mindful practice is crochet. I’m only just learning this one, but there is something calming about the process of producing loop after loop, and working those looks into a growing creative whole.

There has been much said about the mental health benefits of creative work. I suspect that the mindful element to it is only part of what is happening and the way in which art can provide a useful channel for expressing, sharing and understanding emotions is potentially far more powerful in helping people. But I’ve found in my own creative space, a little work on mindfulness has been very helpful for me.