A new year… I usually like to approach it with plans, goals, projects and schedules, with a bit of an idea of how I would ideally like the year to pan out. Often I map out everything I would like to enter/apply for in the calendar year, how many artworks I would like to make every month, and the sizes I would like them to be… A bit obsessive perhaps… Last year I set a list of personal and art-related goals which I referred to regularly. It was a great motivator, and I achieved all of those goals (scraped in this week with the 5kg weight loss goal – woohoo!)
This year, though, I have no major new projects on the horizon and no clear plan for where I'd like to go with my artwork. The problem with the way I worked last year is that it is so easy to get caught up in feeling the need to make artwork to suit everyone else. Some want more blossoms, some want it more abstract, some want it more realistic, some want it more colourful, everyone wants it more affordable… and if I pay too much attention to all of that it's easy to feel overwhelmed and not sure where to go next.
To put things back in perspective I remind myself that my primary goal as far as my artwork goes is to make beautiful artwork to God's glory, and to share it with others. I want to keep that at the front of my mind this year, and spend time enjoying and absorbing the beauty of this world, and capturing what I can with my limited ability. I'm not sure how what that will exactly look like – more sketching, less sketching, more photography, larger quilts, smaller quilts? – but I'm looking forward to finding out! I hope you'll join me and share your feedback along the way!
So I think that my big challenge for 2014 is going to be about stepping down the pace a little and enjoying the journey a little bit more. That's not going to be easy for me – feel free to hold me to it down the track if I get a little carried away with projects and plans!
What about you – do you like to plan for the year ahead? Whether you do or don't, I wish you all the best for this new year!
When people ask how I'm going, I try to resist saying “busy”, because really, who isn't? Having said that, I am trying hard not to be quite so busy. I sometimes hear my children say to 'not now, I'm busy' to each other – who do they learn that from, I wonder? There are always so many interesting things to do, and as a goal-oriented person, it's easy to get caught up in to-do lists and schedules.
I'm trying to be more conscious about spending time reading, resting and relaxing (by myself and with the family). Part of that is making sure I don't over commit myself to activities outside the home, important thought they are. Mum being too busy outside the home takes its toll on the whole family, as we learnt by experience at the end of last year.
Of course, I still have a lengthy list of projects I'd like to get to sooner or later:
– there are eucalyptus quilts to be completed
– there are fun screen printed throws to finish
– I'd like to revisit of this old quilt concept
– i'd like to design and frame some screenprints for the shop
– I'd like to design some new large quilts featuring children interacting with each other
– and I also love to continue to sketch regularly
And when I'm not working on my artwork, I'd like to:
– read more (I'd like my kids to see me reading regularly)
– play the piano
– tackle some craft projects and science experiments with the kidlets
Playing along with #amonthof moments. Today’s prompt: busy
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Happy New Year to you all!
Our year got off to a very slow start. After many days of temperatures in the high 30's / low 40's, the internal temperature here was up to 32 degC this morning. There wasn't a breath of air last night to cool the house down. Thankfully the hot weather didn't affect us too adversely. After we returned from celebrating Christmas in Albany last week (four hours drive from here) we set up a paddle pool on our deck (an engagement present from my sister – 12 years later it's still serving us well). The children jump in several times a day; we spray them with water as they jump into bed, and our snack of choice has been icecream. No one had any trouble sleeping (we love our ceiling fans) and we even tackled some odd jobs around home.
I have some goals for the year, regarding exhibitions I would like to enter, and artwork I would like to make (all carefully noted in my Treed app, including the steps required to achieve those goals), but I think that my main goal will be to keep everything in a healthy balance – being a child of God, a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, an artist and so on. And I love Jami's post on setting goals. I hope I can work with the correct motivation throughout the year!
To kick things off here for the year, I'm going to participate in the #amonthof challenge this month (this month is a month of moments). They might be summer holiday-style posts, with few words, but we'll see what we can do…
I do believe that we have been blessed with the easiest (and most gorgeous) baby ever! Now that we have our feeding sorted out our days are flying by very smoothly. For the last three weeks I have felt fitter and more mobile than I have in about six months. And all the children have settled extremely well into the new family dynamics, including Daniel, who now shares his bedroom with Marcus (‘that noisy baby’ as he called him on the first night). We have much for which to thank God!
However, I am imposing a sort of maternity leave on myself and am determined to not to let my sewing take a high priority over the coming months. So I’ve made the
sensible agonising decision to decline these opportunities. No more deadlines until the new school year. (Working to deadlines can create stress which tends to manifest itself in a lack if patience!) As disappointing as it is to pass up on these opportunities, it is also somewhat of a relief. I will still be busy making my quilts, of course – just at a more relaxed pace.
I finished piecing the little quilt I showed the other day. I’m not happy with it though – it’s proving too difficult to get it to look neat and tidy. I love the design though, so at some stage I will make it again,but somewhat larger.
Meanwhile, though, I have been finding it rather therapeutic to revisit my eucalyptus quilts. I have grand plans of having a number of new eucalyptus quilts cut out and ready for piecing before our baby arrives.
Realistically, I know that anything I manage to do to from here on in until the baby comes is a bonus. Physically, I am not capable of much at the moment. All my energy goes to the very basic chores of running a household at the moment. Due to the shape and size if my bump (Phil stated this week that it’s overqualified for ‘bump’ and should be called ‘mountain’ or something), my tummy muscles are not coping too well, and everything happens at a slow shuffling pace rather than my useful ‘if you get in the way you might get bowled over’ pace, so things like popping into the shop only happen if they really need to (how thankful I am for online shopping!) ( Oh, and you’re still likely to get bowled over, but that’s due to the size of the bump, and not my rate of travel!)
To make things a bit easier for when I do make it up the stairs and into the studio to cut out my new quilts, we have pulled out all my hand-dyed fabrics to where I can see and reach them without bending over. We’ve also set up the small tabletop ironing board and a kitchen stool so that the whole cutting-out process can happen while seated (normally it involves continually standing up and sitting down). I still can’t work for as long as I’d like to, but at least it’s something, and it makes a nice change from sitting on the couch!
As part of a recent workshop, we had to interview ourselves. I started with some of the questions I am asked most often, and I thought I’d share some of them here, one at a time. (Feel free to post new questions via email or comments. I can’t promise when I’ll get them, but I will do my best to get to them eventually.)
With 4 children, two not yet at school, how do you find the time to make your artwork?
I try to include the children where possible, by talking about what I am doing, and asking for their opinions. All my children have grown up with me spending significant amounts of time at the sewing machine, or in the various stages of making something. They think that it’s a normal part of what mums do.
I also encourage them to be creative alongside me wherever I am working. We might draw together at the dining table, or they might work in their colouring books next to me while I am sewing. They all go through stages where they like to try their hand at some sewing themselves, or even just sorting through buttons or pinning pins into a scrap of fabric.
I have regular daily and weekly habits and routines. I plan ahead by setting goals and defining the steps needed to meet my goals. This means that I always have a ‘workfront’. These tasks are scheduled into my calendar wherever I have an empty time slot.
For example, getting up on time in the morning (between 5:30 and 6 AM) is important to me as it enables me to start my day with Bible reading and prayer before the children wake up. I also check my calendar for the day. Between 6:30 and 8AM we have breakfast, I prepare vegies and other ingredients for dinner (and make sure I have taken the meat out of the freezer!), put on a load of washing, check emails, tidy up the kitchen, and if possible, fold any clean washing. This leaves me free to spend half an hour or do at the computer attending to any emails or other computer work that requires more focused attention.
Getting my day off to a good start like this important to me. My challenge is in accepting that it doesn’t always work out, and to not let it ruin my day when it doesn’t!
Afternoons between lunchtime and school pickup time is set aside for working in my studio. I try not to let other jobs cut into that time. Daniel sleeps for part of that time, and both Daniel and Caleb are quite happy to spend some time in the studio every afternoon. (We have some dedicated ‘studio’ toys that they only get to use when I am busy in the studio).
Tasks like drawing, designing new quilts, screenprinting, burying threads and hand-stitching bindings are more likely to happen outside of ‘studio hours’ – on a morning when I’m not running errands, or after school while I supervise homework.
I LOVE iCal and my iPad for planning my days/weeks/year. My calendar is reviewed daily. Saturday evenings I spend a bit of extra time planning the upcoming week – by then we usually know which meetings and appointments we need to take into account (and what Phil’s work week should look like – late days or travel). Spending time on these on Saturday evening also means that on Sunday my mind is not busy with a whole host of mental ‘to-do’s’, enabling me to enjoy Sunday properly as a day of rest and worship.
As I alluded to in another recent post, the big thing I need to keep in mind is that my first tasks are that of wife and mother, and that with four children in the house, the best-laid plans are likely to change on a very regular basis. However, I still maintain that I am more productive when I make plans that are likely to change than when I make no plans at all!