28 June 2017

A turnup for the books

While sorting out the books to go on (in?) the new bookshelves, I came across interesting things (but did not stop to read them at length!). That came later...

1. Catalogue of summer courses at City Lit. I signed up for a two-day sketchbook course, and a geology course over four sessions. 

2. "About Looking" by John Berger, opened at random, yielded this, at the very end of a section:

There is never a single approach to something remembered. The remembered is not like a terminus at the end of the line. Numerous approaches or stimuli converge upon it and lead to it. 

It goes on - as it's in an essay called "Uses of Photography" (1978):

Words, comparisons, signs need to create a context for a printed photograph in a comparable way; that is to say, they mst mark and leave open diverse approaches. A radial system has to be constructed around the photograph so that it mau be seen in terms which are simultaneously personal, olitical, economic, dramatic, everyday and historic.

3. And then there's the A4 notebook bought in Hungary and used as a workbook for The Artist's Way. When I started working through that book, I was not a happy bunny about "my creativity" and the time spent being creative and especially about the life factors that were keeping me from producing creative output.

 It starts with affirmations, then there's a summary, in five-year periods, of "my creative life". The date is 1998, and in the past five years I'd been focusing on textiles, attending many courses at City Lit, especially with Julia Caprara, and was exhibiting with Cloth&Stitch. Plus was doing some illustration courses.

The section that starts "where does my time go" eventually discovers: "Didn't answer the question - andswered "how do I use my time". ... Much goes in sitting & thinking - much. Or lying in bed & thinking. Or in the bath. I like thinking. I also like doing. It's getting from one to the other that's the problem."

Another exercise was to list the "things I enjoy doing" -
Not much has changed! I've given up "struggling with piano", though it was fun while it lasted (and a piano plus teach-yourself books would be my desert island luxury).

The "three obvious rotten habits" [what are yours...] and "three subtle foes" were interesting, and I think that writing them down and thinking about them has made a difference. Of course an important part of The Artist's Way is the "morning pages" - which I continued doing for years, having at first found the exercise "trivial, repetitive, boring" - and that was all about writing down but with a different emphasis: once it was written down, it was no longer buzzing round in your head. So at first you can offload all the negative stuff, then later you start to focus on the positive stuff. Eventually "on the page" was where I discussed my latest wild ideas with myself ... strange how the ideas that led to finished work were never those that I'd written about!

The letters to oneself, from oneself aged 80 and 8, are so interesting. I can't bear to go on reading them, they are so true to what's changed over the past two decades...

"10 items I would like to own" [what are your 10?] - I now do own a "comfortable vegetable peeler" but am still looking for the "fabulous all-purpose shoes" and probably never will find the "magic carpet (with time machine as optional extra)" ... alas ...

A section on money. The week of writing down everything you spent was so, so useful to me. And what I wrote about family attitudes about money is revealing: "In my family, money caused worry". Those were tough times, and many families are going through the same worry now. Some of us are so lucky to be able to avoid that ... by good luck.

"As a kid..." ... what did you miss, lack, could have used help with, dream of, want? (separate answers to each of these, please!)

The workbook stops with this page - a summary of the nice things about the past week -
I'll have to keep my eyes open for "small victories" ... perhaps one such would be doing those things not done during the day about which you say to yourself, "it doesn't matter". Turning thoughts into action, however inconsequential it might seem.

Half of this workbook is empty. I know I worked right through The Artist's Way ... but I no longer have that book, so can't check what the exercises in the last chapter were. Maybe some got left out? I remember being very uncomfortable with the "spirituality" ones, but didn't shirk that chapter.

It seems entirely appropriate to revisit the Artists-Way experience, and I've shared only the bits that don't make me cringe or yawn. (There is much more....) Thanks for reading - and if you decide to write those letters to your younger or older self, keep them safe and re-read them in 10 or 20 years.

1 comment:

patty a. said...

Thanks for this post. The library here has that book, The Artist's Way, and I think I could help me do a bit of soul searching.