Monday, April 28, 2008
As I sneeze my way through my day this phrase popped into my head and I began to wonder what it meant. What does it mean to live in full colour? I've had periods of my life that felt like wading through grey sludge and it felt like the colours had been turned off. Like on a TV. I'd love to hear what other people think of as 'living in full colour'. Part of me thinks its a ability to live outside the parameters as what everyone else thinks as 'normal'. If you want to eat chocolate cake for dinner do so. If you want to lie on the sofa and read a novel the entire day - do so. If you want to hand knit a baby blanket at 4 times the cost of buying something new then do so. If you want to wear purple wellingtons to private views, care for 25 cats (each with a basket lined with cashmere cardigans from charity shops), have a supply of funky hats for vistors for tea in the garden, keep up a voluminous correspondence, and collect teapots then do so. If you want to commandeer students to drive you to the countryside to collect clay from fields do so. If you husband dies and he's always refused to let you live with your children 5000 miles away get yourself on a plane three weeks later and fly there. If you want to cycle across the widest part of Scotland because its there, do it. Hell if you'd like to cycle around the the coast of Australia do it. Do a degree in English at Cambridge and realise you'd rather be an artist? Take an inheritance and go to Edinburgh Art College and flunk being a teacher in a school (you would have hated refereeing Lacrosse games). If you realise that doing a degree in law is a short walk to being a solictor in a no horse town take you skills and become a film producer.*
'Living in full colour' to my mind is not just about adding a bright ribbon to your life but remaking it the way you want it.
I've love to know what you think.
Kaytee Horseman Head of Ceramics Department Edinburgh College of Art
Posted by m at 9:43 PM
Posted by m at 1:22 PM
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Posted by m at 11:53 AM
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Sunday, April 20, 2008
What tips or advice do you have for writers still looking to be discovered?
I can't get behind the ambition to be "discovered" as much as I can get behind the ambition to write beautifully and honorably and steadfastly. Here's what I believe about creativity. I believe that creativity is a living force that thrums wildly through this world and expresses itself through us. I believe that talent (the force by which ephemeral creativity gets manifested into the physical world through our hands) is a mighty and holy gift. I believe that, if you have a talent (or even if you think you do, or maybe even if you just hope you do), that you should treat that talent with the highest reverence and love.
Don't flip out, in other words, and murder your gift through narcissism, insecurity, addiction, competitiveness, ambition or mediocrity. Frankly -- don't be a jerk. Just get busy, get serious, get down to it and write something, for heaven's sake. Try to get out of your own way. Creativity itself doesn't care at all about results -- the only thing it craves is the PROCESS. Learn to love the process and let whatever happens next happen, without fussing too much about it. Work like a monk, or a mule, or some other representative metaphor for diligence. Love the work. Destiny will do what it wants with you, regardless. Just love the work.
Interview with Elizabeth Gilbert
Posted by m at 1:11 PM
Knitted up my ravelled mind by a) walking on the beach which was suitably stormy which suited my mood no end b) made bagels from scratch.
I feel knackered this cold is dragging on and on and on... however on Friday went to see Shine a Light the Scorsese documentary about the Rolling Stones. It turned out to be more a concert film than doc - though I loved the occasional archive interludes. It was fabulous I was glued to my seat the entire time. I was really bowled over by seeing Mick Jagger perform. Amazing. I'm about 20 years younger and couldn't keep up. What it did make me think was that we should all go off and do what we have a passion for (whether we get paid for it or not) because it makes us alive! open! interesting! and obviously keeps us in better health. I know this but I need to be reminded. Just last week my parents took a 91 year old painter and gardner to lunch. She still paints and gardens at 91 and is in great health, totally mentally on the ball. And I'm sure its being engaged in these two creative acts which have allowed her to carry on being an active creative person.
I then went to meet my friend B for dinner afterwards. Her amazing entreprenurial can do spirit was a good kick up the pants for me. Oh and having lunch with H during the day as well. Thank you both of you. I'm percolating ideas in the tiny tired brain now.
Must go and do over due housework and find Rolling Stones CD.
Bonus: FREAK FLEE REGRESS - or the other Eat Pray Love
Things I have Learned in my Life
Posted by m at 12:00 PM
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Picture from here - via Moonstitches.
I seem to being used as a place/person to be nipped at today. And I don't much like it. Even looking at crochet isn't soothing my soul much. I'm going to take a walk now.
Been busy knitting and assembling the second baby blanket (increasing the needle size has improved productivity no end). Its off having a border put on. I also spent part of Tuesday evening painstakingly removing pieces of fabric from a quilt which I've had since I was a child to see if it could be remade into another quilt. It feels satisifying to be remaking and conserving stuff.
Posted by m at 3:22 PM
Monday, April 14, 2008
Posted by m at 12:13 PM
Sunday, April 13, 2008
What a great day yesterday. No really it was so nice catching up with two people I haven't seen for months or just briefly in the park.
After my dinner party last week I realised I was in a rut cooking wise. I bought a packet mix to make Indian Butter Chicken Makhani from the chinese supermarket. I made it last night for my friend S and it was delicious. After checking out google I realise I could easily make it from scratch if I bought a few more spices so I'll stock up on those.
A friend sent me this link in the Guardian about artists trying to balance work/money/creativity.
And my old boss is doing a poetry reading tonight in Edinburgh. If I'm not too tired from seeing the last Yiddish film at the Filmhouse today I'm going to try and make it along.
Posted by m at 10:56 AM
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Got excited this morning because the book I'd ordered while ill and bored came from Amazon but couldn't read it as off to chiropody and to deliver baby blanket and blue tragic teddy to Ivor-the-baby. After tea with Ivor's mum I made my way back into Edinburgh for a few errands picking up Lush shampoo, organic chicken for tonight and got waylaid into visiting card shops, stocking up on birthday cards, dead sea salts, and finding the new Plaisir du Chocolat shop in Rose St. Luckily it had a sign in the window 'closed until 3.15' so was saved from squandering money there in but I will be back once I've been paid.
Posted by m at 5:23 PM
Friday, April 11, 2008
4th day off work and at home trying to get better. Its not working so far - I'm getting bored and frustrated being at home and frankly - lonely. I broke out yesterday to go to the library and the supermarket. The Michael Pollen book In Defense of Food I'd ordered had come in. Yay 60p to order and costs £16.95 new. Excellent read by the way I now want to buy a copy to press into the hands of friends. And I will start my organic box delivery again in May. I've been online far too much and every now and again phone up friends to annoy them. I thought I'd got over being alone and now realise of course thats just because normally I've very occupied and not alone ! Duh!
In the meanwhile cool links The Art of Nonconformity and Ghostschool.
Posted by m at 10:26 AM
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
"How do we live on this planet in a way that is harmonious enough to sustain our species as well as the other beings that delight us, feed us, and allow us to breathe?
The answer may lie not only in the way we relate to each other, humans, animals and plants; not only in the way we relate to resources, renewable or unrenewable, but in how we relate to ourselves. What sustains our own being? What is it that enlivens us, brings us joy, enhances equanimity, wisdom, and our capacity to give and receive love?
Awareness is growing that our hunger for possessions, our lust to consume, arises in part, if not entirely, from a craving for well- being. Ironically, that craving is unsatisfied by even the most glamorous and expensive things. The hunger continues unabated. How do we satisfy this craving and find peace?
Sustainability of the species is deeply related to the soul of our being. My greatest pleasure emerges from spiritual practice, art (which involves dancing, singing, poetry and storytelling), being in wild nature, and a community of friends. It is in these experiences that I find the love that sustains me.
I suggest we practice the art of sustainability; of soul sustenance. Let's practice meditating and chanting together, and make the entire conference a work of art. We need to reclaim what we have lost in our deluded worship of the gods of fame, power, and materialism. We need to reclaim play, spontaneity, storytelling, poetry, song and dance. We need to reclaim an intimate relationship with nature as part of our daily lives. We need to reclaim the divine as an integral part of mundane existence, as the core of our being. We need to pay homage to the light of being, the radiance that animates all life."
Posted by m at 4:01 PM
Quality through quantity. Don't get hung up on making this one piece good -- make ten and one will certainly be pretty good.
Do NOT mix generating and editing. When you're making a piece, don't stop and get judgmental half-way through. If it's a piece of crap, get that piece of crap out of your system -- don't try to fix it mid-flow. Finish it, move on.
When to judge: After you've completed a piece, look at it and decide what direction you want to go in next. Or if you're selecting pieces for submission to a show, apply your critiquing mind then. Make a piece of art; look at it; make another.
Don't be afraid to re-use elements. If each piece has to be unique, then you're going to get hung-up when you create some bit that you like. But if you can re-use bits, then you can keep moving.
How to have "lots of ideas": permute. Start anywhere. Once a piece is done, try varying some aspect. Think of all the variables that could have permutations.
"Get through your first 50 failures as fast as you can." I don't think that we should be shooting for a place where we no longer make crappy art. A good artist is one who's in motion making lots of art -- you only think they're so much better because they produce so much quantity that their pile of "good art" has also been able to accumulate. For every piece of crap you create, you're one step closer to getting something you really like.
Don't even bother "fixing" pieces. Making art shouldn't be a struggle. You're simply "thinking out loud" onto the page, photo-paper, or canvas. If a product seems confused, leave it confused. Make another piece where you contemplate whatever issues you were wrestling with. Try something different. When clarity arrives, it will come in one living piece -- not be Frankensteined together out of a single infinitely re-worked, mangled corpse.
Work fast. Creativity is exciting. If you're not judging while you're making, then you can just throw things together as fast as your mind can move. You're smart; if you don't like what you've made, you'll know immediately. You might not know what to do about the problem you perceive... Don't "think", standing there cogitating -- try things. If your hands are in motion, you can be generating new permutations. The one that you want to pick will come out on its own time.
Let your level show. Let the world know that despite having years of investment in your art form, you're still a beginner who doesn't know it all. Rather than hide your thought process, let your questions be present in your work. You are a fundamentally more interesting artist if people get to see what it is that you're struggling with, rather than just your final answers. Show your work. Talk about what you still can't understand (unapologetically).
Don't hide your failures. If you are only willing to show those perfect pieces that you are aspiring towards, you're never going to display / publish your work. Show everything, the worst of the crap included, and let your ego be humbled -- and goaded to create more.
From The Scarlet Letters
Posted by m at 10:51 AM
Monday, April 07, 2008
Posted by m at 12:00 PM
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because the world needs people who come alive." -Harold Whitman (and also often attributed to Henry Miller).
Love that quote and it reminds me of what I need to prioritze in my life. A busy period is coming up in the next few months but important not to neglect my photography and ability to noodle across the city.
Posted by m at 11:39 AM
Sunday, April 06, 2008
Last night I had 11 people over to dinner - I am the most unMartha like hostess. About half an hour before the first guests were to arrive I phoned up one and asked if she could come with chairs. But still I'd over filled my small flat and 3 people had to perch on the sofa in a small kind sub party in the corner. As I was dishing up I realised I was running out of plates - dashed to my understair cupboard and retrieved some more and washed them quickly.
Rather than being perfectly organised I pray that people arrive late as I hurridly sweap floors shove wool into bags attempt to banish signs of life. Mean while the orange double tulips I bought from the supermarket open extravagantly. Then I give up light candles turn off the lights and hope that the slight disarray will engender a cameraderie that a more polished do with chase away.
There is always a point when I wish I'd never got myself into this situation. Why oh why did it seem such a good idea when I clicked on the email addresses and sent out invitations so gaily two weeks ago. And why didn't I start preparing right then and there? STOP ! This is the worst worst repose to life the 'I should have done it right done it better been more organised more x'. The more I relax into what I am rather than what I feel others think I ought to be the easier it is. AND I have more energy - the leakage towards the other way of living is just too much.
I am falling in love
with my imperfections
The way I never get the sink really clean,
forget to check my oil,
lose my car in parking lots,
miss appointments I have written down,
am just a little late.
I am learning to love
the small bumps on my face
the big bump of my nose,
my hairless scalp,
chipped nail polish,
toes that overlap.
Learning to love
the open-ended mysteryof not knowing why
I am learning to fail
to make lists,
use my time wisely,
read the books I should.
Instead I practice inconsistency,
Probably I should
hang my clothes neatly in the closet
all the shirts together, then the pants,s
end Christmas cards, or better yet
a letter telling ofmy perfect family
But I’d rather waste time
listening to the rain,
or lying underneath my cat
learning to purr.
-by Elizabeth Carlson
There is this fantastic poem over at 37 days which I'm nicking in its entirety
Posted by m at 8:30 PM
on writing memoir.
Tom McGuane had this great thing he told me. We were talking on the phone, and we don't talk often but I was in the middle of the process, and he said, "What are you doing?" And I said, "Well I'm writing a memoir" -- I knew he would disapprove because those guys, they have their own code of things.
CV: He was a friend of your father's?
IB: Yes, he was a friend, along with Jim Harrison. And I knew he'd -- not disapprove of me writing a memoir in particular, but you know, they're fiction guys, they write fiction.
And he said, "Well, whatever you're writing has you by the back of the neck. And you just kinda have to go with it." It is what it is. You have to accept what it is. And that's the roughest part about memoir writing -- or any kind of writing, I think. I love Toni Morrison; I think she's incredible. I will never write like her in a million years. It's just not going to happen. I have a very distinct style. And it's not that. [laughter] So it's accepting your writing. If you're writing a memoir, accepting that this is what it is.
And then you have to find a structure for it.... I read a million memoirs. And I would find somebody and go, "Oh, OK, you can do this; this is a structure that will work."
Posted by m at 8:41 AM
Friday, April 04, 2008
Posted by m at 3:18 PM
Thursday, April 03, 2008
My Yiddish class convened in Glasgow last night to put on an entertainment in song, dramatic playlet and instrument for a group of elderly Glaswegian Jews. Luckily the class I'm in is full of talented singers, bagpipe players etc so we were able to put on a passable entertainment. I am officially the worst speaker in the class so I was in charge of surtitles on cards for the dramatic bit.
We got the 10.30 train back to Edinburgh. After all the excitement last night I'm exhausted but gathering my strength to go to work.
Anyway my rambling point is many things in my life I have to do well, photography, teaching, filmmaking. Its nice to have something in ones life that is just fun. It adds to life a rounded dimension which is not all about being good it, achieving and excelling.
Posted by m at 11:50 AM
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Pic from here
Posted by m at 10:51 AM
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Posted by m at 8:59 PM