Rushed/compressed VS considered/unharried

20 Mar

This post, the first post for well over a year, was planned to record my first of four artwork series for the 2019 iteration of The December Gallery. Each series became a part of the exhibition ‘Seeds from Home’.

I started writing this post in January when my New Year tradition is always to give myself time to relax and recover, then slowly reflect on the past year and then to plan for the new. Reflective and creative time is always totally subsumed as the end of the year rushes and compresses. In contrast, the early weeks of each new year is a luxurious considered, unhurried and unharried, quiet time for me.

THIS New Year, after a whopper 2019, gifting myself time, reflection, and care feels essential…simply not negotiable? It was so slow in coming though.

It is March and I have returned to the pool where the repetition of arm and leg movement and (this Australian) crawling through the water is a much-needed dose of serenity that I missed for much of 2019. I walk most days but it is swimming that helps every part of me. Unfortunately with the threat of COVID-19 our local pool has closed for the foreseeable future. I will need to seek an alternate place and form of my serene yet ‘physical’ stretching.

I am gifting myself (only) minutes a day of meditation via the Headspace App that my GP perceptively recommended late last year. I am working at simply being measured and ordered in what I do and how I do it. Considerations of how I use time generally are slowing improving to become…realistic?

Most days now I start with that ‘start of the new year’ unharried feeling and it feels good however long it lasts. It still feels a bit foreign to pull back on the reign though, and everyday the ‘step up the pace’ need returns to test me. A gentle slower-paced me, not always switching quickly to the next, always important task, is still very, very slow in being mastered.

Screen/work distractions are also a VERY big and particular problem that I have not yet conquered. These tasks and communications suck up my (our) time. I’ll keep working at minimisation time wise. 2020 offers me the perfect vision for this (intentional pun used and I do apologise…:)

My studio situation – in that my studio is large and entered through a door attached to our home – is a wonderful thing. THE downside is that the lovely Studio Siren calls beseechingly to stay downstairs whilst the currently more tempting Siren’s evil twin forces me to go and check the screen before picking up a needle or brush. She’s a bad one.

I am also very thankful to escape regularly to our ‘little house’ down south where I can weed and walk and do nothing or little – if that is what I need – as it certainly was last year.

I did not post in 2019 – there was no way I could prioritise the quiet thinking that this task takes. Posts for this year will certainly start on recording some of my highlights of the past year. It is MY need/choice to record publicly – a resource that I gift myself …the hindsight that I (hopefully) did a good job, succeeded, learned and connected. It is an antidote to forgetting (the good things I did). It is a truthful reminder that there is so much more room for advancement. The teacher in me always hopes that my processes can be a resource for others too.

In packing up The December Gallery (TDG) each January I always have quandaries and questions. One to mention is that as the downstairs studio returns to its premier function, with shelves and supplies uncovered, with tables and chairs and equipment back in position, what occupies my ‘decorator’ brain is whether to use the ‘new’ (but unsold) artworks of the past year to keep me company. Some will be boxed and stored upstairs. Some older works will get an airing.

I truly love living with many of my artworks, as I certainly love living with works of other artists. I am not a minimalist. I am a decorator! I also find it worth the while of moving artworks regularly – if the bloke and I happen to purchase a new piece there is a puzzle of placement that causes a domino effect. The freshened viewing of our little collection of diverse artworks gives much pleasure. We see enormous value in varying our view.

Some of MY works I have a real problem with boxing and stacking upstairs – feathering the nest #4 – beautiful values , made in 2016, refuses to be hidden…still!

Another of the feathering the nest series (#20-27), a pastel set of eight pieces, has worked beautifully on a large wall for the last two years also but I really needed to rest them and to add fresh views.

In packing up my unsold artworks – all three ‘Pick up your Skirts’ danced before me – they need stay within my view. Two have been joined by a work of TDG17 artist Annie Shelley. Three ladies with strength now together where feathers once were.

Throughout our time talking to visitors to TDG19  I repeatedly voiced my idea that I would frame all the skirts to protect them – sleeping beauty-like. Quietly, my thinking has changed. Apart from the cost of framing them, I simply feel that it would somehow ‘fussy’ them. 

The women painters I represented through these skirts were not fussy….how could they be? They galloped through the Aussie bush in search of plants, subject matter for painting, learning, authenticity, experiences…and fun. Perhaps locking these ‘skirts’ away for their protection is errant thinking? Snow White in her clear coffin is the image/framing device I saw in my minds eye – whilst these skirts speak of freedom for women in times when they had little of it.

I’ll leave that all hanging and let you know the full story of Pick up your Skirts and the other three series I produced last year …soon.

I am buoyed by the calm knowledge that I nailed my intent. The quiet, gentle approach I take is not for all, what art it? Living with it, with pleasure, is a gift in self acceptance if nothing else.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t already done so, head over to The December Gallery to see my 2019 work and those of the very talented Sarah Pearn.

Jan Mullen

B. Ed. Art/Craft (Textiles/Sculpture) Living in Perth, Western Australia Artist, Fabric Designer, Author, Teacher, Mentor.