There was a short series of programmes on the BBC a while back, called ‘What Do Artists Do All Day?’ Be honest, you wonder about it too don’t you...
I thought it would be a fun thing to describe a typical* day in my arty life.
So, here’s the answer to what this particular artist does all day…
Oh how delightful it would be to rise before dawn for an early mediation as the sun rises, to soak up the peace and quiet of a new day, write 3x A4 Morning Pages** to clear the mind and after 20 minutes of yoga, to eat a breakfast of mixed berries…
However, in the real world, I do get up pre-dawn, but then it’s straight into the ‘getting the girls off to school’ routine, which you’ll be familiar with I’m sure, (that or something similar). It generally involves the domestic pleasures of making packed-lunches, coffee, ironing, vacuuming, taxiing and if by some chance I’m very organised, deciding what we’re going to eat for dinner…
After that, my day begins again…
I don’t write Morning Pages, but for me, the daily walk with the Delinquent Dog is a form of meditation and the time when I clear my mind. We take the same route every day, which is a wonderful way to tune-in to the changing seasons, watching subtle changes and feeling the immediate connection with the weather. It’s simultaneously grounding and relaxing.
Followers on Instagram may remember that I photographed the same oak every day last year, an exercise that taught me much more than just how an oak changes through the seasons.
I pause most mornings at my Thinking Gate – sometimes I am actually thinking when I lean on the gate, sometimes I’m just listening, just being.
I’m not consciously looking for inspiration on those walks, but I’m sure something seeps into my unconscious which probably finds expression in my work.
Back home, and I try to do the things that need brain power…
My trusty accomplices are the Mac, my Filofaxes, my pencil and my smart phone (with which I take all my photos – I don’t own a camera).
And then, it’s time to stitch…
Stitching is wonderfully meditative. It isn’t long before I’ve drifted off somewhere in my mind. Most of my work is only lightly planned, with the details coming as I go along. If you’re familiar with the Druidic concept of Awen, that’s very much how I feel about inspiration and connection, which for me expresses itself in my stitching.
I’m fuelled by coffee, strong and black, which I take a break for, every couple of hours or so.
Once the family are home again, I slip back into the domestic routine.
Working from home can make it difficult to separate work from home life, and I used to suffer a lot from feeling resentful at having to keep stopping to change roles, but gradually, I’ve found the balance that works for me, and now I try to give myself entirely to family matters until after dinner, when usually I’ll have time to relax with my stitching buddy and embroider for a couple more hours.
Finally, I’m an avid bedtime reader. I’ve recently acquired a bookshelf to go right next to my bed, which is better than having huge piles of books teetering on the bedside table. I have a postcard picture of Bess of Hardwick which I use as a bookmark. I love Bess, she’s my historic heroine, a strong woman living in a man’s world, a loving mother and a brilliant needlewoman – I often wish her goodnight when I turn off the light…
* Obviously there’s really no such thing as a typical day – just typical elements, but you know what we mean.
** Morning Pages, as many of you know, is part of Julia Cameron’s Artist Way. Although I don’t do them now, I did do something very similar a couple of years ago and found it extremely helpful.
13 thoughts on “A Day In The Life…”
I hope you don’t still use the flat iron! Like you, I find my daily walk is a meditative time (works far better for me than yoga) though sadly I don’t return to beautiful stitching. You have a gorgeous stitching buddy.
He keeps me warm! I do use the flat-iron, but not for ironing – very useful for holding open big recipe books, or pressing things, or stopping the window from slamming, or persuading recalcitrant husbands to do what you asked… every kitchen should have one. 🙂
Thanks for sharing this – hadn’t come across “Morning Pages” before – interesting idea..
Like so many of these things, great at the right time – there’s lots I find intensely annoying about Julia Cameron’s books, but also I suspect, some true wisdom.
Goodness, I wish I had anything even half resembling such a routine. I can’t even stitch for more than about forty minutes at a time these days…
Times change for all of us don’t they, it’s not so long ago that I was in the same boat, and to be honest, I expect it will change again some time for me, but I know I work better when I have a structure, however slight, to stick to.
I think that although you’re busy with family and domestic stuff, it’s somehow easier to be disciplined and productive when you have an inescapable routine. I find that now I have the freedom to spend all but two of my days as I choose, I still need the framework of a ‘routine’ and alloted time to ‘work’ at things that really interest me. It’s hard work being autonomous!
I completely understand, I struggled with this myself too. It occurred to me a while ago, that another group of people who divide their days into set periods of activity, was monks and nuns. I quite like the idea that you divide up your day and allocate chunks to certain activities, and just concentrate on the one you’re supposed to be doing at that time – it’s very loosely and non-religiously what I try to do now and I suppose it helps me because I’m not worrying about what else I should or might do, I can simply ‘do’ the one thing at a time.
Wonderful. I am still trying to carve out more creative time, so I guess I’m still working on the stopping to change roles nad feeling resentful about it part… Maybe spending a little less time on instagram would help. 😉 I love your morning walk shots.
Yes, having a family definitely poses challenges to a creative life – I get so cross with all those books that tell you to meditate before dawn, even the Julia Cameron ones suggest you write early, while it’s quiet – well they’ve never been in our house at 6.00am that’s for sure! I’d never actually get any sleep if I followed their advice. All those books seem to rely on your having someone else to take care of the domestic side of life, leaving you free to create, which is so not the world I live in. My girls are teenagers now and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel as far a me-time is concerned, it’s already much better than a year or two ago, but right now, I still have to accept that a big part of my role is being mum, the artist stuff has to fit in. The balance will no doubt change more over time.
Reblogged this on Ann Pawley.
This is a really lovely description of your day. x
Oh, thank you 🙂 I’m looking forward to reading about how some of the other Discover group spend their days – I’m essentially just nosey!