Thinking beautiful thoughts

— 9 minute read

I cannot believe that it is Friday and the week is over. Another week of working from bed is behind me, and I am trying to make the leap from work mode to chill mode - not so easy when I'm in the same position on the bed, tip tapping away on my home laptop.

But I do feel like blogging so tip tap away I shall.

Due to my home-bound condition I have succumbed to online window shopping.

There are some art stuff that I am so tempted to get, but am refraining because there's a good chance they will end up being impulse buys like the book-binding kit that I got at some point (I have not bound one book) or the cool table-top easel that my sister shipped from China for me (I have not made one painting on it). But then again, I did make fairly good use out of the sewing machine that I bought during MCO, which remains to be my go-to case of how I can use the tools that I buy. Sometimes.

Anyway, thinking is free, so I can fantasise about them here with no cost or cluttering consequences or eco guilt. One is a batik making kit, complete with the wax pourer thingy and dye, and it'd be so cool to be able to draw my own designs on fabric and paint them. Maybe sew a batik top or skirt? Make another cushion cover? A bandana? A batik quilt? A batik hand-sewn teddy bear? Ahh the possibilities.

The other thing that would be cool to get is materials for rubber stamp carving. Print-making that could go on paper or even fabric, depending on what type of ink that I use. I'd make a really cool drawing and can use it over and over again on different surfaces, and mimic Edvard Munch's wood block carvings. Print ironic statements and make wrapping paper. And, for whatever reason - broccoli stamps. Broccoli, everywhere!

I've also been getting art inspiration from the two-month free trial on Creative Bug, a repository of video tutorials on arts and crafts that I randomly found. No, not through instagram, but through Sanae Ishida's blog that I got to know because I picked up her book from the bookshop, and on her blog she mentioned it. I am feeling triumphant for finding some non-algorithmically mediated serendipity.

In any case, I signed up for the free trial because of its funny two-month timeframe, which overlaps with my recovery period - coincidental? Yes, probably, but still.

So far it's been pretty worthwhile, I started to make the handsewn cushion cover because of a tutorial that I saw called a "story quilt top", which made me think differently about quilting which had always felt boring - instead I was able to think about combining appliques and embroidery onto a bigger piece that acts as a canvas, that didn't necessarily have to be a quilt in any case (the smaller dimensions that I am working with makes it much more suitable as a cushion cover).

That ticked a number of agreeable boxes:

  1. Being able to use the bag of cotton that's left from making my mum's cushions, which is just occupying space in storage
  2. Being able to use my embroidery hoop which was another impulse buy I had not used (no longer!)
  3. Being able to use fabric scraps, especially from the fabrics that I love but the scraps are too small
  4. Being able to slow down and make something that takes time and notes the passage of time. Hand sewing is so slow that every new element takes ages to translate, even if it's just simple lines. Perfect for these days.

So the cushion cover is chugging along, I quite like how it is now with my embroidered foot and my appliqued guitar with a cheerful orange soundhole, but I don't know yet how it will look like because I don't know what the next step will be. Maybe I might learn different embroidery stitches and practise on the remaining white parts.

I had also been tempted to get a crocheting hook and some yarn to follow along a 30-day crocheting practice in which you make a patch a day and join them up in the end - but I haven't thought of any use of the completed piece and it feels like a dust magnet for any usage I might have for it. Individually, coasters? But I don't use coasters much. Some sort of scarf? Perhaps, but knitting might be a better skill to learn for that. So no go for the time being.

Or maybe I should actually bind a book.

I must say that I was very close to binding one. I had assembled all the content and pages within, carefully curated from a bunch of books on creativity and writing, of all the tips and tricks that I appreciated from writers like Elizabeth Gilbert and Stephen King, and a filmmaker whose name I cannot remember now, but is some big shot. The resulting patchwork of advice and ideas is a treasure trove of inspiration of how to tell stories, and how to create.

I had even included some marker drawings within the compilation to make things more interesting, and all looked very promising until I had to make the cover. I could not think of a fitting cover for all this awesomeness. And so I lost steam, and so the project remains unbound. Until one day the fitting cover arrives. It's good that I'm reminded of the project now so I can keep it at the crowded and cluttered back of my head again.

So, probably not book binding.

So I have an empty Saturday tomorrow with nowhere to be, no one to meet, and nothing to do again. Partly why I am using this space to brainstorm what to do. It would be nice to have an activity that could span one day, keeping me occupied from morning till evening.

Some ideas:

  1. Learning how to play a song on the guitar. I did try this a few days ago after work, but I can't find a song that makes me want to sing, that is easy enough to do at my advanced beginner level. The search continues.
  2. Drawing. I think I might do some of it in any case, but am not sure how long I would be able to keep at it. Maybe not that long.
  3. Painting. Just setting up an acrylic station, and then seeing what happens - Hmm. Could I?
  4. Thinking of creative ideas, without executing them. Haha. I think I'm actually quite good at this, even though it gets a little unsatisfying after a while having nothing to show for all that thinking!

Ooh. Maybe book-binding. I'm dipping into videos in the Creative Bug website as I'm blogging now, and came across this idea of a 100 day project, which basic idea is that you commit yourself to a creative act that you will do one hundred days straight. This is not quite revolutionary - the lovely Hilary Hahn for instance has a 100daysofpractice hashtag for her violin playing.

But what was interesting in this video of the prompts that this lady E Bond used - one year she decided to meditate on the subject of trees every day for 100 days, and while doing that she filled a sketchbook full of things that as far as I can tell, do not look like trees in any way, but it doesn't really matter because she would start by thinking about trees and end with something like a drawing of a map. Another year she made a map every day (inspired by her tree map).

So that is quite interesting. I think if I'm able to find a good enough prompt to limit the thinking behind the creation, I might be able to get behind this 100 day thing. And bind it.

So, some thoughts about the limits:

  1. On the paper choice, I have a big pile of IKEA brown packaging paper lying around that I've been meaning to use for any purpose. They're actually not that bad as paper, I think I tried ink on them once and they gamely took it. So, a hundred-day book binding project can definitely centre around the dimensions and texture of the perforated packaging paper.
  2. What about limits on content? I'm sure that if my theme is too wide, I'll spend too much time thinking and not actually get to the doing of it. Ooh E Bond says that she likes to incorporate something that she knows very little about but is curious about - the unknown pushes her on to go down the rabbithole. What a great idea. Hmm.
  3. The unit of action - one page per day? Or does the day count if I even manage to put one brush stroke down on the project? Hmmmmmm.

Another idea emerges - I've been thinking of connection a fair bit, and maybe a good idea would be to find a piece of work that I connect with every day, to collect it, or to create something inspired by it. I've always been intrigued by how it's possible to connect with a stranger long dead or very far away, just by connecting with their work.

I think it was Robert Henri that gave me that insight - in his book The Art Spirit he talks about being an artist as being part of a brotherhood that transcends time and space. Robert Henri looks at a drawing made by Leonardo da Vinci, and he's seeing that Leonardo's trying to solve a visual problem - and he's right there with him.

Isn't it a beautiful thought?

I am also reminded of something that a friend shared recently. He had a friend (who has passed away), who used to recite Chinese poems whenever a situation struck him. Friend's friend kept an arsenal of poems in his head, just so that he could expand memorable moments with a beautiful line that someone had written two thousand years ago.

Isn't that so beautiful too? Rest in peace, dear friend's friend.

We are now typing a day later. It's Saturday morning, and so far I've just been thinking and haven't actually done anything. On the side I'm watching 舞子さんのまかないさん, which I'm quite enjoying. But I guess I should set up a direction and start cracking towards somewhere. The art is not going to make itself!