Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Time Management for quilters and other artists

Nolde (photograph by me of the original which is in the GMOA in Athens, GA)

Do you ever feel as if you are trying to rush forward against a high wind and making little progress?
Because there just isn't enough time!

Elsie wrote to me last week that she had read that you can  - and should - always find time for that which is most important to you.

but how?

People often ask me how I find enough time to do all the things I do.....here are a few suggestions I've worked on over the years..some might work for you, others won't I'm sure..many you probably already do!

don't be a nolde-noodle!!!!

1.  Always have a diary - digital, pencil, fancy, home made - doesn't matter....but always.  So easy to forget appointments etc.

2. Plan out each day - yes yes I hear you groaning from here!!!!  but you can plan in "down time" "relax time" or "zoning time"...that's fine.
but if you plan the day, you'll notice that for most of us there are actually 16 hours! and that's quite a lot!!!  The plan should be based on your to-do list...if you have a lot to do then prioritize (A list, B list etc or whatever method you like).
A lot of time is lost between tasks if you don't have them listed and prioritized...
Big projects should be divided up into manageable sections - this of course is easy for quilt makers for every quilt is a Big Project...but with several steps, many steps, along the way.

3.  One trick I've learned is that if you have several things to do, always do the one you LEAST want to do first...everything will seem easy after that!

4. Another is that for a Big Project, the first step can be just getting out Everything you need.
For example, couple of days ago I had to put together an adjustable bed that came in kit form...and I had been putting it off a couple of days knowing what a pain it is when "some assembly is required"!
so my first step (before the cup of tea!) was to lay out all the parts in order, and get the tools organized...and the instructions clearly to hand.  And I'm not "allowed" my cuppa until that first task is done.  It's strange ...but seeing it all laid out like that, almost makes you want to take that first step...
for quilters, having some place that you can leave Everything out ...ready to go even if you just have ten minutes...is really helpful.

I think of it as being like Initial Inertia...in that it's always harder to start moving than to keep moving...I remember my first car - a 1948 Rover for those who are curious! - took about a gallon of petrol (gas) to start moving...but then it might roll for miles!!!

5.As you go through your day, notice where you "lose time".  This is one of the most helpful ways to improve your time management.  We all have different ways we "lose" it...and some we might not want to change!!!  e.g. walking around the garden to see what flowers just opened up etc...that's actually a good way to use time!  But having to go back to the grocery store for one item which we probably could have done without...well......or checking one's email every five minutes...hmmm
computer games are a big user of  time....so use them wisely..especially the ones with 30 second adverts.  UNLESS you stand up and do some push ups or squats during that time!!!
Make an especial note of time lost due to other people USING up your time.  People who want to stop and talk for example...just keep moving...very slowly....yes, it works!!!!  have a big smile on your face at the same time!!  Like they say, learning how to say "no".

6. Batching - don't do jobs, chores, errands etc in bits and pieces...stack them together in one batch.
for example, have one time a week for errands, drive to the one furthest away and plan an efficient route home calling in on all the others.  Don't go up and down stairs with one thing at a time, pile them all at the top/bottom and take all together when a bunch of them. Run machines when they are full...so that unloading is more efficient.  Cook enough for 2, 3 or even 4 days.  Everlasting soups are a great boon!

7. Filing systems - can be a nice filing cabinet, or just a cardboard box that happens to be the right size...don't leave papers lying around....then you lose time looking for them!  And talking about pieces of paper - the old idea of handling a piece of paper just once is really helpful. Read it, make notes on it, file it or shred it.  If it requires a phone call do it right away so you don't lose time thinking about whom you have to call and why.
Emails: I try to answer right away, so I don't have to waste time going back several days later, rereading rethinking etc.
also pet peeve!!  don't "reply all" if it's a group email and that's not relevant...then YOU are wasting someone else's time!  Yes ! those seconds add up!

8. Don't do what does not need to be done! Now this definitely varies from one person to another.  e.g. I HAVE to make the bed! can't stand the look of an unmade bed, for another person that doesn't matter at all...so for them - don't make the bed!!!  While it's good to patronize truly local businesses, if it's just a big box chain, then order on line - much more efficient.  If you like shopping, then do it as entertainment, but if you don't...don't waste time doing it.  When I had teenagers at home, I PAID them to do the grocery shopping!!! As you go through the day, think "do I really need to do this?" or "do I really need to do this every day?"  You can save a LOT of time by NOT doing things!

9.  If there's something Big and Important...be sure to spend a little time on it each day.
So for me, that is art, exercise and music.  Even if I just spend 10 minutes on a quilt....that all adds up...and doing it every day means that I know exactly where I'm at and doing have to spend a few minutes getting into the zone....

So good luck with the Time Management! and thank you for the question Elsie.
I'm sure there are LOTS of other ideas out there....so please, comment!! and tell me them.

And, if you have been, thanks for reading!  Elizabeth

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Art and Technique of Design: practice AND feedback

What inspires us to design?
To actually want to arrange beautiful shapes in a beautiful and stunning way..

 I’m not asking what images do we find lovely, intriguing and inspirational. 
Instead, I mean what is it that will make us sit down and make a proper job of designing an art piece?

 There are many “design guidelines’, with which I’m exceeding familiar  but in the heat of the moment, or very often, on my part through sheer laziness, I say oh what the heck and just plunge in!  And in nearly every case I am soon confronted with a mess.  So then I spend ages and ages trying to fix it and simply end up with an overworked mess!! I think this can happen in any medium, I'm certainly coming across it in watercolor...my piles of "waste paper" grow daily!

But, without play it's unlikely we'll come up with anything new.  The first ideas you have are nearly always too rigid, too glued to the original image, too predictable.  So, you must forgive yourself for that!  But then when the idea is good and fresh...then what?

esb apr 11 plein air a

Well while research show that Practice and experience are really important...it's not just hours and hours of practice...it's also Feedback
We all need feedback, and the more informed the feedback the better.  I give  a lot of feedback in my classes, both in reality and online, but I realise I need it for myself too.  In my situation I’ve found it more helpful to get feedback from people who work in other mediums because they’ll address the compositional issues.  Another quiltmaker would be inclined to focus more on the stitching or technical issues.  
So I joined a plein air painting group.  My cogitations led me to the idea that if I came up with a good design or selection of colors while composing and painting in the fresh air I could translate those to a quilt design.  Now this is a keen group of people working in many different mediums: oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastel, colored pencil, sumi-e ink, photography, collage, mixed media and sculpture.  (so obviously they needed a textile person too!) The leader of the group drives around the area seeking out inspirational views and then we are all emailed with a time and destination!  It’s great fun and one is much more inspired to design in the company of others.  As well as not feeling like a blinking idiot sitting on one’s own sketching on a muddy farm track or  in the botanical gardens!

esb apr 11 plein air b

Everybody sets about the task with great seriousness, and because we will all share the results at the end of the morning, I find I set to with proper intention and am much less inclined to mess about.  Also there’s the added fact that the computer, email and scrabble games don’t work in the middle of a field of canola! I’ve learned a lot from being in this group.  It makes me really use the knowledge I have.

yes, I know...groups come and groups go....be prepared for that...but look for all opportunities to be out there practicing AND getting feedback.
EVEN if the feedback is not necessarily good, e.g. one friend I ask always likes the work with bright colors regardless of anything else!!!...even then the experience of looking at the work with someone else helps you to be more objective...

And, if you have been, thanks for reading, I’m headed off to a grass verge somewhere!     Elizabeth
PS All feedback is sooooooooooo helpful…please, just hit the comment tag and speak!