Saturday, 26 January 2013

Lessons in abundance courtesy of Wilkins Micawber

"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result: happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result: misery"

Wilkins Micawber in David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

I've had this quote rolling around my head for a couple of weeks. I have been thinking a lot about abundance. It's a word that's thrown around sections of the blogging community with what seems like wild abandon. And I'm not really sure I know what it means. Or at least what it means to me. I'm pretty sure that when I'm vision boarding or asking the universe for stuff that I'm supposed to be requesting abundance. Along with the perfect pair of skinny jeans. And the perfect vintage leather jacket. And a never ending supply of Cadbury's mini eggs.

When my relationship imploded four years ago I had to move back home to my parents, finding my own place to live was an impossibility since I was at my over draft limit and my credit card was... well. Let's just say it wasn't good. It feels quite hard to admit that. I think a dysfunctional relationship with money is quite a modern problem and the shame surrounding it is something we don't discuss very often.

Anyway, I lived with mum and dad for a year and saved my arse off. I eventually found myself a fantastic flat as well as financially solvent and sensible. But it is reaaaaally hard at the moment. I have a full time job and I also teach five hours a week. The classes take about ten to fifteen hours of my own time to plan. I am also trying to justify calling myself an artist. If it gets to the end of the month and I have £20 left in my account it feels like an Olympic games sized victory. If I'm £20 overdrawn I feel irresponsible, frivolous and lacking in all areas. The shoulds start to crowd in.

I Should have a better paid job by now
I Should have a fabulous boyfriend to help me out with all this stuff
Should I even still be renting at my age?
I should be able to manage my finances so that my mum isn't gifting me care packages of Persil and Cilit Bang at the end of the month

Oh, it's really fun in my head right now.

The thing is, the difference between victory and failure is roughly £40. A mere forty quid. That's quite a small margin. And it's the same with the my perception of time and how much I have for my own work. I've been thinking over the last couple of weeks that if I could just claw back my Thursday evenings for painting that would make a massive difference. That's three hours. Just three hours. When I have to get up for work my alarm is set for 7.30am. It's a Herculean effort to schlep my way across cold Victorian tiles to the shower. I'm grumpy most of the morning and tend to take it out on the Tesco's self service machine ("Please take your items" "Yes! I know! Give me a fucking chance!"). On a day off I naturally sleep until about 8am and it feels like the biggest luxury in the world. So the difference between swearing in supermarkets and approaching the day with a zen-like attitude of calm and acceptance comes down to thirty minutes. Thirty minutes people.

I'm not sure if it makes me feel frustrated or hopeful that I'm dealing with such small margins. Apparently abundance isn't about a luxury cruises, although it can be I suppose. I just need to find thirty minutes extra sleep a day, £40 a month and three hours a week. And that's it. It's about having enough. And a little bit left over. And it's about being hopeful too. As Micawber himself says something will turn up.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Scenes from a Sunday

This weekend saw me forced to slow down because of the weather. I cancelled and rescheduled a workshop. I painted feathers and ivy covered trees. I stared out of the window. I made stew and risotto (I love making risotto, the act of stirring something for 30 minutes makes me feel very zen). I lolled on the sofa and watched copious amounts of Sherlock and Jonathan Creek (please don't judge me, I love Jonathan Creek). I stared out of the window some more. I ran out of chocolate and had to shuffle 200 yards 'round the corner to Tescos. It was an effort. I planned my first tattoo. I shopped for bracelets on Etsy. I started reading a book that I can tell, even only 50 pages in, I am going to love. I blogged. I paid attention. It was all good. What did you do? Did anyone build a snowman?

Thursday, 10 January 2013

The free-range artist

Christmas is over and I'm finally working on a few paintings. Today I finished one that has been languishing for well over six months. I also started another. That felt good. I did all this fuelled by double chocolate and raspberry brownies. I decided a couple of days ago that January would be the month I cut down on sugar. That lasted then.

I don't think I ever really liked the idea of having a pristine white studio space, shared with other hipsterish artists, seriously working away whilst we talked about gallery representation and listened to Autechre. I think I do much better working out of my living room, on my own, glass of cava just out of shot, Boromir getting shot by orcs on the TV in the background (and then dying beautifully) for what seems like the fifth time this Christmas. (Note to self, must find new box sets to watch whilst painting).

Across these two tables (one on loan from my brother, one from Ikea £14) are the collection of random and useful objects helping me work at the moment.

Candles, always.
Pile of Moleskine notebooks for journalling, notes, poetry etc
Pile of handmade paper.
Yellow A5 Finsbury Filofax (Xmas prezzie from mum and dad)
Nourishing reading matter.
Crime novel (January is all about crime fiction)
Brushes, paints etc
Bright pink poster paint
Karma bubble bath bar from Lush (it smells amazing and every now and then I catch a whiff of it and just think mmmmm)
Knitted owl gloves made by mum. Slightly too small. They limit my hand movements somewhat but i am determined to break them in.
A little stuffed and stitched handmade mouse. Gifted to me by one of the tutors at work late last year when I was in the middle of a stress related meltdown.
Sharpie markers
Washi tape (a growing addiction)
Dirty paint water
Course file for my classes
Pile of magazines inc County Living (even though I live in the middle of a large town) and The Simple Things. Both are essential for decent vision boarding and daydreaming about cosy fires, woodland walks, suppers that include all manner of rare and lovely foodstuffs and rugged yet sensitive blokes in fairisle jumpers.
Broken glass lampshade (cracked side facing the wall)

There. You can keep your sparsely furnished converted warehouses. This is all I need.