Friday, December 31, 2010

the promised land

Ah December 31. The end of 2010. How quickly that year went by.  Lots of good things happened last year. Some not so good also. I would rate it an "OK" year. Now tomorrow will be 2011. Facebook and Twitter are buzzing as everyone makes New Year's Resolutions. Writing down their goals for the next year. Serious resolutions and plans. Some more humorous. What will the New Year bring? Is this turning over a new leaf.

Now those who have been following my blog know that I am not a big fan of lists or goals. I think they initially start off great but then they get in your way. Sure some can be good. I will exercise daily in 2011. I will only have dessert on the week-ends. Do I want to organize my e-mail better? Keep the house cleaner? The studio?  Sure--but will I? Probably not. Such lists and organization just makes me nervous. Sorry.

I was listening to the radio--a great show I had not heard before called The Promised Land. Interesting conversation with Winona LaDuke, a member of the White Earth Reservation in Upper Minnesota. While her name may be familiar as the Vice Presidential Candidate for Ralph Nader during "that" presidential election--and no, we won't go there--she is now trying to bring wind and solar energy to the Indian Reservation where she lives. The interviewer asks her to close her eyes and describe what she sees as her Promised Land. I like that question.  Winona said she was almost living in her promised land. Isn't that wonderful? Would that be my answer?

I read on Facebook a post by Val Nelson--a wonderful local business coach. She seems so positive and kind.  Let me just quote her words--she says it much better than Iwould:

I say don't bother with new year's resolutions. It has that "have-to" energy and rarely lasts past Jan.15th. (Besides, there is nothing to fix about you!) Instead of resolutions, I like to dream big. Visualize the mountaintop and let it draw you forward. 

Isn't that wonderful? There are so many dreams, so many quilts I want to make. New variations on blue hills. Another variation on rainbows of summer. Getting a selection of new work ready for the Baltimore Craft Show. Pushing my work to new heights. Those for me are the mountaintop. I have been debating whether to apply for a certain craft show. I would get in and do OK if I was there--but does it lead me to the mountaintop? That I am not sure about. Maybe I should do something else?

And you--have you tried dreaming of the mountaintop? What would be your promised land?


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

taking stock

A couple days ago listening to the radio in the studio, the end of the year, time to take stock. Of course I thought, isn't that what everyone is doing this time of year? Taking stock. I had also been thinking of making stock with the wonderful ham I cooked for the holidays. Oh that was good--the first time I ever cooked a ham that tasted great--so easy. I just baked it uncovered until the outside was browned and bubbly, the meat fork tender. Then I cut off the fat. Sometimes simple is best--but I diverge.

Back to the word stock--interesting word. Sixty some definitions in my Random House dictionary.  Have you ever thought about it? Stocks and bonds, livestock, stock on hand.  One of those words we use all the time without even thinking about it. But where did it come from? What did it originally mean?

Stockades. Rolling stock. Laughing stock. Christmas stockings. The list rolls on. I do a bit of internet research. Stock can mean a tree, a dunce. You can get put in the stocks. I find a great article on the origins of the word stockings--stock for sock goes way back. Means be still. Being in one place. That makes sense. A tree stands still--is there in its own being. Check it out.

But isn't taking stock the perfect thing to do at the solstice--when time stands still. I read that the solstice is when folks would assess their livestock before the winter. How much food did they have? Which ones should try to survive? This was when they got fresh meat before the cold stress of winter really set in.

And now it is time for me to take stock. So much I have done last year. I redid my website--by myself. Learned Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. Started writing my blog. I had a two person show at the Bluestone Gallery in PA. A one person show at the Landmark Campus in Tarrytown, NY.  Quilts selected for shows at the National Quilt Museum and the New England Quilt Museum.  Enough orders to last through Baltimore. New designs. Started work on pillows again. Whew!!! What a pace. I am exhausted.

I hate to think of plans for 2011. So much depends on fate--it is out of my control.  How many large quilts will I sell? What shows will I get into?  How much can I push my blog? I want to redesign my website. IWeb was fine for a while--but Apple does not seem to be supporting it. Do I learn Wordpress? Rapidweaver? Drupal? Joomla? Do I list on Etsy? Sell off my website? So many choices. As a small business woman I must be nimble--take advantage of the breaks.

I don't like lists or goals. Feel that I don't need to hold myself accountable--my checkbook does a pretty good job of telling me if I am successful. And I don't like to focus on what I have NOT accomplished--I want to think positive.  I do have a few plans--ideas of things I want to do. Know quilts I want to make for the Baltimore Craft Show. Know that I will take advantage of that show to make more opportunities for myself. I need a new business card. There are a few shows I know I want to apply for. I need to do more contact with my customers--more mailings. I have already committed to participating in  A River of Stones --a blog a day in January. It sounds fabulous.

And you what are your goals? What did you accomplish this year? Do you write down a list of projects for next year? Do you make New Year's resolutions?

Monday, December 27, 2010

saved by a cloud--I hope

I wake up early one morning a few days ago. Outside there was a wonderful long cloud stretching across the sky. The underside was glowing yellow and orange going up to rose then grey. How perfect. I try to take a picture--no luck. Instead I gaze as the sun rises and remember the hues.

This is just what I need. I have an order to make a custom quilt for a private home. What a lovely space it is. A large window letting in light. Other art and wonderful furniture around the sitting area. All carefully chosen. The piece de resistance is a glass bowl by my friend Ed Branson in wonderful shades of ivory and plum. Hints of peach. So many colors as the sun hits and reflects on it.

I bring several pieces to the home. We hang them up.  The quilt must look just right not only from a distance but also up close. It will be at eye level behind the sofa. No, too green. Too bright. Oh this one is just right. Captures the wood in the furniture. Of course it needs a bit more plum. A little lighter in colors. More luminescent. An echo of the dreamy colors of the glass.

I both fear and look forward to making this quilt. Custom orders can be such a challenge. Will the customer understand that echoing the colors of the glass poses a problem--glass is created by multiple levels of colors that interact and radiate off each other--or at least that is my understanding. The colors of my quilts are formed by the resonance between the different fabrics I combine in the quilt. Though the tan and browns look great in the room, the couple would prefer that I not use much of them.

It is their anniversary gift to each other--I want to get it just right and so I think. And think. Now I must start. I want to deliver it on time and can't let my fear take over.  As always I make what I know. The wonderful soft yellow-gold light. But then? I try a few blocks. Too light even for this room.

 But what comes next? I try one block--then another. I think of the cloud. Maybe that is what I need. Not the grey but that wonderful combination of colors. Yes, that could be it. The golds and rusts, the pinks and plums. Will they combine to glow?

Yes, this is getting closer. Maybe that will work. I make a row. Step back and look. It's getting there.
Keep going. The colors getting a bit darker as I move up the quilt. This could be interesting. Maybe I should make a larger quilt with these colors. This could be interesting. Why don't they make just the fabrics I want?

Oh it takes forever. Each block needs to be carefully planned. Not too tan. Not too grey. What do I think of that splash of white--it is actually a flower on a wonderful richly colored fabric. I will have to keep an eye on it.

And the bottom--not sure of that yet. First though two more rows of the top of the quilt. Will it work? Is this what the couple wants? I must work slowly and carefully. Should I go hunt for more plum colored fabric?  I am learning so much about these colors. I love it when the quilt takes over. What do you think? How glad I am I saw that cloud. Does that ever happen to you? Do you ever find the answers just by looking?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

the turning of the seasons

It's that time of year again--the turning of the seasons. All my craft shows for the year are done. I spent last week making potholders --I had sold out of them. Amazing the different meanings of the words "sold out"--is it a betrayal of oneself or a turning over of stock? Hmm. Something to ponder on a different day. Now I just have to make enough that there is a selection.  I designed new pillows--I do like the colors--still think there is a possibility here. I worked but  didn't push myself last week. It was my time of rest and recuperation. The pause in my schedule.

Yesterday was the winter solstice--time seems to stand still until the days will slowly lengthen into the warmth of summer.  A great article in the New York Times--the change in length of days so minimal at first that there was no way the precise date could be ascertained. The article details numerous customs, the traditions of the solstice. Sacrificing animals, strange costumes, bonfires. Especially the celebration of life. I love how essential this tradition is. Do read it here.

To celebrate I hike to the top of Helicopter Hill before sunrise.  The woods are quiet, wisps of snow lie in the dead leaves. The ground is almost frozen--it crackles a bit under foot as I pick my way through the branches fallen in the summer, the brambles that have grown in the path. From the top of the hill I can see one distant light--is it a farm? The hill is a desolate place this time of year--empty bluebird houses. The wind comes from the north promising cold. The colors are grey and grey with just a hint of pink in the sky. Dusty tan on the ground. Too many clouds for the sun to peak through. I wait until my legs ache with the cold. Then I leave. It was still wondrous up there.

I think of the new year. So many orders in January. Then the Baltimore Show in February. So much to do. This is the way it is supposed to be. Tomorrow I will start the first order. A wall hanging to match a lush glass vase. I have visited the home--seen exactly where it will go. So much responsibility getting the colors just right. Capturing the essence of the glass bowl made by my neighbor Ed Branson. This quilt in soft plums and rust. The colors lush and soft. I will need to absorb the essence of this soft light into my thoughts of this quilt.

I will approach the quilt with the respect and reverence of the season but also knowing that it will anchor me during this time of celebration. Make my time in the studio productive as I balance studio time with time for loved ones. Getting this quilt done will inspire me to make new work for the year. It is how I will take the energy of the season and use it to push myself forward.

And you--do you feel the energy of the solstice? Does it push you forward? Or is this your time for standing still?

Monday, December 20, 2010

take down--load out-- and cream puffs

Take down. Load out. Anxiety rises. Tensions mount as the end approaches. Are there be-backs in the aisles? The instructions have been passed out. Pack first then get a pass to get your car. Discreetly  folding and packing begins.  Clear out the trash. Put on work clothes. What can I put away? Do I really need all these potholders out? When do I get my boxes?  Have you heard the weather forecast?

We all know the horror stories. The show where security locks the hall down for hours. The load out where you have to park two city blocks from your car. The dolly that breaks. The impending blizzard. The one where my van needed a jump start to get out of the parking lot. I left my box of lights on the show floor. One artist kindly packed them in her van, drove them to Ohio then drove them back to Boston where neighbors who were doing the show picked them up and drove them back to me. Aren't crafts people wonderful?

This is not some TV show--the tale of some hit squad. This is the end of the craft show. So different the anxiety from set-up. There it is spread out. Arrive at your set-time. Load in. Park the vehicle and then begin figuring out how to best display your work in the space provided. Then the anxiety is whether the work will sell. What will your neighbors be like? Set up can be spread out over hours--even days. Slowly carefully putting up your display.  Your own little world. How does it look from a distance? A methodical process followed by time hopefully selling your work. Oh that seems like such a long time ago.

Take down is different. Everyone is doing it at the same time. We are all tired. All eager to be home. But first, the work must be protected. The quilts folded, rolled, wrapped. The forecast calls for horizontal rain. Wind. Gusts up to 40 or is it 50. A nor'easter. What fun. Lights removed carefully so they are ready for the next show. Yes, I remember them.  The display taken apart. The sections put in logical, manageable bags, boxes, bundles.  I do have a system. In the words of the U.S. Supreme Court--the time for "all deliberate speed." (Yes, I really am an attorney--inactive status.)

As my neighbor Laura Baring-Gould--oh I do love her work--said, "You can plan and think ahead but then something will come up and this is where you have to use your knowledge and skill to deal with it. Roll with the punches."

There is scant parking. One elevator. The rain has started. But the staff is pleasant--gives you cream puffs--literally and figuratively. Sometimes it is the little things that matter. This can get done. Just keep moving.

And this I believe is the lesson of take down. A lesson for life. Recently I did a series of
blog post exchanges with Lisa Call on getting things done. Do you make lists or have a schedule?  What is your process? But sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. Move with all deliberate speed and hope for the cream puffs.  At least that's my theory. Whether it is family coming for the holidays, the cord on the snow blower that snaps as my DH tries to test it or just finding time to create art. There is a way to get things done. Deal with it. One step at a time. And hope for the cream puffs.

And you how do you deal with this harried time of the holidays? The challenges of the season and getting work done in the studio. And the cream puffs?

Friday, December 17, 2010

questions, questions, questions and pillows

OK--I bet you are wondering--how can pillows actually be a question? After all they are just pillows.  Soft splashes of color--a decorative finish to the room. I wake up at five in them morning and envision a new design for a pillow--lots of small strips of color so that the whole becomes a color field.  Almost woven in effect. Using the commercial cottons that I love but with pieces so tiny the fabrics almost disappear into the whole.

Now I used to make pillows years ago--silk and wool pillows that were a changing color field. They were great pillows, plumb and friendly,  and I still have customers coming back years later asking for more. But I got bored--after all I am a quilt maker and not a pillow maker. And the silk would easily disintegrate in bright sunlight. Not a good marketing plan.

I need new pillows for my studio--the display spaces are there and they make the showroom more inviting. It would be nice to have another item for customers when I do a craft show. I have a friend who could sit at her booth for days just to sell a few large quilts. Endlessly opening and displaying the quilts, listening to the dreams of her customers while waiting. What patience. What confidence in her work. How exhausting!

Oh that is not me. I like my instant gratification. I want to have sales--people in my booth buying.  That's why I make potholders and placemats. Table runners. I have been playing in my mind with the concept of really tiny strips to create complex color fields. There is so much I could do with it. Simple statements in fabric. I can see them if I can make them. However, I don't want to spend time making pillows when I could be creating quilts. I feel that I am closer than ever to having my quilts taken more seriously. I almost blush to recall being told that my quilts are indeed art by a critic I respect. Will pillows cause me to divert my attention or are they the next step forward?

But I am getting ahead of myself. First I have to try to make the pillows--see if they work. See if I want to make them.  I cut many strips of thin fabric. The color palette.

Sew them onto the back with a layer of cotton batting. There are oh so many seams--it takes forever. Can I speed this up?

Square it off, add a zipper and finish the pillow. I wish it was as simple as it sounds. I remember how many steps there are to making pillows.  Show it to a friend of mine--she is polite. Nice she says, good color field. Maybe I need more. I think of other colors. I do like it better with a binding that accents the colors.

Hmm. Need to work on the piecing. It tends to go askew. What will it look like when I add more colors? Is that the key? Will that be the "fun" part of making them?  Can I make them at a price I can sell them?  Should I have the binding of a consistent color on color print? Would that tie the series together?  I think of other designs in this series--is that what I should do? Oh so many questions. And I don't even know if I want to make these yet.

I remember a conversation I had with a friend of mine years ago. David Bacharach--a wonderful metal worker. He said that if you start selling a new product as a mature artist you have to have confidence in it. Great point. I'll have to think about it. Luckily I can make some for the studio and just stop there if I want. They do look great against the wall hangings.

So what do you think? Do you like the pillows? Am I wasting my time?  Will having more colors make it look like a more complete idea? Should I work on other ideas for the pillows? And you--how do you create new designs?

Monday, December 13, 2010

if you are in a rut...

Maybe it is because I live in New England and it could snow any day now, or too many grey rainy days. Maybe it was being at the last craft show for the year. CraftBoston Show--an absolutely wonderful show that I was honored to be a part of. Around me work was flying out of booths. Lots of customers trying on imaginative wraps, lusting after bronzed pears that exuded that certain feeling of mystery. I had customers--lots of lookers, potholders were leaving my booth at a steady pace but $12 potholders don't add up very quickly.

Now I know my work sells. I have been getting lots of orders on the internet. I didn't actually need more business but I sure do hate to sit at a craft fair trying to pretend I am having a great show--it gets to be old rather soon. What could I do differently?

I confess I have been wondering for a while if my quilt rainbows of summer is too strong for my display. When I show it, I have noticed that of course everyone loves it--it is a wonderful piece. Even up for a Niche Award.  But it is such a strong piece it needs a very special home--not every place can take those blues and magentas, the golds and greens. Do customers focus on that quilt and fail to look at the other wall hangings? Just a theory but I want to know the answer.

To try it out--I first hung my display with six square quilts--all the same size. I loved the simplicity of it but I wasn't getting the "Oh wows" that I always expect. Same rut. Tires still spinning.

Plan B-- maybe my theory is wrong. I go in early the next day and hang rainbows of summer. Lots of "Oh wows" but still no interest in the smaller pieces. I give it a day and a half--do I replace rainbows of summer with hills and shadows?

It will take a while during the show. My feet are tired. My mind is tired. I just want to sit in my chair and smile. I tell myself I don't need more orders.  But then I realize that I won't know if my theory is right unless I try it. I am convinced that I won't sell if rainbows of summer is up there. It is a truism that  I can only sell if I think I can sell. So UGH--out comes the ladder. The box with the quilt. I won't look at the customers in my neighbors booths. I can do this--quickly, efficiently. See what happens.

Done--put the ladder away. Put the box away. And look at the result. I had forgotten how much I love this piece. Such great movement and sparkle. I had blogged about this quilt back when I made it--thought I was crazy to even start it--the blog posts start here and continue for several weeks.  These colors are wonderful.

I get an e-mail from a dear friend of mine. A wonderful caring person and a talented artist but she is having trouble making her work. I am honored that she has read the blog exchange between Lisa Call and myself on lists and strategies for getting work done searching for answers--but still needs just that push to get going.  I think about the questions she asks--good thoughtful questions. She writes of all the methods she has already tried to get unstuck--do I have any other thoughts?

I think about it--yes, there may be a couple little things that could work.  New approaches to some of the questions she raises. Just that slightly different way of looking at things--the rocking the car to get it unstuck. Of course this is a conversation not an e-mail--any suggestions I would make are slight. A different angle on the question. Isn't this what friends are for--that little push to help get unstuck? She certainly has heard me out when I needed it.

As for the craft show, I don't know if it was because I changed the quilts, or my attitude, or the crowd changed but suddenly the show picked up--quilts sold, contact information exchanged.  This was the way it was supposed to be. I am always amazed how sometimes it is just that one little thing.

And you--do you ever get stuck? How do you get out of a rut? What little changes work for you?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

landscapes, limens and mauve

It is definitely that time of year. The leaves are gone from the trees. Wisps of snow linger in the air.  Last night the wind was bringing in with great determination that cold cold air that turns the ground and the ponds hard and icy. Looking across to Massamont the woods are grey with just a touch of warm. A complex color that changes with the light.

I finish the wall hanging in grey. I am fascinated by the colors in this piece. Such a simple movement and design.  Does it hang vertically--like a tree?

Or is it a landscape? With bits of light in it. Stark but warm. Lots of hints of color.

 So many possibilities. What about using the color mauve? Pronounced to rhyme with stove.  Did you know that mauve was the first "invented" color? An 18 year old chemist in 1856 was trying to create artificial quinine. First it was called mauveine. Do check it out on Wikipedia.

I love the subtleties. How warm the bits of dusty red are. The complexities of the greys and blues. Such an interesting combination.

I love the subtleties of landscapes. Anne Truitt speaks of them as the line between the conscious and the unconscious--the limen of the world. Great word--limen.  I had to look it up myself. It comes from the Latin meaning threshold and is pronounced LY-men. From Wordsmith I find this great quote:

"Such to the dead might appear the world of living -- charged with information, with meaning, yet somehow always just, terribly, beyond that fateful limen where any lamp of comprehension might beam forth."
Thomas Pynchon; Against the Day; Penguin Press; 2006.

Pretty haunting isn't it? Perfect for this time of the year.

John O'Donohue--the Irish poet--spoke of landscapes as showing us the line between the inner and the outer world. A horizon that you are called to. Hmm. Check it out at the NPR show On Being. This is the time of that ambiguity when the inner and outer world are intertwined.

I love the thought of mauve. So many different mauves. A color that we can all recognize but also a created, invented color of the Industrial Age. Such a great contradiction. I want to make this quilt in all the different mauves--in dusty greens, slate blues, taupes--to capture all the moods of the horizon--what will I learn from this?  The thresholds--the ambiguities--the entrances. I see so many possibilities haunting me and want to go deeper. 

What do you think? Do you use the color mauve?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

black and white and grey--or is it gray

I don't know if it is the weather or the stark contrast between light and dark these days. Maybe it is the fact that with no leaves on the trees. Or maybe it is the fact that my DH and I have been bringing in some 16 inch firewood for our new little wood stove, but right now I just want to work in black and white with lots of greys thrown in.

A couple of weeks ago I made this quilt--reflections on the night to celebrate the change in seasons. Dramatic. I loved working in those colors.

But still I wanted more.  When I go to the fabric store--whether it is The Textile Company or
A Notion to Quilt, all I look at is the greys. The mauves, the taupes, the blue-greys, grey greens. I want them all. Dark and light grey--I buy at this time of year. I don't know why.

I start a new quilt. Not sure what I am going to do. There are a couple of projects that I have in mind. I need to make a table runner. So I make a few test pieces and glance at one of my books of old Amish quilts. Now I do love the traditional Amish quilts--the repetition of the patterns so bold in the plain colors. The intensity of the work and the humanness of the result. I think of the rail fence pattern. Try it with my pieces.

Ugh!!!  It just doesn't translate.  Time to try again. Sometimes it is important to play--to stretch oneself.

Interesting. A possibility. A landscape that needs something more.  The colors are compelling me though to keep trying.

Why? I do a bit of research. What is grey? Or is it gray? Supposedly the combination of black and white.  Why is it that my black and white tuxedo cat is black and white and not grey--even where she has just the tiniest bit of black or white. I get a bit deeper into color theory. Is black a color? Is white? It all depends on how you are seeing color. My head swims. I check the web site and learn that GrAy is how it is spelled in America and GrEy is how it is spelled in England--get it? But that many people also  believe that grey is a silver grey and gray is all colors in between. Interesting.

I check on Wikipedia and learn that we can see the tiniest changes in the color. That is why there all those wonderful shades of grey. I also learn that artists sometimes use grey as strictly the combination of black and white while gray may be all the other colors. Interesting.

And what mood does grey convey--is it the calm and mystery of mist? A grey day? A grey mood? Grey matter. Grey suits. The power of an Ansel Adams photograph or an old black and white Hitchcock movie. What is it?

I don't know. I just keep sewing--right now not even knowing for sure where it will end up. This is the first of the grey trees. Maybe I'll make another one for CraftBoston this coming week-end. Do you ever feel the need to work in a particular color? Can you figure out why?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

the quilts of Ann Brauer--December news

I can't believe it is December already. How quickly I can follow the shadow of the sun as it moves up Massamont. When I get home, the coals need to be raked, the woodstoves  filled. I do love the crackle of the fire as it hums along, that wonderful red orange yellow color that promises warmth. The sunrise and sunset--I get to see both these days. Again red and orange against the sky.

I am busy preparing for the CraftBoston Holiday Show December 10-12. While I have not done this show before, I have only heard great things about it. Lots of wonderful gorgeous work--perfect for those gifts lists (or yourself). I will have lots of potholders, placemats and runners as well as some new quilts.  I am in Booth 703D--a little room off the main hall--but the show is small enough I am sure you will find me. Check it out--there are some amazing artists here:

Meanwhile I just shipped my quilt--rivers for the show Enchanted Rivers at The National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY. The show opens on December 9 and runs to March, 2011. It should be a wonderful show and I do feel so honored to be included. A bit closer to home, the exhibit SewNew: Contemporary Art Quilts at the OSilas Gallery of Concordia College in Bronxville, NY continues until December 12. I have heard this is an absolutely lovely show--worth making the trip to see it. My quilt summer sky is included.

If I am not at shows, I will be at the studio in Shelburne Falls  most days filling holiday orders and beginning to create new work for January. There are so many quilts I want to make for the Baltimore Show in February.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Fish, fish, get your fresh fish. I swear everyone in western Massachusetts knows the lilting sounds of Bud Foster advertising his fresh fish. How he rolls and twirls the words for Foster's Supermarket. This store is such a delight. Big enough to have everything you could possibly want, small enough that much of the produce is local. I anticipate every visit as an adventure.

Do I want five pounds of organic local carrots--on special for $2.79? What about a basket of over-ripe bananas--only $.99? There is a manager's special of fresh haddock--trucks drive into the fish market in Boston two or three times a week getting the best fish available. Very tempting.  Hmm. I need apple cider, mushrooms. Yukon gold potatoes on special. Those leeks look great. My DH is longing for a roast chicken. Not the best right now but that pork roast--can't beat the price. Sure looks great too--very fresh. I'll get some port wine. Raisins. Make some applesauce. I'll freeze the day old hamburger and use it later in the week.

Don't need milk.  A couple of cartons of juice. Yoghurt from SideHill Farms--I drive by their cows grazing in the meadow on my way home. Absolutely delicious--tastes like yoghurt should. Some bread for sandwiches.

There is strategy as I walk the aisles every Tuesday. See what's on sale, pick up the essentials. Always a can of coffee. Replace the can of coconut milk I used for Thanksgiving. I don't even stop at the cookie aisle. Not what I buy. Strategy but no lists. I don't know what I'll cook until I finish shopping. Foster's is like that--at least for me. This is almost fun, an adventure, not a chore.

I put the food away, make lunch--oh that grilled cheese was good. Check my e-mail. Coincidentally, I get a response to my blogpost that lists can be hazardous to your art from Lisa Call when I return. Lists, lists, lists.  She writes about lists for grocery shopping:

Yes – getting things done is what gets things done. But spending our energy trying to remember what needs to get done isn’t productive use of our brain. Writing things down reduces the energy required to remember that list and frees us up to think about other things.

She writes that I have not explained how making lists is dangerous to your art.

I will first use the example of grocery shopping at Foster's. Now occasionally if I am making something special I may jot down a few items. Chocolate and cream for Christmas dessert. Basil and walnuts to make pesto for my step children. But normally I don't. I know what is in the refrigerator. I know what we need--fruit, veggies, main courses. I just don't know what will look best at Foster's. Do I want to pass up the pork roast or the carrots. Nope. I will cook with these. If I had a list, I might not have even seen the pork roast and it sure was good last night.

In my last blogpost I wrote about my friend Mary. Now Mary left a successful job to become an artist. Mary goes up to her studio to work, begins tackling her todo list and by the time Mary must leave the studio she has done some items on her todo list but not made art. She is frustrated and feels like a failure. Now Lisa says the problem is that  Mary was using the WRONG lists. OK--let's blame Mary even more for failing to become the artist she dreams of. Those lists are indeed being dangerous to Mary's art IMHO.

Lisa has referred me to the blog post of ZenHabits. Kill your todo list they advocate.

I’m here to suggest: kill your to-do list.
It sucks up your time, and drains your motivation. Those who have to-do lists usually manage them constantly, or if they don’t they fall into disuse and get dusty and become worthless, while the person who’s fallen behind in maintaining the list feels constantly guilty. For those who keep up with the lists, they spend a lot of time on the lists they could be spending … doing something important.

But Lisa says in an interchange with me, Zen Habits is a successful blog and I should take everything they say with a grain of salt. Probably. There are times when one needs plans, strategies and focus. Her implication is that they use lists to get things done. Maybe, maybe not. Lists may not be the only way.

Switch it around. If lists are frustrating you, try having a strategy instead. Know yourself. Maybe for you spending the first hour of your studio time making art gives you that feeling of accomplishment. Maybe you have too many UFO's around your studio--too many choices, too much feeling of incompletion (is that a word?).  Do you have too much finished work in your studio--maybe you need to find a home for it? Circumvent yourself. There is no right answer and no wrong answer.

I don't have the answers for you. Lisa doesn't have the answers for you. Neither does ZenHabits. Learn from all of us and then find your own answers. Mary now rarely goes up to her studio because she feels so defeated. I find this painfully sad. Don't let this happen to you. After all, being an artist is hard work, and if you aren't having fun sometime during the process--if it just makes you feel badly about yourself then why are you doing it.

And yes the pork roast was delicious. Pork, garlic, onion, sweet potatoes, a few raisins and a dash of the port. Yummy. Today I may make an apple cobbler to go with it. Cream a bit of margarine with sugar, add an egg, a bit of milk, flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Pour over some sliced apples and cook til done. I don't use a recipe here either. That's me and it works for me.

So what do you think? My father was a farmer. Farmers don't make lists-at least my dad didn't---they just milk the cows, plow the field, harvest the crops? I wonder if this is why I don't use lists. Any thoughts?