Art Journal 1/26/16

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More work on the digital collage this morning:


I’ve definitely been more interested in using elements that are scanned from my mixed-media pieces rather than a more photo-based approach lately! Which is good, I think, as I’ve been meaning to try to better integrate my two ways of working. I would have liked to spend more time with this this morning, but other work calls.

I bookmarked this article a while ago- “Want to Create Things That Matter? Be Lazy”. I’m perpetually tinkering with how I organize my time, and I’m increasingly aware of what the article calls “deep work” vs. “shallow work:”

What’s the lesson to take away here? If you’re driven to produce things that matter, then you need to put deep work at the center of your professional life … you must treat with sluggish wariness efforts that keep you away from depth, regardless of how many small benefits they promise. Few people, of course, can completely eliminate shallow work from their professional lives, nor would they want to if they could. But shifting your general mindset toward one that embraces depth and shuns shallowness can make a big difference in the amount of value you produce.

Clearly the actual creation of art is “deep work,” and posting that work on Instagram is “shallow work.” There is value to the shallows, but it shouldn’t be the focus. Is doing actual writing here shallow or deep? I’m not sure yet. Is it better to do a little writing every day, or save it all up and update once every couple of weeks? I keep intending to post more frequently but it’s difficult.

To put it another way: become hard to reach, avoid new tech tools, be slow to answer e-mails, become blissfully ignorant of memes, turn down coffee requests, refuse to “hop on” calls, and spend whole days outside working in a single idea—these are exactly the type of lazy behaviors that can change the world.

Like just about everything, it’s about finding a balance.

For the past few days I’ve been doing yoga for 20-30 minutes in the morning. It’s a very good way to wake up. I have so much trouble with mornings and generally fight the temptation to go back to sleep for a while. I had been doing meditation first thing in the morning, but the trouble with meditation is that if I’m tired enough I will slip easily from meditation to sleeping.

In my New Year’s quest to form some new positive habits, I’ve been thinking about routine vs. ritual a lot lately. One of the habits I’m trying to cultivate is making sure all my dishes are either washed or put in the dishwasher every evening, and the kitchen is generally cleaned. Last night I found myself actually enjoying washing dishes, which is pretty amazing. It’s become part of my evening routine and I’ve finally reached that place in habit development where it feels better to do the habit than it does to not do it. Is it a routine or is it a ritual? What is the difference anyway? I enjoyed the feeling of the hot water on my hands, and started thinking about where that water came from, and the whole water system on this little Earth of ours. I started thinking about how lucky I am to have hot or cold water literally at my fingertips, when through a large part of human history (and still in many places today) it takes actual labor to acquire water. Even in this country today there are places where the water is literally undrinkable. (Oh great. I went to find a link about the Flint water crisis, and found an article stating that Philadelphia water is tested with methods that underestimate lead content. I live outside the city and my water does not come from PWD, but that’s pretty disturbing.)

Anyway, is a ritual just a routine with magic or meaning added? I Googled “ritual and routine” this morning, and found an entry from one of my favorite sites, Brain Pickings: “The Difference Between Routine and Ritual: How to Master the Balancing Act of Controlling Chaos and Finding Magic in the Mundane.”

The article focuses on the book Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair by Anne LaMott. I definitely want to read it. A sample:

The search is the meaning, the search for beauty, love, kindness and restoration in this difficult, wired and often alien modern world. The miracle is that we are here, that no matter how undone we’ve been the night before, we wake up every morning and are still here. It is phenomenal just to be. This idea overwhelms some people. I have found that the wonder of life is often most easily recognizable through habits and routines.


Order and discipline are important to meaning for me. Discipline, I have learned, leads to freedom, and there is meaning in freedom. If you don’t do ritual things in order, the paper doesn’t read as well, and you’ll be thrown off the whole day. But when you can sit for a while at your table, reach for your coffee, look out the window at the sky or some branches, then back down at the paper or a book, everything feels right for the moment, which is maybe all we have.

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