“Creativity is the residue of time wasted.” Albert Einstein
In a previous blog I mentioned my box fetish which goes some way towards explaining why I simply love working on my series of quirky "urban landscapes". I am often asked how I do it. A loaded question deserves a direct hit answer: pure genius, hard work and a lot of wasting time. The latter is the secret ingredient which determines if the piece of art comes out looking like a half-baked souffle or a bouncy sponge. And actually, genius has nothing to do with it; it's all down to a lifetime of observing and interpreting. Let me put you in the picture..oh, I have such a way with words don't I!
Ok I admit it, theres a high probability that I'm hard to live with. A wee bit. And I suspect as I get older, its getting worse. It's a little disturbing how I can relate to so much in the very funny book "Grumpy Old Women" by Judith Holder. My grumpy episodes slide up and down the Reichter scale in direct correlation to my ability to produce satisfactory art. And that is directly connected to my being able to waste time. Ironic you may think. This is where the hard to live with bit comes in. I recently came across two articles by Sylvia White, one on the importance of wasting time and another on the thorny issue of living with an artist.
" What I came to learn was that the "looking," is the hardest part. It was kind of like hearing about the way Mozart wrote music. He wouldn't write anything down until he could hear it all in his head first, then he would write it out perfectly in a matter of minutes. Contrary to the common stereotype of artists as slackers, artists are incredibly industrious and hard working. In most cases, regardless of what they do for a living, they are working on their obsession 24/7. Acknowledging this, can help tremendously in understanding an important aspect of an artists' character… and saving a relationship." Sylvia White
I love travelling with my partner; we both relish getting off the beaten tracks, wandering through streets and getting lost, making impromptu detours, diving into the inexpected and the unplanned. But often I can be a royal pain in the proverbials. I soon get sensory overload and, as if I'm carrying a heavy backpack, my feet start to drag and i yearningly eye vacant chairs at outdoor cafes. I just want to sit still, in silence, process all the visual stimuli flooding my mind, absorb the ambiance around me,and perhaps do some sketching. Key words: sit still, silence. Not a 3 minute show of respect silence. Left to my own devices, I could go on for hours. These are the periods, like those you find at the end of sentences, which enable me to switch off, shut shop and hand the keys over to my subconscious. In this state and only in this state, can I unscramble, rearrange and assemble my visual experiences into ideas. Given the very busy life I lead, this might be regarded as wasting time. It's not. Honest. By distancing myself from all the white noise that floods our daily lives, by temporarily getting off the grid-the sometimes overwhelmingly intrusive internet-I am giving myself space to listen to the voice of my creative spirit. So there I am sitting at a cafe, sipping my cappuchino, watching the world go by, while the hum of traffic, the splatter of the piazza fountains, the chatter of conversations around me all congeal into a muted soundtrack accompanying my detached state of observation. Some things may catch my eye: for example, a backlit figure passing through the deep cobalt shade cast by the sunlit trees. I blink, the camera shutter of my inner eye clicks and the image is stored.
Invariably my happy sojourn gets interrupted. Someone spots me sitting alone, (I must surely need and welcome some company); they draw up a seat and start chatting. A part of me does welcome it because it reinforces my sense of community-and the Three Cities has a very strong sense of community to it. That, together with the amazing ambiance of the area, is, I think largely what attracts the rapidly burgeoning number of foreigners choosing to settle here.
Now, interruptions when I have shifted into my productivity zone are another matter altogether. I can get a chronic attack of the grumps, even act a little prima donna-ish by throwing things, if the doorbell or the phone rings once too often while I'm painting. Over the last 8 years since opening my art studio in Bormla, it became such a magnet for curious passersby or friends and acquaintances who just wanted to pop in and give me a warm hello. Definitely a success by any standards, but it drove me to distraction and I had to find another more secluded painting space. My partner, often the recipient of my periodic outbursts, (nothing more violent, please note, than a stream of swearing and chucking a soggy paint-stained rag at the wall) succeeded in finding me a quieter workspace. So the neighbourhood is safe again. This hilarious (what else!) Monty Python sketch perfectly sums it up.