Tuesday, February 08, 2011

On routines...

this will be a very wordy post, so please feel free to skip!
just my ramblings ...


lately, i've been living a slightly "normal" schedule.
rise in the morning, go to bed at night.
not the night owl schedule i used to have all my life, off and on,
despite my best efforts.

i tend to get into this regularity during winter times,
when the days are short and i tend to get winter doldrums
due to reduced possibilities of physical activities.

a little after the new year has begun, i fixed my schedule
(done by staying up about 24 hours) to how normal people live,
awake during the day, asleep into the dawn.

also because i have several shows before even spring comes around,
and i have a lot of work to do. solo shows are different that group shows,
where i have to have that long breath of ideas and energy streaming
inside in a consistent manner in order to keep a group of ideas tied together.

soon i found a rhythm i felt comfortable with... a kind of ritualistic routine.
which is weird because i never thought much about routines.
but i see that routines does give your daily life a ritualistic rest for your mind.

i wake up, stretch a bit, make coffee, sit down with it and read with small breakfast.
then start painting for a few hours listening to podcasts or audio books (first time!).
go out for lunch or dinner with matthew sometimes, some type of physical exercise
somewhere in there, and work a bit more, stretch, then sleep.
pretty much the general gist of it.

this all has been reinforced when i started reading haruki murakami's
"what i talk about when i talk about running" lately, just small bits at a time.
and because i'm so bad with words when i read his writings,
often times, i am struck with how exact his descriptions are.
this book, especially since it's a memoir (not a novel/fiction)
i can really relate to his thoughts and ideas that reside beyond his stories.

the part that really stayed with me, besides a sudden urge to start running,
was that because as a novelist (or as any type of artist, i imagine) you have to
delve deep into the ugliest parts of humanity, which will inevitably take
tolls on your mental/mind health, you have to make sure to keep a healthy body.

last year, or even before, i struggled with the kind of the dark ugliness he spoke of.
not that i, myself, is like that but to explore the kind of darkness
in order to search what i'm looking for in my works made it hard to
balance my real life with my work world.
and my tendency to have an erratic night-owl schedule didn't seem to help this either.

now that i've been kind of keeping a regular schedule,
a kind of lucidity dawned upon me (with my life and my work)
that i don't think i've had before. a kind of sharpened focus of sort.
simply since everything other than my work having become a little
more settled, thus causing me less distraction (well, there's always more i can find)
i do notice that i can think better when my studio times comes around.

knowing myself, i don't know when this steam will run out...
but for now i hope to keep it going, painting, drawing, sculpting
a bit at a time everyday, keeping healthy everyday,
keeping that balance. that clarity of mind. the focus.

making each day a little bit better than the day before, in one way or another,
i'm sure i'll be able to find that balance.

- end of rambling -


  1. It's not a ramble. It's brilliant. I've been meaning to read that book myself. I love Murakami.

    And I've been struggling with trying to adjust to a normal schedule to enjoy as much daylight i can while i draw. Perhaps i'll stay up 24 hours. I have so many ideas and paintings to finish, hope i don't run out of green tea.

    I hope you find your balance Stella.

  2. I love this book! It was really nice to read his experiences, it's what has inspired me to run infact was this book.
    So much so that he says in the beginning "pain is inevitable, suffering is optional". I had it engraved on my ipod for running as a constant reminder.

    Like you I want to keep the clarity of the mind and focus.
    I hope you enjoy the rest of the book!

  3. This is a ramble worth reading, haha. ^^

    I'll have to check out that book now. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

  4. this post could not come at a better time for me! thank you for your 'rambling' ^_^
    i will check out the book too, thank you!
    I admire your work but mostly i admire how human you are (if that makes sense at all)

  5. I wanted to ask, and I hope it's not to personal. Are you a working artist, and what I mean is, do you have another job besides making your art? Or are you a student perhaps? Or is your job, making your art? My goal is to one day be able to paint/art all day, like you. How are you able to do this all day, and how can I get there too? :)
    If I need to marry rich, I'll get on that! ^_^

  6. @Gina Gwen I am a full time artist now but in the beginning I did work on the side along with painting, like many artists do.
    Unfortunately when this becomes your full time job you don't always get to make draw and paint all day as you like. Much of other things need attention too, mostly the logistical, business side of things... And maintaining the consistency of being a full time artist isn't fun either... All I can say is to keep drawing/painting with all your heart without contrivance & enjoy every bit of it before it becomes your job too because sometimes that's better.

  7. Insightful post...

    Artists, especially those dedicated solely to art making as a source of income, often end up having to mold their own lives like an abstract clay, which takes a certain amount of creative effort. Even though we might recognize that we have this freedom to create ourselves and our day, we don't always want to take responsability to do so. It's easier to unconsciously go about our days/nights, letting them unfold intuitively, responding to what arises rather than planning. There's a certain amount of romance that goes along with living an unstructured life that makes it more acceptable,too... the crazy artist stereotype.

    Oscillating between doing what feels natural in the moment and trying to live a rigid routine, we have to find a way to achieve a balance that is emotionally healthy and productive. I once read a helpful tip somewhere that you have to remind yourself of what's important /every day/. So, in practice that means: wake up in the morning, grab your coffee and then spend a minute reflecting on the few fundamental answers you've discovered in your life and how you'll apply them to your day... It sounds easy but it's definitely not!

    good luck!

  8. Anonymous2:08 PM

    Hi Stella,

    I stumbled upon your blog after a long absence, and I really enjoy your rambly posts!
    Yes, I agree- as an artist, routine and ritual is, ironically, really important for me. I like to get all my chores out of the way and stick to a 3-meal-sleep-during-night (no matter how much I want to stay up till 2am drawing) plan. It helps me balance sanity/school/art! I find everything falls into place as long as I keep a kind of structure :) And keeping healthy is *vital*, I realise... There are periods post finishing a series that you're just creatively exhausted and you need a week or so to unwind/concentrate on themes not as dark or penetrating.

    Seeing the subject matter I explore sometimes feel so intense, dark, and deep, this is what keeps me from going insane, I think!

    I love your work, btw :D
    I'm really enjoying how your style has evolved!

    (my work can be found here: