As a self-employed artist, work is often either feast or famine. You tend to work solidly at something and then deliver it, and then find yourself lost with little to do, reaching for the next opportunity. These interludes in between work are a strange time, they appear full of promise as you approach them, but suddenly feel worrying and desolate when they arrive. Questions run around your head about whether you will find work again and I find that it is much harder to be motivated when your mind is no longer buzzing from being so busy. As with all areas of life, it is hard to balance money and time, and if you don’t know when the next project is coming, it is not easy to outlay money on new project ideas.
While I was reading Crafts magazine recently, I found a quotation that is a much more interesting way to look at endings. Helen Carnac writes “I always used to hate finishing or ending points in my work. When I reached the end of a project, I would always feel very uneasy. Gradually I’ve realised these are resting points – ideas connect back and forward over time.” These resting points are moments when you can reflect on past projects, bringing elements of them forward, pulling threads that connect your work, or allow yourself to say goodbye to things that have worked less well that you don’t want to continue with.
I have been extremely busy with various work this year, and have been collecting ideas to carry out when I can snatch a day or two. This has led to some really joyous work, pieces that seem to appear almost out of nowhere, even if they have actually been brewing for weeks or months, just at the back of my mind. The steel life drawings I have been making felt like they had been just out of shot for months, and allowing myself a couple of days when I could actually make them felt so gratifying. I have realised that you need some dead times, some moments for making those ideas that might not go anywhere, moments for yourself to do something even if it doesn’t quite fit with your everyday practice. Days to look forward, back, and feel excited again.