As I watch my new studio slowly rise from the ground and anticipate being inside it working on the unfinished paintings I had to put aside when I moved out of my last much loved very large studio, I wonder.
I wonder about how I’ll organize my time, for time needs to be organized if I am to make things work. So much of my time is now taken up with caring for my husband whose Alzheimer’s progression continues to rob each of us of the lives we wanted.
It is important to have time to sit and stare yet I have little opportunity for that. It is something I really miss for I cannot get lost in that place where time stands still and the mind can flow. I cannot do that because I have to be cognisant of every moment of the day and night. Sleep, when it’s available is always with an ear cocked to catch any movement from my husband. My husband can wreak havoc with his room and himself in the middle of the night if he wakes and is left to himself. I’ve mentioned about this behaviour before and trust me, this much I know.
I am quite disciplined when it comes to studio work, in order to work, you work. I do not wait for inspiration but work towards it. Even so it is important to sit and stare. I’m with William Henry Davies in his poem:
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night. No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
Sometimes it’s possible to steal time out in the very early morning and do my staring at the squirrels hiding their food. The village where I live, Bugbrooke, has its fair quota of squirrels. There are also other things worth standing to stare at.
I smile, laugh, shout, almost and do scream at times for it is impossible to be a patient saint even should I aspire to that, well forget the saint part but at least the patience….
I so need the patience, not least for hubs’ dressing and undressing. The logical steps in getting clothed and unclothed are somewhat more complex than most of us give a thought to. It is not enough to say now put your trousers on. Trousers can be put on back to front, or several times, because once having got them on him if I’m foolish enough to let my attention wander, the trousers can be off again a lot quicker than they went on in the first place. Trouser legs can be twisted so that it is difficult to push a leg through, yes really. Attempts to put trousers on either from a sitting or standing position becomes a long drawn out debate. Then comes the next sequential problem, button, zip and belt. I have to remember to repeat the order it’s done in, and that is usually more times that I have hot dinners in a week.
Coincidentally the wider world has gone into a sort of madness since the time of my husband’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis and for sure my world has become a very different and not so good place.
Thinking of those unfinished paintings the question I ask myself is when I am in my new studio will I be able to continue and complete them? Will they still speak to me or will I have to abandon them and begin something new? The answer is, I don’t know.
I sometimes think about the different situations of Van Gogh and say Picasso, just how their circumstances made what they did possible or not possible. What sort of struggle was more difficult, what was seemingly successful or what was failure? Who knows, I could go down that byway and write a thesis on one or the other but all in all it’s pretty much irrelevant to me, it is just where the mind goes sometimes.
Most of us are buffeted by fate at times, some more than others but each buffeting creates choices. Often they are choices we don’t want to make but still they are choices. It didn’t feel like I had much of a choice in being my husband’s carer, but still it was. It feels that I have more of a choice when I choose to find a way to keep on painting as soon as the studio is ready.