Friday, 8 June 2007

all in the mind

Those following my postings will know I was struggling last week to draw clean wax lines but had practised and practised to refind the ability. Last Thursday was crunch time for waxing a commission. I had a terrible time all day, all skills gone to pot again. My mind was all over the place, forever drifting to the upcoming weekend and family visits and planning for a trip away the next week. I couldn't concentrate and it was preventing good craftsmanship. And I'd been up late blogging – late nights a good waxer do not make, a point made in the last post! So early evening I popped off to bed and slept for an hour, waking up refreshed and focused. Off I went and waxed such gorgeous lines I could cry! Even the grouping I'd been finding extra-problematic came out... well... how I'd expect a seasoned batikker to make them! Sadly though one line worries me, well two really, and a third ends not quite perfectly. But I think I am getting too perfectionist, too honed in on exactness that the spontaneous feel of art, batik, drawing might get lost. Niggly, but not wiggly, lines are fine.

The dyeing and final waxing stage will be next week. This is where real stress and worry comes in! Wax without dye can be boiled out and re-started. When dye meets cloth it starts fixing and can't be removed (assuming fix has been put in dye or cloth). So once the dye is there there is only one way forward... only one chance to get it right. I will post pics when it's finished. It's too scary beforehand...

In life I believe everything is a learning experience, everything happens for a reason and everything happens for the best. These pearls of wisdom came from an aged step-great-aunt I used to visit as a student and young graphic designer in London. In the 1920s she'd been an actress touring India with a theatre group, and as I saw it had that kind of rational positive approach to life and its ups and downs that I later found Indians and other Asians to have.

So... what am I learning from this commission? Simplicity and complications... the title of my last post. My own approach to batik has become complex, multi-layered and wrapped up in technique. The textural achievements are pretty wonderful, if I say so myself, but are they really necessary? The old saying "less is more" couldn't be more relevant.

But, as came up in the comments section of this blog on happiness, you cannot have, know, or experience one extreme without having, knowing or experiencing the other. (And there is no blanket extremes but much grey in between areas.) There may well be further to explore in the realms of complex batik, but I feel I have gone far enough that way to know that "more" can be achieved with "less".

In terms of sustainability less also seems to suggest more. Less wax, less energy, less water, less dye... less time taken (=less financial cost). It is not to say less effort though, as to reduce to just that which is needed often requires as much – or more - understanding of design and process as a complex procedure and quite possibly greater skills.

Aaagh. I see. Early nights are here to stay.

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