On not mono tasking.

I have read several articles and blog posts recently about how multi tasking is just plain bad and not at all good for you. Well, it seems sometimes there isn’t any choice, especially when cooking for instance, unless microwaving something in a packet is on the menu.

When it comes to work projects there is a choice; I try very hard to do one thing at a time, but never succeed. I’m not sure why, as part of me wants things to be simple, i.e. the mono work life, one project at a time, or always producing the same sort of work in the same medium, but the rampant brain always wins, and conjures up a few other projects to throw into the mix, or indeed to make the mix.

I can’t ignore these projects, I am putty in the hands of this other character that resides within. So, at the moment I am making a new artist’s book, as shown in previous posts. This is of a slowish evolution; the narrative is developing now, so I have an idea of what is going to happen. I don’t push it, I just have an idea every so often, and jot it down on random bits of paper. This morning something came into my head as I was eating cereal, and yesterday it was when I was peeling carrots.

So it looks as if it’s all food related then; fear not, the story contains no cooking or food related story line, it must simply be a default dreaming state for my brain. I’ve no idea why, I am certainly not thrilled by peeling carrots, although they look quite pleasantly tidy when they are done.

Other times I can get a few lines drift into my head when I am out on a walk. This is much more acceptably poetic, of course. I generally have forgotten them by the time I am home. I will take a notebook in future and look quite eccentric as I plod our suburban streets, stopping every so often to write something down.

So, there’s the artist’s book, and the needlepoint, which stalled a little as I was writing  a book for Search Press, the first draft of which is now done. I hope my editor isn’t overwhelmingly bewildered when she opens that document.

As you can see here, the needlepoint hasn’t raced ahead. That’s not the nature of needlepoint though, and as an excuse I did make lots of new work for the above book. Not needlepoint, I must point out, that would take years at the speed I go at it.


Below, I can never resist a close up of needlepoint, it’s so digital.


Then there is this new chap. I started him last summer, 2015 that is, not the one that’s just gone. He is a rather large textile raven. He had been put away, but won’t let himself be forgotten, so I have decided to finish him. It will take time, as he intends to have quite elaborate wings and tail, and body too I imagine. As usual I will be making it up as I go along.

Don’t worry, this isn’t him, it’s just a cotton experiment to sort how the pattern I had designed would work.





There he is perched in the window. He is actually stuffed but looks flat in this image. He is made from felt and has a large polystyrene ball inside, with wooden legs pushed into it. He is not himself just yet, more work will need to be done.

He is stable but more work will be done on his legs too, and feet will need to be added. The wings and tail have been cut out; I’m just about to dig them out of the drawer to continue with them. He’s 57 cm long from beak to tail, and will get bigger I imagine, when his tail feathers are added, and his beak finished properly.

Some years ago I made some large ceramic ravens, and there are ravens in an artist’s book I made called The Stone Bird, so they are all based upon each other. Here are the ceramic ravens, with their nest and egg, photographs of photographs, but clear enough I think.



So it seems that mono tasking with my work isn’t ever going to be on the cards. And that’s fine, as I think you must simply do what you have to do and make sure you enjoy doing it.





9 thoughts on “On not mono tasking.

  1. Much as I would like to be a diligent, disciplined, focussed artist, there is a complete mismatch between that desire and reality. There are no ravens inside my head trying to get out however there are quite a few other things . . . none appear to be related.

  2. There are many ways to be creative, and surely none of them involve sticking to anyone else’s rules.
    I like your blog, it’s now on my side bar. Anyone reading this, take a look at late start studio, just click on the link.

  3. That’s so true, practical creative work does put the mind into a similarly creative state. Sometimes I have had to really focus to get the work done, for a deadline perhaps, but this has invariably been not at all enjoyable. I still remember the occasions with a degree of resentfulness.

    I try now to really plan to eliminate that sort of pressure, and get the work done well in advance.

  4. Steph,
    I love the way your brain works! I heard a news item the other day that there’s a new report which says multi tasking is a myth, an impossibility… but those researchers can’t have been looking on these pages. Tell me where you buy your carrots, they must be magic!

  5. I’m not really multitasking, just running different projects at different times, so I can’t claim any sort of carrot fuelled superiority! I suspect the term multitasking covers a multitude of approaches, and I’m bad at all of them I’ve decided. It’s just the poor old brain is full of too many things I want to do, as usual.

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