Posted by: Jenny | Monday, 30 August 2010

Time management and creativity

My friend was absolutely right: it is very difficult to value oneself enough to make the time for creative activity. Somehow I always feel guilty that I am not doing something more useful. Even writing this blog post seems self-indulgent, when there are so many more worthwhile things I could and ‘should’ be doing.

So I try to pace myself, marking my days (at present blissfully uncluttered, with no commitments over the Bank Holiday weekend and a temporarily absent husband) into chunks of time.

The morning is for cerebral activity: writing letters and e-mails, household admin, charity admin, business admin for Martin, work on a Bahá’í histories project and preparation for other Bahá’í service activities. If I get something worthwhile done by lunchtime, I feel that I have earned the leisure to do something less ‘worthy’ in the afternoon.

The early afternoon is a time when I can easily find myself staring at a computer screen, idly browsing the internet, starting various tasks but finishing none. So I have learned to use this time for physically active, restful or ‘right-brain’ activities. I might sit down with a book, go out for a walk, get on with housework and laundry, or do some gardening. Gardening is apt to take over, and at tea-time I may still be out in the garden or greenhouse. Since coming back from the Bahá’í Academy for the Arts, full of enthusiasm for watercolour painting, I have decided that this is the best time of day to get down to some painting. Like gardening, it is a contemplative process and I get completely immersed in it. It is not easy to put down, and the afternoon can quickly pass by if I have no other commitments.

Here’s my latest achievement:

Harvest from our greenhouse

And here’s my critique of it:
I am pleased with the colours, though the tomato is a bit pinker than it should be. I like the way the shading and highlights have worked on the pepper and aubergine. You can still see pencil marks on the shadows, so I won’t do these in future. The sun, and hence the shadows on my subject, moved from the time I did my initial sketch to the time I painted! Perhaps this is why the tomato doesn’t really appear three-dimensional. And finally, yes the tomato does look unnaturally large in proportion to the other vegetables. The pepper and aubergine are in fact small varieties. It’s not just that they are further away – and neither is it a mistake in the proportions of my drawing!



  1. You’ve done well Jenny!
    re. pencil marks, just make them much lighter so that they get lost when you paint in the shadows. Or alternatively lightly draw a sketchy outline.

    I think I should send you a bag of Victoria plums which Ron is busy turning into jam! In fact, I feel I should start painting them but I always think of something else to do before getting out my paints in earnest!

    • Thanks for your helpful advice, Thelma. The plums (and jam) sound delicious! Our fruit harvest this year has amounted to two apricots, half a pound of blackcurrants and half a dozen figs. Veg are doing rather better though. Masses of red and yellow tomatoes, courgettes, long thin aubergines and ‘sweet baby orange’ peppers which are prolific, and great for munching raw.

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