When I start to feel as though my mind is going round in circles, I know it's time to get out of my head and do something. Anything. I'm reading a lot at the moment. This is generating masses of ideas but they are confused and abstract. I need to connect my thinking back to my work.
A flying visit to Norfolk last weekend helped. It was a stormy day and the light was changing constantly - dark, icy cold hailstorms followed by brilliant spring sunshine. Walking along Holkham beach I picked up shells, pieces of sea-blackened wood and bones - tiny rabbit bones amongst the dunes. I found a rabbit skull that was almost totally buried by the soft grey lichen that had grown up around it and held it so tight it wasn't possible to pick it up without breaking it. I wish I had photographed it because it has stayed in my memory. I was fascinated by the patterns on the shells I found - miniature shibori patterns to my eye. We saw spoonbills and watched a red kite soar over the grazing marshes, scattering smaller birds. Later, when we sat down for dinner, my notebook came out and I scribbled furiously, trying to get down the ideas that were flooding my mind before I lost them.
Another remedy - get back into the studio and start working. So I have been preparing cloth for shibori. I like to do this in batches and so I am piling up various stitched and bound pieces ready for dyeing. Some use traditional shibori methods, some are very unorthodox and traditionalists would surely frown at them. However I'm only interested in what kind of marks they generate. Most are techniques I have tried and tested before but I am also experimenting with some new ideas. One was such a pain to do that I rather hope I don't like the results so I don't have to do it again!
I am still thinking. And my thoughts are guiding my choices about how I manipulate the cloth. But I am out of my head and thinking with my hands. As I handle the cloth, I am making connections with my conceptual ideas, but my hands and my eyes are now contributing to the thinking process.
And a third remedy. Get out of the house. Talk to people. Look at or do something different. Today I went to see this exhibition by Karen Christensen - whose work could not be more different from mine, and yet I still found connections to things that matter to me. I had a nice lunch, spoke to a friend, wandered around Leigh in the sunshine and came back to my studio refreshed and ready to work.