Life-Strategies for the Easily Distracted...
...an eccentric artist's techniques derived from
Sudoku puzzles, dominoes, and thousand-piece jigsaws.
illustrated with lots of mug designs, because the project
demanded a lot of tea.)
I cleaned and re-organized my kitchen yesterday, accidentally.
Expected guests delayed their arrival by one day, and I had a free
24-hour window to do the undone tasks of 2019.
Here are my processes:
- DOMINOES. The
reason I got started: I had a sugar canister too small to hold
a standard bag of sugar. The entire upheaval followed from the
process of freeing up the needed larger container, which
effectively undid my entire existing makeshift kitchen
arrangement, an arrangement arrived at in the process of a
move that happened much more quickly than I'd been prepared
for, and which was accomplished largely by throwing all things
kitchen at various shelves and hoping I'd see them again
someday. Yesterday's happy reorganization was the result of
following the falling dominoes: free up the cornmeal canister
for the sugar, then find a container for the displaced
cornmeal, which then liberated the lasagna noodles and left them
in need of a new home, etc., etc., etc.
- SUDOKU. Today I
got the necessary linens and towels changed for the guests'
arrival. This happened by the same process I use to solve a
Sudoku puzzle. I noticed, after doing way too many, that yes,
it's possible to solve them, at least the easy ones, by
painstakingly eliminating 8 out of the 9 possible numbers that
can go in each square. I call this the reduction method; I'm
reducing the possibilities down to one solution. But it's way
more fun to do them by finding a square that HAS TO, by the
Sudoku rules, have a particular number in it, even though
other numbers are possible. Then the puzzle is easier to
solve, and more fun. By the same principle, the sheets and
towels HAD TO be changed before guest arrival, but if the
floor never saw the vacuum, I know these guests wouldn't care.
So I started with the have-to, and then did any remaining
tasks feeling free and unburdened by necessity.
- JIGSAW PUZZLES.
But before I changed the sheets, I cleaned the box room
upstairs, and spent 20 minutes looking for my high school
salutatorian speech in the attic. Forevermore why,
with guest arrival impending? Well, I had gone upstairs in
search of envelopes, couldn't get to them because of lingering
Christmas clutter, and embarked on a journey that took me all
over the house, putting away the stuff that stood between me
and the envelopes. I use the same technique on jigsaw puzzles:
do the obvious stuff first and follow where it leads. I start
with the red dress, and do the border, and the other, duller,
puzzle parts, as I stumble across the proper piece. I do NOT
focus on that missing tree branch in the upper left corner and
scour heaven and earth until I find that piece.
I'm all over the puzzle, putting together whatever catches my
eye until it's done. If company is coming or a party is
impending, my first act of preparation is likely to be
cleaning my sock drawer. Because, after the guests have left
and the feast has been eaten and the crumbs swept up, I'm not
just back to normal, I'm a little better off than I was at the
start, because I have a clean sock drawer, or, in today's case, box room. (I'm
still hunting the speech.) I allow myself to start with the
fun stuff, and I end up following the path it leads me on.
upon a time, I worked on a puzzle with a new acquaintance who
was horrified by my process. "Are you always like
this?" she asked, meaning my all-over-the-map approach to
puzzles. "Pretty much," I replied. "I tend to be eccentric. And
I tend to do many tasks this way."
But that's the
thing. My eccentric methods keep me doing the cleaning and
guest-prepping that MUST be done. Me & Mary Poppins, if
you'll remember her principle: "For every job that must be done/
There is an element of fun/ You find the fun and snap! The job's
a game..." Being an easily distracted artist, I've found I
pretty much need to trick myself into doing my necessary tasks,
and now you know my methods.
Happy New Year!
The top illustration is is my first print of the new year. I
call it "Tea and Conversation," and if you'd like an 8" x 10"
print, Paypal me $13 and I'll send you one. Thanks!