In the last several weeks as I was working to put the first issue of Pastiche together I noticed that something else was happening. As I made the 61 pages that formed Issue 1, and each page is individually made and can stand alone so that I can move them around and fit them together as feels best, I began to see the bits and parts of my life in their odd little shapes, different colors and patterns. It brought me back to the knowledge that my life, like my art, and my writing, and most currently my zine, Pastiche, is a patchwork quilt, a crazy quilt more to the point, where individual pieces are nothing on their own, but fitted together and stitched they become a thing of beauty.
This morning I was getting ready to work. Here next to me was a pile of books, the binder with Pastiche, the first issue and the beginning pages for the next issue in it, a notebook for designing the work to come, pens, paint brushes and watercolors, all piled up. It forms a quilt of my day of sorts and it made me smile. Being bipolar I work according to the whims of my little grey cells as Poirot would have said, and individually it can look like a mish-mash, a tumbly-tangle of things and that is exactly what a pastiche is. Doing this little periodical is helping me put together my life in a whole new way. I fit the pieces into the whole and sew them in so that that which felt disjointed and as if a disembodied blob of something that had no place to go now fits.
Then in my notebook for designing the next issue I draw and paint the squares of a quilt and fit pages into the squares. Each page is a different color and those colors need to be in harmony with one another. It takes many steps to make an individual page. Finding the right artwork from my large collection of books of copyright free art, resizing it, fitting it to the page, resizing that, coloring the pages — all of these things work back and forth between a minimum of 6 different programs on the computer — and finally I write the content. I call this “making pages” and the creation of the page and deciding where it should fit is exactly like sorting through the fabric basket to find the next little piece that fits perfectly in the spot. And this practice is really aiding me in putting my life together in a way that is working better. A place for everything, everything in it’s place really matters when so much of my life has felt helter-skelter and my days felt so fragmented I was in tears a lot of the time. Now writing this blog post fits one place, painting fits another, going out with the dogs another, and so on. I begin to get a clearer idea of not only what I need to do but what I have done. Pastiche is a collection of pieces that form one quilt, but it is but a single piece in the quilt of my life.
Your quilt might be a regular patchwork quilt with evenly cut squares, or it might be an intricate design beautifully executed, all of ours will be different. And maybe you don’t sew by hand but you can paint it, or design it in your journal or in a planner, but the “stitching” together of the pieces of your life in a pattern that increases your sense of inner peace and calm and gives your life a direction that leads to a feeling of wholeness is a magical thing and worth doing. I had to start creating my zine before it led me to organize my life in a way that works for me. I laughed a day or two ago and asked, on Instagram, why I have all these great planners but still write lists and appointments on an odd assortment of pieces of paper or post-it notes? As much as I love beautiful planners they don’t fit my life in the way that my bits and pieces of paper do, but I need to stitch them together in some way for them to work effectively or I will be so scattered I will forget what I’m supposed to do. I have an art wall behind me where I sit here, it is 9′ long, 1/3 cork board, 1/3 white board, 1/3 chalk board. I will arrange my bits and pieces together by putting the papers together like their own little quilt on my art wall. I heave a sigh of relief at the thought. My house might not be neat as a pin but if my inner life is organized my outer life will fall into place.
So back I go to working on Pastiche, making pages, and stitching together my own life as I go, crazy-quilting the pieces of this crazy life of mine together, and feeling a peace I have never known.
Love to All,