Have you ever found yourself trying to re-create something you did a long time ago? Something you didn’t think so much of back then but somehow seems so much better now? I ran across a few old drawings and was marveling at the fact that I never finished them. Why didn’t I keep going? This could have been good! It would be easy to redo it or even just continue it. But should I?
There’s something exciting (yes, really!) about doing the same thing over and over again. Every artist has a drive for perfection, and what better way to satisfy it than by continually working on the same technique or subject? There’s always just one more thing to try, one more way to look at it. Seriously, I could do cloud drawings for the rest of my life and never get bored. But another drive every artist has is the drive to grow, to expand her abilities, to accomplish something…different. Which means at some point you have to let go of perfectionism and go back to doing Really Bad Art in a new medium or technique.
Of course, it’s frustrating to start back at square one, especially when you know you still have so far to go on those cloud drawings! But there’s a fine line between perfection and stagnation. And when you do something new, even if it turns out badly, all the energy going into learning the technique spills over into areas that used to be well-established. So you find out what happens when you dump a bunch of graphite powder on that almost-finished cloud drawing and smoosh it around with a brush.
It makes a mess.
But it’s heading in a different direction—and that’s exciting!
It was a fun project and it reminded me of when I was a kid and could spend all day drawing stuff that no one ever saw. I don’t even know where that stuff is, now, but I remember having a good time doing it all. So I’m all about drawing now and can’t wait to get some of my own projects going again…that is, unless a whole bunch of work shows up…which is a possibility….
I guess time is of the essence!
…but it’s all I have. At least it’s all paying projects. But I haven’t been a slacker on my side (non-paying) project:
I’ve been putting my waiting-room time to good use. I made a special page for my Sketchbook Project, so I can show the drawings at a larger size; check it out! As I finish more spreads, I’ll upload them.
I’d forgotten how much fun it is to just draw stuff without worrying about how “real” it looks or if someone is going to like it. I’m making an effort to just draw without looking at anything—just making it up as I go along, the way I used to do it when I was a kid. It’s amazing how many ideas come up when I know I’m not going to censor anything! My hand starts moving and stuff comes out on the page. Just like it should be!
Well, I actually did manage to post something every day this month, so count that as a WIN! On the other hand, it’s pretty obvious that I just don’t do enough exciting things to make a blog post every day worth anyone’s time. So I think I’ll stick with the posting when I’ve thought about something enough to say something interesting about it.
On that note, I heard through RedBubble about The Sketchbook Project, where anyone, anywhere in the world, can order a sketchbook from the Art House Co-Op, fill it up with art, poetry, whatever, and send it back to be displayed in the Brooklyn Art Library. Permanently.
Having a room full of original sketchbooks made by people all over the world sounds pretty damn cool. If I lived in Brooklyn, I’d be there right now. I’m tempted to join in, but the deadline for submitting the filled sketchbooks is April 2012. Yes, that should be plenty of time, but I am the Great Procrastinator; I can imagine running right up to March and having only half the book filled. It’s 32 pages, plus the covers. Could I manage it? Maybe I could actually grow a SPINE and crack down on this whole art thing. It would be great to participate. It would be AMAZING to participate.
Should I do it?
Well, it feels as if I got a lot accomplished, but I’m not sure what it all was. Mostly, my projects are all right here staring at me, waiting for me to get started.
But I did do this much:
Look at this post to see how far it’s come.
Yes, I am posting today. On my side of the country, at least, it’s still Sunday. And I have accomplished part of the weekend goal!
This will be my Christmas card for the year. Okay, I didn’t actually carve it this weekend, but I went through many drawers and closets and examined many old blocks before I chose this one. It’s kind of Christmas-y, in desert-type way. Now all I have to do is print a bunch of cards!
Back in the good old days I’d run to Mom with my little drawings and she’d stick them on the refrigerator door with magnets. That was the pinnacle of the art scene when I was a little kid—having my stuff up on the refrigerator door. It made me special.
As a kid I found it easy to believe that I was a great artist. Now I know I’m not. That’s not low self-esteem or fake humility or anything like that—it’s a fact . And how do I know it? That gigantic refrigerator door known as the Internet. Everyone’s art is up there, from all over the world, and a Google image search or a browse through an art site like RedBubble can expose you to an amazing selection of jaw-dropping talent. And these aren’t necessarily professional studio artists, but people just like me, who like to draw in their spare time, who haven’t studied art exclusively, who have day jobs that may not be remotely creative.
It’s humbling and discouraging and wildly inspiring all at the same time. I look at what they’ve done and think I could never do anything as imaginative. But then I start itching to try so I can get something really cool out there. Because the pinnacle of the art scene is still the refrigerator door—and it’s on the Internet for the whole world to see!