Just to prove I haven’t been a total slacker, here’s a spread from my Sketchbook Project:
Yeah, that leaves 30 more pages by April. But I’m working on it!
Of course, as soon as I get a personal project with a deadline, I get hit with freelance jobs. Which is good. Even though it cuts into personal project time. But it brings up the question I’ve been avoiding for a while now—am I a freelancer?
When the company I worked for closed down in 2010, I started freelancing to pay the bills and go back to school so that I could find a “real” job. It was just a temporary thing. It’s been a temporary thing for over a year now. And how often have I gone around looking for something permanent? Not often at all. The thing is, when I take on a freelance job I commit to it, just like a “real” job. Because it is a real job—and one that I’m totally responsible for. I don’t have the safety net of co-workers making up for me if I can’t meet a deadline or just can’t do the work up to the client’s standards. So I don’t know how well it would go over if I called up a client to tell them I have a “real” job now, and I won’t be able to finish their project.
It’s hard to commit to being a freelancer. I never know if the job I’m working on will be the last one. I have to live on a tight budget because I don’t get paid regularly. When I’m busy, there aren’t any weekends or holidays or vacations—or sick time, for that matter. When I’m not busy, I’m stressing that this is it, I’ll never get work again. Yeah, it’s a drag to get up and commute to the cubicle job every day, but the pay is regular, you’re surrounded by supporting co-workers, and you generally get to go home at some point.
So why am I still here at the kitchen table, working? I don’t know, really. I guess it’s the challenge. It’s getting the job done early and being called a lifesaver by someone at a company 1500 miles away. It’s the siren call of that next job—what if it’s something amazing? It’s that I’ve never done this before and…well…maybe I can.
I said challenge, didn’t I?
My sketchbook from The Sketchbook Project has arrived!
I’m so excited! I know it doesn’t look like much now, but once I get at the cover…well, it’ll be something. I don’t know what yet. My theme is “Why did the owl make everyone laugh?” so there will likely be owls involved. I like that it’s really simple—there’s nothing so intimidating as a really elaborate sketchbook. I always think the things that I draw in it won’t be worthy!
My goal here isn’t to make beautifully finished drawings; I want them to be messy and not always successful. People might be looking at this in an up-close-and-personal way and I want to show everything that goes into drawing, including all the erased lines and ink blots. I remember going to see Andrew Wyeth’s Helga paintings when they were showing in Detroit. You could get right up close to the paintings and see all the scrubbing and spatters. There were places where he’d torn the surface of the paper away to make a snow patch in the painted grass. It was the first time I realized that creating art involved real paint-slinging, ripping, tearing work. Art wasn’t about making a perfect mark every time you set pencil to paper; it was about the struggle to get the idea in your head out into the world, however hard that might turn out to be. That’s why I think this Sketchbook Project is a great idea. Looking at these books will show how art is built—blots and all!
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?
This is the kind of weather that makes me want to be outside. And what better activity to engage in than plein-air sketching, right? Spending a day in the great outdoors, drawing whatever I see, enjoying the balmy air, hearing the birds sing…trying to make the rock I’m sitting on a little softer, shooing away the killer bees, worrying about the possibilities of rabid bobcats and coyotes, checking for approaching rattlesnakes every five minutes or so….
All right, so I’m one of those artists who’s more comfortable in the climate controlled and nicely padded studio. The great outdoors is a fine place, but there are a lot of distractions for the natural worrier. Still, it’s good to try new things, so I did make an attempt, not too long ago, to draw Golden Gate Mountain. It was within walking distance and easy to find an out-of-the-way place to sit. A sketch was about as far as I could go, given my pokiness in drawing, and even that took a couple of days. Trying to figure out lighting and clouds was just about impossible—by the time I’d make up my mind about something, it would change. But it was fun to see every rock and bush (’cause, yeah, I was using binoculars) instead of squinting at a photograph and wondering what all the blobs were. Did it make a better sketch? Haven’t decided yet.