Sometimes a drawing or painting just won’t work, and I don’t have the patience to pull anything satisfying out of it. So for today. Muddy colors, marks increasing in impatience with each added layer. I would be embarrassed to show this to anyone, but the ‘rules’ of my daily practice say I show whatever I did in my studio time. So let this please be encouragement for you to not get hung up on perfection every time, to sometimes just go ahead and make a mess, and let that be your practice for that day. There will be other days. And who’s to say I didn’t learn anything by letting myself fail?
I keep struggling with the idea that making pictures just for the sheer enjoyment of it is selfish and useless or pointless. I don’t want to compare my art to others on some scale of accomplishment or value; that would just make me stop.
There are so many artists who are tremendously talented and driven, making beautiful and meaningful works. By comparison I am really quite lazy. I do what interests me, and put off doing what seems challenging. I tend to be in my studio at the end of the day, often with a beer in hand, and some stupid tv show playing in the background, and I give myself an hour or three just to play.
I am massively privileged to be able to do this, without having to worry about whether I can earn any money with my art. But I firmly believe that everyone should be able to have time to do art or music or dance, or whatever creative endeavor feeds them, without having to worry about their basic needs getting met.
As I hurried to get this drawing to a state of resolution that satisfied me before I needed to sleep, I realized that I miss working on drawings/paintings for longer than one sitting in one day. I haven’t had that feeling often in the 10+ years of this project, so I paid attention to it.
I have done a number of side projects, mostly 3-D involving sticks and/or string, but very few more ambitious paintings. I don’t want to stop the daily drawings; they hold an important place for me. But maybe it’s time for me to consider ways of making space for daily work on bigger commitments.
That may mean time-limiting the daily drawings, or posting them as sketches, or posting work in progress. I’m not sure yet, but it seems appropriate to be thinking about this in the time of the year for planning gardens, shopping for and starting seeds.
I started posting my daily drawings for the sake of accountability. I post this intention for the same reason; time will tell if it bears fruit.
I went on an internet search yesterday to finally find a proper term for the technique I am occasionally obsessed with, involving drawing with hard pencil on soft paper, coloring over that with wax crayons, coating all that with ink or paint, then scraping the ink back off, which leaves it in the indented original pencil lines. “Indenting” is a technique used in pencil drawings, I learned. The rest is something between Wax Resist and Scratchboard. Every time I go through a phase of playing with this technique I gain a little more control, and it still has never stopped feeling satisfyingly magical to me.
This evening I sat looking at the blank paper, thinking that I have no ideas, no particular ambition, nothing really to say with my art. This first hurdle is where the inner critics can get off a clear shot, before I get absorbed or distracted by lines and colors. They often speak the loudest when I am most tired or over-extended.
After 10 years of practice, I am able eventually to just pick something up and start making marks, and see where it goes, so I did that. But after 10 years of practice I still often have that anxious moment before a blank sheet of paper. Time and practice may not change who I am, but they have given me more tools for dealing with the things I fear or worry about.
This practice of making and sharing daily drawings has been an adventure, a kind of journal of self-discovery. I try to keep making what pleases me, without tailoring it to please some real or imagined audience. And yet, I have so much gratitude to those people who follow my art-making, and have encouraged me with their responses. I am aware of this web of friends, who balance out the voices of my inner critics.
As we sit in this season between years and between decades, the darkest time (or brightest, depending upon your hemisphere!) I wish you all courage, persistence, resilience, and the time and will to do the things that give your life the most joy and meaning.
Hi friends in the blog, I have news.
I have joined a brand new artist collective gallery, so for the first time in my life, I have a real-world space to continuously show and sell my art stuff. I’m also doing the bookkeeping for the collective, setting up all the money systems for tracking sales and paying everyone. So far it’s been draining as well as rewarding. By the end of the day, when I normally have my studio time, I have been both mentally and physically worn out.
Here’s a link to see the Harmony Collective’s page:
Days like today, I sit in front of the blank paper, with old episodes of The Great British Baking Show playing to distract my inner critics, a long time before I make a mark on the paper. I have to prod myself to get started. It doesn’t matter if I don’t think I have anything to ‘say’, or if I have no leadings for an image. The point of the practice is to move into the meditation of making the marks. To give voice to the part of me that is not words and numbers and plans and systems.
Some other time I’ll make a post about the gallery, with photos of the space. I’m really proud to be part of what the collective has brought to life, and I’d love to share it with you.
Thanks for following my art journey here, dear reader!
I’ve been feeling disconnected from inspiration lately. I’m glad to be in enough of a routine that it doesn’t stop me from putting something on the paper, but the muse is not really speaking to me. When I have time, then I guess I can just push colors and lines around and see if I can find my way back to something that sings.
Another long day and short studio time. This was actually the second start; the first one bugged me so much I’m not even showing it. It’s on the other side of this page. Is that a violation of my own rules? I said I’d show whatever I drew on my daily page, I think this is the first time in 9 years I’ve given myself a do-over.
I suspect this year the ‘rules’ I set myself might change a little. I have a lot of piles of drawing-covered paper in my studio by now. More and more often, I’m going back later, to work and build on drawings I already posted. I originally started this blog to make sure I established a practice of doing the work every day. Now that’s pretty solid, and I want to figure out how to build on it.
I’ve been challenged to show my art in a gallery space at some point this year (the Art Salons don’t count) so I’ll have to start addressing what makes a work feel finished, and how do I display it.
I’m looking forward to a year of pushing my boundaries. I hope you also have some challenges and inspirations that are calling you to rise and meet them in a joyful way.
I did not draw a picture this day; I spent it all shaping this chunk of cedar. It’s about the right size to fit into the palm of your hand and close your fingers securely around it. The cord is singed because I took it to the ironworker clan’s forge and passed it through the fire, then dunked it in the quenching water. I’m not done working on it; back home it will be part of what helps me curtail the time spent on daily drawings so I can pursue other projects.