Ruminations on The Struggle

So I’ve ben sketching. It took me three months to post 31 sketches, but this week, I’ve done that many since Wednesday. I’ve also been thinking a lot about the struggle to make art, about what it all means. I’m at a point in my life when I’ve recommitted myself to my artwork and writing countless times, and I’ve been ruminating on how delusional it is to believe, every single time, that I’ve figured it out, that this is what I do from now on, that I won’t need to recommit myself again because this is it, forever. I’ve been thinking about how invigorated I am by change, by new routines and new ways of working, and how bizarre it is that with each NEW thing I think I have found the thing that will ALWAYS work. I’m realizing it is the change itself that always works.

This scares me, because I worry that in my quest for change, for newness, I will never be able to finish anything. This reassures me because I have been working on Wanderlust, a single project, for seven years, and I’ve never given up on it, not even for an instant. I get discouraged and stop working on it for months or years at a time, but I never truly lose sight of it, and I’ve never considered quitting. It’s only my methods of working that change.

I read an internet article recently about what separates amateurs artists from professionals. One of the things listed was that amateurs are always working, always perfecting, and never finished (I’ll try to find the article again to post later on, but right now I’m trying to finish this post before work). If I want to make the leap from amateur to professional, I have to start finishing things. I have to start sending Wanderlust out, I have to start getting rejections. I’ve been thinking about the amount of work I need to complete before I can do that, and I’ve been thinking about how to get it done.

We had one warm day last week. It got up to fifty degrees (F). I’m still in a good mood.

My current New Thing is returning to traditional media for sketches. It’s important to work with yourself, I think, to make things as easy as you can for yourself when you are asking for big efforts and great things. I, for instance, have developed an aversion to pencil dust. I don’t like it on my fingers, I don’t like how it collects in the bottom of my backpack when I store pencils and a sharpener in one of the pockets. So I was sketching with pen, for a while, and I bought some mechanical pencils the other day. They’re pretty annoying for filling in large spaces, and using them for loose work goes against everything I’ve been taught, but for right now they’re what I need for remembering anatomy and working through thumbnails as I prepare to dive into, and maybe finally complete, some real work and some illustrations for Wanderlust.

sketches

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2 Comments

  1. For many years I thought that there must be some secret about playing the harp that I everyone else knew, that would make playing easy, and that if I just kept looking I would find it. What I found was that the only secret is sitting on the harp bench and doing the work. Then the ease will come. I suspect that it doesn’t matter what medium you use, as long as you are sitting at your sketch pad or easel or computer keyboard or notebook, doing the work. Writing, sketching, painting…it is showing up to do the work that is the first necessary step. Out of that the completed words and images will flow. Keep sketching, keep writing, and be kind to your tender heart.

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  2. I think we all want to find the one thing that always works, but I haven’t met anyone yet who has found it. That “showing up and doing the work” thing is pretty good, though, if you can manage it. Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) says we should take care of the quantity and let God take care of the quality. It does take the pressure off to let myself create without feeling as if I have to do something that’s “good”, whatever that means. Sometimes, I also quote Dory, from Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…” Change it up as often as you can, if that helps. Just don’t stop. I want to read Wanderlust some day.

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