Art, Getting Busy

There are those days when someone passes by me whilst I’m at my drawing pad and exclaims, “I can do that!”

graphite-cat-wary

Graphite on card stock

I smile and keep drawing. After about a second, because I don’t want to lose the moment, I give them a pad and some pencils.

“Oh, no I couldn’t.”

But you just said your could. Give yourself this little gift, this precious time. Draw!

Some of the materials I favor are readily available at most office supply shops or even pharmacies. I chose them for that reason–wide availability.

Among my supplies I have A4 (8.5 x 11)  paper in white and a few colors, some A6 (4 x 6) plain index card stock, a few color pencils, #2 pencils, and blank journal books.

Then I scoop up my satchel and get busy.

I can do that.

I Artist, Making the Foundation Good

 

I need some mercy on my soul
Right now–
Gimme what you got.

 

Why submit to fear?

  • Other people are counting on your fear. Your anxiety feeds them somehow. Maybe they can sense it on you.
  • That’s why clients are reluctant to pay. And why they ‘micro-manage’.
  • That’s why other Artists are salivating at their shot at what should have been yours.
  • Denying fear isn’t my suggestion. Face it. That maybe the best start. You’ll have to design the next steps.

Re-design yourself.

  • Jettison old bad habits. Heck, give yourself every break you deserve.
  • Have your work space ready for work. Pre-stage your materials.
  • Be ready to burst forth from the gate. Otherwise you’ve hobbled yourself to the ground and it’s 1:00 PM (1300 hours) and you’re staring at a blank some more.
  • Make a list. Do the list. Move forward.
  • Tell them you want more time, more money, more share. Then earn it.
  • Nothing is cheap, excellent, and on-time. Choose two. It’s a good guideline for yourself, for your studio, for us all, and for your clients

Carve out your productive time.

  • Know the cost you pay for every hour in your day. Same as with your rents, your materials, insurance, or any other cost. TIME IS MONEY.
  • Don’t put things off. I know creative people “procrastinate” but when you do, keep it on your project. If you’ve convinced yourself procrastinating puts you in a ‘highly pressurized zone where you do your best work” and that’s working for you. Okay with that. But, if that ‘highly pressurized zone’ is not where you’re getting you the results you want then, d’oh!
  • Manage your time. Work. Rest. Repeat.
  • Production is not equal to Perfect. Better done on-time than perfect.

Minimize distractions.

  • Clear out your calendar.
  • Set your phone aside for a while.

Put yourself into your work. After all it’s why the client, gallery, consumer, or peers chose us.

  • You and I may be unique but there are imitators and copy-cats
  • Only you can do what you do—and that involves being the first one in the door. After that you have to hope © and ™ will protect you.

Keep your promises.

  • Just no compromise here, okay! You don’t have enough treasure to buy a good reputation.
  • Climbing back up from that hole that is ‘broken promises’ or ‘he doesn’t care’ or what a lousy reputation is what was made by not keeping your promises.

If you fail, face it. Who said your should pretend to be super-human? Failure is when you quit. Don’t quit. You’ll never be super-human, okay?

  • Make the adjustments. Get back up. Go again.
  • Improve your work habits. Only you can over-come You.
  • Work so you can feel good about your project.
  • Create that energy, that excitement where you can’t wait to see what amazing Art you’re going to make today.

Take care of your body and your mind. Not an exhaustive list, but hey, work with it for your own life.

  • Rest & Work
  • Nourishment
  • Exercise
  • Cleanliness
  • Relationship time
  • Reflection time

No excuses.

  • Get back up if you fail. Put yourself into all your work.
  • Re-design yourself when needed. Improve your serve: Be your time manager. Don’t throw flexibility out the window. Limit distractions—close your studio for certain hours.
  • Be good to your word. Do what only you can do–produce your Art in a timely manner.
  • Stand up for yourself. Ask for more of everything you can.
  • You are the adult in charge of you. Own that.
  • Be a self-starter. Then do your Art until it is finished. And finished on time.

Drawing Blanks–How To

twilight-forest-vi-oct-26-2016-paint

Ink & acrylic on stretched acetate

Many times I look at a blank page and have a curious thought: “what’s in there

that I need to find?” Have I trained myself to think that way? Yes and no. I go

that way mainly because I rebelled against blank pages (and walls) so I drew

some shape or made a splotch of color or scribed a word or a sentence. So I kept

the habit as I lived. It’s like giving a horse a little nudge in a wide open field

with no one else present, just a friend, the wind, and wide open spaces.

So what is the “how-to” of this?

Move forward and try.

See how far you can take your day-dream. Better yet see how it can take you.

All it needs is a little nudge.

Everyday Art

If I want my Art to become more refined, more pleasing, more interesting I must coax a little pencil or paint brush into action.

oct-01-ladybug-on-paper-airplane-paint

Ink on card stock. Prompt was “Fast”.

Art and action are inseparable.

I was reminded of a pretty much universal objection to hitting the sketch book: “But I get tired of doing the same thing all the time.”

Well, then don’t. You’re not being forced into Art are you?

If I get bored I can

  • switch from pencils and brushes to pens
  • charcoal and newsprint
  • draw with your “weak” hand
  • try some new ways to lay down lines

just get going and make it like play.

oct-07-lost-paint

Ink on card stock + color pencil. The prompt was “Lost”.

Make a prompt list and stick with it all during the month.

Just keep going and you will be glad to see your progress. Punch through that boredom with switching out media and an attitude of playfulness.

Serious play. It’s the way…

  1. To make good Art
  2. Stick to making good Art

 

oct-03-collection-paint-ver

Ink on card stock + color pencil the prompt was “collect”. Sorry Charlie Brown.

 

Better Done than Perfect

Better Done than Perfect.*

Never, never, never slop through a job. Do not abuse your audience or be-little them by thinking so little of them. Do your best work. The concept of “Done is better than Perfect” is a reward for people who can Finish a Thing. Never miss a deadline. It is a promise. It is your Word.

Live by your Word.

Or wither on the vine when you do not keep your Word.

 

bark-texture-study-monochrome-1-february-2016-2

Ink on paper from a reference. Beginning, middle, end.

 

* Perfection is over-rated. It’s the result of some sort of operant conditioning that turns good-natured  admonishment, “do your best”,  into an unattainable expectation. As such one’s performance is judged by an external jury with a subjective set of principles that as likely as not as an outcome to be like a death sentence placed upon the poor sot who “attempted to do the work but missed the mark”.

The root cause of this over-rating of Perfection  is even perhaps the Poor Training of teachers to expect perfection of others and to try to enforce it as a matter of Will on others whilst incapable in the first place of their own perfection.

Given all types of “behavioral objectives” and “performance metrics” in myriad volumes of ‘how-to-teach’ books perfection is still a brick savagely applied to the temple of creative individuals’ skulls.

Perfection is a Set up to Fail, or worse to never Begin, or worse even yet, to never Finish anything.

Smiles, I Artist

The obligation attached to being an Artist is to make things. Take something and make something else. I like collage in this way because it gives something different from the original materials.

Fish Fossil 1

Just “different” is not enough.  Only to a certain extent do I “know” what I am making. I received a lot of encouragement over the years, however, I still hear, “What’s that mess going to be?” I typed the words but not the quote, because it was not so easy on the eyes.

Girl with green case 1

I gave up on what I was working on, even on Art more times than not. I had many un-finished drawings, ailing canvases, and un-used materials.  I put it up to impatience, but it was the message about the “mess” that came through later, without many smiles.

Now that is not so much the case. Now I power through the “comments” people make at classes or out in the public or when I share a sketch book with someone who is curious.

I usually hole up in the studio or somewhere private to draw.  I took some inspiration from allies and took the minimal kit to a public spot and drew.

“What’s that you’re doing? You’re an artist!” Now I’m surrounded by seven to eleven-year old people craning to see into my books and wanting to see more.

Aldo iPhone unflipped

The more of my drawings I show them the more they are delighted. They smile a lot, all the way up into their eyes.

Now I sort of know what Art I’m making.

I’m making Smiles.

Art is a Verb

Recently I heard a critical response to a fellow artist’s use of some vintage wood in a design. They used 100 year-old wood in their art which was deemed a “waste” by the responder.

lumber4

 

I wish only to explore what “stops the creative process” at this point.

Why was it a waste to use that rare wood?

“If the wood could be used in a more ‘worthy’ application, then it would be a proper use of the material.”  If the wood were made into a fine altar piece or carved doors to a crypt, then it would be something more notable.

Nope.

I wonder in this manner sometimes when I make something new, even one-of-a-kind piece from found objects. Certainly few recycled things I have come a provenance or even an estimation of age. None are any sort of rare things other than they had been “lost”, they piqued my interest, and I re-defined them.

Paint remaining in tubes for fear of waste might deter me if I allowed. The costs of paper, canvas, and brushes do frighten me when I order materials.

But, what if I do not get “it” right?

Do I feel guilty when I fail the materials and decide to start over? Does starting over prove I am un-wise?

Nope and nope.

If every time I failed I stopped the process and cleaned up the materials and placed everything back where it belongs and quit I have only accomplished only an exercise in studio cleaning, and turning off the lights.

Do I fail often?

Yep.

I simply begin again, almost out of reflex. I have yet to understand why starting over is such a “horrid consequence”, a waste. [I’m thinking maybe also stay ahead of deadlines, because missing them qualifies as a “horrid consequence”.]

Why is “waste” such a driving concept?

I think it is rooted in fear of failing. If I mess up this cut, then I’ve ‘ruined’ a piece of 100 year-old wood and the wasting wood cops are sitting in a van outside.

Yep, it is the same with anyone who might mess up vintage lumber or a box of nails.

If the piece of  100 year-old wood rests on the shelf for another hundred years perhaps it will be a buffet for termites.

If and if and if must end. It stops the creative process.

Art is verb, it is about doing.