Every year, I think, I’m going to participate in Inktober, create an ink drawing daily, thinking I’ll get my mojo going, by creating a daily draw. If you’ve read my blog, you know I have a daily draw category that I post for a few days, then it disappears. My own mind gives out, and all my ideas disappear in a dusty poof scattered all over the studio floor.
I have this idea that I can do a complex daily draw as a warm up, then get all my other ideas done, too. I have lots of ideas, but then I feel I should concentrate on one or two, get those done and focus, focus. Get that one thing finished before starting another. I could use Inktober’s daily deadline to illustrate one of my stories.
I start, but then what I’m working on with such diligence escapes –like some slippery creature — it wriggles out of my hands and mind.
In February 2016, before I left Portland, I fell into a deep depression. After getting medical help, I really needed some sort of structure in my life so I started a daily draw, Drawing Depression. Then at the end of April, I moved to Memphis, my hometown.
Ever since I’ve tried to get that project restarted and finished. I kept a notebook when I went through a mania to help restart the process, but I haven’t been able to. I’ve also been ready to write and illustrate some of my family stories, some fiction, some of my stories from never driving, and all my adventures with public transportation.
I have bits and pieces of projects all over the studio. And now I’ve started making fabric sculptures again.
When I was getting counseling in Portland, my counselor told me that it seemed like I kept putting myself into a box, that I tell myself I have to do things a certain way, and then I fail, and feel as if I’ve done nothing. Which was odd to her, because from her view I got quite a lot done. And a lot of what I create sells. So maybe, just maybe, I don’t work in a linear fashion. Maybe I need to work on things when I’m inspired to do so, then come back when I’m inspired again. Because I always am, at some point.
But I want to be linear soooo much. I want to carry out what I start, one, two, three. Beginning, middle, end.
I look back at my life, I look around me now, nothing is linear. Everything spirals. But I work a little bit on a lot every day.
I wonder why I can’t do a daily draw anymore, but the fact is, I draw in a more elaborate way and I’ve started using different materials.
At times my visual journal is only a scrapbook of places I’ve been — theater tickets and programs, art show postcards, summaries from doctor visits, photos of mushrooms that appear like magic in the night, odd bookmarks and doodles. It’s not daily and it changes shape, but it grows with time.
I read and listen to Gwenn Seemel’s blog for inspiration (you should, too). She works on many projects at once and it’s been greatly helpful to me to see that. When I am tempted by something like Inktober or NaNoWriMo (write a novel draft in November — November when the holidays start and life/family gets weird? Seriously? I tried that, too. As well as one picture book manuscript a week for a month. I created nothing but stressed out scribblings), I try to remember both my counselor’s validation of my work style and a quote by Seemel:
“The work will be done when it needs to be done.”
She creates in a world where she avoids “clock time.” Here’s a link to the blog and video she created about it:
“The good news of creative time.” Ahhh.
My creative time is not like anyone else’s. And neither is yours. Perhaps you thrive on these challenges and they improve your art. I know my Drawing Depression project was enormously helpful in its time, but its time ended when it needed to end. I know there is still a seed of a larger work in there, but I can’t do it until it’s time to do it — when my mind, my heart, and my life all aligned to make it happen.
I have a daily practice. If I don’t do something creative everyday, I get very cranky and anxious. I draw, I knit, I add to a painting. I write down an idea. Something.
But I can’t make myself create to someone else’s schedule or to my own inner voice that keeps harping on about how I should be getting my work done.
In re-starting my fabric work, I’ve made sure to tell my clients that it will take a long time for me to complete the work. I hand-stitch them, I create them with love and imagination. I create them, within reason, outside of clock time. Otherwise, they’d all look the same and would lose their art and magic.
Plus, I have interruptions and a long term disability to manage. I intended to write this Wednesday, but the man who is installing my grab-bars needed to come over and work, I had an unexpected visit from a friend, and a slightly sick cat who vomited in my studio. My creative energy was zapped by life. But I managed to finish dying a scarf and got in a few rows of knitting.
While I did other things, I rethought a painting I’ve been working on for a few months, planned colors for new work, wondered how to lay out an illustrated story. The next day, I needed to make some progress on a commission.
So, no Inktober for me. No pressure like that anymore — though I still obviously feel it’s siren song. Every day, instead, I just need to tell myself to belief that my own way of doing things will continue to what’s right. And MY work will get done when it needs to be done.
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