I’m always bringing home little things that can fit in my pocket from my nature walks. Although snow has come early to my neck of the woods, I have a shelf that’s littered with pine cones, acorns, rocks, sea shells, feathers and what nots. So today I felt like getting a little sketching practice in with something I could touch and feel, instead of using references images, so I picked out one acorn from my little nature collection. I wish I could do this with little animals but I sure the animals and my better half wouldn’t be too happy with me turning our home into a miniature wild kingdom. My hubby tends to shake his head but smile at me lovingly when I come in from being outside and dump out the contents of my pockets on the kitchen table. This makes me wonder, is this typical behavior of most nature artists?
This little doodle wasn’t only some practice in sketching something in person but also practice in sketching with a ballpoint pen, or as my fellow artists in the UK say, biro, which honestly, I prefer because it just takes less breath to say. So I hope nobody minds that I’m stealing this word. The wonderful thing about sketching in biro is that it forces me to let go of my perfectionism. There’s no erasing or covering up or even working things out in pencil first, so whatever marks I make, I have to live with them. It’s a bit freeing and since I was working with a simple shape it wasn’t particularly taxing to hatch out. I initially just did a biro sketch but then I looked at my pen jars and noticed I have a few brush pens that I keep forgetting about. So I put them to use and added some color to the sketch. I can’t say I’m particularly fond of the color but it does have a festive feel to it that’s suitable for the season.
Finished this little piece up earlier this week and now I’m turning my attention back to working on my Scarlet Macaw. I feel refreshed and ready to tackle this endless sea of red. But as I get ready to get back to inking, I’m wondering if maybe I should throw in a few blue feathers to add some contrast. What do you think, keep all the feathers red or throw in a few blue ones? I’m suggesting blue because, well, I have a limited color palette. Macaw parrots are pretty color creatures with red, green, yellow and blue feathers. I don’t have any green or yellow micron pens to go with the red but I do have an orange and a blue. What do you think? Feel free to offer your suggestions in the comments. 😌
“You won’t always feel enthusiastic or passionate about your craft.”
That’s a little tidbit I don’t recall any of my art instructors informing me or any of my fellow art students. Neither can I recall ever reading about it in the countless articles of advice I’ve read for artists over the years. Yet it’s what I’ve come to learn. The truth is the artist’s path isn’t an easy one and some days you won’t feel passionate or enthusiastic about it.
I’ve noticed that some of the people I know personally have a rather romanticize idea about what I do. Just recently I was talking to a long time friend of mine who said to me “You’re lucky, you’re doing what you love to do.” I don’t know about the luck but I could tell he was under the impression assuming that I probably wake up ever morning beaming with joy that I get to draw everyday. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Overall, yes, I do experience a sense of satisfaction at the thought that I’m making a life doing what I enjoy doing but that satisfaction varies from day to day. Some days I’m happy and content especially when sales are steady and I’m not worried about getting my bills paid. Some days I don’t feel anything either way. Then some days I’m thoroughly frustrated and have to push through to get anything creative done. But then there are those days were I give serious thought to saying to hell with it all to go get me a desk job. These fluctuations in my passion for my craft have often left me feeling conflicted and baffled. With the plethora of self development information out there, I’ve always been under the impression that if you have the opportunity to spend your life doing something you love you will wake up every morning beaming with enthusiasm and ready to take on the world. Truth is, most of the time I’m on an emotional roller coaster with constant highs and lows. …and that’s okay. But nobody tells you that. You see, for the longest I’ve been under the impression that I’m doing something wrong because I’m not a walking ball of sunshine everyday. I get conflicted inside and wonder if I should be doing it at all. But one day I realized that the problem wasn’t that some days I lack enthusiasm and passion, the problem was that I thought it was problem. There’s nothing wrong with having bad days because trust me, you will have them. You will have days where you’re bored. You’ll have days where you can’t think of anything to create. There will be projects where you will be all excited about in the beginning only to have that excitement dissipate halfway through. And there will be days where you just end up vegged out on the couch with junk food and Netflix. And all of that is perfectly normal. A trick I’ve learned to get through these ups and downs is to make sure I set some non-negotiables at the foundation of my craft. These are key commitments that I keep above all else. For me there are three of them:
1. To do a little bit of something pertaining to my craft each day. That can be working on a drawing for 30 minutes, writing up a blog post or promoting my work, so long as I do something everyday. It’s easy to get wrapped up in other aspects of our lives and put your craft off until the next day. But I’ve seen how putting your craft off can easily become a habit. The only way to counter that is to develop the habit of working on your craft everyday.
2. To always finish at least 85% of my projects. Now if it’s a commission it must be completed but on personal projects sometimes they just don’t turn out or somewhere along the way I lose interest. Most of the time I push through it but every once in a while there are some piece I just can’t bring myself to complete. In this case I just let it go and move on to something I’m more interested in but only if I’ve been consistent in finishing at least nine of my previous projects.
3. No matter what, always do my best. I’ve learned that I can’t let my day to day feelings dictate how I approach my craft, so I need some guiding principles to get me through the ups and downs.
Being an artist isn’t some never ending purgatory but it’s not always glorious either. It just is what it is. Some days your creative energy just flows, your work turns out far better than you imagine and you make a few good sales. And then some days you find yourself on your living room floor throwing a temper tantrum, crying to the heavens wondering why you were cursed to be an artist. Okay, maybe that’s just me but no matter what, always do your best. 😊
In response to feeling a bit stir crazy from all the red ink I’ve been stippling on my Scarlet Macaw, I decided to take a brief break to work on a smaller project. I’m calling this piece “Butterfly Flowers”. It’s a drawing that’s actually drawn across two art cards. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of using two cards before but I find it to be a neat little idea to create a diptych piece on art cards. I may even try doing triptych in the future.
Anyhoo, I was in the mood for something that involved butterflies and flowers. This was inspired by a few tattoo designs and has a more design feel to it. I’ll get back to the Macaw when I finish this one but I have to admit, this was a much needed break, I was starting to resent that red parrot for how much work it required. Ever get angry at your own artwork?
Layers, upon layers of red…will it ever end?
Just a brief update. I can’t say that I’ve gotten much done on my Scarlet Macaw. My other half, my dear hubby, had hernia surgery last week and well, I’ve been more focused on taking care of him as he gets better. Thankfully his recovery is going well and today I was able to get some inking done. This week I’ll be back to business as usual, so stay tuned for further updates. 😊