For some time now I’ve had this bag of beads just sitting on my shelf collecting dust and taking up space. I can’t recall how I obtained this bag of beads, all I know is that it was there and so, I figured I should probably do something with them. Departing from my usual activities to unwind, (listening to music or watching Netflix), I took the bag of beads off the shelf, sat in the middle of my floor and spent the next five hours beading. I had nothing particular in mind but with a few internet searches and some color coordination, I pulled together a few designs that were to my liking. It was nice to just sit and create something without being concerned about profit or productivity. Oddly enough, my husband popped his head into my room, saw what I was making, thought they were cool and reflexively asked, “Are you selling those?” (He asks this whenever I make something.) “No. That hadn’t crossed my mind.” I replied. “You should.” he responded before disappearing back into the hall while closing the door behind him. I thought about for a minute, maybe I should but after finishing the six pieces I created, I realized that deep down I just wanted to create something for myself for a change, something that I had no intentions on selling. Creativity doesn’t always have to offered to the gods of profit.
Would you rather for someone to make you something or go out and buy you something?
That’s the thought that crossed my mind when I sat down to get ready to start on a new ACEO drawing when it occurred to me that my grandmother’s birthday was coming up and I forgot to get her a card. So instead of working on a new drawing I grabbed some walnut cream cardstock I had lying around and got to hashing out this simple birthday card. Ideas for the little illustrations I gathered from Pinterest but everything is completely hand drawn. It’s nothing too fancy or elaborate because, well, at 94 my grandmother can’t see too well. But I’m hoping she likes it.
Overall, the question still stands, if you had to choose, which would you prefer as a gift, something that someone took the time to make for you or something someone went out and bought for you?
“When you go after Ciroc vodka and Phat Farm and all that sh*t, God walks out of the room. I have never in my life made music for money or fame…No way. God walks out of the room when you’re thinking about money. You could spend a million dollars on a piano part and it won’t make you a million dollars back. That’s just not how it works….You’ve got to respect the gift God gave you by learning your craft.”
~ Quincy Jones
Some words I found to be inspiring from an amazing music producer that I think can be applied to any creative craft.
I don’t sketch much. Every once in a while if I’m trying to work out an idea straight from my imagination, I’ll crack open my sketchbook and scribble out my thoughts. More often than not, I’m the kind of artist who heads straight to the drawing board, set out to do a complete piece, with nothing more than a vision in mind and a few reference images. One of the things that fascinates me about the work of other artists is the stuff they do in their sketchbooks. I often look at the sketch journals, preliminary works to final pieces and doodles of artists and feel amazed not just at the work but also their consistency in the practice of sketching. I’ve always wanted that kind of dedication but honestly, sketching isn’t something I’ve often enjoyed doing. I have a shelf full of half used sketchbooks full of random doodles of mediocre attempts at being creative and imaginative but nothing really worth looking at ever turns out. Trust me, when I say doodles, I really mean squiggly lines, shaded spheres and odd half finished shapes. Something happens to my brain when I open a sketchbook. I just go blank and with pencil in hand, resort to some rudimentary form of primitive artistry with a monkey grip. Well…that’s how it feels. Sadly, cave paintings are better than the stuff I scribble in my sketchbooks. So despite admiring the sketch work of others and desiring to at least have a halfway decent sketch practice, I never found much enjoyment in it. I had resigned to the fact that maybe I was just one of those artists who is more keen on heading straight to the final piece rather than spending time and energy on preliminary work or just sketching for skill and fun. I accepted that about myself and was content with just the line art I would do for my pieces. That was as preliminary as I could get and I left it at that.
By random chance something happened to me a few days ago. Now as a pen and ink artist you would think that something like this would have already happened but it hasn’t, until now. What had happened was something rather simple and small but greatly significant. I just randomly picked up a ballpoint pen and started sketching with it. That was it. I know, whoopdie-doo. 😒 What’s the big deal about that? The deal is it felt natural in my hand for sketching. You see, in my mind there are two types of pens; one for writing and one for drawing. I never write with my drawing pens and I never draw with my writing pens. You should see the conniption fit I have when my husband uses one of my drawing pens to write something. I’ve gone so far as to tell him he’ll disturb the creativity energy of my pens if he uses them to write on stuff. He hasn’t touched my pens since. I guess it helps that he’s a little superstitious like that.😋 Anyhoo, it never occured to me to try sketching with any of my writing pens, which are mostly ballpoints. Because I write a lot, a pen naturally feels comfortable in my hand. A pencil, I only use when I do my line drawings and that’s it. Everytime I would pick one up in the past with the intention to sketch, I always felt stiff, unable to loosen up and move freely with it. In my mind my pencil had become a specific, precise tool strictly for my base line drawings, not for the free flowing nature of sketching. But the ballpoint felt open with possibilities. So for the past two days I’ve been on a sketching kick and here’s some of the sketches I’ve done. They’re not the best but that’s fine, I’m more excited that sketching actually feels enjoyable to me. I now know to reach for a ballpoint pen instead of a pencil for sketching. Sometimes, a simple change in tools can help to expand your creativity and enthusiasm. 😊
I have a little confession, something I’m not particularly open about but felt like mentioning, rather briefly, in a short post. At the age of 43, I can honestly say that I would not have made it this far in life without art and music. In some of my darkest and lonely moments it has been music that pulled me through. And in all the times when I’ve felt that there isn’t anything in life to live for or look forward to, I could at least turn towards drawing and feel some semblance of happiness, personal satisfaction. The Arts does something to the soul that neither medicine, science or technology has been able to achieve. It’s a mystery to me but I am most grateful for it and thankful to be one of the many people in the world who have found healing and expression through it. Which is why I find it deeply disheartening that when it comes to education and budget cuts, the first thing to go are the Arts. If it has been the only thing that has gotten me through some rough times, then I’m sure it has gotten many others through difficulties in their lives. So when a society starts to devalue something that is soul saving do we really understand what we are doing to ourselves in the long run? Now I really don’t want to get into a long treatise on the value that the Arts brings to society but rather I just want you to sit there, just for a moment and try to imagine with me a world without the Arts. Imagine a world with no paintings, drawings, music, dancing, theatre, design, architecture, decorative elements or fashion. Imagine a world where everything is manufactured and mass produced. Cookie cutter homes, manicured lawns, sterile clean walls, clothing that’s only functional, no style, no pazazz…just imagine a world with no human touch to it.
How do you think that world would be? Do you think that such a world is even possible? If so, are we moving in that direction?