I don’t know the long term impacts of focusing my learning into themed months, but when for example I decided that in August I would draw at least one “people-focused” sketch every day for those 31 days it becomes the primary effort of 95% of my art to fit inside that theme, for better or worse. In August, by the way, I am doing at least one daily sketch that is of people, a person, or which has a human as the primary subject of the art (or in other words, not just urban sketch with some people scribbles in the corner, but a what-if-people-were-the-focal-point of the paint, type paintings.) Ultimately I think it will improve all aspects of my art, if only because putting paint on a page is practice, of course. But refining and replicating and repeating is core to learning, and I think scattershot that learning becomes less purposeful than it could be if that same time and energy is spent iteratively working against a theme.
Artistic paralysis is definitely a thing. Call it whatever you want. A dry spell. Writers block. Lack of inspiration.
I’ve been pondering a few big projects and there has been hesitation to get started. It has nothing to do with my sense of ability or skill, nor does it have much to do with the ideas. It has mostly to do with the sense of momentum.
Momentum, in that it sometimes feels like the start defines the whole.
The first stroke defines the painting. The first paragraph defines the story.
This idea is paralysing.
And rationally I should know better, but art and rationality are strange bedfellows.
for a gallery show.
“It’s your first gallery show!” They told me as I walked into the lunchroom.
I gave my notice at my job last week and have been wrapping up my duties before I head into a long-planned creative sabbatical and some time off. The team was throwing me a little farewell party, and as a special treat along with pizza and sweets had hung up a couple dozen print-offs from my artsy instagram profile. The effect was a wall of my sketches and paintings and, yeah, kinda a little gallery show as we all drooled over the steaming boxes on the nearby table.
How clever, and really more touching than I probably let on in the moment.
It also made for an interesting post-party afternoon as a dozen people picked their favs from the wall and lined up at my desk to have it signed.
Seven weeks into an eight week class I feel a lot of things, but I think it’s best summed up with a description of a graph.
The Confidence versus Knowledge graph, they say, is like a curve with a deep dip in the middle.
At the start, when knowledge is (greater than zero but still) low, confidence is high. You know enough to do something that’s okay and you occasionally stumble into something better than okay, and you feel like you know a lot more than when you started, and even a little bit of knowledge is a lot more than zero knowledge.
Confidence is equally high at the other end of the knowledge plot. When you know a lot, you know that you know a lot, and while you may be modest about it ultimately you have the confidence that comes from knowing what you know and being good at what you’re no long just trying to do, but actually doing.
In the middle, tho, where knowledge is growing and getting more robust and deeper and broader and better, your confidence dips. You start to realize that as much as you know there is still so much more to learn and practice and improve upon. You do good work but you realize where the gaps are and the work that it will take to overcome and fill those gaps.
Taking a class has moved me firmly into the middle of that graph. I know I am improving. I know that I’ve learned a lot. But my confidence has taken a nosedive into the valley of knowing that I have a lot to learn yet.
(In other words, if you are wondering why I haven’t written much lately, maybe it has something to do with confidence…?)
in defence of breaks.
Even routine needs to be broken occasionally.
I’ve been training for a marathon for the last three months. I started training eight months before the actual race because I’d been injured and while I wasn’t (strictly speaking) starting from scratch, I was pretty much starting over in my running career. So I’ve spent about three months building.
And then this week I took a break. I skipped two runs. Why? Because, life. Because we were having some new carpet installed and I needed to move furniture for three days straight. Because there are forest fires a few hundred kilometers away and the air is brown here. Because my legs are tired. Because I wanted to. Because.
I was writing here daily for about a month and a half and then I abruptly stopped.
Why? Because. Because sometimes routines need to be broken, and occasionally one just needs to stop and readjust. And there’s nothing wrong with that.