There is such a delicate balance between making art and then having time to scan/edit/crop and write about it. And also the balance between making art and having time to watch more Sailor Moon, which is another way I’ve been filling my time (on episode 23 of… 200 ^_^”). But hey, look! I came up with a project for myself a couple months ago, and it’s been going pretty well in terms of finding time to work on it. And it’s *gasp* enjoyable!
Back in February, I had this idea to start a “mark making” project. I was inspired by a suggestion in the book Once Upon a Colorful Canvas†. The author, Kindah Khalidy, suggests doing “brush calisthenics” to familiarize oneself with the marks different types and sizes of brushes can make.
I thought – why not do that with all my art supplies: explore their range of marks?
Not only is it super simple (no worry about “doing it wrong”), but it’s sort of like “waking” the supplies up, in a Marie Kondo-esque fashion: using them, seeing if any pens were dried out (like around 10 it turns out, eeep!), seeing what supplies are in my collection, and getting a chance to declutter and organize all the supplies better.
So, I made a list of all the different medium categories I own (graphite pencils, watercolor, etc). I decided to start extremely simple: pens and markers, which I tended to have in my bag/with a sketchbook anyway. So – here’s the first set in the series:
(Click for larger views)
These and the groups that I’ll be posting in the upcoming week (*fingers crossed*) aren’t in perfect order – I wasn’t dating them or anything, but I can kind of tell where I started very tight and controlled, with very small marks and neat rows, then started experimenting and letting go.
I had to keep telling myself that I could cut them up later as collage paper, which made it feel like such “low-stakes” ego-wise, that I was willing to play and try things that looked strange.
Let me tell you: letting yourself play when drawing is just the best. And because it was very free and abstract, I could tell when I was sliding into controlled, stressful drawing and when I was loose and mentally relaxed.
There was a time around that last image of this set that life was starting to get frightening: the prospect of social distancing, but not quite stay-at-home orders yet, the unknown of what the pandemic meant (before it was declared a pandemic). And at the time, Ricky and I were looking for houses†† and went to a showing that didn’t work out, so…yeah. That last image may be exuding ~~~ waves of stress ~~~ for a reason.
I had no real plans going into the “rows” of marks or patterns. Sometimes I’d grab a group of pens based on their color or nib type or whatever, but mostly it was random. It didn’t hurt that my pens were the most disorganized of my supplies by far, in different containers and bags and such. I’d use a pen for a little while (usually an entire “row” but sometimes just for accents), then add it to an empty box I was using for pens that had been used and could later be organized/put away.
Overall, though, drawing on these pages reminded me of mindfulness mediation – feeling when my mind drifted away from the practice and when I was in flow. It felt good to recognize flow and nudge myself along. Later, I picked up speed, and it became easier to stay in flow. I’m currently working on what I’m considering “part 9” of the project (colored pencils, yay!), so I think it’s going well.
At first my thoughts would drift – trying to get me to stop drawing, to pick a different, “better” project. Something more interesting – something where the results wouldn’t be weird or childish or boring. I had to keep breathing through it, reminding myself it was the act of marking the page that I was practicing, the act of responding to the medium. The result wasn’t important (and I could cut it up to my hearts content in later collages, ha.)
This approach surprised me in how much it soothed my internal art block. It felt so effective for me: I produced full pages with marks faster and in a (mostly) calm mindset. Extra added bonus: being more relaxed meant less neck and hand strain. Yeah, sometimes I felt like I was “wasting” art supplies/ink/etc. but I think it’s worth it, if I’m inspiring myself along the way. And above it all, learning to keep a regular art practice, regardless of the topic or medium at hand.
So… now to find time tomorrow to scan/edit the next bunch of images. I’ve been prioritizing drawing††† over blogging, but I don’t want to build up too big of a backlog of posts and then let this place collect more dust bunnies. It’s 10:10pm here already, alas.
Today felt… sort of productive, but also frustrating: a passing storm system gave me a migraine that I had to fight off at the very tail end of the work day (some afternoon Earl Grey tea caffeine helped for a bit). Though: I feel weird complaining even a little bit when there is so much pain and chaos in the world. I honestly don’t know how I “should” be blogging about art in a time like this. I’m trying to just adapt to my little apartment bubble of remote work, boyfriend, art, anime, cleaning, virtual dance class, talking with friends and family, and such. Having little things to cheer about or whine about is what makes me enjoy reading other people’s slice-of-life blogs, so… I guess I’ll…give myself permission to complain about little things here? While knowing I have blessings and privilege and it’s complicated. On that note, time to get good rest and take care of myself.
Good night, internet. <3
† IDK why Goodreads has the title as different than the the book cover *shrug*
†† Yeah… that’s… on hold.
††† Okay, and watching anime.