Right away, I’m already confused. Was I supposed to write 2015 or 2016? Oh, New Years — you are so confounding.
2015 was fun! Creativity bounded throughout my brain like a baby goat.
It began calmly enough in January-ish when I started noodling around with Zentangles, cautiously coloring my designs with markers. Here was my very first Zentangle. It took weeks, but I could feel something waking up.
Wanting to share this sweet luxury, I taught an afterschool Zentangles class where I work and it was a blast exploring different patterns and projects with nine- and ten-year-olds. I looked forward to that class all week. Here were some of the designs that soon followed.
Feeling a bit braver in the spring, I signed up for the online course Beginning at Sketchbook Skool, which I had found about from a blog. (I forget which. Maybe Rowdy Kittens?) It was six weeks of discovery and my long-avoided sketchbook started filling up with drawings. Mind you, they weren’t magnificent, but something small but major clicked and my perfectionism shut up. Well, that’s not quite true. It was always there — and still is — but my inner grandmother just started tut-tutting at it and sending it off to eat a snack.
I quickly signed up for another two courses and played some more. (One of the courses was aptly entitled just that — Playing.) It made for a giddy summer.
The Long-Sought-After Mindshift
For years and years and years I’d wanted to get back to drawing but couldn’t figure out what to work on. I’d start a serious sketch and would get frustrated with how awkward/boring/stupid it was. I felt inept, like a high-school-art-student-has-been. Maybe I’d never really been that good. Feeling like I was a good artist was, I realized, a huge sticking point. I didn’t like finding out that I wasn’t as good as I imagined, and my ego had rather comical temper tantrums. Things in the old brain were getting ugly.
On the rare occasion that I’d pick up a pencil, I’d labor over the illustration, erasing and redrawing, trying to get it just right. Sometimes the amount of erasing would begin to erode the paper. I wanted it to look the way it was supposed to look. And the kicker was that, if by some miracle it was good, then I’d get frustrated because all I was doing was making a replica, and not really being “an artist.” It’s a wonder I ever kept at it.
I’m oversimplifying this “2015 change” because, in fact, I had taken some human anatomy illustration courses at a local museum in the last three years, and they had helped me relax and focus on general form, rather than on perfect replicas. But I found myself only drawing while I was in class. Outside of the charcoal-smeared studio, I’d feel stuck without a model, easel, and numerous talented artists milling about, providing the needed inspiration. Despite this excellent training, I wasn’t drawing yet for the fun of it.
Because there had to be a product, right? And where would I hang it? And when would something be good enough to hang up? And what do I actually want hanging on my walls? A realistic watercolor painting? I had some expensive watercolor paper, but what if I messed it up with a childish picture that was unworthy? Should I do a charcoal drawing? Of what? Of whom? And the framing will cost a bundle, won’t it? Will our cheap walls even support a heavy frame? And what if I think something is good now and I frame it, and then later I get better and I don’t like it anymore? What then? Huh? Huh?
I trust you have caught the gist of this cycle.
But now I don’t even think about hanging anything up because, dopily, I’m too busy having fun creating weird stuff in my sketchbooks. Often it’s loopy ink drawings with messy watercolors thrown in the mix. Some days I think, “Cool!” and then turn the page to start something new. Other days I’ll shrug and think, “Meh,” and then turn the page to start something new. It doesn’t matter. “On to the next!” seems to be the mantra upon finishing. For the first time since I was little, I’m just drawing because it’s fun. That’s it. Product be damned. (You heard me.)
So that was my big artistic breakthrough.
I also read a ton, but I’ll talk about that later, because that’s a WHOLE other post.
Here a smattering of the sketches I created this year. Have a lovely Saturday!