Art · writing

Lessons Art Taught Me About Writing

I’ve always had a warped sense of how things should be. It is the thing that most often brings me down. I had this dream of writing the perfect first draft of a novel, no revision necessary. Yes, you can laugh, it is quite funny. But, I had developed a bad habit in college of sitting down at the last minute and writing papers (even if it took all night), and it had worked really well for me. I trained myself to self edit as I wrote, and after many, many, many years in college, it became a natural way for me to write. It wasn’t that I didn’t do revisions, but I wrote/edited/revised all at the same time, and all in one sitting. This did not carry over well to novel writing. It was impossible for me to sit down and write a novel in one sitting, and so I got stuck, and then I quit writing altogether.

Enter art.

Unfortunately, my bad habit of trying to create in one sitting has carried over to my art practice. I sometimes spend upwards of eight hours working on a piece. I forget to eat. I forget to drink. I forget everything but creating. I am working on changing that, but it seems to be something that is hardwired in my brain. Even when I try to walk away, my mind is buzzing with ideas about it, and I end up going back to it. Despite this bad-habit carryover, I have learned a very important lesson from the process of creating art. What art taught me, what creating art has helped me to see, is that my art can look like total shit, and I can think there is no hope for it, but then I add another layer, and maybe another layer, and maybe just one more layer, and then something beautiful emerges. I cannot tell you how many times I have looked at a piece of art when I am done and wonder how in the hell, me, who started out with zero artistic talent, could create something so beautiful out of nothing.

It took me a while to believe this could be applied to my writing, too. With my writing, I had always believed I needed to have everything perfectly planned out first. But with my art, I have learned that it is okay to jump right in, throw a bunch of shit at the page, and see what comes out. This has helped me to let go of “perfect first draft” syndrome. And now that I am nearing the end of the second draft of my first novel, I am getting excited about starting on the third draft. This kind of thinking would never have been possible without my experience creating art.

Image by Alexandr Ivanov from Pixabay

Art · Ever After 2018

Ever After 2018 Style Development

For today’s sketchbook practice, I followed along with Marielle Stolp’s Style Development lesson for #EverAfter2018. Next, I need to practice creating this while changing up two of the following: subject matter, supplies, or the approach.

Something to note is that I bought some Arches hot pressed watercolor paper, and this is third time I’ve worked on it, and I really don’t like it. I think it may be the smoothness of the hot pressed paper. Also, I really don’t like working on a piece without sketching something out first. I feel a loss of control with it, and it really irks my perfectionist side to the point of irritation. Additionally, though they are convenient, I am finding it hard to get consistent water flow with the water brushes. I think I may try switching to a regular brush next time I work with watercolor.

I really like the style development part of the Ever After course because it’s helping me to pay attention and be more aware about what I like and don’t like when creating. I have found that I do not trust myself yet, that I will try to “fix” something even if I like it because it is not what is in the instructions, and I’m afraid it will be “wrong.” I’ve really got to work on trusting my choices more…in art and in life.

Art · Ever After 2018

Day Two: Snow White

I finished Tamara Laporte’s #SnowWhite lesson from #EverAfter2018. I am exhausted. I spent the entire day working on this piece. I loved it, though. Through this process, I learned to be okay with change and imperfections and to use my intuition when I ran into problems (like when some of the paper I used for the collage fell apart and came up off the paper in pieces). I also learned that I need to find a graphite pencil I want to draw with because some of the depth was lost because I used the blue pencil I normally sketch with. Additionally, in order to keep going, I had to let go of my need to be perfect and just go with the flow. I kept comparing my artwork to Tamara Laporte’s and my inner critic would sneak in. I would have to quickly put her aside so I could continue.

I put each stage of my progress below based on the video lessons Tamara provided. In yesterday’s post, I included my drawing based on the first stage. Below you will see stage two, stage three, and then the final piece. I am very happy with it. It just goes to show that even when you think what you’ve done is terrible, it’s important to keep going. With each layer and each stage, the piece got better and better, and that was exciting to watch unfold as I worked. It helped to build my confidence which helped me keep going.