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 journal · Daily Art Devotion

Daily Art Devotions: Day Three

For day three of the #DailyArtDevotions 40-day #artjournal journey with Elizabeth Foley, I used day two’s quote for inspiration. I had planned on creating a self-portrait as a way to symbolize showing up to do the work. However, my first attempt was…well…terrible is putting it nicely. So, I pulled the watercolor paper off the page with the intention of gluing another sheet onto the page, but then I saw the rough surface, and I wondered what it would be like to create on the remnants of a torn off sheet of paper. I thought it would add some really cool texture to the drawing, and it did.

My intention was to try a self-portrait again, but it didn’t really work out that way. I used a photo of myself and then traced over it and transferred it onto the page with transfer paper, but when I did, the features did not show up on the rough surface. So, I just added features myself. I then used Ecoline markers, Bombay inks, and Posca pens to create the page below.

The quote from Julia Cameron does not have “love & approve” in it, only “approve,” but I accidentally put “love” so I added the “&” and kept on going. I made a lot of “mistakes” with this page, but I am proud of myself for staying with it. It is helping me to build confidence and proving that I can come up with solutions to unexpected issues both in my art and in my life.

For this 40-day journey, I am willing to give up my need to be perfect and create perfectly. Instead, I am just going to create, create, create, and hope that the perfectionist, critical voice will be silenced or at least will be a very gentle whisper by the end of the 40 days.

Though I was very hesitant to repurpose an old book, it is now one of my favorite things about this journey. I never would have thought to make an art journal out of an old cookbook!

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