Tabletop with peonies and a postcard. Pen and ink.
It feels good to be drawing again, after running around for several weeks and barely setting pen to paper. There's no need to look for, or set up, a beautiful arrangement of objects - interesting forms and juxtapositions are everywhere. I find it a good challenge to just draw what's on the tabletop at a particular moment and not fuss over it too much. What can be made of whatever simply is?
Wine bottle with plastic bag and computer mouse. Pen and ink.
I think it's more important to get one's fingers busy drawing (or writing, or playing music) and one's head concentrating and absorbed than to worry about making a beautiful, finished, accomplished piece of art. Working fast and often, filling up sketchbooks, studying and learning from one's efforts: this is what seems to pay the best rewards and keeps me, anyway, from getting paralyzed by self-doubt or freighting infrequent drawings with too many expectations. (I liked what Laura Murphy Frankstone wrote about this recently on her artblog, in a post called "The 48 crayons and me") And it's amazing how, over time, we actually do improve: we see better, we draw better, our fingers gain facility, we get a better idea of what we want to do, we can make sense out of where we've been, we don't get as rattled by our failures, we're freer and more able to experiment. The point is to plunge in, trust the process, and not worry too much about where or how, or especially about end results or comments from others.
It helps to have ways of seeing one's path, and to have some sense of community. Having gallery shows is one way, keeping a blog is another, and the internet affords us a lot of other opportunities as well. Over the past year or two I've regularly posted a lot of my work on Flickr, and followed a number of other artists and photographers who do the same. Unlike some other, busier social media platforms, our little corner of Flickr seems to be populated by people who use it as a way to collect and view their own body of work over time, and that of others. It's respectful, serious, and pretty quiet. I enjoy seeing the evolution of the work of other artists: drawings that turn into paintings, ideas in different media that grow and change, bodies of photographic work, people who work in several media at once, directions explored and directions abandoned. I learn a lot about my own path by observing what others are doing, and their perseverance encourages me.