The Artist’s Way – week eleven

Overview

A sudden family bereavement last week has knocked us all for a loop and I’m at a loss as to what to do next. But I’m alive and I have to keep going, despite the loss. I don’t want to dwell on it – it feels like I’ve done nothing but talk about it and I’ve got nothing to say that I haven’t already said over and over.

As far as The Artist’s Way goes, I’m still struggling on. I have lingering feelings of “doing it wrong” for taking over a year to do this instead of 12 weeks, but this is my project, not anyone else’s, and – although I want it to be done – I’m not planning on rushing the last week just to get it over with.

One if this week’s exercises is to record your artist’s prayer and use it for meditation. Well, I completely forgot about all that almost as soon as I made the recording, and my meditation practice is less regular than I’d like. Something to works on, and this week’s exercises have given me a better direction for the future.

Regarding synchronisity (something Cameron is keen on, as a sign from a supportive creator), there have been a few things this month. My house has been a constant source of stress for a while now and, as it was coming to a head, the internet lit up with chatter about Marie Kondo. Since my sister had lent me the book, I got stuck in and even the small changes I’ve made so far have improved my mental health considerably. A letter promising a financial windfall – from a legitimate source, and unrelated to last week’s bereavement – arrived just as some unanticipated outgoings left us short.

Morning pages

I’m getting more consistent, and building up a good streak, but weekends still defeat me. I’m still not sure how I’m supposed to fit three pages of longhand into half an hour, but it doesn’t matter. I’m doing my thing, my way.

Artist’s date

I don’t think I did one this month. I went on new adventures, visited new places and made time to play, but Cameron stipulates that this is “artist alone-time”. My play-time this month wasn’t creative, but it was necessary.

I’m slowly getting more comfortable making space for play, though I’m not consistent with it yet, and it isn’t a habit. However, despite what Cameron says, I think there’s space for play-time which other people; I can isolate myself very easily, and minigolf isn’t much fun on your own!

Verdict

A mixed month, all in all. Up until last week, I’d have said it was going pretty well and I was optimistic about the future. I suppose I still am, but – for obvious reasons – I’m feeling somewhat subdued right now.

But I have a plan, and I’m setting goals and working towards them. I’m using the morning pages to identify stressors and dealing with them as I recognise them, and I’m slowly growing into the kind of person I want to be.

Retrospective: Generosity and Greed

This picture had an incredibly challenging gestation. I pushed myself hard and learned a lot about a lot of things – colour, composition, and time management, amongst others – but, in the end, I definitely bit off more than I could chew. While I’m not unhappy with the result, I’ve definitely reached a point where my technical skill is outstripped by my vision.

Original concept
Original concept
Value thumbnails for the second version
Value thumbnails for the second version

I started over twice, the first time working up a low-res copy of a sketch I doodled a year previously on a piece of software I don’t have access to any more. Then, once I’d got to the colour comp stage, I put it aside to work on a time-limited project (Hound of the Baskervilles).

Colour thumbnails for second version
Colour thumbnails for second version

When I came back to it, it was several months later and I’d picked up a new Special Interest: runes. I redrew the thumbnails, trying to do something clever with runes and sigils and compositional armatures that ultimately didn’t work.

Value thumbnails for third version
Value thumbnails for third version

My original plan had been to paint this piece in encaustic (wax paint) on cradled board, but time and space constraints pushed me back to a digital workflow and that brought a raft of special problems. Namely: colour.

Since starting my mental health recovery, I’m fascinated with hyper-saturated colour. What little work I did during my illness was desaturated, bordering on monochrome, and working out colour palettes and exercising restraint weren’t really necessary. Happily, that’s not the case any more. On the other hand, learning such things takes more time than I’ve had and my lack of experience is obvious (to me).

Colour thumbnails for the third version.
Colour thumbnails for the third version

In the end, I’m okay with letting this one go. I learned a lot, I got enough Symbolism in to assuage my inner Fine Artist, and I have a better idea of which areas I need to improve.

And sometimes, that’s exactly what you want from a piece.

The Artist’s Way – week ten

Overview

Since my last check-in, I find myself awash with religiosity. Specifically, I’m more active in my faith and faith community that I have been for a long time. It’s good. I’m happier in myself and whether that’s because of this fresh start or incidental to it doesn’t matter. I’ll take what I can get.

I’ve started a new blog to talk about that because I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea and I’m not the proselytising type. There’s inevitably going to be some overlap at some point, though – plants, animals, and the environment have always been Special Interests of mine, and there’s no hard line where it stops being an interest and starts being an expression of faith, especially for an animist dealing largely with fantastic themes. If it works for Miyazaki…

I do consider The Artist’s Way to be the root of this. All of Cameron’s talk about a Creator and how our creativity is our gift back to them and/or them working through us is where it started, so I’ve definitely got something out of this course, even if it wasn’t what I was looking for when I went in.

Morning pages

I’m getting better at doing the pages, even if it’s only every other day. I fired my counsellor in January, and haven’t yet built up a rapport with the new one, so I’m relying on them to figure out what’s going on and what I need to address.

I’m not beating myself up as much about not getting them done every day, but I’m celebrating when I do them and when they provide insight, and that seems to be working. More carrot, less stick

Artist’s date

I took a couple of hours to revisit some characters I haven’t thought about in years. I had to try very hard not to fall into the trap of ‘this has to be perfect/presentable/portfolio-worthy’ and just enjoy the moment, but I still struggle. Character design isn’t something I’ve done for a long time and these characters are so ill-defined that the first big step is to get a sense of who they are, but they’re coming along.

I remember wanting to use them in a comic, if only I could come up with a coherent storyline for them, but the concepts are still fun to play with. An accidental necromancer, an atheist paladin, and an immortal pirate captain walk into a bar…

Verdict

I’m starting to flag, but the end is in sight.

I enjoyed taking some time to sketch without the expectation of having anything presentable. Like when I was playing with the figurines, removing the pressure of making something presentable freed me up to just tinker with ideas. My life is an ocean of stressors, unfinished to-do lists and self-inflicted deadlines right now, and making space to play was exactly what I needed.