The Raven-Dissected. Part 2: The Bad
In mythology, ravens are often portrayed as ghostly omens or tricksters. This blog post isn’t about the stories of evil ravens, because I do not see them in this way. Instead, this post is about the struggles of creating, more specifically some of my current struggles with creating this larger painting of the common raven, and some of the typical day to day challenges of the creative life. I remind myself that things may seem bad or frustrating at the time, but obstacles are all apart of the process.
TIME. Time is my nemesis. I crave a good chunk of time to focus on my artwork and designs, but it’s hard when I spend a most of my time at work. I’ve found that the first step to dealing with time constraints is come to terms with their existence and see they aren’t a bad thing. It is the constriction of time that forces me to focus on the goal for each day.
INSPIRATION. As a young artist I used to think that goals defeated the purpose of art. Art was meant to flow freely from the subconsciousness. The work must be created only at times of “inspiration.” But I’ve come to realize that goals, deadlines, and hard work are where art and design are born. However, much like the “code” of pirates, end goals are more of “guidelines” than rules to be followed. Moments of inspiration will come and go, but I must continue to work day to day.
“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of process; they come out of the work itself.” -Chuck Close
MEMORY/IDEAS. As a designer, I’m grateful to have a creative job. Every day I have the opportunity to learn new techniques and talk shop with other designers. Thinking about my own work throughout the day is difficult but a necessary skill to learn. I have to remember to bring lessons from the office to bear on my own work, so I can continue to grow and evolve. This doesn’t mean I can bust out a painting at the office, but when inspiration strikes, I use evernote to jot down ideas on my phone. When I’m home at my computer, the notes are all synced up. I read them and remember what I wanted to try with my own work.
LIGHTING. In recent years, I’ve grown accustomed to working on a glowing computer screen. When I go back to working on wooden panel, I find myself moving from side to side, squinting my eyes, trying to see the fine details of my drawing or painting. There never seems to be enough light after sundown. A solution my husband came up with is to use a headlamp. A quality headlamp focuses a soft beam of light directly on the section of the painting you’re looking at. Of course it can’t compare to the all-encompassing light of day that flows through a room with ample windows, but it’s a pretty easy way to put light where you need it.
BEGINNING. Perhaps the biggest struggle is getting started. It’s comfortable for me to work on a computer. I’ve got the world at my fingertips. I can always press “command + z” to magically go back in my process. I can turn layers on and off as needed and simply save my work and walk away with out any clean up. But beginning a painting is labor-intensive. I make my own wooden panels, which means I have to go to go buy materials, measure and cut the wood, sand it, clean up my mess, put away tools, etc. After all this work, at some point, I have a big empty beautiful blank panel. Its so beautiful that it can be daunting to find where to start. There is no “command + z” in this scenario, so if I bungle it, I’ve got to come up with a solution that works with what I’ve got. It’s not easy or clean, but it’s engrossing. For me, this act of placing paint or drawing a line on a surface has the potential to be euphoric.
So now that I’ve openly addressed some of the many challenges, it’s time to continue on the journey with the common raven.