Over the last few months, I’ve continued to work in my art journal as time allowed (mostly on weekends when I take a break from working on my books). But, sadly, I’ve been lacking in both inspiration and enthusiasm.
I was excited to finish my fourth journal and in the process of those last three or four spreads, my work began to feel like almost like a chore. It was as if the goal of finishing that journal was looming over me and finishing that third-to-last then second-to-last then last spread became the goal rather than creating spreads that were meaningful to me and enjoyable to create. It’s as if the journaling process lost its spirit.
Once that fourth journal was finished, It was exciting to sew together the new—fifth—journal and I was looking forward to start working in it. But the blank pages just stared at me. That was an uncomfortable feeling I hadn’t experienced before. I was intimidated. And as I thought back over previous spreads, I was beginning to feel I was creating the same thing over and over again. And that seemed futile.
I don’t think it was really true that I was creating the same thing over and over again. Of course, there were similarities among many of the spreads. For one thing, the format dictates avoiding the center for any important part, as that’s where the seam is. For another, I almost always include images of animals and in many cases I draw or paint them rather than clip them from a magazine. For yet another, I have my favorite techniques and materials as well as techniques I don't particularly enjoy, and it's natural to use the former often and the latter selcdom.
So, is creating a number of pieces that all have many things in common the same as painting the same thing over and over again? Or does it mean I have a style? In order to recapture my enthusiasm, I chose to believe it’s evidence of having a style and with renewed determination, got going again.
The photos are of the most recent spread I did. I happened upon two images of cats which really appealed to me, and I wanted to draw them. That was the beginning. The next part was deciding on a theme and what came to me was the cats contemplating the things they’re grateful for. Those things would represent the air, earth, and water—hence a bird, a mouse, and a fish. The poses of the cats pretty much dictated the composition.
I’m pretty happy with the outcome—especially the colors—but as I look back on the process, it wasn’t fun like it should be. There was no element of play or experimentation. Instead, there was tension and worry about creating a piece that I would love. I’m really stuck. The reality is that not every piece I create is a piece I’ll love, but I’m having trouble accepting that. I don’t know when quality of outcome nudged play and fun out of the way, but it did.
And that needs to change.
But how? I don’t really know any way other than to just do it. I’ll make myself a little reminder card to have at my workspace. But other than that, I just have to do it. I’ll report back on how that works!