I was thinking the other day about one of the incidents in art school. My father was a paper engineer, so I grew up with closets full of paper, and lots of alone time. I got lost in drawing (and reading and singing and writing, but the upshot, is it was wallow in Agy time). It started with my mother wanting me to be quiet, and getting at first the obligatory “oohs” and “ahhs” to seeing people’s reactions when I really did a good job. Ma appreciated the quiet, I learned to draw, Mostly by hook and crook for the longest time. But as usual I digress.
When I ran away to art school and had to PAY for materials, is when I learned fear in the arena I loved, and it was a first. Sometimes it was a choice to eat for a few days or buy that luscious piece of Strathmore or Rives BFK, Now it would be a contest as I love to eat, but back then, the paper always won out. But here’s the thing. I would often stand in front of the paper terrified to make a mark. Because it might be the WRONG mark. A mark I couldn’t undo, a mark I hated. Eventually I learned about the joys of newsprint, and the quick study and the meaning of marks and how we view valuable or not (and it’s only within recent memory, I include my vast experiences as valuable- and remember the original meaning of giving me this stuff was to shut me up, and we see how that worked out.
But WHERE and HOW you start tells you a lot about what you feel about your journey. When I go swimming, I jump in with both feet, over my head, must get the belly wet. Other people dip their toes, cautiously wading in. When I draw, I usually work the whole page and try to not start in the middle (static-ville, man!). I try to start upper to middle left hand corner, but sometimes it’s right. and I often have a very good idea of what I’m going to draw before I start. Just as when I go touring around via car, I like to not only know my destination, but have an idea where I’m going. Some people like to see where the road takes them, and others have an itinerary waiting for them at the end of the road, or perhaps even along the way. This is an important thing to know about yourself. First, it makes it easier for you to honor your own process, because just as with the things I talked about swimming and Sunday driving there really isn’t a CORRECT way to do it, it says more about YOU. And if you’re having problems, it’s easier to pinpoint and jump start. Once I realized my trepidation at making the WRONG mark on that luscious piece of paper was the problem, I was able to reason through it. Could I buy another piece of paper? Yes, and I was willing to go hungry for it. Could I make a WRONG mark RIGHT? What the heck was a wrong mark, anyhow? Absurd. It became easier and easier. I never not want to value a piece of paper. A tree died so I could make art, and I think the trees are vastly underrated in this place. I’m in the process of creating a coloring book as a half way for people who want to be creative but are standing before their own luscious, delectable scrumptious paper, as a way to dip their toe, check the road map and make that mark. Think about what you want and if you want it enough. If you’re brave enough, why not jump in? The water is fine.