I’ve been having a bit of a rant (I know! SO unlike me!)
And my friend Nicki, mentioned in a previous post said I should blog it. I am no fool. I know she said this just to shut me up and get me off her back.
We were talking about me doing life drawing. I do life drawing every week, there are a few on my web page, and I’ve sold a few over the years. But for every decent one, there are probably a few hundred really crappy ones. You cannot let this stop you doing it, because stopping just makes it worse. How can you do something good if you never pick up a pencil and risk doing something rubbish? So I plod on, and I don’t know that I’m getting any better at it, but I’m not getting any worse, and occasionally I look at a drawing and say “Bloody hell! where did that one come from?”
BUT… what Nicki and I were talking about was writers’ or artists’ block. I said I didn’t think it existed. Because you just have to DO SOMETHING… write…. draw…. sing…. whatever… IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE GOOD! (I think what I actually said was “get over yourself, get up off your fat arse and do something!) Judgement of quality is a completely different process, and you cannot judge the quality of something that does not exist!
Every pencil line/note/photograph/word/brush stroke/pile of litter has potential.
I have in the past got really irritated with students who moan they can’t draw. I usually ask them how often they draw, and without fail they say either “never”, or “not very often”, or “only when you tell me to”. Now…. I can’t play the violin. But I never moan about not being able to play the violin, because I have never tried. (I’m not saying that all artists should draw, it’s not all about that…. drawing isn’t necessary, and is a different discipline, but that is perhaps a different rant)
You have to actually do something. I cannot help a student who produces nothing. I can help a student who says they are having difficulty thinking about something, and brings me a pile of newspaper cuttings, photos, colour palettes, a list of odd words, a recording of strangers talking at the bus stop…even the contents of their pockets. We have something to talk about.
(I’ve come back in to edit this…well expressed thoughts are products… I don’t need a thing on a table, but something has to start us off)
I think my own art school training has much to do with this. We had a crit every week, and we were expected to show a week’s worth of something… anything.
When you get used to this process, you lose a certain amount of embarrassment and inhibition. I have dived into the songwriting circle, with a great deal of trepidation about my shortcomings as a non-musician and so on… there’s a huge list of stuff I can’t do and don’t know. But life is short, too short to spend it quivering on the edge.
So… writers block only exists in your head… making judgement on something that doesn’t exist is a waste of time!
Artists’ block – nonsense! If I do a pile of 300 crappy drawings, I’m still an artist, and occasionally, when I pick one out of the pile that’s REALLY good, and someone buys it… it’s all worthwhile.
And if I’m stitching, and have no clue where I’m going, I keep going anyway, the actual process of making helps the thinking.
If you can’t think of what to write or make, write or make something that isn’t of your own creation… sing someone else’s song, draw the cheese grater, knit a tea-cosy to someone else’s pattern. I can pretty much guarantee that your eyes, ears, hands will take over and you will find yourself inventing the harmony, adjusting the pattern, or giving the grater a different handle, and drawing the cheese that’s in your head.
All you need is a starting point.
(Perhaps I should say, all I need is a starting point. I am willing to be argued with here. Far be it from me to judge…..)