I’m starting a new project inspired by two books and the antsy feeling I’ve been having lately every time I approach my work. It’s hard to explain, but let’s see if this resonates with you at all.
The Ansty Feeling
Lately I’ve felt stuck – and stuck to me means trapped. This feeling makes me hyper-critical of everything I do – especially my art. It cracks me open to feelings of comparison and lack. Nothing I do feels right. Who I am, my goals, my plans, my life – all of it comes under unproductive scrutiny.
It’s an ugly state to be in, and it’s one entirely in my head. I know I’m where I’m supposed to be at this moment. But still…
So to get out of my head (and out of my own way), I’m tackling something I’ve wanted to for a while – my artistic style.
An aside about artistic style: I’m the first one to say that you can’t make yourself have a style. I do believe it’s a combination of your influences, your tastes, your visual communication skills, your artistic experiments, technique and the certain essence that is uniquely you. This is why I believe style is evolutionary. Your art grows as you grow. It’s what I love about creativity. And I always tell people to relax and let their style develop organically. But if you don’t explore, you can’t experiment and I think style can’t develop.
Here’s where I’m at…
In my head I have a clear vision of how I want my work to look and what I want it to convey on a visceral, gut level. I want my work to evoke certain feelings. Generally the feeling can’t be articulated with words (although people may want to try), but it’s there in the gut – comforting or discomforting – as unique as the one who views it. It moves the beholder and sparks interaction.
Does any of this make sense?
My frustration is that I’m nowhere near that. Part of that is due to my lack of proficiency as an artist. Sure, I can draw from observation. And yes, I have an ever-growing facility with my chosen mediums (graphite, charcoal, and watercolor).
I’m continually in pursuit of improving technically – that never stops – but my work lacks emotion. It’s missing a sense of wonder, and therefore the intrinsic joy of just being part of the life on this planet.
When I look at classical art – whether produced by the Old Masters or the new ones – the world splits open and I feel wonder, contemplative, excited, entertained, transported, meditative, energized all at the same time.
There’s energy in the work, but also a sense of quietude that invites reflection.
My own work sparks none of that for me – hence the static, “stuck-ness” I’ve been feeling lately – so how can I expect others to feel anything when they see it?
What Am I Going To Do About This?
I am quite literally going back to the drawing board.
I’ve set up an easel and drawing board in the corner of my studio.
For the next four weeks, I’m spending at least an hour a day in front of my drawing board to go through the drawing process outlined by Juliette Aristides in her book Lessons in Classical Drawing using the learning process outlined by Josh Kaufman in his book The First 20 Hours.
I’ve spent the weekend gathering materials and references. There’s a dedicated space for the project and time is blocked on my calendar. I’ve queued a list of podcasts and books to listen to while I work on this project that are separate from my normal work playlist. And I’ve added blog and social media posts to my editorial calendar for accountability.
The goal here is to experience Juliette Aristides’s process in hopes that it will help me move closer to a more expressive style than I have now. At the very least, I’m taking some sort of action, but I’m more ambitious than that – I want an epiphany!
- Conte pencil
- Blog: Every Friday
- IG: Throughout the week in posts and stories
- Pinterest: Throughout the week on my board The Aristides Project
- Twitter: Throughout the week
Here’s where you come in:
- Your feedback is welcome and appreciated.
- Join me!
- Get a copy of both books from a library or the bookstore, and work with me using the tag #AristidesProject so I can find you, too!
- OR devise your own 20-hour project to master a skill, technique or explore your style.
Leave a comment below telling me what project you’re starting for the next four weeks!