The past couple of years in my art practice have been a little bit all over the place. From a commission project gone horribly wrong (that took up the better part of 6 months that I would really just like to forget), some commissions that went very right, a coloring book project, to some flirtations with illustration work, and a lot of self-education through online classes, I haven’t had a lot of time to actually make work. My work. Work that isn’t for someone else, or for a class assignment, or for any specific purpose, other than a continuation of the exploration of my practice.
I’ve been in the throes of a strange kind of creative block; not one where I have no ideas of what to do next, or one where I’ve lost my creative mojo, but one where I have TOO many ideas and not enough time to sort through and explore them, that it almost becomes paralyzing. While trying to take a bunch of online classes, publish my first adult coloring book, and complete the odd commission, (and of course, working full time), I haven’t had the energy or mental space to concentrate on any one of the many projects/ideas that are swirling in my head. This is not a complaint; I acknowledge that this is a good problem to have: I’m busy, and I have lots of ideas.
I’ve been holding onto all these ideas, telling them to please be patient, I’ll get to you, I promise. (I wholeheartedly relate to Elizabeth Gilbert’s suggestion that creative ideas are floating out there in the universe, just waiting to be picked up so they can come into being, and if you ignore them, they will just find another channel.) I’d start working on one of these ideas, only to be derailed by the coloring book, or the demands of a class I was taking, or life would happen, and the project would just sit there, unfinished, sad, on my studio wall. It would sit there until the creative impulse that started it would fade, and I would feel disconnected and disinterested in it, eventually finding itself in the purgatory of my ‘work in progress’ flat file drawer.
This is something that happens again and again, but that I have to remind myself is part of the process. For each finished piece I have done, there is at least one piece that I have abandoned, that I considered to be enough of a failure that I eventually gave up and stuck it in that drawer, telling myself I’d get back to it someday. But these ‘failures’ are really part of the whole process; without them, I wouldn’t be moving forward and trying new things, things that might not work. Each time I start a new series or project, I of course promptly forget this, and get frustrated by my lack of productivity. I need to remember that there are always false starts, trial and error, and other things demanding my attention.
So I’m happy now that the coloring book is out in the world, and there are no major deadlines looming, and I can finally devote my attention to a new series. I’m going back to my roots a bit, and working directly on large sheets of black paper with ink and gouache. Click the slideshow above to see a little preview of some of the new pieces in progress.