By sheer coincidence I have reached the end of a sketchbook at the same time a month closed for the Sketchbook Skool daily sketching challenge.
Dear readers, I am going to be making a change.
For well over a year, I have done a sketch a day either thematically, or (since late July) using the Sketchbook Skool prompts. By “sketch a day” for most of that year it really was sit down one time a day and make a sketch. Occasionally, I would work a day or two ahead, but it was genuinely a sketch a day.
Once school started back up (I am a teacher), this became overwhelming, so I would do seven sketches over a weekend, usually all in one day, to get the week of prompts in. This exacerbated a problem I have that I dismissed or ignored when I first started drawing and blogging once a day.
Here’s the thing. I would never throw the term OCD around lightly. I have seen the deep struggles those suffering with this go through and would not even jokingly say I had it. However…I have some tendencies. Once I start something like this it begins to control me. I can’t NOT do it. This has begun to turn an enjoyable activity and learning experience into a chore. I turned art into a chore. Who does that?
The “weekend warrior” version of daily sketches didn’t mean I wasn’t learning and improving but forced me, since I was generally in a rush, to do several things.
One is to only just one or two mediums – too much work to get others out. I got better at those I used, but there are other things I like, prefer, or would like to learn, and I wasn’t doing that.
Rushing was another problem and meant that I wasn’t taking very much time with most of the sketches, which means I really could have done more of them better. The pressure made me accept less than great work just to move on to the next…
The prompts – especially those not self-imposed – were beneficial in that I often had to think outside the box and to draw things I would not normally draw. This is good because it stretches me. But it also means less time to draw things I would prefer and did not always enjoy my new art chore.
In addition, that rushing meant that I did not always take the time to do my own thing. I looked up so many models in other places by other and better artists. I am not sure I have managed to start developing my own style.
The biggest thing, though, was that I turned art into a chore. It’s not supposed to be a chore. It’s supposed to be enjoyable, relaxing even. It’s supposed to be self-expression. And I have strayed far from that.
Here’s the change I am making:
I will no longer be doing a sketch a day (or 7 in a weekend). You will no longer see a post from me every day, either.
But I am not going to stop completely. I will still do art, and I will still post about it, when I have it. You will see more variety, and hopefully you’ll see more that’s me and less that is modeled after the work of others. Even when I do get inspiration from Pinterest, art classes, the internet, etc., since I am allowing myself more time, I should be able to do more with putting my own spin on it – and to produce better quality.
My first focus will be a return to photography. Last year (yes, 2016) I started the Dogwood 52 week photo challenge. I did well for the first few weeks, started to get stuck, got sporadic, then got really stuck and really behind, and did, maybe, about 1/3 of them. I planned on finishing it up this year and got, I think, two more done.
My first goal is to finish as much of that as possible for the end of the year. I do not think I will actually achieve ALL the photos I have not yet done by December first, but I am really going to try. And then finish as we go into 2018.
Thank you for sticking with me through this essay and on my daily posts. You’ve all been so supportive, and that support has helped give me a small bit of confidence that I never used to have in art.
(The image for this post is not my own work.)