red, kraft & black floral - markers & paint pens on 6x9 sketchbook page © Susan Black 2015
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.
Art is knowing which ones to keep.
& I would suggest - keep all your mistakes, all your practice pieces because sometimes they don't actually seem that great when you first create them. Save them all and look at them again sometime in the future ... they might just become art to you.
pink & lavender floral - markers & paint pens on 6x9 sketchbook page © Susan Black 2015
The most important thing about art is to work.
Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying. Steven Pressfield The War of Art
Since January I've developed an almost every night sketchbook page project/habit and it's been fantastic in helping me find more pure creative time in my day. I retreat to my bed (the nest of down & flannel) with my cats and Netflix or an audio book, a blank sheet of paper, an array of markers and pens - I do this every night at 7pm. This new habit was sparked by me signing up for Lisa Congden's CreativeBug course Sketchbook Explorations a course which I highly recommend.
Most nights I get myself tucked in under the covers and that blank page and I have our first confrontation - it's never pleasant and almost always a surprise to me how much Resistance I have around "beginning". Last night was as bad as it gets. That blank page and I battled it out, me coming up with a million & 1 reasons why I couldn't begin. In a very whiny voice I reminded that blank page that I couldn't decide what colours to use and I wasn't at all sure where on the page I should start. Maybe I'll take a night off I told it hoping of course that the blank page would agree ... thankfully it was not so.
The above floral sketch is a result of me ignoring Resistance, or maybe it's more like accepting Resistance. Admittedly I did bargain a little, reminding myself that I could stop at any time, I could begin again on a fresh page if I didn't like how this was turning out. I chose my colour palette, picked out my pens and began. Naturally the first 1/6th of the page I continued to feel attached to Resistance and unsure of where my drawing was going ... if it was headed anywhere. By 1/3rd of the way into filling the page I had a direction along with many newly arrived sparks of ideas. The ironic thing is last night my Resistance was at an all time high but by working through that battle of feeling blocked by "doing" the resulting page is one of my all time favourites.
It's a favourite not only because I'm pleased with how the finished page looks but best of all it gave me lots of new creative ideas and directions plus a renewed sense of confidence which will make tonight's Resistance a barely there thing.
The thing about having an everyday creative practice is you become more used to this battle and much more accepting that there are going to be days (or nights in my case) where what you create (at least in the moment) feels like shit ... like a big waste of time but you never know because that shit night might be just the ticket to make the next night's effort golden. It's been my experience - basically the more you do, the more confident you become, the more you do the better you become.
* file under things that cease to amaze ;-)
Fear doesn't go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day. Steven Pressfield The War of Art
My own daily mantra, or at least how I strive to be each day but of course some days I do much better than others. Be Brave, Be Kind, Be True, Be You © Susan Black - handcrafted collage - digitally assembled & created for my fabulous customer Midwest/CBK & available on a variety of gift & home decor products including a lovely large wall canvas - check here for a retailer (US & Canada) near you.
It's not time to worry yet
Harper Lee To Kill a Mocking Bird
As someone who has for far too many years considered my fantastic ability to worry & to predict possible terrible outcomes (A through at least K) to be a great asset to my life, not to mention the "magical thinking" aspect of believing if you worry hard enough about something you will somehow protect yourself from that thing. Think of our crazy superstition of "knocking on wood" when we assert something positive like "I don't worry about money" or "I never get sick" ?? I continue struggling daily to let go of this misguided & detrimental habit of mine.
Making this move to my new community + continuing to work hard building my own little self sustaining (that's the goal) creative empire + buying a new sweet house here + being separated from the Prince, Sam & itty bitty Betty ... have given me plenty of reasons to worry. Don't get me wrong, mixed in with all those potential worry topics are plenty of thrilling, exciting & happy inducing stuff - like I am completely smitten with my new community & darling new home (more on that later). Sometimes I believe having that mixed up soup of emotions happy, fear, excited, worry, thrilled, fretting is almost harder than just being firmly planted in one of those camps ... harder for me. Thankfully I then remember to remind myself that I can choose to plant myself in either one of those camps ... and of course I'm camping in Thrill-dom or at least I'm constantly looking for that campsite.
One thing that's really helped me, especially in the last 3+ months that I've been living in lovely Lunenburg is - every time I hear a new worry come a tapping on my thoughts (which trust me somedays it seems like it's non-stop tapping) I acknowledge the worry, maybe even write a bit in my journal about that particular fear (many of which are very legitimate money, housing ...) and then I ask myself the most fantastic question ! I ask myself
Do I need to worry about that right now ... at this moment ... today ?
99.9% of the time I can happily answer myself NO. It can wait ... Hallelujah ;-)
Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to,
with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present. Marcus Aurelius Meditations
* a great article from Chris Winfield (a new favourite read of mine) about letting go of worry.
one of my favourite red buildings with a side of blue sky & sunshine / down town Lunenburg / mako shark street sign art installation project / looking up toward the Lunenburg Academy / still snowy / the streets are dry & clear finally / someone is watching me / Kempt Street / a favourite Lunenburg vignette / out walking with my camera / LOVE Lunenburg !!
Finally ... much less black ice (I'm terrified of falling & especially in this crazy, steep hilly place), way more blue sky, sunshine, longer days & milder temperatures. Spring really is just around the corner and it's so nice to be out and about with my camera in tow. Stay tuned for more of my documentation as Spring arrives here in my lovely new home of Lunenburg.
+ we bought a house !! dreamy, sweet & perfect. Rivalling 29 Black Street for best house ever. Happy Sunday.
Sketchbook pages A-D - I began with painted ink rings/circles (bottom) gradually adding more detail & scanning
the stages as I go // 9x6 watercolour pages with acrylic ink, white gel pen, Pentel brush pen & red Permapaque pen,
red gel pen + Staedtler Mars pigment liners © Susan Black
(top) A Tiny Life No. 7 (middle) Geranium (bottom) A Garden - giclee prints available in my Etsy shop © Susan Black
Creativity is not about some innate skill or aptitude we're born with. Creativity is about letting go, being brave & practice. Susan Black
My version of a throwback Thursday where I take a look back at work I created in the past - in this case 2010-ish & when I had no idea what I was doing, and was very much struggling to uncover or discover my own style. I realize now how important it is to just "do the work" to make & create as much as you can, if you do this eventually your voice does emerge. I LOVE all 3 of these pieces now, though it took a long time for me to appreciate them for what they are. All 3 were all created while taking a fabulous e-course from Mati Rose & Lisa Congdon called Get Your Paint On (one of the earliest creative e-courses I enrolled in & I've taken many since).
Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties Erich Fromm