I spent a chunk of my evening alone in the apartment drawing these 18×24″ sharpie-on-newsprint scenes.
It was quite a fun process, and, as always happens when I pick up a pen or a paint brush, it made me want to do more traditional work.
But it makes me want to draw with sharpie and pen more often specifically. There’s something really freeing about completing a drawing with no ctrl+z. The inability to erase presents a higher bar of entry to the drawing process, but once you’ve forced yourself past the bar, it can be a much more enjoyable process. No more kneading back and forth across the same spot on the page over and over.
You’re stuck with every line, no matter what, so you start to let go of some of that tension, and just let the lines fall where they’d like.
This evening also helped to fortify my opinion on quantity masking crudity. These drawings are not beautifully crafted – and yet, as soon as you start building the quantity, the total picture starts to become more impressive.
The other day, I carved a lino-cut for the first time in about six months.
I chose a crow with a feather in its cap, because me and two friends do a poster challenge together every weekend. This weekend, instead of choosing a specific medium or design, we chose a word. Each of our three posters were inspired by the word feather.
Here are all three of our posters (you can click to enlarge).
Sometimes, if you find yourself struggling to create a singular masterpiece – create 50 or 100 or 1,000 small, crude pieces. And the mass collective can become the singular masterpiece.
If you’re struggling to write the book, just get one sentence down today. In her book on writing and life, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott describes her own writing process. She sits at her desk, wondering what on God’s green earth to write, maybe hyperventilating a little, until she finally notices the 1-inch picture frame beside her monitor.
“It reminds me that all I have todo is to write down as much as I can see through a one-inch picture frame. This is all I have to bite off for the time being. All I am going to do right now, for example, is write that one paragraph that sets the story in my hometown, in the late fifties, when the trains were still running.”
The title of that chapter is “Short Assignments.”
Lots of short assignments lead to big payoffs. Often times, quality only comes with quantity. With practice. With repetition. Or simply, with enough of the bad that it simply morphs into a giant, singular good. David Bayles and Ted Orland display this idea beautifully in their book, Art & Fear:
“[A] ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”. Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.”
This project – drawing 100 of something – taught me this lesson in my second year of art school. In my case, it was finding spaceships within splotches of watercolor.
Today, I started a new quantity-over-quality project, with these 2×3 inch paintings of shapes. It was fun to paint with real brushes again, rather than my stylus and computer. And though these are not special in any way individually, I’m hoping once I fill a wall with 30 or 40 of them, the quantity will mask the crudity.
Me and two friends are still doing a weekly poster design challenge. Every Sunday, we share our poster we made that week with each other – though usually it’s made that day, and sometimes not made until Monday or Tuesday.
Here is mine from this week (today)! I made it while watching a Skillshare class on book cover design.
I spent much of the day today creating this video.
It was created for a political campaign in Wisconsin, though the goal of the video is not to promote one presidential candidate over the other, but instead simply to promote early voting in general. It was a fun video to make. Not amazing, but fun – and it does the job.
I voted yesterday, for the first time ever. Here is proof.
We have fun. Go vote. Vote early. Get to the polls. Make your voice heard.
The other day, Austin Kleon (gee I’ve been mentioning his name a lot, inspiration comes in phases and waves) posted this. “Kick the world, break your foot.” Both a wonderful sentiment and a beautiful image. That same day, inspired, I picked up a newspaper off the street and my sister gave me an old illustrated medical text book, printed in 1895.
The paper and the book took a new form today, distracting me again from my official work I’ve kept securely on the back burner for about a week, allowing me a wonderful new sense of play. I have not done any sort of physical cutting-and-pasting collage work in… years? A decade+? In quite some time.
I found it incredibly enjoyable, as well as incredibly freeing to create something like this – multidimensional, colorful, new – away from a screen. I will hopefully be doing more collage work in the future, and will surely post them here when I do.
I highly recommend trying something like this for yourself – share it when you do, and tell me where to find it!
Netflix released a documentary called the Social Dilemma – discussing and demonstrating the dangers of social media on the future of youth, mental health, wellness, politics and the human race It was incredibly impactful, and I can only recommend you watch it on your own – it is valuable time spent.
While I was watching, I decided to sketch out notes from the film to keep as a record. I made a little zine. Here is that zine.