This weeks assignment was to produce a clean drawing of a mammal which did not have to be fully rendered, but which showed an understanding of muscle structure and form, and showed correct proportions. It had to be drawn from a live animal rather than a photograph. I could hardly believe how many hours went into such a simple drawing, and my respect for early natural history illustrators has skyrocketed!
The most frustrating thing about this course has been the sneaky lack of marking criteria which suddenly appear AFTER you submit your work. The instructions are dismally lacking in detail, and the link to the marking criteria is broken, and two days before the assignment is due, has still not been fixed. Very frustrating. Despite my frustration with the course itself, the opportunity to draw with purpose has been incredibly enjoyable. This is my assignment for this week: structural drawings of a plant.
Week 1 homework: “makes marks, explore tone”
Today I’m once again singing the praise of the Tiny Artwork. These are a couple of small birthday gifts for an artist who I follow on IG and facebook, Luke Haynes (shh, don’t show him, it’s a surprise) and another person I’ve not met before, Haley, who is participating in Luke’s annual birthday shenanigans. This involves sending a card, random gift or otherwise fun little thing to someone random, and one to Luke as well.
I love these tiny little pieces – first of all, they’re a great warmup for quilting, which can often feel a bit off if I’ve not done it for a few days. That muscle memory often needs a little boost to get back into it.
Secondly, they’re a trial of texture and colour for my next series that I’m working on in preparation for the RAW showcase. Rather than keeping a detailed process diary, I like to produce little pieces that I can give away or sell for cheap. This makes me feel as though I’m accomplishing something, and that little buzz keeps me motivated when I’m working on a larger longer term piece.
My theory as to why this works is kind of like why people love poker machines so much. You might only very rarely get a win (or completed major work) but you get lots of tiny little wins – this lines up here, that flashes a pretty light in your eyes… and what happens on a cellular level in your body is that you release a tiny little hit of dopamine. If you don’t know what that is, go make friends with google and knock yourself out, but short answer is, it’s one of your feel-good chemicals and it feels good, but not thrilling OMG good in these tiny doses, just good enough to keep you going and keep you motivated.
As humans, we’re also really hooked on immediate smaller rewards rather than longer term larger rewards, which is why it’s so damned hard to save money and lose weight. Most people, in a now well-known experiment, would rather $20 now than $50 later.
So, tap into this! A little artwork feels good for you, you get a tiny little hit of “achievement buzz” and a tiny little hit of dopamine.
Not a bad way to start the day, huh?
I think many (if not all) projects have a crucial point where you have a doubt driven choice: this doesn’t look how I imagined it in my head, so do I stop, or do I keep going?
This is pretty much where my current commission quilt is at: it’s that point where I’m really not sure at how it’s going to turn out, and I’ve taken a couple of risks, doing things I don’t usually do. I don’t like this piece at the moment, and now would be a logical time to walk away.
What I’m doing at the moment instead of walking away, however, is sitting with that discomfort: that fear that I’ve stuffed it up, made the circle too large, the colours aren’t right, blah blah blah… that’s the voice of my inner drama queen telling me that it will turn out wrong, and the person will hate the quilt, and tell everyone what a crap artist I am, and I’ll never sell another piece again, and I’ll die unhappy and alone IN THE SNOW. (My inner drama queen always ends her rants with me dying alone in the snow.)
It’s scary. I don’t want to work on the piece. Instead of working on it last night I binge watched Supernatural until Netflix gave me the “are you there?” message… And I pressed play again. That’s me, procrastinating to try to avoid the discomfort of fear and doubt.
So this morning, it’s me, the iPod, and the quilt. I’m pinning and sewing and pinning and sewing and just sitting with that nasty, twitchy, fearful feeling. It might turn out ok, and it might not. There’s only one way to find out.
What discomfort do you think you could choose to sit with at the moment? Would love to hear from anyone facing this beast right now.
Happy Monday, loves! May your week be uncomfortable: that’s where the magic happens! 😉