Sunday, March 12, 2006

SIT. DRAW.


How to get through a creative funk? I thought of making a list of fun and slightly wacky ideas, like blowing bubbles at a sidewalk cafe or taking classes in the art of clown makeup, but that's all just avoiding the real issue. There's only one way I know to get through a creative funk and that's to create something! To make something I can't take my eyes off, can't believe I made. Myself. Me. "I did that? Wow. I'm not so bad. Huh. I wonder what I'll make next."

So I find myself in a lull between projects. The projects I need to begin seem so big, so looming, it's like standing on a street between skyscrapers where the sun scarcely reaches down to the street, and someone is saying, "Just jump to the top of that skyscraper. Or that one. You choose." As if WHICH skyscraper was the problem, and not the matter of jumping that high! But really, if projects ARE skyscrapers, they're skyscrapers with ladders all the way to the top. You don't have to jump, just start climbing, and keep climbing.

Okay, I've almost convinced myself... That's what this is about: a self-pep-talk. Usually when I finish one project I have already begun the next several, and don't ever find myself... to continue the metaphor... all the way down at street level in the shadow of the skyscrapers. I'm partway up a half-dozen ladders, at any given moment. But not this time. Yesterday and today I find myself way down there with my head tilted back, getting vertigo. So I need to do what I need to do: make something happen. Tush in chair & pencil in hand, until I find myself marveling, "I did that." Pick a skyscraper and start climbing. It's that simple. Fancy answers are just a diversion. It's like advice for weight loss: eat less & exercise. Yep, it's that simple. In this case the advice is: Sit. Draw.

Okay.

Love this from Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird: "One writer I know tells me that he sits down each morning and tells himself nicely, 'It's not like you don't have a choice because you do - you can either type or kill yourself." HA! So that's a little dire, but it's funny. In fact, the whole book is so damn funny and inspiring, I think I'll reread it right to get out of this creative funk... Just kidding! That's tempting, but I know what I really need to do: Sit. Draw. (deep breath) Wish me luck.

24 comments:

kelly rae said...

i love this lady with the little story inside her dress! i was in Presents of Mind the other day and saw a ton of your ladies!! they're adorable. really. adorable. and i love, love, love anything by Anne Lamott. I recently finished Traveling Mercies - great book.

Cate said...

Aww, good luck! You just keep climbing--once you get into your groove, you won't even be able to see how high that skyscraper really is (great metaphor, by the way!).

Jamie said...

I'm sitting at my desk sending you some good energy. I'm imagining that you have sat down. You have begun to draw. You're amazed at how much easier it is than you were expecting. You remember how much you love this. You're starting to smile.

If this didn't happen today, I'm sure it will happen tomorrow. You've got what it takes, sister.

melba said...

My husband uses this analogy at work called low hanging fruit...the low hanging fruit is the easiest to grab so we take that first (we do the easy stuff first) But then we have all this fruit we still need to pick and it is so high up! I think we all reach for the low hanging fruit first. I do. I told myself I was going to set a time limit on my blogging and then I would have to do other stuff that really needs to get done that isn't too much fun...this hasn't worked for me yet. I guess my tree really has three levels the low fun stuff, the middle boring stuff and the high amazing stuff that I would do if I were unafraid. Hmmm. I will have to think about this more instead of rambling in your comments!
Your lady is beautiful...I like the color of her wings and patterned background.

liz elayne said...

I love the (deep breath) - yes, yes, yes! and the inspiration to sit and draw. this is so good laini!

chest of drawers said...

I think you need to take yourself out on an artists date!

megg said...

Laini - I LOVE your wee stories (tiny stories) SO much. You should put them together in a kind of "fairy tale" book. They're so sweet.

I'm glad to see you're there - tush in chair - you inspire me with your ability to show up and get to work. I am really working on that ability.

Good luck my friend - you CAN DO IT!!

HoBess said...

Of course I send you lots of luck ... Do you think working at home makes it easier to get distracted sometimes? "Oh, I should really take care of this, or read that, Oh look! I never took care of blah blah." And so then we put off creating when we feel blocked. It does feel dire. And it is funny, because we know what we have to do but don't always feel the urgency to get it done. Love the Lamott quote. Kudos to you for feeling the urgency. Hope the rest of the week is creative and productive.

Angela Rockett said...

I love Anne Lammott! Bird by Bird is so wonderful - full of little gems like the one you quoted.

I also really love your metaphor of skyscrapers. It really speaks to me. Unfortunately, I've been at street level all to often lately, finding it difficult to bridge the distance between projects. Just recently I feel myself a little higher, perhaps one or two floors up, hanging on by my toes and fingertips, looking for the ladder that goes higher. I'm hoping that means I'll be climbing steadily again soon.

And, yes, a lot of it is "just" (so simple) sitting and doing.

Shesawriter said...

This was a good one, laini. I smiled. You always post the most interesting things. "Pick a skyscraper and start climbing." :-)

Tanya

Bohemian Girl said...

i so needed to hear this.

btw...i really dig the blowing bubbles outside of a cafe bit. ;-)

sit
draw
breathe

i will do this tomorrow. thank you for the inspiration!!

Letha Sandison said...

I can totally relate to the twin deamons of being overwhelmed and driven to make your art at the same time!! Being an artist isn't really a choice is it??

I for one, am glad you park it and pick up your pencil...your work is beautiful!!!

andrea said...

For me, it helps to look at other artists' work and just cruise random images: photography, art, craft, whatever fires your engine. Books, websites, in no time I'm drawing like crazy.

I love the "little things" in your angel work: borders, shadows images, random details. You are definitely a detail woman!

Cate said...

I'm back! I just visited Liz at Be Present, Be Here and clicked on a link to a store that carries your Hummingbird Lady. I've spent the last ten minutes joyfully scrolling through your other Ladies and I'm nearly speechless (never "fully," only "nearly"!)--oh, what an incredible gift you have! I already knew that from the art that you have posted here, but man, those Ladies just blew me away!

Alexandra S said...

I am amazed that even from halfway up multiple ladders simultaneously you still manage to cook a mean apricot chicken and fried polenta, see a trillion wonderful movies, paint vacationing angels in in Italy, AND cook all my meals during the week! Heres to you starting all your next wonders! When I think of all you accomplished in 2005, I can't even imagine what you will have completed by this time next year!

Terri /Tinker said...

Sit...draw...breathe...It really is that easy; but somehow I always seem to feel the need to include quite a bit of "just looking for some inspiration" on the computer for hour; in a book (or 2); a magazine (or 3)...before I can sit, draw, breathe...

vicci said...

Laini....Oh how I LOVE your ART!!! I ordered the "HUMMINGBIRD" lady the other day...I can't wait to get it!!! I am sorta in a creative funk myself...but I am GOING to force myself to "DO SOMETHING...ANYTHING CREATIVE"... today...and BTW...I'll go to MEXICO with you antime!!! It would be such a welcome from all this WINTER weather...

madness rivera said...

Type or kill yourself - HA. Love Annie Lamott. And I love your image here, and the words. But her face is so uplifting.

holli said...

Good luck - I can't wait to see what comes of the draw or die scenario.

As usual, I love your imagery!!

Mardougrrl said...

I needed to read this so, so much. And your picture is absolutely gorgeous. I wish I could find a larger version of it and frame it! Thank you!

M said...

I'm loving your ladies of late! Especially the gelato ones! I absolutely love Italy and these would be great on my wall in my flat somewhere. Well done with pushing through the creative funk- being committed, showing up seems to be the best way to get through it, but why is it so hard sometimes? It feels good to know other people have the same issues as me- thank you!

Patry Francis said...

Sit. Draw. That says it all. We're always looking for some elaborate advice, steps 1 thru 10 or even better 1 - 100 (more distractions!) But really all you have to do is sit and draw. Or sit and write, as the case may be.

Alina Chau said...

Love your illustration style!! Great texture, and unique creative design!!

Brandi said...

I really enjoy how you include words or poetry in your art. I also sympathize with your creative funk. I started art school this past fall and in talking with other students, there are several of us in agreeance that our mojo has actually gone down since we started school, our raw skills are improving but the creativity is very subdued right now. Anyway, hope you got it back now! Brandi