Monday, January 5, 2009

Art and Fear and Monday

Trying to draw or paint a little every day. It might be fun to just do doodles with a square, circle, and triangle each day?

It snowed again last night in Seattle. I did pray it would stick and cause another Snow Day for everyone since today is officially back-to-work day. Feeling a little overwhelmed with the new year, but it sounds like everybody is based on some fleeting Facebook statuses I've seen lately.

Had a major brain kerfuffle when working on my dummy and I've changed all of the settings which means the dummy needs to be redone and was not finished for last year. Other projects I am working on I just am not feeling confident about. I know I'm not alone, but being naturally melodramatic I have a hard time believing that. To combat the melodrama I've been reading this book I heard about on CraftCast, and rereread a book Kirby recommended a long time ago, Art and Fear. And one of my favorite sites put an '08 recap up with this lovely quote from our own extra lovely Julie Paschkis:

“Every book has something about it that is hard for me -– there is always a moment when I am terrified that I can’t do it or there is some aspect that feels overwhelming. There is usually a turning point where I can turn that fear into creativity -– I can figure out how to approach the problem in a way that is interesting.”

When you don't have a book contract it is really hard to know if you are on the right road for your project or even ON a road. And not actually 2 inches from falling off the edge of a rail road bridge with a 400 foot drop and starving crocodiles underneath. Having editorial approval must give you some sense of safety, right? That someone with experience and moola believes in you? Someone more in the know than your cat? Enough of a sense of safety that you can turn the fear into creativity? Instead of crying in your paint palette/eating a donut/taking a nap with said cat?

I thought I'd feel buoyed from the holiday monster art show. That was a huge goal for myself. And now I'm looking for something bigger and better and the success I felt has worn off into a real funk. Aaron says this is typical for creative types. I think it is a pile of horse doodoo. What do you do to trick your mind out of it? Maybe I am not at that chapter yet in the x number of books I'm reading on the subject. I think in Art & Fear they just say, 'get over it, you whine-hole.'

Maybe I'll make a t-shirt with that phrase. But if I wear the t-shirt I won't be able to read it. So I'll make Logan and Bebop wear one. That's something.


Cuppa Jolie said...

Really great quote from Julie. And hey, I'd take one of those t-shirts!

I hope the new year's cold is on its way out and you're feeling better.

Ali said...

I feel for you Jaime. Some days I get up and try to paint and feel like a total failure the the next day something goes right and everything's ok again. I think all us arty farty types have incredible highs and desperate lows - I just fell sorry for the people that have to put up with it. Hey, have a baby! I've found that I have been forced to work like a b**tard when it's my turn.....Ali x

Martha said...

I experience more of this sort of funk than Parliament on one of their most funktastic albums. I think the only antidote is to keep doing stuff. After I finished the novel I'd been working on for a year, I felt overwhelmed with all of its problems. So I started working on something completely different and much smaller scale. I revised something else I'd set aside for a few months. I know I just told you the result of that--it's ready to go out. I counted my revisions: 50. And that was when I knew I'd changed the doc enough that I wanted to go back if the new direction didn't work. In the end, it took 50 revisions (actually, I need to do one more) to get 170 words that work. My books-in-progress file has 23 manuscripts in it. Some, I've been working on for eight years (with at least 50 revisions). And while I do have a couple of books for grownups published (including one with bitchin' illustrations), I've had no success with stuff for kids. So I don't know if I'm on a path, or on the right path, but I do know that I get a little closer every time I try. I think that's all we can do. For me, it's a lot easier than not trying, which carries with it all the same grief and none of the joy.

Jaime, all your friends will tell you how wonderful your art is, how amazing your humor is, and how talented you are with words. We believe in you completely.

johanna said...

Yes! I believe in you! Your stuff is wonderful, witty and so special. Just keep on, keepin on..and putting yourself out there, because you're totally making it happen, even if it doesn't feel like that all the time.

Also, I have a new strategy for the fear and the doom that creep up (and it creeps up, yes indeed.) I try to admit to myself that I'm failing. Sounds weird, but it really works for me for some reason. It kind of frees me up from worrying about being perfect..or feeling totally locked in the doom of how I think things should be, or what I should have done differently. When I'm failing, I have nothing left to loose, and I'm free. Free to mess up, free to put myself out there, free to keep going.

You're doing so great! I high five you. You're totally doing the right thing, and getting there on the weird road that's just right for you.

karen ann chalupnik said...

hey j, i have that book art & fear too, and i have always been too scared to actually read it!

i love what you quoted julie as saying. no matter who you are, you will encounter your challenges. that's true for all of us trying to create something that speaks for us, whether we have a contract or not.

i think finishing something as big as you did is naturally a let down. suddenly, your brain, that was previously totally preoccupied, has space to wonder, what next, and feel the massive growth you made during that last amazing creative cycle. you can't just get on with business as usual because you are different. you were transformed by what you did. change and growth are always uncomfortable.

but congratulations on being brave enough to get to that space where you are uncomfortable! it will pass, and come again, as i think this is part of a sincere and personal creative process.

Kjersten said...

I love what Johanna said.

Jaime I read this post this morning and I have to say it has stuck with me throughout the day and I commiserate with you as I felt funky-in-a-bad-way when I woke and true to my mood I had the most funk-horrible icky day complete with a trip to the dentist. It was a dripping-water-torture sort of day where nothing really horrible happens but all the little stuff goes wrong right and left and no matter how hard I tried to twist my brain towards a positive attitude the drip kept dripping. So I commiserate with you and want to tell you that your blog gave me comfort today: it made me feel better about myself to know that it wasn't just me who felt down and out today. If someone as cool as Jaime could feel down and out, I figured I'd probably feel better again sometime soon just as I believed (as I believe) you would (will) soon.

...And also you are right. I say to myself now as I head to bed, "Get over it, you whine-hole."

I think I'll read the Kevin Henkes book, "A Good Day," as my bedtime story and think happy thoughts for tomorrow.

CocoaStomp said...

Thanks for sharing, dudettes. I am in such good company it astounds me! All people I admire as artists/writers and humans -- that I'd never call whine-holes or think they could possibly be discourageable. Hope today is great for all of you. xoxo

Kirby Larson said...


I'm late to this party but let me assure you that editorial endorsement and even a contract does not make one immune to fear, doubt and loathing in Las Vegas, or Kenmore or even West Seattle. It's all a crapshoot, all the time!

BTW, a writer friend of mine calls the book, "The Art of Fear." ;-)

kim baker said...

I believe in you, too! You're kicking ass! I think that the doldrums are just an unfortunate aspect to the creative process. I'm naturally melodramatic and funky as well. I don't know how to make it work either, but I know you're not a whinehole. :)

I hope you feel better soon!