Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Getting On With It

The artist Angela Wales Rockett recently wrote something on her blog that put into words something I’ve been feeling for months. The link to her blog is here and while you’re there I recommend you download her free ebook. It’s worth a read.

On her blog she wrote, “I allowed myself to take a retreat from being an “Artist” with a capital A”. This followed her realisation that “I compare my progress and successes and habits to those of other artists, and … find myself lacking”.

I never know how to answer people when they ask me “What have you been up to?” or “How’s it going?” It’s also why I haven’t been posting on here for a while.

I want to be able to say - and to write - that I’ve been doing all sorts of interesting, glamorous, significant and sexy things. But I really haven’t.

I’ve just been getting on with it.

Not every day, but most days, I’ve been drawing. I’ve also been taking, editing and printing photos. I’ve been looking at art and reading about artists. My aim is for quantity as well as quality so I’ve been setting myself targets of producing 20 - 30 sketches a week; taking 90 photos, editing 30, printing 10; reading at least one art-related book a week; writing 3 pieces of 500 words each; walking for an hour a day; eating well. Some weeks I get all that done, some weeks I don’t. I know because I’m logging my hours and activities every day.

I’m not doing any of this with a particular end in view … simply to get better at what I do and do a lot more of it.

The author Julia Cameron writes somewhere that we should talk about our work like doing the laundry. Not make such a big deal of it, just do the work and - if people ask - tell them what we’ve been up to and how it’s going.

That’s nice idea and, with people who are genuinely interested in how it’s going, I’m happy to have that conversation. But - to me - it just sounds very dull. If I asked someone what they’ve been up to and they started telling me about doing their laundry I’d have to stifle a yawn.

So - day by day - I’m doing the work of an artist.

Not an Artist.


There are those who talk and those who do. Rarely the twain shall meet.
I had to laugh. Sometimes when I write my blog people make comments that suggests what I do is not ordinary, but it is. It is what I do day to day, I just happen to live in a different country and don't have a regular 9-5 job and so my ordinary is someone else's extraordinary. I think it would be the same with you, how may would love to be able to do what you do but don't have the aptitude or the courage. Your ordinary is extraordinary to many.
Thank you for your comments, Andrea and Joanna.
Thanks for the mention, Peter! And you're right, it is so hard to talk about what an artist's day is filled with. My husband talks about his day in terms of different activities he's done at work, but when it's my turn I find it difficult to report on the "activities" of my day, because so much of it is an internal quest, and repeats of days and years that have gone before. The most concrete thing I could report is usually something vague like, "that elusive color of red I've been haunted by on this one canvas I've been working on finally came together." But, when I'm getting on with it, that's all I need to know.
It's a strange life we lead isn't it Angela!
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