The ideas I have for new watercolor paintings, woodcuts, monotypes, drypoints and tutorial videos are swelling to burst. I’ve got concepts piled high enough in my cranial attic to make a hoarder proud, and I can’t wait to get started. But it won’t be this week, or even next week, because other priorities need to be juggled. In the meantime, I’m writing it all down. I’ve almost filled a new notebook with a braintrust of ideas, concepts, colorways, narrative series, and methods. Do you scribble ideas as soon as they arrive?
Much of my life hums along efficiently in digital format – I spend a good part of the day on a computer. But when it comes to ideas, I find a pen and paper works best for documenting thoughts as they zoom by, and then fleshing out the details, offshoots, materials, and influences for that project. In my previous career, brainstorming on a grease board in a conference room with peers was a process I loved, so perhaps that’s where I learned the value of thinking on paper. Ideas are fleeting, and writing makes thoughts visual to me. I’m easily distracted by incoming data from social media, exhibits, audiobooks, conversations, etc. I’ve learned that I need to act fast and catch every idea I have on paper, or I’ll lose it. It’s like chasing fireflies in a field; there are so many of them, which should I pursue? 🙂
My notebooks become a leather-bound version of my creative brain trust. If I have a sluggish day, and I can’t think clearly about what to make, or write about, I turn to my notebooks. It works every time. Previous years are stacked on my bookshelves like a documentary of my journey as an artist, and flipping through them gives me profound insight into my growth, successes and struggles, as well as the fidelity of themes that have stayed important to me for decades.
I’m listening to a great audiobook (The Demon Under the Microscope) about the history of the search for a cure to bacterial infections, and so much of the story is culled from journals and lab notes from the doctors, technicians and scientists pursuing a solution to the devastating effects of infection before 1937. Thank goodness for writers and note takers and journal scribblers. It’s a fascinating, and very human story, and it made me think (among more profound things) about my own note-taking, and how universal it is for all of us to document individual process, categorize each passionate pursuit, and purge frustrating or successful expression. As artists, we’re harvesting our own stories with the images we make, and the use of ink & paper & 26 characters.
Thanks for visiting, and I’ll see you in the next post,
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I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world.
You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.
So, that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.