Creating from Scratch

“The best thing is also the worst thing. It’s that, no matter how long you’ve been at it, you always start from scratch.”
effrey Eugenides, author of Middlesex
(on what it’s like to be a writer).

Writers and visual artists have a lot in common. For writers and artists, starting is often the hardest part. It’s that”incubation” phase of creativity that gets us.  And that where I am right now. Having finished a fairly large painting I am straining to discover my next great obsession. For a writer to be a writer, they actually have to write, and for an artist to be an artist they actually have to draw, paint, sculpt or otherwise engage in their medium of choice.

How do you get down to the business of art? Last week, conditions were Perfect for Creating… A quiet house, rain pouring down. No one to worry about but myself. And, yet I haunted the internet, checking out how creative the rest of the world is. Beating myself up because I couldn’t come up with that perfect starting point.

Today, I’m not much further. Except that I’ve added a little more pressure. I’ve just committed to participate in my very first art show, in exactly one month. One month. I am famous for throwing myself under the train. I can actually hear the screeching of the brakes, as the engineer tries desperately not to spill my creative guts all over the tracks. I have worked myself up into such a state of frenzy that my alternate ego, The Evil Twin Artist Diva Bitch actually surfaced to lash out at everyone around me. (Sorry).

However, I am reading Bird by Bird, by one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott. It was comforting to hear that everyone, yes, you, too….. has a difficult time getting out of the starting gate. I check the internet. Eat 2 pounds of almonds. Feel guilty, go for a walk. Sit down. Stand  up. Check email for the thousandth time and Facebook for the 199th. I know YOU have probably never had this experience, (right)?

I knew I had to start something. Taking a cue from a good friend, who is smarter than me, I decided to start smaller. Much smaller. With a sketch. Until recently I have been sketching everyday. There has been a brief lull, while I did other things, like try to make money to live on. Amazing how I’ve missed that sketching habit. So, I sat on the porch, sulking. Frowning. Crossing and recrossing my feet. Sigh. As I twisted and contorted my body, squirming my way from chair to table and back again, I spied a bright green bug on my screen door. He was slowly, so slowly trying to make his way to the top. One tiny foot at a time, he angled left, then right, then left in excruciating, exacting steps. I felt his pain. And, I put my pen to paper. May I present, The Stink Bug.

10 Responses to Creating from Scratch

  1. Stew Crowther September 19, 2011 at 9:27 am #

    Hello Jenny,
    I got your link from Every Day Matters.
    I think we all go through that e-mail, Facebook, websites (God forbid we turn the TV or radio on…lol). And it’s not just getting started is it? Keeping focus is also hard.
    Your Stink Bug picture is wonderful – something I will never get even near to doing while I’m on here…lol.

  2. deborah September 19, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    Isn’t it funny how WHEN the artist is ready the subject appears….kind of like when the student is ready the teacher appears…love your stinkbugs..and the vibrant color…

  3. virginia_d September 19, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    Hey, you guys, thanks for your comments!
    Yes! It’s true! The universe hands you the subject when it’s time! Sometimes, it’s so hard to be patient and wait! And, sometimes, you DO have to force it just a little…. heehee. Maybe that’s the next post…. “Creating among the Chaos”

  4. Cathy Holtom September 20, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    Great stink bug and interesting thoughts on getting started. I make myself work for at least an hour between checking emails etc. It’s the only way I can focus. Welcome to EDM!

  5. Alex Tan September 20, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    Love the design and colors, and what a beautiful thing to do for a not-so-popular kind of insect =)

  6. Rachael September 20, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    Great picture – love the colours! And know exactlt what you mean about getting started! Good luck keeping going and wlecome to EDM!

  7. raena September 21, 2011 at 2:39 am #

    You’ve just described my life! I’ve never put it into perfect words…but that is it exactly!! One thing that I’ve done lately is to say I don’t care what the results are, just start drawing. Anything….the first thing I see. Of course, I haven’t thrown myself in front of the train in a while and I imagine I wouldn’t be as nice to myself if I had! Lovely stinkbugs!

  8. Margaret September 25, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    Yep, that is about how it is around here too!
    Love the stink bug – such a great colour mix.

  9. nancy t. September 26, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

    Oh yes, been there, done that … all of the avoidance tactics in the world. You did a wonderful job with the bug, and your description of its slow progress to the top of the screen is a great object lesson. I doubt the bug stood at the bottom of the screen saying, “should I? shouldn’t I? which hole should I start in?” It just went for it! I’m going to pretend I’m a stink bug when I get stuck! lol Welcome to EDM! nancy

  10. Alex Tan February 11, 2012 at 4:09 am #

    not a big fan of these bugs in real life, but on your journal page, they look so cute and cool!