Monday Motivator: Intensively vs Extensively

Monday Motivator Inspirational Art Quote
Monday Motivator Inspirational Art Quote

” … reading “intensively” [was] the common practice of most readers before the nineteenth century, when books, which were scarce and expensive, were often read aloud and many times over. As reading materials—not just books, but newspapers, magazines, and ephemera—proliferated, more recent centuries saw the rise of reading “extensively”: we read these materials once, often quickly, and move on.”

Mairead Small Staid, Reading in the Age of Constant Distraction, The Paris Review, 8 Feb 2019

I have favourite fiction books I have read many times, favourite films/series I have watched many times, and favourite reference books. Wearing my non-fiction editor hat, I read things at least three times, first for the gist, second to line-edit, third to check my edit. Maybe it’s inevitable that I revisit subjects and locations to paint them time and again, looping around and coming back to things with myself being the variable not the constant.

Random fact: “Extense” is an archaic word. “Intense” we still use.

Monday Motivator: Assume You Don’t Need It

Monday motivator art quotes

Monday motivator art quotes

” …you can take the first draft of any poem and improve it 80% by lopping off the first and last stanzas.

“… with the first stanza we are struggling to get the creative juices flowing; by the end of the poem we are so enamored with what we are doing that we don’t want to stop

“… what do we agonize over most when writing a piece?  The first sentence, the first paragraph, the first scene.  Jump in, don’t worry about it; assume you’ll throw this part out when you revise, anyway.”

— John Lehman, Like Melting Ice, quoting an observation by Rod Jellema

Taking this into drawing and painting, I think it is: jump in and start anywhere; include less (in the composition and detail); stop sooner.

Monday Motivator: Skill or Talent?

Monday motivator art quotes“Being jealous of talents that are actually skills is a great way to let yourself off the hook and make yourself miserable at the same time.”
Seth Godin, One way to think about talent

“If even one person is able to learn it, if even one person is able to use effort and training to get good at something, it’s a skill.
Seth Godin, Skills vs. talents

Would you hold a cello for the first time and expect to be Jaqueline du Pré playing Elgar?

Did she ever stopped practising? Was she the only musician able to play that composition? There are many performances, all the same notes, all different.

So why pick up a watercolour brush and expect to instantly be Beatrix Potter?

Don’t deny yourself the journey that learning to paint is. The sights and sounds of the road, ups and downs, the sought-after and the serendipitous.

Monday Motivator: Subject Isn’t the Most Important Part of a Painting

Monday Motivator Inspirational Art Quote

Monday Motivator Inspirational Art Quote

“If the subject matter were the most important part of a painting, then you would no longer need to paint.

“… everything under the sun has already been painted. The humble holly tree is not itself important, but how your perceptions are used to interpret those impressions through paint is what matters most.”
Suzanne Brooker, “Elements of Landscape Oil Painting”, p10

Worry Focus less about what you’re painting and more on how you’re painting it.

James Gurney (of Dinotopia fame) is a great inspiration with this, turning the everyday into art. See for example his snow pile behind a supermarket, parking lot entrance ramp, a road sign and a utility/phone pole. His skill at this is also a bit demotivating; just remember he has many, many miles under his brush.

Dancing a line with a brush

Monday Motivator: If You Can’t Quite Yet

Monday Motivator Inspirational Art Quote

“If you can’t quite capture what you’re seeing yet, write down your observations. Draw an arrow pointing to the part of the drawing …  record what you are learning.”
Danny Gregory, How to Draw Without Talent, page 67

“Yet” is perhaps the most vital tool in our pencilbox. It shifts a negative into the optimistic: “I can’t”  vs  “I can’t, yet”.

It’s not a measure of time. It’s a statement of belief.

“Yet” may happen next week, next year, years from now, or tomorrow. Yet may take longer than we wish, or it may surprise us. There’s no way to know for certain, but if you leave off the “yet”, you leave off any possibility that it will happen, because believing in yourself is the first step.

We find it so easy to believe we’ll fail. Have the same degree of conviction in your “yet”.

Monday Motivator: The Value of a Messy Sketchbook

Monday Motivator Inspirational Art Quote

Monday Motivator Inspirational Art Quote “…the vernacular of the sketchbook is the unintended, the improvised, the hasty, the un-fussy — the value of all that matures nicely and richly rewards looking back.

“…The more intimately you treat your sketchbook and the more uninhibited you are within it, the more value it will offer you. Accept that it will look very weird to spies.
Christopher Butler, on Twitter 15 Aug 19

A sketchbook is a repository, a thoughts/ideas/words/drawings bank. But not a dictionary, all the information lined up alphabetically in neat columns. It’s a reflection of life in all its influences, uncertainties, unclarifiable messy chaos.

People can ask to see it. You can offer it to others to page through. But you are not responsible for what others get from looking at it and don’t have to justify nor explain it.

Monday Motivator: The Split Between Drawing and Writing

Monday Motivator Inspirational Art Quote“…what happens at about the age of 5, when people enter the school system, is that drawing and writing become split. That’s when there’s some idea that those two things need to be moved away from each other. Even to the point, you know, where we start looking at books that have more words than pictures.”
— Lynda Barry. Drawing ‘Has To Come Out Of Your Body’

Use words in your sketchbook. Bring back the  integration of words and pictures that’s so enjoyable in illustrated books, comics, graphic novels. Don’t believe that sketchbooks are for images only.

Sometimes I mostly use words. It doesn’t turn my sketchbook into a diary, it just means I was in a words mood not a drawing mood.

Sketchbook page from river at Uig, Skye

Talisker Bay Skye

Monday Motivator: Afraid

Monday Motivator Inspirational Art Quote

“Afraid is a country where they issue us passports at birth and hope we never seek citizenship in any other country. The face of afraid keeps changing constantly, and I can count on that change.
Audre Lorde, 18 February 1984 diary entry, A Burst of Light and Other Essays, via Brainpickings

Uncertainty is a certainty of life.

Uncertainty is a certainty of art.

Being afraid to try, being afraid of failure, being afraid of letting ourselves down is so much easier than hoping for success, hoping for discovery, hoping to enjoy the process of learning. Choose hope over fear, and find like-minded people rather than naysayers.

Monday Motivator: The Power of “I Don’t Know”

Monday Motivator Inspirational Art Quote“There is, has been, and will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits. It’s made up of all those who’ve consciously chosen their calling and do their job with love and imagination.

“… Difficulties and setbacks never quell their curiosity. A swarm of new questions emerges from every problem they solve.

“Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous “I don’t know.

“…This is why I value that little phrase “I don’t know” so highly. It’s small, but it flies on mighty wings. It expands our lives to include the spaces within us as well as those outer expanses in which our tiny Earth hangs suspended. ”

Wislawa Szymborska, The Poet and the World, Nobel Prize for Literature lecture 7 December 1996

Monday Motivator: The Three P’s of Painting

Monday Motivator Inspirational Art Quote“…there are three qualities you need to develop as a painter:  patience, persistence, and passion.

“Since painting is a complex process, you need to be patient with yourself as you learn to master the craft. Your persistence is important, in order to move past your failures and frustrations. And finally, it is your passion…that propels you forward.”

Suzanne Brooker, “The Elements of Landscape Oil Painting”, page 195

The Three P’s of Painting: Patience, Persistence, Passion

Passion, enthuasiasm, desire … perhaps the easiest to have in abundance.

Persistence, endurance, determination … it’s a long-distance event not a sprint. Pace yourself.

Patience … the hardest as we expect to learn in less time than is reaistic. Think about how many years it took you to learn to read and write, how we start one letter at a time not with five-syllable words such as phthalocyanine (aka phthalo, as in the blue).