My drawings took hundreds of hours, and I rarely completed two a year. When the drawing was going well, wild horses couldn't pull me away, but if it went badly, I'd have a hard time getting into the studio to work. If I didn't draw regularly, if I had an issue with a drawing, had a problem I was having a hard time resolving, I'd stop my routine, avoid the work, and stay out of the studio.
The longer I stayed out of the studio - and it could sometimes stretch into weeks - it became harder and harder to get back in there and "pick up the pencil." It wasn't just the problem in the drawing, it was the idea of getting back in there that was hard. I would imagine the pencil getting bigger and bigger -- the size of a baseball bat, the size of a bedpost, finally, the size of a telephone pole -- that eventually it was impossible to get in there and get back to work. It would haunt me. All I had to do was to get in there and pick up the pencil.
The solution, of course, was to simply get in there and pick up the "the f****ing pencil." I knew I was fine when I would wander into the studio, lean over the drafting chair, pick up a pencil and start noodling around in an insignificant area of the drawing. When my back would hurt from bending over, I'd straighten myself up, pull out the chair, sit down and continue working.
There was never any magic to it. The solution was always to get in there and pick up the f***ing pencil. And yes, that's just the way I thought of it. The F-bomb pencil. Pick up the damn pencil. Get to work.
There are a lot of folks who wait for inspiration to strike, and then they get started. The artist Chuck Close famously dismissed those when he said,
"Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work..."
I think he's dead on right. (There's more to the quote, of course. Taken out of context it sounds nasty, but really isn't. Go here to read the whole quote.) You generate more ideas when you are working than when you aren't.
Which is why sometimes a clean studio is sometimes more intimidating than a messy one. After all, if it's already messy it can't usually get much worse, so you have less to "lose."
So although I do have a couple of things I really SHOULD be sewing, if none of them motivates me (and right now, none of them do), I find something to "noodle" around with, something that sparks my interest, but doesn't demand a lot of concentration. Once my conscious brain turns off by doing something that can appear mindless, my UN-conscious brain goes straight into creative mode and ideas start bubbling up and the next thing I know I'm in the happy zone of wrestling with a creative idea, of getting it out of my head and into fabric and up on the design wall.
Which brings me to what I have been playing with - I was browsing through the second collaboration book between Gwen Marston and Freddy Moran and I found "Red Sticks."
I love Red. It's my favorite color. So when I was at Quilted Threads last Saturday, I bought seven yards of the most glorious RED's! I'm taking a detour folks, the Quilt-along is gonna have to wait. I've picked up the pencil. I've picked up the Red Sticks.