Blank pages are not created equal

A blank page in front of me for writing, whether I’m writing by hand or typing, is rarely intimidating. There’s more in my head than I can get down on paper, and unless other things are hijacking my brain, writing comes easily. (And if there are other things hijacking my brain, writing about those often helps to clear out some space, stop the spinning, and let me get moving on my work.)

Writing the first word on a fresh sheet of paper has the same level of satisfaction as taking the first scoop out of a new jar of peanut butter. It ruins the pristine clean space in the name of something delicious.

That said, with my new watercolor pencils, a blank page is very intimidating. What should I create? How should I do it? 

Why the difference?

Partially: sheer practice. I’ve written a lot both in and since school. I’ve not drawn as much in either context, and I’ve painted significantly close to none. (For simplicity, I’m going to say “drawing” for the rest of this post, but I’m talking about drawing and painting both.)

Another piece is that I’m not good enough at drawing to produce something on paper that shows an audience what’s in my head. Nor am I skilled enough to edit it when I’m done. (Yes, those are changeable. Talking about where I am today.) 

With writing, the ideas that get recorded show an audience what I’m thinking maybe half the time, and with some editing, those pieces are clear, readable, and hopefully engaging. The rest get discarded or go back into the idea bank to try again later.

I don’t allow myself the same grace in drawing and painting and need to shift that. 

Taking a tangent, I wonder if that has roots in my art lessons, so many years ago, with Sally on Haddon Ave in Collingswood.

Art supplies can be expensive, and as I began working in each new medium in my lessons, there were new supplies: they all use different tools and different paper or canvas. I had an art tackle box for supplies and a large portfolio for my paper. Every time we needed to buy supplies, my mom complained that they were expensive. I became self-conscious about costing money, not understanding at that time that my pen and ink supplies weren’t going to push us over the edge into financial ruin. As a result, I was extremely vigilant about taking care of my supplies and using as little as possible at a time so they didn’t need to be replaced. 

Using that mindset, it’s not okay to pitch half the drawings because they’re not what I wanted. (“What I wanted” includes things that don’t match the vision but pleased me regardless. That’s definitely a class of my creative work.)

On the other hand, notebooks and pens were ubiquitous and cheap.

So … I’m going to draw more. Paint more. Doodle more. Use up the paper. Use up the ink. Use up the watercolor pencils. Wear out the paintbrushes. I can buy more if I want or need more.

While I’m at it, I’m going to give some energy to find where else I have seemingly unconnected fears that are stopping me from doing my best work. A treasure hunt of sorts.

Where are yours?

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