Honesty and sketchbooks

There are times in our lives when events force us to look at where we are and what led us there.  I am in one of those events, and my art and the direction I want to take my art is an area I have really been looking at.

I have been a creative person all my life, I’ve always had a passion for making things, drawing things, or painting things.  Making art is almost a need for me.  It’s similar to how some people view exercise and fitness, it’s a calling that needs to be answered.  It keeps my head clear, sharpens my focus, and forces me to slow down and be in the moment.

My relationship with my art has always been a bit frustrating.  You could even call it a bit contentious.  I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I have been trying to live the art dream someone else had for me, I was trying to reach goals that were not set by me, but goals I felt I had to fill to gain the respect and admiration of someone other than myself.  I’m sure some of you reading this may be thinking “just do what makes you happy!”  But sometimes what makes you happy can be heavily clouded and blurred by someone else’s dreams and goals.

Letting go of thoughts you once held as truth can be very liberating, it can also induce a bit of panic.  I’ve felt both of those emotions recently, and a few others to be honest.  It’s liberating because you are free to go in the direction your heart pulls you, but it also can cause panic because you are now looking at and questioning everything you are doing, and you wonder if this is even the road you should be on.

This is my road, making art is the journey I want to follow, but it will be a new journey.  The old goals of being a profitable and successful gallery artist are not the paths I want to take.  It’s not me, it never really was.  I am so much happier hauling around a sketchbook and a few drawing tools, filling little sketchbooks with watercolors, and putting on paper the world I see as I see it.  And doing it for me.  I’m not doing it for fame or gallery space, but doing it because it’s who I am.  Will I still sell my art, of course, will I turn my back at a chance for a gallery show, of course not.  But those will no longer be my goals.  There are plenty of other people who thrive with those goals.  And that’s great for them.  We need artists who strive to fill galleries and sell art.  But that’s not me, it never was.

This is me, pencil sketches and watercolor sketches.  This is the art I like to create.  Little glimpses into my world, capturing moments on paper with my pencils, pens, and watercolors. Maybe even a little storytelling.

Cottage in Pencil 050719-1

Geranium 050719-1

Tree in Pencil 050919-1

I expect my journey to be a meandering trail with lots of stops and curves along the way.  There will be new ideas, new places to sketch, and maybe even some new tools to try, but it will be my journey going forward.  It won’t be for anyone else.

Thank you for sticking with me on this post, I really felt this had to be shared.  New adventures can be fun taken alone, but there are times when you want a community there with you.

Take care, everyone…Erik

 

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23 thoughts on “Honesty and sketchbooks

    1. Thanks, Andrea. I never know how open to be out here, but I know there are times I’ve read personal stories that have touched me and I was able to connect with. I guess that’s the beauty of this platform.

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    1. Thanks, I use a little orange with the magentas and pinks, that really adds the pop and glow you see. Kinda like flowers, there is always so more much depth to the colors when we stop and look at them.

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  1. Excellent and courageous post. I’m glad you are finding YOUR way and creating art for YOU! You are a very talented artist. Success can be measured in many ways, perhaps the most genuine way to measure success is happiness and fulfillment. Create art that fulfills you as a person and tells your story and the rest will fall into place.

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  2. I think when I feel like I’m not living up to others expectations, I feel kind of worthless but you and I know it’s not really true and we each have our own journey. I sometimes put the pressure on myself when people say stuff like why don’t you sell your work in a store or get an artist rep or somesuch thing. I’m 64 and I really don’t want to start marketing. I just want to have a fun hobby! I am running an urban sketchbook group here at the fine arts museum in Richmond. I’m loving it! Not many people but that’s fine. I don’t teach. We just get together and sketch! You are a great person and you need to make your own path.

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    1. I couldn’t agree more with you, Sheryl! I know people mean well when they suggest we commercialize our work, it’s meant as a compliment, but for some of us that just isn’t our goal. And like you, when I hear that I tend to question what I’m doing. I’m so happy for you that you were able to start a sketching group, I really wish we had a group around here. I’ve thought about trying to get something going, but there just doesn’t seem to be a lot of interest. For now I’ll just go out on my own and create little adventures of my own.

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      1. I must say I don’t think there is anything wrong with commercial work.
        As far as a group goes, you can create a group called Meetup which you may or may not know about. I was in a creative peoples group which brought in more variety of people,opera singer,screenwriter, poet, knitter, crafts person , doodlers etc. meeting places suggestions could be local library or church or pub. We met in a pub before lunch on weekend when it wasn’t busy. We all need a supportive social life I think.

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      2. I agree 100%, commercial work and commissions are great. Wanting art to be a source of income is also great, just not for me. I have looked into meetup, unfortunately there is nothing in our area. I’ll just have to get creative.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this honest view of your work. I have come along the same path, from doing commissions to loving to work in my sketchbook, for my own pleasure and therapy. 🙂 I always knew I was not cut out for shows and galleries, but I did do the commission scene until I burned out on painting other people’s visions. One day I just realized I could not do that any longer!

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    1. Thank you for the thoughtful comment. I get frustrated by the thought that all artists should be selling their work or have gallery shows. This seems to be the general idea from our society. While I appreciate the compliment that my work is sellable and gallery worthy, I also resent the notion that it’s expected of us to do that. And if we don’t do that, sell or enter shows, our work somehow loses credibility. Just because a person can do something doesn’t mean they should.

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      1. I agree. The first comment, that is meant as a compliment, is something like, “You should sell this!” That is the mindset of our society now. Turn everything into cash. We have forgotten the values of story and expression and learning through observation and drawing. But I believe it is still more important to listen to what calls to you to be expressed and to follow your muse. I like the quote by Hannah Hinchman in her book, A Life in Hand, “What do we have that is utterly unique to us, after all, but these days in these surroundings?” That is what our sketchbooks can capture. – Happy sketching!

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  4. Nice to read this.

    I must admit I’m not one for reading lengthy posts generally. I’m only online (on art sites) to look at the pictures and see what others are up to. Unfortunately I’ve had to unfollow a few accounts on WordPress and Instagram for that very reason but at least in honest in admitting that I’m a “skimmer”, if there is such a thing…

    However I read your whole post as it resonated so much. I’m not a ‘natural creative’ but I took up drawing as a 21 day challenge and got hooked. It wasn’t long before friends and family had said I could and should sell stuff so I guess I got caught up in that notion, set up a website, Etsy shop, etc. But I’ve now had the realisation that this will never be a wage earner for me, not even with another ten year’s experience under my belt unless something dramatically changes.

    I’ve spent a good chunk of hours and money over the past couple of years on marketing stuff. It may be that I should’ve spent all those hours on art instead but I don’t consider it a waste, as much as picking up the brush it’s been a learning experience.

    Probably the greatest achievement this year is that I’ve only sold one piece and the fact is I don’t care. My stuff is up online if anyone wants it but I’m going to stop paying out for promoting it and instead spend more time ‘creating’ rather than ‘promoting creating’.

    In some ways it’s like going for a jog without a stopwatch and just admiring the scenery, or sketching something just for the sake of it rather than worrying about getting the details right on a finished piece. The weight off the shoulders is something to be savoured.

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    1. Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I think it’s easy for creative people to fall into the money trap. I know I’ve fallen into it on several occasions. I realize people mean well when they suggest we should monetize our talents, it’s meant as a compliment, but for me I take it too literally.
      I’ve decided I gotta stop making art for others, it’s something I want to enjoy on my terms, but it can be challenging.
      There are plenty of talented people out there selling their creations, and I’m happy for them, but I just don’t think that’s the life for me.

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      1. Yep, I hear you and totally agree.

        Commissions are another feature of this, last year I took on a commission and it was a total failure. After many hours and several sheets of expensive paper (the poshest stuff only serving to increase the pressure) I had to call it a day as even if he’d paid I’d be doing it for free. It was for a subject I was only semi interested in.

        Now I’m of a mindset that I’d only do a commission if it’s something I’d have a bit of passion about and wanted to paint for myself.

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      2. I agree with this 100%! I’ve tried doing commissions with some success, but the stress is just too much for me, I just don’t enjoy it.
        Art should be fun, it shouldn’t feel like work.

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