From the attic window I can see Little green apples getting ready to be edible, if somewhat ugly and scarred , green apples. The worms will have surely decided that a few apples are already too good to pass by, but they always leave plenty for us.
We have plenty to do. The yard has been professionally neglected all summer, but still with everybody in the family home for once, we felt like we should look for something to do.
That’s how we found ourselves driving through The rolling hills of Washington County, New York. Thing1’s driving did nothing for my painting skills, but it did wonders for my creative spark.
Suddenly I can’t wait to get back in the studio.
The neon tetras are hilarious to watch sometimes.
I got a bonsai so Herman the Hermit could have a retreat for the more social fish, but the the tetras, a.k.a the Minions immediately claimed it for their daily 3PM game of tag.
Herman got sick of the ruckus and gave up the shady spot under the bonsai to spend more quality time with the thinker girl.
We decided to reconnect our granola, earth-sheltered house to the grid before the first snow fell last November, and, after years of watching every watt, we indulged.
We used an electric dryer over the winter and renewed a relationship with our crock pot. I even adopted a school of tetras and a guppy, setting them up in style with a few plants and a little stone thinker girl.
I added a Plecostomus, also known as a Suckermouth Catfish — technically a bottom feeder — to control algae. He was a little shy at first, so I named him Herman the Hermit, resisting the urge to name him after some politician.
Soon, I caught him whispering in thinker girl’s ear, and her smile seemed to grow (he must have been telling her how well he’d clean the tank because he did). Her beaded hat gleams, which made me realize most politician are not bottom feeders. Bottom feeders performs a useful service, after all.
And, anyway, how many politicians would think to make a woman smile by cleaning up without being asked?
A few months ago, wanting to improve my paintings and realize a dream I’d had since high school, I began looking for an affordable art school. I wanted to improve my drawings, learn more about techniques and be in a community of other emerging artists.
If you’ve ever looked for art schools, however, you’ll know what I mean when I say that the word ‘affordable’ is REALLY subjective, and, realizing that getting a BFA or MFA would require mortgaging all my vital organs to pay for it, began designing my own MFA in illustration. I looked at the curricula for a number of schools and set about finding inexpensive workshops that paralleled them as closely as possible, settling on an online classical drawing course.
The first part of the course focused on breaking bad habits — holding the pencil wrong, starting with the wrong subjects — and starting new, good habits. Ironically, the affordable drawing course had a fairly pricey equipment list. Wanting to follow it as closely as possible, however, I went online an ordered everything except the $250 easel. And then I waited.
And I waited.
I waited for the stuff to arrive. I waited for the next lessons on using it properly.
And I didn’t draw a thing.
Not a cartoon.
Not a single still life or even an recklessly abandoned landscape. Even my book layout slowed to a crawl.
My art — and with it — my blog was perfectly still.
A friend pointed it out to me: “Your blog is static. You’re only posting every few weeks.” And I wanted to add that the posts were uninspired because I was uninspired. I began telling myself the posts were so infrequent because it took too long to illustrate them the way I wanted.
Then a friend invited me to test out a watercolor tutorial she had developed for an educational website. The video turned out to be a fun review of basic skills, but what stuck with me was a phrase she kept repeating: “Be gentle with yourself.”
I look at other tutorials on the site and noticed that, other tutors — most of them working illustrators that I want to be — all ambassadors of the “Be Gentle With Yourself” philosophy. They were also doing was something I wasn’t anymore.
They were drawing everyday.
My favorite video was a short segment called the “Three Minute Sketching Challenge.” Inspired the Hundred Days of Sketching project, it advocated timed drawings that guaranteed an imperfect result. It also guaranteed, however, that there would be a result.
I turned to my fish tank and set the timer. My guppy, Oscar seemed to know he was being drawn because he chose those exact three minutes to do his daily race around the fake bonzai plant, but three minutes later I had a fishy doodle.
Four minutes after that, it was colored in.
Five minutes later, I dropped the ‘serious’ drawing class and subscribed to the way cheaper site .
I did a few dozen timed doodles, cursing when the alarm clock announced it was time for my day job.
Nothing I’ve produced in the last few days is remotely serious. It’s miles away from perfect. I may chase perfect and sign up for a ‘serious’ art class again someday, but, for now, I’m too busy drawing.