Hope you’re all doing well! I’ve actually been in a state of mental confusion and kind of overwhelmed with stuff lately. You may have noticed I didn’t send out an essay last week—direct evidence of my lack of accurate planning. Everything is just kind of outta whack. Anybody else feel me?
I’m not quite ready to share in-depth details about the little blobby cloud on my head just yet. But I’m here because I believe in the power of art as a method of therapy, healing, and introspection. Writing and drawing always helps me figure stuff out, organize my thoughts, and calm my mind.
Making things helps me shake off the blobby clouds and globby gunk to see through the mess to clarity.
Anyways, I read a book about mindfulness that helped me through times like this a few years ago, and it’s come back to me now. I looked over my notes from the book again and realized—as always—how relevant it was to artmaking and how similar it was to the creative process. Life and art really mirror themselves, no?
I believe my best work—both my words and pictures—has come about when I was writing to myself. When I write these essays, I’m never aiming to preach from a soapbox, enforce sacred rules, or declare solid truths.
I’m merely following the thread of my thoughts, and writing what I need to hear to keep going.
I don’t aim to write what you need to hear because I have no idea what you need to hear. I started writing these essays to help me. If an essay ends up sounding like a pep talk, it’s because I needed to hear a pep talk that week. If it sounds like a cut-the-crap reality check, it’s because I needed a cut-the-crap reality check. And if it sounds like warm, gentle hug, it’s because I needed a warm, gentle hug.
And right now, I need some mindfulness. I need some calm. I need to be reminded that this gloopy, gunky cloud will go away and I will figure things out again.
I would be writing these essays regardless of whether people liked them or not. I only keep sharing them on the internet because I’ve heard from so many of you that they resonate with you and help you get past your own gunk. Maybe sometimes it’s just nice to know that someone else is feeling blobby too, that you’re not the only one.
I am immensely happy to hear when my essay speaks to someone, and I’ve slowly learned that magic connection through art can only happen when we listen to what’s already in our minds, and let that out. We gotta work with what we got. We have to write the essays we need to read in that moment, draw the drawings we need to see at that time, and make the art we need to make on that day.
Art has a powerful magic to connect people together. But the person your art can help most, is you.
With all that said, I’m beginning a new series on mindful art making next week. Perhaps, like me, you’re feeling overwhelmed with your art, your thoughts, or your life. I hope that this series will help you, because I know it will help me.
The first essay will begin Tuesday, October 2, which just happens to be the second day in Inktober. If you don’t know what Inktober is, it’s an international month-long drawing challenge that I wrote about previously in one of my most popular essays, You Need to Be Drawing Consistently.
To prove my previous point: that essay was not written as a pep talk to you—it was written as a pep talk to myself. Inktober in 2016 marked a shift in my drawing frequency, as I say in the essay. But that vague memory wasn’t enough to get me pumped about doing Inktober in 2017.
The day I wrote that essay, I was in a funk—perhaps it’s a changing of the seasons thing?—and I was already overwhelmed by Inktober on Day 3. How could I possibly make it to Day 31 when I already felt burned out?
I needed a pep talk. So I wrote one to myself, from someone else—someone more confident, more energetic, and more focused.
And lo and behold, as always, it worked. I emerged from writing that essay with a newfound confidence and energy. Through the process of writing, I brought back my faith in myself as an artist. I believed again that had the power to keep going. I could keep drawing. I just might could do this.
And I did.
I drew all 31 days of Inktober for the second year in a row.
Now, here we are, days away from Inktober 2018. And now, here I am, in another blobby, globby funk. If it is the season, perhaps many of you are also already feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of completing 31 days of Inktober drawings. Or maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed with a different big art project. Or maybe life is all just a little too much right now.
I feel you.
And while I don’t know what you need right now, I think a little mindfulness is just what I need to set my mind back on track. Who knows, maybe it’ll speak to you too.
So I’ll be back on October 2, to start this month-long series on artful mind-making—I mean, mindful artmaking—I mean, really, what is the difference? My mind is my art and my art is my mind.
And right now, my mind is a mess, so we might as well dive in, follow that thread, and get messy.
P.P.S. Whew. I already feel better after having written this essay. Here’s to the power of making stuff, ya’ll. Thank you for being here. <3