Going back to basics today! When you take a longer break from your main art practice, it is sometimes hard to find your way back into the well known and comfortable making of art… You want to find your way back to that wonderful place where you know intuitively what to do next, and maybe even into some kind of flow as you work. But as months pass you get out of practice and the longer time that pass the harder it is to find that flow. So when it’s time to start it up again, you might stumble, and everything feels rather uncomfortable. You might even start doubting what you’re doing, or that you ever knew how to do this thing…
I don’t think there’s any artist of any value who doesn’t doubt what they’re doing.
Francis Ford Coppola
Doubt is normal. It’s even an okay place to be, especially if you have more than one art practice. It’s okay to doubt your ability, but it’s not okay to let that doubt hinder you from making what you want to make!
You might move forward in another area, but you don’t forget all the rest of your knowledge in other areas – even when you are taking a break from it. It’s there, under the hood.
You might just need to go back to basics for a while, do a reset, and then find your way forward.
If you’re anything like me, you have multiple interests going in all directions. I don’t think I ever stop making and creating, but how I express myself varies greatly from day to day. Last week I was all about journaling, doing cut and paste in my small notebook, and painting in my Art Journal. Being creative, but not in all areas at once of course.
So like I mentioned this weekend, it’s been a long time since I did any collagework. Way too long. I can’t believe it’s been two years since I made my 365 Collage Project in 2013. The thought of that makes me a wee bit sad. I loved that project, even though it took a lot of time from other things. Maybe I I should’ve done a 365 this year, but I decided against it. I have many things I want to focus on this year, so with a bit of grace I hope I can do many things and still stick to my idea of making a few new collages when I can, to share here…
So back to basics, huh? When I sat down last week with my collage supplies and substrate, I felt like a beginner again. I stumbled, and didn’t know where to start until I decided to just make something really simple, and go back to basics. Maybe even cultivating what the buddhists call a beginners mind. It’s that feeling of that even when you do know a lot about your subject you approach it like you didn’t know it. Approach art like a beginner, with an open heart, loads of curiosity and with love.
My basics: I’ve got a square punch that I haven’t used much, so that’s what I used to make it easy for myself. Punching out squares from pretty papers, gluing them down in a grid, and that’s it. It was so easy to get going I made several collages in a row without thinking too much and voilį – it feels like I’m back, at least in a small way. The collages that I made are so basic I was surprised on how much I liked em’!
Here’s one of them, I’ll post the rest tomorrow:
I even took out a spiral bound notebook, my sketchbook of sorts even though I didn’t know I had a sketchbook (!), and glued stuff into it as I went along with squares side by side in the simplest form of collage. Super fun!
Ideas for Going back to Basics
If you too are feeling like you don’t know where to start, how to get going, or how to reset your art practice in the new year, I’ve got a few suggestions for you to get you started:
- Use a geometric paper punch and make a simple collage, as I did with my experiment above
- Get a tiny notebook to get started in
- Try this collage exercise too - using the same material in a series
- Try some of these Exercises – to silence the Inner Critic and nurture your Creativity
Go back to basic, and don’t let your brain get in the way. That is, don’t overthink it like I have done. Just sit down at your desk, and start. Moving your hands is the way forward, as always.
How do you get going when the going gets though?