Do any of these statements apply to you?
- I have trouble keeping my portfolio up-to-date.
- I never have new artwork to show.
- I’m behind in my postcard mailings.
- I can’t paint/draw as well as I’d like.
- I often get stuck in a rut and don’t know what to paint.
- I haven’t created any good paintings lately.
- Most of my sketchbooks are only half-full.
- My blog hasn’t had a new post in weeks.
- I am having trouble coming up with ideas and staying creative.
- My work has stopped evolving/improving.
Well, here is your solution…
Paint! Sketch! Scribble! Doodle!
It doesn’t matter what it is or if it is any good. Let your brain brainstorm. A lot of what you come up with is going to be terrible, horrible work – but that is the only way you are ever going to get to the good stuff.
Creatives and freelancers suffer the most when they are not PRODUCTIVE. You have to find ways to keep your brain and hands working. If you are always producing artwork, a) you will become better at your craft, and b) you will always have new artwork.
One Main Goal
I’ll admit, I get distracted very easily. I have promos to make, emails to answer, blogs to write, housework, business work, and every different kind of work that doesn’t even include drawing. I get discouraged really easily, and in between getting pulled from here to there, I’ll get little or nothing done. Very frustrating.
So one day I took a moment to evaluate myself. As an illustrator, my entire work and business and living comes down to one thing – my art. If I can continue creating and painting and illustrating, everything else would pretty much fall into place. You can’t create postcards, update websites, or improve your work if you are not constantly creating new art.
Now, when I sit down to work every day, I have one goal and one goal only: to draw.
Example: The Daily Doodle
As part of my new strategy, I implemented a personal goal called the Daily Doodle. If you follow my sketch blog, you’ve probably already seen some of them. The task is simple; every day, no matter what else is happening in my life and no matter how much other stuff I have to get done, I do one little personal sketch per day.
I have no rules or theme for this daily exercise, other than the doodle can’t be for any job (just a sketch for me and me only), and it has to stretch my creativity or skill a little bit. It usually takes only a few minutes.
And you know what a few minutes per day gives me?
- A break – I draw a lot of the same things every day – children, animals, and basically anything cute. Well, with the Daily Doodle I am able to draw whatever I want without a client to please.
- Creative practice – If you have ever stared at a blank piece of paper, you know how hard it can be to fill it. This goal has given me that challenge every day. It’s like a small rehearsal for getting out of the bigger ruts.
- Unusual results – Vampire clowns. Zombies. Monsters. I don’t draw these things very often, but they have all seemed to come out in a doodle these past few weeks. Who knew I had it in me? Give yourself the freedom, time, and effort, and hidden parts of your creativity will start to emerge.
Now, go draw!
All artists will go through down-times and ruts. The mediocre, undedicated artists never make it out, but the good ones succeed because they know how to work their way through it. In the artist’s world, that means drawing, drawing, and more drawing. It’s how you stay productive, move forward, and become a better illustrator.
Every time I get confused, and life starts to bog me down, I put it all aside and just draw. And you know what I’ve found? The other stuff actually gets done too.
Just draw. Every day. Produce. Sketch. Create. And the rest will come.
All of my Daily Doodles can be viewed on my website at http://www.danijones.com/dailydoodles.html. The archive is updated weekly.