Ways of starting: Stop overthinking your art process

I’m currently struggling to begin my art process and to stay focused until the end, as you saw in my previous post here. My knee jerk reaction is to always get more information on the situation i’m having difficulties with, seeing if others have had the same experience and how they solved this. This does help in some respects but it can also allow me to procrastinate and not actually take action to resolve the situation.

It has however allowed me to gather a large amount of knowledge of different ways of stopping yourself from over thinking. When I was younger and enjoyed drawing and painting without self imposed restrictions and limits placed on what I was creating, I didn’t have art block as much. It was still there and I still overcomplicated my thought process, but my fear of starting was normally from not having a clue of how to do perspective or anatomy properly, not trying to combined 5 different half thought ideas as I go along creating.

The fear has since evolved into not even being able to paint basic layers, which sucks to be honest. Now, after doing my reading, I came across a very useful piece of text that looked at how dancers and writers tackle this problem. By allowing yourself not to have all the steps planned out ahead of time and simple respond to the marks you are making ( very similar to how I was working when I was younger) you build up your piece, one thought leads to another and another. If you’re familiar with the improv. technique of  asking ‘and then…’ after every action to lead your thoughts into the next choice, it’s very similar to that.

You can sit and stay in your head, theorising how you will create a piece all day and have only a blank piece of paper by the end. But if you theorise as you go, it stops the analysis paralysis from taking hold. The art work you create may not be what you had initially wanted to create, as when it evolves on the page many new options will occur that your brain had never considered. When you have a block, there can be a feeling of fear that comes with it, of not choosing the right option ( for me anyway) and failing to make it the best it could possibly be. This fear can come from lack of properly planning ahead of time and solidifying the idea you want to create before you start. If can also hinder you from giving yourself a starting point and allowing the image to develop organically as you create the marks ( I wrote a bit about my thoughts on  that process here).

So, now i’m trying this process: taking a deep breath to calm the thoughts and anxiety, writing a small list of bullet points of what my idea is, with specific details ( landscape with an oak tree in a field, 2 people, they’re talking, it’s cold, it’s late afternoon, overall feeling of friendship) to keep me on track. I draw a line under these notes before I begin sketching and if I have any furhter thoughts that spring up for my attention, I jot them down on a seperate piece of paper to come back to ONLY when I have covered my initial idea. This keeps me focused and stops my anxiety that I will forget a good idea. Below is my first trial with this idea and it certainly help with this sketch!

Let me know what you think to this idea and if it might help you too in the comments section!

Starting Running

It is a crisp cold day outside and i’ve delayered myself into a hoodie and running trousers to get out there and run. Everyone I pass has layers and wooly hats and gloves and i’m bizzarely happy that I look so different. I see the smiles that play on their faces, wondering that someones actually going running in the cold like this and I remember my own thoughts when I saw people doing what i’m planning, something along the lines of “I could never do that!”

I met up with my friend and we managed a simple run around the park. I want to share this with you readers, as I want to explore it in more detail; namely the ways how it helps other aspects of my life like the drawing and mindfulness i’m trying to cultivate into my routine.

I’ve read before that many runners go into a meditative state, where they’re only mindful of their run and their body. It’s just them and the road. It always reminded me of the artist, it’s just them and their canvas. Both have to focus their mind and energies into achieving something that takes skill, patience, and focus.

As we start to run and my lungs begin to feel uncomfortable, it feels the same as when I get to the first stage of drawing when i’m not sure what to do next. It’s an uncomfortable tight feeling for me and my instinct is to stop what i’m doing to releave it. When you’re running, your mind has to stay focused to keep yourself moving, to look at the bigger picture and see that this will pass, you will get to the next stage which becomes easier once you’re warmed up. Breath, move, don’t over think things. Breath some more. Keep your focus. Keep your running pattern going. Breath.

For me, the artists actions would be something like breath, relax your thoughts, step back and look, breath and close your eyes, breath and take a look, breath and make a mark, breath and carry that mark forward, breath and look again. For me it doesn’t have to be a flurry of movement and energy although that is fun as well if you’re not feeling stuck and inspiration is racing through you. Trying to stay focused and allow your minds instinct to have the room to direct your vision and marks is something i’m struggling with allowing myself at the moment. I will continue to try different techniques to help quieten my over-thinking when i’m creating. I’ll keep you all posted with how it goes!