I got thinking about: being creatively ‘stuck’, and not taking the leap into creating your own work, which led me to think of what Julia Cameron said about ‘Shadow Artists‘ in her book ‘The Artist’s Way‘.
I can definitely relate to this. It’s also why the self-help industry is huge. We want to keep reading variations on the same wisdom in the hopes of filling in gaps we missed – or getting that final combination of ‘secrets’ that will finally give us the confidence we need.
The Shadow Artist
I first became aware of it when reading Julia Cameron’s book ‘The Artist’s way‘. The author introduced me to the idea of the ‘Shadow Artist‘. I suddenly realised that I was one! Instead of actually making my own art, I was voraciously reading books about art & artists – and painting technique. I was almost an art historian, but producing nothing. I read biographies and diaries of artists – hoping it’d inspire me, or rub-off. But I think really, it was an easy substitute for doing the work – taking a risk. It was procrastination.
People also like to talk about their great novel – which they haven’t written yet.
Taking Action: Art Classes
When my wife finally pushed me to do art classes, I started reading a lot less about Art – and watching less art documentaries – because I was more interested in doing my own art. I was no longer a ‘Shadow Artist’. What I did read, and look at, had real purpose. In-between painting, I was studying the work of people like Lucien Freud and Velasquez, and trying to apply it to my own work. Continue reading
Once upon a time – after the time when I was young and had sense – but before now upon a time, when I’m a disillusioned mess, I was in the habit, as many mature – but boring people are, of grinning, and making fun of those over-weight, balding, middle-aged men who frequent comic shops.
After all, I’d gone to art college, travelled Italy, read copious amounts of art historical literature including Vasari and Ruskin and had good taste and a pretty educated eye for proper art.
When I rediscovered my childhood art about 5 years ago, and thought about the fact that I’d become an unhappy professional designer, I realised what an idiot I’d been. You see, I’d been drawing my own comics from the age of 8 or 9, and was dead-set on being a comic artist when I grew up, but somehow I took a wrong turn.
I see now that it’s so important not to throw all of those childhood passions away so lightly, because they can still inspire the adult!
And another page – which nearly wasn’t.
I learned a few things from making this one. I started with lots of ideas – concepts – that I wanted to get into this single page. I thought I could cleverly weave it all together, coherenly with humour and good pacing.
Alas, my cleverness wasn’t so clever. I went from excitement – and a sense “I can’t wait to show them this!” to “Oh my God, this is a mess.” Thankfully the remedy wasn’t so difficult. below you can see it as it was before I took some simple steps… Continue reading