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Procrastination: The Monkey and the Panic Monster

Okay, so as I kind of expected at some point (although I was hoping I’d last slightly longer than 2 weeks), I have slightly let my beautiful time plan get away from me, as evidenced by my lack of intended posting last week. And not for the first time, I really don’t know what happened. But I do think this article helps sum things up pretty nicely:

http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/10/why-procrastinators-procrastinate.html

Now obviously I’m not trying to encourage procrastination into my working world (even if it does take the shape of a cute monkey) but what I have discovered (after many years practice) is that sometimes you need that time off to give you that shot of panic when you realise you haven’t done the things you were meant to do, and it’s that wake up call that kicks you into action. Perversely I’ve even found that I’ve done some of my best work when I’ve been in this state, because my mind suddenly clears out all of the superfluous stuff and I’m just left with the focus.

So, my parting thought (before I tell the monkey where to go and get back on track) is, yep, I definitely need the Panic Monster now and again, but when he does come round and give me a gentle prod/massive whack round the head, there’s no point actually panicking and going round and round in that feedback loop of ‘why didn’t I do this sooner,’ ‘if only I hadn’t done this, this and this, I wouldn’t be in this state now.’ The best thing I’ve found I can do is to welcome the Panic Monster in, give him a small embrace and calmly say ‘thank you for joining me today, now you go and put the kettle on, and I’ll get to work. Let’s do this!’

drawing, illustration, sketching

Week One – Rusty

Rusty B&W

Rusty 1

Right, so my mission for this week was to start my Rusty project, and, I’ve surprised myself again- I’ve actually done what I was intending! By the way in case you were wondering, Rusty is my dog (see above), I haven’t quite branched off into metal work yet…although, I’m sure it could be quite fun to draw…

Anyway, I started trying to sketch him from life, which was a mission in itself- he doesn’t stay still. I managed to get a few sweeping lines which just about suggest the form of a dog…if you piece them altogether. But I’m sure this collection of disembodied body parts will come in very handy at some point.

So in order to get a few more drawings that resembled something more like I was intending I took a load of quick photos on my phone while playing fetch with his ball (which required a heck of a lot of concentration and co-ordination to make sure I chucked the right thing…)

Having successfully managed that I gave myself the target of filling a double-page spread in my A3 sketchbook of quick sketches, using at least 3 different media. And I have to say, I’m actually pretty happy with the outcome (also see above).

My aim with these was not to get caught up too much in the details but rather try and capture the form and sense of movement that was there while we were playing. I particularly liked the freedom of the brush and ink, and surprised myself with the charcoal pencil, as this isn’t something I’ve really used that much-it was just something I found lying at the bottom of my pencil case.

So, for next week, I need to do more sketches (both from life and photos) to try and build up a strong reference base showing a range of different angles and movements, which should prove very useful as a starting point for a character design, which is the other thing I want to start doodling around this week. Although the coming drawings might start to be more detailed and more anatomically correct than the drawings this week I don’t want to lose the freedom and movement that these have. So that is my challenge!

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Putting Inspiration into Action

Right, so last week I was busy trying to put together all my ideas for things to have a go at and, shock horror, I actually managed it! (The threat of this blog is clearly working already). So, I don’t know about you, but for me the best bit about coming up with ideas, is just that- the ideas- you know, that feeling you get when you actually have an idea and feel super excited to carry it out? That’s it, you’re inspired…and it feels awesome. But…a lot of the time, perhaps more times than it should, that’s as far as it ever gets. Well for me anyway. I don’t want to speak for anyone else but I know that more often than not I’ll have a whole bunch of ideas, I’ll write them down before I forget them, make some kind of mental note that I’ll carry them out as soon as I have time and…that’s it. Nothing ever happens. Well, until now… Last year at college we were shown a video featuring a lecture by John Cleese about the creative process (there’s an annotation of the lecture here–> http://genius.com/John-cleese-lecture-on-creativity-annotated), and the thing that struck me the most was the idea that when we’re trying to be creative we have two modes that we work in- the first is the bit where we generate ideas and play around with them; this is the open mode (and the fun bit). The second mode is the closed mode. This is when we focus down and actually put the ideas into action (the serious bit). And for me this is the bit that always gets me; when I’m not really in the mood to ‘work’ and just want to have fun, switching from the open to the closed mode is very difficult. And the consequence? Everything I’ve mentioned above. Now I know I’ve waffled on about this a bit, but the point I wanted to make was, as I mentioned in my last post, I finally had an idea of how to combat this, and this week, I actually did it. So without further ado, I’d like to present you my time plan: Timeplan To Get Stuff Done Okay, I realise it doesn’t look like much, but what I’ve basically done here is pick out my favourite 4 ideas from the giant list I started off with, and I’ve given myself a time frame to work to. So now (and I promise this is the last time I go on about it) instead of sitting at my desk wondering what the heck I’m going to do, or where I’m going to start with my giant list, I have one simple brief, which I’ve broken down even further into specific action points. Boom, open mode now has a focus, and when I get up/get home from work, I know exactly what I’m supposed to be working on. Result! PS. For anyone remotely organised or efficiently minded this was probably the most obvious idea in the world, and to be fair you’re probably right. But when you’re daydreaming around in your own little world, you’d be amazed how un-obvious the obvious actually is!

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Buzzing with ideas, but where to start?

Have you ever had that feeling where you want to draw, or make something, but you just don’t know what? Or you’ve got so many ideas buzzing round your head you jump from one to another, not knowing where to start, and before you know it it’s dinner time and you haven’t done anything? Sound familiar? Well that’s me. Right now. Or should I say, that’s been me for the last 4 weeks, since I finished my uni course (a Foundation Diploma in Art & Design).

Now over the course I got inspired by a lot of new stuff and subsequently ended up with almost literally a million (or slightly less) ideas of things to try out, a lot of which, due to time and the direction my projects wandered off in, I wasn’t able to take further than the mind map stage (and I made A LOT of mind maps.) ‘But that doesn’t matter!’ I foolishly thought, ‘when I finish the course I’ll have so much free time I can just sit down and do all of these things. It’s going to be awesome!’ Ha, yeah right. I want to turn round and hit my 6-month-younger-self for being so naive.

Okay, to be fair, I still whole heartedly agree with the sentiment, it’s just acting on it that’s proving a little tricky. And why? Well, where you might think lack of time could be a problem, that’s really not the issue here (I work part-time). The issue is that I’m one of those people where, the more time I have, the less I do. Which is annoyingly bonkers. But, while I’ve been trying to get the same focus back that got me through my Final Major Project, I finally think I’ve got it. (I’d call it a light bulb moment but you could probably have re-invented electricity in the time it took to figure it out). And that’s where this blog comes in.

Over the last 4 weeks I’ve been writing down all the things I want to have a go at, and so the plan now is to try and tackle one of these each week (possibly every 2 weeks) and post them on here as I go. Hopefully having this as a bit of a target will kick my brain into action and help turn my inspiration into something physical. And if anybody reading this ends up in the same boat (come on, I can’t be the only one right?) then if you can get something out of it as well, then hopefully it’ll all be worthwhile.

Now, I need to go put together my list and turn it into some kind of time plan *shudder, organisaion, shudder* ready to post next week…