There is value in slowing down. It’s easy to get caught in the push to get faster, increase productivity, do more with less time. But time hasn’t sped up at all. It still passes at the rate of one second per second.
Slowing down allows time—and the universe around us—to coalesce a bit as we work with it. It becomes more real.
Basically, it’s better to do than to not do. But there are exceptions.
Sometimes something just isn’t working. It’s sometimes better to stop that and do something else, start on a different idea. Finishing isn’t always the best option if it stops you moving to another project that flows.
But there’s always a paradox to resolve: do I need to stop working on this piece because it’s not working, or is it not working because I just want to start a new piece?
Continuing a little too long on something to be sure it isn’t going to work might be the only way to tell. But you’ll be able to.
“I can’t draw!” Yes, well, even proficient artists feel like that, at times. There always seems another level to rise to, and never enough practice to get you up there.
Like most things art, though, it’s all about patience and regularity. Practice isn’t a temporary condition for students, it’s a lifetime habit. Whatever you cultivate will yield fruit, and that’s not just for real life stuff, it includes compelling abstract work. But to sidestep frustration with our progress—and lack of it—in drawing any particular subject, it’s about two main things.
First, simple tenacity. Drawing is the foundation of all other visual art, and it feeds into everything else if you do it regularly to keep in practice. It’s like working out, you’ll never notice changes day-to-day, but every so often you notice you’re suddenly better—or fitter—than a few weeks ago, months ago, years ago.
Second, kindness. Not in general—but do that, too—but to ourselves. Be kind to you and try to avoid beating yourself up for any perceived lack of progress. There’s no end point, so there’s no race or rush, it’s just something you do. And it can be anything, not necessarily a high concept or grand scene. Simple lines. Circles. Cups. Leaves. Hills. Buildings. Faces. Figures. All worthy subjects along the way. Just the habit of working, as usual, is the most important thing.
Then, don’t stop.
About the Author
Marcus is a maker of things and thoughts. He currently resides in Portland, Oregon.