I usually have a really hard time starting a new piece of art. Something about making that first mark on a clean white sheet of paper or a completely blank screen is so daunting. Once a piece is finished you probably won’t even be able to see that first mark or distinguish it from the rest, and more importantly, I could certainly start over if I wanted to. Laying down the first line always seems like the most important step in the process, but really it is so insignificant compared to the rest of the formation of the piece. It’s almost comical that I spend so much time deliberating over the start of the action, because once I finally dive into a project, it’s all I can think about, all I can see when I close my eyes, and all I want to do is keep working on it. I would probably get prints done even quicker if I didn’t have to wait for screens & ink to dry!
A little while ago I had an interesting discussion with Dan about procrastination. His viewpoint was that people that usually procrastinate often produce a higher level of work than those that do not. He said that perhaps this was because, whether consciously or sub-consciously, procrastinators have time to mull over the task at hand for a longer period of time before beginning. I had never thought of it that way before, but it sure makes sense to me and is a great excuse to keep procrastinating! I think this theory is reflected in the way I work. Many times I don’t have a solid plan for a project, but my brain seems to. I’ve noticed that the harder it is to start a new art piece, the more it seems to make sense once I start in on it. I need that extra time to get into the right frame of mind. As soon as I start, things seem make more sense, and though I still may not have a clear vision for the end product, it always emerges through the process, layer by layer.
This theory conceivably explains why it is so hard to draw the first line, to create the initial blemish on an otherwise clean slate. I’m sure it undoubtedly has something to do with the fact that on a perfectly clean swatch of paper, the human eye will be aesthetically drawn toward any blemishes, especially if the human is also the creator of the mark. Noticing a single smudge on a pristine blank canvas would make the bit of perfectionist in me experience a pretty high level of anxiety and frustration. That first mark can feel like you’re about to put a splot of spaghetti sauce on a new clean white shirt. But I think the hesitancy is also an important instinct to listen to. It’s the brain telling us to take our time, to think about the project as a whole and not to jump into something without really considering what the end goal is, however abstract that consideration may be.
This premeditative process intrigues me because in other aspects of my life I often don’t employ the same method for thinking about things. It makes me wonder if I did, what would happen… where I could end up!?
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