The prevailing lesson I walked away from the conference was ths:
I must spend less time on more drawings.
I have been agonizing over individual pieces, trying o make them p.e.r.f.e.c.t. when I just need to keep my hand moving daily in a forward direction. The portfolio pieces will arise out of this daily exercise. Of course I have heard this over and over again, but I have fallen into the trap of pushing my creative activity into only times of extreme inspiration or an actual job deadline. Last year I had to create 3 coloring book projects on a very tight schedule. And what I found was that drawing over150 pairs of hands and feet really does pay off.
Therefore, inspired by Melissa Sweet‘s breakout session from the 2012 SCBWI LA Convention, I have invented the Petite Painting Project, or PPP, or to be very efficient (because that’s what I’m going for) P3. One small painting a day for an entire year. Yes, 365 days. Not necessarily picture book or portfolio material, just whatever happens to be around me.
From life. My life. And no more than an hour spent on it. P3 doesn’t end there…I must also create one drawing a day (start to finish) and if time allows, a collage or work on a more long term piece. This must all take place in addition to the current commissions in my cue.So how do I do this with children? Well, they are just going to come along on the journey with me. P3 happens with the children – a family activity. And guess what? After three days, they’ve come to expect and joyfully anticipate it. Even ask for it. We are having a blast. Yesterday we went out and bought a new array of materials, and I think they were more receptive to the errand because it was something for them as well.
Daily Drawing and collage take place in small spaces of times that occur throughout the day, which I’ve discovered there are a lot of! To illustrate this point, I will touch back on a keynote speech I heard this weekend from Deborah Underwood, author of The Quiet Book, and her message was, appropriately, The Power of Quiet…
She spoke of a dancer who was trying to master a difficult routine. The pace was frantically fast. The dancer practiced over and over, but she still was left with little improvement in her stamina. She approached her teacher with this problem. The master teacher simply said, “Find the places of rest” Of course by now the dancer was extremely frustrated. “Are you kidding me? Did you just see what I was doing?” And the teacher said, “Swing your arm” So the dancer started to swing her arm. “What happens when you change direction?” the teacher asked. And the dancer understood. In the small space between those two directions, there was a moment, however brief, of rest. She was able to dance the dance. Rather than a marathon of speed, it became a series of resting points. P3 helps me throughout the day, serving as my resting place in the midst of these late summer days with young children.
So that leaves commissions and long term projects to take place during rest time and in the late evening after bedtime. But by then, I’m ready. I’ve had moments of daily practice to get me inspired about tackling the bigger tasks. Thank you, Deborah Underwood, Melissa Sweet and SCBWI!