This morning, first thing, during my first cup of coffee, I decided to draw the foggy view outside my bedroom window. The faint grey outlines of the trees looked so peaceful, almost mystical. There was a small part of me that wanted to venture out and draw “in the fresh air,” but no matter how many times I checked the weather app the forecast continued to be 90 to 100% chance of rain all day. So I enjoyed doing the drawing in the cozy confines of my covers, the taste and smell of my coffee adding to my pleasure. It seemed a good way to start a day that I hoped would involved finishing and then starting some paintings.
The initial drawing was not bad. It captured the fog outside pretty well but my decision to just ink in the window and things on the worktable in front of it was not a great one. It was actually dimmer in my room than outside. The way I drew it made it look the opposite and lessened the mood the fog creates. I held it up and took a few photos, trying to capture the picture and the view like I do when I draw on my hikes. I drank more coffee and thought about different ways I could have done the drawing and why the photos were not very good. Then I realized what I really was thinking about was how it might look on Instagram.
Just last night I sat and watched my daughter and her friends make a big production of taking pictures of themselves with their Big Macs before they ate their meals. I had wondered, rather critically, if they really liked that extra piece of bun and the special sauce or did they chose the most iconic sandwich on the menu based on how it would look when added to their “story?” Last night my judgement was quickly softened by their giggles and obvious joy in documenting and then devouring their dinner, but how does that relate to my drawing?
A quick sketch would never be framed and hung on a wall. It was not even in a sketchbook I might someday let a friend flip through. If it did not get posted on social media it would never be seen. It would probably end up in a forgotten file with other drawings deemed too good to throw away, but not interesting enough to do anything with. Does that matter? Isn’t art supposed to be shared? Music played to an empty room, drawings that never see the light of day, novels that are never read, do they have the same value as art? Is experiencing the creative process enough? If I enjoyed the making of the drawing has it fulfilled its purpose? As an artist do I have the obligation to try and get my art seen? How is trying to get it placed in a gallery different from posting it online? And then when does it stop being about the drawing itself but how many “likes” registered? Is the image that gets 146 likes really that much better than the one that gets 19 or is it more about timing or the quantity of hash tags? Have I somehow just gotten around to asking, “if a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound?“ or “is the unexamined life worth living?” It does not take my meandering mind long to get ridiculous. An INTJ friend pointed me to an article on a site about introverted Myers Briggs types the other week to illustrate something. I spent a fair amount of time perusing the site and read an article about an INFP’s morning routine. I found its description of the rabbit holes we so often fall down very amusing at the time, but this morning I was annoyed rather than charmed by my own digressions.
I decided to stop thinking about art and return to making it. If the picture was not good enough to share that did not necessarily mean anything about the intrinsic value of the sharing. It meant the drawing was not good enough. My purpose had been to enjoy the process but with the intention of a finished piece that in at least some small way captured the feeling of sitting in my warm bed on a cold foggy morning. I added layer after layer of colored pencil until it got too bright, then I dulled it down with black water color and then started back with the colored pencils again.
It took a while but by early afternoon I had a picture that I hope shows an interesting contrast between interior/exterior, warm/cool and dark/light. I felt no qualms about sharing it here and to my other accounts. I think I may even put it in a frame and find a wall to hang it on.