Some Good Advice

sketchbysketch brick by brick art motivation steps mastery gracie klumpp

My husband knows me very well. He is also exceedingly patient, which means every few months or so when I have another artist's identity crisis, he knows just what to do. He listens to me blubber for awhile about how lame I am or how so-and-so is doing this awesome thing that I'm not doing or how much I think my style stinks or how I'm scared to try all the ideas I get because I think I'll fail, and then is able to lovingly tell me how ridiculous and complain-y I'm being and point me in the right, positive direction to move forward. Ethan kindly handed me this index card one rather stressful, tearful afternoon last week:


My husband is very wise. He also unknowingly prepared the way for me to begin reading my copy of Brick by Brick by Stephen McCranie. I just barely started it the other day, a few days after the previously mentioned crisis. If you are an artist, know an artist (especially if you're married to or dating an artist) or are a creative person at all, you should probably at least read the first few sections.  In the first few pages, you'll either learn a lot about yourself and some techniques for staying positive and creative if you are an artist, or understand more how your artist friend/spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend operates.  Anyway, as you might have guessed by the title, the book begins with the simple but somehow difficult-to-remember idea that to really achieve mastery of our craft, artists need to take things one step (or brick) at a time.  If we draw every day, for example, we can confidently say to ourselves, "the only difference between me and the master artist is time." I get totally hung up on various master artists' amazingness all the time. It feeds a lot of creative identity crises. Staring at the product of someone else's incredible talent is both inspiring and depressing, and makes it very difficult not to compare my own current skills (or lack thereof) with art they did after years and years of practice and hard work.

So. Rather than continue to berate myself for not drawing all the time and waste the time I could be doing something productive about it, I am following the good advice of my husband, and also Stephen McCranie, and am trying to do a sketch every day or so. Any of those who have followed my blog for any length of time know I've tried this before and it hasn't worked for very long. I have so far and will, I'm sure, miss some days.  I'm sure this creative struggle gets as old for you as it does for me, but I'm not going to give up trying, and it's helpful to have some folks keeping me accountable, so I'll be posting sketches at least every couple of days. Here are a few I did this past week, mostly prompted by Ethan. He basically sat me down, gave me a prompt, and  watched me draw so I couldn't chicken out or get distracted by something else.