I have this philosophy I apply with my art process.
The idea goes like this: The simple cure of an art block can either be a thorough cleaning of all your palettes and brushes, or staying away from the drawing board for a while.
What I’ve been trying to learn the past several months – the past couple years even – is knowing when to clean and when to step away. When to listen to my body and when to be stubborn.
Because sometimes when your body says “I’m tired. I don’t want to draw,” you listen to it. And other times, you don’t. Because maybe your body is tired and needs to rest, or maybe it just needs a little push.
Several days ago, I spent an entire evening cleaning my old palettes and water brushes. I probably spent more than an hour by our kitchen sink squeezing out the red watercolor stain out of one water brush. But that’s fine – time feels slow and forgiving when you’ve got nowhere to go like these past month.
I stood there silently. It’s already dry season now, where I’m from, and the nights are sweltering. I could feel a drop of sweat sliding down from my chin to my neck, the fan ventilating my brother by the dining table barely reached me.
Remembering that particular scene several days ago, that particular moment, I could liken it to cleansing your life or your head space. How much work it is. How heavy and uncomfortable you could feel while doing it. How it takes a while before the stain comes off completely (if they even do) and you return to a squeaky clean start.
Sometimes, cleaning up the messes around you is all you need to do to keep your sanity intact.
And sometimes, you are too overwhelmed to even clean them up. So much so, that all you can do is step away from them. Remove them from your view – if only for a moment.
I’ve been through both times. Heck, I’ve even been through both times at the same time.
When it comes to both my art and life and my mental well-being, I still don’t know the telltales of when to persist and when to quit.
All I could do right now is to listen, and to try.
It has been a heck of a long time since I published a short pondering type of post. It’s weird to not care about readability or the SEO. I’m trying my best to ignore it hnggg.
I honestly don’t know when I would write another one of these – maybe immediately after this one or maybe four years after.
That said, I hope I too made you ponder, even for a while. And I hope you are safe and well wherever you may be.