Saturday, October 23, 2010
Sending My Sketchbook Into the Blue Yonder
I've just signed up for the Sketchbook Project. It fell into my frame of attention yesterday, at exactly the right time, and I couldn't help but sign up.
The past few years of mapmaking have been amazing, and I have been so lucky to find a way to earn money doing something I love. But success at self-employment, especially as an artist, brings some dangers, one of which is the pressure to perform. Soon, it feels like every minute of time must be productive - every piece must be good enough to sell. Time for dreaming and sketching gets squeezed and becomes less about dreaming at all and more about planning and performing and producing, even though dreaming made the whole thing possible in the first place.
Don't get me wrong - I am not of the crowd that believes that selling art somehow lessens its value or the artist's purity. I believe art is a valuable and necessary contribution to society, and artists should be compensated appropriately. But signing up for a project where the resulting artwork won't be for sale - and I won't even be keeping it - seems like a perfect exercise in creating art for the joy of creating and sharing that joy.
In this new life of mine, with the arrival of the Mapmaker's Apprentice, my time for planning and performing and producing has been abruptly and drastically cut to pieces. Time for artmaking comes in unpredictable fragments. It's rare that I have the time to work on any large chunk of a project, so if I want to make any art at all, it has to be something I can fit into those little fragments. And after a few months of almost no artmaking, I am wary of jumping right back in where I was. I am very proud of the work I've done, but feel like it's time to step back a bit, and reassess my direction and intention and creativity. Sketching is a beautiful way to do that.
I've put a sketchbook in every room, in my favorite purses and bags, and in the car. And in the process, I'm falling in love with my sketchbooks all over again. My desire to sketch has taken on an intensity that it never had before. My fingers itch for a pen, and my brain is constantly throwing out ideas.
Along comes The Sketchbook Project, and I am sold (and how could I resist, since the two main images are maps). It's open to anyone, so even if you don't think of yourself as an artist, you, too can take part.
Can't wait for my sketchbook to arrive.