I just finished reading “Notes on a nervous planet” by Matt Haig, and he ended the book with very true words (paraphrasing); “More toys only spread the joy”. When there is a surplus of choice you actually enjoy things less. You can actually be more happy and fulfilled with limited choices, because you will value your toys (or in my case, art supplies) more.
I have seen this same behaviour with our daughter as well. She is an only child, we spoil her, and she has almost everything imaginable. She has so much choice that she does not know anymore what to ask for her birthday. She has so much stuff to play with, she will just choose one or two items repeatedly over anything else as there is just too much to do. Too much impulses, too much choices. Mental fatique sets in if overflowed with new information and choices on a daily basis.
At the beginning of this year (or just around Christmas I should say), I started to wonder; “What is my own problem, why am I not satisfied with my drawings lately”?
If you have read my previous posts, I was experimenting with (digital) mobility and ease of access over the hassle of bringing sketch pads and my art supplies. The rationale was, I can just grab my tablet and start sketching anywhere and make it a finished piece of art, which gives a good feeling as I am accomplishing a goal, my daily sketch. But instead it does not make it more enjoyable. I lost pride in my work if that makes sense.
Digital art is immaterial, it can be made perfect and erase your lessons learned. Digital drawings show little flaws, only the ones you decided were acceptable to leave, or were unaware of at that time. Digital drawings also hold little value over paper. I do not experience the mindfulness and absolute focus as I do when sketching on paper with all it’s imperfections and potential mistakes to make. Sure, they transfer easily to Instagram, and work well for cartoons, but at the end it is just a bunch of ones and zeroes in Evernote, exposed to potential bit rot.
It also has to do with the senses I think. Feeling the paper, smelling the ink and pencil, seeing texture and depth, and being more deliberate in what you draw. It slows you down. Seeing the magic of the paint come to life as it blends and dries. Little imperections that cannot be erased.
And there are no crashes. I lost three drawings in Artflow. I lost a couple in Infinite Painter, and it is beyond frustrating to see a drawing get corrupted just because you wanted to zoom in or use the lasso tool.
This was a sketch from two days ago (my first attempt for the Song Lyrics Generator), and I didn’t screw this up. It just happened and it was out of my control. No mistake in a penstroke, wrong color or hatching that turned out bad. It just happened zooming the picture. And poof! It was corrupted. And beyond repairs. The drawing had no undo. It stayed in digital shards after I restarted, which meant I had to redo this drawing, again.
I think I will carry my art supplies around again for a while. I might scan a sketch or two or when time is very constrained, revert to digital. But I came to realise that the happiest time I was doing art was Inktober, being confined to pen and paper (and watercolor), and of all the drawings I was most proud of most happened on paper. There is more connection, involvement.
Let’s confine a bit more. Reduce choice a bit more. Stick to a default method unless required otherwise.
It fits with me trying to reduce tablet and phone time. The last week I have been switching off my mobile data and WiFi around 8:30 pm just before walking the dog, to force me to relax and enjoy instead of resisting the urge to grab my phone while walking. The “internet” stays off on both devices until the next morning. It has given me more peace of mind. The certainty that no more unwanted impulses from the outside world disturb my bedtime routine. No flashing lights on my device telling me there is something of interest that I need to look at. It can wait.