For the past several years I have been embarrassingly afraid to make art. After graduating from art school, I went to teacher’s college, landed a teaching gig for a few years and then moved on to the position I currently hold. Basically, life happened and I allowed myself to stop making art. Other than a few small projects during my artistic dark ages, anything I attempted was quickly abandoned due to being absolute garbage in my eyes. Any attempt I made at sketching in my numerous, unfilled sketchbooks were ultimately exercises in frustration and embarrassment because I couldn’t capture on paper the same things I could back in art school.
Fast forward to the fall of 2017. I began speaking with a counsellor, something I have done numerous times throughout my life ever since being diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks at 16. During our discussions, my extreme desire to revisit creativity and begin producing art again became a major topic of discussion. So my counsellor assigned me a task: she told me that before my next session, she wanted me to make a work of art and bring it to the appointment.
I decided to try my hand at printmaking, something I studied in art school. I ended up doing a lino-block print of a Spiral (my spiral logo, actually). Using the back of a wooden spoon instead of a press, I managed to turn out a few decent prints. I brought a print in to my counsellor and realized that her assignment was the spark that would ignite the fire of my so-called creative re-awakening. I realized I had been missing the act of creating so much, and the itch was returning.
I decided to follow local artist Merk’s Inktober prompt list of words. For those that don’t know, Inktober is a drawing challenge that requires you to produce an ink drawing every day during the month of October. Part-way through October I was once again addicted to art. A lot of my little drawings were embarrassingly bad, but the commitment I made to myself to not only draw every day but also to post my drawings on social media was the locus of control I needed to “get back into it”.
It was one of my good friends, Rob, that asked me what I was planning on doing for November. I hadn’t thought about it but I realized that I needed to do SOMETHING so I created NINvember. This challenge required me to draw a picture every day inspired by a different Nine Inch Nails song each day. I even went so far as to create an Apple Music Playlist of the songs I chose for the month-long challenge. Then I shared my challenge on the NIN sub-Reddit, where several people participated in the challenge as well, with one random internet stranger actually completing the entire challenge with me! Naturally there were a few detractors and some nasty internet comments, but I continued.
After NINvember I decided I’d take a break during December. That lasted four days, when I realized my artmaking habit had fully re-solidified. I completed four quick sketches in one day and Doodlecember was born. January has seen a random collection of doodles and sketches, as well as the discovery of a new medium, the mighty Copic marker. I realized that if I was to nurture and remain committed to my daily-doodle challenge, I needed to organize.
I have since planned out my entire doodle schedule for the rest of 2018!
- January has remained a random collection of randomness (I will come up with a better theme for January 2019).
- February I have dubbed “Throat of Winter”, and like NINvember, will require me to draw something inspired by a song each day, this time inspired by the music of Opeth. Opeth, another of my favourite bands, is a folksy, bluesy, proggy Death Metal band that evokes some incredible imagery. I might also dedicate the month of February to graphite (pencil) only.
- March is “Massive March”, another musical challenge. Every day a new work inspired by the music of another favourite band, Massive Attack. The electronic funk of this “trip-hop” group will provide an interesting contrast to the haunting music of Opeth.
- April is “Anatomy April”, dedicated to the human form. God knows I need the practice.
- Another musical month, “MAYnard” is inspired by the music of Maynard James Keenan’s bands Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer. One of my favourite artists.
- I am going in a completely different direction for “Jazzy June”. I don’t listen to enough jazz. If you have a song recommendation for me to add to my Jazzy June playlist, please let me know!
- In honour of Summer Movie Season, July will be a month of “Blockbusters”, inspired by the musical scores of my favourite movies from my favourite composers.
- “August Abstractions” will focus on, you guessed it, abstract art!
- I’m really excited for “Say10 September”, inspired by the music of Marilyn Manson. I was thinking of trying out some watercolour during September, because as it turns out Manson is a pretty fantastic watercolour artist.
- October will see me going back to the original, “Inktober”. I’ll follow someone else’s prompt list for this one.
- November will see the return of “NINvember”. I plan on really spending some time coming up with a playlist that flows better than last year. Nine Inch Nails is my favourite band of all time and I feel like this year’s NINvember will be special…
- For December I am bringing back “Doodlecember”, this time with the theme of “Dark Christmas”. Who knows that kind of random Yuletide creepiness will come out of me at the end of the year!
If anyone is interested in following along with any of my themes, please be sure to tag me on social media so I can see your work!
At the end of the day, I’ve rediscovered that art and artmaking is the absolute best, most therapeutic thing for me. I fall into a creative zone while making art that sees the troubles and anxieties and insecurities of life fade away. I also think it’s important to note that I make art for myself. When I create something, I’ve created it for me. I share my work in the hopes that it will make someone happy, or make someone think, or make someone have some kind of emotional response. The process is therapeutic and cathartic, the product is an accomplishment and validation of the time spent making it, and the act of sharing is in the hopes of somehow allowing my story and whatever skills and abilities I possess to affect people in some way.
Thanks for reading.